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SUCK UK wingnut pencil sharpener 6

wingnut-front

My latest acquisition: SUCK UK’s Wingnut pencil sharpener, made by Russian designer Sasha Blagov for the Ukranian Shpinat Bureau.

I bought this sharpener in Paperchase (in Selfridges) for £6 (~$9; €8).

It is, as the name suggests, a sharpener shaped like a wingnut.

First use

I did want to use an unsharpened pencil – you can see that the short blade of the wingnut sharpener will produce a much more obtuse angle than your average sharpener, so sharpening an already sharpened pencil with a normal angle down to a more obtuse angle would waste a lot of material. That means an unsharpened pencil was needed. The first pencil I tried to sharpen with it: a Venezuelan Mongol 480.

wingnut-side

Sharpening did start well, but there soon was a point when it was difficult for the wood and lead to reach the blade, because the sharpening hole of the sharpener was too small for the pencil. My resulting annoyance with this sharpener is so big that I’ll to switch to a monologue now.

Is the Venezuelan Mongol wider than your average pencil? Maybe. Maybe that’s why it didn’t work. Hmm, let’s try another one. What other unsharpened pencils are on my desk – oh yes, there’s a Tombow Mono 100 in H. Let’s sharpen that one.

..

What? same problem again? Ok. I think I once read somewhere that the Tombow is wider than your average pencil, or did I mix that up? Anyway, let’s try another unsharpened pencil –  here, a Chung Hwa 101 in 2B.

What the… The same thing happened again? ..and I spent £6 on this sharpener‽ [1]That certainly calls for an interrobang!

 wingnut-bottom

Design flaw

You’d think sharpening should be easy with this sharpener, but unfortunately there seems to be a design flaw which means that it is very difficult if not impossible to sharpen many pencils.

One problem is that the ‘cone’ you insert the pencil into starts to narrow immediately. Other prism sharpeners don’t narrow immediately, but have an area that helps to guide the pencil. This helps to keep the pencil straight, so you can always achieve a point with the same angle. Because there is no guidance for the pencil in the wingnut sharpener it is difficult to hold the pencil at the right angle. For some pencils I got an angle as acute as 24°, for other the angle was up to 37°. This means that you easily end up with an inconsistent angle (wasting material) or with a broken point.

mongol-sharpened

Another problem is that even though the opening of the sharpener is ~8mm, which should be sufficient as the diameter of most pencils’ diameter isn’t more than that, the blade doesn’t start until a bit later, by which point the prism has already narrowed and is too narrow for most pencils.

Is the wingnut sharpener for coloured pencils?

I’m usually using graphite pencils, so I thought this sharpener might be made for coloured pencils, but a look at the ISZ’s sharpener guide shows that the diameter of the sharpening hole should be even bigger if was a sharpener for coloured pencils.

The pencil will rest on the shoulders created by the sharpener, which makes it impossible to sharpen any further.

The pencil will rest on the shoulders created by the sharpener, which makes it impossible to sharpen any further.

Conclusion

The wingnut sharpener leaves me very disappointed. It is obviously a novelty sharpener, but that shouldn’t mean that it’s unsuitable for most pencils. If it was just a bit bigger it would actually work. I wonder whether this sharpener was designed like this on purpose [2]Maybe the prototype did work with Russian pencils, they might be slimmer, who knows – but did SUCK UK not notice? or whether things went wrong when the plans were turned into the finished products.

I hope I can return the wingnut sharpener and get my money back, next time I visit Paperchase in Manchester.


wingnut-backPrice: January 2015

Exchange rates: February 2015

References

References
1That certainly calls for an interrobang!
2Maybe the prototype did work with Russian pencils, they might be slimmer, who knows – but did SUCK UK not notice?

Nespresso notebook and pen 5

Let’s start with this sentence: I don’t drink coffee but like the smell of coffee.

I obviously also like stationery and since last week I have some stationery that smells like coffee… A notebook and pen from Nespresso, made from coffee grounds.

Knives and pens, the posh ones

Nespresso has had cooperations with two other Swiss companies, linked to the recycling of their coffee capsules: Victorinox released Swiss Army Knives with scales made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules and Caran d’Ache released the 849 ballpoint pen, also made from the recycled aluminium from their coffee capsules.

There were also cooperations with non-Swiss companies, like the one with Mikov in the Czech Republic. Their Nespresso knife is similarly priced to the Victorinox version. As far as I know, it is only available in the Czech Republic. In contrast, the Victorinox cooperation was available in many countries, but seems to have come to an end or is on hold after having run from 2016 to 2019.

Mikov left, Victorinox right (Images © Nespresso)

Recycled aluminium is common. Wikipedia has a reference from the Economist stating that recycling scrap aluminium requires only 5% of the energy compared to making new aluminium from raw ore and a reference from the US Geological Survey stating that approximately 36% of all aluminium produced in the United States comes from old recycled scrap.

When I came across the Nespresso 849 I was first sceptical of Caran d’Ache’s claim that the Nespresso 849 is actually made from recycled Nespresso capsules.
Why? Someone at Caran d’Ache, maybe the marketing department, has in the past been rather economical with facts. Best example: their Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils. They now spell out that these are wood pencils reconstituted from poplar and abachi, but in the past their marketing material gave the impression that these pencils are made from exotic wood.
I am relieved that their Nespresso 849 has the text Made with recycled Nespresso capsules written in big, friendly letter on the side of the pencil. This explicitness gives me some reassurance that there is no misunderstanding and that the aluminium in the pen body contains recycled coffee capsules. I wonder whether all 849s are made with a small proportion of recycled Nespresso capsules or whether the Nespresso 849 is made from a completely different batch of aluminium. It seems easier to just mix some recycled capsules into all the scrap aluminium used to produce the new aluminium.

Caran d’Ache’s Nespresso Swiss Wood pencils seem even more exotic: The lead contains 25% coffee grounds. I’d love to see if that makes a difference in terms of erasability and writing experience. They also have metallic ‘colour capsules’ at the end. The first impression seems to be that these are made from recycled Nespresso capsules, but in their video, see below, you can see that the end is actually just paint.

Notebook and pen, the cheap (free) ones

Let’s close in on the main stars of this blog post: the notebook and pen currently being offered as a free gift to (some) Nespresso customers who place an order in the UK and some other markets. As is increasingly common in recent years, loyal customers get a worse deal: as far as I can tell this offer of a free notebook and pen with an order is by invitation only and the more Nespresso wants to bring you back into the fold the better the deal you get. I have seen similar offers from online grocery stores (Ocado) and from music streaming services (Spotify). From what I can tell the best deal offered by Nespresso to get this notebook and pen ‘for free’ was with an order of 5 strips (5*10 capsules). This includes free shipping. If you get this good 5 strips deal you spend around £20 and get the notebook and pen plus 50 capsules, i.e. enough for 50 cups of coffee.

In some areas you don’t need to rely on having been offered the deal as you can also buy the notebook on its own for €18.

The notebook contains 100% recycled paper and the cover contains the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee grounds waste.

The first thing you notice when you open the cardboard box the notebook and pen come in is the strong coffee smell. I am not sure whether this strong and nice coffee odour is purely down to the coffee grounds used to produce the notebook (and maybe the pen) or whether the items have been ‘perfumed’ to smell like coffee or to increase the existing smell.

You can see the pattern of the plastic-like cover on the left

The notebook is made in the Netherlands and has a thick plastic-like board at the front and back. I assume it is some sort of composite material made form plastic and coffee grounds, similar to the Staedtler Wopex made from wood and plastic or the Kupilka (50% pine and 50% thermoplastic). The patterns on the notebook cover do remind me of the ones found on the Kupilka.

Kupilka and Wopex. Click on the photo for a link to the blog post.

The paper used is nice, but is not fountain pen friendly. It is however suitable for gel pens.

The pen has a similar look to the notebook cover, so I assume it is also made from coffee grounds, but I haven’t seen any official description from Nespresso that confirms this. The clip of the pen looks similar to the clip found on the Lamy Noto. I did not find any markings on the pen or refill, so am not sure who made it or which country it is from. I also did not see any markings on the black ballpoint refill it came with.

Top: Nespresso, Bottom: Lamy Noto – unfortunately the similarity of the clips is not easy to see on a two-dimensional photo, especially not on this one.

If it contains coffee grounds it is not the first pen available with coffee inside. A few years ago Shangching sent me the Fabula pencil, which also contains coffee.

Conclusion

A nice looking notebook and pen. I wish the paper was fountain pen friendly and both items were more easily available. If you can get your hands on them with a good offer then I’d certainly go for it.

Writing sample on the recycled paper. You can see that the paper sucks ink in. the EF in the last line should have been very thin.

The ballpoint pen looks nice, so I might look into putting a gel refill into it. That would make me use it more.

The ink is bleeding through the paper

You can buy the Nespresso 849 in the Gentleman Stationer shop.

Prices: July 2021

The images of the knives have been taken from the Nespresso web site. I believe that the use of these images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Aurora’s Blue Black ink

Kirit Dal, who I have recently mentioned in the Lamy Horror Picture Show blog post, was kind enough to send me Aurora’s latest ink: Their take on Blue Black.

I have used quite a few blue black inks in the past, actually.. for a few year it was my favourite colour – but I have never used an Aurora ink before. Not only that, I somehow I also never really read up on them, so this ink led me into unchartered territory. If you have already used Aurora inks my discoveries will be nothing new to you, but for me this ink provided a lot of firsts. More about them later.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

Comparison

I compared the Aurora Blue Black to a few other blue black inks: Mont Blanc Midnight Blue (the newer Austrian version), Diamine Blu eBlack and Lamy Blue Black (the older iron gall version).

On Rhodia paper Lamy’s Blue Black was the most grey ink – and the only one that visible darkened after writing, so the assumption is that other inks don’t contain iron gall.

The Diamine was the most turquoise ink, and the worst behaved – meaning it was best at penetrating the paper and having a cheeky look out on the other side.

Mont Blanc’s Midnight Blue was the most purple and also the darkest.

Aurora’s Blue Black was the bluest of the inks and provided the following surprises.

A lid and a plug…

 

Surprise 1: packaging

The first surprise came when I saw that the ink bottle was the best protected against spilling in transport I have seen so far.

Not only was the bottle in the box shrink-wrapped, under the lid there was also a plastic plug. I shouldn’t have tried removing it with my fingers as the air pressure in the bottle was different to the one in my environment and I had a right mess on my fingers and on the paper sheet under the bottle.

 

Surprise 2: a well behaved ink

The second surprise came when I started using the ink.

It was actually a better behaved ink than expected. By that I mean that it prefers to orderly stay on the paper instead of naughtily sucking into the paper and bleeding through. It also seems to dry faster than your average ink ..always a good thing. I do have blotters on my desk at home and in the office, but faster drying inks are just less trouble, plus if you have to use a blotter the bits of the writing where the ink was still wet usually end up looking lighter.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

Even on poor quality photocopying paper it behaved very well, only showing signs of bleed through where the nib left a lot of ink on one spot.

On a Field Notes original/Kraft notebook with Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T #Bright White’, the worst Field Notes paper I know it didn’t bleed though either.

One more thing to notice: this ink has some shading (but it’s certainly not the new shading king) and the dark areas are pretty dark. Depending on how wet your fountain pen writes this ink might look either greyish blue or nearly black.

Surprise 3: half erasable

The third surprise came when I tried to write with this ink on a Royal Mail postcard.

Testing on Royal Mail postcards with a Super5 0.7 in Delhi Orange

Having established that it’s a well behaved ink I thought I test it on a Royal Mail postcard as very few inks will work on this treated surface without spreading out across the paper. The surprise here was that the ink started to lose its blue component, as if the post card acts as an ink eraser. I have made a similar experience with the Thank You cards I got printed after our wedding in 2008. The ink on the Thank you Cards I wrote became invisible after a few weeks.

To test what’s going on with the Aurora Blue Black on this post card I tried an ink eraser on this ink. Immediately the blue component started to disappear [1]In many countries pupils have to use ‘Royal Blue’ inks which are erasable with chemical ink erasers, originally invented by Pelikan. When I was young they were called in killers and were … Continue reading.

Rinse time

To finish it all off I had a look how these inks behaving after enjoying a refreshing rinse under a cold water tap for several seconds.

Left to right: Aurora, Mont Blanc (new), Diamine, Lamy (old)

The Aurora ink suffered most. Virtually all of the blue seemed to have washed away with only the grey component remaining.

Unsurprisingly the iron gall ink seemed least affected, but it is of course harsher on your writing equipment. Well, not to put your fountain pen written documents under running water shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, though.

Conclusion

The Aurora Blue Black is a great ink. You get some shading, you get well behaved, and you get a nice colour, serious but not too boring.

I hope to have a closer look again after having used this ink for several months.

 


I would like to thank Kirit Dal for sending me this ink. I think he might be the first seller in the UK to stock this ink. I have been told that he is well known at pen shows in the UK, but I haven’t been to any pen shows yet, so haven’t been able to meet him yet in person.

You can find more reviews of this ink at Squishy Ink  and Pen Chalet.

References

References
1In many countries pupils have to use ‘Royal Blue’ inks which are erasable with chemical ink erasers, originally invented by Pelikan. When I was young they were called in killers and were very common. You usually can’t use normal ink to write over the erased ink. Instead you use a special ink from the other side of the ink eraser. There used to be better ink eraser you can write over with normal ink. These were available around the year 1990, if I remember right, but I haven’t seen any like that in a long time.

eBay troubles and tea 8

A happy new 2017 to all my readers. I hope 2017 will be a great year for you.

***

Reading the Well-Appointed Desk’s blog post about the grinch convinced me to write a similar blog post.

Bleistift is an ad, sponsor and Patreon free blog, so you might wonder what’s there to say – well, it’s all about eBay.

I have used eBay since the late 1990s, when I was still living in Germany [1]At that time it was called Alando (in Germany) . In more than 15 years I have probably done more than1000 transactions on eBay (difficult to tell how many exactly, especially since most buyers don’t seem to leave feedback anymore).

Well, recently I started selling a lot of things so that there’s a bit of extra money for the end of the year, but some of the transactions went wrong…

The Pelikan Set from Germany

On eBay I bought a set of Pelikan pens from seller Heike A. from Frankfurt. The seller was quite new, but did have positive feedback, so I  wasn’t too suspicious when she asked me to send the payment as a PayPal friend transaction. I was glad that she accepted PayPal at all as sending money within the Eurozone is free (I think), but sending it from a British bank to the Eurozone is quite expensive.

When I didn’t get the pens I was told they were actually broken and I will get a refund, but unfortunately I never got the money back and she just ignores my messages. I have opened a case with the police in Frankfurt last year, but I don’t think I’ll see my money again.

The Pelikan pen for China

By far the most expensive item I sold in my end of year eBay dealings was a Pelikan fountain pen with a gold nib for £100. The buyer was in China, so the pen was supposed to go through eBay’s shipping centre in the UK. Well, I guess someone handling the envelope realised that it must have some sort of value if it goes to a shipping centre and someone is happy to pay for forwarding it to China (as the name is on the envelope in PinYin) – so the pen magically disappeared before it was registered as having arrived at the shipping centre.

I completed the paperwork for a lost item last year, but haven’t heard back from Royal Mail. I guess in the best case I’ll get £20, so I’ll be £80 short, which basically meant that selling all the other items was pointless.

8^(

Well, both of the previous problems were my fault. I probably should have insisted on using another way of sending the money and I should have definitely bought extra insurance for sending the £100 pen, so next, for a change, here’s an example that wasn’t my fault (but isn’t stationery related).

Last one

David S. from Oxford bought a limited edition item from Asia I was selling on eBay for £6. It was still in sealed packaging.

I am not a business, so I set eBay so that I don’t allow returns and I assumed the eBay setting wouldn’t allow returns, but somehow eBay lets the buyer start a return process anyway, with a message encouraging the seller to accept the return so that the buyer has a better eBay experience. Well, the buyer started a return process and told me that he changed his mind and didn’t read the description properly and that the item isn’t what he wants. Only after I asked him whether he opened the packaging he told me that he did, which basically means I wouldn’t be able to sell this collectors item anymore (or if I did postage would probably be more expensive than the value of the item).

As I didn’t want to take the opened item back the buyer then gave me negative feedback (great, now I have a negative feedback on my profile). In the comment he implied that my item description was misleading, even though he told me himself that he was the one who misread the auction description. I asked him to take the negative and misleading feedback back, but he didn’t.

 

Well, what can I say. Bad eBayers suck and unfortunately there seem to be more and more of them (or I just happen to come across more of them).

 

Calm down, dear

To end on a happy note, here’s some tea to calm you down.

ostfriesentee

I was tempted to introduce a tea of the month series of articles. I know it’s not stationery related, but Gunther described his blog as a lucky bag – you might not always get stationery, so I guess it wouldn’t be too bad to have the occasional tea post here. I wasn’t able to convince myself though. I surely wouldn’t run out of teas to show, but there is a good chance that increased workload will heavily reduce my blog posts soon [2]and of course it goes without saying that after real wages have been going down for many years this increased workload doesn’t come with more money either, so I didn’t want to have a tea category leaving less time for stationery blog posts.

OK, let’s talk about the teat hen: this is East Frisian tea, you can read more about this tea in this New York times article. It’s mainly Assam, which I love anyway (I don’t mind Lapsang Souchong, but I usually prefer Assam heavy version of Russian Caravan) and it looks like I’m not the only stationery fan who’s a friend of this type of tea. Michael from Just Another Pen had an Instagram picture where he showed his latest buy (since they’re hard to get in Bavaria /  Southern Germany). This one is like normal East Frisian tea, but iwth added pieces of Vanilla. Nice.

References

References
1At that time it was called Alando (in Germany)
2and of course it goes without saying that after real wages have been going down for many years this increased workload doesn’t come with more money either

Lunatic Paper

 

lunarcoverThe next Field Notes edition, Black Ice, has already been announced, so posting this Lunacy review end of November means I’m a bit late to the party, but anyway: here’s a quick look at the paper used in the Lunacy edition, Domtar Earth Choice and a comparison with the best and the worst Field Notes paper I have used so far.

 

The Boise Paper (County Fair)

The Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “Whitewash” can be found in the Field Notes County Fair edition [1]More about this paper can be found in this blog post.

 

The Finch Paper (Original)

The Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T “Bright White” that can be found in the original Field Notes was a disappointment. Graphite is quite light on this paper – I guess it would make good paper for soft leads, though. Ink, from fountain pens and even from gel pens, get sucked into the paper and is happy to bleed easily through the page …unless you have a very dry pen.

The new Black Ice edition will use Finch paper again, but this time “Bright White” Finch Fine Smooth 70# text paper. The description on Finch’s website sounds as if Finch Fine is better paper than Finch Opaque, but the information on the website is written for people printing on these papers, not handwriting on these papers, so for me, it remains to be seen whether Fine is better than Opaque. If you own the America the BeautifulFrost Gray or DDC Orange editions you have used Finch Fine in a different colour so you might be able to judge whether it is better for handwriting, drawing etc.

 

The Domtar Paper (Lunacy)

So here’s the ‘new’ Domtar paper. According to their website it’s “the largest family of environmentally responsible papers ever assembled” (not the most environmentally responsible papers ever assembled).

Looking at the Domtar website I think Domtar Earth Choice “Gray” 60#T with “Moondust Gray” must be the Earth Choice Colors Opaque Text, but I’m not 100% sure.

Looking at this Paper weights table I guess the 60# weight used for this paper must be equivalent to 90g/m².

domtar

 

The Test

The paper is tested using the same parameters as in previous paper tests and explained here. In short: The pencil lead used has a nominal diameter of 0.7mm and an actual diameter of 0.68mm (more info about nominal vs actual  diameters can be found here). This is equivalent to a surface area of 0.36mm². A force of 1.5N is used, which, in this case, is equivalent to 4.17 MegaPascals for this surface area.

3fns

Left to Right: Boise, Domtar, Finch

The violin plots show how dark the pencil marks left on the paper are. The general idea is that darker marks are easier to read and are therefore better. Darker marks result is violin plots that are lower positioned and black values would be low (near 0 on the y-axis (left)), while light marks are towards the top.

The Outcome

Well, it’s grey paper, so there’s no surprise when we see that the violin plot shows that Domtar’s ‘violin’ doesn’t get anywhere near the white value reached by Boise or Finch paper. If you look closely you can also see that the Boise paper is not as white as the Finch paper.

If you look closely at the marks left by graphite you can see that the paper will ‘shine’ through the line written on the paper as the roughness of the paper means that graphite isn’t left evenly on the mark left. This is where the paper colour for the test can be ‘picked up’ by the violin plot.

The Domtar paper doesn’t take graphite as well as Boise (County Fair) paper, but certainly better than Finch (Original/Kraft) paper. Because of the lower starting point, due to the greyness of the paper, overall ‘contrast’ isn’t however much better than the Finch paper.

I am happy to say that the Domtar paper behaves much better with ink than the Finch paper.

For pencils, there is better paper out there, e.g. Atoma, Banditapple or Silvine, but the paper quality is not the main attraction of the Field Notes anyway.

A violin plot comparing Boise, Domtar and Finch paper

The Links

If you like to read more about the Field Notes Lunacy edition have a look at Ed JelleyFountain Pen Follies,  OfficeSupplyGeek or Pens and Junk. For anything Field Notes related please visit Three Staples.

Update 25 Nov 2016: I just finished listening to The Pen Addict Podcast #232, where Brad and Myke give further insights into the paper used for different Field Notes. The question about Field Notes paper starts at 1:10:10. 


In case you wonder about how I use the Field Notes in the photo: The yellow County Fair contains notes from medical visits from our son, the Lunacy one isn’t being used yet, and in the Original one, labelled ‘Ausgaben’, I try to follow Sola’s example and try to keep notes of money spent.