Category: Pen Review

Brush Pens, Part 4: Water-Soluble Bristle Tips

Guest review by Tina Koyama

This fourth and final installment of the brush pen series reviews bristle-tip pens containing water-soluble ink. Similar to their waterproof ink counterparts, these 10 brush pens have actual synthetic hair tips that take a bit of practice to get the hang of controlling. However, I find their lines to be more expressive and fluid than felt tip brush pens, so it is worth it to me to give them the extra effort to use.

water soluble bristle pens

Ink Color & Permanence

First, I’ll talk about the inks these pens contain. While they all look within a comparable range of black on the Canson XL 98-pound mixed media paper I scribbled on, the Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pen has a slightly purplish tinge (which is more apparent when washed with water). The Zig, the Pentel Standard Brush Pen (medium tip) and the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen have the darkest, richest washes when water is applied. That’s a quality I look for in water-soluble inks, since I generally use them when I want to take advantage of the wash for shading.

water soluble bristle wash test

Compared to some of the water-soluble pens in the felt tip group, these inks mostly stayed water-soluble when washed a couple of weeks after the initial line had been applied. However, when I washed them again just now, more than a month since the initial application, all of them were nearly permanent. I think it’s safe to assume that these inks eventually become permanent over time.

field notes water soluble bristle brush tests

All inks behaved as expected on Field Notes 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper with very little bleed-through except where I had applied water. As I mentioned in the water-soluble felt tip review, it’s interesting to see the difference in the washes when comparing the Field Notes paper with the 98-pound Canson paper. Sized for water media, the Canson paper brings out the washed color, while the Field Notes paper makes the washes look more like wimpy blurs.

Although I tested only pens with black ink, it should be noted that the Akashiya Sai comes in 20 colors and the Zig Clean Color comes in 80! They can be blended like watercolors, and since they remain soluble for quite some time, you could continue blending them as you work. The Akashiya Sai ThinLine is available in five dark, natural tones. (I think I’m going to have to eventually get all five because I love the muted tones, which aren’t easily found in brush pens.)

Beyond these points, none of the inks stood out with any distinction. What I find distinctive about this group is the wide variety of form factors in which the pens are available.

water soluble bristle pens variety of form factors

Variety of Form Factors

By form factor, I’m referring to the size and shape of the pens. The three Sailor Fude Nagomi brush pens (the red, the green and the black) look the most like traditional Asian calligraphy brushes with their longer length and tapered body. (Incidentally, the three Nagomi pens are identical except for their body colors; I guess I would have known this before buying all three if I’d read the descriptions more carefully and hadn’t been so excited about having more brush pens to explore!)

Yellow Akashiya New Fude Disposable on 140lb Watercolor Paper
Yellow Akashiya New Fude Disposable on 140lb Watercolor Paper

The Kuretake No. 30 Double-Sided Brush Pen has a firm felt-tip on the opposite end of the brush (a nice option that was offered on several of the water-soluble felt tip pens).

The Akashiya Sai and the Akashiya New Fude Disposable Brush Pen look similar, both with transparent caps, but are longer than the Kuretake Zig Clean Color, which is slightly thicker. The Akashiya ThinLine, however, is indeed a distinctly thin pen – a little too thin for my comfort. It could be mistaken for an eyeliner. The brush itself is somewhat thinner than the others in this review, but because of that, I missed the wider end of the range that I could get with the others. Its very tip was not any thinner than the other tips.

Sketched with Sailor Profit on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper.
Sketched with Sailor Profit on Stillman & Birn Epsilon paper.

The Pentel has a reservoir and a soft barrel that can be squeezed to push more ink to the brush. (Beware: this is the type that will leak to high heaven at high altitudes.) It is refillable, however, with proprietary cartridges. The only other refillable pen in this group is the Sailor Profit Brush Pen, which looks like and is refillable like a Sailor Profit fountain pen.

The variety of shapes and sizes means that you can choose the one that fits your hand and work style most comfortably. If you are already familiar with a classic fountain pen body, then the Sailor Profit is an easy transition. If you like narrow barrels, then the Akashiya ThinLine might be a good choice. The Zig Clean Color has a body that feels the most like a classic marker, and I find the thicker barrel easier to use. The longer Sailor Nagomi pens might be difficult to handle, but they are nicely balanced even when posted.

Final Impressions

I’ve done it in all the other reviews, so I might as well complete the set: I am notably grumpy about caps that don’t post as expected. In this group, only the double-sided Kuretake has caps that must be reversed to post. All others made me happy by posting predictably.

pentel-standard-colored-pencils-stillman-birn-alpha

While I tend to reach for waterproof inks more often, I have to say that the water-soluble aspect of these bristle brush pens encouraged me to experiment more. Most of my sketch samples in this series were done with brush pens only. For this review, however, I tried something different by sketching the pear first with oil-based Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils. Then I gave it shading with the Pentel, which I further blended with a waterbrush. The wash has enough transparency that the blended colored pencils underneath show through – an effect that I like.

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I wore out all three Sailor Nagomi pens at life-drawing practice sessions. The expressiveness of the brush combined with the ability to conveniently shade by washing the line made them a joy to use.

While no clear favorite emerged from this group, this combination of brush and ink type is definitely a keeper in my sketch kit. In fact, as a result of writing this series, I now have four daily-carry brush pens, one of each type, because each serves a different sketching need.

If you missed the other parts, they are:

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

Brush Pens, Part 3: Waterproof Bristle Tips

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Guest review by Tina Koyama

Within the brush pen series (Part 1: Waterproof Felt Tips and Part 2: Water-Soluble Felt Tips), the type of pens I’m reviewing today are probably the ones I use most often – hairy, bristle-tip brush pens containing waterproof ink. Designed to simulate sumi brush pens used for traditional Asian calligraphy, the bristle-tipped pens take a little more practice to manipulate compared to their felt tip counterparts, but the line variation they impart can be very expressive. If you are used to handling paint brushes with ink, these will feel familiar.

As a general rule, bristle tips last longer than felt tips without mushing down from pressure, and their flexibility gives the widest range of marks. For example, I’ve been using the same Kuretake No. 13 Fountain Brush Pen for several years now, and its synthetic brush is still going strong. When I eventually upgraded to a sable hair Kuretake No. 40, thinking it would be even better than the 13, I have to say I was disappointed. The brush performs well, but it doesn’t seem to warrant the price difference compared to the No. 13. In fact, I find that the No. 40’s tip spreads out when pressure is applied and doesn’t pull back into a sharp point when the pressure is released the way the 13 does. I have to roll it against the paper to get the point back. Maybe a painter accustomed to handling natural hair brushes would have better results from it.

Kuretake No. 40 Weasel Hair Brush on Domtar Earth Choice Paper in the Field Notes Lunacy Edition
Kuretake No. 40 Weasel Hair Brush on Domtar Earth Choice Paper in the Field Notes Lunacy Edition
Pentel Suki on 140lb watercolor paper
Pentel Suki on 140lb watercolor paper

All the other brush pens reviewed here have similar synthetic bristle tips to the Kuretake No. 13 without much distinction. The exceptions are the Pentel Tsumi Tip (labeled FL2U on my chart) and the Pentel Suki Tip (FL2V) Brush Pens, both of which are capable of producing particularly thin lines at their very points. See the man wearing headphones that I sketched with the Pentel Suki? I was able to make that very thin line defining his nostril with the tip – it might have been a single hair! You have to hold the brush nearly vertical to the page to get that hairline, so it’s a bit tricky, but it has a beautiful range.

Here’s something to consider if you travel: I carry all my usual sketch gear with me when I fly. Although I’ve heard various warnings, usually related to leaking fountain pens, the only time I’ve ever had any kind of leakage problem was with reservoir-type brush pens such as the Pentel Tsumi and Suki and the Kuretake Zig Cartoonist Brush Pen No. 22. They are prone to making a huge mess! This goes for driving to high altitudes, too, not just while flying. Believe me, I only made that mistake once! Wrap carefully if you plan to take them with you.

Bristle Brush Pens Waterproof Tests
Bristle Brush Pens Waterproof Tests

Ink Color & Permanence

As before, water tests were done on 98-pound Canson mixed media paper. Most of the inks are waterproof as soon as they dry, within a minute or so. The exceptions are the Pentel Tsumi and Suki, which remain water-soluble for quite some time. Two weeks later I tested again, and they were permanent. I started using both the Pentel Tsumi and Suki pens as if they were water-soluble inks, washing lines for shading. I wouldn’t use them with watercolors or even with a gel pen, however, since those products would become muddy when mixed with the inks. If you’re planning to wait a while before painting, however, these inks could be considered waterproof also.

Those two Pentels were also the only ones containing inks that looked slightly gray to me compared to the true black of the others.

Waterproof Bristle Pen Tests in Field Notes
Waterproof Bristle Pen Tests in Field Notes

All inks behaved well, as expected, on Field Notes 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper. The only spot that bled through slightly was where I had made an especially thick line with the Kuretake No. 40 (containing Platinum Carbon Black ink).

Field Notes Brush Pen Bristle tests from the reverse side
Field Notes Brush Pen Bristle tests from the reverse side

Refillability

It’s important to note that the Kuretake No. 13, Kuretake No. 40 and Pentel Kirari Pocket Brush Pen can all be refilled just like fountain pens. They come with waterproof ink cartridges when purchased, but you can install a converter or simply syringe-refill the used cartridges with whatever ink you want. My favorite waterproof fountain pen ink is Platinum Carbon Black (*Editor’s Note: Mine too!), which puts out an especially rich, black line in all of these refillable pens. I have a second Kuretake No. 13 that I fill with water-soluble Diamine Chocolate Brown ink. So although I’ve classified these pens as waterproof, the type of ink used is up to you. (However, I recommend sticking with one type of ink per pen, since the brushes are difficult to clean.) Since the bristles have proven to last a long time, their refillable quality makes these pens a particularly good value.

The Kuretake Zig No. 22, the Pentel Tsumi and the Pentel Suki can all be refilled with proprietary cartridges. (Actually, the cartridges look like they can be refilled with fountain pen ink too, though I haven’t tried it.)

Bimoji Brush Pen on 140lb watercolor paper
Bimoji Brush Pen on 140lb watercolor paper

That makes the Kuretake Bimoji (medium), J. Herbin CreaPen Pinceau and Copic Gasenfude the only disposable pens in this bunch. I try to avoid pens that must be tossed after their inks are gone, so that puts these otherwise good brush pens at a disadvantage. A couple of things to note: For some reason, the J. Herbin CreaPen ran dry after only a short time, despite being stored horizontally. And the Copic Gasenfude, despite bearing the Copic name, contains ink that is nothing like the alcohol-based markers most people think of when they see the name Copic! This is very important to me, as I can’t stand stinky markers.

Kuretake No. 22 with Gelly Roll on 70lb French PopTone in the Field Notes Sweet Tooth Edition
Kuretake No. 22 with Gelly Roll on 70lb French PopTone in the Field Notes Sweet Tooth Edition

Final Impressions

If you’ve read my other reviews, you know I get cranky about caps that don’t post as expected. In this group, only the Kuretake Bimoji has a cap that must be reversed to post (and yes, it still annoys me). All other caps posted properly and securely.

Reviewing bristle-tip pens right after all the felt-tipped brush pens drove home an important point: Bristles are far more durable and able to withstand pressure while continually bouncing back compared to felt tips. It occurs to me that this is the reason most of the felt-tipped brush pens are disposable – the tips wouldn’t last beyond the initial ink, even if they could be refilled.

For my money, that makes the refillable fountain-pen type brush pens the best value as well as the hardiest performers. However, they make a very different type of mark from the felt tipped pens and require more control, so value isn’t the only factor to consider. Personally, I carry at least one bristle tip and one felt tip at all times because I like the variety of marks each type offers me.

There’s only one part left in this series – bristle-tip brush pens containing water-soluble inks. That group contains a huge variety of form factors! Stay tuned.


tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Brush Pens, Part 2: Water-Soluble Felt Tips

water-soluble-felt-tip-1 water-soluble-felt-tip-2

Guest review by Tina Koyama.

In part 1 of the brush pen series, I covered felt-tipped waterproof pens. This review is about 11 brush pens with similar compressed-fiber tips but containing water-soluble black inks.

In general, I’d say the tips behaved in the same ways as their waterproof-ink counterparts of comparable size. One of my goals with this series is to find pens that don’t mush down from my heavy-handed abuse, and as it turned out, I didn’t find any in this category with the slimmer felt tips that did tend to flatten in the waterproof group. Most in this review have either a relatively stout bullet-shaped felt tip or a small, firm plastic or rubber tip, and both styles stand up well to my heavy hand. However, the points of the broad end of the Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen and the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush did flatten after a relatively short while, which surprised me because they look sturdy.

Sakura Koi on Field Notes Lunacy
Sakura Koi on Field Notes Lunacy

The pens that are the most resilient tend to make a strange squeaky sound with slight pressure, such as the two Zebra pens (both double-sided and single-sided), the Kuretake No. 55 Double-Sided Brush Pen and the Kuretake No. 33 Brush Pen. Perhaps the squeakiness is related to the type of material they are made of. I know that’s not a very helpful characteristic if you haven’t bought and used the pen yet, but for me the squeak is a good indication that the tip will last. I’ve been using the four named above for a good while, and they are all still pointy and going strong.

Both the Sakura Koi and the Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker have tips that are a bit too broad for my uses. Even held vertically, I couldn’t get a fine enough point for detailed work (and since the Koi started mushing down quickly, its tip got even flatter). On the other hand, when held at a sharp angle to the paper, the Winsor & Newton marker makes a very wide swath of ink that covers a lot quickly. For that reason, I enjoy using it at life drawing practice with larger paper.

Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker on 140lb watercolor paper
Winsor & Newton Watercolor Marker on 140lb watercolor paper

Ink Color & Solubility

Now, on to the inks. My favorite way to use brush pens containing water-soluble ink is to make a line drawing and then use water to wash the line slightly for shading, and I usually don’t add color afterwards. So the quality of the washed line is important to me.

water-test-1 water-test-2

One interesting thing I learned from comparing these pens was how variable the term water-soluble can be – and how long water-solubility lasts. To test solubility, I made a scribbly line on Canson 98-pound mixed–media paper. Within a minute, I ran a waterbrush through the line to see how much it dissolved. (Those water marks are shown on the right side of my test sheets close to the names of the pens.) Although all the inks are roughly the same shade of black when applied to white paper, some look very different after being washed with water. Often the wash is much bluer, and in a few cases turns brownish. The Kuretake No. 14 Pocket Brush and the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen both washed with such pale smears that I don’t really consider them water-soluble for my purposes (yet neither is described as being waterproof by JetPens). If I’m going to wash a line for shading, I want the shading to be rich and strong, which is the case for most of the other pens. The Sakura Koi, the Tombow and the Zebra pens all washed to particularly dark shades.

Kuretake 33 on Field Notes Lunacy
Kuretake 33 on Field Notes Lunacy

Long-term Ink Permanence

The big surprise came a couple of weeks after I made the test sheets. Experimenting with a drawing I’d done earlier, I realized that the ink that had washed previously was now permanent. Curious, I went back to the test sheets and made a new waterbrush mark (shown on the left side of the test sheets) on each of the original lines. Most still responded in the same way as before, but the Zebra Double-Sided Brush Pen, the Kuretake No. 55, the two Kuretake Fudegokochi pens (regular and super-fine) and the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen all diminished in solubility. In fact, the two Fudegokochi and Pentel pens were essentially waterproof after the passage of those weeks, showing no solubility at all.

Since I generally finish a sketch in one sitting and wash lines immediately after making them, the delayed permanence is not a factor I would consider as long as I knew an ink was soluble to begin with. But if you make a line drawing first and continue working on it quite a bit later, it’s something to consider. And the delay might be a favorable feature if you want your work to be insoluble for the long run.

Zebra double sided pen on 98lb mixed media paper
Zebra double sided pen on 98lb mixed media paper

All inks behaved well and showed no feathering or significant bleed-through on Field Notes 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper. Even though I know this Field Notes paper is not intended for wet media and has performed poorly with water in the past, just for kicks, I put water on the test lines. As expected, the beautiful washes I got on the 98-pound paper were nearly non-existent on the 60-pound Finch. (My experience with other Field Notes papers is that this difference is primarily due to the sizing on the paper’s surface, not the weight. For example, I get satisfactory washes on Domtar Earth Choice 60-pound paper found in the Field Notes Lunacy edition.) However, even where water was applied, only the Winsor Newton ink bled through.

Field Notes Test
Field Notes Test
Reverse side of Field Notes #1
Reverse side of Field Notes #1
Reverse side of Field Notes #2
Reverse side of Field Notes #2

Although I tested only black inks in this review series, it should be noted that the Tombow, Sakura Koi, Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pens and Winsor Newton markers all come in a zillion colors, and their water-soluble qualities make them ideal for blending like watercolors.

As with the waterproof felt-tip pens, I experienced the same crankiness with some caps that have to be reversed before they can be posted! This time the guilty parties are the Kuretake No. 55 and Kuretake No. 33 (which will both most likely suffer an early demise because I keep inadvertently jamming their tips into the wrong end of the caps when I replace them after posting).

Kuretake No. 55 double sided on Stillman & Birn Alpha
Kuretake No. 55 double sided on Stillman & Birn Alpha

Final Impressions

My favorites from this group? Despite that cranky cap, the double-sided Kuretake No. 55 is my overall fave because the two distinctly different tip sizes offer a remarkably wide range of marks in one convenient pen – important for an urban sketcher like me who carries her studio in her bag. (Conversely, the two tips on the double-sided Zebra and double-sized Winsor Newton are too similar to offer the same range.) Its ink washes beautifully, and the Kuretake No. 55’s notably squeaky tip is also standing up well to my firm pressure. For richness in wash color as well as a good range in line width, I also like both the single- and double-sided Zebras and the Kuretake No. 33.

tina-koyamaTina Koyama is an urban sketcher in Seattle. Her blog is Fueled by Clouds & Coffee, and you can follow her on Instagram as Miatagrrl.


DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Morning Glory Needlepoint Liquid Ink Pen

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink

The Morning Glory Mach Campus Rollerball Pen in 0.28 mm with Stripe Body and Black Ink ($1.95) is part of the Morning Glory Mach Campus Rollerball Pen line-up, which are available with blue, black or red ink and all with 0.28mm tips. When I ordered it, most of the line was sold out. Knowing how much I liked the Morning Glory Mach 3, I was not surprised. While the Campus Rollerball Pens do not come in nearly the array of colors that the Mach 3 line is available in, the fineness of the tip more than makes up for it.

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink close up

The tip is needlepoint fine and writes well at any angle. I had no issues with it hard starting or giving me any grief as a result of being left handed or writing upside down, sideways or at any other janky angle.

morning glory needlepoint liquid ink comparison

And the Campus Rollerball writes TINY. I decided I need to compare how small I could write, without much effort, with something most people would be familiar with so I pulled out a Sharpie Pen and attempted to write as small as possible with it. You can see how quickly the cross bars and centers of the letters started to fill in on the Sharpie Pen writing on the right compared to the Campus Rollerball Pen writing on the left. These were done on the same page and were not resized or composed in anyway. I just scanned them in as is.

The Campus is a capped pen which might not be the favored model for everyone but the cap posts with a good solid click which means its not going to pop off. Since it is liquid ink, capping it closed before putting it away also means its not going to accidentally leak onto paper or an item of clothing in your bag like a retractable pen (Retro 51, I’m looking at you!)

Other graphics are available with black ink, including a model that looks like the Mach 3 if candy striping is not to your taste. Alternatives include a penguin design, mint with white polka dots, multi-color dots and a sedate pearl with black lettering.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Aurora Optima Perla Fountain Pen

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Some days call for a pen that make me feel like Audrey Hepburn on a Roman Holiday. On those days, I cannot carry around a plastic gel pen with scented ink in it. Oh, no. On those days, I need something with stature and sophistication. A pen that says I’m ready to take on the world with a disarming smile and a cunning plan. Those days call for the Aurora Optima fountain pen.

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See what I mean about how beautiful it looks in my Kate Spade handbag? Kind of speaks for itself.

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The Optima Auroloide Perla is made from a two-color resin, which is a combination of iridescent and transparent colors, that reminds me of pearl seashells or marbled floor or countertops. It’s combined with the silver colored hardware that makes the Optima look posh but understated. It’s classy but not gaudy.

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The nib is engraved with lovely scrollwork. I have a medium nib which is a bit wider than what I would normally use but thought it would provide more line variation than my normal fine or extra-fine.

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The Optima is a piston filler with a clear window to view ink capacity. Since the resin material has a little bit of transparency as well, the choice of ink color will be visible in some light as well. I have Robert Oster Signature Claret in the Optima here. It seemed appropriate to have a wine color in an Italian pen.

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The nib was tuned by Dan Smith of Nibsmith to make sure that it was in tip-top shape. I was able to use the pen to write in script, print and even to doodle using my upside down left-handed writing without any issues or hard starts. The medium nib might be a tad wide for my tiny, everyday handwriting though. But I do love how much line variation I get and how much color variation in the ink is visible in the larger nib width.

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Technical Specs:

  • Weight: 23gms filled with ink
  • Length: 5″ long capped
  • 4.75″ uncapped from nib tip to end
  • 6″ long with cap posted
  • 14K nib

This is my “big girl” pen. For those days when I put on my heels, the jacket and get out my Kate Spade handbag that says I mean business. But its not so fussy or fancy as to not feel at home with my well-loved Traveler’s Notebook and a pea coat. But this pen is urbane and classic and sophisticated. It loves my Kate Spade zip planner and lovely ivory paper stock.

This pen hopes I get to fly business class.

The Aurora Optima is available from Anderson Pens and Pen Chalet, starting at $445.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kenro Industries for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups 0.5mm Special Edition

Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups

After my review of the Zebra Sarasa Milky scented ink gel pens, I couldn’t resist trying the Chupa Chups versions as well. There are five scents available in the Chupa Chups range, mostly in the warm colors plus one light blue. Each pen is a standard Sarasa retractable 0.5mm gel with grippy silicone grip and spring clip. What makes these unique (silly, fun, collectible, whatever!) is  the printed barrel graphics, the printed disc “charm” on the clip and the scent added to the ink. They all write exactly as you’d expect a Zebra Sarasa to write — smooth and silky!

Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups Writing Samples

The light blue is vanilla and turned out to smell just like the Milky blue which I was not a fan. Whatever that scent is, it’s not vanilla! The yellow orange is pudding which features creme brulee graphics and had no discernible scent at all. It turns out to be the same ink color as the lemon Milky but without a fun scent or the awesome glitter barrel the Chupa Chups pudding isn’t much to marvel about. The Chupa Chups red orange is orange ink and orange scent and essentially identical to the Milky orange in color and scent. The orange is mango and has a mildly peachy scent. This one was my standout favorite since I love peach so had it smelled like mango I would have been thrilled but peach is a fine alternative. The last one is the red pen which is cherry. The first thing it reminded me of was Luden’s cough drops or cherry lifesavers but that was a huge improvement of the Milky strawberry scent,

Zebra Sarasa Chupa Chups and Milky Pens

So, in the scented gel pen showdown, the Chupa Chups and Milky pens are pretty much tied in my book. The Milky have the green tea matcha and the awesome lemon squash which are both winners in my book but the Chupa Chups cherry and mango are both good choices. The orange scents are equal from either so I’d recommend grabbing what you can if they are still available and you are feeling kind of playful. Each pen is available for $3 each. And the Milky Fujiya sets are back in stock!


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Pen Review: TWSBI Eco Lime Green Fountain Pen

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Fountain Pen

I was a little hesitant to get another TWSBI simply because I already own a Mini and a couple of 580 models so I saw no real reason to purchase to budget-priced Eco model, until they released the lime green model and then my urge was entirely based on aesthetics.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Clip

When looking at the Eco, the only thing I can tell that happened to bring the price down was to remove some of the metal hardware on the higher priced 580 line. The clip is simple and the only metal components are the clip and the band on the cap with the branding.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Cap

The logo on the end cap is inset red plastic which actually looks quite nice. And both ends terminate in a hexagonal shape. The pen seems similarly weighted and balanced to the 580. In actuality, the Eco is 23gms, filled and capped and the 580 weighs 30gms. The Mini weighs 20gms comparatively.  The Eco is the same length as the 580 but the barrel is a smooth, round tube where the 580’s is faceted. The Eco cap is a straight hex tube to the 580’s tapered cap and end. Also the ink capacity looks a little bit smaller but its still considerably larger than most cartridges or converters.

The cap posts with a click which seems pretty secure but I wonder if, for newbies, might lead to twisting to remove it leading to releasing the piston a bit? The hex grip on the end was the first thing my husband grabbed and started to hold as he attempted to remove the cap leading to releasing the piston and the cap simultaneously. Awkward.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green nib close up

The nib is the same design and material used in all the other TSBI pens so its the one area that is consistent. I had a scratchy nib in a previous TWSBI so I was a little gun shy to get another EF nib but this one is sharp and hard as nails but not scratchy.

TWSBI Eco Lime Green Writing Sample

In writing, the pen performs without any false starts and stops and the EF writes fine enough to be a good gateway for someone transitioning from a rollerball or gel pen in a fine diameter. Liquid fountain pen inks will still present new challenges in regards to paper choices but overall, the TWSBI is one of the best options for someone who is looking to move into fountain pens for the first time, especially if the lure is bottled ink.

Being able to get a piston-filling pen for $28.99 and a full-sized pen is a great option for folks just starting out. Being able to swap out nibs makes it extra appealing for folks who are still trying to find their way in fountain pens. My only complaint would be about how hard the nibs are but I’ve been writing with a lot of gold nibs lately so I may be to a point in my fountain pen life where I’ve moved past these pens. That said, I really like it and have already recommended it to folks who are starting out in fountain pens. If you’re coming from rollerballs and ballpoints, you’re not as likely to notice quite how hard the nib is. The clear ink reservoir is conversation starter wherever I go too.

Of course, the Eco is available with other cap color options, I chose the lime green for obvious reasons. Do you own one? If so, which color and nib combination did you pick?


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Anderson Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.