Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

Palomino Blackwing Original

I bought my first Palomino Blackwing pencils at a Renegade Craft market a few years ago. I wasn’t particularly thinking about how soft the lead was I was more interested in the fact they looked SO GOOD! A reason I have for purchasing a lot of stationery to be honest!

Turned out the Blackwing original and the 602 were as different as Brie is to Parmesan (I may compare all things to different cheeses from now on) The Original has a nice soft lead which I like for drawing and sketching, comparable to a 4B I’ve read. That’s a bit of a surprise as I tend to like a 2B which is more like the hardness of the 602. It’s not about numbers though is it? It’s about feelings.

Palomino Blackwing 602

Later on I purchased a Pearl, out of curiosity, which is niiiice and somewhere between the Original and the 602 in terms of hardness but I was still in love with my trusty black Original for my sketching needs.

Palomino Blackwing Pearl

Most recently I bought a Jade 205 and a Lake Tahoe 73 both from editions known as “Volumes”. Palomino bring these out a few times a year and you can usually only buy them in boxes of 12 but Papersmiths were selling them individually which I was very happy about. I love these special editions as they are themed and honour cultural icons and events.

The number 205 references the molecular weight of Jadeite and celebrates the Silk Road and the belief that Jade protects its owner and encourages creativity and mental agility.

Palomino Blackwing 205 Green Jade

The Lake Tahoe 73 pencil commemorates the creative influence the lake has had on artists, writers and musicians and its signature blue colour. So that explains the colour of the pencil, the raised lines reflect the topography of the lake and the 73 is its most recent Secchi number which indicates the lake’s clarity which affects its colour.

In terms of my thoughts on their hardness I would say the Jade is similar to the Pearl and the Lake Tahoe is softer again. Both are softer than the 602 which is good news for me!

Palomino Blackwing 73 Lake Tahoe

When it comes down to it these are some good looking pencils, but style isn’t the only thing these pencils have going for them. They are a comfortable weight, they have an eraser that actually works and you can refill them (the eraser not the pencil, that would be innovative!).

 They sharpen beautifully and they dont snap and even when you’ve given them the sharpest point known to man it does not break as you draw.

Yes they are more expensive than a Staedtler Noris or a Derwent sketching pencil (each about £1.50) but you will get what you pay for. These will serve you well AND you will enjoy using them.

Pencil caps

To protect those beautifully sharpened points I have these nifty little metal point protectors I bought from CW Pencil Enterprise but if you’re not in the USA go to trusty Cult Pens. They have a slit down the side and come with strips of sticky paper. They’re like labels but I don’t know what you would label, so I think they are to tighten the protector thingys so they fit the pencil better. They’re Japanese so I can’t read the packaging. Anyway, I use Washi tape as it looks nicer and easy to replace.

I would say, go and try a couple, they are such a pleasure to use you won’t regret it.

Review: Brush Pens Pt 2

Welcome to Part Two of my brush pen review. Next up are the last 3 pens from this stash I bought.

Platinum Souhitsu Fude Brush Pen CFSW-300 is the next contender. These guys all have similar names so make sure you follow the links to make life easier! This one is double ended, one black nib and one grey. I love that. Again it is a simple black plastic pen but this one has a sparkly barrel as well as the gold brush script. No pen clip on this one though!

Now I really like this one. It’s another felt tip but it has a really good point on it meaning you can get a lovely fine line, that also means that the difference between the finest line and the thickest line this pen offers is satisfyingly great despite the nib being small and short. Good flow of ink really smooth on the paper. On the right paper (a post about that coming up)

This pen, the Platinum Souhitsu Fude Brush Pen CFS-200 is very similar to the Zebra Fude Pen I mentioned in the first part of this review. It has a felt tip that is quite chunky as you can see from the picture above. It has a reasonable amount of flex but not as much as the double ended pen above so you get less definition between thin and think lines. The ink on this one does flow as smoothly as the Zebra Fude and so it drags a bit like it is drying out which isn’t ideal. If you like this chunky style tip I’d go for the Zebra Fude over this one and the difference in price is only pence.

Last in the pack is the Uni POSCA Marker Pen PCF-350 Brush. I really wanted to be able to do brush lettering on surfaces other than paper, mainly on top of Washi tape so I thought I’d try one of these pens. I’ve had lots of POSCA pens with felt nibs and fine nibs so I know I like the way the ink flows but this pen has a brush nib. Actual bristles, which none of the other pens here have. What that does mean is that it takes some practice to get used to the long brush and the way that moves. You have to take the time to get used to how you apply pressure to get the thick and thin brush strokes because the variety of widths you can get is huge but can be hard to master. It does exactly what I want it to and gives you the option of writing on basically any surface!

And that is it for this brush pen review. I have added links straight to the pens on the Cult Pens website now.

‘Thanks for reading!

Review: Brush Pens Pt1

Every now and again I buy a pen that surprises me, I wish it happened more often but I’m a fickle being. The greatest thing about buying (most) pens is that they don’t cost the Earth so if they aren’t perfect you aren’t too much out of pocket. I do LOVE stationery shops where you can test them first though. The fabulous CW Enterprise has a drawer full of well used pencils so you can try each one before you buy (more on that in another post).

This little pile of brush pens came from Cult Pens and came to less than £20. They are a bit more per pen than maybe a biro or a fine liner but you would expect that to be honest and you’ll notice several of them are Japanese so I imagine there’s an import cost included.

On to the pens!

First up is the Zebra Fude Brush Pen. A simple black plastic body with some gold script on the barrel.

Zebra Fude Brush Pen

The nib is a felt tip and it feels very much like a felt tip pen that you would use for colouring in. I don’t like the feel of it much. The nib is quite stiff and doesn’t have much give in it and the ink is a little dry. It doesn’t come out very black either. I wasn’t a fan of this one at all.

Platinum Fude Brush Pen

Next is the Platinum Fude Brush Pen. It’s a plastic disposable pen with no real weight to it. The barrel has beautiful gold Cherry Blossom branches on it as well as some Japanese script which does add to it even though it’s just a plastic pen. Also the lid has a clear and gold glitter pen clip. Nice!

The nib is a felt tip, loaded with ink, which I really like. I can’t stand it when the ink is a bit dry and it’s hard work to draw your loops and it drags across the paper. The nib has a good amount of flexibility as you can see from the video and pics but it took a little bit of getting used to in terms of pressure. It’s a nice little pen but the felt tip will wear quickly if you use it on the wrong paper.

Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen Soft Nib

Next in line is the Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen Soft Nib. This is my second one of these so that’s a good review already! The nib is a short felt tip with a lot of give but because it’s quite short it’s not too difficult to control like a long brush tip can sometimes be. Good flow of ink from this pen and it’s great for small work. I have written many a certificate with this pen.

Stay tuned for Part 2, I had so much to say I’ve split it into two posts.

Papersmiths Purchases

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting Papersmiths at Boxpark. We had tickets for the World Championship Athletics at the Olympic stadium and had just enough time to nip down to Boxpark before we needed to make our way over to the Olympic Park. I’m super glad we did!

It’s a lovely pink tiled space with shelves on both sides. The look and feel of it is exactly as you see on their Instagram and markets their brand SO well. I just love consistency of design, it is so joyful.

I bought a blue Nähe general purpose case for carrying around a small drawing kit whilst “on the go”. I wouldn’t say I’m an “on the go” type of person to be honest more “piddle about a bit” but that doesn’t sound as good.

Two limited edition Blackwing pencils, the Lake Tahoe and the Green Jade ones and a Pearl to replace the one I STUPIDLY lent to a student. I should know better.

A green Artline fineliner. Just to see what it’s like.

And a dark pink Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth Progresso pencil which is woodless. Yep. You read that right, woodless! No wood, at all. They were all lined up in jars of the same colour and they looked so good. Also I picked it up and the weight of it was lovely. Do you do that? Pick up a pen or a pencil and the weight of it just feels so good in your hand and you have an instant reaction? An audible “ooh!”. I love that!

I treat Blackwings like a collectors item. I just have to try them and line them all up together. I’m such a sucker for well designed objects. I do like these though, both are a good hardness for me. I particularly like the Lake Tahoe one, it’s slight ridges feel nice when you hold it.

The fine liner is good but nothing overly special as fine liners go. Sorry Artline fine liner, I feel bad! It looks good though.

And finally the Progresso pencil… Now, I like soft soft colouring pencils that give a great variance of opacity from dark and opaque to light and slightly transparent. This one is exactly that! I definitely recommend this lovely if you dig colouring with pencils. I like graphic markers but i’m going to experiment a bit more and use these.

I was pretty restrained to be honest. There was so much more in there I could have bought.

Have you been to Papersmiths? What did you buy?


They see me foiling, they hating

Last week’s post was about how I was missing in action. Well it wasn’t just me, my ability to create products seemed to be missing in action for a long time as well. My day job as a lecturer can be very full on, mentally more than physically I should add! So I often come home, eat tea, watch something on the TV and fall asleep on the sofa, with no time or energy to come up with new ideas or new products.

Luckily, because I was practising my brush lettering a lot I did actually have some ideas that I could make into products ahead of our craft market on 26th June. I was anxious that I hadn’t made anything new for ages and customers would be bored of me having the same old things for sale.

When I looked in the files of lettering that I had scanned into my computer I had a few pieces that I could get copied onto cards. It’s not a fancy process at all. I have a little stash of textile foil which you heat transfer onto a screen printable glue. Well this foil also sticks to the toner from photocopiers or printers if you heat it onto it! So I toddled off to Staples and got three new phrases printed onto cards, foiled them when I got home and here are the results…

you got this card

hello card

thank you card


What do you think? Should I do more like this?

Buy them on my Etsy page

New York Travel Journal 2016 – So Far – Part Two


Time for another update on my travel journal. It’s a slow process, I know, but it’s such an enjoyable one I wouldn’t want to rush it.

I am inserting these pages with my Social Print Studio prints in between the ones that I did while I was in New York and when I got back. How I do this, considering it is a ring bound book, is I carefully cut down from each punched hole to the edge of the paper and then, again carefully, ease the page out from between the rings. Then I can pop it in at any point I like!

The first thing I do is pick the prints I want to use and move them around the page to come up with an idea of the composition. I then look for which colours are in the prints or, in this case, look at the colours I’ve used on the opposite page. I’m really into patterns but I don’t want to overwhelm the small page so I chose a simple stripe to “journal” on and a beautiful turquoise pattern to go with the speech bubble style card I used on the opposite page.


I start by sorting out the patterned paper and how I want that to sit on the page. It’s all about what looks good to the eye really. I like layering (one of the reasons I love screen printing so much) so I like to pile things up a bit.

Next up is the washi tape, oh how I love you washi tape…. another opportunity to layer some things up! Some circle stickers, something which I have an abundance of, some phrase stickers from a previous A Beautiful Mess Messy Box and the “lucky” is a Heidi Swapp acetate word. Oh and a gold heart from the On Trend 2 collection by My Mind’s Eye.

IMG_8945 IMG_8944IMG_8943

And that, my friends, is it, for this page. Until next time…..

Review – Zig Brush H20 Waterbrushes

I regularly mention my favourite pens and products on this blog and you’ve probably noticed the same things popping up over and over again in my pics. But so far I haven’t actually reviewed something and since I am using these Zig Brush H20 Waterbrushes  so much at the moment I thought I’d share with you why I like them.

IMG_8877  Zig BrusH20 WaterbrushI use these Zig Brush H20 Waterbrushes mainly for brush lettering, or brush script, call it what you will. I’d seen a couple of students at work using them but I’ll be honest I didn’t really buy into them, I was being a snob really and didn’t like that they were made of plastic and I thought they looked a bit cheap.

Then I got one in a Scrawlrbox and gave it a go. How wrong I had been! I should have known I would like the brush because I prefer synthetic bristles. I just find them much smoother than natural ones and I am all about the smooooooth, and that easy motion across the paper is just what you need when doing brush lettering.

Zig BrusH20 Waterbrush

So for a start, the bristles are great, they do get stained from the paint but they’re really easy to clean so it is just a stain rather than the bristles retaining colour and being tricky to clean up. They also don’t seem to degrade much, I’ve been using the green medium brush for months and haven’t noticed any obvious wear and tear.

Zig BrusH20 Waterbrush
Speaking of easy to clean, this is where these Zig Brush H20 waterbrushes come in to their own in terms of being super handy and the feature that gives them their name! You can fill the barrel with clean water and then you don’t need to keep a jam jar of water close to hand to rinse it off when changing colours. You just give it a squeeze and it drips water straight onto your palette. It also means you can clean it by just squeezing water out and rubbing the brush on a tissue or piece of kitchen towel.


To fill these little chaps up you just unscrew the barrel, dip it in water and squeeze to fill it up. Screw the brush end back on and away you go! These are great for working on the go, if you enjoy working at any given moment or if you’re a scrapbooker, you keep a journal or planner or you’re at school. college or uni.

I have the Zig Brush H20 Waterbrushes  in the Detailer, Medium and Large sizes. They also do a Broad version which I don’t have. All of them are great and I would recommend getting a variety of sizes if you can. I like choice and if you’ve seen the pictures of my pen collection you’ll know that already!

You can get them at KuretakeCult Pens, Tiger Pens, Jackson’s and a variety of other places, I’ve purchased things from all these places and would recommend them all so take your pick!

Travel Journal Kit

I am in the very lucky position of going to New York on Monday as part of my job. It will be the third time I’ve been and I am as excited as the first time. Maybe even more so because now I know that it is as good as I originally imagined.

Previously I have kept little momentos like luggage tags with the airport code on, metro cards and of course I always take stacks of photographs but the memories start to fade and only seem to resurface when talking to the colleagues I went with before and reminiscing about the funny little moments that aren’t associated with an attraction or event.

So this time I have decided to keep a travel journal. I’ll still collect the momentos and more this time I imagine so I can stick them in my journal but this time I’ll be writing down this funny moments so they don’t disappear from my memory.

Keeping a travel journal will also let me indulge my love of stickers and collage and general, all round decoration. So this post is going to show you the pens and stickers I plan to take with me to record all the things that happen from Monday 14th – Saturday 19th March.

Here’s the “journal” I’ll be using. It’s a Paperchase A5 Kraft Scrapbook. I love brown paper as a background, it’s softer than white paper and using opaque coloured pens on it stands out and is more interesting than plain old black pens. It also means you can cut pages out of notebooks and things and they will still stand out against the brown paper.


Next up is pens. I’ve packed assorted Gelly Roll moonlight pens. You have seen these pens on this blog before because I really love them, super bright colours, oh man! I’ve also packed two sizes of neon Stabilo pens, fine liners and felt markers. Pentel Touch Liner pens for lettering. These are great for fancy brush lettering without the need for a brush and watercolour or the potential warping of paper from the dampness, I do hate when that happens. Lastly there’s a Kuretake Cocoiro, a Sakura Pigma Brush, both for a different style of brush lettering and a mechanical pencil from Paperchase (not available on their website sadly).


Pretty standard for me but I’ve taken out the Copic Markers I usually carry with me, some multiples and the ruler as I doubt I’ll need it and saving weight is so important when I plan to buy more pens in NYC!

Next up is stickers. I’ve gone for a lot of circle stickers and some stars, hearts, arrows and random shapes. I’m only taking one sheet of each though so save room and weight, it may sound like madness thinking about weight when it comes to stickers but every gram makes a difference I can tell you!


Here there are silver stars, pink hearts, letters and orange arrows from Paperchase. Coloured circles and red hearts from Tiger. The coloured rectangle stickers are from Sainsburys! I investigate all stationery aisles in case of finding treasures like these. The neon circles are from Ryman or Staples and the glittery dots are from The Range. Other than Paperchase these guys don’t appear to be on websites so go in and take a look. Let’s face it, if you like stationery that really won’t be too much of a chore!

Finally a small selection of Washi tape. As I’m writing this post I’m beginning to wonder if this is a little excessive. I’ll pack it all up and see how much space it takes and how heavy it is and I might have to cull some things. Aaah well, I’ll just have to find some supplies in NYC to use in my journal instead! For now I’m sticking with this little lot though.


I love the diagonal stripe pattern as you can see and out come the neon colours again. These are mostly MT Tape which you can find all over the place these days. I’ve found a nice selection in my local Waterstones. The neon red is by Kamoi and I bought the gold diagonal stipe from Unwrap Colour on Etsy, that is an awesome site! Just looking at it now to link it made me find more to buy. I admit it, My name’s Jess and I’m a stationeryaholic.

That’s all for now folks, hopefully I’ll be able to post some pics of my travel journal for you next Sunday.

What’s in my pencil case?

When I was telling Chris and Leigh about my idea to do a “What’s in my pencil case?” blog post I was asked the same questions, “how will you choose which pens?” “will you pick your favourites or the ones you use the most?” “which pencil case?”.

I couldn’t understand why I was being asked those things, surely it’s obvious? MY PENCIL CASE! “The pencil case I have in my backpack!” “The pens I have in my pencil case that I carry round with me!”

Then I started to realise why they were questioning me like they were members of the Spanish Inquisition….

I have a bit of a pen problem…

Pen Collection

Obviously I don’t see it as a problem. I like a pen, ok? I like a lot of pens, ok?! I have several “pencil cases” with different pens in them but they are filed, they are organised! Brush pens for lettering in one case. Super fat and fine Poscas in one case. Medium Poscas in one case. Copic markers and fine liners for illustrating in one case. I’m just keeping things in their place.

But my “everyday” pens (haha my “everyday look” #bbloggers) are these sterling “few”….


Pencil case from Tiger Stores


And in detail…

Comic Ciao Pens

Copic Ciao Markers from Cult Pens

Pilot Touch Pens

Pentel Sign Pens. Available from Cult Pens

Stabilo Neon Pens

Stabilo Pen 68 and Point 88 Neons. From, you guessed it… Cult Pens


Sakura Gelly Roll Moonlight Pens. Can be found here at Cult Pens

Single PensScale Ruler bought from The Apron Co at Renegade London, Faber Castell Big Brush pen I got from Scrawlrbox and available from Tiger Pens, Sakura Pigma Brush, Kuretake Cocoiro Letter Pen both available at Cult Pens, Milan Mechanical Pencil (I got mine in my local Paperchase but they aren’t on the website) and Lifework black biro which you can buy here.

I like to have a lot of choice available to me so I can create a range of effects and use my pens for different things. Copic Ciaos are great for areas of pale transparent colour and then Gelly Rolls are great to add bright opaque details. I mainly use these pens to draw patterns and I’ll show you one of my pattern sketchbooks in the next few weeks.

The Faber Castell Big Brush pen is fun for doing brush lettering on a big scale. The Pentel Sign pens are sooo nice because the tip is super bendy. They’re really nice to practice brush lettering with as you can get a good difference between the thick and thin line. I’ll show you some examples of that too.

I also like to use these guys for illustration. Sketching with the Milan mechanical pencil, adding colour with the Copic Ciaos and the Stabilo neon Pen 68s. I seem to be lacking a fine liner here for outlining….. i’d use the Copic Multiliner SP because it doesn’t bleed into the Copic Ciaos.

Finally, I feel like I need to say that this is not a sponsored post!! I know I have mentioned Cult Pens a lot but I honestly buy a LOT of my pens from there. They’re very reasonably priced and their delivery is super quick, ya know, in case you desperately need some pens, in a hurry.

Chris is also going to post a “What’s in my pencil case” blog and you can find it by clicking on his name above.