Friday, 17 October 2014

It's #Ink to Win time

After picking up a fountain pen for the first time in years and liking it, I decided it was time to experiment with ink. I don't do anything by halves so when Pen Heaven offered me the opportunity to try out the new Platinum Mix Free Inks I jumped at the chance.

These are no ordinary bottles of ink, they can be mixed together to create your favourite shades. So whether you are working on a stunning piece of artwork, doodling in a meeting or you want your personality and unique style to shine through the squiggles on your page, these inks may be just what you've been waiting for. My favourite ink colour is green so it's exciting to be able to mix inks to make my favourite shade. I don't need to hunt high and low for my perfect shade. I can create it myself.

But that's not all. To celebrate the launch of Platinum Mix Free Inks, Pen Heaven wants you to get creative with ink and in return are giving you the chance to win the most amazing prize with their #Ink to Win competition.

                                                           What you can win:

First Prize is this handmade Platinum 3776 Maki-e 'Aurora' fountain pen worth a whopping (you may want to sit yourself down for this) £2000!

Two runners up will receive
  • A sample kit of Platinum Mix Free Inks consisting of 5ml vials of each colour (and one of the diluting fluid)
  •  A Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen + converter

What do you need to do to win?

It's simple - get creative with ink.

You can use a fountain pen, dip pen, feather, shoe, your own head, it really doesn't matter as long as it's done in ink. It can be a picture, a piece of calligraphy, abstract art, whatever you like. Just have fun with it. It doesn't even have to be on paper so you can be as imaginative as you like. Remember to include info on how your piece of art was created as it really helps the judges when it comes to choosing the winners.

Think your art isn't good enough? Think again. Entries will be judged on creativity and innovation with the medium of ink which means everyone has a shot at winning.

What are you waiting for? Head over to the Pen Heaven Blog to submit your entry and read the full Terms and Conditions

I used my Platinum Mix Free Inks to create a mass of colours and patterns using a dip pen. What will you create?

 Competition starts Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at noon BST and ends Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 at midnight GMT. Competition is open to European Union residents only! If you are located outside the EU, you cannot enter (or win). You cannot be an employee of or affiliated with Coles Pen Co Ltd, and bloggers and judges involved in the competition cannot enter. Only one entry per entrant is permitted. Fraudulent entries using multiple social media accounts will be eliminated.
Only one entry per person. Postal entries are not permitted.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Lamy ABC Fountain pen review

I always tell people I hate onions. One day my boyfriend challenged me. He asked me when I last ate an onion. My reply? Years ago, that's because I hate them ...duh!

Recently I was asked about my favourite fountain pen. My reply? I'm not really a fountain pen person. I love the look of them. There are some ridiculously beautiful fountain pens out there but they are far too high maintenance. That's why I use rollerballs. Fountain pens are the divas of the pen world, they need regular cleaning, they can have nib issues and some have really complicated filling methods. Not to mention the fact that they can get expensive.

Then came the onion question. When was the last time you used a fountain pen? Which filling method did it use?
I realised then that I hadn't used a fountain pen since my school years. I used a cheap cartridge pen which I loved until the nib broke. A rollerball saved the day and the fountain pen ended up in the bin. It's quite sad really.

The only fountain pen I own is a Lamy ABC. It's designed for children. It's a beginners pen. I'm relying on this pen to gently ease me back into fountain pen use. Will this pen inspire me to experiment more with fountain pens? There's only one way to find out ..... It's time to ink up my Lamy ABC and get writing...

It feels right that I'm starting at the beginning with this fountain pen designed for children. I'm hoping that the fact that this is a childs pen doesn't mean it will be of a lesser quality. Children are like sponges, soaking up information and experiences that will shape who they are. If a childs first experience of using a fountain fails to make a lasting impression then I can't see why they would want to continue using one throughout their school and adult life. A pen that makes a child feel special, a pen that has the ability to enhance handwriting and get children to enjoy writing is a pen that a child will remember.

The maple wood body of this pen conjours up images of classrooms with neat rows of wooden desks with the lift up lids, an abacus on the window sill and well behaved, cane fearing children perched on wooden chairs, fountain pens at the ready. Most of the children I know have never used a fountain pen in their life.

The rubber grip is great for encouraging children to employ the correct grip from the very start. 
It's successful in reducing any slipping which in turn keeps fingers clean of ink. The shape of the grip really helped me keep the pen in the correct position. After years of only using ballpoints and rollerballs I'm pleased to say that readjusting to using a pen that has a 'right side up' wasn't difficult at all.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed between my rollerballs and this fountain pen is how tightly I need to grip the pen. My fingers are so much more relaxed with a fountain pen.
I could write an entire novel if I wanted and I know that hunger and tiredness would strike long before hand fatigue.

The cube shaped plastic on the end of the pen may look like its just there for decorative purposes but I've discovered that it does actually have a job to do. It helps create an even balance whilst writing and if the pen does happen to roll away the plastic cube will slow the pen enough to give you a decent shot at catching it before it tumbles to the ground. The cube shape prevents the cap from being posted which doesn't bother me but may spark a cap hunt at some point during the school day.

So how do I feel about the steel nib? Pretty good actually. 

It feels sturdy and strong enough to survive the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom as well as an inexperienced user. I was surprised at how little pressure was needed in order to get a decent ink flow. I barely had to press down at all.
Once I'd gotton a feel for the pen and holding it in the correct position I was really pleased with the ink flow. I do have some amazing rollerballs that have the same inkiness but the fountain pen just adds that extra sprinkling of character and individuality to the page. I imagine this is one of the many reasons people who use fountain pens never look back.
It's true, a fountain pen does feel pretty good on paper. So velvety smooth and easy. I had heard that fountain pen ink is notoriously difficult if used on the wrong type of paper but I found with this pen 80 - 100 gsm paper caused me no problem whatsoever.
There is something about writing with a fountain pen that makes me want to take my time. I don't think this pen would allow me to scribble my thoughts hurriedly and scruffily even if I wanted to. I can see this pen making handwriting practise for children easier and more enjoyable.

I'm fairly sure the medium line width will suit the childrens slightly larger handwriting perfectly and it's suits me too.

The ink isn't as quick to dry as some rollerballs and ballpoints which may be a problem for left handers like myself. In primary school I was always given blotting paper to help reduce smudging. I feel fortunate as a lefty to have learnt to use even the inkiest pen and very rarely smudge. It may look strange as my notebooks are always at an odd angle but that way my hand is always underneath the words I'm writing and never drags through the ink.

One of the things I hear alot from the 'for' fountain pens camp is choice of ink. There does seem to be so much more choice when it comes to colour. I haven't yet experimented with bottled ink but when I do I know this pen is compatible with the Lamy Z24 converter so it won't be a problem.

I'd love to try some different shades of green. The pen came equipped with a Lamy cartridge (also available in a variety of attractive colours) which I'm using for this review. The installation of the cartridge was straight forward although it didn't click or pop so I had to double check it was secure before screwing the pen back together. I'm sure with a little more experience, refilling fountain pens will become second nature.

The Lamy ABC is missing a clip. I do like my pens to have a clip. Even if I intend to keep a pen in my bag I like it to be clipped and secure so when I grab for it I know it will be exactly where I left it.

I can't see the lack of a clip making much difference in a classroom. A lost pen will soon be returned to it's rightful owner thanks to the name tags. As well as having a choice of colours there is also a clear plastic protective sticker to ensure names stay in pristine condition for as long as possible. I love being able to personalise my pens. It's like gently marking my territory, letting people know that the pen belongs to me. I really must learn to accept that most people are not in the slightest bit interested in running off with my pens.

I've surprised myself with how much I enjoyed using this pen. I don't have any other fountain pens to compare it to but this pen is definitely on par with my favourite rollerballs. I doubt very much that I'll suddenly do away with my rollerballs and use nothing but fountain pens. Rollerballs will always be part of who I am, like my favourite dressing gown that I'll never part with no matter how scruffy it gets. However, I'm sure my rollerballs won't mind me making a little room for the occasional fountain pen now and then.

Now that I've conquered my initial fear of using a fountain pen I do want to continue on this journey of rediscovery. I want to avoid getting too overwhelmed so one step at a time. My next step is to experiment with ink and I can tell you, I have been invited to take part in something very exciting, and it involves ink. It's going to be heavenly. Watch this space.

But first, I need to see a man about an onion...

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Crayola Pip Squeaks Mini Marker Competition

It's competition time and this time I'm giving away some Crayola goodies.

 There's nothing like a stash of Crayola felt tips and pencils for when you're in the mood to let loose and get creative. Oh, the kids love them too.

There are 14 bright colours in the Pip Squeaks Mini Markers set and 12 coloured pencils.
The Markers are washable so if a little of your childs creativity does end up where it shouldn't, it's not a problem.
They are ideal for round the house or can be whipped out on long journeys once Eye Spy has lost it's appeal.

If you would like to win this set then all you have to do is enter via the rafflecopter below.

Uk entrants only

a Rafflecopter giveaway