Appreciate Our Teachers!

Our school teachers face many challenges and work very hard to educate our young people, so they certainly deserve much appreciation and thanks. Why not show your appreciation with a gift of quality pens and paper? One of my elementary school teacher friends shared what her picks would be:

1) Highlighters. Highlighters are part of a teacher’s daily arsenal. The skinny ones with a fine tip on the other end are my friend’s favorite, such as Zebra Optex Highlighters or Tombow Twin Tip Highlighters.

2) Colorful Pens. Smooth writing colorful pens are good for grading papers. We like the STAEDTLER Triplus Roller pens – they have an ergonomic triangular barrel and the dry-safe feature enables these pens to be left uncapped for days at a time without drying up.

3) Pencil Pouch. A leather pen & pencil pouch is just what a teacher needs to corral a bunch of these colorful pens and highlighters. The Clairefontaine Basics Trapezoid Leather Pencil Case is just what your child’s geometry teacher needs, or the Aston Leather Pencil Pouch is another classy choice.

4) Fountain Pen. This old fashioned writing tool is making a comeback! It reduces writing fatigue because compared to a ballpoint pen less pressure is required when writing. This might just be the special gift that your teacher takes home to treasure for themselves! The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen is a great deal for the price, or the LAMY Safari is noteworthy for its worldwide popularity. Remember to get some extra ink refills to go along with it!

5) Book Darts. Book Darts are metal line-markers that easily slip onto a page to mark important points so that you can find them later on. They can be reused over and over again in teacher books.

6) Organizing Notebook. A teacher needs a good notebook for taking notes during teacher training and meetings. We recommend the Clairefontaine Multiple Subject Notebook or the Rhodia Meeting Book with its Cornell note-taking page format.

7) Academic Planner. Help your teacher stay organized and on top of all of their meetings, activities and classroom events with a planner designed with teachers and students in mind. The Quo Vadis Minister Academic Weekly Planner provides your teacher with a detailed 8am to 9pm weekly schedule. The Minister and other academic planners are due to arrive in our shop towards the end of May or in June.

How do you like to show your appreciation for your favorite teacher?

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5 Eco-Friendly Supplies for Back to School

1. Clairefontaine Notebooks

Clairefontaine has been making paper in France since 1858 and they are committed to controlling the environmental impact of their manufacturing process. They also happen to make notebooks in all sorts of formats that are great for school!

  • This paper is made from materials sourced from certified sustainable forests.
  • Clairefontaine recycles water, and when it leaves their paper mill this water is cleaner than when it arrived.
  • Their paper is chlorine-free.
  • Natural water-based vegetable oil pigment ink is used in printing.
  • Clairefontaine supplies 80% of their own energy needs.
  • They practice recycling and waste reduction.

2. Fountain Pen & Ink

Just how many disposable pens does one student use throughout their entire time spent in school? How about a multitude of students? It’s hard to even imagine the quantity of plastic pens tossed into the trash. Switch to a good fountain pen and you’ve got a pen that can last a lifetime! If you fill your fountain pen with bottled fountain pen ink, you’ll eliminate the need to throw away empty plastic ink cartridges refills. To use bottled ink you’ll want to be sure you have an ink converter or a piston-fill (or similar) fountain pen. Filling a fountain pen with bottled ink while you’re on the road or at school can be a little bit tricky, so I carry 2 fountain pens loaded with ink with me on those intense note-taking days.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen & Ink

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen & Ink

3. Refillable Highlighters

Highlighters are another plastic writing tool that usually get tossed in the trash when they’re dried up. Take another step to help ease the strain on the environment by using refillable highlighters. There are many refillable highlighter options you’ve probably never thought of.

Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighter

Staedtler Textsurfer Classic Highlighter

4. Book Darts

Book Darts are paper-thin metal line-markers that slide onto the page of a book and are used as place-finders for facts, quotes, key points and passages that you want to refer to later. They do not stain or damage paper and eliminate the need to highlight, underline, bend page corners or use paper clips or sticky notes. These light-weight metal darts can be reused over and over again for a lifetime. You don’t have to know all the answers, just where to find them!

Book Darts

Book Darts

5. Quo Vadis Academic Planner

What makes Quo Vadis academic planners different than other academic planners? They are full of earth-friendly Clairefontaine paper and most of them have covers that can be refilled every year with a new calendar insert. In addition, your fountain pen will write amazingly well on super-smooth 90g Clairefontaine paper. Academic planners are the must have tool to juggle a busy class schedule.


Quo Vadis Minister Academic Planner

Quo Vadis Minister Academic Planner

What environmentally friendly back to school supplies would you like to recommend?

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Using J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink as Highlighter Ink

Have you ever thought of using regular, non-fluorescent fountain pen ink as highlighter ink? More than once I’ve heard people wonder why ink companies bother creating fountain pen inks in light colors because when used for writing they can sometimes be hard to read. Besides being good for fans of bright colors, for artwork and for ink mixing, these colors are often valuable for use as highlighting inks!

I started out using J. Herbin Bouton d’Or regular yellow fountain pen ink for highlighters since it seemed the most obvious choice from my ink arsenal. I had such good results that I added Noodler’s Yellow to my calligraphy highlighter pens with similar good results. Recently I’ve been using J. Herbin’s Bleu Azur fountain pen ink in my Pelikan Script 2.0mm calligraphy pen and find that it’s the perfect shade of blue for highlighting.

We selected what we felt are the six lightest regular J. Herbin fountain pen ink colors and made some samples for you to take a look at. J. Herbin Bouton d’Or, Bleu Azur and Rose Tendresse are pretty typical “highlighter” colors (minus any fluorescence). Compared to your usual highlighter green, Vert Pré has more of a yellow tone to it and is a fresh, spring green. Diabolo Menthe is a pretty, light turquoise green that’s a fun alternative to regular highlighter blue. Bouquet d’Antan is to pink what denim blue is to blue, it’s kind of a faded, worn pink color that’s more subtle and easy on the eyes than blazingly fluorescent highlighter pinks. (We wish the combination of scanners and computer monitors would depict colors more accurately.)

These are our choices among J. Herbin’s wide variety of inks for use as highlighter colors. What do you think of these ink colors for highlighting? What are your favorite highlighting ink colors?



(This sample was made using a laser printer, cheap copier paper, a LAMY pen with a 1.9mm calligraphy nib, and a Pelikan Script with a 2.0mm nib. The ink descriptions come from the J. Herbin website. Sorry, I cannot seem to draw a straight line even if my life depended on it!)

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D.I.Y. Highlighter Recharging

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to recharge your dried-up highlighters:

  • One dried-up felt-tip highlighter with a felt ink reservoir (not the liquid ink tank kind)
  • One bottle of highlighter ink (such as Noodler’s or Pelikan M205)
  • One shot glass

Add a small amount of highlighter ink to the shot glass. Put the felt tip of the highlighter into the ink in the glass. Wait for at least an hour or more. If the ink in the glass runs dry, add more ink until the highlighter stops absorbing ink. Finished! A simple way to get more life out of your highlighters.

A few notes:

This method is not spill-proof like the Tombow Coat rechargers or Staedtler refill stations, so be careful! Make sure your cat does not tip the glass over.

Your highlighter will take on the characteristics of the new ink. This could be good or bad, depending on if you have any special highlighting needs such as quick drying, inkjet safe, non-bleed through, etc. There is a small chance of some kind of negative interaction between your highlighter and the new ink.

This method works great if the felt tip on your highlighter is still in good condition. After awhile the felt tip wears down and gets mushy and shapeless.

This method of refilling a highlighter works with highlighters that store ink in a cylindrical piece of absorbent material. It does not work with highlighters that have a liquid ink storage tank.

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Using Fountain Pens and Calligraphy Pens as Highlighters

The ultimate in environmentally friendly highlighting tools are fountain pens or calligraphy pens that can be used for years and years without ever wearing out. The felt tips on regular highlighters wear out quickly compared to a steel or gold fountain pen nib that can last a lifetime. I decided to give a few pens and inks a try to see what the experience was like and found that all of them were quite different.


First of all, I tried out the Pilot Parallel Pen with the 3.8mm nib and Noodler’s regular yellow ink. This nib was the widest nib that I tried and could produce a line that entirely covered words from top to bottom. The corners of the nib have defined 90 degree angles so my highlights had nice crisp edges. However, this feature plus the width of the nib slowed down my writing since the pen needs to be held properly in order to function well. The nib had a nice wet flow and words could be seen clearly through the Noodler’s yellow ink. This pen worked well as a highlighter, but I prefer a highlighter with a narrower tip.

Next I tried a couple of Pelikan Script calligraphy pens with 2.0mm nibs, Noodler’s Sunrise ink and Edelstein Mandarin ink. The nib on the Script pen had noticeably more flex to it than the other nibs I tried and I liked this feature, but one of the nibs also seemed to be a bit fussy because of the flex. The other nib was like butter. The corners of the nib are slightly less defined than the Pilot Parallel pen and produce a line with crisp edges. I really like the width of the 2.0mm nib for highlighting. The Sunrise ink worked well as highlighting ink, but depending on the paper the Mandarin ink was a bit dark for my taste.

Finally, I put a 1.9mm nib on my LAMY Safari and filled it with J. Herbin Bouton D’or. The corners of this nib are slightly more rounded than the corners of all the calligraphy nibs I used in this experiment, it was the most forgiving as to writing position and I could write the fastest with this nib. It also produced the narrowest line of all the nibs in this experiment. I felt that this line width could be used either for underlining or for highlighting if you don’t mind a thinner line. The Bouton D’or was probably my favorite of the inks discussed in this blog post.

Pelikan M205 Duo Highlighter Fountain Pen - Yellow

Pelikan M205 Duo Highlighter Fountain Pen – Yellow

The new Pelikan M205 Duo highlighter fountain pen takes another approach to highlighting and it is the topic of last week’s blog post. It has a BB nib, different than the other pens discussed here with calligraphy nibs. Pelikan has come out with a yellow highlighter ink to complement this pen. Update: Pelikan’s M205 Duo highlighter fountain pen is now also available in shiny green with green ink!

I found that the biggest drawback to using fountain pens as highlighters is that most of the time I am not highlighting on premium quality paper such as Clairefontaine DCP or Trophee paper. As a result, the ink used to highlight can sometimes bleed through the paper or feather. There are times when this isn’t much of an issue, but in other instances it was rather messy looking and annoying. At least the ink dried quickly on the cheap copier paper and other paper that I used.

Overall, I enjoyed using fountain pens and calligraphy pens as highlighters and will continue to do so. As far as what pen would be the very best for highlighting, I would say since everyone’s needs and preferences are so different to just experiment until you find something you like. Do you have any experience using fountain pens as highlighters? What works best for you?

The following test was done on cheap photocopier paper and the font size is an 11 point Calibri:

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Refillable Felt-Tip Highlighters

Refillable felt-tip highlighters are designed to help reduce the amount of plastic waste in our environment. Just think – if everyone were able to refill their felt-tip highlighters five times, this would eliminate the need to throw away four out of five plastic highlighters as they become dried-up. Obviously this isn’t going to solve all of our problems, but it’s nice to see the selection of refillable felt-tip highlighters is increasing. We’ll talk about three of them in this blog post.

The Platinum Preppy Highlighter Pen can easily be refilled by inserting a new ink cartridge or by using a converter and bottled fountain pen ink. Noodler’s bottled ink comes in regular highlighter and long-lasting highlighter colors such as Year of the Golden Pig and Dragon Catfish pink, green and orange.   When the felt tip on this highlighter starts to break down you can even replace it with a brand new felt tip! The body and cap of this pen are made from recycled polycarbonate. Preppy Highlighters are available in the colors green, orange, pink, yellow and blue.

Tombow Twin highlighters can easily be refilled using the Tombow Coat Highlighter Charger. All you need to do is set the open recharger on a level surface, gently put the pen’s felt tip into the ink, and 10 minutes later your highlighter is fully recharged! If you can’t wait 10 minutes you can use it sooner – after one minute the highlighter is 20% recharged, in five minutes 70% recharged. There is enough ink in the recharger for 10 refills and each highlighter pen can be refilled about 5 times. At first, the Tombow Coat recharger bottle design seems rather curious since the ink full level is near the bottom of the bottle. However, if you happen to accidentally knock the bottle over while a pen is recharging you’ll discover that the ink won’t spill out. I’m thinking someone has done this before… Tombow Coat Highlighter Chargers are available in ten different colors: yellow, red, brown, orange, golden yellow, yellow green, sky blue, blue, purple and pink. I have not tested to see whether or not this ink is compatible with other highlighters (yet).

The STAEDTLER Textsurfer Classic Ink-Jet Safe Highlighter is another good example of a refillable highlighter. It’s clean and easy to recharge by firmly inserting the felt tip into the top of the open refill station. After three or four hours it is completely refilled, but it can be used after spending just a few minutes in the refill station. It’s impossible to overfill the highlighter since it draws out only as much ink as needed to fill it to capacity. The refill station is specially designed not to spill ink if it is tipped over. Be sure to match the Textsurfer Classic Ink-Jet Safe Highlighter to the STAEDTLER refill station with ink-jet safe ink or you’ll lose the ink-jet safe property. STAEDTLER Textsurfer Classic Refill Stations come in yellow, blue, green and pink.

Do you have a favorite refillable felt-tip highlighter? Please tell us about it!

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Gel Highlighters

With all of the highlighting that I do on a regular basis I was very curious to give STAEDTLER Textsurfer Gel and Y & C Hi-Glider Gel Stick highlighters a try.

Using these highlighters is somewhat like using a crayon that softly and smooooothly glides over the paper. The lead is made from translucent wax that is advanced by twisting the end of the highlighter barrel. It is not possible to post the cap on these pens so you need to be careful not to lose it.

Gel highlighters dry instantly and do not smudge. The STAEDTLER Textsurfer was developed especially for use with pigmented inkjet inks so it does not smear the printouts. It also has STAEDTLER’s DRY SAFE feature so it can be left uncapped for days without drying up. The Y & C Hi-Glider is very similar to the Textsurfer, so it may also have these same features.

If you like a highlighter that has a consistent line width with defined edges, gel highlighters are not for you. The gel highlighter lead is approximately 3/8” in diameter and writes in a soft line about 1/16” to 1/4” wide. Sometimes tiny bits of excess wax are left on the paper as you write, but I do not find this to be bothersome.

The most outstanding feature of these highlighters is that you can use them on paper that is of extremely poor quality or on very thin paper and the wax does not bleed through! The photo below attempts to demonstrate that a highlighter with regular ink bleeds through the thin paper of a dictionary, whereas the gel highlighter does not bleed through this thin paper at all.

STAEDTLER Textsurfer Gel highlighters are available in yellow, orange and pink. Y & C Hi-Glider Gel Stick highlighters come in yellow, orange, pink, green and blue.

Have you ever used a gel highlighter? What do you think of it?

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Zebra Optex Care and Tombow Twin Highlighters

Some of our favorite highlighters include Zebra Optex Care and Tombow Twin highlighters. What makes these highlighters different and why do we like them so much?

One of the first things you’ll notice about these highlighters is that each end of the highlighter has a different size tip – a broad chisel tip for highlighting words & phrases and a fine tip for taking notes, doodling or underlining. It gives you the flexibility of having two pens in one! Both highlighters can be capped no matter which end you are using.

Have you ever purchased a highlighter whose felt tip turned into mush within the first few weeks of use? You shouldn’t experience that problem with these highlighters since both of them have been designed with high quality felt tips that hold their shape well. The Zebra Optex Care has a tip similar to a regular highlighter. The Tombow Twin highlighter takes a different approach, using plastic polymer to make a little jacket or coat for the tip to help it keep its shape.

Both Zebra Optex Care and Tombow Twin highlighters come in a nice variety of colors including some out-of-the-ordinary colors such as tea brown, red, golden yellow and coral. The colors are pleasingly soft and not so screaming-bright that they are hard on the eyes. Zebra Optex Care and Tombow Twin sell their highlighters in sets of 10 different colors as well as individually.

Their slim design with the clip on one cap makes it so that I can use them in the pen-holder of my study portfolio – a bonus for me! Another bonus – if your Tombow highlighters are running dry you can use Tombow Coat Highlighter Chargers to refill them with ink.

How about you? What are your favorite highlighters?

Here is what the colors look like when photocopied:

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Platinum Preppy Highlighter Pen


I am so happy to finally find the Preppy Highlighter from Platinum Pens!

Liquid ink highlighters have always been my favorite, but I use them up quickly and was tossing multitudes of plastic pens into the trash. I could picture the creation of a small landfill with my name on it, mounded up with dried up highlighter pens… but not any more! Preppy highlighters are refillable with ink cartridges that come with fresh replacement nibs when mine starts to wear out. I can also use a converter to easily refill the pen with whatever ink I choose.

The cartridge that comes with the Preppy Highlighter lasted me about one month, or roughly 275 lines of highlighting text printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper. I chose to refill my pen with Noodler’s Firefly Highlighting Ink. After using 3 cartridges full of ink, the tip of the pen had become softer than I prefer so it was time to replace it with a Platinum Preppy Highlighter Replacement Tip.

The ink I have my eye on next is Noodler’s Ink Year of the Golden Pig. This highlighting ink will not fade and comes with a free eyedropper fill Preppy Highlighter Pen to save money and help the environment.

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