Once upon a time, the Papermate Mirado Black Warrior was considered one of the best wood-case pencils available. Then Papermate moved production from the USA to Mexico. Ever since, people have complained about how inferior this pencil is to the original.

I purchased a pack of 8, made in Mexico. I thought I would be unable to compare them to the USA version, then lo and behold, I found a USA Black Mirado Warrior tucked away at the bottom of the center console in my car.

After just a few moments, these are ways I found that the USA version surpasses the Mexico version: 

  • sharpening feels smoother
  • tip is more uniform in appearance after sharpening
  • body doesn’t crack

This pencil was worth something when made in the USA, but is not worth its inexpensive price as currently manufactured in Mexico. 

I found out within the past few days that Doane Paper was going out of business. Though I had never purchased anything from them, I was saddened, because I had heard very good things about them and had planned on purchasing a fair amount of merchandise for note taking during an intense 8-week course I hope to take in the next year or two. Thankfully, they had some remaining inventory, and after a strong recommendation from Brad Dowdy, I ordered five Large Idea Journals.

I only opened one of them to give a test, and I have to say, I’m happy with the design of Doane Paper; using the bold lines to guide my notetaking, I found the spacing to be wider than I am used to, but it allowed greater legibility. I feel totally comfortable writing on both sides of each page. This is a great notebook. My only concern is the wire binding because I am left-handed. However, I knew this going to the purchase, and do not regret it.

Now it looks as though Doane Paper will be sticking around, though I don’t know what changed. As of this writing, the new doanepaper.com is listing the Large Idea Journal at $16 each.

Noodler’s Blue Ghost is a “bulletproof” invisible ink. Once it is dry, it is nearly permanent, meant to be impervious to water and bleach. It glows under a black light, which makes for what I think is a really interesting ink. Maybe not extremely practical, but lots of fun. Typical uses include writing letters to little kids who are excited to read “secret messages”. Other suggested uses include watermarks, password lists, and private annotation on documents.

Originally, I used Blue Ghost in my Lamy Vista F nib with Z24 converter. I previously put an ink not meant for fountain pens in it, and I think there is some residual particulates stuck in the section. I learned three things here:

  1. make sure to only use fountain pen inks in fountain pens.
  2. Notes written with Blue Ghost are quite legible using a Lamy F nib (which is fairly broad for its demarcation).
  3. Consider having a dedicated pen for this ink.

So, I decided to order an inexpensive Pilot Penmanship with EF nib from JetPens. Some people say Blue Ghost does better with a broader nib, so I was interested to see how it performed.

Blue Ghost is actually decently legible in a dark room with a black light using the very extra-fine Penmanship. However, something slightly broader like the Lamy F nib is plenty wide to easily read this ink.

All in all, I don’t use this ink often, but it is lots of fun to use and show off. People that normally are not excited about pens get excited with this ink.

My first nice notebooks were Moleskines. I’ve used their hardcover pocket notebooks, hardcover journals, and large cahiers. The paper in the hardcover Moleskines is decent, but falls short if you use a fountain pen. I find the cahier paper to be decent, even for fountain pens. For hardcover pocket notebooks, I gave Leuchtturm1917s a try. Usually, inks smeared or partially transferred onto the opposing page. Also, the pages were thin, and writing on the other side was readily visible. So, I ordered a 2-pack of Rhodia Dot Grid Webbies from JetPens. I ordered them in orange so they would be easily distinguished from the common black Moleskine.

Webbies are made with Clairefontaine paper, which is widely regarded as one of the best, especially for use with fountain pens. On this account, they are far and away better than a Moleskine for use with fountain pens. They’ve got the pocket in the back as well as the elastic enclosure; here they are about equal. I find it unfortunate that the Rhodia logo is emblazoned across the front; Moleskine wins out here because of its understated embossed logo on the back bottom of the cover. The Rhodia’s leatherette is smoother and more plasticky feeling than the Moleskine’s. The orange tends to dirty fairly easily, but can be wiped off with a slightly damp cloth.

I feel completely comfortable writing on both sides of a page; there is no ink bleeding whatsoever. You can still see what is written on the other side of the page, but not so much so that it becomes distracting.

I love pens and stationery. I have probably bored friends more often than they deserve with my pen and paper induced excitement. 

Many people go through life not thinking a great deal about the pens and paper they use. Some go a little beyond that and find a pen they really like; for example, lots of people are amazed by the Zebra F-301 ballpoint. It looks and feels nice with that stainless steel barrel and textured plastic grip. I think it’s a good pen, but my tight grip has broken the plastic threading on several.

I think it’s safe to say that most people never use a fountain pen. My first was a Lamy Vista with a fine (F) nib (after much research, it’s pronounced LAH-mee), which can be described as a demonstrator fountain pen: it has a clear barrel that allows you to see how much ink remains in the cartridge. I desperately want to switch to an extra-fine (EF) nib; I like thin lines, and the Lamy fine nib lays down what I consider a rather wide line.

At some point after that, I heard of the Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point. Though it was extremely interesting, it was also extremely out of my price range for a pen: somewhere between $125 and $175. Then, out of the blue, an acquaintance gave me one in blue carbonesque with rhodium accents, F nib. It’s a great pen, though again, I’d like to switch to the EF nib (a $70 switch, on average). 

The next fountain pen I’d like to acquire is the Kaweco AL Sport, EF nib, though I haven’t yet decided on a color (seriously thinking about black). At $78, it will be a planned purchase. They have some great ink color options for these.

I have not explored papers a great deal. I’ve used Moleskines quite a bit, but the paper leaves something to be desired. Next set of notebooks will probably be Rhodia Webnotebooks, or Webbies, with dot grid paper. I’ve heard they’re great for fountain pen inks. Can’t wait to find out for myself.