Owl Ink Review: Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

In my latest JetPens order, I picked up a super cute pen called the Kuretake CocoIro!

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

The CocoIro is a little pen that gets its name from the Japanese words for heart (kokoro) and color (iro). Supposedly, the name means “color of your heart”. A little cheesy, but sure!

The CocoIro pen actually consists of two separate parts: the refill and the pen body.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Pen bodies are available in many charming colors like Duckegg Blue, Sunflower, and Kiwi. They definitely have a cute, Instagram-ready appeal! I am partial to neutrals though, so I chose Black and Warm Chestnut.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Ink refills are available in a selection of colors as well. In addition to basic black, they also come in dark muted colors (sepia, bordeaux) and light cheery colors (mint, rose).

Assembly

To assemble the pen, you just remove the cap, stick the refill into the hollow body, and screw it in.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

One thing that slightly bothers me about this pen is the fact that the butt of the refill sticks out. I understand that Kuretake wanted to make the pen cute and compact, but why?? -_- It looks fine with the black pen body, but odd with any other color.

I deal with it by posting the cap and trying to forget it exists.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Lettering Test

Here is the performance test of the two brush tips I tried: the bristle brush and the super fine brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

First I tried the “Super Fine Brush” tip inside the chestnut colored pen body.  I was actually quite surprised by how firm the tip was! Firmness is good though, as it allows for more control during those super-skinny calligraphy upstrokes.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

However, I did notice that pressing down firmly on the brush would cause it to become misshapen. I could reshape the brush tip by pressing it against the paper, but I imagine it might not withstand that sort of abuse for long.

I would compare the tip firmness to another Kuretake pen, the Fudegokochi Super Fine.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Next up was the “Brush Type” tip inside the black pen body. This performed like any bristle tip —  pretty juicy but also capable of the dry brush effect if you write quickly.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

The ink, while black, is not SUPER dark. Kuretake also has no specs on the archival quality or lightfastness of the ink.

The tip is comparable to the Pentel Pocket Brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

 

Something interesting to note: the refills themselves are quite large, and the grip section is thick enough to be used on its own. Because you don’t necessarily need the pen body, I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks prefer using the refill alone.

Verdict

Overall, I really like the CocoIro! I don’t know why it has taken me so long to try it. They are very reasonably priced and I definitely see myself using them in future lettering and calligraphy projects.

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

Pros:

  • Just so CUTE!!!
  • Lightweight, ergonomic shape
  • Affordable price
  • Refillable
  • Extra fine brush is nice and stiff for precise lettering
  • Bristle brush has nice line variation

Cons:

  • Butt of refill sticks out, looks silly
  • Super fine brush tip may wear out easily
  • Ink is not SUPER dark, more like off black
  • Matte surface texture picks up lint and stains over time

 

Owl Ink Review | Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pens

3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Summer is here and that means… lots of pretty wedding calligraphy!

I recently created a set of 8 wedding-related calligraphy and watercolor graphics for a project, and thought I’d share 3 out of the set as a free clipart sampler.

They were created with brush pen on watercolor paper, scanned, and cleaned up in Photoshop. (side note: for a tutorial that covers how to clean up lettering in Photoshop, check out my post on How to Add Lettering to a Photo)

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

If you are anything like me, a LOT of your friends are getting married right now. Make some pretty art as a gift for the newlywed couple! You can also try printing them out onto cards or labels.

Here are some examples of art I made with these 3 clipart files. I had fun practicing my graphic design skills on these :)

All images are from Unsplash, my favorite resource for beautiful free stock photos.

Scroll down for the link to download these files!

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

Owl Ink - 3 Free Wedding Calligraphy Downloads

 

You can download them HERE. Feel free to remix, modify, and alter these clipart files ~BUT~ personal projects only please– do not use them in anything you intend to sell.  I made these with my own time and I hope you can respect the creative process :) Many thanks and hope you enjoy!

 

Review: Canon CP910 Selphy Compact Photo Printer

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

We interrupt our regular pen and paper programming to bring you this gadget review: the Canon CP910 Selphy compact smartphone printer!

I’ve been wanting a compact, instant photo printer for a while now. I really enjoy scrapbooking, but I usually don’t print my photos right away. In the past, this has led to a backlog of scrapbooking entries… I fall behind, and then I’m very unmotivated to catch up.

I love cute Polaroid-style cameras like the popular Fujifilm Instax, but I realized that it isn’t the most cost-effective. Because the photos are printed the moment you click the shutter, you waste film on shots of people blinking or being caught off guard.

A phone printer provides the advantage of letting you review your photos, select the best shot, and even edit in your photo editing app of choice.

Comparison

I sifted through dozens of reviews and unboxing videos, ultimately narrowing the selection down to three choices: the Polaroid Zip, Instax Share, and the Canon Selphy.

Polaroid Zip

Pros: Small, ultra-pocketable size for traveling. Convenient sticky backing for instant use in scrapbooks or journals!!

Cons: The device is expensive, and so are the special ZINK paper refills.

(Side note: for a fantastic and very detailed review of this printer, check out Priya’s review of the Polaroid Zip on her blog, The London Parchment!)

Fujifilm Instax Share

Pros: Super cute and trendy polaroid frame. Photos print in retro-style color.

Cons: Also expensive due to special polaroid cartridges. Color accuracy is poor (if you aren’t specifically looking for the retro fade effect)

Canon CP910 Selphy

Pros: Most affordable and offers the best color accuracy. Takes a variety of refill sizes (postcard and smaller)

Cons: Not very portable, slow printing time, and must be plugged in to operate.

With all of the above pros and cons in mind, I chose the Canon. I bought in on Amazon, and it arrived a few weeks later.

Unboxing & Setup

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The Canon Selphy arrives in a box that includes the printer, power cable, ink cartridge, warranty card, film paper, and instruction booklet.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Setup is pretty simple — plug the cable in, insert the cartridge, load the film paper, and you’re ready to go! I had it up and running in less than five minutes.

First, plug your printer in. Then, unwrap the cartridge and pop it into the printer body. There is a specific orientation that it goes in, but it’s not hard to figure it out.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Load the paper into the tray. Be careful not to touch the paper, or your photos will have fingerprints! The paper tray snaps securely into the front of the printer.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The paper tray has a lid, which protects the paper from dust when not in use. I keep the lid on most times, but when you are ready to print, flip the top cover where it says “Open” to expose the paper.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

To connect your smartphone to the printer, navigate to your Wi-Fi settings. You’ll have to enter in a password, which is included in the setup documentation.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The only way to print from your phone is to download Canon’s specific printing app, Canon PRINT. It’s free on the iOS app store.

Side note: Here you can see the other photo apps I use.  Would you be interested in a blog post about my favorite photo editing apps? 

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

The app interface is pretty clunky and could use some work, but it is relatively easy to use. You can select multiple photos at a time, which is pretty convenient.

As a test image, I used the InstaCollage app to make this quick collage of a cactus shop that I visited last month!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

Performance

The Canon Selphy printer runs on dye-sublimation technology, which uses heat to transfer colored dyes onto the photo paper. It does this in four passes: yellow, red, blue, and a shiny clear coat.

With each pass, you can see the image emerge. Four passes may seem slow, but it is actually quite fast! So fast that I didn’t capture the printing process in time for the cactus photo, so I did another test with a collage of my recent hiking trip.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

I was pleasantly surprised by how accurately the Canon Selphy printed the colors shown on my phone screen. The colors would probably be more crisp with an actual printing service, but I thought it was very close. There was slight blurring, but only around text or borders– such as the caption and frames that I added to the collage.

Once the picture is done, it can be picked up right away. Because of the clear coat, you don’t have to worry about touching the paper now– the photo will be completely dry and ready.

Ok, back to the cactus photo.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

You can see that there are two perforated bands on either side of the photo– I believe this extra paper is for the printer feed. Simply fold at the perforations, and they snap off easily. A slightly toothy edge is left, but it doesn’t really bother me.

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

What did bother me was that parts of my collage were cut off with the perforations, but I think this was due to the dimensions of my collage app and not due to the printer itself.

You can then clip the edges with a corner rounder, or cut it into any desired shapes!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

Overall, I am very happy with my purchase! It may not be as novel as the cute polaroid-style instant snapshots, but it is great for my needs.

With an instant printer, I am encouraged to document my life more frequently. I already use my phone as my main camera, and now I have a quick and easy way to make my own prints that are ready for scrapbooking!

 

Owl Ink | Canon Selphy CP910 Photo Printer Review

 

You can find the Canon CP910 printer on Amazon. Apparently the CP910 model I just reviewed has been replaced by a newer model, so it is actually cheaper now!

These are not affiliate links and I am not connected to Amazon in any way, I just bought this for myself and wanted to share it with you all.

Bay Area Printers’ Fair 2016

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

The Bay Area Printers’ Fair is hosted by the San Jose Printer’s Guild, a small organization of printmakers that operates out of San Jose History Park. It is an annual event that celebrates traditional printmaking, letterpress, bookbinding, papermaking, and other related arts.

The fair is true eye candy for any paper/stationery/analog nerd! I went with some of my coworkers and took way too many photos. Have a look!


First stop: A series of 4 inked tabletop presses, each with select letters of the alphabet.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

The result is a DIY multi-colored alphabet print!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Next, the opportunity to hand-set your name! Following a diagram, you would locate the individual letters and arrange them facing backwards. Then, the letters are fixed tightly into a frame

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Ink is rolled onto the press, and then pushing the handle down prints the letters onto a small sheet of paper!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

At another booth, stamps and woodblocks from previous print jobs were on sale for mere cents! I guess once the job is over, there is no need for the blocks anymore. It was fun looking through the interesting logos, business names, and other things.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

All the blocks are backwards. Here is a number “2”, and a some small images.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

A whole case of letters and numbers! Seeing blocks laid out like this really reminded me of the Field Notes Two Rivers edition.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

One of my favorite exhibitors at the event was Eleanor Murray, a collector and seller of vintage papers, ephemera, and other delightful wares.

Here are some vintage wildlife prints. I looked really hard for an owl print, but could not find one.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Pages of German and Hebrew text

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Calligraphy pamphlets. Speedball is currently on its 24th edition of the Speedball Textbook — this is the 7th edition!!!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Pen holders and writing nibs. I’ve heard of Osmiroid — they are known for their sets, which include one fountain pen body and an assortment of screw-on calligraphy nibs.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

I was quite tempted to buy this pack of vintage nibs!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Beautiful marbled papers. If you haven’t yet, you definitely need to check out Tessa’s recent blog post on how marbled paper is made!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Charming prints of various flora and fauna. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some vintage Audubon prints in there!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Travel-themed ephemera: tickets, stamps, documents in foreign languages

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Two airmail envelopes — the top is from 1947 — over 10 years before my mom was born!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printers' Fair

 

Bills, receipts, and other items. Most if not all the writing was done in pencil or fountain pen ink.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

It fascinates me that these forms were probably mundane at the time they were written, but are such interesting relics now. There were also paper-clipped stacks of old letters — maybe between pen pals, business partners… a slightly voyeuristic part of me wanted to read them all.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Other booths had assortments of new and used books for sale.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

My coworker flips through a book of typefaces.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Tiny leatherbound almanacs, pocketbooks, and planners, alongside bags of stamps for the philatelic crowd. I was hoping to find some authentic field notes, but did not spot any.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

A stunning book of ornamental penmanship — selling for $75+. Look at how ornate that cover is!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

At another booth, you could make your own thread-bound mini book!

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

A rather random photo of a vintage corner rounder. I have a small handheld corner rounder that I use for scrapbooking — this industrial one must be able to punch through 100 sheets of paper all at once!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

A main attraction of the event was the  “Moving Mill”, a portable paper pulp machine. The operator travels around the region showing kids and adults alike how recycled paper is made!

Here, she has just ripped up pieces of junk mail and old documents, and is turning on the engine that will grind up the papers into pulp.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Once the papers have deteriorated enough, you can make your own sheet of recycled paper! Here is Diana dipping the screen into the watery pulp mixture

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Once the screen is lifted, water drips out and only the pulp remains. You flip the screen upside down to drop the pulp out, and then leave it to dry into sheets.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

The printing office was open for drop-in tours, and we went inside to listen to the volunteer docents speak about the history of printmaking — from the Gutenberg Bible til modern day. They did a live demonstration of a pedal-operated press, and explained the physics behind the machines.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Drawers full of individual letters, in all sorts of typefaces.

Apparently back in the heyday of hand-set type, the ideal employees for the task were young 11-year-old boys and girls — quick learners with small fingers, perfect for picking up those tiny little metal letters!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

A treatise posted on the wall of the printing house —  I loved how poetic this was.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Outside the printing house, there was a larger press where you could print your own souvenir poster!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

A closer look at the reversed text, created letter by letter.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

A volunteer operator carefully helps you remove the print.

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

Excited about my freshly printed poster!

 

Owl Ink | Bay Area Printer Fair

 

I hope you enjoyed these photos! This event was a fascinating peek into an old world art form that has not only survived, but found its place as an artisan craft.

While traditional letterpress printing largely went out of style once computers and word processors became mainstream, but that doesn’t mean the art has died out entirely. Just as vinyls and record players are becoming must-haves for discerning hipsters, vintage letterpress and print have seen a revival.

Nowadays, it is in style for brides to have letterpressed wedding invitations, and business professionals to have thick, luxuriously printed business cards. It makes me really happy to know that there is  a demand for these rustic, hand-produced works!

For more information on the Printers’ Guild, check out their website.

Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

This is part of an ongoing series where I review some of my favorite creative tools!

I first spotted Blackwing pencils on the Instagram posts of various artists I follow, and was intrigued by these supposed “high end pencils”. The more I saw their sophisticated colors and giant, shiny ferrules, the more I needed to try one for myself!

Eager as I was, it actually took me quite a while to get my hands on one. As a Blackwing newbie, I wanted to sample one of each since the different pencils contain varying lead grades. However, Blackwings are only available in packs of 12 at most retailers… and since they aren’t cheap (about $22 for 12), an entire box is a hefty pencil commitment!

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

If you’re lucky though, you can find single versions in little brick-and-mortar shops for about two dollars. I picked up a few at Maido in San Jose, and one at CW Pencils in Manhattan. (I’ve also spotted “eligible singles” at both Kinokuniya branches in San Francisco and NYC, as well as FLAX Art in San Francisco.)

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

The original Blackwing lineup consists of three models: the Blackwing MMX, Blackwing 602, and Blackwing Pearl. Here are some details:

  • Blackwing MMX: softest and darkest graphite, matte black lacquer with gold text, gold ferrule, and a white eraser. This is the only pencil that has a slim gold band printed near the ferrule.
  • Blackwing Pearl: medium graphite, shiny pearl white lacquer with black text, gold ferrule, and a black eraser
  • Blackwing 602: hardest graphite, shiny gray lacquer with two sides of gold text, gold ferrule, and a black eraser. This pencil has Blackwing’s motto, “Half the Pressure, Twice the Speed” printed on the body.

The soft MMX lead wears down rather quickly, and is best for sketching. Both the Pearl and 602 have better point retention, and are great as general-use writing pencils. In terms of smoothness, they are all very smooth — a quality that becomes apparent if you write with a Blackwing for a while and then switch back to a cheap school pencil.

It’s hard to tell in these photos, but there really is a slight variation in darkness/lightness as you go from the MMX to the 602.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

In terms of sharpening, all of them sharpen very well. Cheap pencils tend to have misaligned graphite cores, which mean they frequently snap while sharpening. Quality pencils like the Blackwing have meticulously aligned cores, so they did not have any issues  — even with an older, slightly dull sharpener.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

They also have large erasers housed in shiny oversized ferrules. I honestly think the gold ferrule is what leads me to reach for Blackwings more often than any other pencil (oooh, shiny!). The eraser can be extended by inching it up from the metal casing, or swapped for other erasers of varying colors.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

The Apple-esque colors of white, gold, black, and “space gray” make them lovely eye candy on my desk, and pretty props for my photos.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

If you do decide to splurge on a whole 12-pack of pencils, it is a worthwhile purchase. The packaging is nicely done, with a minimal sleeve and a nice matte black box that definitely worth keeping.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

Another noteworthy pencil point to mention is that Blackwing offers a seasonal limited edition release, called Volumes. To those outside of the stationery lovers’ circle, a limited edition pencil may seem like a strange thing to be giddy about, but even those with no affinity for stationery can at least appreciate the thoughtful design that goes into these special releases.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

A recent release, Volume 211, is inspired by the 211-mile John Muir trail that runs from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney. Its natural-wood finish and rustic brown eraser really evoke the woodsy, outdoor spirit of John Muir — making it the perfect match for the Field Notes Shelterwood!

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

As a calligraphy artist, I have found a designated use for the 602 as my envelope sketching pencil — its lead is light enough to be easily erased, yet dark enough that I can see it on colored envelopes. I’ve used up quite a length of this pencil making wedding envelopes and sketching out name cards.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

I’ve also been experimenting with pencil calligrapy (penciligraphy?), and have found the soft Blackwing MMX capable of creating very elegant line variation. To accomplish this, I treat the pencil like a dip nib or brush tip — press harder on downstrokes for swells, and lighter on upstrokes for hairlines.

 

Owl Ink Review: Palomino Blackwing Pencils

 

I’ve been using Blackwings in regular rotation for a while now and there’s just something about them that is really unique. Part of the pencil’s allure certainly lies in its chic appearance and the cult mentality of the creative folks that use them!

That being said, it also has an extensive and fascinating history, which covers legendary animators, musicians, and authors like John Steinbeck. History buffs can read about it on the official Blackwing website.