Review: Red Pen Case (no brand)

One of my recent finds is this red pen case that I got from National Bookstore. Unfortunately it has no brand that I can see, but if I recall correctly it’s priced somewhere around Php150. It has a nylon-type material, and has a zipper that goes around on three of the four edges.

This means that the case itself opens up in a book-type way. It lays flat conveniently, and displays everything that it contains. It’s a very thin pen case, so it does not hold that much. For me though it has exactly the right amount of space for my everyday needs.

I also particularly like this pen case because it is of the correct size to hold my loose Hobonichi Weeks Supplementary notebook.

The case does not have many compartments. One of them is a full-length zipped mesh pocket on the left size of the case. It is roomy enough to hold a few sheets of stickers, two rolls of thin (~6mm) washi tape, and one thick washi sampler. It can hold additional pens but it might make the case too bulky to close.

On the right side of the case there are two nearly full-length slip pockets. The front pocket can hold around 5-7 pens depending on the thickness. For example here, I have five pens: the 2016 Hobonichi pen, a Raymay portable scissors, a Pilot Twin Marker, a gold Artline gel marker, and a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. I can actually fit one more pen on the right of the Plaisir, but at the moment these are my pens on rotation.

At the back of the pen pocket I have space to put more stationery. I have a couple of journaling cards, a Hobonichi stencil, a packet of Japanese page flags, and three paperclips. As it is a full-length pocket it can actually hold longer pieces of paper, which is quite convenient.

The case when closed is just slightly wider and thicker than a Hobonichi Weeks with Cover on Cover. This makes it an ideal everyday case, and I am very happy to have found it!

 

Sakura Gelly Roll Gel Pens + Blog Update

Let’s start with the important part: these wonderful pens!

Sakura Gelly Rolls are pretty much well known in the pen universe as good, nay, great, gel pens, and I’ve always wanted to try them out. After checking several places, I finally found a Sakura stand at SM Stationery (SM Makati). I helped myself to one of each type of Sakura Gelly Roll available. The best part? Each is just ~Php50 each!

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The pens are all in the same general slim, translucent barrels, with a round-ended cap and the distinctive Gelly Roll branding. The caps vary depending on the pen type. The ones I was able to try are (from top to bottom, above): Classic (in blue), Gold Shadow (in green), Metallic (in gold), and Stardust (in red). The Classic has a matte solid colored cap and nothing on the clip. The Gold Shadow has a sheeny solid cap with gold glittery stars on the clip. The Metallic has gold sparkles on a translucent cap and nothing on the clip. Finally, Stardust has a clear cap with silver sprinkles and a comet stamped on the clip. The butts of the pens also differ: the Classic and the Metallic have colored butts while the Gold Shadow and the Stardust have white/translucent butts.

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The pen tips are all pretty thick, I’d say at 1mm for all except the Classic which comes in 0.5mm. Normally I would shy away from such thick nibs but for such interesting gel pens I’m pretty okay with 1mm.

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How do they write? Pretty smoothly, and glides nicely especially on good quality paper such as the Rhodia lined pad above. The Gold Shadow and the Metallic have shiny sheeny ink, which would go nicely on things like greetings cards and gift tags. The Stardust has silver glitter in the ink and is super pretty as well! The Classic is a great generic gel pen that writes just as smoothly as the rest.

 

The sheen in the three non-Classic Gelly Rolls

A post shared by Becoming Sleek (@becomingsleek) on

 

I fell immediately in love with the Metallic the most, and bought myself some extra colors to use in gift tags for the coming holidays. I’ve also seen a Sakura Gelly Roll stand in Scribe stores, so you can go buy yours there!

 

Blog Update

It’s been quite barren in my blog for a while, and this is due to several life things that got in the way. My rule has always been to deliver good quality posts, even if it takes some time, as opposed to delivering mediocre posts in a more regular posting schedule, which is what happened here. Right now, I think I’ve been finally been able to catch up with life and should now be able to resume my regular posting of stationery and planner goodness, so do watch out for that! As it is, I’d like to thank you all for sticking around and for your continuous support.

 

My Strangest Pen

We all have that one pen, the pen that onlookers would go, “what IS that?!”. For me, it turns out to be the Stabilo EasyOriginal, and it is this pen.

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As you can see, it looks really different from conventional pens. The idea behind the EasyOriginal is simply ergonomics. The pen is designed to fit the hand perfectly, lending to comfort of writing. There are two versions of this: the one for right-handed people (R) and the one for left-handed people (L).

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There are grooves in the right places to place the thumb and the index finger, and also a groove at the back to rest on the crook of the hand. I think the main idea of the EasyOriginal is a starter pen (or pencil) for kids, to teach them how to hold a writing instrument properly.

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The pen itself comes in four parts. The cap is a screw-on type that covers the pen tip securely. The grip section is rubberized, and has the indentations for the thumb and index finger as I mentioned earlier. The tail of the pen screws off to reveal the place where the pen refills go in. Yes, indeed, this pen is a refillable pen too! The pen refill itself is quite interesting, with a rollerball that feels very much like a felt-tip and writes smoothly like a gel pen.

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The resulting line looks like a 0.5 line, and is very smooth and cool on the eyes. The ink is quite pigmented, and has a tendency to show or even bleed through the other side of a lesser quality paper. I really like writing with this pen, and the ergonomic factor makes it really comfortable for long writing sessions.

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I actually got this pen in the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam during one of my business trips, and I got it simply because it looked very strange. I didn’t expect to like it this much! I had been sort of hoarding the ink and not using it much for fear of running out of refill without a way to get more, but happily enough I have seen EasyOriginals in National Bookstore recently. I’m hoping that eventually they’ll bring in refill packs as well.

 

Review: Pilot Coleto

One of my favorite pens recently is the Pilot Coleto multipen. It is called a multipen because it has the ability to carry more than one color of ink, or even carrying a pencil inside the same pen. There are several options for the Coleto barrel: how many “slots” it has, and the overall look of the barrel itself. Over the last few months I have accumulated a total of six Coleto barrels, although I only use at most two at a time. The two on the leftmost have three slots and the rest have four.

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The two leftmost barrels in the photos are my first two. They are plain, clear barrels with flat tops and a rubberized grip section. These are readily available in National Bookstore, which is how I first got into Pilot Coletos in the first place. At some point, though, I decided I wanted more colors in my Coletos, and I wanted something more fun than just plain barrels. I got my next two Coletos (middle two) separately, the one with the black flowers (from the Mary Quant collection) from DolcesOnline and the breakfast print one (from an older collection) from DavaoArts, and as you can see they are both printed with fun things. At some point I was taking my Coletos everywhere, including formal work situations, and I thought that I needed something more formal looking. This is when I decided to get the last two, from CraftyLane. The black one is just a plain N4 barrel, while the rightmost is a Coleto Lumio, which is probably the most premium Coleto barrel type available since it is made of metal rather than plastic.

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Taking a closer look at the tops of the Coletos, the caps are differently shaped depending on the model. This is where the inks are loaded, inserted into each of the slots where the springs are located. As you can see here, only the rightmost two barrels have inks in them.

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Looking now at the bottom of the barrels, you can see that there is a significant difference in the barrel thickness between the 3-slot ones and the 4-slot ones (not including the Lumio). This is of course because of the added slot. Interestingly enough, only the plain clear barrels have that rubberized grip. The Lumio is special in that its grip section is quite thinner than the other 4-slot barrels, which is one of the reasons why it’s premium.

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Here is a closer view of the tops of the barrels.

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The plain clear barrels go for around Php120 if I’m not mistaken. The Mary Quant barrel (black flowers print) was Php220, the breakfast barrel was Php180, the N4 black barrel was Php120, and the Lumio was Php580.

I really like Pilot Coleto, even though there have been some negative feedback online about how fast the ink runs out. I am personally not bothered by it, and I really like how fine the 0.3 tip writes. There are two other tip sizes available: 0.4 and 0.5. The most common colors (black, red, blue, green, purple, orange) are readily available at National Bookstore for Php43.50, so it’s not going to be hard finding refills. I think this will remain my mainstay non-fountain pen for the near future.

 

 

Pen Case Updated

My purple pen case was my notebooks’ constant companion for quite some time. There’s only one problem with it, which is that the pen loops can’t handle the fatter of my pens such as the Lamy Al-Star. That sent me on a quest to find a better pen case that also allowed me to hold the other necessary stationery items along with my pens. Lucky for me, I found the perfect case!

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This is a very boxy kind of pencase, and at first I wasn’t sure if it can hold all the stationery I wanted to include. I found this case at National Bookstore, and luckily enough the case I found is also purple. It’s from a brand called Nabel, which I’ve never heard of before. The case has two zippers running all around the top of the case, which lets it open up fully either way. There are no external pockets, even though it looks like there’s one near the brand’s label. There’s a carry strap at the bottom, which I don’t really use but I appreciate that it’s there.

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When fully opened, the top flips out like a book, and the spacious inside is revealed.

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The lid (left side) has some neat pockets. There’s a couple of smaller pockets in front, where I put in some page flags and a small pair of scissors. Behind that there is a full-length zip pocket, where I am able to stuff in the few sheets of stickers I really wanted to carry around.

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The actual “body” of the case is quite big. There are five pockets to slot pens in. There is also an elastic band running behind that, which now acts like another pocket when I slotted in a big PostIt pad. I can slip things like washi samplers at the back of the pad. There’s a lot of space here that can accommodate far more than 5 pens. I’ve stuffed it with as much as 9 fountain pens and there seemed to be space for more pens beyond that.

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While this pencase is bigger than my older one, I love that it can fit my Al-Star without any issues. Lately I’ve been carrying far too many fountain pens, and this case helps me keep them safe in my bag. I’m very pleased with this case!

 

Review: Pilot Metropolitan

Just a quick disclaimer: This is not going to be a comprehensive review; there are a lot of already-written, more in-depth review of the Pilot Metropolitan out there. This is going to be a short review.

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Pilot Metropolitan (which I affectionately call the Metro) is usually one of the first few fountain pens mentioned when asked about good entry-level fountain pens. It’s relatively cheap, well-built, a great consistent writer, and now quite easily accessible locally. It has a full-metal body, which makes it on the heavy side. It can use either cartridges or converters, although both are proprietary to Pilot, which means you do have the option of using bottled inks (with the converter) or not if you can’t be bothered (cartridges).

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One of the things I like about the Metro is the nib. It comes in either fine (F) or medium (M), being Japanese both of which are usually on the narrower side compared to European/American nibs. This is how I prefer my pens; the narrower, the better! Another thing I like is how sleek and professional they look, even the more colorful ones. The brushed metal finish is very elegant, and the patterns in the middle give a good contrast and personality to the pens.

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Now, one thing I don’t like about the Metro is the lack of an ink window. It is very hard to tell how much ink you have left in the pen unless you go through the trouble of opening up the pen to check the converter or cartridge. Another thing I don’t like is the converter. The pens usually come with a black cartridge and a squeeze-type converter. I immediately replace that converter with the CON-50, the screw-type converter as seen in the purple and red Metros below. The drawback to these is the very small ink capacity. My solution to these is to just reuse the cartridges once I have consumed the ink, but refilling them can be an exercise in frustration until you get the hang of it.

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Pilot Metropolitans go for around Php600 or less, depending on where you buy. It is available online at Everything Calligraphy. Big stores such as National Bookstore also carry them, but the supply is rather spotty. There is supposedly another source called Cosmos Bazar which is located in a place I rarely go to, but as far as I know they are the official distributor of Pilot in the Philippines, so their prices are cheaper. My black Metro was from National Bookstores in one of the rare times I was able to catch stocks, and my two Retro Pops are ordered through a Massdrop deal.

Now, the only reason I don’t have more of these is because I believe in using what I have. If I have too many pens, then I can’t possibly be maximizing the use of all of them. Otherwise, I would have bought all colors of the Retro Pop line, and a gold and silver version from the basic line as well! They are that good!

 

 

Recent Brush Pen Favorites

Since my last post on brush calligraphy, I have expanded my brush pen collection. Here are the ones I reach for the most recently.

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From top to bottom: Monami Brush Pen (refill only), Daiso Refillable Brush Pen, Zebra Brush Pen Super Fine, Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen, Pentel Touch Brush Pen. The last three were bought from Dolces Online and the Daiso from, well, Daiso. Unfortunately I have forgotten where I bought the Monami Brush Pen (I got a set of ten, different colors).

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The tips of the pens are mostly on the fine/super fine range, except for the Daiso brush pen which I’d categorize as broad. All of them except again for Daiso are on the stiff side.

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Here’s a writing sample of all five, on a Rhodia N11 pad. If I were asked, I’d say that my favorite would be a toss up between the Zebra and the Tombow brush pens. They have just the right amount of stiffness that gives a good line variation without a lot of effort, and are simply a joy to write with.

Maker Monthly December 2015 Box

There have been some international stationery subscription boxes that I have been wanting to try. The first one that I finally tried is called Maker Monthly. Their website states that the box lets the subscriber…

Unwrap inspiration every month.

I had been particularly taken by this box because of the simplicity of the offer, and the fact that they include notebooks and pens in the box every month. There’s something so exciting in getting new pens and notebooks in the mail on a monthly basis. The price was the one that finally convinced me to try it. It’s a flat $30 for international subscriptions ($20 for US, $25 for Canada) and that includes the shipping fee as well. The subscription automatically renews at the start of every month, but you do have the option to skip a month if you like.

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I had signed up for my first box last December. The shipping notice told me that my box shipped out December 30, and it arrived at the QC Central Post Office on January 13, which is not bad. It did take a while to get the notice from the PO, and I was finally able to pick it up on January 21. I was lucky enough to not get charged with any customs fees beyond the processing fee (Php112).

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I of course unboxed it immediately when I got home, which explains the obvious bedsheet background in these photos. The Maker Monthly box is a sturdy cardboard box with a simple branding on the lid. Upon lifting the lid this is what you will see. There’s a flat package on top with a big tag with Maker branding. Under this flat package is a bunch of paper filler to help protect the rest of the items.

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Each item is actually neatly packaged in individual packaging. I really  like how classy the kraft packaging looks. There are three individually wrapped packages, three of the big paper tags, and a bonus bell charm which I think was included because of the holidays (since it’s a December box).

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The contents of the packages are laid out here. The biggest but flattest package held a January calendar printed on good quality cardstock. Unfortunately this came a bit too late since there were only 10 more days of January when I received my box. Still, I appreciated the idea of the calendar, and I do like the design on the top part, which I can still use in some way. The next package held a pack of Field Notes Snowblind edition (my first Field Notes!), and the last and smallest package held three writing instruments!

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As I said, I got a pack of three Field Notes Snowblind Edition notebooks and I am quite excited to see them. These are my first Field Notes notebooks and I can’t wait to actually try them out. I’m very happy that I got a gridded set. I have yet to see the color-changing properties of the cover – it’s supposed to turn blue under direct sunlight. The value of this pack is roughly Php499, which is the going price of Snowblind locally.

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I also got three of these gigantic paper tags, which looks pretty cool and made of good quality cardstock. I still have no idea what to use them for, but they’re a nice touch.

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The first of the pens I got is a Sharpie Permanent Marker in Metallic Bronze. I don’t actually have a lot of Sharpie markers, and I love that I got a bronze one. It would have been so nice to get this back in December as it works well to mark holiday gifts, but I’m never sad to receive any new pen. This Sharpie pen has a value of approximately Php167.

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The second of the pens is a Pilot Fineliner in Black. As a self-confessed Pilot fangirl, seeing this in my box certainly made me one happy girl. I do not have a Pilot Fineliner yet, and I’m happy to be able to try this. I also don’t think this is available locally. Internet prices puts this at approximately Php115 value.

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The last of the pens I received is actually not a pen. It’s a Pentel Graphgear 500 mechanical pencil in 0.9 width. Now normally I’m not a pencil user, much less something that has a very thick width. This mechanical pencil looks really professional and feels good in the hand. I like how the grip feels. This is going to be my office pencil from this point on. It has an approximate value of Php275, and has a good chance of being available locally as well.

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I am no pen enthusiast if I didn’t do writing samples. Here’s all three, tested on a Rhodia N11 pad. I really like the sheen of the bronze Sharpie, the fine line made by the Pilot Fineliner, and the smoothness of the Pentel Graphgear. Overall I am very pleased with this selection of pens.

Looking at it as a whole, the total value of the products (excluding the paper calendar, tags, and bell charm) comes up to around Php1050, which is roughly $21. This is definitely way less than the $30 that I paid, but considering that there is the shipping cost to consider as well as the non-availability of some of the products locally I think the contents of the box are quite fair. I did sign up for the January box as well and am eagerly waiting for its arrival.

 

Other Pilot Pens That I Use

I am a self-confessed Pilot addict, and I’ve already showed you my Pilot fountain pen collection (here) and my Pilot brush pen (here). I actually have more Pilot pens other than that, and I wanted to highlight them today.

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From top to bottom, these pens are the Pilot BP-S Fine, Pilot Coleto 3-ink Barrel, and Pilot Juice 0.5. These are mostly everyday pens and find use in my daily routines. The Pilot BP-S are typical office ballpens, and in fact are the ones that my office used to give out to new employees (they switched to another brand lately, boo). These are workhorses, and are pretty reliable. I have all three of the basic colors (blue, red, and black) and are stocked in my desk for easy access. Pilot BP-S pens are available in most bookstores. The Pilot Coleto is a multipen system and you can customize the colors of the ink. Barrels can be 3- or 4-slot ones, and mine is just a basic 3-slot one that I bought at National Bookstore along with a selection of ink colors. These are great with my traveler’s notebooks since I can just grab one of these and they’d have multiple colors already. Lastly, the Pilot Juice is a gel pen with a clicker mechanism, and writes quite smoothly and nicely. I use this for color-coding, highlighting, and general doodling for my planner and/or journal.

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In terms of nib sizes, the Pilot Juice and Coleto inks come in different sizes. My Juice is in 0.5, but I’ve seen some that’s a finer 0.38. Coleto inks come in 0.3 (mine), 0.4, and 0.5 as far as I know, or at least the ones available in National Bookstore. The BP-S is just a standard ballpen and does not come in different line widths.

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Here’s my writing sample. The Juice and the BP-S have approximately the same line width, so they’re probably both 0.5. The Coleto is noticeably finer at 0.3, which I absolutely love.

There you go! Just a short post sharing my other Pilot loves!

Haul: February 2014

Haven’t bought any new stuff for some time, until now. Here is a short list of things I got for the month of February.

1. Sampleroom Haul

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As soon as H2O+ released their samples through Sampleroom, I grabbed the overnight moisturizer (140 points). Along with it I grabbed another one of the Sappe drinks (the glutathione one, 10 points) and surprisingly received two bottles! I also got a surprise sample vial of Celeteque Cleansing Oil which I use a lot, so I’m quite happy to get this. Now I have a travel bottle, woot! Thanks Sampleroom!

2. Landmark Travel Brush Set

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Sometimes I am such in a hurry in the mornings that I just slap on my face base and just apply the rest of my makeup in the office. Unfortunately my brushes are too bulky to keep bringing, so I bought this travel brush set from Landmark (Php239.75). It consists of a mini-kabuki brush, a powder/blush brush, an eyeshadow/concealer brush, a blending brush, and an included cloth pouch. The bristles are soft and the handles are short but handy enough. Unfortunately it seems like the pouch is a tad small and can’t comfortably hold the brushes.

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3. Empty makeup tubs

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I bought myself more of these empty makeup tubs. The blue one (Php21.95) is meant to hold my antihistamine tabs. I was planning to depot some of my stuff, notably the Essence eyeshadow base, and put it into one of the purple ones (two for Php24.75, plus a spatula). I bought the gold-lidded one (Php19.95) just because it looks so pretty!

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4. OMG Nail Polishes

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What is a trip to Landmark without grabbing a few bottles of OMG? I of course couldn’t resist and got myself a couple – a green one, Gossip, and a taupe/brown one, Sunny Tan. Watch out for the swatches!

5. Calligraphy pens

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I’ve also been on a hunt for not-so-expensive pens for my calligraphy practice. I’ve been sporadically uploading my cursive exercises on twitter, but I’ve only been using a regular gel pen. I wanted something more “legit”, and I finally managed to spot a couple at Power Books Greenbelt 3. One is an Artline Calligraphy Pen (width 2.0) for Php64.50 and works like a regular marker but with a flat tip instead of pointed. The other is a Sakura Pigma Brush Pen (!!!) for Php70.50. It has a brush tip, and works just like a paintbrush so it’s a little bit more tricky to use. I’m so addicted to these right now!