Link Love: Double Duckin’

I remember when the rubber duck first went for a cruise around Hong Kong harbor ten years ago. I was tickled to see that in honor of the ten year anniversary of the first time the giant, yellow bathtub buddy set sail, they are launching TWO ducks in Hong Kong Harbor this weekend. It makes me wish I was in HK to see this in person but I will delight in knowing they have set sail in honor of my birthday. “Rubber ducky, you’re the one!” — or is that two? (link for the full article is in Other Interesting Things)



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Pen Trends: Dip Nib Mania

A few weeks ago while browsing Yoseka Stationery, I noticed they had an MD Dip Pen (from Midori) listed. Curious about it, I added one to my cart to try. When I mentioned it to Ana, she noted she had both a Pilot Iro-Utushi and a Sailor Hocoro she was planning to review. I picked them up from her last week and so my review is a little compare and contrast of three new-ish dip nib pens on the market.

Dip nibs are not a new concept. In fact, they much more closely resemble some of the original quills and pens that didn’t have ink reservoirs from which to draw from. Imagine the old-time writer dipping a nib in ink, writing a few letters or words, and dipping again. Today, many folks use dip nibs to test a variety of inks, play with new nibs, or do quick sketches or drawings. I’m not aware of anyone who uses dip nibs as their primary writing instrument (maybe Michael Sull with his Spencerian Script).

So today I’ll be looking at three pens:

  • MD Dip Pen ($28, purchased with my own funds from Yoseka Stationery)
  • Pilot Iro-Utushi (retails for $11-$26, given to Ana by Pilot USA)
  • Sailor Hocoro ($16.00, purchased with Ana’s funds from Yoseka Stationery)

MD Dip Pen

At the most expensive and weighty end of the spectrum, this all started with the MD Dip Pen from Midori. The pen is only available in a Medium nib as far as I can tell, and it isn’t removable. The pen body is plastic and weighs the most of the pens I tested at 11g. The length is comparable to the others.

The Pros: I like the weight of this one – though I know many prefer lighter pens, this one feels really lovely in my hand. It was probably middle of the road in terms of being able to write at length – sometimes I managed to get through a whole line, sometimes I needed to re-dip fairly quickly.

The Cons: The price. You can get the other dip nib pens for a bit cheaper, and even get some additional choice and functionality.

Pilot Iro-Utushi

This pen was the longest, and the tapered body was interesting looking. The pen is available with two nibs and two body choices. Opt for plastic for $11, or upgrade to wood at $26. The nib is not removable.

Pros: With two nibs and two body types to choose from (and a few colors available in each) you have some choice with this one. The plastic body puts it at the cheapest of the three models, and the nib was my favorite out of the three to write with.

Cons: The only con on this one for me is that the nib isn’t removable. It’s not unique in that, but if I could put other Pilot nibs in this body, I’d probably be inclined to invest in this one.

Sailor Hocoro

The Sailor Hocoro was the most interesting option that I tested. It’s available in 4 different nib types, including calligraphy nibs, which I tried. The most unique part of this pen is that the nibs are interchangeable. And they pop out and can be inverted (the nib fits into the hollow barrel) for storage. That makes this one the most versatile of your dip pen options I tried.

The Pros: The combo of the price and the versatility make this pen my top choice of the three I tested. It’s cute, provides easy on-the-go storage and is comfortable in the hand.

The Cons: The calligraphy nib was fun to play with but they most frustrating to use of all the nibs I tested. I think this is because it’s basically a stub nib, and lays down quite a bit of ink. It means that the ink was very inconsistent, and it ran out quite quickly, requiring lots of dipping. I’d love to test out the fine or fude nib.

My overall conclusion is that I have a limited use case for dip nib pens. I use them most often when doing ink reviews, as it allows me to show how the ink would appear in a variety of thicknesses, and exhibit shading and sheening if it has any. I have tested a few dip nibs in the past, and tend to stick with my tried and true Delike Glass Signature Pen (spoiler: it’s not really glass). What I love about it is the ability to switch the nibs out, and that the glass nib holds a bunch of ink, meaning I don’t have to dip as frequently.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items in this post were purchased with my own funds, others were provided for free or at discounted cost for the purposes of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Fountain Pen Review: Sailor Line Friends Cony (NA Exclusive)

Fountain Pen Review: Sailor Line Friends Cony (NA Exclusive)

I was totally caught by surprise when I saw the new North American exclusive Sailor ProGear Line Friends CONY Fountain Pen ($312). I squealed with delight at how cute it was! I am not familiar with the Line Friends series, but the characters look a lot like Sanrio-esque cute Japanese characters. I grew up as a Hello Kitty kid (quite the opposite to the goth teen I became, right?).

There have been some previous characters like a bear and a duck but oh, the pink CONY bunny! The design of the pen was more interesting as well.  I haven’t bought a new fountain pen for myself in awhile and then in the same week, I found the BENU Skull & Roses Crow and the CONY — the two sides of my Gemini personality, one half cute and the other, a little spooky. I hit Buy It Now and didn’t look back.

Are the current Sailor Pro Gear fountain pens quite expensive? Yes. Should I be supporting this kind of financial excessiveness? No. Did I buy it anyway? Yes.

The pen body is a mix of material colors: the cap is translucent pink with an opaque pink end cap, the body is a milky white with an opaque black end cap. The grip section (shown in a photo below) is a milky pink. The whole pen features silver hardware.

Through the milky barrel, it’s possible to see the color of the converter.

So, of course the converter is pink!

The end cap on the cap feature the smiley face of CONY.

And the best part? The engraved CONY on the nib.

I love the Sailor 14K EF nib and despite efforts to expand my nib options, for everyday journal and daily writing, I always go back to the Sailor 14K EF nib as my go-to. My first ink pick for the pen was Sailor Studio 237 but it was a bit too light with the EF nib. Monteverde Kindness is a much brighter pink than I had wanted to use but is way easier to read.

My conclusions: do I recommend that you drop over $300 for a limited edition Sailor ProGear Slim? Only if you have the cash and want a pink bunny pen. Do I recommend a ProGear Slim in general? Yes. Despite the escalating prices, the Sailor ProGear is still one of the best pens I’ve ever owned and there’s a reason why I have more than one.

DISCLAIMER: Some items included in this review were purchased with funds from our amazing Patrons. You can help support this blog by joining our Patreon. Please see the About page for more details.

Fountain Pen Reivew: Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen

Fountain Pen Reivew: Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen

Inside me there is still a 16-year-old goth girl. There. I’ve said it. I outed myself. So, when I saw the Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen ($163) I knew I had to have it.

I first saw the Skull & Roses pens at the LA Pen Show at the  Dromgoole’s tables where Jesi and I were working. We both debated buying the pens on the table but we had so many people checking them out that we both waited to see if the pens sold at the show.

Then we got all “quick! we gotta pack up!” and I forgot to grab the Skull & Roses pen. A few weeks after returning from the pen show, I started thinking, “Dang! I wish I had bought that BENU,” but by that point, I couldn’t find the pen in stock anywhere.

I gave up getting one, until I saw that Truphae had them in stock and, as June is my birthday month, I decided to celebrate still being a kid, and bought it for myself.

The BENU packaging is pretty uneventful (and hence, not photographed) and that’s fine by me. It’s a simple white box with gold lettering and the pen is in a white, paperboard tube cushioned in paper shred inside. While the packaging is fully recyclable it doesn’t give away the cacaphony of color or funkiness going on inside the box. Sneaky.

The Skull & Roses Crow is a pretty silly pen all things considered.  It utilizes a traditional tapered, cigar shape with deeply engraved roses along the cap and barrel and a ring of engraved skulls around the cap band. The pen is a solid black plastic material with a texture in the non-embossed areas to give the pen a leather-like look — kind of like the texture on an old book.One might think of it as a budget-friendly subtler version of the Chaos pen (IYKYK).

If you look closely, you can see the letters BENU hidden in the rose vines.

The pen did come with a universal cartridge converter which I filled with “be still my Goth-y heart” Sailor Studio 350.

The nib is a standard Schmidt #5 nib. Love ’em or hate ’em, BENU uses Schmidt nibs. I got the EF nib and it was a little scratchy but I used a bit of micromesh and was able to smooth it out. I’m spoiled from years of using Sailor nibs so I still find the nib to be a bit stiff and not as fine as I’d like it but its a decent nib.


  • Length: 5.375 (capped)
  • Length  5″ (uncapped)
  • Weight 21gms (capped and filled)
  • Weight 16gms (uncapped with full converter)

The smooth grip section is about 0.875″ long with a minimal step down from the threads and an added bit of smooth matte grip area along the pen body creating a space of about 1.5″ overall to grip the pen without coming into contact with the deep sculpted designs.  For some, the deeply engraved exterior and small size may cause pressure on your hand from the design. I didn’t find the sculpted body to be too bothersome for everyday notetaking but I wouldn’t choose this pen to do NaNoWriMo or other marathon writing.

The cap is not really post-able which limits the length.

The Skull & Roses is also available in a translucent red and a mixed black-body-with-translucent-red band called Smolder (currently sold out).

In the end, the plus sides are the ridiculously goth-y design, lightweight and reasonable price. For some folks the downside would be the small Schmidt nib, not post-able and too much engraving that may interfere with overall writing comfort. My thinking is that if you are attracted to the design, the “downsides” can be overlooked because… c’mon, skulls & roses!

DISCLAIMER: Some items were purchased with funds from our amazing Patrons. You can help support this blog by joining our Patreon. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Octopus Write & Draw Inks Part 2

If you missed it, make sure you read first part of the Octopus Write & Draw inks review! Again, due to the large number of inks in this line, I am only showing an overview of the Write & Draw colors rather than comparing colors to other inks in my collection. This line consists of 25 pigment inks!

The Write & Draw ink line consists of 50mL glass bottles that I have found for $17.33 at Vanness Pen Shop. This works out to about $0.35 per mL – a great deal for colorful water resistant inks.

The color lineup today isn’t as colorful as part 1. Here we have the blues, grays, greens, and the one black ink. Blue Koi is a brilliant sapphire blue, Grey Meerkat is a neutral grey, and my favorite blue – Blue Lynx.

Grey Fox is one that I would classify as a blue-black.

I have a feeling that Petrol Axolotl will be a popular choice in this line – a dark teal that reminds me of the popular Taccia Sabimidori ink. Green Eagle is a nice bright green that leans a bit towards yellow, but not much.

The last three colors – Green Squirrel, Grey Frog, and Black Elephant make quite a trio. Green Squirrel is a fun muddy green and Black Elephant is a deep, dark, opaque black – as a pigment ink, it can achieve the true black not found in dye based inks.

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori Cotton paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Tomoe River 52gsm (TR7) paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori MD paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Cosmo Air Light 83gsm paper:


In part 1 of this review, I promised to test the water resistance of the Octopus Write & Draw inks. To test this, I first sprinkled several drops of water on every color swatch – here I’m showing the test on Midori MD paper.

After letting this sit for one minute, I blotted each swatch with a clean paper towel.

Not a single trace of ink on the paper towel.

I repeated this with the inks from part 1. The same result. I could not get the ink off the paper.

I decided on another test – I held the Black Elephant swatch under running water for 30 seconds and again blotted the paper dry. Nothing. The swatch looked identical before and after the flowing water.

I am truly impressed with the water resistance of the Write & Draw inks. Colorful waterproof inks are hard to find, but I have found all 25 colors to withstand brutal levels of water. I would consider these a great purchase at their price point.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided at a discount by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: It’s Wednesday Already?

Link Love: It’s Wednesday Already?

This is a “short week” for Americans since many of us had Monday off for Memorial Day. However,  that means that Tuesday feels like Monday and so forth. So, I had a panic moment when I remembered I needed to get Link Love done today. Such creatures of habit, we are.

Link kismet is a lot of purple ink reviews, Kottke also got caught by the eloquence of John Green, and beloved bookstores in NYC and stunning libraries. Lots of travel art supplies and even a travel Filofax. I think we all have the itch to travel this summer. Do you have any travel plans this year?




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Pen Review: Sailor Ink Pen Set of 3

I’ve been watching with interest over the last several years as Sailor has released so many beautiful new inks. However, my ink drawer overfloweth (I have more than enough ink to last me a lifetime!) so I haven’t been purchasing many. Last time I perused Yoseka Stationery I was interested to see that Sailor is also releasing combination brush pens/felt tip fine liners in some of the new ink colorways. I eagerly purchased the Tone of the Evening Calm set ($9.50 for 3-pen set).

The set I purchased includes pens in the following ink colors:

  • 473 – a bright peach/orange
  • 435 – a plummy purple
  • 943 – a dark blue black

The set was “inspired by the evening calm of the setting sun that quietly envelops the harbor as it watches over ships.”

I think I was most taken with the packaging on these pens. Even though it is written in Japanese it manages to convey that it makes use of the bottled fountain pen ink colors to create these pens in tons of different shades. The packaging is specific to these three colors, yet also shows the colors available in this format, either singly or in other combinations.

The pen itself has two ends – one with a brush tip, and one with a felt tip fine liner. The fine liner writes beautifully and if I were more skilled with a brush pen, I’d be stoked with that one too. I think this is a fun way to explore Sailor’s ink line without having to buy full bottles of fountain pen ink, which of course opens it up to a wider audience. Of course there are always the bottles if you find a favorite shade or two!

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were purchased with my own funds, others were provided for free or at discounted cost for the purposes of review. Please see the About page for more details.