8 Retro Accessories That Will Rock Your Desk

In this digital age, fashionably nostalgic stationery is still highly treasured by writers all around the world. Here are eight of our top modern choices that reconnect us with days of the past.

J. Herbin Wax & Seal Kit
J. Herbin Wax & Seal Kit

J. Herbin Wax & Seal Kit

A personalized wax seal is a great way to make any invitation, thank you card or old-fashioned snail mail stand out in the crowd. Wax seals can be used to embellish wine bottles, for scrapbooking, to seal packaging, to add the finishing touch to a wrapped gift and much more. J. Herbin’s Supple Sealing Wax resists cracking or chipping when applied to envelopes being sent through the US mail.

J. Herbin Glass Pens
J. Herbin Glass Pens

J. Herbin Glass Dipping Pens

J. Herbin’s hand-blown glass pens are beautiful and elegant works of art made in the style of glass pens popular in 17th century Venice. The glass nib on this dipping pen has small spiral grooves that hold enough ink to write several lines without the need to re-dip. They can be used along with fountain pen ink or other specialty inks made for dipping pens.

Brause Calligraphy Dipping Pen Gift Set
Brause Calligraphy Dipping Pen Gift Set

Brause Calligraphy Dipping Pen Gift Set

For over 150 years Brause has been making steel calligraphy nibs of excellent precision and durability. This gift set includes a small bottle of ink and 6 different nib types for both script and calligraphy.

J. Herbin Calligraphy Ink
J. Herbin Calligraphy Ink

J. Herbin Dipping Pen Calligraphy Ink

J. Herbin Calligraphy Ink is specially formulated with natural resins allowing the ink to adhere to a metal nib, yet flow smoothly and consistently. For use with dipping pens, steel nibs, glass or quill pens, calames and brushes. It pairs well with the J. Herbin Glass Pens and Brause Calligraphy Dipping Pens.

J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink - Bleu Ocean
J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink – Bleu Ocean

J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin’s 1670 Anniversary Fountain Pen Ink comes in a cool retro cube-shaped bottle that is sealed with wax and decorated with a “1670” wax seal. J. Herbin created its “Anniversaire 1670” inks in honor of the 340th anniversary of the J. Herbin ink brand. Napoleon, Victor Hugo and Louis XVI all used J. Herbin inks!

Delta Vintage Fountain Pen - Ruby Red
Delta Vintage Fountain Pen – Ruby Red

Delta Vintage Fountain Pen – Ruby Red

This Delta Vintage Fountain Pen is made from a mother of pearl acrylic resin that beautifully catches the light. Like fountain pens of the past, it is carefully hand-crafted and made with attention to detail to produce a quality writing instrument that can be treasured for generations. Also available in Lava Stone Black, Deep Ocean Blue and White.

J. Herbin Wooden Rocker Style Ink Blotter
J. Herbin Wooden Rocker Style Ink Blotter

J. Herbin Traditional Wooden Rocker Style Ink Blotter

The Traditional Rocker Style Wooden Ink Blotter from J. Herbin is easy to hold and a clean way to avoid smearing excess wet fountain pen ink. It can be refilled with Rocker Ink Blotter Paper Refills, or purchase larger sheets of Blotter Paper to tuck inside the cover of your journal or notebook.

Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablet
Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablet

Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablet

In addition to all of your great nostalgic writing gear you’re going to want some high quality paper to enjoy it with. Classic Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablets fit the bill with brilliant white 90g, acid free, ultra-smooth paper. Fountain pens write like a dream on this paper! Matching envelopes are also available.

What are your favorite “vintage” writing tools?

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Back to School 2016 for Stationery Lovers

Back to school for students who love stationery is an exciting time that means backpacks full of shiny, fresh school supplies with that brand-new stationery smell! Here are some of our favorite supplies for your stationery fix in the new school year.

Clairefontaine Side-Staple Notebook
Clairefontaine Side-Staple Notebook

Clairefontaine Notebooks

Clairefontaine notebooks rock some of the best paper in the world for writing! This paper has a super smooth coating on it that reduces writing fatigue by allowing your pen to easily glide across the page. The quality of the paper minimizes any instances of ink bleeding through or showing through the paper which allows you to write on both sides of each page. Clairefontaine notebooks are especially awesome if you like to write with a fountain pen. There’s a huge variety of notebook styles and sizes from Clairefontaine, we’ll mention a few of our favorites here and you can check out the rest yourself.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen in Blue
LAMY Safari Fountain Pen in Blue

LAMY Safari Fountain Pens and Pelikano Fountain Pens

A fountain pen is the perfect companion to go along with your Clairefontaine notebooks. Fountain pens help with writing fatigue by reducing the friction required to write and Clairefontaine paper has a satin smooth surface to reduce the fatigue even more. If you’re going to spend a lot of time writing you may as well enjoy it! For school or college purposes we would recommend a pen that’s not too expensive that can be filled with washable blue ink cartridges (more info on that in a moment). When you’re on the go, ink cartridges are easier to use than bottled ink and both the LAMY Safari and Pelikan Pelikano have washable blue ink cartridges with a decent ink capacity: LAMY Blue ink cartridges or Pelikan Royal Blue giant ink cartridges.

Pelikan Super Pirat Ink Eradicator
Pelikan Super Pirat Ink Eradicator

Pelikan Super Pirat Ink Eradicator 

The Super Pirat Ink Eradicator can erase mistakes made when writing with royal blue fountain pen inks and then you use the blue correction tip to correct the mistake. This correction pen is a fantastic addition to your fountain pen and Clairefontaine paper. If you’re wondering how it works take a look at this blog post: What is the Pelikan Super Pirat Ink Eradicator?

Quo Vadis Textagenda Academic Planner with a Red Chelsea Leather Cover
Quo Vadis Textagenda Academic Planner with a Red Chelsea Leather Cover

Quo Vadis Academic Planners for 2016-17

Academic planners are special because their dates correspond to the school year instead of the calendar year. They begin with the month of July or August and end with the month of July in the following year. Quo Vadis offers a variety of high quality planners and covers to keep even the busiest students organized.

  • Textagenda Daily Student Planner
  • Minister Weekly Student Planner – fountain pen friendly
  • University Pocket Size Student Planner
  • Scholar Weekly Student Planner – fountain pen friendly, open format
  • Monthly 4 18-month Monthly Planner
Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebook - Large
Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebook – Large

Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebooks

Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebooks get their own mention because they accomplish more than one purpose. In addition to tabbed, different colors of paper to keep your notes on different subjects organized, they also help save on space and weight to minimize the number of supplies you need to carry with you. These multiple subject notebooks have paper with a 5mm x 5mm grid so if you happen to have small handwriting you can get a lot of notes on one page. Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebooks are available in small, medium and large sizes.

Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Multicolor Pink Ballpoint Pen - 0.7mm
Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Multicolor Pink Ballpoint Pen – 0.7mm

Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Multicolor Ballpoint Pen

If you’re not into fountain pens, check out the space saving, smooth writing Uni-ball Jetstream 3 Multicolor Ballpoint Pen. It conveniently gives you 3 choices of ink color in one pen body. The pen comes with blue, black and red ink ink cartridges with a 0.7mm tip but can be refilled with any colors you wish. The pen is available with your choice of a pink, light blue, lime green, black or transparent body.

Clairefontaine Basics Blue Oval Leather Pencil Case
Clairefontaine Basics Blue Oval Leather Pencil Case

Aston Leather or Clairefontaine Leather Pen & Pencil Cases

Carry your writing instruments in style with a leather zippered pen and pencil pouch from Aston Leather or Clairefontaine. Both cases are reasonably priced and durable enough to last for years.

What are your favorite new school supplies to buy at the beginning of the school year?

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Experiments With Fountain Pen Ink

Back in 2009 we were like mad scientists with our fountain pen ink – instead of buying a bottle of ink in each color we were mixing ink colors to create our own custom color shades. It was creative and a lot of fun, with some so-so results and some fantastic inky discoveries! Have you ever given ink mixing a try?

Noodler's Ink Starter Kit
Noodler’s Ink Starter Kit

The four very basic ink colors you need to create a rainbow of other colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (or CMYK) which are also the basic ink colors used in printing. To get the equivalent of CMYK in fountain pen ink you need:

J. Herbin Ink
Cyan = J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche
Magenta = J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen
Yellow = J. Herbin Bouton D’or
Black = J. Herbin Perle Noire

Noodler’s Ink
Cyan = Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise
Magenta = Noodler’s Shah’s Rose
Yellow = Noodler’s Yellow
Black = Noodler’s Black

Platinum Mixable Ink
Cyan = Platinum Aqua Blue
Magenta = Platinum Cyclamen Pink
Yellow = Platinum Sunny Yellow
Black = Platinum Smoke Black

Noodler's Ink Starter Kit
Noodler’s Ink Starter Kit

This was the inspiration behind creating our own Noodler’s Ink Starter Kit in 2009, which is still available at Writer’s Bloc. This kit contains about 1/2 oz each of the 4 basic Noodler’s Ink mixing colors in glass eyedropper bottles that are useful for measuring ink drops in your experiments. If you need somewhere to store your ink color creations, we’ve got several solutions for you: capped test tubes, eyedropper bottles, small plastic bottles and a blunt tip needle bottle (for filling empty ink cartridges).

Ink Mixing Color Chart
Ink Mixing Color Chart

Read more about ink mixing and check out some of our favorite custom ink colors:

Ocean Jade Ink
Ocean Jade Ink

Other reasons we were experimenting with fountain pen ink back in 2009 were to see if this would improve ink flow in some dry-writing pens and also to find the most saturated, blackest black fountain pen inks.

Green LAMY Safari with a Calligraphy Nib
Green LAMY Safari with a Calligraphy Nib

Another experiment that proved to be popular in 2009 was swapping the regular nibs on LAMY Safari fountain pens with LAMY calligraphy nibs. It’s a great way to try out some calligraphy without having to buy a whole new fountain pen. Have you tried this yourself? We used to swap the nibs for you in our shop. Now, you can buy an extra LAMY calligraphy nib at a discounted price at the same time as you purchase a LAMY Safari fountain pen. Or, if you’ve already got a LAMY Safari, you can buy the nibs separately. We’ve got easy instructions so that you can change the nib yourself.

Changing the Nib on a LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
Changing the Nib on a LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
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7 Money Saving Fountain Pen Tips

In my world, I find that fountain pens are like potato chips – you can’t have just one! And I love all of the different flavors. After I bought just one fountain pen, a short time later I had a collection of fountain pens and it keeps growing to this day. To help you make the most of your fountain pen budget so you can add to your own personal collection, here are a few money saving tips:

  1. Refill your used ink cartridges. Bottled ink is cheaper per volume than ink in plastic cartridges. All you need is a blunt-tip needle bottle (or something similar) to rinse out your empty ink cartridges and to refill that empty cartridge with ink. It’s easy! Here are some instructions from our blog: Refill Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges with a Blunt Tip Needle Bottle.

    Use a blunt tip needle bottle to refill an ink cartridge
    Use a blunt tip needle bottle to refill an ink cartridge
  2. Use one fountain pen and change the nib size. Some brands sell individual nibs of different sizes for certain fountain pens. The LAMY Safari and Al-Star are a couple of popular pens that have this option. Their steel nibs can be purchased separately in the following sizes: extra fine, fine, medium, broad, left-handed, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm. Here’s an example: If you usually write with a fine nib LAMY Safari, but every once in a while want to do some calligraphy, you can remove the fine nib and replace it with one of LAMY’s calligraphy nibs. This way you don’t have to buy a whole separate pen to do your calligraphy. Changing the steel nib on a LAMY fountain pen is easy. Here are instructions for a couple of different methods to do a nib swap: How to Replace the Nib on a LAMY Fountain Pen and How to Change the Nib on a LAMY Fountain Pen – Part 2.

    Voila! The nib has been removed from the pen
    Voila! The nib has been removed from the pen
  3. Put clear tape around the cap of inexpensive plastic fountain pens. I’ve had several plastic pen caps crack over time, and even one plastic grip cracked. Wrapping clear tape a couple times around the bottom of the open end of the cap as soon as you buy the pen can extend its life span. This also works for rollerball pens, gel pens and other writing instruments with plastic caps.
  4. Buy your fountain pen before the end of the year. Many brands increase prices at the beginning of each year so buy your classic fountain pen before then and save some money. This isn’t foolproof though – every once in awhile there will be a price decrease on certain models.

    Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen - Gun Metal Gray, Black Matte Accents
    Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen – Gun Metal Gray, Black Matte Accents
  5. Write with a steel nib instead of a gold nib. The price of gold keeps increasing over time, and this price is definitely reflected in the cost of a fountain pen with a gold nib. Pens with steel nibs are generally more economical.

    Platinum Cool Fountain Pens
    Platinum Cool Fountain Pens
  6. Use a fountain pen as a highligher pen. Get a bottle of highlighting ink for fountain pens or a bottle of light colored ink and a fountain pen with a broad or calligraphy nib and you’ll have a highlighter pen that will last for years!

    LAMY Safari Neon Yellow Fountain Pen with a Calligraphy Nib
    LAMY Safari Neon Yellow Fountain Pen with a Calligraphy Nib
  7. If you’ve got some extra bottles of fountain pen ink in bright colors sitting around the house, you can use this ink to recharge your highlighter pens or felt-tip markers. Check out these simple instructions: D.I.Y. Highlighter Recharging.

    DIY Highlighter Recharge
    DIY Highlighter Recharge

What money saving tips for writers would you like to share?

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Reflections of a Left Handed Writer

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens
Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The 10 year anniversary of Writer’s Bloc has got me reminiscing about my first fountain pen purchase way back in 2008. It was an inexpensive blue-black Platinum Preppy with a fine nib. At that time, as a left-handed writer who was constantly having issues with messy smeared ink, I was a little hesitant to try a fountain pen. Several years later my collection of fountain pens has grown to include a quirky variety and I’m still using that same Preppy fountain pen! Needless to say, my experiments with fountain pens were a resounding success and now I rarely ever pick up a ball point pen. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the classic fountain pen as a writing tool.

If you’re a lefty that’s considering whether or not to try a fountain pen, possibly you can relate to my past experiences recorded on this blog:

Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

In 2008, the same year I purchased my first LAMY Safari fountain pen, we were helping writers learn how to swap the steel nibs on their own LAMY fountain pens. This is such a great thing to know if you like to experiment or end up damaging a nib or have a nib that you just don’t care for. It’s a lot cheaper to just replace the nib on a LAMY pen that you already own than to buy a whole new pen (although buying new pens is fun too). Here are the instructions from our first lesson:

Noodler's Nikita Fountain Pen Ink & Eye Dropper Pen
Noodler’s Nikita Fountain Pen Ink & Eye Dropper Pen

Other experiments we were busy with in 2008 included converting cartridge fill fountain pens into eye dropper fill fountain pens. If you’re not familiar with eye dropper fill pens, their advantage is that the entire barrel of the pen becomes an ink reservoir! Kaweco Sport Classic or Ice fountain pens are ideal for this purpose. Check out our Pen Mods eye dropper fill edition and a tip from Noodler’s Ink:

Were you writing with fountain pens a decade ago? If so, what were you writing with? Over the years a good fountain pen often becomes like a good friend to those of us who love to write.

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens
Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens
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