Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Episode #21: Prototype Goulet Writing Boxes

If you've been following some of my more recent posts, you know that I've been completely infatuated with antique writing boxes. I've been intrigued with them since the minute I discovered that they existed, and I want to revive them as a part of my movement to enhance the writing experience. I am inspired by a lot of the designs and ornamentation of the antique boxes, but I see a lot of room for improvement for these boxes to meet the needs of today's writing enthusiasts.

If you go back and watch my very first Ink Nouveau video, you'll see how messy my shop was, particularly in the half where my tablesaw and wood storage was. I was focusing primarily on pens (which don't take a lot of space). However, as soon as I started pestering my wife about writing boxes, I knew I'd have to do something about my shop. It's funny, I actually came up with a 'safe word' for my wife, whenever I want to talk about the writing boxes (which is almost all the time, every day), I always ask, "Box?", and if she says yes I can run my thought by her, otherwise it has to wait ;) We have a system down....if you were around me for a while, you'd want the same thing!! I get pretty passionate at times, some might say obsessive!

So I spent all last week cleaning up my tools and my shop, and repurposing much of the shop to do box making, which is quite a bit different than making pens. You can see how well I did in the video (though most of it hardly shows).

On to the prototyping.....I start out using Google Sketchup (AWESOME!!!). I can get 3D views of the boxes I want to make, to see if they'll work aesthetically, and get my exact dimensions and angles with ease.

The next step I take from there is to cut up some cardboard and tape it together in the shape of the writing box, so I get an idea of what the overall size and shape of the box will be.

Finding a pleasing box size in real life, the next step is for me to make a rough prototype out of wood. This will not only give me a more realistic feel for the use of the box, but I use 1/2" plywood so that I will have an idea of the outside dimensions and inside dimensions of the box. I opted to use 1/2" plywood because 1/2" would be the thickest wood I'd use, and the plywood will be a consistent thickness, also less expensive than hardwood since it's just for a prototype.

The antique box that I wanted to model my first prototype after was the one you see here in the picture. The outside dimensions are 16" x 10" x 3.7"(2.5" in front) when closed. When building the plywood prototype, I discovered that with the ink and pen storage in the back of the box, there would only be enough room to fit 1 or 2 tablets of paper (50-100 sheets), which is a little tight. I wouldn't have been able to visualize this without a physical prototype. I'm considering extending the height of the box by 1/2"-1" overall, to increase the storage capacity.

So that's what's going on for me right now with my boxes. Keep in mind, I have a 2-month old son, and business I'm operating, and working on cleaning up my shop and doing these boxes, along with continuing to produce Ink Nouveau videos....I'm a busy guy, but I'm doing what I love and my passion fuels me!!

I want to know your feedback with these boxes.....the hardest part is the prototyping, the fun part will be when I start assembling them and I get to do the fancy ornamentation that I ultimately envision. I am open to any and all suggestions about how to make the most relevant and useful writing boxes for today's writing, so by all means email me or post here in the comments to give me your feedback.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Episode #20- Clairefontaine vs. Rhodia paper

Whenever you hear talk of fine paper, Clairefontaine and Rhodia will always come up. What's confusing though is that some people know the difference between the two, and others don't, so rumors spread. Well I'm here to clear up some of the confusion between the two brands.

Clairefontaine has been making paper in France since 1858, and Rhodia has been making paper (also in France) since 1932. In 1997, Clairefontaine bought Rhodia. Their products have been long established so the brands are separate, but Clairefontaine is the parent company. The paper in the Clairefontaine notebooks and Rhodia pads is all made by Clairefontaine, but it's not the same paper.

The Clairefontaine staplebounds are smooth, 90g paper, ideal for fountain pen use. The paper in the Rhodia pads is 80g, and slightly less smooth, ideal for fountain pens or pencils. That's the big secret! There's really not much more to it than that. There are a whole variety of different products under both brands, which might meet your needs based on your individual preferences. Check them all out for yourself and see what you might like now that you know what's up with both brands!

A fine selection of both Clairefontaine and Rhodia products are available at The Goulet Pen Company, as well as other fine retailers.


Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ink Nouveau #19- G. Lalo Vergé de France Stationery

Once upon a time, the paper Verge was made by hand in huge vats. Today, they make the same paper according to traditional methods but with modern techniques. Verge paper is made at the 400-year-old Papierfabriek Schut in the Netherlands, using the same natural spring water from the Heelsum spring that they've been using since 1618. In the video I used strange wording, so I'll clarify here. The paper mill started up in 1618, and it wasn't until the 1700's when the Schut family purchased the mill.

G. Lalo started making stationery in 1920. It all started with Georges Lalo in Paris. Throughout the years, the quality and elegance of its products led it to be ‘de rigueur’ in most of the royal courts of Europe. My mother-in-law actually remembers seeing G. Lalo stores in Paris when she studied abroad in college. In 1998, G. Lalo was acquired by Clairefontaine, though all the G. Lalo paper is still made in the Schut mill in the Netherlands.

Verge paper has the look and feel of handmade paper. It even has the grid of parallel translucent lines (“vergeures”) made as the paper was laid to dry. These grids are very helpful as guides for handwriting. There are vertical watermark lines running down the paper that you can see when you hold it up to the light. On the large White and Ivory sheet, there is even a G. Lalo logo watermark in the center of the sheet (only visible if held up to the light).

It is 100g weight, which is short for 100gsm, grams per square meter. One square meter of the paper weighs 100 grams, which is on the thicker end of most papers. The higher the 'g', the thicker the paper. Though this doesn't necessarily mean it will prevent bleedthrough, it's generally a pretty good place to start. The Vergé paper performs wonderfully, I haven't yet been able to induce feathering or bleedthrough of any kind.

The Vergé de France stationery line is offered in 12 colors: white, blue, pistachio, rose, champagne, turquoise, grey, lavender, ivory, apricot, yellow, and graphite grey. There are two different sizes of tablets (with corresponding envelopes), an A4 size that's 8.25" x 11.75" (envelopes are 4.25" x 8.5"), and an A5 size that's 5.75" x 8.25" (envelopes are 4.5" x 6.25"). Both sizes of tablets come with 50 sheets per tablet, and envelopes come in packs of 25 for the adhesive-backed ones (white, blue, rose, champagne, turquoise, grey, ivory, and graphite grey), and the others come in packs of 20 with gummed backs (white, blue, pistachio, rose, champagne, turquoise, lavender, ivory, apricot, and yellow). Just a fun little fact here, the ivory Vergé paper is same paper used in the Exacompta Sketchbooks.

The large sheets trifold to fit into the large envelopes, and the small sheets bifold to fit into the small envelopes. The most fun thing about this paper is all the different colors. You can mix and match the colored paper with different ink colors to get neat effects. It brings the personal touch of handwritten correspondence to a whole new level. It's a very toothy, textured paper, a whole different writing experience than smooth Clairefontaine paper.

***Self-promotion alert!!*** Because the Vergé paper is fairly expensive, I do offer sample packs on GouletPens.com to let to 'test the water' so to speak. I put together packs of 4 large sheets, 4 small sheets, 2 large envelopes, and 2 small envelopes of each of the colors I offer.

All-in-all, this Vergé de France stationery is some of the nicest, classiest paper I've ever seen. It's a super-premium product, and will be sure to get the attention of whomever receives it. It's fun to use, and even more fun to receive!

G. Lalo Vergé de France stationery is available at The Goulet Pen Company, as well as other fine retailers.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ink Nouveau # 18- Lots to Review!!

I have a lot of products just sitting around waiting to be reviewed. Some of them I sell, a lot of them I don't, and I'd really like to get an idea from you what products you'd like me to review first. I can do stand alone in-depth reviews, or comparisons between products. I can do my famed 'torture tests' as well, or I'm open to other ideas if you'd like to see them! I'm really looking for your input here.

Here's what I have (at least for now):

Brause Calligraphy Nib Set, Moleskine ruled notebook, Staples Bagasse Spiralbound, Bause Calligraphy 1.5mm, Rhodia 2010 Weekly Planner, CF Twinbook, Exacompta Sketchbook, Black n’ Red Ruled Notebook, Rhodia Side Staplebound, CF Life.Unplugged. (NEW!), J. Herbin Creapen, CF Pollen cards, CF Music Notebooks, G. Lalo Vergé de France, Moleskine Cahier, Moleskine Ruled notebooks (small and red ones), Mead composition, Exacompta Index Cards, G. Lalo Deckle-Edge Cards, Mead Five-star, Apica notebook, and Until Utopia stationary.

So shoot me an email, post in the comments section here, do whatever is easiest for you to tell me what you'd like to see.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Goulet Writing Boxes....coming soon?

Update as of 6/1/10- it became painfully evident to me that the level of skill required in creating these boxes far exceeded my own abilities. Though I still appreciate these writing boxes, I am not pursuing building them for myself. ~Brian Goulet

So here are some fundamental ideas I have about my potential writing boxes, the Goulet writing boxes. I have a good foundation in, and incurable passion for, woodworking. With my unique experience of pen making and all of the nuances and eccentricities that go with pens, I have some very interesting ideas for designs that I could implement into writing boxes. However, if there is one thing I've learned from my penmaking experience, it is that 'custom building' is not nearly as straightforward as it sounds, especially when it comes to a relatively unique and unknown product like writing boxes.

I have gone through MANY variations on my website trying to incorporate custom building options for my pens, but it's always resulted in a tremendous amount of work for me (and my wife, who does all of the web work!) with an underwhelming response from customers because of the sheer confusion and lack of ability to visualize the finished product. I think that part of the reason antique writing boxes are popular is because you're seeing exactly what you get. If you want to test my theory, try to tell a friend of yours exactly what any given writing box looks like using only your words and see how excited they get (and also how confused they get). Then show them a picture of the box you were trying to describe and see how differently they view it. The fact is, most people get much more excited about seeing exactly what they are going to get than trying to visualize an object that doesn't yet exist.

So going off of this main concept, I would really work to create pieces of art. These would be boxes the likes of which no one has ever seen, incorporating the ornate stylings of the Tunbridge ware and Regency styles of boxes, but with more modern adaptations to suit the function of today's writer. I would look to incorporate features like pen storage, recognizing that serious fountain pen enthusiasts might have a dozen or so pens inked up at a time, and having dedicated storage for them in their box would be a huge benefit. This is a consideration that no antique box has, since fountain pens were not yet invented, and people didn't 'collect' quills in the same manner.

I have several eccentric techniques to incorporate into the designs of my boxes, which are available due to technology that didn't exist in the 1800's. Things like modern dyes and resins and I can use for inlays either into engraved designs or in crack and knots on exotic burls. I have wood stabilizers that would allow me to successfully use punky or otherwise unstable woods that would look entirely unique. I have practiced gilding and patinizing metal leaf, which in and of itself can be a unique design for each box never seen before. I have an artist airbrush, which I can use to do such things as transitional dying colors to get 'fading' effects, using chemicals to bleach or patina woods to get interesting colors that might take decades to naturally occur. And most interestingly, I have a laser engraving machine which will allow me to do the most intricate and ornate engraving and inlay work using a whole host of materials. A writing box like the ebony wood with mother of pearl inlay might have taken a master craftsman years to complete will be much more accessible to me with the recent technology of the laser engraver. The possibilities are almost so endless that it's comparable to putting a painter in the middle of an art supply store and saying 'here, use anything you want here and paint something'. I have so many ideas and techniques at my disposal that I can hardly even think where to begin!

So as you may have guessed by now, I'm pretty excited about these boxes. I will likely start with a more basic writing slope or 'lap desk', which will be more of a 'no frills' type of functional box, working my way up to the more elaborate designs as I get into more of a groove. There are tools and techniques that I will need considerable practice, or that I may have to adapt from my pen making. This will take time for me to do, and with a 2-month old baby boy, will undoubtedly take a considerable amount of time to create. The goal for me though will not be money...these boxes will be purely a byproduct of my sheer passion. Let me share my whole story.

I have had an unnatural attraction to building things my entire life. Growing up with Lincoln Logs, Leggos, and (my favorite) K'Nex, I would literally lock myself in my room as a kid for an entire day and build things until my hands were cramped and my fingers had blisters on them from snapping so many plastic pieces together. I would build a large ferris wheel or roller coaster to spec with the provided plans, then when finished, I would add to it with my own add-ons, reinforcing weak areas, building high parts higher, long parts longer, until I ran out of pieces. Then I would stress-test the structure, ultimately destroy it, and do it all over again.

When I outgrew these toys and reach my teenage years, my attention turned to tools. I became a Craftsman Club member at age 15, and started buying as many hand tools as I could afford. Hammers, chisels, tool boxes (to store the hammers and chisels), saws, drills.....you name it, and if I saw any need for using that tool in the future, I would get it. I ended up with a pretty hefty collection by the time I went to college. I paid my way through Virginia Tech by cleaning and sealing wood decks and doing handyman work for friends and neighbors.

After graduating (and marrying my incredibly wonderful and enabling wife), I discovered Norm Abram and the New Yankee Workshop for the first time. Norm inspired me to a degree that I had never been before. I saw the rewards of a lifetime of experience and dedication to a true craft, creating beautiful pieces of art week after week. I was inspired yet frustrated because my wife and I were living in an apartment with only a covered balcony to do my ‘work’. My tool collection at this point was borderline ridiculous, especially since we were in an apartment with a maintenance staff! I had more tools than most homeowners at that point, so I took over the covered balcony and set up my first ‘workshop’. It was a sight to behold, let me tell you. There was no electricity there, so I had to run extension cords out of the window. There was an outlet in the light fixture in the storage closet attached to the balcony, so I put in a droplight with an outlet on it that I could drag to any point on the balcony. At the apex, I had a tablesaw, router table, bandsaw, drill press, lathe, multiple workbenches, fluorescent lighting, and even a pegboard storage system out on that balcony. Thank goodness the staff never walked by to see it all!! The craziest part was when it rained I had to run out and cover it all with tarps to keep all my tools from rusting out. It was 3 weeks after starting turning pens that I sold my first corporate order for 120 pens (much less expensive back then) that I realized I needed a real shop, so we moved.

What is interesting for me to experience is that the very inspiration that I initially had from Norm Abram, to build modern reproductions of antique period furniture, has now come full circle. I started out making pens as a way to get my hands dirty in a way that I could logistically do so on an apartment balcony. Selling pens allowed me to build up my skills and equipment to become a legitimate craftsman. The pens led me to fountain pens and the whole writing experience, which led me to the ink and paper that is now the staple of my business. And the storage of the ink and paper has led me to writing boxes, which throw back to the inspiration I initially had from the New Yankee Workshop. It’s funny how things work when you just pursue your passion.

The moral of this whole story is really that these writing boxes are not a financial decision for me. Running any business there are always considerations of supply and demand, price comparing with your competitors, yadda yadda yadda. It’s all important stuff but it’s not ‘artistic’, it’s business. For me, these boxes are a calling. They are something that I simply feel compelled to pursue. I don’t know exactly why, but I know that to ignore this calling would be ignoring who I am. I will put everything that I have into building the most spectacular and unique boxes that I hope will be cherished hundreds of years after I pass. I want to inspire and be inspired, so please, give me any and all feedback you have about how these writing boxes inspire you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Antique Writing Boxes- holy friggin' crap!!

Okay, so I discovered these things called writing boxes a few months back. Basically, they were used back in the 18th and 19th century to house your paper, inkwells, and quills/pens. The boxes divide in half at a sloped angle so when it's open it creates a large sloped writing surface. They are made by a few people in modern days, but obviously the demand for them has wained over the years. They're much bigger in the UK and Europe than the US. They range from relatively simple, made of domestic woods and purely functional, to extremely ornate, showcasing the highest level of craftsmanship in an era gone by.

Many of you know that I got my start in woodworking. I actually didn't know anything about pens, paper, ink, writing, or any of that stuff when I first got into all of this 3 years ago. I was inspired by Norm Abram and the New Yankee Workshop (which after 21 years is regretfully ending) and David Marks with his show Wood Works (also ended years ago). I have a passion for beautiful wood, and that's what got me into making pens in the first place. Pens led me to fountain pens, which led me to paper and ink, and here I am.

As a daily user of various fountain pens, I find myself needing a way to house and organize the writing materials I use on a daily basis. Right now I have a velvet roll with my pens (over 100 of them), random cardboard boxes filled with paper, and all of my inks sitting in a half-open USPS small flat rate box (it's been used, don't worry I'm not using the boxes inappropriately!).

I've had a great interest in the writing boxes ever since their existence came to my awareness. I think about them constantly, to the point where I'm starting to annoy my wife with all the "ooooh! Look at that one! That's so cool!". The coolest and most intricate ones I've seen so far are at a British site called Hygra.com. Thank you Hyrga for the great pictures (no affiliation). Click around their site for a while and check out some of those boxes!! Some of my favorites are the Tunbridge with its micro mosaics, the Masonic box with marquetry, and the ebony with mother of pearl inlayed box. Mind-blowing!!! To think that there were craftsman working at this level at one point in time, it's so entirely inspiring for an individual like myself. There are different variations of the boxes based on their purpose, whether they're meant to be kept on a desk, or used for traveling (known as a lap desk or traveling desk). Here's an example of a lap desk, no affiliation. And here's a traveling desk, no affiliation. A writing slope is like a writing box, but is slanted when closed, sort of like a writing box but with the top half missing. Whatever your flavor, they're all very, very cool

Seeing how I am in love with these boxes, I have a passion and talent for wood working (not to mention a shop full of tools), and the inability to afford these incredible antique writing boxes, I find myself inspired to try building one. I have many obscure and ornate woodworking talents that I can integrate into the designs of a writing box, and all of the functionality and hidden compartments within the box would be so much fun to design and build. I have access to a laser engraving machine, experience casting and dying resins, I've done inlaying, gilding, and air brushing. I think I could come up with some really neat looking boxes! Undoubtedly if I do decide to go past the 'wishing' phase of this venture, I'll blog about it (with videos too, of course). For the time being though, just revel in the magnificence of the finely crafted antique boxes that continue to be an inspiration to writers and craftsman today.

***Update to this post: There's no way I can build my own! It was something that really piqued my interest, but as soon as I began to look into it, I very quickly discovered that I had no where near the craftsmanship or time to do the kind of work you see here. These types of boxes appear to be representative of an era gone by, and the exorbitant prices you see for antique boxes are fair because boxes like these will never be made again.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Marketing Genius Andy Sernovitz blogs about Goulet Pens!

Andy Sernovitz is a word of mouth and social media marketing genius. He has literally written the book (books actually) on the subject. He regularly posts on his blog, Damn, I Wish I'd Thought Of That!, and has over 18,000 followers on Twitter. He knows his stuff.

My sister, Andrea Goulet, is a copywriter and marketing guru as well, and she turned me on to Andy's book "Secret Order of Word of Mouth Marketing". It changed my business completely. I learned from his book that running a business is a two-way street, that if you really want to be successful you need to focus on communicating with your customers. You need to get information from them as well as give information two them. This is the main theme of what Andy taught me, and it literally saved my business from eventual failure.

To thank Andy, I offered to make him a pen and engrave it with his name. He took me up on the offer and I made him one of the most beautiful pens I've ever made, a two-tone amboyna burl fountain pen with black titanium accents. He loved it, and has now posted this blog about me and The Goulet Pen Company. Thank you Andy!

Here's the link to the article on his blog:

http://www.damniwish.com/2010/03/starting-conversations-one-at-a-time.html

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Episode #17: J. Herbin Glass Pens

Glass pens? You got it, these things are made entirely out of glass. Handmade in France, each one is unique and a piece of art. They were all the rage in the mid-17th century, back when J. Herbin first started making fountain pen ink (circa 1670). Sure, they're not the most practical pens in the world, but they are novel, beautiful, and have a very functional purpose for the fountain pen enthusiast.

The J. Herbin glass pen has a spiral, fluted nib that holds onto the ink in its grooves when you dip it into your ink of choice. A small tap on the mouth of the ink bottle, and you're set to write! It writes thicker than a fountain pen, and takes a little bit of practice to get a consistent line. It tends to write very wet, so it makes inks appear to be much more saturated than they are in a fountain pen. You'll need a paper that will hold up to it, something that will repel ink very well like G. Lalo Vergé de France, Rhodia, or Clairefontaine (to name a few of my biased favorites). If you have paper that tends to soak and bleed, then this pen will be like D-Day on Normandy beach...

There are two different sizes of the J. Herbin glass pens. The smaller size has the fluted nib, a small ball, and a thin, straight body that is about 5.5" long. It comes in 6 different colors: black, amber, violet, blue striped, red striped, and green striped. They have a retail price of $15.50. The longer one is a little fancier, with a tapered spiral handle that is 7.5" long and comes in 3 colors: light blue, royal blue, and violet. They have a retail price of $21.00. The nibs on both size pens are identical in size and performance, it's really just the body that is different.

Aside from the aesthetics, the biggest advantage of these pens is that you can dip and test less often used inks you have lying around (or new inks you've just acquired) without going through the whole routine of flushing and filling a fountain pen. If you're try to get a certain look, such as a vintage early-American writing look, you can grab your paper of choice and test many different inks on it quickly with the glass pen before inking up your pen of choice. You just need to be aware that since the dip pen writes heavy to start, you need pay closer attention to the way it writes for the last few words before the pen needs to be redipped...that will give you the most accurate depiction of what the color will be in a fountain pen.

The full selection of J. Herbin glass pens is available at The Goulet Pen Company, as well as other fine retailers.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen.

Simplicity- shutting off the computer and picking up a pen.

So I'm checking out Google Buzz trying to figure out how yet another application is going to make my life easier. I have a website, video blog, youtube channel, personal facebook, facebook fanpage for my business, facebook page for my vlog, twitter account, tweetdeck AND hootsuite (to manage my many update channels), and multiple emails, which just increased when I signed up for gmail to create my Google buzz account.

I'm just thinking how ridiculous it all is that I now am trying to learn ANOTHER social media program to manage the multiple programs that I use to manage my multiple social media outlets!! And people wonder why I like writing with pens!!! They're just so damn simple, unlike life online. On top of all that, I'm trying to now figure out the best way to backup my personal and vlog video footage...looking at a multi-drive RAID NAS, which apparently DOESN'T work with Time Machine....and my Macbook doesn't have eSata or Firewire so I need gigabit ethernet, which will require a switch so I can share both computers since I still have a PC desktop that I have to use but only for my printer which I just refilled the black ink cartridge AGAIN, but it's not recognizing it because Lexmark is the devil and programs their cartridges to fail unless you pay for them with your firstborn child, and since I just switched Quickbooks to my Mac and I'm no longer using my desktop for anything but printing....and even though I'll have to drop $400, I can't use the NAS for intermittent updates unless I figure out some other program that will do it besides Time Machine which will cost more money if it even works, and if I transfer large amounts of data like video then I'll have to plug in directly to the NAS to get a faster transfer speed..........
 :headsmack: :crybaby: :unsure: :blink: :gaah: :hmm1: :bonk: :bawl: :huh: :( :mad: :wacko:

And people wonder why I think pens, paper, and ink are so simple?

Bottom line here people is that there comes a point when you can overcomplicate simplicity. People ask me all the time how I'm able to run an entire business selling nothing but pens, ink, and paper, which is so passe to most people. But in an age where you have devices like the iPhone with tens of thousands of applications that are all designed to make life simpler or more convenient, we become overwhelmed by all of the 'simplicity' being programmed for our ever increasing number of electronic devices.

But writing is constant. Since cavepeople wrote in the sand with sticks, the fundamentals of the art of writing has never changed. You are still holding something in your hand and making squiggly lines to get a feeling or idea across from yourself to another person. When I write a letter to someone, I care about who they are, what their name is, and what their world is all about. In the online world there's just something lost in the translation that no number of emoticons can fill. As we become more integrated online and more detached from the physical world, the art of manuscript and the physical correspondence of letters will become ever more meaningful.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Episode #16: Clairefontaine Prioritaire Airmail Envelopes

This one is a teaser, because the Clairefontaine Prioritaire airmail envelopes are no longer being imported in the US! These are the larger size envelopes, made to fit A4 size paper. They're pretty straightforward, really. I mean after all they're just envelopes! They're smooth, 90g Clairefontaine paper, very similar to Clairefontaine Triomphe envelopes. In the video I compare the Prioritaire, Triomphe, and G. Lalo Vergé de France envelopes.

The Vergé de France are quite different from the other two. The Vergé de France is a highly textured, hand-laid-style paper (1oog), with a lining on the inside of the envelopes. The Prioritaire and Triomphe don't have that G. Lalo lining, but they are still extremely fine envelopes.

Doing a writing test with the 3 different envelopes (using J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil), all of them perform very well. No feathering, no spreading, and bleedthrough, though quite irrelevant for envelopes, was non-existent. All-in-all, the Prioritaire envelopes are very novel and reminiscent of a time by-gone, but in their absence, the Triomphe and Vergé de France make mighty fine substitutes.

***Update as of 3/23/10*** I was able to get my hands on the last remaining Prioritaire airmail envelopes in the US, available on my website. They are the smaller size ones, not the full size ones like you see in the video.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Episode #15: Exacompta Sketchbook

The Exacompta Sketchbook is a neat little book. It's 5.5" x 8", 100 sheets of 100g textured off-white paper, the same as G. Lalo Vergé de France. It has a thin black cover, cloth binding and silver edges on the paper, which make it look pretty snazzy!! To keep your page, it has a ribbon marker.

The paper performs well, holding up to pencils, ballpoints, rollerballs, and fountain pens. No feathering of any kind. It's not a bad price at only $16 retail, considering that a Vergé de France tablet of the same size will cost the same price, but only has half the paper. The sketchbook even has exchangeable covers that you can buy to better protect it. If you like to sketch, the Exacompta Sketchbook is worth a look!

Exacompta Sketchbooks are available for $15.50 at The Goulet Pen Company, and is of course available from other retailers.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen viewing

Monday, March 1, 2010

Episode #14: Quo Vadis Elastic Bookmark

A relatively new product on the market, the Quo Vadis Elastic Bookmark is a handy little tool that can improve the portability of any book or journal you have. For anything that doesn't have a page marker or elastic strap, this elastic bookmark can fix both of those problems.

The elastic bookmark is pretty simple; a 4.5" piece of plastic (with a ruler on it!!) with a stretchy elastic loop attached to it. You stick the ruler in the book, stretch the loop around the book, and you're all set to achieve your wildest dreams (with a securely marked book page!!). You can use it on any book or journal from 5" to 12" tall.

The Quo Vadis Elastic Bookmark is available for $1.50 from The Goulet Pen Company, as well as other fine retailers.

Link to YouTube for iPhones and full-screen