Posts Tagged ‘reviews’

Pilot Parallel Pen Review & Difference between Broad-Edge & Pointed-Pen

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Thanks to Goulet Pen Company for providing us with the Pilot Parallel Pen Handlettering and Calligraphy Set. Both Hayley and I had a lot of fun playing around with these pens. I’ve had a few of these pens for a while, so it was fun to use the full line of pens from the Parallel Pen line.  

Before giving you my thoughts on the Parallel Pens, I thought I would give you a little info about calligraphy in general: Broad-edge calligraphy vs. Pointed-pen calligraphy. 

You’ve got hand-lettering versus calligraphy. Hand-lettering is illustrating letterforms. Often times letterforms take on a more dimensional look with decorative elements and illustrative affectations (above left). Calligraphy is the careful construction of letters with a prescribed set of strokes (see above right). Think of it as carefully writing each stroke, almost drawing each stroke. 

There are two camps within calligraphy itself: broad-edge and pointed-pen. Broad edge materials literally have a broad edge (see marbled holder and pilot parallel pen in the far right). The orientation and angle of the nib gives you the control over thicks and thins. But because of the broad edge, you’ll find that you have lots of thick strokes (see broad-edge styles). The broad-edge styles in the above image there are in no way exhaustive of the kinds of letters you can make with those tools. As a general rule, tools with number measurements like Speedball C-2, C-0, Mitchell 5mm, Pilot Parallel 6.0mm, etc. are all describing the width of the edge. 

Pointed-pen calligraphy, while using angle and orientation in order to work, relies on pressure in order for the thicks and thins to happen. As a result, you’ll find you can easily get sweeping fine lines and hairline flourishes with pointed-pen tools. When it comes to “Modern Calligraphy” that’s oh-so-popular, it’s referring to a pointed-pen script hand that’s based (although sometimes too loosely to be actually readable) on Copperplate/Engrosser’s Script foundations. This style needs pointed-pen tools. If you don’t, you’ll get messed up results like below:

SO…….. 

While the Pilot Parallel Pen Set may not be the right materials for “modern calligraphy”, this set is awesome for exploring a wide range of broad-edge styles in a variety of sizes! Without any further ado, check out the full review video. If you already know the difference, skip to 5:40.

 

Now for the review, we really loved these pens a lot! Here’s the breakdown of the pros and cons.

The pros:

  • Instruction packet for easy assembly
  • Variety of colored inks & black inks
  • Plastic nib/plate cleaner
  • Pens are juicy and synthesize dip pen beautifully
  • They travel well
  • They feel great

The cons: 

  • The artwork on the packaging is a little deceptive (you canNOT do brush lettering with these pens)
  • The “ductus” pages are made from fonts, not calligraphic hands*
  • You can’t put the caps on the ends of the pens while in use

*A “font” is a programmed set of letters used on the computer, a “hand” is a calligraphic style. The fonts in the ductus pages aren’t a bad place to start, but they don’t give you much information on pen angle/orientation or pen manipulation or stroke order. 

Overall, I’d say this set is a win. If you’re interested in trying broad-edge or bolder styles these pens are a must-have! They’re a great tool to take with you for practice on the go or even when attending workshops, meet-ups or guild meetings with limited space. 

Want to learn more about calligraphy? Check out my classes over at Calligraphy.org! 

Product provided by Goulet Pens. All thoughts are our own. 

Review: Resonate Collection Review from Ash Bush

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I’m really, really excited about the review that’s coming at you today. Ashley Bush is one of the early calligraphy.org students. She’s made an incredible business of freelance calligraphy and pensmithing. It’s so exciting to see when students really run with it and make calligraphy into a career. 

Ashley recently reached out to me to try out her resonate line. I’m really thrilled with how it’s turned out. It’s affordable, instagrammable and most importantly: comfortably functional. At $30 for these gorgeous marbleized pens, you really can’t go wrong. See the pen rest, tilted ink holder and pen holder in action in my YouTube video below. 

VIDEO DETAILS: 

But if you’re not the video-watching type… Here are my pros & cons of each item offered in the collection…

HOLDER $30

PROS: Affordable, smooth/silky finish, easy to clean, made from resin so it won’t split, carrot holder for promoting whole arm movement (also a great holder style for arthritic hands), flange adjusted and pre-fit with a G-nib

CONS: It’s a little short. It feels nicely balanced in the hand, but I personally wish it were a little bit longer. I wouldn’t mind an angled foot, either. But the foot is still small enough for a carrot holder that it fits in most ink jars. 

PEN REST $9

PROS: Holds 2 holders for easily switching styles, pretty, heavy enough base that it doesn’t topple over.

CONS: has a slightly different finish on it than the pen, it’d be nice if it had the same matte finish. Not a deal breaker by any means. 

TILTED INK HOLDER $7

PROS: It tilts the jar just enough that you can get that last little bit of your ink out of the jar. It really works with very little ink!

CONS: It doesn’t do well with full jars of ink. I wish there were a second well that was upright for me to hold my ink when the jar was full, and then tilt when the jar was nearing empty. But I really rarely put my full ink jars in an upright inkwell holder anyway, so it might just be superfluous. 

BOTTOM LINE: It’s a no-brainer. Scrounge up $50 and snatch up the entire collection. But at the very least, get the holder. It’s a must. It’s so so good. GET ONE RIGHT HERE.

Glasses USA Review

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Chris & I are both nerdy glasses people. We like to have a range of glasses to wear. Glasses are getting a lot easier to buy online, so I can collect a few pairs without feeling ridiculous for having spent $200+ on eyewear. Maybe one of these days my assortment of glasses will catch up to my assortment of shoes ( I do have a lot of shoes, though). GlassesUSA.com approached me with a gift card & asked if I would be interested in testing out their product/services. I like that they gave me a gift card, because it made the order process more genuine. I was impressed, so I’d like to break down my experience for you.

• O R D E R I N G •

It was tough to choose a pair of eyeglasses. I was able to find plenty of frames (lenses included!) that I liked in the $40-$70 range. I appreciated that the glasses available were completely different that what I found last year when shopping for glasses at Target optical. Since I have some practical glasses already, I thought I’d take a chance & order some slightly off-kilter lenses. I was nervous, but their virtual mirror helped me make the decision. I ordered a pair of wayfarer lenses that they sadly don’t offer any more. This is the closest style. Chris ordered a pair of sunglasses with a grey gradient on them. I sort of wish I had spent the extra $20 to make my own pair into prescription sunglasses, but eh. Maybe next time. Ordering the glasses was very straight forward, and they often have a variety of discounts available on the home page. Some include free shipping while others are a percentage discount. Only one coupon can be used at a time, so choose wisely!

• S H I P P I N G •

Considering that most optical places take 7-10 days to order in new lenses, GlassesUSA was pretty quick.  We waited 7 days, plus one day due to the DHL shipment that couldn’t be left on the doorstep. It was great to have prescription glasses in hand so quickly, but they were not clean or adjusted for my face. They had a lot of dust on them (to be expected for coming through the mail) and the hinges were SOOOOO wide on my face. I was worried that they wouldn’t fit my face properly. It took me a few days to get into an optical center to have them adjusted.

• Q U A L I T Y •

My glasses($50 frames) were cheaper than Chris’s($80 frames) and I can see a small difference in the quality of the plastic. Compared with my RayBan’s the plastic on my pair feels a bit cheaper, too.  Despite these differences you can only tell when comparing them up close. The functionality & style is on par with our name-brand glasses.

• O V E R A L L •

We’re incredibly happy about our new specs. They’re fun, unique, and cost about 1/2 of what we spent last year. Here are some pros and cons of ordering from GlassesUSA. Pros:

  • They’re fast
  • They have a wide range of glasses & are getting new styles every day
  • They’re affordable
  • They’d be perfect to use for ordering for children who may have a tendency to lose or break their glasses
  • They have a virtual mirror that allow you to get a preview of what they’d look like on
  • They also include measurement information just in case you’re not sure of the sizing
  • They have an excellent return policy

Cons:

  • While they may be fast, you may need to go into an optical center to get them adjusted
  • You must be home in order to receive your order. If you’re out & about a lot you may want to write a note to DHL to deliver to a neighbor or leave on your doorstep
  • You can only use one discount code at a time
  • Despite the virtual mirror, there’s still a chance the glasses will look funny on your face, since you can’t try them on in person

The Pros in this case severely outweigh the cons (especially with their no-questions-asked return policy!). I would definitely use GlassesUSA for my future glasses purchases and will recommend the site to friends & family. The only thing, I’m not sure I would recommend first-time glasses buyers to buy glasses online. I think you need to go to an optical shop for that – because it was a lot easier to use the virtual mirror & find glasses I liked because I’ve purchased glasses before. But I’d say to buy glasses online after that!! Again, we’re really happy with how GlassesUSA worked for us. If you have any questions about their services, glasses or policies, feel free to email or leave your question in the comments below! *P.S. Right now you can get 20% off their already affordable glasses + free US shipping with the discount code: NEW2012.

Sewn Paper Boxes

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I always find that I don’t have any boxes when I need them most. I hardly ever keep boxes or buy boxes just because they tend to take up so much space. And I can never seem to keep the right sized gift boxes in stock! It’s especially the pits when I’m looking for some adorable packaging for a gift. It’s such a pain to run those errands with two kids. I’d much rather make do with what I’ve got at home. Since that’s the case, I’ve found two adorable packaging options with items I always have on hand.

My friend just had a baby girl a few weeks ago & I’ve had a few goodies lying around the house waiting to go to her. Since we were going to be visiting her yesterday, I thought it was high time I wrapped up her gift.

Isn’t that cardigan just so sweet?!? I found the sweater, it was hand crocheted (?) I’m assuming and I made the little onesie. I think they’re just adorable together. I needed a little box for it all so I whipped up the above box lickety split. I thought I’d share with you how I did it! This technique is perfect for little treats & gifts! Hope you enjoy the tutorial!

• S U P P L I E S •

  • card stock or heavy paper. I’ve doubled up two sheets of regular paper before with great success, too!
  • ruler
  • bone folder or scorer
  • paper cutter or ruler & X-acto
  • sewing machine

First, you want to figure out the size of your desired box. I usually just wing it when it comes to these measurements. If you want your side wall to be two inches, you’ll want to measure two inches in from each edge. Makes sense? See diagram below for measurements.

Score along each line. Crease each fold, then match up each corner score. You’ll need to box out the bottom & then crease out to the corner. It’s sort of hard to explain, but in the process of matching the two perpendicular score lines, you create a 45º from the score corner to the corner of the page.

Keep those two score lines together & sew down that score line using your widest stitch. Make sure you test out your thread tension beforehand to make sure it’s tight enough, otherwise you’ll have some loosey goosey stitches in the back of each seam. It’s not pretty. Also, I used a zipper foot in order to sew this seam. I just need a straight stitch & I needed the foot to be as small as possible to get a straighter line.

Trim the excess with pinking shears. Another method which I find a bit cleaner, is to sew the flaps to the sidewall with only a few stitches on each side. The measuring for this is a bit trickier. You have to make sure those two flaps are long enough to overlap in order to sew. So you make sure in your measurements that the sidewall is longer than 1/2 of the length (plus 1/4 inch) of one of the bottom measurements. Example: If I want the box to be 4 inches by 5 inches, I need to make sure the wall is at least 2 1/4 inches tall so the flaps can be sewn together. Make sense?

Check out the video ABOVE to see how I did this.

A big thanks to American Crafts for sending me their CUTUP trimmer. It’s fantastic! Check out the video above to see all of its bells & whistles.

One Skirt, Three Ways + Giveaway

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This post is brought to you by Ruche.

I’m feeling pretty good about my post-partum body even though I’m 15 lbs heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight. Scales are stupid, you know that? Some days I’m really happy with where things are and other days I’m just miserable & prickly. The reason? I don’t always wear clothes that fit. Which leads to the post-partum clothing conundrum. . . Do I buy new clothes or do I wait until my clothes fit?

I always like buying new clothes; but if I’m going to lose the weight eventually, I don’t want to invest in a garment that won’t fit in the future. Then again, if I don’t buy clothes that fit me now, I’d just hide my unbuttoned jeans under an uncomfortably tight shirt and ultimately be unhappy with my body. It’d be great if I could get back to my pre-pregnancy size because I have a lot of clothes that I’d like to wear again. But they’re just clothes. For now, it’s more important that I eat right & like the body that I have right now. Not last year.

Since Felix, I’ve bought a few new things and kept a few pregnancy clothes in the rotation. This method has been pretty good thus far, but perhaps a bit boring with the only two pairs of pants that fit. Ruche offered to send me a little something last month, so when I was browsing their items I immediately gravitated towards their tiered lace skirt. It’s adorable, whimsical & has an elastic waist. It’s the perfect garment that will be able to fit me now and if I end up losing any weight. It’s adorable & super feminine. I’ve worn it a few different ways & thought I would share those with you:

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With the spring weather this week, I couldn’t help but wear this skirt with some sandals & a casual top.

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I love that this skirt is transitional. I’ve got the summer look at the top, then this above, more wintery look. I wore this to my friend’s wedding reception. I liked wearing the bold, dark tights with such a light & airy skirt. Contrast is fun.

undefined This is what I wore to church a few Sundays ago. It’s a little more romantic. I thought it’d be fun to wear it with all similar tones for a monochromatic look. I think the next time I’ll wear this outfit with coral lipstick and maybe a bright necklace for a little pop.

I’ve loved wearing this skirt. The soft elastic waistband is incredibly comfortable, which makes me feel good about myself. Thanks, Ruche, for sending it my way!

 

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