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

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 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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Off-Black is the New Black: Fountain Pen Ink for Your Office

Do you need a conservative color of fountain pen ink that is suitable for an office environment? Are you tired of plain old blue or black ink and want to write with a more interesting, yet subtle, color of ink? Off-black fountain pen ink may be just the ink you’re looking for!

Noodler's Ink Nightshade

Noodler’s Ink Nightshade

Noodler’s Ink Nightshade

Depending on what paper color you choose to write on, Noodler’s Nightshade ink can seem to take on different hues. I would call it a dark purple-brown-black and especially love to pair this ink with cream colored paper.

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Poussière de Lune

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune, or Moondust Purple, was created to mimic the color of the night sky when only the crescent moon is glowing in the dark. We could describe it much less poetically as a purple-black color.

J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Cacao du Bresil

The brown-black color of Cacao du Bresil ink will make you think of a delicious piece of dark chocolate. Well, at least that’s what it makes me think of, but it doesn’t take much to make me think of chocolate.

Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut Fountain Pen Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut Fountain Pen Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Yama-guri – Wild Chestnut

Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut ink is another brown-black ink color, named after the natural beauty of the dark brown shades of the fruit of the wild chestnut tree.

Noodler's Ink Red-Black

Noodler’s Ink Red-Black

Noodler’s Ink Red-Black

Noodler’s Ink Red-Black ink is black with a punch of red added to it. Or is it red with the mystery of black added to it?

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Gris Nuage

J. Herbin describes Gris Nuage ink (Cloud Gray) as “a light gray resembling a cloudy sky at sea slightly darkening before the storm. This color also represents the journeys taken at sea by J. Herbin when traveling to India.”

There are many types of gray ink to choose from, so go ahead and pick your favorite brand or shade:
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Kiri-same – Autumn Shower/Scotch Mist
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Fuyu-syogun – Old Man Winter/Rigor of Winter
OMAS Fountain Pen Ink Bottle – Gray
Noodler’s Ink – Lexington Gray

Noodler's Ink Sequoia

Noodler’s Ink Sequoia

Noodler’s Ink Sequoia

Noodler’s Ink in dark Sequoia green might bring to mind a vacation spent in a peaceful forest. I can already smell the pine needles… now get back to work!

Noodler's Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black is one of our favorite shades of blue-black with a hint of teal. We have found this to be a great multi-purpose ink that works well in all sorts of pens including roller balls that refill with fountain pen ink.

Other shades of blue-black fountain pen ink to try:
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Shin-kai – Deep Sea
Noodler’s Ink Blue-Black
Noodler’s Ink 54th Massachusetts
LAMY Blue-Black Ink
Pelikan Edelstein Ink Tanzanite

Do you write with ink colors other than blue or black? What’s your favorite color of  fountain pen ink for the office?

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From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book

From This Day Forward: Wedding Guest Book is part of Compendium’s Live Inspired collection which is meant to inspire, motivate and celebrate the world we love and live in. The inspirational quotations contained in this wedding guest book are sure be part of what will make this book a cherished memory of a couple’s special day.

Instead of just being a registry book for wedding guest names and addresses, the layout of the From This Day Forward wedding guest book is meant to inspire guests to share meaningful advice on how to have a happy life together. As friends and family write on the lined white pages in this book they will read an inspirational quotation on the facing page. The inspirational pages are a understated light-taupe color and are adorned with elegant white botanical and floral designs.

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are “It’s not where you go or what you do in life, it’s who you have beside you” – unknown, and “I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

From This Day Forward is hard bound and is covered in a neutral light-taupe cloth with white and dark brown foil stamping. There is a matching ribbon book marker to assist in finding the right page. There are 80 pages – half are lined for guests to write on and the other half have quotations. Each wide-ruled page has 14 lines.

My favorite fountain pen to match this guest book would have to be the taupe colored Pelikan Classic M205.

My first choice for ink would be a dark taupe brown color of ink such as J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil.

If you would rather use a gel pen, then I would recommend the classy silver tone Pentel EnerGel Alloy RT Gel Pen that comes with a black ink cartridge. Your left-handed guests will not smear the EnerGel ink!

Are you planning on getting married this year? Congratulations and best wishes from all of us here at Writer’s Bloc!

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Trending Taupe

Taupe is a neutral color that is frequently used in the world of fashion, interior design, graphic design and elsewhere. According to Wikipedia the word “taupe” comes from the Latin name for the European mole and was originally used to describe the average color of the actual animal. Today, the word taupe is used to refer to varying shades ranging from grayish-brown, tan, rose taupe and more.  It is also the most popular color for leather sofas! The color taupe also appears in the world of notebooks, ink and fountain pens.

In 2012 Pelikan created a special edition M205 fountain pen in the color taupe that will only be available for a limited period of time. This sophisticated color subtly stands out of the crowd of traditional black fountain pens. It’s definitely on my want list!

For a matching ink color, I would fill my Pelikan M205 fountain pen with J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil fountain pen ink which I would call a dark brown taupe color. For a contrasting ink color, I would choose Tanzanite from Pelikan’s Edelstein Ink collection. This blue-black ink would be a nice complement to the classy taupe body of the fountain pen.

Leuchtturm 1917 created one of their thoughtfully designed lined journals with numbered pages with a taupe cover. The soft ivory color of the paper in this journal really makes a brown shade of ink pop on the page.

Even hipsters like the color taupe as evidenced in this funky retro design “Doing Good and Feeling Good” Write Now journal from Live Inspired.

If you prefer a journal with bright white paper, there are a limited number of taupe Quo Vadis Habana Journals available while they last. The Clairefontaine paper in the Habana journal works great with fountain pens.

To top it all off, I would paint my nails with Opi “Over the Taupe” nail polish. Yeah, that’s right, even my fingers would match my fountain pen, ink and journal.

Even my cat Rori has a taupe chin and taupe spots!

I’m afraid that once I buy the Pelikan M205 in taupe I will also need to get a matching Fiat 500 in my favorite color they call “punk grey”. Think of how good I will look driving this car!

Do you have any favorite products or designs in the classic color of Taupe?

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J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen Review

The J. Herbin refillable rollerball pen is a welcome addition to Exaclair’s new products for 2012. The feature that distinguishes this rollerball pen from most other rollerball pens is that J. Herbin’s pen can be filled with colorful fountain pen ink!

With its transparent body and simple design, the J. Herbin refillable rollerball has a modern minimalist appearance. It is accented with a chrome clip and trim and has “J. Herbin” printed in red on the snap-on cap. The pen has a “soft touch” feel to it – kind of similar to the “soft touch” feel of the R by Rhodia notebook covers. No doubt this helps to keep the cap securely posted while you are writing. The clear barrel comes in handy to keep track of how much ink is left in your pen.

(J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen alongside an R by Rhodia Bloc No. 12)

Without its cap on this pen is a very compact 3.88”! It has been cleverly designed to be 5.5” when posted, a comfortable length for writing. With it’s cap on it’s about 4.75” in length which is a good size for carrying in a purse or pocket.

(J. Herbin Rollerball and Exacompta’s Forum Journal with a Club cover)

The J. Herbin rollerball writes in a medium line and is refillable with short international ink cartridges. J. Herbin ink cartridges are a great choice since they are available in 20 different colors! Most ink converters will be too long to fit inside this pen, but at only 2.25” long the Monteverde Mini Converter seems as if it could be adjusted to fit. I haven’t tried it personally, so if anyone gets an opportunity to check it out let us know. There are small holes on the end of the barrel so this pen is not suitable for conversion into eye-dropper fill.

(J. Herbin Rollerball alongside a previous version of the J. Herbin Rollerball)

We’re having a great time using the J. Herbin refillable rollerball pen! Do you like the idea of using fountain pen ink in a rollerball pen? What refillable rollerball pens do you like to use?

(J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball Pen Writing Test – with a Rhodia Webnotebook & custom mixed green ink)


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Violette Pensée Ink Mixing Part 2

My first attempt at purple ink mixing was a recipe of 5 parts J. Herbin Violette Pensée and 1 part another ink. The results were pretty much all different shades of purple, so I wondered what results I would get increasing the amount of other ink. This new experiment is a recipe of equal parts J. Herbin Violette Pensée and another color of ink. Results were more varied this time.

I wasn’t surprised to see that equal parts Violette Pensée and J. Herbin Perle Noir (black) made black with purple undertones.

Violette Pensée and J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen (magenta) together made a purple that is brighter, lighter, warmer and pinker than Violette Pensée on its own. This scan makes it look a lot bluer than it actually is. I used to have a shirt exactly this color in high school.

A rather pleasing royal blue color results from the combination of J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche (cyan) and Violette Pensée.

Kind of a murky golden brown is produced by Violette Pensée and J. Herbin Bouton D’Or (yellow).

Violette Pensée and J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage (green) together make an interesting gray-green shade. The scan mostly fails to show the green tint to this mix.

J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary ink (red) with Violette Pensée makes a dark red-brown or red-black color.

A dark maroon-brown results from Violette Pensée and Edelstein Mandarin (orange) ink.

If I was going to choose one of these to mix and fill my pen with it would have to be the Lierre Sauvage combination because of its unusual shade. I like it even though it’s darker and more conservative than the colors of ink I often use. I think I would also enjoy the red-black color of the 1670 Anniversary ink mixed with the purple or the maroon produced by the Edelstein Mandarin.

What is your favorite ink mixing recipe?

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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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Ink Mixing With J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink

J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink is a limited edition red ink created to honor the 340th anniversary of the J. Herbin ink brand. Since it is only available for a short time, I thought I’d better start my experiments with this ink right away!

For this ink mixing experiment I used 5 parts of some common J. Herbin ink colors with only 1 part J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink. Here are some the the results:

Bleu Pervenche plus 1670 Anniversary ink creates a dark purple-grey color. It looks rather like a purple-black when writing with it.

Rose Cyclamen with 1670 Anniversary ink makes a color that I would call “fruit punch”. It makes me want to reach for a tall glass filled with ice and something delicious!

Bouton D’or and 1670 Anniversary ink created an amazing scarlet or vermilion color that I really love. It is a bright orange-red color even when you are writing with it.

Perle Noire with a touch of 1670 Anniversary ink makes a conservative espresso brown, or a black-brown color.

The next mix that I did is a little more complicated. I used green ink mixed from 5 parts Bouton D’or and 1 part Bleu Pervenche. This green turns out to be quite similar to J. Herbin’s Vert Pré. When you use 5 parts of this green and one part 1670 Anniversary you get a rich milk chocolate color with some very nice shading!

Finally, Violette Pensée and 1670 Anniversary ink makes a plum color that really reminds me of Cabernet Sauvignon wine. If you are a fan of red wine I think you’re really going to love this ink color! Hmmm…. I seem to be sensing a food theme for the ink color descriptions today. I think it’s almost dinner time as I write this post.

My favorites of this experiment are the scarlet, milk chocolate and wine colors. How about you? Do you think you might try mixing any of these or other colors yourself while the 1670 Anniversary ink is still available?

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Shades of Red – Ink Mixing With J. Herbin 1670 Anniversary Ink

I’m really not quite sure what I expected with this ink mixing experiment, but then that’s what experiments are for, aren’t they? The 1670 Anniversary red ink is one of J. Herbin’s most saturated ink colors, so adding just a touch of another ink color made almost no difference in some mixes, but other mixes offered a more dramatic change. I’m not sure how much you’ll notice in this scan, but anyway here it goes. I used 5 parts 1670 Anniversary red ink and one part of another color of J. Herbin ink.


1670 Anniversary ink mixed with Bleu Pervenche made a red-black looking ink with a purplish undertone.

I didn’t notice much of a change to the 1670 Anniversary color when I added Rose Cyclamen to it, however, I can see a tinge of magenta when there is shading.

Bouton D’or also did not change the color of the 1670 Anniversary ink much. If anything, it may have warmed up the color an eensy bit.

1670 Anniversary plus Perle Noire creates a conservative black-red color with noticeable red in the shading.

1670 Anniversary with bright green (created from 5 parts Bouton’Dor and 1 part Bleu Pervenche – similar to Vert Pré) makes dark red.

Adding Violette Pensée to 1670 Anniversary ink also creates dark red, but this dark red is more of a maroon color. This was my favorite new color from the experiment.

What are your favorite red fountain pen ink colors?

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J. Herbin Gris Nuage Ink Mixing Test

I had some fun the other night experimenting with mixing J. Herbin Gris Nuage grey ink with other colors of J. Herbin fountain pen inks. For this test I used the ratio of five parts Gris Nuage and one part the other color of ink. I used a Clairefontaine Basics notebook for the paper, which held up quite well despite being heavily doused with ink.

Gris Nuage plus 1670 Anniversary Rouge Hematite ink turned out to be a toned-down version of red, not as bright as the 1670 ink on its own. Not a dramatic change, but who would want to change this great red color anyway?

When Bleu Pervenche was added to Gris Nuage the result was a turquoise-grey color. Nice shading in this combination.

The big surprise was Bouton D’or turned Gris Nuage into a great army green color with lots of shading. This was my favorite result and I filled up my Pelikano Junior with this color immediately!

Gris Nuage plus Violette Pensee resulted in a dark purple-grey color as expected.

My second favorite result was the Gris Nuage and Rose Cyclamen combination. This turned out to be a satisfying purple color with pink undertones.

Anyone else have a favorite ink mixing combination using J. Herbin Gris Nuage ink?

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