Author: Pao Alfonso

Review: Baoer 8 Horses


Of all the pens from Everything Calligraphy that I tried out last week, this model is my favorite. I bought one for my personal use because I liked it so much. This is the Baoer 8 Horses pen. I like how simple the design is, from the clip to the barrel. The cap pulls off the barrel with a soft “snap”. The pen is light and comfortable to hold, whether posted or unposted.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI like both colors a lot, it’s hard to pick which one I like better. I like the design of their barrel, I like that their trims are really simple and streamlined. Even the cap design is simple, though the clip is a bit stiff (I think it’s more decorative than functional). The body looks like it will make the pen heavy, but surprisingly enough, it doesn’t. It takes a firm tug to pull out the cap of the pewter-colored pen, but I won’t say that it’s hard to pull open. Overall, I think it looks pretty nice.


I would prefer the section to be made of smooth plastic rather than have little lines running through it, though. Other than that, I wouldn’t really change anything else with the pen’s design.


The pair looks pretty neat together. 🙂 Here are a few close up shots of the barrel:


What I loved most about the pen was when I tried them out and wrote with them. The nib is actually not hard as a nail. It has some spring to it, and the flow is so nice. The gold one wrote perfectly out of the packaging. The pewter one wrote well but the flow could be increased a bit more so it writes better (or it could be the ink that I used with it, which was pretty dry to begin with, and largely unused since last year). Here is a writing sample:


The flow is pretty generous, I am so happy with it. There really is a difference when the nib has a bit of springiness to it. Personally, it makes writing more pleasurable and comfortable. Here is a video of the writing sample:


Overall, I’d say this is such a good buy. At less than P500, the pen I picked didn’t need any tuning or smoothing, I just inked it and it wrote and I’ve been writing with it ever since I got it. I love the design and the weight is so comfortable in the hand. People like me who have an inner ear issue tend to be sensitive with holding heavy things for longer than a few seconds. It prevents me from using heavy pens for a long writing period, otherwise it would trigger a bad bout of vertigo. So yeah, I love pens that are light, but not so light that I can’t feel them well in my hand while I write. I’d say this pen is really, really comfortable to use for long writing periods. It also lays down ink consistently. I can write several pages and the feed just keeps up and makes the thickness of the ink quite uniform across pages.

Of course, the nib quality may be varied and, as always, I would advise people to learn how to fiddle with your own pen’s nib so that you can increase the flow or smooth it out and make it write how you want it to write.

It’s a great buy, I highly recommend it for people who are looking for a nice-looking budget pen that writes well.

Baoer 8 Horses is available at Everything Calligraphy.

Review: Jinhao 189


Another Jinhao pen that I got to try out last week is the Jinhao 189. I must say that these recent Jinhao pens that I tried look pretty. I like the bodies that look like brass or pewter, and all the details that are in it. This reminds me of the Great Wall of China because of the trims on the barrel.


The pen is medium-sized and with a domed finial. The end of the barrel is smooth and squarish. It’s moderately heavy, not uncomfortable to hold at all. Though again, I would not use this posted. Come to think of it, all the Jinhao pens I tried last week were better used unposted. Not a problem for me, though, because I usually write with the cap unposted. I write with my right hand and hold the cap in my left.


The section is a little shorter than the last Jinhao pens that I reviewed, and it’s made of textured, hard plastic. Not the most comfortable choice for a section, but it’s not bad. It does give you a better grip on the pen while you write.


Again, pretty nice color options. I like that the gold one is a more subdued tone of gold. It’s not shiny, shimmery, splendid gold. I paired this with Noodler’s burma road brown and the color matches very well. I think both colors are pretty. Here are a few close ups of the detail of the pens.

I don’t know how to read Chinese, I don’t know what the writing in the barrel says, unfortunately. It might be the numbers 189? I dunno. As far as the design goes, it’s right smack in the middle of being understated and eye-catching. Not as detailed as the last few pens that I posted, but it has its own appeal.


Here’s a writing sample. The ink really matches the gold barrel, I think. The nib was pretty wet, though it could use a bit of tuning to make it write smoother and more consistently on all strokes. Not bad for its price, though. Not bad at all. 🙂

Jinhao pens are available for sale at Everything Calligraphy.

Review: Smells Like Sundays TN-Sized Notebooks


Saying that I love notebooks is an understatement. I have a lot of notebooks in different shapes and sizes in my office, library, bedroom, bag…you get the idea. I have three different journals at any given time, plus notebooks for other things. I would almost never be caught outside the house without carrying one with me because, well, it just makes sense for me. That being said, premium paper is muy expensivo. Paper lovers are willing to pay this price, though, but being able to find affordable, good paper is always a treat. I wrote a few days ago about how I discovered Smells Like Sundays. I think they sell other stuff too, like coloring books for adults, etc. Their TN-sized notebooks are pretty nice and is priced under P100 each.


It’s pretty slim, slimmer than Midori TN inserts and the paper is thinner. I didn’t get to count how many pages there are. It’s unbranded and unmarked. It got a little confusing to find the front page until you open it, so I stamped the front of the notebooks that I don’t put inside my TN.


The craft cover is pretty nice, though they also have black and white covers. These normally come in a set of five different sized journals and two craft pens, but they were nice enough to sell me individual inserts for my travelers notebook. That size is pretty hard to find in bookstores. They’re not as common as A6 an A5 sizes. You can imagine how happy I was to find one journal in a gift pack of 5 that fits my TN perfectly.


The notebook is very neatly stitch-bound with a thin strip of thread. I tore out pages from my first notebook and the binding didn’t budge at all.


I use it as my notebook for Sunday sermon notes and daily devotions. It’s not paper that will show off sheen and shading. The pages are too absorbent. They absorb ink as soon as it’s on the surface, but it does show a bit of the ink’s properties. Here are a few close ups of writing samples:


The paper has some texture to it. I miss that kind of paper. Since I started using fountain pens, I always use fountain pen friendly paper that almost always feel the same. This feels like the old kind of paper that I used to enjoy. It’s pulpy, has a more natural feel to the finish, you can feel the texture of the pages as you write. A closer look shows that it almost feathers, but it doesn’t. Not in a noticeable way, at least. I used a Pelikan M600 with a medium nib that writes more like a BB and a Parker 51 with a medium nib. You can still see the reddish shading of the Syoro, but it’s not so pronounced.


Here’s the back of the pages. If you look closely, wet writers will produce a bit of bleed through. Little pins of ink that aren’t very noticeable. I can live with that. I think that this quality is really great for the price.


I hesitate to use expensive paper for things like grocery lists, to-do lists, and such. I would never think of using my precious Tomoe River paper for something other than journal entries and art. That’s why I bought a lot of this, so I can write on nice paper without thinking  ohmygoodnesswhywhywhy while jotting down everyday notes.

This notebook and other sizes are available in craft, black, and white covers at Smells Like Sundays.

Review: Jinhao 8802


Here’s another Jinhao pen that our friends from Everything Calligraphy sent for me to try out last week. Wood pens are my kryptonite (along with nice paper, green ink, cats, and cheese). So I really enjoyed trying this pen out. It’s slimmer than the last couple of Jinhao pens that I reviewed these past days. I like the design because it’s low-key and pretty to look at.


I like wood pens because they just feel so organic. This even has a slightly rough texture to the barrel. I like the slim profile, the simple trims, and the long, comfortable section. Here are a few close ups of the details of this pen.

The 8802 has several designs. The wood pens have two colors, one is lighter than the other. I’m kinda leaning more towards the lighter one. The other has a reddish color to it, it looks more polished too.


There’s also a carbon fiber and stained glass design. The stained glass has abalone shells, which is why some members of the FPN-P group call it the talaba pen, but it’s a lot smaller than the real talaba pen (Jinhao 650).


The details are pretty nice. I like it when Jinhao comes up with pens that have simple trims and a more streamlined look. That’s just my design preference. I like pens that look as simple as possible. Here’s a comparison of the 8802’s stained glass pen with the much larger Jinhao 650.


The size difference is pretty significant. The 8802 sits nicely in the hand, and the weight is pretty comfortable. I still prefer it uncapped because the cap just throws the balance off, making it top heavy.


The pen that I got had a pretty decent, wet flow, although the nib could use some smoothing out. As I mentioned before, the thing about Jinhao nibs is that you should be prepared to do a bit of tuning on them sometimes. The quality is a bit varied. I haven’t updated this resource for a while, but here’s a guide on how to improve ink flow on fountain pens. There are also tons of guides on the internet about the topic. With the price of Jinhao pens, though, you get a good bargain if you’re not afraid to tinker with it a bit.

Overall, a pretty nice pen. I like the wood ones a lot, looks and feels very natural. 🙂

Jinhao pens are available at Everything Calligraphy.

Jinhao 999 Dragon Pen


Here is another pen from Everything Calligraphy, the Jinhao 999 Dragon pen. My goodness. This is a very intricately-designed pen. I think I spent a good few minutes just looking at the dragon design. It’s really fun to look at. Here are a few close ups of the details:

I like this design because it is quite imposing. The dragon design wrapped around the pen makes it thick and heavy, but it feels pretty solid and tight. I like the design of the cap because it’s just flat, with a yin-yang symbol on the finial. The flat ends give the pen a more hefty, solid look to it.


I also like that the section (like the snake pen) is long and smooth. It makes the pen easier to hold. Best to use it unposted, though. This is a pretty eye-catching pen. It’s hard not to notice it. The girth alone is quite imposing.


It makes me want to learn kung fu, dragon style! It’s a fun pen to use, and i like the overall look and feel of it. Here are the three colors that Everything Calligraphy sent me. The color I like best is the one on the rightmost of the photo below. It looks like pewter too, like the snake pen.


As for the nib, this one wrote well right out of the box. I would put the flow at medium, it’s pleasantly wet-flowing.


A pretty nice fantasy-inspired pen, IMHO. Quite substantial in weight, but it’s a good writer and is pretty darn eye-catching to boot.

This pen is available at Everything Calligraphy.

Review: Jinhao Snake Pen


Last week, our friends from Everything Calligraphy sent over several new models of Jinhao and Baoer pens for me to play with, and play with them I did. My impression on the nibs are all quite the same across the pens. I think they’re all the same kind of nib (medium, steel).

Generally, Jinhao nibs are okay, but you have to be ready to do a bit of work on them to make them write the way you want them to. Sometimes you need to flush them with water to remove the manufacturing oils on them, sometimes you need to tune or smooth them out. Sometimes they work perfectly right out of the box.


The first pen that I will review is the Snake pen. It’s kinda hard not to notice these pens right away because of the very Slytherin vibe. The two snakes wrapped around the cap and the body, and the snake head on the finial make these pen very conspicuous.

Check out the details of the snakes below:

All the embellishment gives the pen substantial weight. In fact, it would be best to write with this pen unposted. The cap will make it very top-heavy. Without the cap, it’s still quite a weighty pen, but it’s not so uncomfortable to write with.


I like this color best. I think it looks a bit like pewter. I like the details of the pen, although it’s a tad too heavy for my hand. If Jinhao came up with a slimmer version of this pen, I’d be all over it.


The section of this pen is comfortably long in size, and it is made of smooth, hard plastic. The cap twists off, and as you can see, there are also threads on the end of the barrel.


This one writes pretty well. The flow is good and the nib is sufficiently smooth, although hard as a nail. It’s not springy, but it’s a consistent enough writer.

Overall, it’s a very intricately-decorated pen. If you like whimsical designs and don’t mind the weight of the pen’s pretty badass-looking snakes, this is a good buy.

Jinhao Pens are for sale at Everything Calligraphy.

Jinhao and Baoer Pens!



Happy Monday, intarwebs! It’s gonna be a busy week for me, but part of that will be for a very happy reason. Our good friends at Everything Calligraphy sent us quite a few new Jinhao and Baoer pens to try out. Here are just some of them. 🙂 I’m gonna  have a great time trying these out.

Watch out for the reviews, coming soon. 🙂

DotDotDot–Discovering Stippling

It’s my first time to try the stippling technique, although I’ve always been fascinated by it. I was so completely intimidated by it that it took me this long to try it out. I’m glad I did, though. It only goes to show that you really will never know if you are going to enjoy something unless you try it. Of course my first attempt was a fish. I love drawing fish. It’s one of the most relaxing things to do, for me at least. For a first attempt, I’m pretty happy with it, and I’m surprised that I am able to draw different shade better with this technique. I don’t know how else to explain it but that it feels comfortable for me.


I used the sketchbook insert from Midori for these drawings. I like the texture and the thickness of the pages. For once, I’m not worried about wrinkling the paper when I erase the pencil drawing.

IMG_3607Here is a closer look at how the dots were drawn for the koi’s eye. I’m fascinated by how grouping more dots together makes for a darker shade, and scattering them makes lighter shades. It’s a little painful on the hand, but it’s alright. I guess it’s also good that it forces me to slow down and think about what I’m drawing. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s very relaxing. I did a few more after this one.

A dragonfly.
A very chubby, fluffy sparrow (need to work on my proportions, lol)

My second favorite so far (after the koi fish, of course), is this drawing of a Philippine Eagle which I did today, during my break time.

There’s a lot of textures in the beak, so I spent a lot of time on that. I dunno why but it’s so therapeutic just poke-poke-poking on the paper with a pen. Haha. Here’s a photo of the eagle before it was finished.


Here it is towards the end of my lunch break. I added a few more details on the wings after I took this photo, but I didn’t change it much. I kinda like it the way it is already. 🙂


Of course, a Superman drawing for my husband. 🙂


Stippling is lotsa fun! I wish I tried it sooner. 🙂

Sunday Leather Craft’s TN

Sunday Leather Craft’s TN

I’ve been bitten by the TN bug. I’ve written about the Midori Travelers’ Notebook here and a comparison between that and Sunday Leather Craft’s TN here. I thought of leaving it at that but I felt like it would be great to take a closer look at Sunday Leather’s traveler’s notebook since I really liked it a lot.


I’ve had a couple of pen cases made by Toto of Sunday Leather Craft, and I’ve been pretty happy with them so far. He does great work at very reasonable prices, and he’s not hard to collaborate with. Of course, he sometimes has a lot of clients lined up so you need to patiently wait your turn. He has always met the deadlines that he commits to, though. It’s always great to work with people who are easy to contact and who keep their word. It’s also great to support local artisans who use locally-sourced leather and other materials.

The leather used on the TN is soft but not extremely so. It holds its shape without the edges curling up or the covers flapping around. It has this raw feel to it, and I guess it will be especially appealing if you like your leather TN to look more rough and tumble than too well-put together.


Here is the setup of the elastics inside the flap. That’s one continuous string that can hold one insert per string. Although if you want to maximize it and put in as much as you can, this can potentially hold 8 inserts or more. Unless the inserts are thin, though, I would find that uncomfortable to write on. That’s just me, though. I know a lot of people would enjoy a chunky TN.


Here’s what three individual inserts looped into the elastics look like. Of course you can also change the elastic and pick a thinner one (or use Midori’s replacement elastics) because these are a little thick. The leather is soft enough so that it will wrap around nicely on multiple notebooks.


The elastic that closes the TN is located along the spine. I think this is a good idea because of the softness of the leather. This way, the leather doesn’t bunch up when you’re pulling on the elastic or when it’s wrapped around the TN. Like any other TN, you can customize this with charms, beads and whatnots, but I prefer to keep it simple and unadorned because I don’t like having to shift the elastic around before I write just so I won’t feel the charm behind the notebooks.


I noticed that Midori’s inserts make it a bit hard to lay the TN flat. I guess continued use will change that? Or buy inserts that already lay flat. It’s a minor inconvenience that I put up with.


Overall, I like this TN. It has a nice, rustic look and feel to it. It doesn’t have that perfect, industrial, mass-produced vibe. It’s as individual as the person who will use it. I miss the bookmark that I got used to in Midori’s TN, although I’m guessing it’s easy to attach one if you really want to figure out how, what with all those holes already punched and set up in it. The price is incredibly friendly too. It’s one of the more affordable fauxdoris that I’ve found from local sellers. If you want something that looks fancier (like, with pockets in flaps, etc), or if you want a different size like A5, you can always specify what you need. That’s the beauty of bespoke leather notebooks. 🙂

Check out Sunday Leather Craft for more TNs and other leather goods.