Unboxing the Box of Pen Addict Awesomeness (BOPAA)

Guess what package came in the mail?

It could have been my Planck keyboard, or my order from iHerb, but I don’t think their shipping label looks like this:

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In case you hadn’t heard, Brad Dowdy of The Pen Addict became a full-time stationery person a few weeks ago, and launched Pen Addict memberships (I tried to make a “refill” joke, but couldn’t come up with a good one). One of the perks of being a Pen Addict member is the chance to win some “monthly giveaways of awesomeness”, and I have the honour of being the first winner of the Box of Pen Addict Awesomeness (BOPAA):

I’m not going to review the BOPAA in detail item by item — I don’t have a reviewer’s patience or meticulousness, and that’s what we have Brad and all the other amazing stationery reviewers out there for. However, as the recipient of the first-ever BOPAA, I feel it is only right to share the fun around a little.

Are you going to use that Field Notes?

Yes. I am.

I’m a recent Field Notes subscriber — I only subscribed from Winter 2015, so Snowblind is my first Colors edition. There’s a reason for that: until very recently, I hadn’t worked out a good pocket notebook system.

I’ve kept pocket notebooks for years, but I’ve tended to go for a smaller form factor than the 3.5” by 5.5” notebook, because that size gets beat up too much in my pocket. I tended to go for the really small Moleskine or Leuchtturm hardcover notebooks, which held up better than Field Notes.

A few months ago, I got myself a Fodderstack XL. What I really wanted was a Brasstown and a regular Fodderstack, but Nock Co had the Brasstown and Fodderstack XL in a limited edition Sky Blue/Bluejay colourway as a package, so I decided to get that — and it was the Fodderstack XL that found its way into my pocket, not the smaller Fodderstack.

A Word. Notebook ordered through Grouphunt, a caddy I made to hold Post-it flags and memos, and a Cold Horizon Field Notes that I picked up at some random shop that has since closed down, with a Pilot Metropolitan and a TWSBI Diamond 580 in the pen slot.

A Word. Notebook ordered through Grouphunt, a caddy I made to hold Post-it flags and memos, and a Cold Horizon Field Notes that I picked up at some random shop that has since closed down, with a Pilot Metropolitan and a TWSBI Diamond 580 in the pen slot.

So — with that problem solved, I am now very much a Field Notes user. And so, the Packet of Sunshine Field Notes will join its fellow pocket warriors in waiting:

Everything to the left of the index cards (Nock Co. DotDash) is partially used, and everything to the right of the index cards is new. See the leftmost Field Notes? That’s why I stopped using Field Notes for a while — I wore them down too much before I was done using them.

A stash of notebooks on my desk, ready to be called into action.

A stash of notebooks on my desk, ready to be called into action.

Are you going to use that Blackwing 1138?

Yes. I am.

This one is a much less straightforward answer. When Palomino announced the Blackwing subscriptions, I seriously thought about signing up — but while the Blackwings are easily my favourite pencils, I am not a frequent pencil user.

“Be reasonable,” I thought to myself. “What are you going to do with 48 pencils a year?”

“Use them,” said the devil on my shoulder.

I did not subscribe.

Palomino came out with the 725. I play a Fender Stratocaster.

I gritted my teeth and did not subscribe.

Palomino came out with the 211. One of the last things I got into before I left New York City in mid-2014 was hiking, and I joined a hiking club, Wild Earth Adventures, because I didn’t drive and needed a ride out to the trails. “Yadda yadda yadda John Burroughs yadda,” Charlie, our guide, would say. “Yadda yadda yadda John Muir. Look, there’s a deer footprint in the snow.”

I. Did. Not. Subscribe.

Palomino came out with the 1138. I groaned. I’m a filmmaker by training, if not by profession, and the 1138 was begging me to buy it. So I had a stern conversation. With myself.

“You are a user of things, not a collector of things!” I said sternly. To myself.

I thought I heard my collection of unread books, unused pens and unopened notebooks sniggering quietly.

The last time I remember having this conversation (with myself) was mid-January, and I went to bed feeling quite proud of myself for demonstrating such self-discipline and force of will.

The next morning, I opened my email and found this:

Ugh. Now what? Do I sharpen the pencil to use it, or do I keep it and admire it and show it off to visitors? “Let me show you one of my most-prized posessions!” I could say. I could open my drawer, gingerly retrieve a solid beechwood box and unclasp it to reveal…

“It’s just a pencil,” my visitor would say.

“No, it’s a Blackwing 1138!”

“Well, it sure is a fancy pencil…”

“Do you know who gave it to me? Brad Dowdy!” I’d say.

My visitor would look awed and amazed.

“The guy from Mr. and Mrs. Smith?”

“… Yes. Yes, that’s it,” I would say, and then excuse myself, sit on the toilet and cry.

Long story short, I got myself a Blackwing subscription, so that I could have my pencil and use it too.

My Blackwing 1138 in its rightful place, among its fellow pencils in a sea of pens and Sharpies. Pinocchio pencil just casually hangin’ out.

My Blackwing 1138 in its rightful place, among its fellow pencils in a sea of pens and Sharpies. Pinocchio pencil just casually hangin’ out.

Enough with the grandmother stories, loot please!

Okay, okay.

What’s great about this BOPAA is that a lot of this is stuff I’d love to try, but that I would never have bought for myself. The Rhodia ColoR pads, the Sailor Storia inks, the markers — you don’t need me to tell you this, but Brad has great taste in stationery.

(Except for what you said about the Staedtler 925-25 in Episode 152. What is wrong with you?)

Loot time:

I don’t really use pigmented inks, but I can definitely get behind a good purple. Violet pride!

Steady hands. No tripod. Depth of field is probably 3-4 millimetres. 

Steady hands. No tripod. Depth of field is probably 3-4 millimetres. 

I’ve used a Propus before, so this one isn’t new to me. At the speeds I highlight, the Propus window isn’t terribly useful, but it does work. Personally, my highlighters of choice are the Pilot FriXion Light series, which kind of obviates the need for a tip window.

I got a bit too excited and tested most of the loot before I took pictures of it, so you see some staining on the Propus highlighters.

I love the smell of notebook in the morning.

I love the smell of notebook in the morning.

I don’t know what you do with a notebook that you’ve never tried before, but what I do is put it through its paces with my most regularly-used writing implements.

Here's my Palomino Blackwing 602 at the Steinbeck stage. I think I bought this at Foyles in London, nearly two years ago. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me nearly two years to get one pencil to the Steinbeck stage. I promise to use my Blackwing subscriptions more diligently than this.

On the other hand, it’s got an orange eraser.

I scanned the test page into my HP Envy 4500 printer, and here’s what the scan with default settings looks like:

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Forgive the weirdo Jinhao Frankenpen line, I’m still learning how to flex a nib. The Sailor Storia Magic Purple acquitted itself admirably — it’s easily the best ink I’ve used with my glass pen, which may or may not have to do with the fact it’s a pigmented ink. I’m going to have to find some excuses to use it now.

The five highlighted lines were written with the Tactile Turn Mover, so that’s Pilot G2 ink that’s smearing.

What is really impressive about the Rhodia ColoR pad is what's on the back of this sheet:

Other than a couple of tiny, tiny splotches thanks to my poor flex nib control, there is zero see-through and zero bleedthrough. Of all the writing paper I’ve tried, this is the only one that’s had this result. I’ve managed to bleed through Tomoe River paper with my Jinhao Frankenpen, so this is some crazy paper.

All right, it’s time to put the toys away. The highlighters and markers will go to the little designated spot for highlighters and scrapbooking stationery on my desk:

Meanwhile, the Sailor Storia Magic Purple will go in the ink cupboard until it gets called up for duty:

Nothing personal, I like the Magic Purple just fine, but only a few inks get refilled often enough to stay on my desk. Kon-peki, Yama-budo and Heart of Darkness are the only inks with permanent spots, and everything else is negotiable. As you can see, Magic Purple is in some mighty fine company up there in the ink cupboard.

So that’s it: that’s what I’ve done with my Box of Pen Addict Awesomeness.

Thank you, Brad. May all future BOPAAs be as awesome as this one.