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May 25, 2011

Exacompta Club Leatherette Journal with Exacompta Basics Refill Review

I’ve used my Exacompta Club Leatherette Journal regularly for three years now and still have not grown tired of it.

These refillable journals are made with a leather-like, grained cover material that is sturdy and holds up well over time. I can’t even see any wear yet on my three-year-old cover. Since these covers are so durable it’s nice that they can be refilled over and over again.

The cover opens easily and the journal lays nice and flat. I love this! It is currently available in eight different colors, from a conservative black to an energizing orange. A color for every personality! I have an older bright green color that was originally named “bamboo”.

The edges of the cover are stitched and the Exacompta Basics refill fits easily into pockets inside the front and back covers. These pockets can get in the way of writing when using the first and last several pages of the journal. I solved this problem by making a cardboard cut-out that is twice the size of the page size (about 9” x 6 5/8” total). I fold the cardboard in half (4 1/2” x 6 5/8” folded) and slide half of it into the pocket so that it doesn’t slide around or fall out. The other half of the cardboard folds over the top of the pocket to provide a smooth writing surface until I use up enough pages that this is no longer an issue. Then I remove the cardboard until I need it again, which isn’t for quite awhile since there are 200 sheets of paper in this journal.

The Exacompta Basics refills have a stitched binding so that pages do not fall out and the refill will open flat. The paper inside is white, pH neutral, acid-free, 64g and has a smooth-satin finish.

When you take the Club Leatherette cover off the Exacompta Basics refill you'll find its cover is a brown, textured cardboard with a cloth spine. Old versions of the Basics refill had ribbon bookmarks, but the new versions do not. It’s still easy to find your place though since the bottom of each page has a perforated tear-off corner.

The front and back end sheets are glued to the Basics refill cover, so when inserting the refill into the Club cover I like to insert the cardboard cover as well as one page.

The Basics refill is available with three different paper options: blank, graph, and undated 365 so that you can use this journal as a planner. There are also Notor and Textagenda daily planners available with the same size Club Leatherette covers (Notor 2012 planners will be available soon,  Textagenda 2011/2012 academic planners are available now). Although blank paper is my favorite, in addition it would be nice to see Exacompta make a ruled Basics refill as well.

The size of the Exacompta Club Leatherette Journal is a handy 5” x 7”. The Basics refill is about 4 3/4” x 6 3/4”. The cover is flexible and in your hand it has a nice book-like feel.

Is this journal fountain pen friendly? I guess my answer would have to be mostly no. Most of my fountain pens bleed through and show through this paper. As a left-handed writer I really like this paper since I can have the nice smooth Clairefontaine finish that my fountain pen glides across, but it is more absorbent than regular 90g Clairefontaine paper so the ink dries quickly. This is crucial for me to prevent a smeary ink mess. If I want to use both sides of the page I need to stick to a fine nib and only use certain inks or use a gel or ballpoint pen. However, if you don’t mind using up your journal more quickly, you can just use one side of the page like I do sometimes. There are 200 sheets so for me it lasts quite awhile.

Do you use any Exacompta Club covers or Basics journals? Which are your favorites?



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May 18, 2011

Gifts for Grads 2011!

Graduation season is coming up fast! Here are some great gift ideas to help your special grads take their next step!

Going to College?

Your grad will stand out with these unique laptop skins from Lamb-Lamb in four fun and funky designs - Cat, Stamps, Lamb-Lamb and Lace.

Don’t let your grad miss a beat when taking notes with these Pentel Slicci extra-fine point gel pens! This set of 8 allows students to color coordinate their notes, and these high quality pens will last for page after page of notes!

Help your grad get organized with a Quo Vadis Academic Planner for the 2011/2012 school year. Great for keeping track of classes, assignments, tests and late night study sessions. These academic planners are available now, and yearly planners for 2012 arrive during the summer.

Going to work?

There’s nothing more professional and sophisticated than a bound notebook or journal with the look and feel of leather. The Rhodia Webnotebook is a sophisticated way for your grad to keep meeting notes and jot down billion dollar business ideas.

No young professional should be without a classy fountain pen. The Pelikan M205 is a great choice for your grad's first fountain pen. Don't forget to include a bottle of ink!

Going on Interviews?

Help your grad be armed and ready for job offers with the STAEDTLER Triplus Mobile Office. Includes one ball point pen, highlighter, fineliner, and mechanical pencil. Small and portable, this product is great for staying organized when preparing for a long line of interviews.

Taking a Break?

Let your grad kick back and relax with Agricola from Z-Man Games. A fun, interactive, and strategic board game that will not only pass the time but help your grad to strategize their next move!

Not Sure What To Do?

Encourage your grad to set goals and reach them! The “5” book will help your grad prioritize his or her values, plan for the future and set long term and short term goals that will get them to where they truly want to be.

What is your grad's next step?

May 11, 2011

Does Fountain Pen Ink Fade With Time?

Most fountain pen ink is dye-based rather than pigment-based, so the answer is yes, it does fade with the passing of time. The speed and degree of fading depend on a number of factors including the type of ink, type of paper, environmental conditions and exposure to light. I've noticed some fountain pen ink in various stages of fading in my old journals.

Iron-gall inks eventually fade to a brown color due to the iron that is in the ink. Other inks just fade to a paler shade of their original color or another unexpected hue. I found that the pen friends at Fountain Pen Network have done many of their own experiments to test what happens to various inks when exposed to UV light. It’s worth doing a search there if you’re wondering about the light resistance of a specific ink. If you are looking for a fade-resistant fountain pen ink there are several inks out there that may work for you.

Platinum Pens has years of experience with fountain pens and ink and they have developed pigment-based inks for use with fountain pens that are water-resistant, fade-resistant and heat-resistant. Platinum Carbon Black ink is especially prized by artists and others looking for ink that is very water and light resistant. Platinum pigment ink is available in just a few colors: black, sepia, blue and rose red. Some fountain pen users are nervous that using ink containing ultra-fine pigment powder may clog their pens. If this describes you, you might want to try this ink in an inexpensive pen first and follow the pen maintenance tips included in with this ink – these tips are originally written in Japanese but are mentioned in English on our website.

Noodler’s Ink makes several types of ink that have what they describe as “bullet-proof” qualities including resistance to fading when exposed to light. I am unclear as to whether or not any of these inks include any sort of pigments in their formulas, but can tell you Noodler’s ink is included among the favorite inks of many writers. Their UV light-resistant inks include such inks as regular Noodler’s bullet-proof black, Noodler’s Eternal inks, Noodler’s Polar inks and any of the inks in the Warden’s series such as Bad Black Moccasin and Bad Belted Kingfisher..

Do you use fade-resistant ink in your fountain pen? What type of permanent fountain pen ink is your favorite? Have you done any UV light tests with ink that you’d like to share?

May 04, 2011

Why Use a Fountain Pen?

I mean seriously, do people even use fountain pens anymore? Actually, YES! Although they may seem like an archaic writing tool, fountain pens have a very devoted and loyal following. It seems like more than ever people are reaching for the 100 pens for $2 deal on disposable ballpoint pens. So why do so many people continue to use fountain pens, when ballpoint and gel pens are so readily available and much much cheaper?

Many of the people using fountain pens today grew up doing so. Fountain pens used to be on the list of required school supplies. Those writers may simply be accustomed to using fountain pens or enjoy the nostalgic feeling that comes with it. Using a fountain pen may remind people of simpler times, when good handwriting skills were praised, rather than how many words per minute you can type. Fountain pens also used to be a great way for students to interact, sharing fountain pen ink, or trading nibs was similar to trading your ham sandwich for your best friend's chocolate chip cookie.

The laundry list of advantages that come with using fountain pens is endless. In my research I found a few things that attracted people to fountain pens. The novelty of using of a fountain pen is a great conversation starter and many like the attention they get when they use it. A student using what could be described by other students as a "grandpa pen" might enjoy the onslaught of "why are you using THAT?" or "Hey, that's really cool".  In a sea of laptops, ipads, and tablets, a student using an actual pen, let alone a fountain pen, can be shocking, and on some occasions, very much appreciated.

There are also technical advantages of using a fountain pen. The liquid ink flow requires less pressure when writing which reduces cramping and overall discomfort when writing. Fountain pens are great for those with weak wrists or hands, and carpal tunnel. The quality and variety of fountain pens is also very attractive. Fountain pens, if well maintained, can last for decades. Fountain pens may be more expensive than a pack of ballpoint pens, but they last for a lifetime, making them much more “eco-friendly” than your usual go-to disposable pen. There is also more variety when it comes to fountain pens. They can be tailored to suit the needs of their user. Left-handed options, pen styles, nib sizes, and the vast spectrum of ink colors allow users to customize their pen to fit their unique personal style.  In addition to their unique design, fountain pens offer a larger range of writing styles. Depending on nib, hold, and angle of the the pen, writing styles can be altered and changed accordingly.

So why, with all these advantages are people still reaching for disposable pens?  There some aspects to using a fountain pen that may be off-putting for some. Fountain pens need careful maintenance in order to prevent leaking and promote long lasting use. Refilling your fountain pen can be messy and tedious, and although fountain pen inks can be sold at rather inexpensive prices some view buying them as unnecessary expenses. Taking fountain pens on airplanes can be risky because the air pressure changes at high altitude may cause ink explosions, and unless you like to unintentionally dye your clothes, most people view this as an inconvenience. Fountain pens must also be paired with high quality paper for best performance, which for some may also seem as an inconvenience. Although there may be some disadvantages with using a fountain pen, with proper maintenance and a thrifty eye most of these inconveniences can be avoided.

Let us know why you still use a fountain pen! We would love to hear your feedback!

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