Category: Pen Review

Pen Review: Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens close-up

The Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens, available in SB, MB and BB, were something I discovered in a very roundabout way. I was reading Lisa Condon’s blog again and she was talking about more of the tools she liked yo use. I started clicking on links and next thing I knew, voila! I had these in my cart. They are longer than a standard Micron pen, more like a paint brush length and a bit more expensive at $3.90 each but the ink is fade resistant, archival and waterproof and I think the tips are a superior quality to the standard Pigma brush line so I think the upcharge is worth it.

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pen Tips

The tips of the pens are felt/foam/whatever-it-is and it is the springiest version of this material that I’ve ever experienced. Even with pressure, the points and edges spring back into shape quickly and easily. Making them fun to use and they keep their brush point shape. The point retention seems really good too though I’ve only used them for about a week so time will be the real determining factor here but so far, so good.

Sakura Pigma Professional Brush Pens writing sample

These were so fun to draw with the range of line widths, even with the finest tip size was quite dramatic. The BB was big! If you like to work large or want to do something like calligraphic graffiti, this would be a great pen for it. Such fun. In my waterproof test, I had no issues with water but when I added the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush pens over the watered wet ink, I did get some running of the colors. I don’t know if this was a reaction from the ink in the Coloring Brush pens or the combination of the water, Professional Brush pen and Coloring Brush pens. That said, the Professional Brush pens were not affected by the water at all but did get some color travel with the other markers so you may want to do some experiments before using these pens on artwork just in case there are any other fugitive color reactions. My next experiments will probably be with actual watercolor paints and the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens. I think that would look great if the colors don’t bleed.

Overall, I love the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens and I look forward to seeing the longevity of the tips. So springy, I hope they last a long time!


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: Gelly Roll 64-Piece Gel Pen Set

gelly rolls

Hoo, boy! When I decide to go down the path I pretty much take the WHOLE ROAD. In the case of the Sakura Gelly Roll pens, I got the whole kit-and-caboodle! That’s right, I got the Sakura Gelly Roll 64-Color Set Box ($80). I mean, really? How was I supposed to pick just a handful?

The pens came in a translucent plastic box divided into five sections and the wrapper has a color key on the reverse that I could fill in see what each color looks like. Don’t you just want to dig your fingers into each of these compartments and pull out all the pens?!?! The box is a standard plastic art supply tackle box but did not add anything to the cost of the purchase of the all these pens and gave a nice way to keep them all organized. The 64-pen set works out to $1.25 per pen which is cheaper than buying the pens individually so the case is basically free. WIN!

gelly rolls

The 64-color set includes 17 classic/regular pens (in 0.3 mm and 0.4 mm), 14 metallic pens, 10 Moonlight pens, 13 Stardust pens, and 10 Shadow Pens (5 in gold shadow and 5 in silver shadow).

The Classic Gelly pens (0.3 mm and 0.4 mm) glide on in a gloss look and dry to an opaque matte finish. These are available in fine and medium point and include on opaque white which is probably one of the most popular options. The white is a great pen for adding in highlights on drawings, using as a “white out” pen or for writing on dark papers. The Gelly Roll Classics look like matte paint when dry which is part of their appeal.

The Metallic pens (0.4mm)  have a fine mica metallic sheen and are opaque making them great for dark stocks.  The colors included a range of jewel tones, gold, silver and copper plus a black metallic which reminded me of asphalt.

The Moonlight colors (listed as 0.5 mm but its seems much wider) are fluorescent and/or super opaque bright colors but take an age to dry and are a pretty wide point. Despite the slow dry times and wide tips, I find myself reaching for these over and over.

The Stardust pens (listed as 0.5 mm but its seems much wider), particularly the clear which is one of my favorite, are glitter with an archival ink base. The glitter may flake away but the colors will remain true. These also had a bit longer dry time but not as long as the Moonlight or Shadow pens.

The Shadow pens (0.7 mm) are the strangest of the bunch, in my opinion. These pens will halo with either silver or gold with a core of the ink color. They are very thick, viscous color and take some time to dry but would be fun for decorating envelopes or letters. They are definitely a bit too broad from general note-taking.

gelly rolls

I tried to photograph my samples from a couple angles to catch the light and show the tinkly effects of the various pens but I think I’ll end up having to put together a quick video just to show off the full effect at some point.

gelly rolls

gelly rolls

gelly rolls

Strangely, my favorite colors in the set ended up being the Moonlight Fluorescent Vermillion, the Stardust Sky Star, the Metallic Emerald (that was sort of a “duh”), the Stardust Clear glitter, the Classic medium orange, and the fine Classic Royal Blue. I pulled those out and added them to my daily pen case. I’m still trying to figure out the best ways to utilize the Shadow pens but I suspect envelope addressing will be their forte.

If you think you might ever want to go down the Gelly Roll Rabbit Hole, I think you’re going to have to buy the whole 64-pen box. You’re going to want ALL OF THE COLORS. I know I did and I’m glad I did. Yes, $80 is a lot of money but then I think how much I spend on one fountain pen and it all goes back into perspective.


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

Review: Koi Watercolor Brush Pens 12-Color Set

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I was introduced to the Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pens 12-color set ($27)  by way of Lisa Condon’s blog, Today Is Going To Be To Be Awesome. She had a post on her sidebar about her favorite tools to use for drawing and illustration and one of her recommended pens for sketchbook use were the 12-color set of Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

The pens are felt-tipped and shaped like a paint brush tip. The colors are bright, clean and vivid and are water soluble so they will blend together easily allowing the 12-color set to extend itself into a wider range of colors by blending the colors together.

If you do blend the colors together, be sure to have a piece of scratch paper handy because the colors will migrate from pen to pen and you’ll want to clean off any color transfer that might occur in the process though this can also create some interesting an unexpected results. Just be prepared.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

The set comes in a plastic sleeve but I prefer to dump out all my pens immediately into a pen case or a cup so they are handy and accessible. If they are all locked away in a protective sleeve, I find they don’t get used which is a waste.  Rolling around on my desk, I wrote notes, doodled, colored and generally just enjoyed the bright vivid colors all week which was welcomed in the bleak January days I have to say!

The black pen in the set is also water soluble so I would not recommend using it as an outliner and then trying to go back and fill in with colors as the black will migrate. The word “KOI” on my sample has darker colors because the black started to creep into the center. If you want to do outlining in black brush pen and then use the Sakura Pigma Professional Brush pens instead which are permanent and then add color with the Koi Coloring Brush Pens.

Koi Coloring Brush Pens

I think these pens might spend a little time out with our coloring books this week and see how it plays there. I’d also like to add in a little light water brush to lighten the colors a bit and help to blend so that the colors will play even more like watercolor. I did try a water brush after photographing the samples and the colors do continue to blend even several hours later so these will definitely be lots of fun to play with. A very clean, portable way to use watercolors on the go! And, wow! Are the colors ever bright and clean and juicy!


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: Pilot Multi Ball

Pilot Multiball

I found the Pilot Multi Ball pen in a subscription kit I received this week. Its not a pen I’d ever seen before but it turns out to be one I could easily pick up at JetPens for $1.65. Its a fine tipped rollerball and what I didn’t realize until after I wrote my review is that one of its notable characteristics is its ability to write on slick surfaces though it might take awhile to dry. I just used it as a standard rollerball and compared it to other pens in my stash.

Pilot Multiball

The entire time I was using the Pilot Multi Ball I kept yelling “multipass!” If you’re a fan of the sci-fi film The Fifth Element, you’ll understand the reference. Besides the silly and slightly distracting name, the pen was actually a pleasing experience. I was surprised because I  picked it up on a whim thinking it was going to be a ho-hum extra added into my subscription kit as filler.  I’m also one of those unfortunate left handed writers that choke the life out of rollerball pens so I have a tendency to avoid them most of the time. Killing a pen by touching it is just embarrassing. But I didn’t kill the Multi Ball. In fact, it wrote smoothly for me and created a nice, clean, fine line.

The Multi Ball pen is a simple, capped, plastic barrel with a rubbery grip section and a plastic clip. Its wider than most low-end, plastic, non-refillable pens. The barrel is closer in diameter to a Sharpie marker than to a Sharpie Pen. It makes it quite comfortable for longer writing sessions. The cap will post but the clip also keeps the cap from rolling off the table so I just left it off while I wrote.

Pilot Multiball

I wanted to compare the Multi Ball to the writing from a couple other pens to show the line weight and ink color. As you can see the black ink is quite dark and dense and, because of the rollerball tip, the Multi Ball is not going to lose its fine point over time the way a felt tip pen will. At the bottom you can see how, within three words, I choke the life out of a regular Uniball rollerball pen.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the Pilot Multi Ball. Its not a pen I would have purchased because of my past experiences with rollerball pens but I’m glad it ended up in my hands. It’s made me reconsider looking at other rollerballs as well.

Pen Review: Sakura Ballsign Neon & Pastel Sets

Sakura Ballsign Neon & Pastel 0.6mm

I tend to get afflicted with pen obsessions and my current passion is all things Sakura Ballsign. Poor pens with the stupid names but good grief are they fabulous to write with! At first, I thought Ballsign the shape was a little odd — sort of an elongated teardrop shape that was a little bulbous at the grip — and visibly unappealing that would make me not want to use them. However, what made them sort of dumpy-looking made them extremely comfortable to hold. The retractable tip also made them easy to use and super portable which made me want to use them even more. Add to that, the fact that the original set I purchased was virtually waterproof and I was hooked. So I had to order more of them.

I placed an order for the pastel ($13.50) and neon ($13.50) sets. These were both available in 5-color sets in 0.6mm sizes only but I was willing to give them a shot. Each 5-piece set came in a poly-plastic box. Its not super durable like the StaedtlerTriplus marker boxes but enough to keep the sets together if you prefer to keep them separated.

The pastel and neon sets at 0.6mm are just a tiny bit wider than what I would normally choose in my gel pens but because the colors are pretty light, the wider lines are probably not a bad thing to help make everything a bit more visible.

Sakura Ballsign Neon Pastel 0.6mm

Upon testing the colors first on white paper, most of the colors showed up pretty nicely on the paper. The neon yellow was a bit light  and the pastel white was, of course, not particularly useful on white. But I had a sneaking suspicion that these pens might also work well on dark or colored paper stocks.

Sakura Ballsign Neon 0.6mm

Sakura Ballsign Pastel 0.6mm

I tested both colors on swatches of black gesso and lo and behold all five colors in both sets are opaque over dark colors! If you have a kraft paper insert for your Midori Traveler’s Notebook or other toned paper stocks, you might find these pens to be very fun and useful. I even like the matte opaque qualities of the pastels on white paper and the vivid neon of the pink, red and orange on white paper as well.

The neon and pastel Ballsign pens are not as water resistant as the standard Ballsign gel pens which is the only drawback I could find and it really is a minor complaint since very few gel pens are actually water resistant anyway.

If you like the idea of adding some more varied colors to your gel pen collection for color coding than the neon and/or pastel Sakura Ballsign sets would make great additions.

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: Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop (and Giveaway)

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

I can’t believer how long Pilot waited to release the brightly colored line of their Metropolitan pens known as Retro Pop. The Retro Pop line offers six fabulous colors of the brushed aluminum bodies: red, orange, lime green, turquoise, purple and grey. And the pens are available as both fountain pens and rollerballs. I had a tough time choosing just one color so I bought two: a turquoise with a medium nib and a lime green with a fine nib. I probably should have bought all six, the colors are so fabulous!

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

Each pen color has a different pattern on the band below the cap. The turquoise pen has a op art dot pattern and the lime green has a sort of marbled feathered pattern. These elements are similar to how the previous Metropolitan pens have been handled with the animal print patterns on the bands or a smooth shiny finish featured here. All the Retro Pop fountain pens ship in a black plastic case with a clear plastic lid that is ugly and I’d rather not talk about it. For a $15 pen, I would have been fine with the pen being shipped in an environmentally-friendly recyclable paperboard box instead. The box included one black cartridge and a CON-20 squeeze converter. I’m not a fan of the squeeze fillers but, in a pinch, they will do. Even upgrading to a CON-50 twist converter will only add $5.50 to the price of the pen and most Pilot pens can use the CON-50 as well so it can be shared among several pens as they circulate through your collection.

Pilot Metropolitan Reto Pop Fountain Pens

Both the fine and medium nibs featured on the Metropolitan pens are much finer than European and American pens as are common among most Japanese pens. But boy, are the Pilot nibs ever smooth! Pilot did not skimp even on these low priced Metropolitans regarding the nibs. They really are some of the best values available in the pen market today. They are well-weighted, smooth, the caps snap nicely to close and will post if you prefer to post them while writing.

The fine nib will give a writing experience similar to a rollerball like a Sanford Uni-ball fine, a little bit stiffer and firm. The medium nib will have a little bit softer nib experience and give more line variation. It feels like a much more expensive fountain pen. Its pretty darn magical for the price.

Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Fountain Pens

I filled my pens with the ink cartridges from the Pilot Parallel Mixable Colour cartridges in turquoise and light green which actually match the pen barrels pretty accurately and came from the assorted color set. Goulet Pens carries the Parallel Mixable Colour cartridges in single color packets or in the assorted color set.

The Retro Pop colors offer a wide enough range of colors to the previously more sedate Metropolitan options to appeal to just about anyone’s taste preferences. If you ever wanted to introduce someone to the wonderful world of fountain pens, there is no better option than the Metropolitan now. Its clean look, wide color options and easy filling (with cartridge or CON-50 upgrade) is a no-brainer introduction.

I love the Retro Pop pens so much, Goulet Pens has kindly donated one for me to give away to one lucky reader. So here’s all the details:

The Giveaway Details:

The Goulet Pens Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop giveaway package contents: A lime green Retro Pop with fine nib, a vastly superior Con-50 converter and a surprise ink sample package set. The pen and goodies will be sent directly from Goulet Pens. Thanks, Goulet Pens for making this possible!

To Enter:

Leave a comment below and tell me what the lime green color of the Retro Pop pen most reminds you of. Or tell what color you like to see added to the Retro Pop line. That’s it. Easy peasy limeade squeezy.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Friday, December 4, 2015. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Saturday. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Include your “daily use” email address in the comment form (I’m the only one who will see it besides the vendor providing the prize) so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If winner does not respond within 30 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. US residents only please.

The New Karas Kustoms INK

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

The first improvement to the Karas Kustoms INK fountain pen is a snazzy wrap, letterpress printed right here in Kansas City by Skylab Letterpress — not that I’m biased or anything. But it is pretty spiffy, isn’t it?

CORRECTION: The premium packaging will only be included with the copper and brass models. I got a special edition because there was a sample wrap in the house thanks to the printer, AKA Skylab Letterpress, AKA my husband.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Inside is a stellar anodized INK in olive green. Pictured here with a fabulous autumn-y skein of yarn that my friend Laura picked up in Montana on a recent road trip.

The new version of the INK is available in several other colors as well, of course. These include the silver aluminum, and other anodized finishes — blue, black, brown,  green, gold, grey, orange, pink, red, and violet, as well as solid copper and solid brass, and a tumbled raw aluminum. And of course, the olive green I received.

There is also a clipless model available for an even sleeker look. The INK and the INK Clipless start at $95 with slightly higher prices for brass and copper grip sections or bodies.

This model is accented with the brass grip section and is the best looking though, in my humble opinion. You are welcome to disagree.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

What I noticed the minute I saw the INK was that the color was a dead ringer for my 1981 Vespa PK125 scooter. But I figured I had to prove it. See?

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Perfect match.

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

Karas Kustom INK olive green anodized

In writing, the best part of the INK is the new Bock nib. Its super smooth and scaled to match the larger proportions of the INK very well. The whole pen feels smoother between the threads to the grip to the barrel. Overall, the whole pen feels more refined in small, meaningful ways.

Now for whatever reason, I decided to fill the INK with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. I guess I’m getting hit with a bit of the Christmas time spirit but the ink flowed smoothly and the pen wrote beautifully. When I started writing with the INK I forgot about the pen and  just focused on what I was writing– my thought and my words. And really, isn’t that what you want from a pen? A really good pen should just melt away and be an extension of your arm, right? Well, the INK did that for me to the point that I had to remind myself I was writing with it for a review. So that’s really the best kind of writing experience.


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