Friday, July 30, 2010

Ink Review: Diamine Marine

This has become one of my favorite colors, ever. It's kind of ironic, though, how an ink color called "Marine" positively melts off the paper with a splash of water. Oh well. The fact that this color is so beautiful makes me not give a damn as to the waterfastness of the ink. Average flow, good lubrication.

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Ink Review: Diamine Delamere Green

This is the only non-dark green I've ever owned that I actually like! It's one of my favorite colors, now.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Ink Review: Diamine Rustic Brown

This is the first in a set of 10 Diamine inks that I'll be reviewing. It was released in the fall of 2009. This is a nice red-brown ink.

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Close-ups of the writing:

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

~ Blogwarming ~

Hello, hello! Blogspot will now be the new home for All My Hues. If you scroll back or check out the tags, you'll see that I tranferred almost all my entries from LiveJournal to here to make it easier to access past reviews and such.

Please let me know what you think of this new layout. Is the font too light? Too small? Hard to read? Just right? Are the colors too glaring? Your feedback will help me tweak the design as needed.


Thanks for your patience!

Diamine Inks (Fall 2009)

...take two!

Last year I started but never got around to finishing reviewing the new colors Diamine released for for Fall 2009. So, guess what will be happening over the next few days?

Here, once again, is the color comparison chart I made for the Fall 2009 Diamine inks, next to several other similar colors. You can see that I color-corrected the ink swatches.

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The Diamine Fall '09 ink swatches (Hope Pink, Classic Red, Rustic Brown, Majestic Purple, Lavender, WES Kensington Blue, Midnight, Marine, Havasu Turquoise, and Delamere Green) are outlined in black, plus there's a pink highlighter that separates them from the other inks.

Artists' Essentials: Palette & Scraper

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My own palette and "scraper".

If you use tube paints -- be they watercolors, acrylic, or oils -- investing in a palette is a great idea. Palettes are used for mixing colors upon, and they are MUCH better than those mixing trays with several tiny compartments. I had one of those, and believe me, it was a nightmare to clean. Apparently they keep colors moist longer, but personally I would much rather re-moisten paint rather than deal with cleaning out several small wells after the fact...but that's just me :) But that being said, palettes are a great deal easier to clean, as they are just a flat surface. This also makes them easy to store. The palette I currently have is made of plastic -- a very durable, reusable material. I'm not a fan of disposable palettes, as they create unnecessary waste. Buy reuseable! :)

In addition to a palette, you'll also want to have on hand a scraper. These are nifty for, well, scraping off dried smears and globs of colors from your palette after you're done working. It makes it much easier to clean than just using, say, a napkin or sponge. Palette scrapers are cheap, so you should definitely invest in one. Too frugal to do so? No problem. You can easily use something you already have -- my "palette scraper" is actually an oil painting spatula. You can even use a plastic knife for this job. Scrapers make cleaning your palette much easier and faster. And really, who wants to spend a lot of time cleaning up?

The National Postal Museum

WARNING: PHOTO HEAVY POST AHEAD!

Hello hello! Since I know that many of you are fellow mail lovers, I figured that I would dedicate this post to describing for you theNational Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. that my sister and I went to see.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't expect anything that interesting. My sister was the one who really insisted that we see it, and I am so glad for it! The National Postal Museum was absolutely fascinating, and I certainly encourage anyone who is in the vicinity to go and visit.

The museum is located right by Union Station -- literally across the street -- and admission is free.

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My sister (right) and I (left) in front of the Museum.


The National Postal Museum used to be the actual post office for Washington, D.C. Here's my sister posing by some old mail boxes.

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Going down the escalator, this is what we saw:

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On the left is a modern mail delivery truck; in the middle is a mail-delivering aeroplane; and to the right you can see the blunt end of a mail delivery train. You could walk inside the train, where there was a setup of how the inside of a mail-sorting train looked, back when railroads were first beginning to connect the nation.

Look familiar?

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A mail-delivery stagecoach:

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The Alphabetilately Exhibit (Sept 26, 2008 -- Oct 29, 2010)

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Creative!

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The Gift Shop

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I wanted the above poster. So. Badly. Alas, it was $25 and out of my price range ;__;

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Gotta love the placement of the V-mail poster, yes? That's me on the left, my sister on the right. Yup, this shot was orchestrated.


At the National Postal Museum gift shop, I also found the book Good Mail Day, from the lovely ladies at the Good Mail Day blog. If you haven't checked out their book or blog yet, I strongly encourage you to do so!


In addition to all this, there was an exhibition called Binding the Nation, that basically showed the evolution of the postal system in the U.S.: From old Native American trails in the woods to the Pony Express to the system we have now. There was also a section on coded messages and telegraphs sent during various wars, such as the Civil War, the World Wars, and the Cold War. They also had a V-mail section. I sadly didn't get a chance to see/photograph these, as the museum was closing early *sad*

Needless to say, the National Postal Museum is an amazingly interesting place to visit, and I encourage everyone to drop by (and, if you're feeling generous, drop a donation).

Review: Quo Vadis Journal 21 Daily Desk Planner

Quo Vadis Journal 21 Daily Desk Planner

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INTRO

This is my favorite one of the three Exaclair agenda planners I have received for review. Period. As the name implies, it’s not travel-sized, so it’s not really meant to fit in a purse or pocket. This is meant for a bookbag, briefcase, or just sitting home at your desk. The purpose of this agenda planner is to help you map out your day in detail...and it includes PLENTY of tools for you to stay organized not only throughout the current year, but for the entire next year as well. This planner was made in the U.S.A.


DESIGN
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This stylish and REFILLABLE planner has a black pleather cover which you can keep even as you ditch the used planner itself for a fresh one.

There are some cool tools, such as a list of major holidays around the world and this handy chart of international telephone access codes (for all you globe trotters out there who shun BlackBerrys for paper planners).

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Exactly like the Quo Vadis IB Traveler and the Rhodia Weekly Notebook Agenda Planner, the Journal 21 has an “anno-planning” section -- for the current year as well as the next year! In addition to this, it also has a full calendar layout for the current and forthcoming year:

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Here is the actual layout of the planner:

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As you can see, each page is devoted to one day (with the day, date and month prominently displayed at the top). The day is divided into half-hour segments, running from 8 AM to 9 PM. I personally really like this aspect of it. The top of each page near the binding has the month; the week you are currently in is in bolded print. The top of each page on the outer side, on the far side from the binding, tells you how far you are into the year in terms of week and day (eg, for Tuesday May 11: 19th week, 131-234).

The different months are “tabbed” by blue swatches that you can see from the side, when the book is closed. This makes it easy to find different months:

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Another feature the Journal 21 shares with its cousins the Quo Vadis IB Traveler and Rhodia Weekly Agenda is the contact info section in the back -- 14 pages for you to fit all your contacts.

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It’s no contortionist, but it’s flexible enough yet sturdy enough to withstand being tossed in and out of a bookbag or briefcase, and can stand being squished due to its pliability. At the same time, it's thick enough that I can put it on my lap and write. To me, it’s just the right combination of flexible and sturdy.

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Another design feature which I really like is the tear-off tab on the bottom of each page, so you can find your place easily as you progress through the year. I love this simple but efficient feature (it's the little things).

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Comparison shot. Left to right: Journal 21, IB Traveler, and Rhodia Weekly


PAPER

All the paper in this wonderful planner is FP-friendly. See for yourself:

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No feathering, some shading, but zero bleedthrough.

The paper itself is smooth, just slightly off-white so that it’s easy on the eyes, and really nice to write on.


PURCHASING THE JOURNAL 21

An Exaclair product, this planner can be found wherever Exaclair agenda items are sold. Some websites include The Daily Planner, or even the Quo Vadis Web site. You could also go to Writer’s Bloc.

I have no affiliation with any of these stores, of course. I’m just listing them as viable options from which to purchase the Journal 21.


CONCLUSION

My conclusion: I freaking love this thing. No, seriously. This is my favorite of the planners I’ve reviewed, and it has been my loyal companion throughout the school year, helping me to stay organized. For me, this is a perfect planner: highly FP-friendly, divides the day into very small segments for exact planning, and a lot of room with which to do said planning. Those are the three things I look for, and the Journal 21 nailed them all. Plus, it looks really great and is very durable.

Come next year, I will definitely be purchasing a refill! If you’re anything like me and the above points look attractive to you, go ahead and make the plunge; buy this planner. You won’t regret it.

Review: Rhodia Weekly Notebook Agenda Planner

Rhodia Weekly Notebook Agenda Planner


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INTRO

On today's agenda (see how clever I am?), we'll be taking a look at the Rhodia Weekly Notebook agenda planner. How does it compare to its cousin, the Quo Vadis IB Traveler weekly planner? In many ways they are similar: Both are small, have similar layouts, and have very little space for writing things down. However, there are some marked differences as well, and we'll be exploring those now.

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DESIGN

The most striking difference between the Rhodia planner and IB (aside from shape) is the elastic band that the Rhodia agenda planner has. If you're in the habit of stuffing loose notes and bits of paper into your agendas (like me), then the elastic will help keep it snugly inside the planner and prevent it from falling out. I really like this design feature.

This is another pocket/purse-sized planner, measuring 4x6 inches (10x15 cm). Here's how big it is compared to the IB (and an iPod nano):

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Rhodia on the right, Quo Vadis on the left

The Rhodia Weekly Notebook is not as flexible as the IB, as you can see:

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In addition, it seems as though the soft black material covering the stiff cardboard cover is rather flimsily attached:

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I don't know if this just happens to be a defect with my particular agenda planner or if this is a defect that is generally found throughout the entire line.

Open up, and just like inside the IB we have an Anno-Planning chart that covers the whole year:

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Detail

Like I stated for the IB review, this would be useful to reference when you need to plan around things, like vacations or out-of-town meetings, or even to help plan when to hold conferences.
At the end of the agenda planner is another Anno-Planning chart, for the upcoming year. The IB also shares this feature.


Here is what the inside layout of the agenda planner looks like:

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It is different from the IB agenda layout...

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Inside layout of the Quo Vadis IB Traveler agenda planner

...due to the prominent gridbox that appears where the IB has blank boxes for jotting down extra info (top to bottom: Phone, Fax--E-mail, See--Do, and Notes). I MUCH prefer the grid, as it gives a lot more flexibility in terms of what you want to jot down.

I'm a bit disappointed, however, that the Rhodia planner doesn't include the mini-calendar that the IB has on the top right corner of its right page which depicts which week of the month you are currently in. Ah well. More room for grid, right?

This is a closer view of the left page in the Rhodia:

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You can see how it compares to the IB's page:

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Extremely similar in terms of layout, except that the Rhodia planner has 8 a.m. to 7 (p.m.) listed on the left side of the lines, and the IB has 2 (p.m.) to 8 (p.m.) listed on the RIGHT side of the line, not left.

In this regard, I prefer the Rhodia agenda again.

At the very end of the Rhodia agenda, there is a page for notes followed by a mini address book-like section. And I really do mean mini; this section for jotting down contact info spans a mere 8 pages. Hopefully the person who purchases this doesn't have many friends (kidding).

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Rhodia Weekly Notebook contact info section

The IB, however, has its own removeable-yet-snugly-in-place address book which boasts a full 28 pages (hey, compared to 8, it's a lot!)

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Quo Vadis IB Traveler contact info section


PAPER

The vital question -- how does it handle fountain pen ink?
Don't expect it to have Rhodia-pad-quality thick paper; the paper is much thinner, but still FP-friendly.

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True to Rhodia form, this paper handles FP ink with zero feathering. There is shading on the back but no trace of bleedthrough:

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Warning, however: As with the IB, the section for jotting down people's contact information has paper which is a bit thinner than the body of the agenda. Don't be surprised if you have a little bit of bleedthrough here and there (likely not a problem if you use a fine or extra fine nib).

The bottom of each page, just like in the IB, has a little tab you can tear off to mark your place as you go through the planner.


EDIT: Brian Goulet of The Goulet Pen Company adds,
"The paper in the Rhodia planners is 64g...the reason it's thinner is to keep down the overall thickness of the planner and to help the ink to dry faster on the page (so you can quickly jot down something and close the book, without having to wait for the ink to dry). I've found most planners have different paper than their notebook counterparts, for exactly these reasons."


Thanks, Brian!


PURCHASING THE RHODIA WEEKLY NOTEBOOK/QUO VADIS IB TRAVELER

Though under different brand names, both agenda planners come from the parent company Exaclair. Exaclair products can be found in online stores all over the Web, wherever paper prodcuts are sold. Try The Daily Planner.

NOTE: At The Daily Planner, it's listed as a "Rhodia Academic Planner".


CONCLUSION

To be perfectly honest, though I really like the trademark Rhodia grid included in the agenda planner as well as the elastic band, overall I like the Quo Vadis IB much better. It seems to be better constructed, and it's far more forgiving to being squished in a purse or pocket or briefcase. I feel that bending the Rhodia agenda planner too far will break its cover. No such fears with the Quo Vadis IB. In addition, the Rhodia planner doesn't have the "International Telephone Access Code" page in the back that the Quo Vadis does (Which I find insanely cool)

All this makes me think that this is less for business travelers and more for, say, students (though you'll have to take care that you don't bang it around too much; I don't know how much abuse the stiff cardboard cover can handle). But if you're looking for a simple agenda planner with some flexibility of use (not physical flexibility, mind) then this agenda planner may well be for you.


NOTE: Commenter Duncan notes that in spite of "6 full months of what is basically reckless abuse", his Rhodia agenda "has a few light dents but is nearly as good as it was in January." So, perhaps I did get a lemon and Rhodia agendas are generally more durable than the one I received. If anyone else can put in their two cents, I'd be grateful!


...So, which do YOU prefer?