lamy pens are cool

Lamy Pens Are Cool

lamy pens are cool

The appreciation of a fountain pen gift - by Ivo and Delilah

We have many friendly and loyal customers, and amongst them is one customer down in Bristol. John is something of a pen enthusiast and he has been a regular customer and communicator with Mishka and Jo.

He recently bought Lamy Safari fountain pens for his grandchildren. They were so happy with their new pens that they wrote a thank you letter. To say thank you. And of course, they wrote their letters with the very same fountain pens.

John was so taken with this that he shared it with us, and said we could share it with you. So thank you Ivo and Delilah (and John) for sharing your love of Lamy pens.

Thank You letter from Ivo, aged 7
Thank You letter from Ivo, aged 7
Thank You letter from Delilah, aged 10
Thank You letter from Delilah, aged 10

It’s always wonderful to see the younger generation pickup a pen instead of spending their days flicking through endless distractions provided these days on a tablet.

At the end of the day it’s up to all of us to inspire the next age of humanity to keep on writing, thank you John for your little bit to keep it going!

choosing the right ink - our guide

Q&A: Guide to choosing the right ink

A guide to choosing the right ink

So you have maybe decided to buy some new ink, but where do you start? With so much choice, it is hard to know where to turn. Are all inks essentially the same? What do you get for paying more? And what about all those technical terms?

Choosing the right ink can be a daunting process and so this article aims to make the process a lot easier by breaking it down into the various elements that will affect your choice, and to give you a guide on how to go about choosing the right ink.

a guide to choosing the right ink

The Basics

We will start by looking at the basics of making a decision. These are four factors that should easily rule in or out some inks and help give a basic pointer to guide you.

Colour

At the time of writing we have 338 colours available to choose from, and this is spread across 18 choices of inks, not allowing for variations in the bottle size. 300+ colours is overwhelming, especially when you consider that the Diamine ink range has something like 27 blue inks alone.

However, colour is an important factor in choosing your ink, maybe the most important alongside price. For some people this may mean just wanting a basic blue or black ink. For others it means having a specific colour – Enzo Ferrari famously used to sign his name in his signature colour. And no, it wasn’t red – he was a purple ink man.

For others, it will extend down to matching an ink to something specific – to your notebook maybe. Others might place importance on matching the colour shade precisely as no two shades are the same. It really comes down to how specific a shade of colour you are looking for. This may mean you have to search around various different inks to find your perfect colour.

Price

The other obvious influence on your choice of ink is likely to be cost. With some bottles costing under £7 and some costing over £30, there’s a big difference in price. The question is what do you get if you pay more? Is it a straightforward case of the higher the price, the better the ink? Er…no.

With quality brands like Diamine and Herbin costing well under £10, it clearly doesn’t follow that more expensive = better. We only sell good quality inks and so the advice on price would be to choose an ink that suits your budget. We will go on to look at other reasons why you might consider spending more on a bottle of ink later.

We previously looked at the relative costs of different inks, and with inks being sold in various sized bottles you might want to consider this as well. There is little doubt that Diamine ink is the best value, all things considered.

Size

Size is less of an issue, but it’s worth a mention. Bottled ink tends to be around 50ml per bottle. Some inks have bigger bottles – Diamine is a whopping 80ml, KWZ is a hearty 60ml – whilst others might be a more modest 30ml.

A big bottle is going to be better value and will last a good while – an 80ml bottle of ink will fill the TWSBI Eco fountain pen about 40 times over! A big bottle of say 50ml+ is perfect when you know you’ll want to use the ink frequently, or it’s your favourite ink.

Herbin do small 10ml taster bottles which are a great way to test out colours without feeling like you’re wasting ink and even this will last you a while. The point being, size might not be so important in deciding since even a smaller bottle will last a long time.

We did look at the relative costs of different inks vs cartridges before – click here to see more

Purpose

The last of the so-called basic decision makers will be the purpose you intend to use the ink for. Some inks are more suited for specific jobs. You might want a calligraphy ink (which has properties more suited to calligraphy writing), or you might require an ink for archival purposes. You might need a waterproof ink, like Blackstone Barrister ink.

Another element to consider is drying time – if you need an ink that dries quickly then you might consider an ink like Herbin. The alternative is a wetter ink like KWZ, and you might find this proves very impractical if you need to wait ages for an ink to dry.

Your paper choice will also impact upon this – some papers are better for inks to dry quickly if time is an issue. Look at papers from:

choosing the right ink - how much does bottle size matter?
Bottles range from 10ml to 80ml
waterproof ink
Blackstone waterproof Barrister ink

Beyond The Basics

Now this is where the choice of ink becomes really interesting. It is also where you move from choosing an ink for more more functional reasons, and find yourself taking greater pleasure from the act of writing and using ink itself.

At the heart if this lies three key elements you can get from an ink – the Three S’s. Some inks will display none, some or all of these elements and discovering them is part of the pleasure. Their presence, or lack of, doesn’t makes an ink better or worse, it simply helps give an ink its true character.

At this point it worth mentioning the paper. Inks don’t exist in isolation and since it is likely you will be using them on paper, then your choice of paper is very important. The same iink will perform differently on different papers. See below for more notes on this.

Sheen

So what is sheen? This is when the ink dries with with a shiny finish to it. Most ink when dry will be flat and have no ‘surface’ to it. Sheen is when the ink has an edge that catches in the light. Discovering this when using an ink is part of the pleasure, but as a guide you will find a good sheen to inks like:

If you want to get the best out of the sheen an ink has then we recommend using Tomoe River paper, which just lets the ink show off its best qualities.

Shading

Shading is where an ink dries with some variation in depth. So rather than leaving a single solid colour, the ink will be more saturated in colour in one area than another. Is that a good thing? Well that depends on what you like and want from your ink, but it is another area that you can discover more about an ink and how it performs in subtle ways to create something richer and more rewarding.

Inks that are good for shading include:

Shimmer

Some might argue that this comes under sheen, but it is something quite specific. Shimmer inks have a metallic sparkle to them. Literally. They have small particles in the ink which you can see in the bottle., and which will settle and need agitating before using. The result is an ink that sparkles on the page. The result can be quite varied but when it works it can be magical.

There have been a whole host of new shimmer inks released in recent years, so there is a good choice, but you might want to look at these for some good results:

Sheen on Kyoto Nurebairo ink
Sheen on Kyoto Nurebairo ink
Shading on Herbin Vert Olive ink
Shading on Herbin Vert Olive ink
ink shimmer
Shimmer on Diamine Arctic Blue ink

What Else Can Inks Offer?

Is there anything else to an ink outside the basics and how it appears on paper? Well, arguably no. Choosing an ink based on those values will likely last you a lifetime after all. But there are other factors to consider, and these may help guide you in your choice of ink.

Limited Editions

Some inks release special or limited editions, and these can be in high demand. For some ink manufacturers this has become an annual event, and most notable amongst the limited edition inks are the Herbin Anniversary inks (this might now have become the Herbin 1798 range as of 2017) and the annual Edelstein Ink of the Year from Pelikan.

Lamy have also started to produce limited edition T52 inks to coincide with the annual launch of the limited edition Safari and Al-Star fountain pens. These tend to be very limited in supply.

Cult Inks

Some inks acquire an almost cult-like status. Sometimes there is an obvious reason for it, other times it seems to defy reason. But no matter, if an ink has been given this lofty status then it is popular above all other colours in that range.

Example inks here would be KWZ Honey, Herbin 1670 Emerald de Chivor and Robert Oster Fire and Ice.

edelstein ink of the year
Edelstein Aquamarine limited edition ink
robert oster fire and ice
Robert Oster Fire & Ice ink

Extras & Exotic Imports

Some inks are worth buying because they come beautifully packaged (I’m looking at you, Kyoto ink) or have extras in the box (Colorverse ink is a perfect example here).

In other cases it is simply that the inks have that exotic something – imports from afar that you are unlikely to stumble across in your local WH Smith or inks with a story to tell. Iroshizuku and Kyoto inks come from Japan, Robert Oster and Blackstone inks are from Australia. KWZ inks are made by a husband-&-wife team in Poland. Feeling closer to the story can make you appreciate the ink in a different way.

The Kyoto inks are also just beautiful objects in their own right, from the box to the bottle. Does this affect the ink? The obvious answer is no, but then again you can gain extra enjoyment from something more than just purely functional, and an ink like this is very desirable!

Complexity

Last but not least is the fact that inks are complex substance. It is no coincidence that KWZ ink is made by two chemists, or that we have worked with chemist-come-bloggers on ink reviews. The process of making an ink requires a lot of input, and not just in terms of colour choice, packaging and marketing.

Look at Iron Gall inks for a clear demonstration of how complex an ink can be – these very traditional inks require sensitive handling in your pen as they can damage it in some cases. As the name suggests, it is made with iron elements and this helps it bond with the paper to form a more permanent mark. More interestingly it is chemistry in the making when you write with it as it changes colour and darkens.

Some inks really are just a complex mixture and discovering inks can leave you somewhere between a writer and a chemist at times.

Colorverse inks packaging
Colorverse inks have extras in the box
KWZ Iron Gall inks
KWZ Iron Gall inks

In Conclusion

To summarise, the most powerful influence on your decision of choosing the right ink will be price. A quality ink like Diamine or Herbin comes in at under £7 and will let you choose from well over 130 colours. But once you start to find more pleasure in using inks so you will likely seek out other more expensive inks for the unique properties they can demonstrate. Whether that is the unusual colour, how it performs when used or just a desire to seek out ever new creations will depend on where you ink odessey takes you! In short, start somewhere that feels right, and let you enjoyment lead you.

Blackstone Uluru Red
Blackstone Uluru Red
Diamine Apple Glory
Diamine Apple Glory
Lamy Dark Lilac
Lamy Dark Lilac
Edelstein Mandarin
Edelstein Mandarin
our man in parliament

What People Do All Day – Our Man In Parliament

our man in parliament - stationery reviews on the inside

Stationery reviews from inside the house

This post was written by Richard

Inspired perhaps by Richard Scarry’s “What do people do all day?” and the adventures of Farmer Alfalfa, Stiches the Tailor and Grocer Cat, our good friends at Bureau asked me to write a short piece about what I do all day. I can only imagine that this is the beginning of a soon to be much anticipated occasional blogpost about the goings-on—stationery related or otherwise—of the cast of thousands who call themselves Bureau’s happy customers.

My remit, such as it was, was to paint a brief but fascinating picture of my working day and to talk a little about where stationery fits into that. So…what do I do all day? Well, I work in Parliament. There are many, many things to enjoy about working there—the staff, the riverside location, the history—but, oddly, the thing I enjoy the most is the tourists. Sure, getting through the door in the morning can feel like facing off against the New England Patriots, but it’s buzzy and people are enjoying themselves just being there. Which is nice.

And what do I do once I actually get into the building? Well, all that talking, all that arguing, all that shouting you see on television—and all that sensible discussion you probably don’t see on television— gets written down somewhere. By someone. And that someone is me and my colleagues. We sit in on debates. We make sure all that talking gets recorded. And we make sure it all gets written up and checked. Throughout it all, we come and go quietly, trying not to draw attention to ourselves. In fact, one chairwoman even joked we were a bit like MI5—“only better.” High praise indeed. Perhaps it could be our motto.

lamy aion fountain pen

Finally, I said this blog was about stationery, and so it is. I do a lot of writing at work, and I use a lot of stationery. Mostly, I use a Lamy Aion fountain pen with a beautiful turquoise Pilot Iroshizuku ink and an extra fine nib. Partly, I like the Aion’s unusual brushed black aluminium finish; partly, I like its impressive bulk. Oddly, though, the Aion’s not a heavy pen; quite the opposite. Its aluminium body makes it surprisingly light and easy to hold. And it’s well balanced, so it rests comfortably in my hand. The ink flow is great, too, which is really important, because I do a lot of writing under pressure.

pilot iroshizuku ama iro turquoise ink
Iroshiuzuku Ama-Iro ink
viking rollo a4 dot grid pad
Viking Rollo Dot-Grid Pad

I also use a Viking Rollo dotpad. The whole design shows an incredible attention to detail. The cover is beautifully minimal, the dots are subtle and unobtrusive, and sheets are really easy to detach. Most important of all, however, the paper is incredibly smooth.  Combined with the Aion and the Iroshizuku ink, it makes for a really lovely writing experience.

So, there you have it: my day. Perhaps less energetic than Farmer Alfalfa’s, but petty fun all the same—and with better stationery.

lamy aion fountain pen review

Review – Lamy Aion Fountain Pen

lamy aion fountain pen review

Introduction

Lamy’s penchant for Bauhaus and industrial design hardly needs a mention, and the Lamy Aion line of pens is the latest evolution in a lineage of exactly that style that was started by the Lamy 2000 over fifty years ago. In collaboration with industrial designer Jasper Morrison, the Aion is a modern if familiar addition to the Lamy pen range.

Style

Personally, I’m a huge fan of minimalist and industrial design; give me smooth lines, robust materials, and say more with less – and from the first reveal the Aion was a perfect match. The raw aluminium is drawn from a die rather than machined, and curves gracefully towards the end of the barrel and top of the cap, with a brushed texture that goes against the flow of the pen rather than with it.

A polished cap ring and clip accent the pen without taking the spotlight off of the aluminium barrel. In my opinion the Silverolive (though I’ve yet to find the ‘olive’ part) works much better with the design than the black anodised version, and I can only imagine what an all-black version would have looked like with matching black clip. This isn’t to say the black version is bad, it wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom or a CEO’s desk, just that the silver version just seems to represent the design a bit better.

Score: 10/10

Features

Not much to comment on here – the ballpoint is the usual twist mechanism, and the rollerball is a rollerball – cap, barrel, M63 refill, done. The caps of the rollerball and fountain pen feature a spring-loaded clip and post snugly,  but I’ve found the pen much more comfortable in size and balance without the cap. On the fountain pen is a brand new nib that just oozes style with its curvier design, and you’ll be pleased to read that it’s an excellent writer too – more on that in a bit.

Disappointingly, the fountain pen doesn’t ship with an included Z27 converter. Considering much cheaper pens such as the Logo come with one as standard, this ends up being a puzzling decision by Lamy.

Score: 8/10

lamy aion fountain pen review

Usability

Subjective opinions on look aside, one thing everyone in the office seems to agree on is that the new Z53 nib is a brilliant refinement of the classic Z50. Lamy calls it “expressive”, and I’m tempted to say that it isn’t just marketing hyperbole. I opted for the extra fine version and my first experience with it was surprising – using a wet ink (KWZ Midnight Green), the line was not quite what you might expect of an extra fine nib with a line that seemed much thicker than it ought to be.

With a dryer ink the line was a lot closer to what you’d expect. This might be an annoyance for some and understandably so, but I’d like to wager all would be forgiven once you feel just how amazingly smooth this nib is. No hypodermic needles here, the Z53 glides across the page – and I’ve tried it on almost every paper we have here, from Tomoe River paper to good old copier paper. Lamy’s Z50 steel nibs have never really been considered bad, but these new nibs are in another class – I’ve yet to experience any burping, dry starts, or skipping.

And while the nib is smooth as butter, thankfully the same can’t be said for aluminium grip. Though it looks deceptively non-grippy, the abrasive-blasted section is more than comfortable to write with, and I’ve not once had to readjust my grip.

Score: 9/10

Value for money

At just shy of £48* for the fountain pen and rollerball, and £39* for the ballpoint, the Aion is firmly priced in the mid-range of Lamy’s pens – cheaper than the Accent AL and Studio, but considerably more than the AL-Star and Safari’s, and honestly I feel it’s a fairly priced pen. A modern design with a robust construction is paired with a fantastic nib. However, the lack of a bundled converter is a glaring hole and definitely worth bearing in mind if you’re not content with the selection of colours available in Lamy’s T10 cartridges.

Additionally, the Z53 nibs are fully compatible with Lamy’s other fountain pens (Lamy 2000 excluded), so you’re well within your right to grab a stand-alone nib and swapping it out on a Safari or AL-Star. But if you don’t own a Lamy pen already (or even if you do!), the Aion is a fantastic pen if you’re looking to spend a little more for a premium feel.

* Prices correct at time of publishing!

Score: 9/10

Verdict

The Aion is a brilliant addition to Lamy’s range, and while it might be considered safe and unremarkable by some, I say it is more than worthy to follow the path laid down by the Lamy 2000 fountain pen and one of Lamy’s best collaborations yet. Lack of a bundled converter knocks some points off the final score, but overall I struggled to find much of anything to fault, especially when the nib and pen compliment each other to provide such a fantastic writing experience.

Style
Features
Usability
Value for money
upgrade my fountain pen

Q&A: Why should I upgrade my fountain pen?

upgrade my fountain pen

Our guide to spending a little bit more on a fountain pen

Introduction

So you are considering upgrading your fountain pen for a smarter, more expensive model. But what will you get for your money? You have maybe dipped your toe in the water and bought your first fountain pen. Now persuaded of the joys of using a fountain pen, your thoughts have turned to where you go next.

So having let your mind wander to what other pens are out there and what spending a little bit more might get you, this article is an attempt at giving some basic advice in terms of what to look for when moving from an entry-level pen to a mid-range pen.

What is an entry level pen?

lamy safari fountain pen

Typically most people will start here. This is most likely because of cost. A first pen might come in around £15-20 and even that can be a big investment when you are making the step up from say a ballpoint pen (dare I suggest you made the leap from a Bic biro to fountain pen?).

That is not to say that an entry level pen is not one that won’t last you a lifetime. Typically these pens might be something like the Lamy Safari fountain pen, the Kaweco Skyline, or maybe even a TWSBI Eco or the Pilot MR (aka the Pilot Metropolitan). All come in at under £30, some for under £20. All are great pens and will serve you well for many a year. But if you do want more…

What is a mid-range pen?

lamy aion fountain pen

For the purposes of this article, a mid-range fountain pen has been defined as being one that costs over and above an entry-level, but not into the eye-watering levels that you can pay. So this has been set at a more modest level of between £40 and £75.

Also, since entry-level will vary from brand to brand, it is deemed to be pens that display elements of being an upgrade on a more basic pen.

Key reasons to upgrade

So why upgrade? Well it becomes ever harder to actually justify the step up purely on value for money. There are gains to be had by spending more, certainly, but it is also an emotional decision and there is no point skirting round this. Nevertheless there are some clear benefits to be had from spending a bit more.

Material

Whilst your entry-level pen will typically be made of plastic, you would certainly expect your mid-range pen to be made of a superior material. More often that not this will be metal, likely aluminium as it is lightweight and perfect for a pen. It makes for a more solid, durable pen than plastic, yet you will not be adding any serious weight to the pen. In fact the slight extra weight might make the pen better as it adds just enough to make it feel substantial without being heavy.

You may also find that this extends to all elements of the pen – look for what the clip and grip sections are made from.

Tip – consider what material you would feel comfortable writing with, and what weight of pen would suit you, and check the full specification.

Nib

This is something that will vary from pen to pen, and a lot of mid-range pens will not necessarily have a better nib that your entry-level pen. For example many Lamy pens have the same Z50 nib, from the Safari and ABC through to a Scala or Accent. Others like the Aion do have a better nib, in this case the new Z53 nib. It is more likely that the extra cost of the pen will get you a better barrel than a better nib but it is worth checking.

Also, a more expensive pen may actually have access to a better range of nib sizes although this again will depend on each manufacturer.

Tip – how important would a better nib be at this stage? This may require you pushing your budget even further.

Features

This will vary from pen to pen but a more expensive pen might come with a few extra features or add-ons. Certainly most Lamy pens above a certain value will come with a converter. Other entry-level pens may not come with a gift box (worth considering if it is a gift for someone).

Tip – consider all aspects of what you want from your pen – don’t just be seduced by the look!

Design

The design of the pen is where there will be marginal gains in making the pen better – possibly a better grip section, or the way the cap can be posted or the way the clip works. Small improvements but it can make a real difference especially with a pen, which requires a good connection between hand and pen.

Tip – consider what you like the least about your current pen and in what ways it could be improved. Then consider your ‘new’ pen in light of this.

Style

This is where the choice becomes more emotional. Typically a more expensive pen will be better designed, and may even have been designed by a well-known product designer. This might not make it a better at writing, but owning a pen that you love might make a difference. A pen you want to write with because it looks good is a pen you will enjoy writing with all the more.

Tip – this all comes down to personal preference. Only you know what you like.

Other tips

If you are still unsure then read a few reviews. Think about what you don’t like with your current pen and consider whether a new pen will answer some or all of these problems. And if still unsure then see if you can try out the pen in person. We do offer a try before you buy service with pens but please do check with us first as we can’t offer this on all pens.

the bureau 2017 stationery awards

The Bureau 2017 Stationery Awards

the bureau 2017 stationery awards

Introduction

This is the 6th edition of our annual awards for the item of stationery we voted for, as a team. The criteria are fairly open – as long as the item was added to our range during 2017 then it was shortlisted, and each team member voted for their top 5 items. Scores were awarded (10 for a first choice, 7 for 2nd, 5 for 3rd, 3 for 4th and a solitary point for a 5th place). Scores were added, and a top ten was arrived at.

This year we had a clear winner, and with it gaining the top place from three people plus a second choice, it sort of ran away with the voting. The top ten did give a nice spread of items though, so read on and see what we voted for.

Walk With Me Maps

The Walk With Me maps were something of a departure for us this year, and not one that didn’t cause a few waves with some customers, but then maybe that’s a good thing. Somewhere between maps and artwork, these are quite unusual and very beautiful.

Lamy Aion

The Lamy Aion pen came out earlier in the year and whilst not immediately a pen that shouts out how different it is, it actually does have a lot about it worth a second look. From the smart aluminium barrel which is incredibly light for a pen seemingly quite big, to its brand new nib, this pen writes beautifully.

Caran d'Ache 849 Tropical Pen

The Caran d’Ache 849 is a true classic, dating back to its launch in 1969. Since then many a special edition has come and gone, and the latest was these unusual two-tone 849 tropical editions. Very summer-y, and quite refreshing in the depths of a cold winter.

Field Notes Haxley Edition

A very late addition to the shortlist and one that, unsurprisingly leapt into the top ten, was the Field Notes Haxley edition notebooks. A real departure and a welcome one too, these are notebooks featuring the illustrations of a local artist.

Viking Rollo Pad

The Viking range really stood out for one product above all else and that was the Viking Rollo pads. Beautiful paper with equally striking covers featuring their celtic-inspired cover designs.

Diamine Earl Grey Ink

One that caught me by surprise was the popularity of the new Earl Grey ink from Diamine. Brought about through a Reddit group, it inspired our ‘grey’ week and is, to be fair, quite a beautiful colour.

2018 Flower Calendar

The Flowers calendar from Japanese company Good Morning is an item that caused a few issues (let’s move on from that one), this is nevertheless a stunning bit of stationery that is practical and quite beautiful all at once. What more do you need from your stationery?

An extra bonus point for this item – more of us voted for this than any other product, but it gained no big voted and ended up 4th overall.

Kyoto Inks

Kyoto ink was chosen, I feel, not only for the inks (which are indeed very lovely) but also for the whole package – the bottle and the box included. It is just stationery that you want to own, stationery that gives you pleasure from the moment you see it to the the moment you use it.

Diamine Shimmer Inks

The runner-up spot was taken by the new Diamine Shimmer inks. They gained a couple of top spots and were the subject of an Instagram pre-launch feature from Mishka and Faisal so maybe I should have seen that one coming. Beautiful inks as always, with some amazing shimmer.

Taroko Breeze Notebook

And so to the winner. And it’s no great surprise to anyone that has used it that the Taroko Breeze notebook swept the board. First we had the basic Taroko books with Tomoe River paper, then a sign of what was to come with the pocket sized Enigma book, so when a ‘proper’ book was launched it just gave us everything we needed in a book. A ‘proper’ cover, index/contents page, numbered pages, ink swatch pages, Tomoe River paper. I could quibble over the card cover and lack of a pocket but really, this book is as good as anything we have. That’s why I was one of three of the team to vote it as my number one.

left handed fountain pen nib

Q&A: What Is A Left-Handed Fountain Pen?

Lamy Z50 left handed fountain pen nib

How well suited are pens to left-handed people?

We are often asked about pens for left-handers, specifically left-handed fountain pens. Given that a lot of people are left-handed this market is poorly catered for. Apart from those designed for young children, there is not much available.

Although some 10% of the population are left-handed, as a child I was the only one in a class of 39 pupils apart from my teacher. She, being a no-nonsense type, was determined that if she could write ‘properly’ so could I. Properly meant ensuring my writing sloped to the right and not backwards and she would return all my left-sloping efforts to me with a big red ‘NO’ all over them. After being kept in for seemingly endless lunchtimes being made to write out over and over the handwriting cards we used, she declared herself reasonably satisfied. My writing was and still is, forward sloping.

left handed writing with a fountain pen
Left-handed writing that avoids smudging the ink (it's a Caran d'Ache 849 fluorescent orange fountain pen, nail varnish model's own)

These days children are allowed to develop their own style and backward sloping writing is considered fine. The problem many left-handers have though is that they find it difficult to see what they have written as they are going over the text as they move forward This then leads to the curled hand or hook many people end up developing to avoid smudging. The answer is to try and learn to hold the pen under the writing so that you can still see. The grip should be well back from the end of the pen so as to keep the hand back and the wrist should be straight. Turning the paper by 45 degrees clockwise makes it easier to slant the writing forwards if that is preferred.

But what of specialist pens? Many pens have a universal grip but with fountain pens there is the question of the nib. Of the brands we sell, only Lamy offers a left-handed fountain pen nib. Opinion is divided on how useful this is with some feeling there is no real difference between an LH nib and a medium. When I have tested them out I can feel no difference but that may be because of my writing style which is more akin to a right-hander (thanks Miss) but others may find differently. One of the issues to consider is that the left-handed nib only comes in medium so if you want a fine or broad, tough, they don’t make them for left-handers. Italic nibs can be difficult for those with overhand styles as contact with the paper can be lost with some angles but again, all these things depend on the writing style.

Certainly for children there can be an advantage of offering a left-handed nib. Even if the difference is slight or non-existent, the child may feel they have a special writing instrument that will help them and sometimes small things make a difference. Arguably fountain pens in themselves can help as they require careful positioning which encourages a proper grip and of course they are a bit special. For adults though it is a harder choice. Ultimately, if you are happy with a medium nib then it may be worth trying the left-handed version to see if that feels comfortable. If you want a fine or broad though, give it a go and you may be surprised to find it works just fine. If not, you’ll have to come see me at lunchtime I guess.

new lamy aion due soon

News: The New Lamy Aion Is Coming

new lamy aion pen

The New Lamy Aion - Due Autumn 2017

The new Lamy Aion is due out later this year and looks quite exciting. A brand new pen, designed by Jasper Morrison, and with a completely new nib which intself is an exciting development since almost all other pens use the standard Lamy Z50 nib. Available in fountain pen – with extra fine, fine, medium and broad nibs, as well as ballpoint and rollerball versions. All are availabe in a silver or black metal finish.

More news when we have it!

the journal shop stand

London Stationery Show 2017

the journal shop stand

The London stationery show has been a staple of the Bureau calendar for many a year now.

It’s situated in the functional Business Design Centre where once a year, stationery geeks gather to share the best and newest in the biz. This event also coincides with National Stationery Week which quite simply celebrates what we all love – stationery 🙂 #natstatweek

It is a trade show so unfortunately not open to the public. So Mishka, Emma and Faisal were tasked with being your eyes and ears 🙂 Here is what they have to report.

business design centre

Our expectations

We all had differing expectations. Mishka now has two Stationery Shows under her belt, Faisal’s second time out and rookie on the block Emma.

Mishka: Half of our team visited on Tuesday, me and Faisal went on Wednesday. This was my 3rd show in a row, so I knew what to expect – lots of amazing stationery! 🙂 I knew time would be tight so I did my homework. Carefully clicking through all the exhibitors (100+), I made a list of stands I wanted to visit and products I wanted to see.

Some things never change – it is the same beautiful venue. This year there were a lot of workshops – I was particularly interested in trying Calligraphy. #writingmatters

Faisal: To be quite frank, I was feeling a little down on going to the London Stationery Show this year. I remembered enjoying my first time out to the show last year but would it be any different this time around? How much could really change over the course of the year? These doubts had begun to brew, possibly unfairly, as I am surrounded by the same old stuff on my desk.

With this mindset, I hadn’t actually planned to go around and explore the show floor too much, thinking there wouldn’t really be much new to see anyway. I settled on killing my time with a safe looking programme of seminars and workshops that would be running throughout the day.

Emma: I only joined Bureau Direct late last year, so this was my first London Stationery Show. I have been to trade shows before, but I have always wanted to go to a stationery trade show! Having heard all about it from the rest of the team, I was really excited to be getting a first look at some new products, meeting with some of my clients, and generally geeking out over lots of lovely pens and paper goods!

2017

National Stationery Show 2017 - hall

2016

london stationery show at the business design centre

2015

National Stationery Show

First Impressions

Emma: I have been to the Business Design Centre in Islington before; its a lovely venue with lots of natural light, and not too big.  I confidently told the rest of the team I would visit the show in the morning, and be back after lunch (needless to say, that didn’t happen. What was I thinking?!). When you first enter the venue, there is a smallish floor space at ground floor level, and then steps behind leading up to a central mezzanine where the bulk of the exhibitors were.  There were also additional exhibitors on the balconies surrounding the hall. Immediately, my eye was drawn to a central New Product Showcase display, with lots of new launches, and from there on in I tried to work my way up and down the aisles is a logical way, without being too distracted!

Mishka: Me and Faisal were in on the Wednesday, as soon as we entered we were met with the display of stationery award winners which were whittled down from the same stand a day earlier. There was a spectacular range of colour this year – lucky cat pencil pot immediately caught my eye. I love everything teal/mint, so I was glad to see #everythingteal

Faisal: Lucky for me then that the Stationery Gods (and Mishka) had other arrangements to my earlier pessimism. Walking through the open doors, you start to feel an extra bounce to your step with your eyes wide and ears pricked. We both took a deep breath and a good whiff of the scent of freshly opened stationery in the air. There’s no turning back once you’ve opened this Pandora’s box. Everything looked fresh and new but I felt right at home, ready to explore!

calligraphy workshop

Calligraphy workshop

Emma: I had wanted to go to the show on the first (Tuesday) morning, because there was a Modern Calligraphy workshop being held by Manuscript pens and Joyce Lee of Artsynibs. Its a tall order trying to teach a mixed ability group in the middle of a trade show, in 30 mins, but Joyce was incredibly patient (and fun!), teaching us to sit in the right position, hold the dip pens the right way, and most importantly, relax, and BREATHE.  We each came away with a couple of practice sheets and the basics with which to start practising; seeing examples of Joyce’s beautiful calligraphy has certainly inspired me.

Faisal: Having only amateurishly attempted calligraphy for a few minutes, a couple of months ago, hastily on some scraps of paper… this was a brilliant chance to get an initial step up to the table.

The one big thing I took away from that day was the posture. To help keep your writing steady you need a solid position for your arm on the table. Achieving this means angling your chair into the desk so your elbow has a good position on the table. I would have never in my life ever conceived this simple step would instantly improve all my strokes!

Mishka: I can proudly announce that by 10:35 our clean fingers were already splattered in ink 🙂 Joyce is an amazing artist and great teacher. Slowing down and being mindful about every stroke is what makes calligraphy almost zen like. I’d love to just sit there and play with flex dip pens all day… We were discussing printing paper templates at the table – you know you are in the good company when gsm comes up 🙂

Bureau’s Best Bits

Mishka: Paper Republic Grand Voyageur – notebook with leather cover. Similar to Traveler’s notebook which is incredibly trendy at the moment. Packaging, colours (green with red), presentation, sizes and functionality. Everything about this product presses all my stationery buttons…

The most fun stationery of the show award goes to the magnetic Polar pen. We probably spent an hour making shapes and launching magnets in the air and we continue to do so even as I write this 🙂 Andrew, the creator of the pen is a true inventor with plenty of ideas up his sleeve. I really hope to see his creations doing well…

I was eager to try out the Pentel Hybrid gel pens which Emma told me about the day before. These gels are rather magical. Believe it or not, but they look differently on white and black paper. Green turns into blue, black into red etc – whaaat?! Amazing! Imagine Emerald of Chivor ink in a gel pen 🙂 I salute you Pentel…Year in and year out you come up with new ideas, really well done!

Paper Republic - Leather!

Paper Republic stand leather covers

POLAR pens - Magnets!

polar pen magnet fun

Emma: Stabilo Boss Pastel Highlighters. They looked so pretty in the display, and gorgeously photogenic. I have a set of four, but now I realise there are actually six in the range. Two more for my shopping list…

The Karlbox. A collaboration between fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld and Faber-Castell, this is the ultimate art set. West Design had a box on display at the show, and I couldn’t help but drool a little over it. Designed like a lacquer jewellery box, each drawer is organised by colour with pencils, markers, pastels and art pens – the entire rainbow. It has a limited production run, and retails at least £2000, but its oh so covetable!

Getting to make my own pen on the Kaweco stand!  I got to choose a cap, grip section, barrel and fit them together. A couple of satisfying ‘clunks’ from their hand-operated machines, hey presto! My very own Kaweco Skyline was born.

Stabilo Boss Pastel

Stabilo Boss Pastel highlighters

The Karlbox

Faber-Castell The KarlBox

Faisal: As a veteran of one previous show so far this was also a must do event for me. Last year we had a whole plastic barrel of fun with the Studio Pen team and had an awesome collage of how we made them. This year me and Mishka wanted to step up our game and bring you a live demonstration! It was all going so well, we got the camera rolling and the machine clunking away.

It’s hard to pick my favourite but I will go out and say I had the most fun with the Polar magnet pen. Even though it will be rarely used to write with, it’s was just an absolute joy to have and play with! Perfect for a quick stress relieving break in the office.

Special mention

Mishka: The best writer of the show goes to Manuscript 1856 pen.
This was on my ‘must see’ list after browsing online the night before. Manuscript hosted the Calligraphy event in the morning so as soon I waved goodbye to Joyce it took all my strength to stick to my planned route instead of running straight to their stand.

Let me tell you…It was love at the first sight. Each pen is turned by hand. The materials look spectacular. They have a choice for everyone, starting with a professional pocket percher in black. I was a bit dismissive of the beige but looking at it closely I saw the subtle elegance of the material, showing up like the calm looking surface of Saturn. The real stars of the show were the pearlescent and swirly type acrylics. Purple and turquoise finishes for the chic and red and orange for the brave.

I ran home with one in my bag, eager to ink it up and boy oh boy… Smooth like butter. Steel nibs can be as smooth as gold and this pen is exactly that. Big win in my book 🙂

Manuscript 1856 fountain pen
Manuscript 1856 fountain pen

In conclusion

Mishka: I’m so glad that I could go to the show – my creative juices and love for stationery have been refuelled 🙂 Big thanks to the organizers, we had a great show!

Emma: The show was everything I expected, and more.  I ended up spending the whole day there, catching up with some of my contacts at Castelli, Moleskine and Caran d’Ache/Faber-Castell, playing with new products, and looking for stationery items that can be branded for our corporate clients.

Faisal: I was happily swayed by the end of the day, the Stationery show was great. These sorts of events just give you a breath of fresh air and sometimes that’s all you need. Actually, I wish I had more time to peruse the stalls. Unlike my colleagues I don’t think I even got around to seeing half of the stands really. Perhaps a bit too much time playing with magnets… 🙂

Faisal, Mishka and Emma

ps: we will see you again next year 🙂

polarpen smiley magnets
the price of ink

Q&A: Is Bottled Ink Cheaper Than Cartridges?

The Price Of Ink

the price of ink

It is a question often asked – is bottled ink cheaper than cartridges? Is it more economical to buy ink in bottles or go for the simplicity of cartridges? And if it is cheaper, how much cheaper is bottled ink? Well I decided there was only one way of resolving this problem – find out how much ink costs pound for milliliter. And with the results in we have a clear winner and sort of an answer to the question.

Is bottled ink cheaper than cartridge ink?

Bottled ink - Price per ml

Diamine 8p per ml
Lamy T52 19p per ml
Diamine Shimmer 20p per ml
KWZ 22p per ml
Lamy T51 22p per ml
Blackstone 23p per ml
Herbin D 23p per ml
KWZ Iron Gall 28p per ml
Herbin Scented 30p per ml
Herbin 1670 Anniversary 30p per ml
Robert Oster 30p per ml
Edelstein 34p per ml
Herbin Mini 38p per ml
Kaweco 40p per ml
Herbin 1798 Les Encres 42p per ml
Blackstone Barrier 47p per ml
Kyoto 50p per ml
Colorverse 56p per ml
Pilot Iroshizuku 64p per ml

Cartridges - Price per ml

Lamy T10 Cartridges 20p per ml
Monteverde Cartridges 24p per ml
Kaweco Cartridges 32p per ml
Herbin Cartridges 55p per ml

Well, the simple answer is yes – bottled ink is cheaper than cartridges. However it is surprising how little there was in it, in some cases not at all. Take Lamy ink – at 20p per ml in T10 cartridge form it isn’t that much more expensive than bottled T52 ink which comes in at 15p per ml. And Kaweco ink cartridges actually came in cheaper than their bottled ink. But if you want real value then of course a bottle of Diamine ink will see you through for a long time with an 80ml bottle costing just 8p per ml.

To be clear, these results were based on our retail prices as of 1 May 2017, across all bottled and cartridge inks in our range. For cartridge ink there was a small problem because no one seems to quote the volume of a cartridge, but general consensus seems to suggest that a small cartridge (e.g. Kaweco or Herbin) is 0.9ml and a larger cartridge like the Lamy T10 is 1.5ml so I based all calculations on those volumes.