Tools of the trade (stationery edition)

I’ve had a look through previous posts, and can’t believe I haven’t talked before about Bureau Direct. No, they’re not sponsoring me, I’m just a fan, both of the range of stationery they sell, and their customer service. It’s not just about answering emails or the phone, though. The staff are approachable and expert, so that when I was looking for recommendations, I didn’t hesitate to email them, say what I was looking for and ask for advice. They’re generally awesome and I heartily recommend checking out their site.

I also love their blog, where recently they put up a post about weapons of choice, and it occurred to me that I cannot be the only stationery addict out there, so I thought I’d share some of my own favourite tools of the trade.

Unfortunately, since I’m lousy at making decisions, it turned into rather a long list. Most of it came from Bureau Direct, and was bought with the monthly discount code (definitely recommended!)


As well as the pens, I carry a pencil sharpener, eraser and fold-out ruler, none of which I use often, but all of which are really, really useful when I need them. The eraser and sharpener are both Stabilo Exam Grade – I’ve always found it hard to find good basic items, but these two are great. The ruler folds out to be 30cm across, very handy for quilt pattern sketches.

In Box 1 are the things I carry around in my nifty pencil case, which is also a stand-up penpot. The fine point sharpies are lovely for writing with, as well as coming in a good range of colours. I like the ‘normal’ pencil for drawing with, and the OHTO Promecha for writing. Of the last three, the black one is a Lamy ballpoint, which while nothing particularly special, is quite nice to write with. It is, however, nothing compared to the pens on either side. They’re both OHTOs, the left hand one is a Tasche (rollerball) and the right hand one is a Horizon (ballpoint). They’re both incredibly smooth to write with, even and sharp, and I love the Horizon so much I have 2 (there’s a black one in Box 3 that I use for work). Rollerballs are nicer if you can sit for a while and write, but the Horizon is the first ballpoint I’ve had that I actually enjoy using, and it’s much more practical for writing quickly.

Box 2 has my two ‘mobile’ pens in, although technically, only one of them is a pen. The left hand one is an iPad stylus, which I use all the time. Mine’s a Bamboo one, and as you can see, the paintjob hasn’t survived very well! The purple pen is another Lamy ballpoint. They’re not precision instruments like the OHTO pens, but they’re pretty good for the price. This one fits in the pen loop on my notebook (see below)

Box 3 are my ‘desktop’ pens. I like pencils for writing sometimes, and prefer roller-top ones to clicky ones. The fountain pen is a Lamy Al Star, which I confess I don’t use very much. I have a Lamy Safari as well, but I don’t actually find either of them particularly suit my writing. The Safari doesn’t write properly at all for me, and I find the Al Star scratchy. But every now and again, especially when I’m planning, I like using a ‘real’ pen. I’ve already talked about the Horizon in black, and the last one is the OHTO Dude (why yes, yes I am thinking of buying shares in OHTO, why do you ask?). It uses the same refill as the Tasche, but the size of the pen means it’s a very different instrument to write with. It’s got a good weight when you put the lid on the end, which is why it lives on my desk rather than in my pencil case.


Alongside my pens, I’m even more particular about what notebooks I use. #1 is a Leuchtturm hardback lined notebook that acts as my catch-all. It’s my diary, my shopping lists, my to do lists, my craft planner, you name it, it’s in there. I found that with information in different places, I was losing and forgetting things. Having them all together really helps, as does the pen loop, which stops me scrabbling around for something to write with when I only want to write down a thought or email address. #2 is my Moleskine work diary/notebook. As with #1, I’m an ‘all in one place where I can find it’ kind of person, and since I don’t have too many appointments each day, I find that one box is more than enough. The rest of the pages are notes, mostly to do lists (I tend to put meeting notes on my iPad), and again, I don’t lose things so much when I have the same book for everything. #3 is a Rhodia mousepad, which I absolutely love. I prefer squared paper in general, and this way, I don’t have to fit something else on my desk, I always have a piece of paper when I need one, and I can write in any direction. A sheet lasts me about a week, and I make sure I have a supply in the drawer for when a pad is all used up.

If pushed, I think my essentials would be a Horizon pen and my Moleskine. It’s not that they’re my favourites, but that with those two, I could manage fairly well. Having said that, what I really like is choosing the item that suits my mood/need at the time, and I’m pretty happy with the set I’ve settled on.

So tell me, what am I missing out on? What are the essentials in your pencil case?


4 thoughts on “Tools of the trade (stationery edition)

  1. That’s an impressive run down on your pen collection. And anyone who likes an Ohto Dude gets the thumbs up from me. Interesting that you don’t like the Safari though – are they an erratic pen? Mine work very well but I have known others be a bit less consistent.


    1. Just for the record, I’m entirely blaming the Bureau Direct staff for my addiction πŸ˜‰

      I find that my Safari just doesn’t write consistently. If I press fairly hard (which I don’t tend to), it’s not too bad, although a bit blotchy. If I don’t, it fades in and out. And then sometimes I pick it up and it’s fine, just to spite me. And while I like the Al Star better, it’s too chunky for my hand, really. I feel a bit like Goldilocks – just need to find the right one!


  2. Oooh I’ve bought loads from BD recently too am considering the Ohto Dude pen – always nice to hear from other people who like their products. And I’m with you on the Leuchtturm notebooks. I’ve recently moved to them from Moleskines and can’t see myself going back πŸ™‚

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. The Dude really started working for me when I put a refill in it. Before that it was a little sketchy. But in general, I think the OHTO pens are brilliant, and I couldn’t ask for better service from BD.

      I tend to use a mixture of Moleskines and my Leuchtturm, depending what I’m doing – I’m a big believer in the right tool for the right job. But I’d say the Leuchtturm holds ink better in general, even if I prefer Moleskine for sketching designs.

      Always nice to hear from fellow-addicts πŸ˜€


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