Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine

(Artwork by Marilyn Robertson)

Starting out as an art teacher in the U.K, artist Marilyn Robertson has become a household name with work that can be recognized by many worldwide. For Marilyn Robertson, experimentation is the key to her success. Her career as an artist began as an art teacher, her career as a business woman began by selling hand-painted greeting cards at craft fairs and then through her own business Paper Kite.

Marilyn not only ventured into the field of freelance design but also textile design, expanding her artistic talents to knit wear and lingerie. Marilyn’s greeting card designs have now been critically acclaimed and published worldwide by some of the world’s largest greeting card publishers in the U.S, England and Germany. Marilyn’s work has been featured internationally on greeting cards, textiles, stationary, ceramics, and knit kits! Still Marilyn’s greatest claim to fame is her art paintings. With her trademark style Marilyn creates coveted paintings that join harmony, dramatic colors and the delicate fluidity of life.

(Catitudes by Marilyn Robertson)

This year Clairefontaine and designer Marilyn Robertson came together to put a whole new meaning to the term "Feline Fancy." Implementing her trademark style, Robertson and Clairefontaine put the luxurious life of cats on paper. Clairefontaine "Catitudes" notebooks feature Robertson’s cover designs and include 90g acid-free Clairefontaine paper. These notebooks are simple, sophisticated and are a perfect gift for cat lovers!

Click here to learn more about Marilyn Robertson

(Catitudes Notebooks by Marilyn Robertson and Clairefontaine)


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Introduction to TWSBI Fountain Pens

TWSBI Diamond 540 Fountain Pens

Ta Shin Precision is a Taiwanese company that spent 40 years manufacturing metal and plastic parts for other companies before deciding to create their own brand that we now know as TWSBI. Their manufacturing experience includes making high-end writing instruments, which really shows when you examine TWSBI pens.

One of the first things I wondered when I heard about TWSBI is where did they get their name? They explain this interesting name on the TWSBI website:

“TWSBI’s name stands for the phrase “Hall of Three Cultures” or “San Wen Tong” in Chinese. The character “Wen” translates into language and culture. The phrase “San Wen Tong” also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The initials of the phrase “San Wen Tong” was reversed and thus turned into “TWS”. The last letters “Bi” was added with its literal meaning of “writing instruments”. Thus combining the two segments, creating TWSBI.”

Before the TWSBI brand was developed, the company made its first fountain pen – The Montesa Venezia which is a lacquer fountain pen with chrome trim. They have been passionate and experienced manufacturers of fine writing instruments since 1989.

TWSBI set out to create traditional writing instruments that people in this modern, fast-paced world could use to slow down, appreciate the little things, and enjoy life. They communicated closely with the community of fountain pen users, compiled their wish-lists, and came up with the TWSBI Diamond 530 – a classic fountain pen with a piston ink-filling system. In addition to being very affordable, this pen could be disassembled piece by piece. Replacement or extra parts were made available on Ebay. It functioned like fountain pens that were much more expensive and its clear body gave it a sophisticated, modern industrial look. The result was that writers around the world fell in love with this pen!

Of course, TWSBI didn’t stop there and has continued to improve and develop exciting new products. We very much look forward to TWSBI’s future pen offerings! Writer’s Bloc is happy to announce that we have a supply of the TWSBI Diamond 540 Demonstrator Fountain Pen.


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Introducing Fabrica

The Benetton Group, which is well-known for their popular clothing line United Colors of Benetton, is responsible for the existence of the “creativity laboratory” called Fabrica. This communication research center was created in 1994 for the purpose of offering young people from around the world an opportunity for creative growth and multicultural interchange.

As explained on the Benetton Group website, young artists are offered this opportunity:

Fabrica invites young artists/designers to its centre, offering them a one-year study grant and providing them with a professional training opportunity and a wealth of resources and relations. The young resident artists develop cultural and social communication projects in the areas of design, visual communication, photography, interaction, video, music and publishing under the guidance of experts.

If this doesn’t sound exciting enough, the Fabrica “studio” artists use to develop their innovative projects at is located in Italy, near Venice, in Villa Pastega Manera. Tadao Ando is responsible for restoring and enlarging the ancient villa that was built in the seventeenth century. I think I would be quite inspired if my office looked like this:

(Fabrica’s ancient villa – restored by Tadao Ando. Photo by Francesco Radino)

The design of the library at Fabrica is also noteworthy – it resembles a spiral driven into the ground and is illuminated from above. It holds over 5,000 volumes on graphic design, photography, industrial design, art, topics related to visual communication and much more. I would like to do all my research in such a library! Take a look at this library on the Fabrica website.

Writer’s Bloc now has a selection of Fabrica products related to writing that were created by artists in this beautiful Italian laboratory. It’ll be interesting to see what these inspired Fabrica artists create in the future!

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Terre de Feu Brown Ink Mixing Part 2

My previous experiment mixing J. Herbin Terre de Feu brown fountain pen ink was done with 5 parts Terre de Feu and 1 part another ink. Part 2 of my mixing experiment was created with 1 part Terre de Feu and 1 part another ink, definitely producing more varied and interesting results. I may not want to write with all of these colors but I think they would look great as part of a painting, sketch or other artwork.

One part J. Herbin Terre de Feu plus one part Noodler’s Black equals a very dark brown-black.

Terre de Feu and Noodler’s Shah’s Rose make a delicious looking raspberry wine color. Something that would go well with this weekend’s BBQ.

A burnt caramel color with lots of shading is produced with Terre de Feu and Noodler’s Yellow. I would put it in the ochre category.

Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise and Terre de Feu creates an inky grey-blue color that reminds me of something I would see in nature – a whale, a bird, a night sky.

J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage plus Terre de Feu makes a dark mossy pond-slime green. I can visualize this color in a pine forest, murky pond or on a rock on the beach.

Terre de Feu mixed with J. Herbin Violette Pensee produces a dark grape-y purple color. I might call it a dark purple-burgundy.

Lastly, Terre de Feu and J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink together make brick red.

Do you have any favorite ink mixing recipes you’d like to share?


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