Staedtler Aquarell Pencils & Clairefontaine Sketch Pad

Ever since I heard about Staedtler’s Ergosoft Aquarell Coloured Pencils I have been wanting to give them a try. These pencils have watercolor lead for dry and wet blending, providing a wide range of creative possibilities when coloring, drawing or watercoloring with water and brush. I’m not an artist, but this sounded like fun! Even though Clairefontaine makes watercolor pads, I decided to pair the pencils up with a Clairefontaine Sketch Pad because the paper has a smoother finish. For my first experiment I doodled a picture of my cat, Mulder. Here is what the picture looked like before using a wet paintbrush:

Here is what the picture looked like after using a wet paintbrush:

This was created simply by making a pencil sketch first, and then applying a small wet paintbrush. As soon as the colors got wet they seemed to "melt" and became brighter and more intense. Different color shades could easily be blended. The paper did wrinkle a bit, so the heavier weight watercolor paper might have been better, but I felt the smoother sketch pad paper might be easier for making fine pencil lines. This was a fun project and I’m looking forward to trying some different techniques. Which picture looks better? I’ll let you decide….

If any of you have artwork created by Staedtler Aquarell pencils you would like to share, please email it to us at We’ll share our favorites in a future blog post!


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Pen Modification – Convert into eyedropper fill

The Kaweco Sport fountain pen is brilliantly designed and reasonably priced. When it’s capped, it is compact enough to fit in any purse or pocket, and when it’s posted, it is the perfect size for writing. However, one downfall of the pen is that it can only be used with short standard cartridges, wasting the space of about 1/3 of the barrel. Also, it cannot be used with a converter so writers cannot use their favorite bottled inks with it. (UPDATE: The Monteverde Mini Converter will fit inside the Kaweco Sport fountain pen.) To resolve these issues I converted the Kaweco Sport fountain pen into an eyedropper fill system, where the barrel is used as the ink reservoir.  To prevent ink leakage I used 100% silicone grease (petroleum free) to seal the threads. Hopefully, this explanation will help other writers maximize their Kaweco’s potential.


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Great Gift Ideas

At the end of the first sunny day of this Spring I got a plane and left for New York. I arrived to a city on a dreary, rainy day and thought, "It’s just like home!" However, I soon learned that was not true at all. My friend and I would’ve been completely lost in among the skyscrapers, subways stations, and high-heels had it not been for the friends we met in Manhattan. One girl actually took two weekends out of her life just to show us around! I found out that she likes pens and paper as much as I do, so I thought that to say thank you I would put together a little something from Writer’s Bloc for her. I wanted to share what I put together, hopefully it will give you some ideas for the next gift you buy.

I wanted the gift to be imaginative and fun, but also something that she would find some use for (not a lot of room for extra clutter in NYC apartments!) To help her keep all her papers in a safe place I got her a Magic Soup Portfolio in Rainbow, but since there was no paper in it yet I used it to hold all the other presents. The main   present was the Clairefontaine GraficFlow notebook, very artsy and chic. To compliment an introduction to this amazing paper I had to introduce her to fountain pens, and of course I got her my favorite Pink Platinum Preppy pen. I also included a colorful One Fine Day memo pad and a set of cute erasers- always useful and small enough to carry in her purse as she races through the city everyday. She also introduced us to a lot of her friends who treated us to dinner many times, so as a small thank you to them I sent her a couple boxes of Love Pet Pens and asked her to hand them out to all our new friends.

It took a while but I was very happy with what I ended up putting together. Honestly, I loved everything in it, and anything I don’t already own I will have  soon enough. She called a few days later to say thanks and that she loved everything! Success! .

Do you have a favorite pen, notebook, or other item that you love giving as a gift? We’re going to have a lot graduates this June, some heading off to college and others jumping into the "real world" of work, any ideas on what to get them? I would love to hear your gift ideas!

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Can a Left-Handed Writer Use a Fountain Pen?


The rainbow of ink colors available to fountain pen users has been tempting me for sometime to buy a fountain pen. Lime green and orange are my favorite colors and it would be a treat to have a fabulous, smooth-writing pen filled with these vibrant shades. I’ve heard it said that fountain pens are not for lefties, but the Classic Fountain Pens, Inc website gives me hope.

Now I must figure out what pen will work for me. The Classic Fountain Pens website says I am an “overwriter” which means that I am at risk of smearing ink and could end up with a very colorful palm if I don’t get the right nib/ink/paper combination. I’ve heard that the best nib for a lefty should not be too fine or too broad, the type of ink must dry quickly and the paper must not have a finish that prevents ink from drying quickly.

Are there any left-handed fountain pen users out there that can come to my rescue? What do you use that works? What are your favorite pens, nibs, inks and paper? I’d love to hear from you!!


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Clairefontaine’s Earth Friendly Paper


Before I started working at Writer’s Bloc I felt that all paper had pretty much the same impact on the environment and that the only thing we could contribute was to recycle as much as possible. Now I realize we can also make the choice to buy paper that is manufactured in ways that keep the environment in mind.

The Exaclair website mentions this about the mill where Clairefontaine paper is made: “The water is so clean when it leaves the facility local people can fish, swim and boat downstream within sight of the mill.” Wow! I was impressed.

It further states: “Made only with pulp from sustainable forests, Clairefontaine paper has been certified according to recognized international standards and independent third parties such as the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and others. These certifications as ensure the protection of endangered wildlife habitats.”

I also learned that Clairefontaine supplies 80% of its own energy and has won environmental awards for its clean paper making technology. All of this combined with the fact that this paper has a blissfully smooth satin finish means that I will be a Clairefontaine customer from now on!

Other websites that mention Clairefontaine: Dolce Bellezza, Absolute Write.

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