Review: Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover

My thanks to Zeynep of Galen Leather for sending me this iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover. I have previously reviewed Galen Leather’s Leather Field Note cover. Do check it out if you are interested. Field Notes not required.

Galen Leather makes hand crafted leather goods for various analog and digital tools. They have leather notebook covers of different sizes among other leather goods. It ranges from those that fits the Field Notes memo books all the way to a large Moleskine notebook. Today I am reviewing the Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover, what a mouthful.

I particularly enjoyed Galen Leather’s design of the iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover. I got this in the brown leather. Like the Field Notes cover, the leather is thick and the edges are burnished. The stitching is tight and the leather cover is well made. The vegetable tanned cow leather is smooth to the touch and tough. Dragging a fingernail across the cover wouldn’t scar the leather. The cover comes with a thick elastic band to secure the cover. The elastic band is stitched directly onto the leather so it is not replaceable once it gets stretch out. I would love Galen Leather to take that into consideration in future designs of their covers.

The leather cover lay flat easily and it stays in place because the leather is heavy enough to weigh itself down. Inside, on the left you can find a large pocket with a strap across it, a black elastic that functions as a pen loop and two card slots. There is also a large pocket just underneath all that. On the opposite side you can find a similar large pocket and a black elastic band. Though it might seemed simple, it actually is very versatile. You can choose to secure your main notebook by slotting the front or back cover into one of the large pocket and keeping another notebook in the opposite cover. Alternatively, you can secure your notebook using the black elastic band and keep your iPad Mini (as the name suggests) in the large pocket. The pen loop is stretchy enough to fit my widest pens like the OMAS Arte Italiana among others. However unlike the Field Notes cover, having a thick notebook in the cover and a pen in the loop doesn’t hinder the closing of the cover in the slightest. The small pocket can hold an iPhone or a smaller A6 notepad while the card slots will hold cards without any problems

Two notebooks secured

All loaded up

Like most fountain pen users, I am not a fan of Moleskine notebooks in general so I paired the leather cover with my Hobonichi Cousin. My Hobonichi cousin fit easily inside regardless I had the back cover inside the large pocket or secure it via the black elastic band. I tried it with a A5 Muji notebook and it wasn’t a problem with that too. I suspect that the soft cover of my notebooks is the contributing factor. A hard cover notebook might only be able to fit via the black elastic band. Don’t quote me on that because I don’t have a hard cover notebook handy to give it a try. Loading the leather cover up will make for a very heavy carry. By itself, the leather cover isn’t the lightest one given its thick leather. However, it would give ample protection to both your analog and digital devices.

Hobonichi and iPad Mini loaded up

I love that Galen Leather have taken into consideration that we are people living in the modern age. There is no escaping our devices, so they made their leather goods to accommodate both analog and digital. The Galen Leather iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover costs $65 USD excluding shipping, for all the options that this cover gives you, I think this cover is a steal at this price. My thanks once again to Galen Leather for sending me this iPad Mini & Large Moleskine cover.

Posted on August 19, 2016 and filed under Stationary, review.

Review: Lamy Charged Green

Lamy Charged Green is one of the two limited edition inks of 2016. Unlike Lamy Dark Lilac, Charged Green is next to useless to me. It is way too bright and light for any purpose but as a highlighter ink. Why would Lamy make such an ink? I really have no idea. The ink would work only in wetter nibs. Can you even read the words on the written review?

Similar Inks:

Posted on August 16, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche

The Numbers:
Weight: 30g
Length (capped): 134mm
Length (uncapped): 125mm
Body Material: Resin and metal
Nib Material: 18K Gold
Filling Mechanism: Standard international cartridge and converter
Colours: Various

My thanks to Gautam for loaning me his pen for review.

Graf von Faber-Castell is the big sibling of Faber-Castell. They carry the high end stationary which includes fountain pens. In general Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens are gold nibs fountain pens with snap caps. They tend to be #5 sized nibs as well. Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is no expection.


Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is mostly cylindrical except the cap. The cap is mostly straight but it flares outwards at the top of the cap. The cap, grip, clip and end finial are made of polished metal making this pen one finger print magnet. The clip is spring loaded and is shaped with an upward curve at the tip. It is easy to slip the clip over most items.

The cap pops open easily and closes with a click. The cap can be posted on the barrel but it changes the balance of the pen drastically. Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is well balanced maybe a little front heavy because of the metal grip when it is unposted. When the cap is posted, it makes the entire pen very back heavy.

The barrel is made of black precious resin and has been engraved with a chevron pattern and then polished, giving it a unique texture and look. The pattern makes the Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche looks eye-catching but yet understated at the same time.

Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a slim-ish fountain pen. The grip is no different. Though the grip is long and concave just the way I like it, I found the grip too thin. I am always gripping the pen too tightly for fear I lose control of it. I would much prefer the pen to have a wider grip or maybe a heavier grip section so that the weight might ground the pen in my hand.

Like all Graf von Faber-Castell fountain pens, the Guilloche takes standard international converter and cartridges. For the price that one of these Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is going for, it might be pricey for a cartridge / converter fountain pen. However, the cartridge / converter filling system is one of the most reliable and require the least amount of maintenance. I don’t consider it a negative point that an expensive pen doesn’t have a “special” filling system.

The nib of the Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a wonder. It is smooth and has great flow. If you pair it with a wet ink, it would be writing on glass smooth. Even when I had initially filled it with OMAS Green, an ink on the dry side, it wrote beautifully. The nib carries the Graf von Faber-Castell logo front and centre, along with the nib size and the carat. It isn’t the most elaborate design out there but it is still a beautiful nib.

The Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche is a great writer but the silm grip would be a problem for some. The nib more than makes up for the annoyance of the grip. However the price might give me pause to get one for myself. The Guilloche older sibling, The Intuition Platino Wood is speaking to me instead.


  • Smooth nib and great writing experience
  • Understated design


  • Finger print magnet
  • Slim grip
Posted on August 12, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Pilot Pensemble - 5 pen roll

Pilot is a pen company, I’m sure everyone knows that but do you know that Pilot also makes a range of pen storage accessories. Pilot has a series of pen cases known as the Pensemble (Pen and ensemble). They come in a few different varieties, a single pen roll, 3 pen zipper case, 5 pen roll, a 3 pen combination roll and 5 pen combination roll. Pilot also has a premium range of pen storage products known the Somes Collection which costs a whole lot more.

I was ordering some items from Amazon Japan so I threw in the Pilot Pensemble 5 pen roll into the cart. I paid about SGD$80 including international shipping for it. The Pilot Pensemble comes in a grey box and protected by a soft dust bag. This was a little more packaging than I had expected but it made the pen roll feels like a premium product.

The Pilot Pensemble is made of high quality calf hide on the exterior and pig suede on the interior. (Do note that pigs are considered unclean by some faiths, so handle the pen roll with care and sensitivity. This pen roll might not be suitable for everyone to use.) I must say though I feel a little bad about buying a calf hide leather product, the leather feels really really soft, supple and luxurious. The interior feels just slightly velvety and soft. I do not worry about my pens getting scratched by pulling the pens in and out of their slots. The stitching is tight and nicely done. This is a high quality product by Pilot, I am impressed.

The Pensemble comes with 2 larger pen slots and 3 regular sized ones. The thickest pens I own fit into both types of slots easily. Length wise, my OMAS Arte Italiana Art 2015 Liquid Green fits in the pen roll nicely. After 2 months of constant use, I found the clips of my pens do cause depressions on the interior suede. That isn’t serious since the pen roll is here to protect the pens. The pen clips are protected by flaps of the same pig suede. However the centre most regular pen slot do lack the clip protection because the flap doesn’t really want to stay down over the clip. It curls up slightly but after rolling the pen roll the neighbouring flap would help keep the flap down. The Pilot Pensemble lays flat on the table, allowing easy access to the pen slots. Holding my pen roll with the pens facing downwards and shaking it slightly, my unclipped pens still stay in their pen slots. The texture of the pig suede provides enough friction to hold the pens in their slots. Once the pen roll is rolled up and secured via the leather string, it is a small and compact pen case.

My only complain is the pen roll is clearly meant for the right handed people of the world of which I am not a member of. The leather string that’s used to secure the pen roll close starts from the right. Personally I am very inclined to unroll the pen roll with my left hand, I would always end up with the pens facing downwards. Though none of my pens have actually fallen out, it is still rather unsafe for my peace of mind if nothing else. I know it is quite impossible to hope for a left handed version but lefties out there do take note when getting a pen roll.

The Pilot Pensemble as my very first pen roll is an excellent product. 5 pens is a nice little number to carry around. Though the nature of the leather doesn’t provide as much protection from falls as a hard case like Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 6 might, this pen roll is the perfect pen case for daily knocking around in my work bag. Do note though that if you are not careful you might get ink on the interior of the pen roll. The suede stains with ink easily and it might not be easy to clean it out. Also be careful with what cleaning products you use with leather products, I managed to wash the shine and oil out of my pen roll. My carelessness aside, the Pilot Pensemble is a pen roll I recommend wholeheartedly.

Additional Reading:

Posted on August 9, 2016 and filed under Case, review.

Review: Hobonichi Cousin

It has been 8 months into 2016 and I’m 8 months into the use of my Hobonichi Cousin. I am quite confident to say that once I am done with 2016, I will not be using the Hobonichi Cousin as my planner next year.

Hobonichi if you are not familiar is a popular journal / planner system. It is available directly from their website or from websites like Jetpens. It comes in A6 and A5 sizes and most importantly it uses Tomoe River paper for its pages. Tomoe River paper is a very thin and low gsm paper but it takes almost everything you throw at it. Fountain pen inks perform very well on it.

I use fountain pens almost exclusively, I Bullet Journal as my daily planner system. Logically, the Hobonichi should be the perfect planner for me but it just doesn’t really work for me. The Hobonichi starts with a 6 months in 2 pages, I’ve seen others use this section to track habits and something similar. However I don’t have much use for these pages. Then, it has the month on 2 pages. These are definitely much more useful. I transplant my appointments from Fantastical at the start of every month. I use the side bar as a mini ink journal for fountain pen inks used that particular month. After that comes the week on 2 pages section, I don’t really make full use of these pages. I tend to just block out hours if I have any appointments but they remain empty most of the time. The side bar functions as my task list for the week. After that comes the bulk of the pages, the daily pages is where I live most of the time. I end my day by writing up tasks and reminders in my daily pages every night. I may or may not refer to the pages throughout the day. More often than not, by writing it down, I would remember my tasks. Doesn’t it sound like the Hobonichi is great for me?

On paper (hahaha), the Hobonichi works well for me. However it is not a small book. It is thick and bulky and it gets more so as you use it. I don’t have a need to refer to months past once they are over and done with. I don’t need January when I am now living in June. I don’t want to carry the entire year around with me. It is a burden both mentally and physically now that I think about it. I think it would work if I was using the Hobonichi as a journal but it isn’t one for me. I use it as a glorified to do list. I have no need to keep the book around once I am done. This is also compounded by my need to protect the book. The binding at the spine is peeling just two months into the year. I didn’t think it would be able to handle an entire year without a cover. I’ve tried the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter at first but it just ended up turning my Hobonichi into a brick that I had to lug around. Then I tried Astrida leather cover, it worked for a while but I missed the pockets that the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter had. It was then I realised I just didn’t like the bulk of the Hobonichi cousin. That’s the main reason why I won’t be returning to the Hobonichi Cousin again next year. The Hobonichi AVEC might work better for me considering my main complaint was the bulk.

Next year, I am considering switching to an A6 Hobonichi as my journal. I’ve never really journal daily before so this might be the start. Meanwhile I will finish the year with the Hobonichi but I am itching to get started on my Traveler’s Notebook.

Update: I’ve written the review back in early June 2016. Not long after that, I switched over to my Traveler’s Notebook as my regular Bullet Journal. I am currently using my Hobonichi Cousin as a daily journal. I write down things that happen to be that day, my thoughts or anything I’d like to remember and get out of my head down in it. The switch has been beneficial to my opinion of the Hobonichi Cousin. The plan still remains the same, next year an A6 Hobonichi for journalling purposes, maybe.

Posted on August 5, 2016 and filed under review, Stationary.

Revisited: Pilot Vanishing Point

Have you ever purchased a fountain pen, love it when it was all new and shiny but once the new and shiny feeling has faded found the pen was just wasn’t for you? I don’t think that is a foreign feeling for most pen users. However, have you have changed your mind on something you decide was just wasn’t for you? I have. And that pen is the Pilot Vanishing Point.

Packaging for Pilot Vanishing Point Midnight Blue

I’ve reviewed the Pilot Vanishing Point way back in late 2014. I did enjoy the pen when I first got it. I enjoyed the quick deployment aspect of the Vanishing Point but found the clip way to pesky. However earlier this year (2016) I purchased a variety of covers (Roterfaden Taschenbegletier and Astrida Leather cover) for my Hobonichi. I wanted a pen to be attached with the notebook cover. There wasn’t a single pen I thought would fit this purpose better than the Pilot Vanishing Point. I agonised over the decision for a few months knowing how I felt about the Pilot Vanishing Point. What pushed me over the edge was trying the pen out during our local monthly pen meets and a friend offering to buy one from Japan for me. I placed my order for a silver body Pilot Vanishing Point with a stainless steel F nib.

L to R: Faber-Castell Ondoro, Platinum #3776 Century, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, Pilot Metropolitan

L to R: Faber-Castell Ondoro, Platinum #3776 Century, Pilot Vanishing Point, Pilot Custom 74, Lamy 2000, Pilot Metropolitan

This time the nib worked way better for me. The stiffer and finer nib choice worked in my favour. I had ordered a 18K M nib the last time that was the mistake. M was too board for my lefty writing add the softer 18K nib to the mix I was having trouble with smudge free handwriting. If I had the knowledge that I have now, I would have paired the pen with a dry ink. Alas, my first Vanishing Point and I parted ways. In my previous review, I wrote about the pesky clip that hinder my grip. The clip is still a pain in the ass but the pen has a purpose now. It lives with my notebooks. It doesn’t get used for anything but short quick notes in my notebooks. With a defined job for the pen, I found I tolerated the clip better.

I went from not liking the Pilot Vanishing Point to having two in my pen collection. Is that a change of mind or what? I must say the Pilot Vanishing Point has become one of my go to pens at work. A true workhorse fountain pen. Do you have any pens that you don’t like but went crawling back to them anyway? Let me know in the comments!

Posted on August 2, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.