Get Back to Class 2012!

Okay let’s face it. Almost no one is excited about going back to school just yet but here are some fun and handy items that can make going back to school a little less painful.

1) Staedtler Mechanical Pencil. The loyal pencil is a must have for every student. The ergonomic design of this mechanical pencil is noticeably comfortable for those long homework hours. The triangular barrel sits effortlessly in your hand for minimal fatigue. The design of the pencil makes it so you can use up to 95% of each lead unit! The texture of the pencil is also notable. It isn’t smooth and glossy like some other pencils but slightly rubbery feeling completely up and down the barrel. This feature encourages the hand to relax as you won’t have to squeeze it to get a good grip. The handy Staedtler Triplus Mobile Office also features a mechanical pencil.

2) Pelikano 2010 fountain pen paired with a Pelikan Ink Eradicator and royal blue ink. Pelikan pens are designed for students and professionals alike. On the top of our list for students is the Pelikano 2010. An attractive and affordable fountain pen that is made to be comfortable enough to write all day and durable enough to last all year in your pencil pouch, backpack, clipped to your planner etc. The wonderful thing about this brand is the awareness they have about the needs of their writers. Universal ink cartridges fit in the pens so you can utilize a wide variety of inks if you prefer not to use bottled ink. Pelikan giant ink cartridges are significantly larger than typical cartridges so you get the most amount of writing and the least amount of interruptions while you work. Let’s say you cannot resist the lure of beautiful glistening bottles of colors and shades of fountain pen ink. Don’t worry, you can use the Pelikan ink converter for endless possibilities of bottled ink options. If you are like me, the thought of having pages and pages of colorfully marked class notes (boxed, dotted, arrowed) is just as appealing as a wonderful closet full of pair after pair of colorfully designed shoes!

We cannot mention Pelikan fountain pens without giving kudos to the Pelikan Ink Eradicator. Most people would agree white-out has its place on their love-hate list. The ink eradicator is a dual-tipped tool that is a great alternative to stinky, messy white-out. The tool is easily used just like a marker to erase blue fountain pen ink. Just like that! Yes it is true, it mostly only works with royal blue ink so be mindful of your writing task or you may have to bring out that white-out after all. Nonetheless, when the Pelikano fountain pen and ink eradicator are paired together, you will find many ways to make this school year the most efficient and effective. For more information on the super sweet Ink Eradicator check out our illustrated blog post.

3) When looking for a pencil case we want something attractive, durable, and easy to keep track of. This is why the Fabrica Bookband is on my list of back to school necessities. The synthetic material is durable enough to handle a beating and yet the design of the pouch is tailored for busy people who need convenient access to their writing tools. The pouch strap fits around many sturdy medium size notebooks, novels or textbooks. You can customize your pencil pouch to be prepared for each subject everyday. Never worry about forgetting your colored pencils for biology, they will be there when you need them.

4) I am so excited to tell you about this year’s super stellar notebook and accessories. Myndology is a US brand that has really blown us away. The unique disk binding allows you some of the freedom that you would typically only expect to get from a binder. The Myndology Letter notebook’s paper size is the standard 8.5 by 11″ and super smooth and thick. The best feature of this notebook is the unique binding method that allows you to extract AND insert pages cleanly. Yes, that’s right. You can INSERT graph paper, discreet dividers (with pockets), blank paper (for sketchers), and even index cards all in the same notebook! If you don’t like it, you can easily replace the contents with something different. This is ideal for serious students who require the ability to organize their notes to fit their unique style and set of classes. There is one caveat in the matter. This notebook is ideal for college students who usually take great care of their supplies. The convenience of being able to remove/replace pages makes them more prone to wear if not handled properly. For the younger student I would definitely recommend the Clairefontaine three-hole punched notebook. It is perforated, punched, and wire-bound ready for action!

We cannot forget our music students!!! They NEED staff paper. Guess what? It’s on our list. Clairefontaine staff paper delivers that great heavy smooth paper quality in a notebook that will stay open on a music stand, but it is not so heavy that it will tip your school music stand over!

Now it’s time to mention the fun things to make school fun and interesting this year.

Bob’s Your Uncle punctuation page markers. Read something…does it make sense?….no? mark it with a question mark…continue. Yes, you can do that. Don’t get lost in your reading assignments! Wanna find that quote in the 800 page novel? Mark it with a quote, move on. Boom! Done! That’s why we love these sticky notes.

Every year many students will spend more time with their computer than any other person, place or thing. Let’s make it look pretty. Get a laptop skin. Make it yours. Let it shine.

It would be a shame to forget our art students! For all artsy folk what’s on the outside of their journal/sketchbook is almost just as important as what goes on the inside. Not only does Clairefontaine have a great selection of fun and funky sketchbooks and watercolor pads to choose from but they all are equipped with sturdy covers and that great quality paper! Go ahead and go wild, you will love their sketchbooks!!

Does this cover everything? Of course not. Are you inspired? Eager? Ambitious? Positive about this year? We surely hope so!

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Graduation Gift Ideas 2012

Now that your grad is done with school they’ll need to stay organized to find that great career and meet their goals! How can you help motivate your grad and keep them on the path to success? They will need good habits and the right materials. Here’s what we recommend for any grad who desires to get the most out of their degree.

1. Leuchtturm1917 Weekly Planner equipped with stick-on pen loop. This planner is more than just a place to keep important dates. Each page has tons of space to write important information and the planner includes stickers for labeling and archiving. Your grad will need to relax after all of their hard work but don’t let them miss a beat! You can use this in combination with the Leuchtturm1917 Self-Adhesive Pen Loop and Behance Action Stickers to make sure their great ideas turn into great achievements!

2. Kikkerland Bamboo Head Massager. This handy item will soothe your grad. After all those sleepless nights and finals week terrors they will definitely appreciate a kind massage from a good friend. The tool is small enough to fit in an averaged size purse and the tips are covered for maximum comfort. We can’t promise your hair will still look picture perfect after using this but it will sure be worth it!

3. Here. There. At some point everyone appreciates their most loyal and lovable pen. What determines a great pen? Many would agree they want a smooth write, good weight, attractive look, and most of all a good price. There are many preferences and opinions about pens, however, we find many treasure the gift of a fountain pen. Not only are your ink colors and options much wider when you use a fountain pen, they also tend to live much longer than other pens. Your grad will be sure to appreciate the LAMY Safari Fountain Pen. It comes in seven great colors from bright yellow to crisp white. Each pen has 10 nib options so it won’t be hard customizing the right look and feel for your friend.

4. Book Darts. So many books, pages, things to read and remember. These will help your grad find information quickly and easily without using sticky notes that occasionally fall out and tend to look messy. These darts are designed to be very discreet and friendly to any page, even the most delicate thin pages. They are designed to help you re-find and recall important points and quotes, but you can also use them as bookmarks for casual reading or in your favorite planner, magazine, or cookbook. Speaking of cookbooks, your grad will be doing a lot more cooking therefore they will need…

….5. Bob’s Your Uncle- Soup to Nuts Grocery List Pad to help them stay within their budget. Before that dream job your grad has their heart set on finally comes along, they will need to manage their money. You can help with a smart shopping list to make sure they don’t overspend.

6. The 1 Book and The 5 Book. There are so many possibilities and decisions to make after graduation. These inspirational journals published by Compendium are designed to help your grad set goals and achieve them. Carefully written and thought-provoking, these journals will steer your grad toward success!

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Compendium Family Interview Journals

Did you know Compendium makes a series of inspirational and interactive books that are intended to help us draw close to our families? Wow! Who would think that a company would actually care about the things we want to remember about our families. The things they said. The lessons we learned.

This book series is meant to serve as a collection of interview journals. We all know what a normal journal is but what really is an interview journal? Well, have you ever conducted an interview yourself? No doubt the purpose was to quench your growing curiosity and gather information you can both use and keep. Possibly even pass on. If you’ve been through this, you probably also found that at some point you run out of questions! What if you’re still thirsting for more knowledge but you just don’t know how to proceed? Well this is where these carefully thought-out journals come to save the day. They have the questions already printed and waiting for your answers. You ask the question on each page and write down the answer. It is that easy. Who better to learn about than our own family and its history? What better information to hold onto and guard as irreplaceable?

Each book is tailored and special from the others. Let’s talk about grandpa’s book first: Grandpa His Stories His Words. The cover has a fine texture to it like all of the books. The pages are a nice cream color and have a regal design that decorates each page. The questions cover topics ranging from favorite foods and pets to growing up and who his favorite president was. Ask about his parents and what they were like; if and when they immigrated to this country. We think of grandpa as a hero. Every hero has a journey that made them that way. Find out more about his journey.

My Grandma Her Stories Her Words, beautifully crafted in cream and wine red, gives us a chance to tap into grandma’s wisdom. Ask her about her recipes (if she’ll let you in on her food secrets) and how she got through the tough times in her life. Our grandmothers offer us so much comfort and joy along with great laughter. She’ll no doubt have as much fun answering as you will listening. The cover is adorned with dainty light blue foliage for a nice feminine touch. Light blue would be great as an ink choice to complement the wine ink lines and white paper. I recommend using the Leuchtturm1917 self-adhesive pen loop in blue to hold your interview pen. This color matches perfectly!

Now on to mom’s book, My Mom Her Stories Her Words. The cover is reminiscent of red lipstick we have often seen our mothers put on. The inside is decorated in baby blue/turquoise with varying embellishments from page to page. These pages are white with attractive blue lines. Now you can find out exactly how dad met mom and which of her parents’ rules drove her crazy. Our moms taught us the most about life. Don’t miss your chance to hear about hers.

My Dad His Stories His Words is for Dad. His mind may be the hardest to penetrate sometimes. You would be amazed at what you can learn from your father. The book contains white pages that are adorned by jade green lines. Fathers are often the quiet ones of the bunch. This is a great way to really get his thoughts and opinions and see what experiences shaped who he is and possibly what he wanted for his children.

The family interview journals are all the same size and look quite attractive next to each other on a bookcase. The pages are all very smooth and great quality. Just a bit larger than a photo, these books are not heavy or cumbersome but fit nicely into any bag or purse.

You will love the stories you hear and the things you possibly never knew.

If you are giving these books as gifts, I recommend getting cute, small matching pens and a self-adhesive pen loop. There aren’t always colors that match the books exactly so try contrasting colors that pop and complement. I would also consider ink colors and how they will match or contrast the actual lines in the book. There was so much thought that went into creating these books. You can make them even better by perfecting and customizing your presentation with great ink and a great pen. For example, mom’s book has a red cover that would contrast nicely with a nice purple pen loop (of course with a purple or red pen) and a surprise tangerine ink. Or dad’s book would do well with a black pen loop and a regal sepia ink to keep the look simple and sharp.

We really want to hear from you on this one. What do you think about using a family interview journal?

My Dad: His Story. His Words
My Mom: Her Story. Her Words
My Grandpa: His Stories. His Words
My Grandma: Her Stories. Her Words.

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Gifts for Him

Everybody knows that real men write (or least own a really cool pen). Here are some gift ideas that will satisfy even the manliest of men:

LAMY Dialog 3

The minimalist design of the LAMY Dialog 3 exudes ease and confidence. And the innovative protective valve ensures that this pen will never leak in his briefcase or pocket. 

 

Ink Mixing Kit and Ink Starter Kit

Perfect for the DIY-ers in your life, give them the pleasure of creating their own colors with these fantastic, fun kits.

 

Zebra HyperJell Set of 10

All the men I know are either a) in constant need of a pen or b) make sure that there are always pens in his pocket, car, briefcase, and office. I think both types can benefit from this great 10 pen set.

 

Libelle New York Leather Pen Case

Give him a smooth black leather pen case to keep of all of his new pens safe in his briefcase or desk.


 

Behance Action Book

Help him take steps to advance in his career by taking careful notes and planning his next steps with the acclaimed Behance Action Book.

WRITERSBLOK Bamboo Notebook

Eco-friendly notebooks that he can keep anywhere, and a portion of the proceeds go to reading programs! Who know he cared so much? 🙂

 

Rhodia Weekly Notebook

The stereotype is that men cannot keep track of dates or important events right? Whether this applies to the men in your life or not, give them a chance next year with this functional planner. 

Chicago Express

Trains are cool no matter how old you are. Perfect for lovers of strategy-centered games.

Honestly, I would be happy to receive any of these gifts myself.  Gentlemen, please let us know what you’re hoping for when you rip into that box!

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Gift Ideas for Her

Some stunning, sweet, and special gifts that the women in your life will love:

LAMY Studio Fountain Pen

Simply stunning brushed metal pen in a deep purple color.

J. Herbin La Perle des Encres Fountain Pen Ink 

Classic, beautiful ink from J. Herbin will make the fountain pen lovers in your life swoon. 

 

STAEDTLER Triplus Fineliner 20 Color Set

Perfect for the color-addicts in your life, this 20 color set will keep them happy for a long time. 

 

Pilot Parallel Pen Set

A unique and unexpected gift that would be perfect for calligraphers and scrapbooking fans.

Clairefontaine Linicolor Large Meeting Book 

Extremely helpful meeting book for the career-minded woman.

Atomic Soda Tree of Hearts Notebook 

A sweet journal, perfect for a blossoming young lady to chronicle all her life’s adventures. 

 

Exacompta Space 17 Pocket Weekly Planner

New year, new goals. Help her reach them by giving her a great pocket planner!

Hanafuda Card Game

Add something new to ladies night with this fun card game from Japan.  

 

Of course this is not an all inclusive list, and honestly I’m sure a lot of gentlemen would enjoy some of these as gifts too. Ladies! Please let us know what you are craving this season 🙂

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One of a Kind Gift Ideas

It is unlikely that you will find these items on their registry or wish list! Show your loved ones that you know them well with these truly unique products that will surprise and delight them! 

J. Herbin Glass Pen – Surprisingly affordable, each one of these stunning pens is hand blown so each one is as unique as the person you are giving it to.

 

Platinum 3776 Series Music Nib Fountain Pen in Koi– This breathtaking pen is reminiscent of the glistening scales of a colorful koi fish. The 14K nib is three tined allowing for superior ink flow and italicized writing.

 

Aurora Optima Demonstrator Fountain Pen– The epitome of luxury boasting red Aurolaide detailing, chrome trim, a rhodium treated 18K gold nib, and a striking clear body. 

 

Pelikan Edelstein Ink–  Inspired by precious gems, this bottle of beautiful ink is simply stunning.  This gift will be treasured for a very long time. 

Art Deco 7321 My Roman Collection Stamp DIY Kit & Diary – Perfect for goal-oriented adventurers this amazing kit includes an undated planner filled with supplementary pages, a stamp kit, and two illustrated envelopes.  


 

Carcassone – Haven’t tried Eurogames yet? Sit down to a game of Carcassone and find a whole new meaning to game night! Already mastered? Try the Carcassone Inns and Cathedrals or Traders and Builders expansion packs!

 

The 1 Book – An interactive "playbook" filled with inspiring quotes and questions to help one reflect on the contribution he or she is making to the world.

What’s your favorite one-of-a-kind gift? 

 

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Should Children Learn Cursive Handwriting?

Whether or not children should be taught how to write in cursive has been a topic in the news recently. We thought we’d interview our resident teacher, Kelly, about her thoughts on this topic.

Kelly, do schools still teach children how to write cursive handwriting?

It varies from school to school, but generally after the primary grades (K-2) handwriting is not explicitly addressed in the curriculum. None of the schools that I have worked in teach cursive systematically or consistently through grade levels.
 
Why is this skill often no longer included as part of the regular curriculum?

Mainly it is because so much more focus is placed on content areas like math, science, and reading. Even while teaching writing teachers focus so much on organization and ideas that the quality of the handwriting is often overlooked. There is so much to teach in a day, and handwriting– especially cursive– just gets pushed to the wayside.
 
Why do you think children should learn cursive handwriting in this digital age?

There is value in learning cursive. It teaches students the correct way to write letters so that they can write neatly and efficiently. Speed and legibility are extremely important in standardized testing as students are expected to write essays in short periods of time, and those grading these essays need to be able to read them! In my fifth grade classroom last year I still had students writing their letters backwards, which was both surprising and frustrating. Those that wanted to write in cursive for their final drafts struggled and often had to ask me questions like, "What does a cursive ‘D’ look like?" However, students that had been taught cursive in previous grades generally wrote faster and neater, which is important as difficulty of content and expectations for quality escalate quickly from fifth grade on.
 
What can parents do to help their children learn cursive even if their school doesn’t include this in the curriculum?

Encourage your students to practice, practice, practice! Watch how they write letters and encourage them to use the correct direction and stroke order when printing. Generally kids think cursive is pretty cool, so if you can teach them how to write it they would be happy to learn (and show their classmates and teacher the next day). At the very least check their homework for spelling and legibility as these are two of the most neglected writing components in school today.

It is also very helpful if your students have the right tools they need to fit their writing style. This might mean finding thicker or thinner pens to write with, using wide-ruled or graph paper to write on, or it could be as easy as adding a pencil grip or eraser.

Thank you Kelly!

Writer’s Bloc has some useful tools for learning cursive or for improving your own handwriting. Many of these tools are used daily by students in parts of Europe, where cursive handwriting is still being taught in school.

For very young students, both the LAMY ABC Fountain Pen and the Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen have ergonomic grips to assist with proper finger placement. These fountain pens have rounded nibs that are very forgiving and easy to write with. The Pelikano Junior is even available with a specially designed left-handed nib. Being a lefty myself, I can tell you from personal experience that this does make a difference.

For older students, the Pelikan Pelikano Fountain Pen has been in use by millions of students for 50 years and has been recommended by generations of teachers. Like the Pelikano Junior, this pen is also available with a left-handed nib option.

The LAMY Safari is another fountain pen that has been a favorite of both students and adults for the past 30 years.

Of course, learning to write includes making mistakes and maybe even spilling some ink! Washable blue fountain pen ink makes clean-up (including laundry) and corrections easy. Using the Pelikan Ink Eradicator Super Pirat Pen you can erase your writing errors with one end of the pen and then make your corrections using the blue pen on the other end. There are many kinds of washable blue fountain pen inks available in both cartridges and bottles, including LAMY Blue, J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis, Aurora Blue, Pelikan Royal Blue and Pelikan Violet.

French ruled paper seems very unusual to most Americans, but its lines are useful for guiding the size of your upper & lower case letters as well as the size of cursive loops & strokes. There is an example of this as well as a few instructions from DarkskyZ on the Fountain Pen Network (scroll down to find it). I personally enjoyed trying this techniqu
e.

What are your thoughts? Do you think it is important for children to learn cursive handwriting? What tools do you use to help children or yourself improve handwriting skills?

 

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Environmentally Friendly Writing Tools

When you live in a city like Portland you cannot help but be environmentally conscious. When I shop my eyes dart directly to products labeled "organic" "local" "sustainable" and of course, "post-consumer recycled." Naturally, we carry many eco-friendly products at Writer’s Bloc, and to help those of you who love the environment as much as you love to write here is a quick overview of the environmentally sound products that we carry!

 

The inspiration for this blog was the new Bamboo Notebooks from WRITERSBLOK. Bamboo grows quickly and prolifically, therefore making it an easily sustainable resource. These notebooks are made from 100% sustainable bamboo pulp paper and moreover, 2% of all sales from WRITERSBLOK goes to literacy programs around the United States. A great notebook from a company that is both environmentally and socially conscious! 


 

Clairefontaine prides itself for being an environmentally conscious company. All Clairefontaine paper is produced using pulp from sustainable forests and using responsible energy sources. Their notebooks have been certified by the PEFC, an internationally recognized forest certification organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management. Visit www.pefc.org for more information.


 

Another company that is stepping up to the plate is Behance. The Behance Dot Grid Journal and Behance Action Journal are both filled with 60lb New Leaf Paper. New Leaf Paper is 100% recycled, processed chlorine free, and manufactured with renewable energy. According to their website over the last decade New Leaf products have saved over 3 million trees and 900 million gallons of water!


 

In their collection of planners, Quo Vadis has included the Quo Vadis Textagenda Academic Daily Planner which contains 100% post consumer recycled paper, In addition, all of the refillable planners and journals from Quo Vadis and Exacompta are inherently less wasteful as you can use the same cover multiple times.


 

There is some concern about feathering when using recycled paper; Noodler’s Ink has addressed this problem with the Noodler’s X-Feather Ink– a slow drying, limited penetration ink that prevents feathering on especially absorbent paper. 

Of course, fountain pens are environmentally sound as you can refill and use them for years to come. Platinum takes this a step further- the barrels of the Preppy Fountain Pens and Preppy Refillable Highlighters are made from recycled polycarbonate.

 


 

Similarly the Pentel Slicci Gel Pens are made from 87% recycled plastic. You can use these colorful pens on the Bob’s Your Uncle Writer’s Block,made from recycled paper this is a colorful and responsible way to jot down notes.

 

The next time you wrap a gift for a friend consider using Rice Paper instead of conventional wrapping paper. This beautiful paper is actually harvested from the bark of the paper mulberry tree, which does not harm the health or growth of the tree. Moreover, rice paper is dyed naturally, eliminating the use of harsh chemicals.

 

Need an idea for a gift? Consider Eco Fluxx, a well-known game with an environmental twist, Eco Fluxx conveys the message that your all of your actions affect the environment for better or for worse.

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Limited Edition Clairefontaine Covers

In addition to being filled with the best paper in the world, many of the notebooks and journals in our Clairefontaine collection boast beautiful cover art. Some of these illustrations and designs are created by well-respected artists, but unfortunately these are often limited editions– meaning once they’re gone they’re gone for good. The following collections have since been discontinued, but we still have a limited supply in stock– just a heads up so you can stock up before they’re history.

 

The Clairefontaine "Mlle No" collection is designed by French artist Jessica Ollivaud, whose art evokes the whimsical and ethereal, but with a modern edge. This collection includes a Large Wirebound Notebook, a Medium Wirebound Notebook, and one secured with elastic. If you’re looking for a unique gift there are also Memo Pads and Magnetic Journals featuring these beautiful illustrations

 

Robert Le Heros is a graphic design company that designs for prestigious companies worldwide. Their design for Quo Vadis is a contemporary twist on a floral design. The only products we still have in stock from this collection are the Large Journal and Small Journal!

 

This may sound corny, but I imagine that if dreams could be illustrated they would reflect the Clairefontaine GraficFlow collection. The abstract elements are composed in such a way that you see familiar things in something that doesn’t really make sense. Give the Magnetic Journal as a gift, and keep the wirebound notebooks for yourself (available in Large and Medium).

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Quo Vadis Habana Collection


The Habana has been a favorite cover style among Quo Vadis enthusiasts for years, and rightly so. The leather-like cover feels smooth and strong, and the sewn binding allows the planner or journal to lay flat without the risk of pages falling out. This year Quo Vadis released this great cover style in two new colors, Anise Green and Raspberry. If you’ve fallen in love with this great cover here is a clear-cut list of all the Quo Vadis products available with the Habana cover:

-The Quo Vadis Habana journals are available in Large and Small sizes and can be filled with blank or lined Clairefontaine paper.

-The Notor #21is a small daily planner so you can prioritize you tasks for each day. For 2011 Quo Vadis has released a limited edition Robert Le Heroscover design in Raspberry.

-The Minister Desk Weekly is a large 2011 planner that has one week on two pages. This planner is perfect for penciling in appointments as each day is broken down into 30 minute increments.

On a similar note the Robert le Heros journals by Quo Vadis features a very similar style to the Hanaba cover. We have a small quantity of this limited collection in large and small-sized lined journals in stock, so get one while you still can!

If you’re already a fan of the Habana collection, please tell us why! Or let us know which products you are excited to try.

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