Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beautiful notebooks by BomoArt, Budapest

Today I'm reviewing some really great notebooks from a small and, I think, relatively young workshop in Budapest, Hungary. As far as I could see they don't have any blogger's reviews at all so far so I'd guess it's high time!

I think I found them via another online shop carrying a small range of their products which looked very interesting, especially their notebooks They're combining a range of nostalgic/romantic/steam-punkish prints with leather spines of various colors to mix and match after your fancy (their web shop is pretty well made too!) Among others I picked this blank A5 notebook with dark brown leather spine and prints of a nostalgic aviary.
BomoArt A5 notebook dark brown leather & aviary print

BomoArt A5 notebook dark brown leather & aviary print

The brand name is embossed at the back of every journal. Looks pretty classy in my opinion!

BomoArt A5 notebook dark brown leather & aviary print

You can choose ruled or blank paper with various page counts. Each book has a ribbon bookmark and bright red end papers.

Below you can see one of their thicker journals with 280 pages. Some of their motifs are quite kitschy for my taste but others are simply adorable like the balloons, the aviary or those roses. I love roses! I like to wear rose perfume or use rose incense, though I think this is my first notebook with roses on the cover:

BomoArt thick A5 notebook with black leather & rosa centifolia print

BomoArt thick A5 notebook with black leather & rosa centifolia print

BomoArt stationery box "balloons" with 10 A4 sheets and 10 DL envelopes

I also ordered a small stationery box with 10 A4 sheets and 10 Din long envelopes. The box is a bit larger than the DL format - which is a pity because the A4 sheets come folded to fit into the box -, but beautifully made with some leather details. The envelopes are lined with the same balloon motif you can see on the box. The sheets are unprinted.

BomoArt lined paper: writing sample. Pretty nice, isn't it?

The notebooks feel sturdy and well made. The covers are made of thick cardboard, the leather has a nice feel and isn't dyed to death. The paper doesn't disappoint either, it worked well with any ink and nib width I threw at it. (Especially that Danitrio and Diamine Asa Blue are a super wet killer combination)

The blank books are A5 format whereas the lined ones are a little slimmer. Lines are light grey and unobtrusive.

 BomoArt lined paper: writing sample, back side. No bleeding, hardly any show through. 

Beautiful products and at a rather low price point too (€17-20 for a half leather journal size A5). They also offer diaries, address books, giftwrap paper and all kinds of other papeterie stuff. They also have journals with 100% leather cover if you're not into these motifs. I'm determined to get my daily diary for 2014 from them, probably with the balloon design.

All books are handmade in Budapest and were made to my specifications. Communication was good and friendly.

What do you think about these? Do you like their designs? Which one would be your favourite?

Their web shop:

Pens I wrote about: The Pen Index

As thesebeautifulpens grows it becomes increasingly harder to find a post about a specific pen - for me but even more so for others! So here's a list of all the pen posts and reviews I've done so far, sorted by brand.

I'm planning to keep the list more or less updated at all times and have installed a link to it just below the labels cloud to the right.

Conway Stewart


Ferrari da Varese

Graf von Faber-Castell








Sunday, October 20, 2013

Amazing Celluloid: Omas Paragon Arco

I've got a thing for shimmering or pearlescent pens in general - like mother of pearl, or some Urushi techniques, or celluloid, or satin wood, or... but the Omas bug has only bitten me recently.

Before this all my celluloid pens were Montegrappas (like this gorgeous red and black Alfa Romeo). This is probably linked to a more or less exclusive preference for large and/or heavy pens I used to have. This has changed a bit. A pen should still have a certain girth to feel nice in the hand but light weight is no longer a dealbreaker - at least not if it's an Omas!

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

Why is that? I can't tell for sure. It might be something about the balance, about the way their pens feel like they're part of the hand. It's weird because when I picked up my Montblanc Jonathan Swift last week I thought "my, this is one heavy pen". I don't remember this thought crossing my mind before, "heavy" was just the way a pen was supposed to feel like. I wonder if this is changing gradually? 
I hope not because I still appreciate the bulky & heavy pens a lot!

Back to the Paragon! As I said it's a lightweight pen (22 g capped, 14 g uncapped - even lighter than I would have estimated) made entirely of celluloid without any metal parts in the piston mechanism. Except for some LEs this model is no longer made - the current model paragon is somewhat fatter, has a metal section and the clip is different. That one doesn't appeal to me so much so when this old style one showed up at the bay I went for it - and succeeded.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

It was exciting for the seller didn't know more than the brand and the nib size and I - less than an expert for Omas pens - had to identify the model based on measurements and design of the nib. Fortunately I'd made the right guess and what arrived was exactly what I had expected.

I had read - and found out with my brand new Extra Lucens - about Omas pistons being a bit on the stiff side, mainly the celluloid Paragons but that didn't prepare me for the sounds this piston made when I gently started to move it up and down. I wasn't aware a piston could make such a sound and I would describe it to you if I hadn't made an effort to put it out my mind.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

So something had to happen with this piston! I had read you could unscrew the section which seemed to be my only choice as the nib unit didn't budge and I'd heard the feed could be fragile. Fortunately everything went well and with some silicone grease for lubrication the piston now moves freely enough, though still a little jerky and not exactly reassuring.

Still somehow the color makes up for it all. Isn't this the perfect shade for autumn? It has the gold of the sun, the red and brown of the trees and the earth. It has the highlights at the front and back side lining up with the nib and feed and the deep shadows in between. I could look at it for days.

Speaking of the Extra Lucens, this Paragon is about the same size as the Extra Lucens but has spiky ends on cap and barrel where the Lucens's are flat.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

 When I got it the gold was a little tarnished so it can't have been used for a while but before that it must have seen quite a bit of use as there are some scuffs and scratches mainly on the cap. The nib, though in great condition, has this worn in feel you sometimes get with vintage pens. It's a medium size. The plating seems to be a little off in places, too much rhodium overall - I've read there was an era in Omas history where this happened frequently. I might have it fixed one day or just take it as a quirk and ignore it.

The tarnishing on the nib polished off nicely with a jeweler's cloth. I'm taking my time trying to gently buff out the scuffs on the cap with MicroMesh.

Omas old style Paragon in Arco Brown

Sorry for awkward handwriting - I haven't written a lot with that one yet and still getting used to it but still wanted to show how it writes. I've only tried Omas Blue in it so far which performs very nicely in it and doesn't come gushing out as it did in my Extra Lucens - so I guess the nib's flow isn't too heavy but not too dry either.

For the writing sample I used some new "System" inkjet paper from the Karstadt convenience stores here in Germany which is very nice actually! It can be had in various weights, sizes and colors (this is the 120g/sqm in A5 ivory) and at least the 120 and 160 g/sqm sheets perform really well with fountain pens. Great for writing letters and cheaper than most stationery.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A time for birds

Followed a fancy and made this shot of two Pelikans. Can you guess which ones they are?

When I started reviving my interest in fountain pens 3 years ago I wasn't much into Pelikans, at least not into the Souverans. Their uniform Stresemann look appeared generic and boring to me. It wasn't until some time later that I grew fond of their depth and richness of color. Now I own a few Souverans plus two striking limited editions with mother of pearl.

These two are relatively large pens so they sport some juicy nibs to match: a factory IB and an OBB modified for more line variation by John Sorowka.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Omas Beauty: Ivory and Bronze

Autumn is here to stay, I'm back to Diamine Ochre, Ancient Copper and Noodler's Apache Sunset and surrounding myself with all kinds of beautiful, colorful things to lighten up my mood. Here's two of those things:

Omas Paragon in Arco brown, Omas Bibliotheque Nationale in ivory

An old style Paragon in Arco brown celluloid and a creamy white Bibliotheque Nationale which feels like it's also celluloid but I can't tell for sure. They both have medium nibs, the smaller one on the Bibliotheque being rigid and a little toothy, the one on the Paragon smooth and soft.

When I got the Extra Lucens I liked it even more than I had anticipated, especially one thing I'd expected the least to fall in love with: the weight. I've always preferred heavy pens. Obviously an Omas is just something different.

More pictures and writing samples coming up soon!

Which one of those two do you like better and what do you like or not like about Omas in general?

Friday, October 11, 2013

A glimpse at Ferrari de Varese's Botticellis

As a little girl I loved to play with my mother's pearls. I still like the look of them, their cool smoothness in my palm, how the necklace rests in the velvet lined jewel box in a pearlescent heap.

Mother of pearl also has quite a tradition in fountain pens such as these amazing Botticelli models by Italian pen maker Ferrari da Varese.

Ferrari da Varese Botticelli light and dark mother of pearl fountain pens

Ferrari da Varese Botticelli light and dark mother of pearl fountain pens

I'll show more of these two sterling silver and mother of pearl beauties soon.

More pearlescent goodness around here:

Montblanc Greta Garbo
The Raden Pelikans
Namiki Yukari Nightline Moonlight
Namiki Yukari Yozakura

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Wood & Silver: Montblanc l'Aubrac

Many pens have found to me because they had a specific something that appeals to me: The surface (Urushi), the materials (wood, ebonite, celluloid or, still one of my dreams, horn), the nib, maybe even the overall shape of the pen or something entirely different. In case of the l'Aubrac there's even several different reasons for me to love it. 

Montblanc l'Aubrac
 Montblanc l'Aubrac (resting on a very nice embossed leather notebook by Il Cartiglio) 

There's the gorgeous dark brown Grenadilla wood. The surface isn't lacquered but treated with wax. It feels silky smooth and very much like wood. The surface isn't perfectly plain, there are tiny grooves which is typical for grenadilla. They can be seen and felt. So can the decorate silver nails hinting at the shaft of a Lagouilé knife - the pen being a jointventure of Montblanc and knife manufacturer Forge de Laguoilé -, their rounded heads slightly protruding from the wood. 

 Montblanc l'Aubrac
The whole pen is an invitation to touch and fumble it, rest it in your hand.
Feel the warm and silky wood, the cool and glossy silver

Montblanc l'Aubrac

Except for the clip all metal accents are silver and elaborately engraved with floral motives. It would be slightly too much if not for the planes of dark, smooth wood to counterbalance it all.

Montblanc l'Aubrac

Mother of pearl snowcap catching the light (and there's my bookshelf, reflecting in the silver!)

Montblanc l'Aubrac

Montblanc l'Aubrac

The nib.
I chose a BB nib for it as it's one of the Montblanc nib sizes I didn't have and tried it for a while but found it too bulky. I sent it to John Sorowka for a regrind to cursive italic and some adjustment as it was also quite sensitive to some inks, some papers, hand oils and writing angle. He did great work, as always.

 Montblanc l'Aubrac BB CI - writing sample on Tomoe River paper 

Inked it with Montblanc Toffee Brown at the moment. I like when the ink matches the color of the pen to a degree where it seems the pen is putting its own essence onto the paper.

(Also I'm having trouble inking, for instance, a bright red aka-tame nuri Urushi pen with lilac or brown ink. I mean I CAN do it if I really want, but it feels uncomfortable. Weird, isn't it? Do you have any similar quirks with your pens and inks?)

 Montblanc l'Aubrac BB CI - writing sample 

Written on a sample sheet of Tomoe River that came with my Design.Y notebook. Great paper - someone sell it in the EU please! :)

A large pen - as large as a Meisterstück 149 -, though it has the smaller 146 nib. Heavy too: 57 g with cap, though it shrinks down to rather reasonable 35 g when uncapped. Posting the cap is, I believe, not an option but I don't do that anyway so I haven't tried.

How do you like the l'Aubrac?