Category: Pen Review

Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


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

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Pen Review: Edison Collier LE 2015 with Custom Architect Nib

Edison Collier LE 2015

As a nice comparison to the stock Edison Nouveau Premiere that I took for a test drive yesterday, it seemed appropriate to show you the Edison Collier with the custom architect nib ground by Dan Smith over at Nibsmith. The pen started its life with a broad nib and was then customized.

I’m amused I didn’t figure out it was an architect grind until Kasey told me. I kept thinking… “This doesn’t look like a broad nib. Its much too crisp.” Well, duh. It wrote beautifully, if a bit too broadly, for my small writing but the grind is very well done.

Edison Collier LE 2015 Writing Sample

Physically, the Collier is very different from the Nouveau Premiere pen. The barrel is wider and the overall shape is more cigar shaped with a wider, rounder appearance overall. IT balances the size of the nib much better than the Nouveau Premiere. Its also a deep mahogany swirl with black to the candy-color of the water lily Nouveau Premiere.

The nib is two-toned gold and silver and the clip is gold compared to the all-silver hardware of the Premiere. These two pens couldn’t be more different than apples to steaks.

Weight-wise, the Collier is a good 10 grams heavier at 28 grams, capped and filled with the converter, but its well-weighted and comfortable so even in my small hands, I didn’t notice the additional weight. I actually had to put it on a scale to verify that it was heavier than the Premiere.

Edison Collier LE 2015

Overall, the broad architect grind on this crunchy cigar-shaped and deep, richly colored pen is totally appropriate. I would probably name this pen El Comandante if I owned it and write with it while drinking mojitos and listening to salsa music.

This is another pen that’s convinced me to take a good long look at Edison Pens. While I wouldn’t normally have gravitated towards the Collier because its a larger pen, the lightweight acrylic resin kept it from feeling like I was trying to steer a ship, and the variety of colors that Edison uses is really amazing– from subtle browns, as shown with this Collier, to the candy bright with the Nouveau Premiere Water Lily.

Again, since this particular Edison Collier was a limited edition model from 2015, it is no longer available but other color options are available on the Goulet Pens site for $149 or you could check directly with the Edison Pens site to see what they have in stock or for a custom order.


This pen was loaned to me by Kasey, AKA Punkey, as a way to try out pens I might not otherwise purchase or be able to afford. Thank you very much. This is another reason why the pen community is so awesome!

Pen Review: Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The Edison Premiere Nouveau Water Lily is the Spring 2016 Limited Edition($149) for Goulet Pens and my first Edison fountain pen. Its one of the shapes in the Edison line-up that has always appealed to me so I was excited to have the opportunity to get this particular model. The long slender shape with bullet ends seemed like a very vintage shape but the colors of the acrylic resin material are pretty modern. The vivid pearlescent cerulean blue and pink swirls (AKA “clown vomit”) were an added bonus. I couldn’t resist filling the pen with an equally eye-popping Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu pink ink either. In for a penny…

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

The body has a lightly etched branding and the name of the pen and the limited edition information but is otherwise unbranded on the outside. The nib has the Edison light bulb logo etched on it as well as the stock swirls and the nib size.

The pen features all silver hardware and nib and I got an EF nib which ended up working really well with my miniature handwriting. In general, the overall look of the pen is clean and simple letting the colors of the acrylic resin steal the show. My only complaint about the pen is that the nib seems a little large for the slenderness of the the pen body. It seems a little disproportionate but that might just me. I’m used to vintage pens with smaller nibs overall.

Edison Nouveau Premiere Water Lily Spring 2016

Writing with the pen is quite comfortable and the pen shipped with a cartridge converter that had a generous capacity. The overall length of the pen did not require posting the cap and the pen was nicely balanced without the cap being posted. The cap can be posted if you choose to and its light enough not to throw off the balance.

The pen weighs 18gms capped and filled and is 6 inches long. Uncapped, it’s 5 inches and posted, its 6.75″.It weighs 11gms uncapped and filled.

Fountain Pen Weights

I’m sad to say that the Water Lily edition is sold out already but Goulet Pens does a special edition Edison every quarter so a summer edition should be released soon. I kick myself for missing some of the previous editions now so I won’t make that mistake again.


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

Pen Review: Sailor Fude de Mannen Fountain Pens

Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens

A couple of days before I left for the Atlanta Pen Show, the amazing Joey Feldman sent me two Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens to try. I had been wanting to try these fountain pens for ages since many artists and calligraphers had raved about them but I had had a hard time finding anyone who had them in stock. Along came Joey with a couple he wasn’t using and voila! I’m flush with the funky nib wunderkinds.

Sailor Fude de Mannen fountain pens

The big deal about the Fude de Mannen fountain pens are the bent angle nibs that look like the nibs are broken but they are purposely bent to allow for brush-like ink flow from a fountain pen nib. This allows from very expressive line quality for calligraphy and drawing depending on the angle at which the nib is aligned with the paper. The more parallel the nib is aligned with the paper, the more ink will be applied to the paper; the steeper the angle, the finer the line.

Sailor Fude de Mannen 40º nib

The first one is the Sailor DE 40º Brush Style Calligraphy Fountain Pen. JetPens lists it for $16.50 and says its navy blue but it is so dark that I thought it was black. The trim is gold toned and it is a particularly long pen. The body is a lightweight plastic though so the length is not particularly noticeable once I started using it though I didn’t post the cap as it requires a bit of force to post it and makes the pen ridiculously long and a little back-heavy. The 40º pen does not have a clip but there is a roll-stop bit of plastic on the cap to keep the pen from rolling away.

Sailor Fude De Mannen 55º nib

The smaller pen is the Sailor Profit 55º Fude de Mannen Fountain Pen. I was only able to find it on Amazon for $21.66. Its a shorter pen, more traditional in length and the cap posts much more easily and the weight is more evenly distributed when the cap is posted. The Profit also writes with a much broader stroke overall which looks much more dramatic. When angled just right, the 55º is pretty much a firehose of ink which can be a lot of fun. Angled at a steeper angel, it cam be used more like a traditional broad nib.

Both pens use the Sailor cartridges or the Sailor converter.

I found the 40º pen to be a little bit scratchier on paper compared to the Profit 55º. I don’t know if it was the angle of the nibs or the specific nibs themselves. It could have just been a fluke of the pen I have but the Profit 55º skated like butter on the paper where there was a little more resistance with the 40º, for whatever reason. I might buy another one just to see if it was this specific pen that was a little rough or a difference between the two product lines. Either way, at around $20 per pen, I can hardly complain about quality control since the overall pen is very well done and the nibs are very unique and almost impossible to get in any other configuration without going into the hundreds-of-dollars price points.

Sailor Fude De Mannen writing drawing samples

I had a lot of fun drawing and trying out different lettering styles with these pens and I will definitely continue to experiment with these. Since the price points on these pens are so reasonable as well, I might even try using some permanent inks so that I can add some watercolor and marker to the drawings as well. Then I really have an excuse to buy another one and just label one “carbon ink” and one “water soluble”. If you like trying out different types of tools and $20 won’t break your bank, I definitely recommend picking one or both of these up. The scale you prefer to work will determine whether the 40º or the 55º will be more to your taste. If you work in sketchbooks smaller than A4, then I would recommend the 40º if you work A4 (US Letter or larger) than the 55º is probably a better option or if you like to work in big, bold shapes and patterns.

Review: Monteverde Soft Roll Refills

Monteverde Soft Roll Refills Retro 51a

Generally speaking, I tend to avoid ballpoint refills because I don’t often have very good luck with ballpoint ink. Being left-handed, it tends to smear more often and hard start more often for me than most people. But when Bert at Bertram’s Inkwell insisted I try the Monteverde Soft Roll refills in my Retro 51s as an alternative to the Schmidt P8126 refills, I decided to give it a shot, if only as scientific research. Bert insisted that the superbroad version was one of his best sellers but I was skeptical, being a proponent of the extrafine refills myself. So we settled on trying both. The Parker-style refills fit perfectly in the Retro 51s, something I had not actually tried before so that was an added bonus and opened up a whole new world of refills to me.

Monteverde Soft Roll Writing Samples

It turns out, that on Rhodia paper, both of the Soft Roll refills actually worked really well. The superbroad refill forced me to write a little bit larger than I normally do so that the letters didn’t close up. The ink was actually quite smooth and didn’t have that oily look a lot of ballpoint ink gets. It also didn’t skip or break up like a lot of ballpoint ink does when I write either. The extrafine wrote so smoothly and precisely I forgot it was ballpoint ink at all and kept thinking it was a gel ink.

Monteverde Soft Roll Refills Retro 51s

I used the extrafine refill all week in my Retro51 Bouquet so it was tested on copier paper, Moleskine paper and various and sundry office papers with satisfactory results. I did a few additional tests with the superbroad on a legal pad and there was a bit more evidence of bloops but that’s probably a result of cheap paper combined with the refill putting down a good deal more ink.

If I’m going to use a ballpoint, I’m going to choose one of these refills because the quality is far superior to the average drugstore stick pen. Go, Monteverde!

Both the superbroad and extrafine refills come in a two-pack for $8.95.


DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Bert at Bertram’s Inkwell for these samples. This item was given to me free of charge for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Ranga Modified Fountain Pen

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The Ranga Acrylic Fountain Pen is a very different kind of pen for me to review and to describe so I apologize in advance if this is a little strange. First of all, this pen came to me pre-modified by the fabulous Leigh Reyes. She has provided detailed instructions on her web site along with a video on how to make this modification for yourself, I was just lucky enough to get a hands-on demonstration and prepared pen.

So, to give you more details, the Ranga acrylic fountain pens come with a standard steel fountain pen nib with an ebonite feed that is friction fit and an eyedropper filling mechanism. The reason this is such a good candidate for modification for a flex dip nib is because of the ebonite feed which will allow better flow and can be manipulated to increase flow.

If you can’t tell yet, this is not a beginner’s fountain pen or project. If you averse to having inky fingers for get annoyed if your pen chokes up on you this is NOT a pen for you. However, if you are tired of dip pen dipping, then this can be your new best friend. Because, with some patience and tweaking, the Ranga can hum along beautifully.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

I included the above image to show that there was a lot of trials on scratch paper and nib cleaning. I’m serious when I say this is a tweaker’s pen. But look how cool this is! If you do a lot a lettering with flex dip nib, anything that makes writing a few more lines without dipping is a bonus so you know what I’m so excited about.

Ranga Nikko G Fountain Pen

The pen is about 5.5″ long capped. The cap will post making the pen almost 7″ from the tip of the flex nib to the end of the cap. Filled with ink it is pretty light, only 20 gms but the Ranga Acrylic is a little wider at the grip section in the hand than a lot of nib holders which tend to be very narrow which is really nice.

Fountain Pen Weights

Ranga Acrylics are available on Amazon with free shipping which seems to be the best option if you live in the US. If you live in the Phillipines, Pengrafik stocks the Ranga Acrylics. Peyton Street Pens in the US stocks some Ranga pens fitted with vintage nibs that may offer some flex as an alternative to using dip nibs.

I purchased a Desiderata Daedalus pen in Chicago that I will review in the next week or so. It works on a similar principle in that it holds a Zebra G nib but is comes prepared to accept the Zebra G nib without the tinkering required to make the Ranga work with a flex nib but it still requires some preparation.

Finally, here’s a little Instagram video I did (handheld!) and managed to misspell Ranga in the process but you can see the flex in action. I’ve since purchased a tripod so hopefully my videos will improve.

Review: Platinum Maki-E Nylon Bristle Brush Pen

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

Platinum Classic Brush Pen with Mt. Fuji and Cherry Blossoms Pattern ($52) is a nylon fiber brush pen with a beautiful slender black body. It features a gold toned clip and gold accents and a painted Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms designs. Its one of the most traditionally Japanese motfi pens I’ve ever owned and I’m surprised how tickled I am with the overall aesthetics of the pen. The overal shape of the pen is a smooth torpedo shape and the cap has a smooth, pill-shaped clip which is simple and understated.

The pen came in a simple black paperboard box with gold foil lettering and graphics on the exterior and red velveteen paperboard on the inside with a simple ribbon band to hold the pen in place. The packaging was elegant without being extravagant, if that makes sense.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen

But the real feature of the pen is the brush tip rather than a fountain pen or rollerball under the cap. The brush tip is made up of nylon fibers like a paintbrush but inside the aesthetics of a fountain pen. The pen works with a cartridge or a regular Platinum converter.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen Close-up

The bristles on the nylon tip come to a crisp point and the nylon fibers spring back quickly with a nice bounce. I decided to test the pen on both my usual Rhodia paper as well as some Strathmore Mixed Media drawin paper which is a toothier stock and found both the pen and the stock ink cartridge to perform quite well. The toothier Strathmore paper made it a little bit easier to control the brush pen versus the silky smooth Rhodia paper making me feel a little more confident in my mark-making.

Platinum Maki-E Brush Pen Writing Sample

The pen comes with a black cartridge with Platinum Black ink and the  Platinum converter ($7.50) will fit as well which will allow a range of inks to be used. The Platinum Black ink is not waterproof but its definitely water resistant. I’m inclined to keep only black ink in this pen for the duration as I expect it would be difficult to ever get all this black out of the bristles and feed. I’d also be cautious about leaving this pen sit too long without using it in case the ink dried in the brush. It might be difficult to get it cleaned completely if the ink were to dry. Altenately, the Platinum Black is a rich, dense black that looks fantastic so it appears to be worth the trouble it might cause if you like a good solid black line for drawing or calligraphy.

Overall, I really like this pen. As its one of my first brush pens over $10 (by a long shot) I don’t have a huge basis for comparison. However, the quality of the brush tip itself is a big upgrade from the budget-priced nylon bristle brush pens I’ve purchased in the past. Add to that, the overall feel of the pen and the beautiful Maki-E painting and I feel like I have a real treasure on my hands.


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