How to Change the Elastic for Midori Traveler's Notebooks

We've been missing the elastic on our display Passport Brown Traveler's Notebook for the shop for a while now, and finally, in a spurt of inspiration and productivity, I replaced it. I think the elastic broke because people who aren't familiar with the Traveler's Notebook try to put the elastic back on the cover vertically, like a Rhodia or Leuchtturm elastic, rather than horizontally, which stretches out the elastic, and it snapped. Every time I notice this, it gives me pause and reminds me about just how unique this Midori Traveler's Notebook system is, and why it's become so popular with so many people who need an everyday notebook and planning system. I figured since I was opening up the repair kit, I might as well try out some of the other elastics, since the kit comes with four elastics and one new metal nugget enclosure. I have a Regular Size Blue and a Passport Camel, and Jon has a Passport Black. I replaced the elastic that closes my Midori with the orange one - blue and orange, one of my favourite combinations! This one is super easy - you just pull out the old one from the hole, and you put the ends of the new one in, and tie a knot. How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada There are instructions to do this on the back that are very easy to follow (I looked at the pictures...), but here are a few colour photos. How to Replace the Elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada You will need:
  • Your Midori
  • A repair kit which comes with four elastics and the little end cap that holds the elastics in place
  • A hammer
  • A pair of scissors (not featured in photo due to a lack of organization on my part)
  • Around 15 minutes, especially if it's your first time. After that, you could probably do it in around 5 minutes or less.
How to Replace the Elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada How to Replace the Elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada How to Replace the Elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Canada Toronto How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Canada Toronto How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Toronto Canada I used the leftover notebooks-holding elastic that I cut, but I'm not sure that's the best move (sorry, Jon). The elastic is a bit bouncy, so it doesn't just stay where you want it. It might be better to use some thin rope, or else weigh it down with a charm or bolt. Step 7: Tie a knot. You'll be able to adjust the tightness now. And it's now or never, so take the time to make sure it's how you like. Better to err on the side of tightness, since the elastics can loosen up over time, but if it's too loose, you'll have to re-do the whole thing. How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Canada Toronto How to replace the elastic on your Midori Traveler's Notebook Wonder Pens Canada Toronto Even though you may get a cleaner cut by cutting off the excess before you hammer it down, I don't think I'd recommend that, because if the elastics pull loose with the ends to the knot cut so short, the whole thing will come undone, and you'll need to start over with a new elastic. And you're done! New elastic, new you ;) Passport (Old special edition camel, with the original green elastic), and Regular (most recent special edition Blue with a new orange elastic, available in the repair kit). I'm loving it! I love the pop of colour on my blue Midori, and I also really like the hint of red at the bottom of Jon's passport Black. Because the elastic closing the TN is so easy to change, I may even consider changing my blue Midori's elastic to brown, for something a bit more subtle.

***

As always, we've been busy around here, packing up orders, saying hello to visitors and new folks trying out pens in the shop. We just got in our latest Field Notes' order, including the winter special edition Snowblind, which changes colour from white to blue when you hold it in sunlight. I don't know how they keep coming up with these ideas, those crazy folks at Field Notes. I made my first Chinese-style steamed fish dinner last night, which also involved my first time gutting a whole fish in the kitchen sink. Let's just say next time will involve a sharper kitchen knife, which I would've known had I watched the Youtube video before I did the deed. Here I was thinking this is one of those things that just come instinctively to Asian women in the kitchen. I meant to write this blog post yesterday, and I wish I could say I had a good reason why I didn't get it up, like we just got a big shipment in of something exciting, or I was fixing someone's pen, or I was re-organizing all of our shipping supplies, but it's really because I got in a box of washi tapes I'd ordered online the night before, and left it on my table. Caleb had pulled the box off the table in the morning, and I spent 85% of my expendable time looking for this one lost roll. I found it in Caleb's "tool box," which (joke's on him) might actually be perfect vessel for holding washi tape rolls. Every cloud has a silver lining.
January 13, 2016 — wonderpens

On Filling your TWSBI Vac-700 or Vac-Mini with the Vac-20 Inkwell

We just received in our shipment of TWSBI Vac-Mini pens and the newly re-released and re-designed Vac-20 inkwells, so I figured now would be a good time to introduce both! I have never actually done a blog on the Vac-700 or the previous Vac-20 bottle. But of course, give me something in miniature form, and I'm all over that... How to use your vac-20 inkwell how to fill TWSBI vac-mini vac-700 fullyMy ink of choice is Diamine Autumn Oak. If I had been planning this properly, I might have chosen a more festive colour, but Autumn Oak has some hints of red. While the pen looks a bit like a syringe, where you dip the nib into a bottle of ink, pull back on the plunger and the ink gets sucked up with it, it's actually a vacuum filler. When you're filling the pen, you start out with the plunger pulled all the way out. A vacuum is created when the plunger gets pushed down, and when the plunger pushes past the bottom of the barrel with a slightly wider diameter, the vacuum is released, drawing up ink very quickly. You do not need the Vac-20 bottle to fill either your Vac-700 or Vac-mini pen. Here's a quick photo demonstration from a regular bottle of ink.   Step 1: Pull the plunger out. Step 2: Submerge nib & feed into inkwell. Step 3: Push down on the plunger all the way down. Ink shoots up, and fills your pen! Success! You'll feel some good pressure when you're pushing down, but when you get past the wider part of the barrel at the bottom, you'll feel an immediate release, and a good volume of ink will shoot up into the barrel. The large ink capacity is one of the biggest advantages of the pen. However, it's pretty hard to get a 100% fill without the Vac-20 inkwell (although it still holds quite a bit of ink). Also you can bring it onto a plane, and with the back plunger twisted all the way shut, you will experience a smooth and ink-spill-free flight. I cannot wait to try this out. Or maybe I'll let Jon do the trying out ;) Just kidding. This new inkwell can be used with either the Vac-700 or the new Vac-mini. Because the Vac-mini is smaller, you will need to keep the grey lip insert in to use it. How to use your vac-20 inkwell how to fill TWSBI vac-mini vac-700 fully Wonder Pens Toronto Canada How to use your vac-20 inkwell how to fill TWSBI vac-mini vac-700 fully Toronto Canada Wonderpens.ca Step 2: Screw in the barrel of the pen (with the nib section on). Don't over tighten! But make sure it's on good :) Step 3: Turn the inkwell upside down. Step 4: Push the plunger in, and watch the ink fill the barrel. Success! Step 5: Unscrew. Cap inkwell. The best thing about these inkwells is how great they are for travelling. They hold a total of 20 mL of ink, which should make it past most airplane's carry-on restrictions. You can even use these as just a regular inkwell, without a Vac fountain pen. How to use your vac-20 inkwell how to fill TWSBI vac-mini vac-700 fully We hardly have any Vac-20 bottles left, but we're hoping for more soon! We still have some Vac-mini pens, but those are going fast. We are also expecting to continue to re-stock these pens. I'm not sure if TWSBI will be releasing nib units for the Vac-mini. They are the same nib as the Mini, but the sections are not interchangeable. I found it very easy to remove the nib and feed from the housing of the Vac-mini, but the nib & feed are pretty tight in the Mini, and I don't think it's recommended to try and remove those. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I wanted to do this blog post earlier, but it's been so busy both in the shop and online. In particular, I needed to corner my hand-model (Jon) and find time when the shop was empty but light was still good so we could take some photos. It was a bit hairy even getting these few photos done, because we had Caleb running around loose. He's like a very small but very active bull in a china shop. At the very least, the dog was just lying next to us - who would've thought we'd ever say Super is the good one. And we have a small splash of Autumn Oak on our concrete floors. The blessings of a family business. We're coming onto the final stretch of this holiday season! Our extended hours are on, right up until Christmas Eve, and would you believe we're still getting shipments of stuff in. I hear about all these wonderful family traditions like baking Christmas cookies and sitting around fireplaces, but Caleb's Christmas traditions are going to be more along the lines of eating dinner late and climbing over boxes of merchandise that are all half-opened and half-counted. It hardly seems like it since we only had that tiny sprinkling of snow yesterday, and also I have not yet had any holiday eggnog, but Christmas is just a few days away.
December 20, 2015 — wonderpens

How to Enjoy a Pen Show (First or Otherwise)

This weekend is the upcoming Scriptus Toronto Pen Show, and if you're planning on going, I'm sure you're almost as excited as I am! Almost, but not quite, right?? Some of you may be on the verge of cracking open that piggy bank, but lucky for me, I have the deep pockets of a handsome man to reach into... and by deep, I mean, Jon has set a budget for me based on how much I'm willing to cut out of my washi tape budget. (That's a joke, because "obviously" I don't have a washi tape budget. That would be ridiculous. I just spend whatever I want willy-nilly.) Scriptus Toronto Pen Show wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Blog Toronto Canada Here are a few photos from last year's pen show, without too much advice, mainly because I was a bit wide-eyed and dazed by it all - not so much deer in headlights as zombie in headlights. I do remember, though, diving in head first and not really knowing what to expect from a pen show. Having taken the year to recover, I figured I might share some advice on what to expect from the pen show, and a few tips on how to get through it all, especially if this is your first pen show. Before you get too worried that it's the blind leading the blind you'll be pleased to know that the fountain pen community is full of wisdom and wisecrackers, and I've take the liberty of e-mailing/cajoling/harassing some of the wisest pen experts out there to get some of the best tips on how to truly enjoy a pen show. There are lots of blog posts out there with tips on what to do, but I think at the end of the day, you should be enjoying yourself. And, it's also no surprise that these folks took time out of their busy day to answer questions from someone like me, because the pen community is truly full of some of the nicest people out there. This is what they had to say: There are no dumb questions, everyone wants to talk about pens (and inks and paper and everything else).  -Ana Reinert, The Well Appointed Desk Wear comfortable shoes. I'd say thats number one. -Philip Wang, TWSBI Have a look around the blogs to see other people's experiences - a lot of those guys posted reflections with their experiences/advice. -Jonathon Deans, Pen Economics You don't need a fishing vest - It's hard to say why they're so popular...  -Ed Jelley, edjelley.com Pay a compliment to anyone you see wearing a fishing vest. -Brad Dowdy, penaddict.com Always remember that some pens will get away and some will go home with you. -Philip Akin, Scriptus Toronto Pen Show Organizer Go slow. -Paul Joynes, gorgeous.ink If you're going with someone who has limited self-control, make sure you're holding the cash.  -Jon Chan, married to Liz It is not appropriate to lick a pen before you buy it and even then... I don't care how much it looks like candy. -Gerald Taylor, mycoffeepot.org (After the show) Ginger (695 Yonge Street), great pho and sums. -Michelle Leung, Scriptus Toronto Pen Show Organizer Have a great day! -Brian Gray, Edison Pens For Brian Gray, I wasn't sure he if was saying to "have a great day" as an end to his email to me, or as a piece of advice for pen-show-goers, but I'm thinking it might be one of those works-either-way things :) Really, near and far, almost everyone ended with saying to just have fun. Actually, almost everyone wrote these really beautiful and detailed e-mails with tips and encouragement and shared excitement that we had a pen show coming up here in Toronto. I feel a bit guilty about my "condensing" of all their wonderful advice, even though there were some duplicate tips about bringing cash, or preparing yourself for possible over-stimulation. I think, though, everyone was sharing so many great tips because they want me and you all to have fun. And I think that's the most important part. It can be busy and bustling and I know last year's show felt a bit squashed in, but I hope at the end of the day, whether you walk out with a bottle of ink or a pen or nothing at all, you enjoy yourself. Plus, I think there's more space this year... If you see us, please say hello! We're bringing the baby, but not the dog. I would love to see what pens or anything else you managed to snag. If you're nervous about finding a pen, come walk around with us! Jon's really good at elbowing people out of the way. Then again, you may want to walk just ahead of us, so I don't buy up all the pens before you get there. *In case this blog post is not as helpful as you envisioned, here are a few great links to check out as you prepare for the big day: Richard Binder's article Pen Shows: Why Bother? Richard Binder's article Your First Pen Show SBRE Brown's video Pen Shows: What to do, what to expect Tips from FPN Ed Jelley's Recap of the Long Island Pen Show 2015 Our shop is also going to be open from 1-5, if you want to stop by! Coffee and egg tarts :)
October 28, 2015 — wonderpens

How to Adjust a Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen (or Konrad, or Nib Creaper)

I've been meaning to write this blog post for a while, but now that there will be a price increase coming up,* I figured it would be a good time to share a bit on what adjusting your Noodler's Flex Pen might entail to help you decide if you're going to pull the trigger on one. Using a flex nib can be a lot of fun and an easy way to create elegant looking writing or to use in drawing or sketching, and the Noodler's pens are often a great choice, especially if you're just starting out. Noodler's is most famous for their inks in so many different colours and with gorgeous labels. One of the philosophies of their business is to offer reasonably priced goods, rather than always striving for the profit margin, and in line with this philosophy, they also offer a few reasonably priced flex nib fountain pen model: the Ahab, the Konrad and the Creaper. I have an Ahab that I love, and I use it to scribble and doodle with, and I also use it for a lot of my Instagram writing shots. Sometimes people ask what pen I'm writing with (the Ahab), and then they say, well, I have the same pen, and it doesn't write like yours! While each pen might a bit different, there are a few steps on adjusting your pen so it will write a bit more like how you'd like. Calligraphy Writing Video Wonder Pens  Toronto Canada One of the idiosyncrasies of the Noodler's flex pens, in line with the fact that it's not going to run you out of your wallet, is that it sometimes takes a bit of fiddling and adjusting to get it to write the way you want. This can sometimes be a good thing (if you enjoy fiddling around, or if you like the flexibility of adjusting how your pen writes) but sometimes a not-so-good thing if you don't have the patience to adjust it. In the bricks & mortar shop, we try to emphasize this fact, that you'll likely have to spend some time getting to know your new flex pen. One of the things about test driving an Ahab flex nib in the shop is that it's almost guaranteed that your Ahab will not write like that one, so writing with the one we've adjusted and softened up over time can be a bit misleading to yours straight out of the box. Stay the course! If all you're going to read is the first bit, then there are two pieces of advice I might give: 1. Take your nib and feed out of your flex pen, and wash them with soapy water. I give it a squirt of dish soap, and rub them between my fingers for maybe 10 seconds. If I'm feeling like daydreaming, I might do it twice. Rinse. 2. Give it time! Not only in terms of adjusting it and maybe if it's not working perfectly, leave it overnight and try again the next day, but over many months of using it, you may find that the nib softens up on you a bit. The general rule of thumb for adjusting your Noodler's flex pen is:

For wetter flow, push the nib and feed closer together, and closer in. For drier flow, pull the nib and feed further apart, and slightly further out. And then keep fiddling. 

I generally suggest sitting down and getting ready to get your hands really inky the first time, and then you may have to do small adjustments later, but you hope the bulk of the adjustment is done. You may have to do more adjusting later if you change the ink, or if you're giving it a thorough washing by taking out the nib and feed. Supplies: How to Adjust your Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Pen Wonder Pens wonder pens.ca Toronto Canada - Noodler's Flex Fountain Pen, in this case we're using the Ahab in Topkapi - Ink - you may want two or more inks just in case you get bad luck and the first ink you pick is not so good in your Ahab - we're using Stormy Grey - Ink Syringe (if you're filling as an eyedropper) - Silicone Grease (if you're filling as an eyedropper) Adjusting your Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Wonder Pens wonder pens.ca Toronto Canada Step One: Pull your nib and feed out and give them a nice soapy bath. Remember when you're putting it back in that the Ahab has a grove where the nib fits in, and it won't fit in properly if it's not lined up. In the photo below, you can see that the nib would fit at the top. How to Adjust your Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen wonder pens.ca Wonder Pens Toronto Canada Adjusting your Noodler's Ahab Flex Pen Filling with Bottled Ink Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Blog Toronto Canada Step Two: Fill the pen with ink. If this is the first time with the pen, I generally recommend using the converter because you won't have to waste as much ink if you end up dumping it, but more importantly, you can use the converter to "prime the feed" a bit by pushing it down and forcing ink through as you're testing. Obviously this is not the long term solution, to have to continually push down on the converter, but it may be helpful as you're trying to adjust. How to Fill your Noodler's Flex Ahab Eyedropper Fountain Pen Wonder Pens wonder pens.ca Toronto Canada If you're filling as an eyedropper, put some silicone grease around the threads of the barrel (to prevent leaking) and put some ink directly in the barrel. You won't have any option to push more ink through, but you get a LOT of ink. Why does my Ahab Konrad Creaper railroad Wonder Pens wonder pens.ca Toronto Canada Step 3: Start writing and see how it does. You may find that it writes fine if you're not flexing too much, but the more you flex, the more problems you may have. If you just need the tiniest bit of variation as you're writing, then maybe you don't need any adjustment at all! Or you may have found the golden ticket pen and it writes and flexes with no problem. If not, don't worry! Especially at first, give your Ahab some time! Don't just write a few strokes with it and then adjust it right away if it's not writing for your the way you like - the ink flow may need a few moments to settle and fill your feed, and get flowing properly. Try a few strokes, a few sentences, wait a bit. You can try pressing a cloth to the nib and feed to draw some ink through. However, at a certain point, you just know it's not going to give anymore, so, you adjust. Step 4: Pulling the nib in and out, also known as, when the fingers start to get inky. Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Pen Adjustments Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Blog Toronto Canada Adjusting your Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Pen Wonder Pens wonder pens.ca Blog Toronto Canada Give it some time and a LOT of writing. You may find that it blobs and then starts railroading, so is it too wet or too dry?? It may just be that the feed needs some more time to regulate the flow, so a bit more writing to try and even it out before you figure out how to adjust it next. Adjusting Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Nib Ink Flow Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada Noodler's Flex Pen Ahab Konrad Creaper Adjusting Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada Keep going and adjusting. Write, write, write, give your pen a chance for some flow, and then write some more. Adjust slightly, and then see how it does. This is a pen that does best with a healthy dose of love and patience, so if it railroads, give it a few more strokes before you adjust it again. I personally like my Ahab nice and wet (if you watch the video above, you'll see how wet the ink is!), which occasionally results in blobs of ink, but I like it wet so my inks show lots of shading. Keeping this in mind, I generally use higher quality paper with my Ahab so it doesn't become a hot mess. I also find a bit of ink in my cap every once in a while (I'm not sure if the two are related, I think it's probably more to do with the fact that I knock around my Ahab quite a bit). This tugging the nib a bit in or out is literally all I do with my Ahab if I've changed the ink and I find the flow isn't what I'd like. Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Pen How to Adjust Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada Adjusting Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Fountain Pen Flex Wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Blog Toronto Canada Step 5: If this all isn't working, you can trying heat-setting your nib and feed. Heat-setting heat setting Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Nib Pen Wonderpens.ca wonder pens blog Toronto Canada Heat up some water so it's hot, just off boiling, and dip your nib and feed in. You can hold it there for a minute or two, which should soften up the ebonite feed a bit. Press together firmly, so the nib and feed will end up cooling and re-hardening against each other. You may end up trying this a few times, but remember to give the testing a fair shake before you re-adjust as it may just need a few minutes for the ink flow to really regulate. Heatsetting Nib and Feed from Noodler's Ahab Konrad Creaper Flex Pen Wonder Pens Blog wonder pens.ca Toronto Canada Your Noodler's flex pen will probably not ever write like a vintage flex pen, not as soft, or with as consistent a flow, but with a bit of adjustment it can do pretty well. You may also have to slow down a bit as you write, but the more you write with your pen, the more you'll get to know exactly how much you can ask of it. Eventually over time, you may find that your Noodler's flex nib will soften up, and not be quite as stiff as it was when you first got it. One last thing to keep in mind about your Noodler's pen: some inks may just not be great in it, and they never will be. Just like you may know one of your pens is a bit of a dry writer or a wet writer or a pen likes a particular ink, even more so for a Noodler's Flex Pen where the ink flow is so variable. One ink may work in your Clear Ahab, but strangely not in your Apache Tortoise Ahab. It's a bit of trial and error. In my Ahab, I've had to come to terms with the fact that J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, my favourite of all shading inks, is just not going to work in my current Ahab. It was a long road to acceptance, and along the way I think I've tried Ambre de Birmanie six or seven times, but I've finally reached it. Good luck with yours! And don't give up!! *As of August 1st, 2015, Noodler's flex pens will be undergoing a price increase, due to manufacturing costs: Nib Creaper from 17.50 to 20.15 CAD Ahab/Konrad from 25 to 28.75 CAD

How to Make a Wax Seal

In case you missed it, we started carrying J. Herbin wax seal supplies in the shop a few weeks ago - I did a blog post on it, with more pictures of the different coloured wax in seal form. In that blog post, it was more about the final product than how to make the actual wax seal, so here's a post to help you out if you're not certain about what to do. J Herbin Sealing Wax Brass I had to enlist the help of Vanna (i.e. Jon) to help me with this post. If you receive a letter from us in the next few days that has an odd looking wax seal, it's because we used your envelope as our demonstration, and we had some "timing issues" with the pressure of wax cooling and me trying to take a photo. One day we're going to do a behind-the-scenes post of how these how-to blogs get done, with the dog sniffing the wax and the baby bobbling in the background and me trying to stop wax from cooling and Jon saying "Liz, this one is ruined." It's actually not too hard to do this. The idea is, you melt the wax onto the envelope, and you press your brass stamp into the wax before it cools, making an impression. You need: Sealing wax (available in different colours) Brass stamp (often people use a letter in their name or a symbol) Your envelope Heat source - here, a candle J. Herbin Wax Seal Wonder Pens Step one: Hold the wax over the candle and rotate so too much wax doesn't drip into the candle. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Step 2: Gently but firmly rub the melted end into the paper in a circle. J. Herbin Wax Seal How-To Wonder Pens It won't be pretty, but that's okay, because you're going to be putting more wax on it. It may also be a bit tacky or sticky as you rub, but don't worry about it.  J. Herbin Sealing Wax Tutorial WonderPens.ca Step 3: Bring the wax seal back over the flame and repeat. The bit of wax on the envelope will be cooling while you are re-warming the wax stick, and that's okay. It's the first "layer" of wax, so when you press your stamp on, you don't press all the way to the paper, and you also get a nice, thick wax seal. When you add more wax to the bit on the envelope, use your stick to gently move the wax around to form a bit of a circle, preparing for the brass stamp.
J. Herbin Wax Seal Tutorial Wonder Pens
  Your second glob of wax will look something like this - it takes a bit of trial and error to figure out about how much wax you like to have in your seal. J. Herbin Sealing Wax Wonderpens.ca Step 4: Wait just a bit, until the wax is just matte (and no longer shiny). Then, press your stamp into the wax firmly, and hold it for a bit, maybe around 5 seconds. If you press right away and the wax is too hot, it will be too soft and won't make a good, crisp impression. J. Herbin Wax Seals Wonderpens.ca Lift carefully, and you'll have your seal! J Herbin Wax Seal Anchor Wonder Pens In addition to being able to use a candle, you can use a lighter with a long handle (like a barbecue lighter) or a torch type lighter. You can hold the wax directly onto the paper while holding the flame to the tip, and wait for the wax to drip drip drip onto the envelope. You may have to wait a bit longer for the wax to cool, don't rush it! (But don't take too long, or you won't be able to get your stamp into it). The reason for the second layer of wax is because if you don't get enough, it ends up looking a bit thin. You want the wax to come around all of the edges. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA You can also consider making a mark on your stamp itself so you always know which way is the top when you go to press it on - seconds make a big difference in the wax cooling! Sealing Wax Tips & Tricks Wonderpens Tip 1: When you're near the end of your wax stick, melt the end and stick it onto the end of a fresh stick. Tip 2: If you're new to this, always put the the wax seal on the envelope before you put on the postage stamp, so if you mess up, you don't waste the postage. Don't worry about getting it perfect, though :) We carry the sealing wax regularly in the shop - you can either try a stick of a colour, or if you know you like it, get a pack of four sticks. The brass stamp (either a letter or symbol) and the handle - purchased separately - are special order: if you're interested, send us an email (info at wonderpens.ca). You can see more details here.   Above all, have fun with it!  
April 06, 2015 — wonderpens

How to Use Seyes or French Ruling for Handwriting

Now, I'm not quite delving into the debate about whether or not cursive writing should be taught in public school, but if you are interested in spending some time on your handwriting, French ruled paper, or Seyes ruled paper, could be something to help you out. Calligraphers also use this paper, sometimes ignoring the "rules" for standard handwriting, but using the lines to help get a consistent size - I've seen calligraphers using the Pilot Parallel pens with letters up to 15 or 20 lines high. This paper looks super complicated, but if you spend some time with it, it's actually not too complicated at all. The paper has thick lines with three thin lines in between each. These thin lines are supposed to help you keep the size and height of your letters consistent. Seyes Ruled Paper, French Ruled Paper Notebooks from Clairefontaine Seyes ruled or French ruled paper is widespread in France, and actually, I think you can find it in many countries in Europe. It's often used by students, and I think the margin on the left (nice and wide!) is for teachers' gentle encouragement/corrections. The vertical lines help with indentations for paragraphs or tables, as these notebooks could be used for a variety of school subjects. I've also read that generations of French school children used J. Herbin's Poussiere de Lune ink, which is kind of a romantic thought! All that moondust :) We have a customer who had grown up in France who comes in specifically for this Seyes ruled paper. She said since she's come to Canada she's been using "regular" paper, and her handwriting has been swooping all over the place uncontrollably (this is not the case, as I've seen her handwriting and it is perfect...ugh! The French and their eating endless varieties of cheese and never getting fat! And their perfect handwriting!!). How to Use Seyes Ruling, French Ruled, Handwriting Alphabet Sample There are five rules to follow: 1. Capital letters go up to the third line. 2. Lower case "bodies" - like a, c, the circle part of d or p - go up to the first line. 3. Loopy stems go up to the third line - b, f, h, k, l. 4. Non-loopy or straight stems go up to the second line - just d and t. 5. Anything that goes below the line - f, g, j, p, q, y, z - go down two lines. Seyes Ruled, French Ruled Notebook, Handwriting sample, How to write on Seyes paper Really, basically everything goes up to the third line, or the first line, except d & t. If you keep that in mind, you just have to be careful about the d & t. How to write on Seyes or French ruled paper, handwriting sample A popular warm-up exercise for calligraphers and handwriting teachers is to try drawing circles of consistent size across a line. I think you're supposed to go fast to really loosen up the muscles, but I don't think I'm at that stage yet - I'm still at the concentrate-really-hard-and-don't-mess-up-because-you're-taking-a-picture-for-the-blog stage, but don't be afraid to mess up!   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA If you're just starting out, it may help to take a letter that's troubling you and write that letter over and over again. The next step might be to try connecting two letters of different heights, like a - f - a - f - a - f to practise getting from one height to the the next.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA It takes practice! It takes some practice and concentration to get all that muscle memory working, so take a trip to your local cafe, or sit out on the porch in this fresh spring weather! And then, send me a letter in your beautiful (or you know, "unique") handwriting :) We have two types of notebooks in this Seyes or French ruling - an A5, softcover staple and we just got in an A4 softcover spiral bound. These are made by Clairefontaine, so the paper is excellent for fountain pens - although the lines are quite close together, so I might recommend a fine or extra-fine nib if you're specifically practising your handwriting. Clairefontaine Seyes French Ruled Notebooks at wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Toronto Interesting side note! When I was in college I spent some time teaching in Madagascar, an island country off the east coast of Africa. Madagascar was previously a French colony, and like Canada, they still have much of the vestiges of French language and culture around. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA When I was there, a young stationery aficionado wandering around, I discovered Seyes ruled notebooks. Having never encountered them before at that time, I stocked up on a few, and I still have one left today! The paper quality, however, is no Clairefontaine (and that's being generous...).
April 03, 2015 — wonderpens

Swapping Nibs on Kaweco Fountain Pens

Kaweco has one main nib size that fits on most of their pens. It comes in two colours: gold, for their Classic Sport, and silver for most of the rest. Kaweco Fountain Pens The swappable nibs will fit on: Classic Sport (plastic) Al-Sport (metal) Liliput Allrounder Dia2 Special If you get a spare nib, it often comes in either a plastic section (some of the Sport nibs, and most of the italic nibs), or a nib housing, which is smaller and just around the nib and feed. IMG_0017 The Classic Sport nibs are friction fit, meaning that you will need to pull the nib and feed out of your original pen's section, and the new nib and feed out of the housing/section that it comes in. IMG_0026 IMG_0028 I recommend putting your thumb on the black feed, and the first knuckle of your index finger on the nib. Pull straight out (no turning), and the nib and feed should come right out. Swap. IMG_0025 When you're putting the nib back on the feed, there's a slotted area that the nib fits right into, so you can't get it wrong. The bottom of the nib sits right at the ledge where the two indented circles are (closest to the finger). For most of Kaweco's other pens, including their Al-Sport, Liliput, Special, Allrounder and Dia2, it's even easier to swap nibs. IMG_0019 The nib housing will actually unscrew right out, and you can screw the new nib and feed back in. IMG_0020 IMG_0023 You can still pull out the nib and feed from the housing if you ever want to get a really good clean, or if you receive a spare nib that is in the section instead of a housing that's screw-in. This is most likely to happen if you order an italic nib, but sometimes it just happens.
September 04, 2014 — wonderpens

How to Use Your Kaweco Squeeze Converter

Kaweco Classic Sport with Squeeze Converter and Noodler's Army Green Fountain Pen Ink Often people who use fountain pens like converters because they allow you to use bottled ink. For a long time, people who used the Kaweco Sport didn't have a converter that could fit in its short barrel, only having touch-and-go luck with a short mini-converter from Monteverde. Earlier this year Kaweco released a "squeeze converter." Kaweco Squeeze Converter I have heard many times people saying something along the lines of "I can't quite seem to fill this converter all the way" or "this converter sucks." There's a bit of a trick to using it effectively. It's easiest to use the squeeze converter with a full bottle or a wide bottle, or at least not the bottom bit of a tall ink bottle like Noodler's, because you need to squeeze in the middle of the converter rather than twisting the top of the converter - you might have some problems squeezing if your fingers are stopped by the mouth of the inkwell. How to Fill your Kaweco Squeeze Converter with Ink The first step is pretty self-explanatory. Stick your nib and section into the ink and give it a good slow squeeze or two or three. You should see some air bubbles or maybe hear a little suction. You may think it is empty, because there doesn't seem to be anything in the converter. Filling a Kaweco Squeeze Converter Part-Way with Ink However, turn it upside down, and give it a few firm taps or careful shakes. You can try tapping the converter against your table. Some ink should fill the end of the converter. Kaweco Classic Sport Section and Filling Squeeze Converter Squeeze again, but very carefully, to release the air in the converter. Be careful not to squeeze too fast, or you might spurt out ink that was in the feed. You should hope to see some air bubbles coming out at the breather hole in the feed. Stick it back into the ink while squeezing and release, sucking up more ink. If you give it a tap again upside down, you should hope to see more ink! Repeat as needed, and wipe off the section when you're done. Mostly Full Kaweco Squeeze Converter It will be very difficult to both get or tell if you've gotten 100% fill. It's much easier with the piston fillers because the entire tank is clear so you can see. However, if you've gotten it basically full, you should be good to go. While it's not the most easy-to-use converter, with a little practise, it's Kaweco's answer to getting the Sport to use bottled ink without a syringe or eyedropper. If all else fails, you can always live life on the edge.
October 10, 2013 — wonderpens

How to Wash Inky Fingers Clean

Anyone who uses fountain pens has likely experienced a bit of ink your hands at some point - it kind of just goes with the territory, especially if you're using ink from a bottle, rather than cartridges. Fingers Stained from Fountain Pen Ink - How to Remove The best thing you can do is act quickly! The faster you get water and soap on your hands, the better. If you know you are going to be doing inky work, and want to avoid inky hands, it's best to wear gloves. After that, you can consider keeping a damp towel nearby to wipe your fingers as you go to limit the damage. If you do end up with ink, here are some strategies you can try to getting ink off: 1. Hot soap and water! Usually gets most inks off with some pretty good success. 2. Toothpaste and a brush. Put a little bit on a nail brush, or even your fingers and rub. A nail brush will be better because it will act as a bit of an abrasive to rubbing off the ink. 3. Windex - the ammonia in the Windex is also the same ingredient in pen flushes that helps dissolve the dyes to get them flowing. Spray, rub, rinse well. 4. Pumice stone, available at most Shoppers or pharmacies. Pumice stones are also used in manicures and pedicures to wear down and soften calluses on your skin, so by rubbing the stone on the stained skin, you're taking off the top layer. You can also try emory boards. Be gentle! 5. If you don't have a pumice stone, you can try mixing a bit of sugar with some dish or hand soap, and that will rub away at the ink on your skin. 6. Rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad or using Hand Sanitizer that uses alcohol-based ingredients, this will also give you peace of mind that your hands will be germ-free afterward. The alcohol can be quite drying, so be sure to moisturize after. 7. Usually the length of a shower, with the hot water and soap and shampoo gets most stains off. Even though I get ink on my hands almost every day, just by helping people with their pens or playing around with inks, every day is a different mix because it washes off in the shower. Try one or try all, and let me know how it goes! Otherwise, you can just embrace the ink on your hands and pretend you're an artist.
September 24, 2013 — wonderpens

How to Sharpen a Palomino Blackwing Pencil

or, How to Use your Palomino Long Point Sharpener. Don't laugh. There is actually a process to sharpening these beautiful pencils. The Blackwings have wonderful lead that almost never breaks unless you've dropped the pencil and it's landed on its tip. More likely, you would just be sharpening the tip to a point, but just for you, I have very generously sacrificed a Palomino Blackwing and broken its lead tip. IMG_6024 IMG_6029 Step 1:  Sharpen the wood. Insert the pencil into the left hold and sharpen like a regular pencil sharpener. IMG_6032 There is actually a gap or trench between the end of the blade and the back of the sharpening area. Sharpen the pencil until it stops on its own - when the lead reaches the back wall. IMG_6033 Your end result will be a long, cylindrical piece of lead with a blunt tip. IMG_6041 Step 2: Sharpen the lead. For this step, I like to be a little bit careful, as you don't want to break the lead now. You'll get quite a lot of lead shavings, and may even shape a bit of the wood. IMG_6049 And your beautiful Palomino is ready to go!

IMG_6046

Trouble-shooting: if your sharpener isn't giving you these crisp points, try tightening the screws holding in the blades - if they loosen, your points can break as you're sharpening your pencil, which shouldn't be happening at all.

Note: there are extra blades! They are tucked away by the hinge.

August 15, 2013 — wonderpens