Monsieur Notebooks is a fairly new brand of high-quality notebooks which have hit Australia, Germany and Turkey recently. I was contacted by Tom and Ed the guys behind the brand who offered to send me a review sample which I should be getting any time soon. The notebooks themselves are a Moleskine-esq rival, with the main feature being real, vegetable-tanned leather. They come in all the standard sizes, but offer a few more combinations of paper than others in the field. Check out the range on their site over here. I have seen them in my local Dymocks book shop in Brisbane!

Now as I haven’t got my review samples just yet, I wanted to bring your attention to their crowd-sourcing campaign on Indiegogo.

They are looking to expand the brand into other markets, like America and Canada, and need some help with meeting demands. This is where you can grab some notebooks on the cheap! Head over to their campaign page to have a look at the different levels of pledging, and see if it tickles your fancy! Personally, I am looking at getting one or two with the laser etching for that personal touch, at only $10 more it’s a steal.

 

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This is a guest review by Bettina, one of my good friends who offered to review some of the tools of her trade! You can check out Bettina’s other work at her Portfolio (I highly recommend you do!)

As an artist, I am always on the lookout for quality, affordable stationery and art supplies. One of the most common tools at my disposal is the humble ink pen; I use it for just about everything – writing, sketching, drawing, outlining and colouring. If you’re anything like me, you have probably tried just about every brand of pen in existence searching for ‘the one’ – a pen that will not blot, run dry, scratch the paper or leave you making fast, furious scribbles in an attempt to get it to work again (you know what I’m talking about). There is a plethora of pens in the stationery market today which can make this quest akin to searching for a needle in a haystack. Fear not – I have just the solution for you.

The Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pens are actually a series of pens. They come in range of colours with a variety of tips (nibs) and are sold both individually and in packs. Each pack includes at least one of the following type of pen: superfine, fine, medium and brush. Whilst branded as an ‘artist’s pen’, they are ideal for a variety of professions and tasks – drafting, drawing, lettering, writing, outlining and so on. The ink itself is Indian Ink, is PH neutral, acid-free, waterproof when dry and boasts a maximum grade of lightfastness – meaning your hard work won’t fade over time or run down the page if it gets wet. The compact design of the ink pen replaces the traditional combination of inkwells and inking utensils – which means less fuss, less mess and more productivity. A triple saving!


A pack of 4 Pitt Artist Pens in Black


Left to right – superfine, fine, medium and brush pens.



A close up of the different nib sizes.
Left to right – superfine, fine, medium and brush.

(S) Superfine Nib

Distinguishable by the “S” letter on the cap and end of the pen, the superfine pen is as it sounds – super fine. Due to the slenderness of the tip, this pen is ideal for marking fine details (petite font, embellishments, fine lines, etc). The grip is comfortable, rendering the pen easy to control. The tip itself is quite sturdy, so doesn’t bend or split under force. The ink is smoothly distributed onto the page without smudging or bleeding.

(F) Fine Nib

The next tip up from superfine, the fine pen is perfect for general use. The nib is slender enough to allow for detailed drawing (or writing) yet thick enough to create solid, weighted lines. Like the Superfine pen, the tip is strong and so will not buckle under pressure. Again, the grip is comfortable allowing users to effortlessly glide the pen across the page. The fine pen has clearly been intended as a staple for any artist, designer, draftsman or writer’s pencil case.

(M) Medium Nib
The fine pen’s stouter sibling, the medium pen could quite easily be overlooked for the dainty, precise lines of its slender family members. Much like the superfine pen, however, the medium pen has its place; this pen is ideal for outlining and lettering, creating bold lines with each stroke. Due to its rounder, stouter nib however, its tip is less precise so is not intended for marking very fine details.

(B) Brush Nib
Arguably the easiest to distinguish due to its large, tapered felt tip, the brush pen combines the functionality of a traditional pen with an artist’s brush. The felt tip is ideal for colouring large amounts of space, shading and creating thick lines. Unlike the other pens, however, the brush pen’s tip is quite soft so care must be taken to preserve the life of the pen. Much like the medium pen, the softness of the nib loses the precision of the superfine and fine ink pens, meaning it is not ideal for detailed line work.

A comparison of the four pen tips and lines.

After testing out each of the four pens, I decided to road test the claim that these pens were waterproof. I have bought pens that have been labelled ‘waterproof’ before but unfortunately these claims have been proven otherwise (e.g. waiting for the bus in the rain, accidentally knocking over a glass of water, dropping my notepad into a puddle – I have been known to do this). If you are a klutz like me, this little factor is pretty important in buying an ink pen.

Lo and behold, the label is, in this case, accurate. I spilt a little water onto the page (above left) – the ink did not bleed, run or discolour in the slightest. Once the page was dry, the only signifying factor that the page had been wet was the slight buckling on the page from the watermark.

 

Overall:

I highly recommend the Faber Castell Pitt Artists Pens series; there really isn’t anything on the market that is comparable considering how much these pens offer. The ink is of high quality, the nibs are sturdy and precise, the ink is waterproof and the variety of tips and colours cater for a range of tasks. You can pick up a pack of four pens at most artist stores for around $20.00, or individually from about $2.50 (depending on nib size and colour). You’d be paying about this much – or more – for a competitor brand that offers less.

 

 

 

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The Ballpoint Pen is one of those amazing little inventions that everyone takes for granted. ABC Radio National posted a great article today with a little more information about where the original Ballpoint came from.

Ballpoint Pen - Wikimedia

Sounding like something from a Tintin adventure, the Biro brothers fled from the Nazi persecution of Jews in Hungary and landed in Argentina in 1940. They immediately started manufacturing their patented ballpoint pen, which they called the Birome.

I recommend reading the whole article on their site. And a big thanks to Andrew at ABC for letting me know about the story!

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