Shawn Newton’s Pen Scholarship Fund

Student Art postcards

Shawn Newton is an art teacher and a pen maker with a mission— a mission to “pay it forward” as a way of honoring the generosity of his mother’s friend who paid for his first two years of college. Her financial assistance meant that Shawn was able to attend college to become an art teacher, and ultimately, to share his love of art with all of his students.

Shawn tells that story in a short write-up and video HERE.

Student Art postcard

Shawn established his own scholarship program for high school students planning to go to college anywhere in the US. Students in any part of the US can apply— not just students from Shawn’s home state of Arkansas, and not just art students.

As we all know books and food and gas and tuition are expensive, so every little bit helps when it comes to affording college. And that’s where we all come in.

Robot

We can help build his Newton Pens Scholarship fund by purchasing packs of postcards— five postcards for $10 (free shipping). The postcard assortment features the colorful, creative,  and/or mixed media artwork of his students. The photos in this post feature the postcards from a pack I purchased in the past. There’s a new assortment available now, so I had to have a pack of those, too.

But wait…there’s MORE!

I  pens

When you purchase the cards, Shawn assigns you a number for his monthly drawing for the chance to win your very own Shawn Newton pen! (I drooled over a number of his pens at the DC Pen Show but don’t own any as yet. Fingers crossed!) If your number is drawn, you can pick any model, any size, and any material that Shawn has in stock. (Extras like a gold nib or a special filling system are…well…extra.)

So $10 gets you a pack of unique postcards, a chance to win an amazing pen, AND the knowledge that you’ve helped a high school student with his or her college expenses.

That’s quite a deal.

Owls

The current entry period opened on January 20th and closes on February 1st, so the time to act is NOW. To enter, send $10 (or $20 or $30…) via PayPal to newtonpenspay@gmail.com and Shawn will reply via email with your raffle number. Your postcards will arrive soon thereafter.

Robot and Face

And if you want to enter without sending any money, that’s possible, too. Shawn explains ALL OF the details HERE.

I’ve treated myself to plenty of wonderful pens, papers, and inks, and love the feeling I get when a package arrives in the mail. Buying these postcards, and helping Shawn help some kids, well…that’s a feeling that burns a little brighter and deeper.

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Shawn didn’t have anything to do with this post. I just love his pens, postcards, and mission. I hope you do, too.

Back of postcards

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Four Pens I Can’t Put Down

Four favorites

I have a pretty short attention span when it comes to pens— using a favorite for awhile, then moving on to something different/newer/shinier. Later on, I re-discover the old favorite and bring it back into the pen fold. So there’s always been a pretty decent turnover rate in my day-to-day pen usage.

Four pens

Until now.

I just can’t get enough of these four favorites.

Throughout the course of a week (or day…or hour), I find opportunities to use all of these exceptionally well-made machined pens. I cart them to and from work, journal with them, fill out my datebook(s), and make grocery lists.

They’re just so good.

Ti2 Techliner Shorty

The Ti2 Techliner Shorty (Gonzodized finish) by Ti2 Design is the newest of the bunch and features neodymium magnets, as well as an unconventional nosecone, that make this pen extra fascinating. With an Uni-ball Signo UMR-85N 0.5 mm black refill installed, this has become my go-to Field Notes pen for tracking work and home to-dos.

Karas Kustoms Retrakt

This stunning and classic looking two-tone Retrakt, by Karas Kustoms, arrived in November, and I immediately outfitted it with a Pilot Juice 0.38 mm blue-black refill. The line is super sharp— perfect for jotting down appointments and making entries in my One Line A Day journal. Killer looks, killer performance. Plus knurling. Cannot resist the knurling.

Mover & Shaker

I’ve been using my TactileTurn Mover and Shaker pens since they arrived following Will Hodges’ successful Kickstarter campaign. I should’ve reviewed these long ago, but they’re so good and trouble-free that I almost take them for granted. I’m currently using a Pilot G2 0.38 mm black refill in the Mover (top/red), and a 0.5 mm black Moleskine refill in the Shaker (bottom/raw aluminum). When I’m in the mood for a ballpoint, I swap a Parker-style Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 into the Shaker. They’re rock solid, with a finely grooved grip section for interest and texture.

Four favorites

Each of these pens deserves its own review, and I promise to do so in the near future. But for now, I just wanted to heap some praise where praise is due— on Mike Bond of Ti2 Design, Dan Bishop of Karas Kustoms, and Will Hodges of TactileTurn.

They’ve all run successful and well-managed Kickstarter projects and continue to turn out pens that exemplify attention to detail and good old quality workmanship.

And they’re all really nice guys.

Four favorites

Four favorites. Four pens I just can’t put down.

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I purchased all of four pens with my very own allowance.

There are no affiliate links in this post, just happy pen smiles.

A Rollercoaster Ride: The J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball

Sincere thanks to my friends at JetPens for making the purchase of the J. Herbin pen and ink reviewed here possible. There are no affiliate links, and I was not, nor will I be, monetarily compensated. This review reflects my experiences and observations with the J. Herbin products pictured here.

J. Herbin Rollerball
J. Herbin Rollerball and Larmes de Cassis ink cartridges. LOVE the little tin.

I’ve read a number of reviews on the J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball and they run the gamut from “The ink flows very well…” to “The nib is very scratchy and thin.” Five star reviews versus one star reviews. Hmmmmm. Time to check it out for myself, I thought, so I added one to a recent JetPens order.

The J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball takes short international ink cartridges rather then traditional rollerball refills, which makes the pen a bit of a novelty. This appeals to me as I’ve accumulated a decent-sized stash of cartridges (okay, a lot), as I usually fill my fountain pens with bottled ink. Having a non-fountain pen to use them in seemed like a cool alternative.

J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis cartridge
Initial writing sample with J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis ink

I popped in one of the J. Herbin Larmes de Cassis (Tears of Black Current Purple) cartridges and started writing on my Levenger Vivacious Circa paper. The ink flowed without much delay, but the color just didn’t do it for me— much too light and washed out looking— significantly paler than the label on the sweet little cartridge tin led me to believe. But was this because of the pen or the ink?

J. Herbin rollerball
Disassembled, with a Levenger Cobalt Blue cartridge installed

After installing a Levenger Cobalt Blue cartridge and scribbling a bit, I was in business. The ink flowed easily, the rollerball felt smooth, and the color was rich and readable. Really nice.

Levenger Cobalt Blue writing sample

On the very smooth Vivacious paper, I’d estimate that the line runs about 0.6 mm, very close to that put down by a Schmidt P8126 refill— my choice for my ever-expanding collection of Retro 51 Tornados. It felt as smooth and free-flowing as the Schmidt refill, as well. Five stars!

Unposted vs. Retro 51 Tornado
Unposted vs. Retro 51 Tornado

Unposted, this pen is small, just 3.8 inches (98 mm). You really do need to post the cap to use the pen comfortably. The cap posts quite securely so this isn’t really an issue. Once posted, the pen measures 5.5″ inches (139 mm). It’s compact, for sure, but not too small. You can see that the posted length is a little bit longer than a Retro 51 Tornado.

Posted vs. Retro 51 Tornado
Posted vs. Retro 51 Tornado

The downhill slope of rollercoaster ride occurred on Day 2 of use, when I grabbed the pen to jot down some notes and had trouble getting the flow going. Aargh. I scribbled on a sheet of the Vivacious paper, but the results were not great. Sometimes the flow was fine, other times it seemed to dry up. Hmmmm…one star.

Scribbling to prime the pen
Scribbling to prime the pen

I then discovered that scribbling on more common (printer) paper did the trick and good flow was ultimately achieved on all types of paper. Really smooth with “just right” wetness. Five stars.

So, you can see, there is some touchiness with this pen. Thus the mixed reviews.

Day 2 writing sample
Day 2 writing sample, after priming

My experiences confirmed that there are a few caveats to successfully using the J. Herbin Rollerball— little tricks to get five star, rather than one star, performance:

  • Use richly colored inks for best readability. Because of the relatively fine line, pale ink looks weak on the page. (Duh.)
  • Realize that there may be some differences in performance based on the paper  you’re using. Flow appears to be most consistent on “cheaper” (less coated) papers, but is a-ok on good paper once flow is established.
  • Storing the pen with the tip down alleviated the need to scribble on paper to prime the pen after a period of non-use. After doing so, the pen wrote very well on even my best paper, even after sitting unused for a time.

J. Herbin Rollerball

I will admit that the J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball took me on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster ride, with both high and low points in performance. But ultimately, by following a few easy tips, I’ve been enjoying this pen and look forward to plowing through that healthy stash of small international cartridges. I’ve declared 2015 to be the year that I “use things up,” and this pen is a small step in the right direction.

J. Herbin Rollerball

The J. Herbin Refillable Rollerball is available at JetPens for $8.75, with J. Herbin cartridges priced at $5.50. While not ideal for use in this pen (in my opinion), I plan to use the Larmes de Cassis cartridges in some of my fountain pens to see how it looks with different pens/nibs. Stay tuned for an update on the outcome of that experiment.

Resolved: Living Well One Line A Day

One Line A Day Journal

After vowing to NOT BUY ANYMORE NOTEBOOKS, I, of course, went out and bought another notebook. But I have an excuse. This one is DIFFERENT. It’s blank, but structured, and just the thing I’ve been looking for. So I invoked the “notebook purchasing exception clause” (which I just made up) and bought this five-year reflection book at my local Barnes & Noble. It’s a late Christmas present or early birthday present. Whatever. NOW the vow is back on. (Until it’s not.)

One Line A Day Journal

I was ready to buy the original One Line A Day blue version when my eyes fell on this taxi yellow Living Well version. I had to have the yellow because a) the weather has been SO bleak and gray and the yellow reminds me of the sun and warmth and hope; b) the orange ribbon is…well…orange. Bright and cheery. If I can’t have the sun, a yellow notebook with a vibrant orange ribbon will have to do. Every little bit of brightness helps when you’re trudging around in snow and wind and bitter cold.

Line A Day Journal

The non-color reason I wanted this is that it’s a five-year journal, meaning that there’s one page for each day of the year, with space for entries over the course of five years. So, for example, I’ll write an entry for January 1, 2015 through 2019, all on one page. Whether it’s the weather or my mood or what I had for dinner, ultimately, I’ll be able to read about a specific day over the span of five years. I’ll be able to see where I made progress and where I didn’t, where I was grateful and where I was whining, where I succeeded and where I stumbled. It should make for interesting reading five years down the road.

Line A Day Journal

Because my journaling (brief and repeated attempts) always seems to devolve into a basic “we did this” and “we did that” monotony, I was particularly pleased to see a page and half of writing prompts at the front of this book. I want this to be more than just a daily record of chores, errands, and day-to-day minutiae. I’d like to dig a little deeper. But how? What do I write about? Well, the book suggests a number of things, from “What excites you?” to “What are you afraid of?” to “How will you reward yourself tomorrow?” You can track exercise, sleep, glasses of water— any kind of habit. The prompts are nice because they give you a gentle nudge when you’re stuck. When I’M stuck.

Preferred pens

The journal is small— just 6″ x 4.5″ inches so you have to be brief and/or write quite small. I tried this before with a larger format journal and petered out after a year or two as the missed days started piling up. I think the fact this book is smaller, and thus more portable, will make it easier for me to keep up with my entries. At over an inch thick, it’s not pocketable, but fits fine in my Levenger messenger bag so taking it along is not a problem. Plus, I REALLY want to keep this one going. Five days in and all is well. Just a line or two and I’m done.

Preferred pens

In order to keep my writing small and precise, I’ve selected three favorite machined pens to use in this book— the TactileTurn Shaker with a black 0.5 mm Moleskine gel refill, the Ti2 Techliner, by Ti2 Design, with a 0.5 mm Signo UMR-85N black refill, and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt outfitted with a 0.38 mm Pilot Juice blue-black refill. All lay down neat, clean, and crisp lines, and are a joy to hold and use (reviews forthcoming). That’s key— journaling with a pen you enjoy.

Living Well One Line A Day

I’m not really one to make resolutions (we can see how well the “don’t buy any new notebooks” one went), but I HAVE resolved to stick with this journal. FOR FIVE YEARS. Hold me to that, okay?!

Note: There are no affiliate links in this post. I just wanted to point you in the direction of some favorite goods.