Handmade Leather Pen Holders


I’m always on the lookout for leatherworking workshops here in the south. It’s always somewhere in Quezon City, and I’ve never had the chance to join one because of how far the workshop venue usually are. So I was really excited when @beatnikmnl announced a basic leatherworking workshop at @commonroomph Alabang Town Center last October 14. I signed up right away.

I really enjoyed the workshop, and I did learn the  basic skills that I needed in order to complete the personal projects that I had in mind. I wanted to make my own pen cases that are specifically tailor-made for the kinds of pens that I use. I am a fan of bespoke pen cases, though it’s always a challenge to have something made that fits your pens like a glove unless I decide to send my pens to the person who’s making my cases. I thought that this would be a fun skill to learn. We took home some extra materials that we could use to make our own projects. I picked a square piece of dark brown, full-grain leather. After the workshop, I went home and made my first pen slip for my two Kaweco Liliput pens.

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I liked the pen slip that I made for my Kawecos, though I did modify this after a few days to make the pens easier to pull out. Today, I made another pen case for my other pocket pens; Kaweco Sport cappuccino and cognac, and a Sailor Progear Mini.

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Here’s what it looks like with the flap open. Beside it is the modified pen slip for my Kaweco Liliput pens, I carved a half-circle so that the pens are easier to pull out. The fit was just right, but since the pens were so slim, I needed some space for my fingers to grip on the edge and pull them out comfortably. The half-circle I carved was just right for that.

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It was a challenge to get the size of the flap right so that it fits through the loop, I wish I didn’t run out of leather so that I could have made the flap longer. I like the finished case, though.

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The pens fit perfectly and are easy to slip in and pull out. I think the fit will be much better after a few days, when the leather becomes more molded to the shape of the pens.

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I didn’t burnish the sides of the case too much, I like the finish to be a little raw and rustic-looking. For my next pen case project, I think I’ll pick a thicker/stiffer leather and try burnishing the edges.

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I attached my little Kaweco medallion from my old leather pen case as a finishing touch. I wanted to add decorative stitches to the flaps but I decided against it. There’s a lot of room for improvement,  but for a first attempt, I think I like it just fine.

I enjoyed BeatnikMNL’s workshop a lot because it gave me an insight on how much effort is involved in making handcrafted leather goods. From picking the kind of leather and threads, sourcing good supplies, making patterns, measuring out the seams and stitches, punching holes, stitching, etcetera, etcetera… A lot of time and skill is needed in order to produce a good piece. I need to develop the patience it takes to measure (and measure again) before I cut because I wasted a lot of leather due to taking shortcuts in measurements. It was really therapeutic, though. I felt so calm and serene as I worked with my hands.

I definitely have a deeper appreciation and respect for leathercrafters now, and I think that these artisans that hold workshops for people who want to learn how to make their own leather goods are investing wisely on educating others about handmade items. I’m definitely going to support local artisans this upcoming holiday season.

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Review: Insignia Pen Pouches


So, the courier came knocking at our gate a few days ago with a package from Everything Calligraphy. After carefully unwrapping the bubble-wrapped Chocnuts (priorities!), I opened this really hip-looking pen case. First impression…that looks pretty nice. Sniff sniff. Don’t you just love the smell of leather?

Insignia Leather Pouches

I tried them on my Hobonichi cousin (slip it behind the hard cover of the planner) and a smaller Derwent sketchbook. Perfect.

Insignia Leather Pouches

I like both of them, but I really like the one without the flap more because I like pen slips that lets me just take out the pen quickly and without fuss. Both cases are a snug fit for either two slim pens or one medium-sized pen. Of course if you’re a fountain pen user, you probably would just use it for one pen because it doesn’t have compartments to keep the pens from jostling one another.

The flap-less version is called Orwell. I’m not concerned with pens falling off while in it because the texture of the interior leather prevents it from slipping out, and the fit is quite snug. I tried it with a single pen (Lamy Studio and my thinnest, Cross Century II) and it felt quite secure.

Insignia Leather Pouches

The model with the flap is called Faulkner, and it’s a little bit bulkier than the Orville because of the flap, but I guess some people would want more security for their pens. Especially if they don’t want anything to scratch the finials while the notebook is in their bag.

It’s made of genuine cowhide on the outside and pig skin on the inside. The interior of the pen cases feels softer and smoother than the leather outside. The elastic feels sturdy too. Here are a few photos of the details.

Insignia Leather Pouches

Insignia Leather Pouches        Insignia Leather Pouches

I think these are pretty handy especially if you want a pen case to always be with your notebook/planner. I think it’s essential for the care of your pens that you always use cases. I personally always carry at least one big pen case and pen slips for one or two pens.

These Insignia Orville and Faulkner pen pouches are now available at Everything Calligraphy.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid post. Read my About page for more information about this.

Custom Size TN from Sunday Leather Craft


Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN

I first came across Contrail notebooks earlier this year, while browsing around Powerbooks, Greenbelt. I found the covers of these pocket notebooks so vibrant and beautifully-designed. The size is also perfect for quick notes, lists, etcetera. I tried a few out to see if the paper is any good. It can stand up to medium nibs but works better with fine nibs. Brush pens are great, but parallel pens bleed through. Overall, something I’d like for just day to day notes. I never expected to like TNs. I resisted buying TNs for a while because I thought I would never adjust to anything that’s not A5 or bigger. Then I bought my first Traveler’s Notebook and the rest is history. I just love it, love everything about it. So when I came across Contrail notebooks, which are like smaller versions of the regular TN size, I thought hmmm, this would look great as a TN.  I messaged Toto of Sunday Leather Crafts and asked him to make one for me. I just gave him the size of the notebooks and the color of the leather that I prefer. A few weeks later…tada!

Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN

It’s super cute. I changed the elastics to the extra ones I bought for my Midori TN. The size is just right, it fits contrail pocket journals perfectly. It’s also great for when I don’t have space for my larger journals and I just want something small to bring along.

Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN

It’s just a little longer than this Pilot Custom Heritage 92. That should give you an idea how small it is. It’s not uncomfortably small for writing, but small enough to fit in your pocket.

Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN You can fit in two Contrail notebooks if you want it to be slim and compact. But I prefer it on the chunky side so I fit in 4 inserts. You can actually fit in one more, probably, but that’s a bit too chunky for me. Here it is with four inserts. Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN

I made my own tomoe-river inserts too, based on the dimensions of the Contrail inserts. It’s so much fun carrying it around for quick sketches and calligraphy practice.

Sunday Leather Craft's Custom TN

I also love the name tag. 🙂 Such a nice, personal touch. They put it in as an extra tag, in addition to the blank one. Who doesn’t like options?

All in all, I am just really happy with this TN. Sunday Leather Craft does good custom leather work. Check them out!

Review: Parker Premier Monochrome Black (Medium)


Gosh darn that’s a long name. Anyway, I’ve been using the Parker Premier Monochrome Black (which I shall call Premier from this point on) since I got it last Tuesday. Since then I managed to use up a converter and a half of ink (yes, I wrote that much in a short period of time). This is, without a doubt, up there in my favorite pens list. I know I love all my pens a lot, but I do have a short list of favorites. Those pens that hardly make it out of rotation. I can tell this one will hold a top spot for a while. I’m getting ahead of myself.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

I got this pen last Tuesday and I can hardly put it down. It’s just a pleasure to write with and to look at. Anybody who knows me well enough will say that I’m not a big fan of modern pens. Least of all modern Parkers. I think they’re devoid of imagination. A shadow of the glory days of a giant brand. When I first came across the Premier online (through Fountain Pen Network Philippines), I was intrigued. It looked nothing like the modern Parker pens that I’m used to seeing at National Bookstore. This one was sleek and eye-catching, in the same way that of all the Lamy pens in all the happy colors, I’m quite drawn to the Lamy 2000 and its decidedly modern design.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

The pen is metal coated with PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) which makes the surface very resistant to corrosion and abrasion. The barrel and the cap has a brushed metal finish, the texture is very pleasant. It does have an overall effect that looks like matte, but it’s more of a soft brushed metal finish that makes it pleasant to hold. It’s not slippery or uncomfortable in the hand, as some metal pens can sometimes be. My pet peeve is metal sections in pens, it makes it nearly impossible to write comfortably because the pen keeps on slipping. The Premier’s PVD coating ensures none of that annoying slippery feel.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

The texture kinda reminds me of Lamy 2000’s makrolon finish. Kinda.

Everything about this pen speaks of a well thought-out modern design. I think this design can be a great template for Parker’s modern pens. The lines are clean and the details are pretty good. The clip looks very different from traditional Parker arrow clips.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black         Parker Premier Monochrome Black

It’s angular, boxy, but gives the pen a very good modern look to it. Of course I’m still partial to vintage Parkers and their art deco clip, but this one has its own style and identity. It certainly beats modern arrow clips with thinly etched quivers.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

The overall effect is pretty nice, and the clip itself is functional– springy but firm. It feels sturdy enough. The cap snaps on, but it doesn’t make that hard snapping sound. It snaps to the section securely but is easy to put on and take off. It has an almost magnetic feel to it, like it glides and clicks easily in place.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

Both ends of the pen are flat, which lends more to that minimalist, modern feel. There’s nothing flashy about this pen. Nothing shiny and ostentatious. Even the finial is a simple black disc.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

The design is tied up by three rings on the top of the cap, cap band, and end of the barrel. I really like that the PARKER logo around the cap band was designed differently from other Parkers, vintage or modern.

Parker Premier Monochrome Black

I like the horizontal lines that run through the letters. It’s a nice little detail.  Continue reading

Sunday Leather Craft’s Bespoke Pocket Knife and Pen Case


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I asked Toto of Sunday Leather Craft to make me a leather simple leather case so I can carry my pocket knife and fountain pen together. Since it’s nearly impossible to find a case that was meant for this purpose, the only way to go is bespoke.

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I like that the case is super simple. It uses a soft kind of leather, and the stitches go well with the color of my knife.

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The length is just right, and it does the job well enough. I just made a slight modification to the pen slot to make it easier to pull out.

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Since the pen is so slim, putting it in a roomier pouch will not hold it securely. I trimmed the top of the pen slot a bit to make it easy to pull out the pen. Not to mention that it shows off the Kaweco Liliput logo nicely. 🙂

Pentones Pen and Notebook Wrap


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Here’s something I got from the last pen meet I attended. It’s a Pentones pen and notebook wrap I got as a gift from one of the members of FPN-P.

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This really took me back to those days when I still used fabric wraps. There’s a certain appeal to slowing down, leisurely undoing the clasp of the wrap and unrolling the fabric to free up the pens. Pentone is a wrap that holds pens and a small notebook.

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This red wrap is made of twill and a soft cotton inner lining. There’s enough space for 6-8 pens and a pocket notebook, secured by two separate flaps.

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There are single-pen slots and a 2 or 3-pen slot for those pens that you don’t mind jostling against each other. The wrap is secured by two buttons that are adjustable in length in order to accommodate fatter notebooks.

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The wrap also has a quick draw slot which are slots that aren’t covered by flaps. I like this feature a lot. It allows you to draw out a pen if you need it for some quick jotting, without unbuttoning the clasp and unrolling the wrap. You can just pull out the pen and slip it in easily.

I often use large notebooks, but for those times when all I need to bring with me is a small notebook and a few pens, This is a great way to organize everything in one place. Of course, since it’s made of fabric, you’ll need to hand-wash it once in a while to keep it looking neat. 🙂

Overall, I like the thick fabric on it, I like the concept, and I like the quick draw slot.

I got this wrap as a gift (as mentioned earlier), but Pentone wraps are also available at Everything Calligraphy.

Sunday Leather Craft’s 2-Slot Leather Pen Slip


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Here’s something nice from Sunday Leather Craft. But before I go into that, a little back story. I thoroughly enjoy my single pen slips and I love that they make pens easily accessible while also safe while in a bag. I thought that it would be great to have a two-slot pen slip so that I can carry two pens at the same time in an easy to access pen slip. I couldn’t really find something I liked online. The next best thing–bespoke. Well, actually it’s the best solution because at least a leather goods maker can customize it to the measurements that you prefer.

This is the finished product. I think it’s pretty nice. It works like it should and can accommodate my fattest pens. I can easily draw the pens when I press on the sides a bit, while also keeping the pens in place and not letting them slip out easily when I’m not using them. No danger of falling out accidentally. The workmanship is wonderful and the stitching is clean and well-done. The leather they used is beautiful too, and I like how it looks a  bit distressed. I think this will age very well.

I love that there now a lot of Filipino entrepreneurs who make these wonderful pen accessories for reasonable prices. It makes bespoke leather items accessible for more people. This is my first item from Sunday Leather Craft and I must say, I’m pretty happy.