Category: Pen Review

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.

Brush Pens, Part 1: Waterproof Felt Tips

Guest Review by Tina Koyama

First, I’d like to welcome Tina to The Well-Appointed Desk and thank her for stepping in and helping with reviews. This is her first (and hopefully not her her last) review here. I’m thrilled to have Tina on board bringing a new perspective and point of view. Please give her a warm welcome! –Ana

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As an urban sketcher who draws way more often when I’m outside my studio than inside, I value any product that’s portable and can be used easily and conveniently in the field. And if there’s one drawing medium that piques my interest, it’s a brush pen that gives me the variable marks of an actual brush without the fuss and mess of bottled inks.

Art material junkie that I am, I have tried quite a few brush pens. A major issue I have is that some brush pens mush down on me relatively quickly. They still have plenty of ink in them, but I don’t want to use them after their formerly sharp tips turn into fuzzy flatness. I don’t know if the types of materials brush pens are made of tend to wear out quickly, or I just have a particularly heavy hand. In any case, I have made it my personal quest to find brush pens that can stand up to my abuse long enough to use up the ink they contain, so that’s one focus of this review series.

The term “brush pen” is used for two primary types of tips: those made of a compressed fiber or rubber that flexes slightly (I’ll use JetPens.com’s term “felt tips” to refer to them), and those made of natural or synthetic hairs or bristles like an actual brush. Some contain waterproof ink while others contain water-soluble ink. Given that I have nearly four dozen brush pens to compare (and that’s only the ones with black ink!), Part 1 of this brush pen series covers only the 14 felt tip pens containing waterproof ink.

The scribble/waterproof testing was done on Canson XL 98-pound mixed media paper. The bleed-through testing was done on 60-pound Finch Opaque Smooth paper in a Field Notes notebook.

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First, let’s talk about ink. All pens in today’s review contain black inks that are completely or nearly completely waterproof within a couple minutes of application. The hard tip Pilot Pocket Brush slipped onto my test sheet inadvertently because I assumed it had the same ink as its soft tip counterpart, which was indicated on JetPens.com as having waterproof ink. It turns out that it only becomes waterproof after several days. I generally use a waterproof ink when I’m thinking I might want to apply watercolors or some other liquid medium afterwards, and I’m definitely not going to wait several days to do that, so I consider that ink to be water-soluble.

Sailor Mitsuo Aida 2-sided brush pen in Field Notes Lunacy Edition
Sailor Mitsuo Aida 2-sided brush pen in Field Notes Lunacy Edition

 

All inks performed comparably with no bleed-through on the 98-pound paper, as expected. They also performed surprisingly well on the Field Notes paper, although several bled through at points where I paused briefly or, in the case of an actual sketch, colored some areas solidly. (None of the inks bled through at all under any circumstance on Field Notes Lunacy’s Domtar Earth Choice 60-pound paper, however, which has a very different sizing.)

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Back side of Field Notes with 60# paper using Zebra gray body brush pen
Back side of Field Notes with 60# paper using Zebra gray body brush pen

All pens contain highly saturated black inks with the exception of the soft tip Tombow Fudenosuke and the fine/medium Sailor Mitsuo Aida, which look a bit grayer to my eye. For my sketching purposes, though, I’d say the inks have negligible differences in appearance.

As expected, the biggest difference among the 14 pens is in how their brush tips perform or in the marks they make.

The pens tested here include a wide range from fine (such as the Tombow Fudenosuke and the fine Kuretake Bimoji) to bold (such as the bold Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen). You’d probably choose a tip based on the size and type of work you do and personal preference. I tend to favor bolder marks, but that means I want the tip to retain a fine point so that I can get a full range of marks from it.

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While I initially liked both the Marvy LePen Technical Drawing Pen and the Deleter Neopiko Line 3 brush tip pen for their soft, slender, flexible nibs, they both mushed down on me quickly. I prefer softer fiber-tipped pens because they seem more responsive to variations in pressure, but their ink supplies long outlive their tips. Ultimately, this review taught me that pens with firm but spongey, thicker tips stand up to my heavy-handedness longer. My favorites are the fine/bold Mitsubishi double-sided brush pen and the fine/medium Sailor Mitsuo Aida. These two are also the best value and serve my need for compact, road sketcher materials because the double tips are like having two pens in one.

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I also like the medium side of the fine/medium Pilot Futayaku double-sided brush pen, but for some reason, the fine side is scratchy and acts like it’s out of ink, even though I store it horizontally, so I know it’s got the same amount of ink as the medium side.

I’ve also learned that since these stouter brush tips don’t flex as much, I have to vary the angle they are held to the paper to get a wider range of marks – the more perpendicular they are held to the paper, the finer the line. Now that I’m used to this, I can get a pretty good range, but it took a while to train myself.

Kuretake 2-sided brush pen on 140lb paper
Kuretake 2-sided brush pen on 140lb paper

The bold Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen has a sturdy tip that would probably also hold up well, but something about the cap design gets ink all over the inside of the cap, which then transfers to the rear end of the pen when I post it – and then when I cap the pen again, the inky rear end makes a mess on my hands and bag. I stopped using it early in testing because that mess annoyed me too much.

One characteristic of most of these pens, probably due to the material their tips are made of, is that they can make a split or dry-brush-like mark when dragged quickly on their sides, especially the finer-tipped pens. In some cases they can look like they are running out of ink. It’s a nice effect if you want it, since it mimics an actual brush. If you don’t, the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen and the broader sides of the two-sided Pilot, Sailor and Mitsubishi pens are more likely to retain a consistent stroke.

Zig Mangaka on Field Notes Lunacy Paper
Zig Mangaka on Field Notes Lunacy Paper

I have one idiosyncratic quibble: pen caps that don’t post properly – or that post backwards! The caps on the fine/bold Mitsubishi double-sided brush pen post insecurely, so they are always at risk of falling off while I’m in the field (and a brush pen without a cap is going to die very quickly). And the two Kuretake Bimoji pens and the fine/medium Kuretake Disposable Pocket Double-Sided pen have caps that must be turned around before they will post. Needless to say, I have absent-mindedly jammed those tips into the wrong end of their caps many, many times (probably shortening their lives, even if they haven’t mushed down on me yet).

Zebra black body Brush Pen on Lunacy Field Notes
Zebra black body Brush Pen on Lunacy Field Notes

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: Delta Virtuosa Medium Fusion Nib Fountain Pen

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

The Delta Virtuosa is my first experience with a Delta pen and with the Delta Fusion nib.

First, let me mention the packaging, which is not something I normally do because, honestly, I prefer the packaging to be protective and recyclable. In the case of the Delta packaging, it is protective but not particularly recyclable. However, it does speak to the designer in me. Its kind of cool looking. It has a screen printed, clear plexiglass top that has an elastic closure on one end and is hinged to pivot at the other end. Inside is a cut out in foam to hold the pen. Since the Virtuosa is such a vibrant blue, its visible through the lucite which is pretty cool. There was a paperboard slipcase as well to hold the box and paperwork but it was not as interesting. So, the packaging is pleasing and noteworthy.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Inside the box is the beautiful blue swirl resin of the pen. The color is phenomenal. All the hardware is silver. When I showed it to my husband, his one comment was that he thought the clip was kind of boring and that was the one thing I was particularly pleased about. The clip is notably understated which is rare with Delta that tends to embellish their clips. I like the clean simplicity, especially with the vibrant color. So, clearly, to each his own.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Now to get to the nitty gritty of the Fusion nib. I will try to explain it as best as I can from the documentation included. The idea is that Delta attempted fuse gold to steel (and other precious metals) to somehow get the best properties of the metals. As best as I can tell, putting gold on TOP of a steel nib just gives you essentially a glorified gold-plated steel nib. That said, the nib is super smooth and writes well, even for an upside-down, left-handed writer.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

The cap posts easily and since the pen is resin, it is a relatively light pen overall. I preferred using it unposted but posted and filled, it only weighed 22gms making it similar to a Lamy AL-Star in regards to weight.

Fountain Pen Weights

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

I don’t normally use a medium nib because of my teeny, tiny handwriting and the Delta Fusion nib is quite a wet writer overall but it writes very smoothly and I could write from any angle with no issues which is a huge plus. It also needed very little pressure to write and showed off the shading of the Robert Oster ink beautifully.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

I also tested the pen on some standard office copy paper (20# bond and Moleskine Cahier) just to  see how much a big juicy medium nib would feather and bleed. Obviously, my ink choice may play a role in how much feathering and bleed I get, YMMV. As you can see, the Moleskine had some feathering and the office paper softened the lines a bit but it wasn’t horrible. There was a bit of showthrough on the back of the Moleskine but the copy paper was fine. I’d recommend a drier ink if you wee to use this as your daily pen though.

Delta Virtuosa Fusion Nib

Overall, the Delta Virtuosa is a beautiful pen and was a great introduction into the Delta product line. They  definitely make a quality pen and work hard to create unique and interesting designs.

Pen Chalet still has some of the Delta Virtuosa in stock in the Light and Dark Ivory with steel nibs and the Light Ivory with the Fusion nib at a substantial discount. Or check out the full range of Delta fountain pens that Pen Chalet offers, some are available with the Fusion nib.

For an in-depth review and more details about the Fusion nib, check out The Pen Habit’s video review of the Delta Fusion 82.


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

Pen Review: Namisu Nova Titanium Deluxe

Namisu Nova Titanium

The Namisu Nova Titanium Deluxe is my first experience with a titanium fountain pen and a titanium nib. The overall shape and feel of the pen is a smooth machined cigar shape. It’s very space-aged. There is no clip so it will roll off the table at a moment’s notice. This is definitely a pen that might need a pen sleeve to keep it protected from potential tumbles.

Namisu Nova Titanium

The nib is also titanium, as I mentioned, in medium. Its a Bock nib. The titanuim give the nib a very matte look. The pen is a standard converter and/or cartridge filler so it allows for easy filling.

Namisu Nova Titanium

The pen does not seem particularly large or heavy until I started measuring it and weighing it. Lengthwise, its comparable to a Lamy Safari at 5.5″ capped. Uncapped and unposted, it was a hair shorted than a Safari at 5.125″. The Nova does post but it becomes extremely heavy at 52 gms but is a 6.25″, about a 0.25″ shorter than a posted Safari.

Fountain Pen Weights

See what I mean? 52gms is a seriously heavy pen! Unposted at 36gms, the pen was well-weighted and pretty comfortable overall though I suspect an aluminum model might be lighter.

Namisu Nova Titanium

In writing, I discovered that the Nova with a titanium nib has a little bit of softness but also a little bit of feedback and squeak. It was like there was a little hamster in a cage living inside the pen for me, running on its wheel while I was writing. I don’t know if this was just me or if others have had this experience but by the time I’d written a few pages, I was ready to switch to a pen that had less back talk. I suspect I’d get less “small pet” noises with a standard, steel nib as I’ve had experience with Bock nibs in other pens. The flexibility had some appeal but I couldn’t get past the squeak.

Overall, I really like the look of the pen. The sleek, modern look is very appealing and I loved having a chance to try a titanuim nib though I wish my experience had been better overall. Squeaky but flexy.

You can pre-order a sandblasted version of the titanium design now or purchase the Orion (the same shape with bands engraved out around the center of the pen) in aluminum or titanium with prices starting at £70 with a steel nib. There is also a stonewashed titanium Orion for £60. All versions are available directly from Namisu.


Special thanks to Kasey for loaning me the pen, my own personal enabler. Safe travels and thanks for keeping us safe.