Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather Zippered Case

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

I’m back! I had to take a Owl Ink hiatus due to my life catching up to me– friends getting married, graduations, and travels. If you have any travels on the horizon, then this is a must-read review.

This is the Galen Leather Zippered Case, and it’s one of many quality wares offered by Galen Leather. Based out of Istanbul, Galen Leather is a brother-sister duo founded on their love for natural materials like leather, wood, and metal. Zeynep and Yusuf create every single article by hand in their workshop, and their small business story is truly inspiring!

Zeynep kindly reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try one of their cases. After browsing through their impressive selection, I decided to go for the Zippered Case. A few weeks later, a small box arrived at my door!

 


Details and Specs

  • Price: $49.00
  • Dimensions: 6.69″ x 5.03″ x 0.82″
  • 5 Pen Loops and 1 Notebook Pocket
  • Notebook Size: A6 Slim

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

The packaging is impressive– before you even open the box, you just know that it houses a high-quality item. It’s made of durable cardboard and can definitely be repurposed as a box for stamps, stickers, or used Field Notes.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

In addition to the case itself, the box also includes an information card, a coupon towards a future purchase, and an Evil Eye charm for luck! According to my card, my case was made by Yusuf. Thank you Yusuf!

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Let’s take a look at the case! In addition to a rich genuine leather smell, it also has a lightly pleasant smell of wax or oils. I assume this is from the burnishing process, which seals the leather edges and leaves the entire piece luxuriously smooth.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

The zipper feels sturdy and zips smoothly without catching. The little zipper pull is also made of leather, which I thought was a small but nice touch.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Upon opening the case, you see that there are five pen loops on the left and a deep pocket on the right. The interior of the case is a soft felt-like material, which should be sufficiently soft if you are holding expensive fountain pens.

I thought about how I wanted to use my new case, and I decided to turn it into a portable lettering/sketching kit!

 

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

This particular model is designed to fit pocket notebooks like Field Notes or Word Notebooks. I inserted one of my Field Notes Shelterwood books and it fit snugly.

Next up: pens! The case is designed to fit fountain pens, but since I’m more of an artist/letterer/calligrapher than a fountain pen collector, I decided to add some of my favorite lettering pens.

  • Pentel Fude Touch Brush Pen
  • Kuretake CocoIro Lettering Pen (review here!)
  • Pilot Hi-Tec-C Gel Pen
  • Zebra Brush Pen (review here!)
  • Kuretake Fudegokochi Brush Pen

Even though the elastic loops are designed to accommodate larger-barreled fountain pens, they still held my slimmest gel pen.

 

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Now I have a portable note-taking/brainstorming/lettering kit! I can bring it with me on travels, or simply do some sketching or lettering while away from my desk.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

I realized that I could also put some small memorabilia, like tickets, receipts, or business cards, into the notebook pocket.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Zipping up the case with no difficulty. You could probably stuff quite a lot into this case, the zipper feels durable and should be able to handle heavier use.

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

The compact size fits easily into a small purse!

 

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Many thanks to Zeynep and Yusuf of Galen Leather for letting me review your work!

You can find this specific model here, and similar zippered models here. Be sure to check out their other case offerings! They create covers for all your favorite notebooks– Hobonichi, Traveler’s, Leuchtturm, and more.

 

Owl Ink Review: Galen Leather

 

Owl Ink Review: Zebra Brush Pens

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Zebra brush pens are highly regarded as some of the best brush pens for lettering beginners, and I’d say they deserve that reputation.

They are available in three tip sizes – extra fine, fine, and medium. I own all three, and compare them here.

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Extra Fine Brush

The Extra Fine brush is great for those who struggle with thin upstrokes. I think this is the most challenging part about learning brush lettering — I’m STILL figuring out how to be consistent with my upstrokes!

Because the tip is so tiny, even if you are a bit heavy-handed on the upstroke, it still looks fairly thin.

However, the Extra Fine tip size also writes a bit on the dry side. Just as gel pens with 0.3 tips tend to be scratchier and more skip-prone than 0.5 or 0.7, sometimes the ink flow just can’t keep up with the pen.

Fine Brush

In my opinion, the Fine brush is the juiciest of the three. It’s like the Goldilocks porridge of brush pens — the tip is wide enough for smooth ink flow, but still fine enough to easily create hairlines.

Medium Brush

I was not a huge fan of the Medium brush at first. Compared to the dainty Extra Fine tip, the Medium tip felt like a pair of clunky ’90s platform shoes. I kept getting “bottom-heavy” letters, which happens at the the transition between downstroke and upstroke.

However, with some practice, I found that it IS possible to get really nice line variation. It was just harder to achieve than with the firmer Extra Fine.


Pros:

Waterproof: One really awesome thing about these pens is that they contain waterproof ink! I ran a waterbrush over some scribbles and they stayed completely legible. Not even a smudge. I’m impressed.

Size Variation: With 3 sizes to choose from, I can easily pick the best for the project at hand — whether it’s a quote, an envelope, or a gift tag.

Cons:

Fraying Tips: These are designed as disposable brush pens and as a result, the felt tip does wear down pretty quickly :/ You can prolong the pen’s life if you write exclusively on butter-smooth Rhodia paper or marker paper, but understand that eventually your tips WILL lose their springy hairline-creating abilities.

Not Refillable: Unfortunately the brushes are not refillable. I’ve heard of people prying off the end cap and syringing black ink into the pen barrel to “refill” the pen, but I haven’t tried this myself.

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw out your dried-up brushes! You can create some pretty cool textured effects with a dry brush.

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review
California is about as dry as this pen right now #CAdrought

 


Verdict

Overall I’m a fan of the Zebra brush pens and would definitely recommend them to any beginning lettering artist. They are firm enough that the tips doesn’t squash easily under a heavy hand, but flexible enough to achieve dramatic thicks and thins.

Many experienced artists swear by these as well. Check out Matt Vergotis on Instagram for serious Zebra brush inspiration — he achieves amazing line variation with the Medium brush here.

 

 

A quick little demo of yesterday's post

A video posted by Matt Vergotis (@mattvergotis) on

 

ALSO, an extra tip– if you live within close proximity to a Daiso (it’s like a Japanese dollar store), you might occasionally get lucky and find these brush pens in the arts/stationery aisle. The packaging differs sometimes, but it’s the same pen.

I hope this review has been helpful!

Here are some more of my own brush lettering samples :)

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

 

Owl Ink Review | Zebra Brush Pens Review

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

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.

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.