Fountain Pen Review: Pelikan Souverän M600 Turquoise White

Review by Laura Cameron

When Pelikan released the photos of the Souverän M600 Turquoise-White I was pretty smitten.  Even though it was more than any pen I had owned previously, I was dying to get my hands on one.  So when Pelikan offered to loan a ballpoint and fountain set to the Desk for review, Ana made me promise three times to return it when I was done.

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

The Souverän M600 Turquoise-White is the newest special edition Pelikan (it joins previous White and Pink editions).  The set feature barrels with Pelikan’s signature stripes white and turquoise acetate, white end caps, and 24 carat gold accents (rings and clip).  The fountain pen features a 14 carat two toned nib with rhodium trim.  When given a choice of nib, I asked to test an EF.

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

The first thing I noticed when I received these pens was the color difference between the promotional photos and the pens themselves. While the promotional photos showed a much greener-leaning color, the pens I received were bright blue. They do remind me of turquoise tropical waters, but not so much of the turquoise gemstone.

The pens themselves were beautiful. I spent most of my time with the fountain pen, which I filled with J. Herbin Orange Indien for a nice contrast. The pen wrote smoothly from the get go. The nib itself was wider than I was used to (Pelikans have Western sized nibs, so an EF writes more like a Japanese Fine or Medium), but writing with it was like butter. It just glided over the page, unlike any other pen I have used.

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

Pelikan M600 & Ballpoint

The pen itself is moderately sized, just on the upper end of what is comfortable for my small hand. As you can see below, I have an M200 that is a bit shorter and thinner, and the M600 is close to the width of the Sailor 1911 and the Platinum 3776, if a bit shorter. The fountain pen comes in at 18 g unfilled, and 13.3 cm unposted (the cap does post, yielding a length of 15.4 cm. The ballpoint weights 24.9 g and is 12.8cm long.

Pelikan Lineup
L to R: Platinum 3776, Pelikan M200, Pelkan Souveran M600, Sailor 1911, Pelkan Souveran Ballpoint

Pelikan Lineup

Pelikan Lineup

I should say, that I did test the ballpoint and was quite impressed with how it wrote. I admit that most of my ballpoint experience is either at the low end of the market (Pentel R.S.V.P. Fine at work) or in the Retro 51 category (I love my Retro 51s). The Pelikan ballpoint was quite a different experience; it required very little pressure and the application was fairly even compared to those Pentels!

Overall, I really enjoyed the opportunity to test the Pelikan Souverän set. They are beautiful pens and I aspire to own one some day!

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

Chicago Pen Show 2018 Recap (Part 2)

Chicago Pen Show 2018 Recap (Part 2)

Laura put together her perspective of the Chicago Pen Show so I guess its my turn. While she can still count how many pen shows she’s been to, I have lost count. While Laura knit on the drive to Chicago, I drove. My beloved Mini needed a goodly amount of service prior to the trip including a new front sub-woofer (someone likes a lot of bass) but at least, this year FC and I made it to Chicago without any incidents (last year was a whole different story). Laura only had to grip on to the dash board a couple times.

We arrived in Chicago with enough time to check into the hotel, unpack and get to dinner with my dad and stepmom in a timely fashion on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, inclement weather delayed our roommate and dear pal, Jessica. She ended up spending the night in various airports while we were saved from sleeping on the foldout couch. Thursday started with Starbucks and a quick jaunt to the nail salon in the strip mall next door. With claws in check and caffeine in the veins, we returned to the hotel to find Jessica bleary-eyed but alive and Lisa Vanness finally arrived.

We sent Jessica to bed and we started to unpack the van. For me to afford to attend multiple pen shows, I help out vendors. Most often, I help Lisa Vanness. This offsets my expenditures and keeps me off the show floor for the better part of the show meaning I don’t spend quite so much money. Folks can usually find me and I like helping folks choose ink, paper and pens. I learn a lot about what is popular at a particular show and how it differs from show to show. Its amazing how, in a matter of a month, the things folks ask about changes.

Anyway… back to the recap!

Mike Matteson and Jim from BYOB helped us unpack the van which was awesome. While Lisa, Laura and I are fast and efficient, we are also three of the shortest, smallest people at any given pen show. So, it’s nice when we can bribe larger, stronger people to help us with the big displays.

Once we were set up as best as we could be on Thursday night, we were able to play a bit.

The perfect end to the day. Love to see @justvanness laugh! #chicagopenshow2018

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We went to dinner at Red Robin across the parking lot for convenience and for the giant stack of donuts. Really, we wnet for the donuts. Look how happy they made Lisa.

Then we needed to get some sleep so we were ready for Friday morning. Laura and I made an early run to the Starbucks down the street first thing to be properly caffeinated and got the booth set-up for the early weekend pass holders. The sooner we are set-up, the sooner Laura and I can do a quick run to various vendors for our own nefarious outings: scoping out the Franklin-Christoph prototypes, grabbing bottles of the show special inks from Papier Plume, signing up early for nib grinding and checking out any favorite vendors for their latest wares. The early bird and all…

In my case, it meant getting to feast on a muffin and chatting with a few of my favorite cohorts before we got too busy. Which is a good thing because once the show starts, the rest of my day pretty much goes by in a blur.

@sarjminhas One man pen show, one man party! #chicagopenshow2018 #whiskeytasting

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Friday night, after the show closes, the organizers host a pizza party and then the Black Pen Society folks host a whiskey tasting party. As you can see, Sarj clearly had a head start when I took this photo. He’s always the life of the party and I’m so glad he and Jas make the trip across the pond for the Chicago show. Many whiskies were tasted and then inks and pens were sloppily tested before I fell head first into bed.

Saturday was a blur of ink and pen shilling, starting with a request to find a pen refill to fit into a an unusual vintage pen set. “I heard you’re the one to ask about pen refills.” Clearly, my reputation precedes me. Luckily, I had a few refills in my bag and was able to find one that worked. I sent the gentleman over to Bert at Bertram’s Inkwell for a refill. Phew. Reputation intact.

Saturday night, Audrey from Franklin-Christoph hosted a pre-party Nibs & Nails event and shared her other love with us. We all had a chance to paint our nails and have a quick drink before the Pen Mixer.

The Pen Mixer is a sort of “speed dating” for pen people that Lisa Vanness hosted at the bar on Saturday night. With the help of Laura, Eleanore and many “table hosts” including myself. Each table host shared knowledge about a particular topic or skill and party goers spent a designated amount of time at each table before they rotated, as a group, to the next table. Table host topics included nibmeisters,vintage pen collectors with specialties like flex nibs or a certain area of knowledge (like Parker, Sheaffer, Pelikan, etc), paper, journaling, calligraphy, etc. Each table seated about eight people so party attendees had a chance to talk, listen or ask questions on a topic that they might not have been able to do in the hub-bub of the show. Did you want to know more about different types of nibs? The difference between celluloid and resin? What’s the big deal with Spencerian script? At the Pen Mixer, attendees had the chance to ask all these questions and more to table hosts all while doodling, drinking and eating appetizers and a very large gummi snake.

Next thing I knew it was Sunday and the final day of the show was upon us. The Vanness tables were packed up a bit earlier due to a family emergency so Laura and I had a few precious hours to shop before the show closed. I was able to make a few last-minute purchases that included things like micro-mesh and hard-to-find converters. Very exciting stuff.

On Sunday, my worlds collided when my pal Lindy turned up at the pen show. Lindy is a knitter, spinner and former letterpress printer so to see her at the pen show was a “well, of course you’d cross over into pens! why not?” I just wish we would have had more time to hang out. I hope as a pen newbie she got a great pen show experience. If you’re a knitter/fiber person in the Chicago area, be sure to check out her event: YarnCon!

We had a feast at Panda Express (don’t ask!) and then recorded an episode of the BYOB Jellybean Mode featuring me! It should be airing soon. The ever-delightful Jesi hosted the interview which was so fun. The BYOB crew recorded several interviews throughout the weekend so its taken some time to get them all processed and released. There is also an episode with Paul Erano with Laura and I where, in our delirium of exhaustion, we are both inducted into the Black Pen Society! It didb’t actually dawn on us that it had occurred, and been documented for posterity until we were driving home on Monday.

I did finally get to try @reachingralph‘s amazing Epilogue nib as well as several other of his new stacked nibs. Of course, by the time I got to try them, they were all sold out! His Regalia Writing Labs is a new creation and worth watching out for. Everyone was blown away by his skill and craftsmanship.

We drove home in a daze, talking about everything that happened and plotting our next pen show adventure… as one does.

And because Laura and I spend so much time together in general, we completely forgot to take a road trip photo. So I’ll just stick the photo we took in LA here to prove that we do actually both exist and promise to take a photo together next time we are both in the same place at the same time… which will be Wednesday.

Pencil Holder Review: Tokyo Slider Twin

Review by Tina Koyama

When the Tokyo Slider Twin Pencil Holder ($11.50) first came out, it caught my eye for several reasons. One is that conventional-size woodcased pencils are a little too slim for my comfort, and I experience less hand fatigue if I fatten the barrel with a holder. Another is that I have a thing for bicolor pencils, and my secret desire is to someday make my own (with something like the Tsunago concept, except one that works for colored pencils). While pencil holders and extenders for one pencil are commonplace, I’d never seen a twin holder before: I immediately saw the bicolor potential. Finally, I rarely see pencil holders/extenders made of wood, and the Slider’s smooth, round barrel appealed to me.

I chose the reddish-brown wood. The Tokyo Slider also comes in a single-pencil version and in white wood and red wood.

To test the holder, I chose a conventional yellow pencil that’s getting too short to use easily and a tiny stub that’s so short it must be sharpened with a knife (both hexagonal).

A cap on either end of the Slider screws off, revealing an inner sleeve. Place the pencil into the sleeve, and replace the cap to secure.

The tiny stub was easy to install securely, too.

Even with two pencils installed Darth Maul-style, the Slider is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable to use. The barrel is exactly the diameter I find comfortable in hand and for long writing or drawing use.

I also tested a conventional diameter round pencil and triangular pencil, and they both fit fine. The whole barrel is hollow, so I could even install a full-length pencil (using one end of the holder only).

Final Impressions

As expected, my colored pencils with larger-than-average-diameter barrels (such as Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle and Luminance) would not fit. But all the rest fit well, so I’m going to go through my stubs and make a handy bicolor. (In fact, I think I’m going to get a couple more Sliders – six colors in the space of three would make a very portable sketch kit!)

Darth Maul, eat your heart out.

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.

Video: Marie Kondo – How to Tidy Your Office

While I’ve waffled about how I feel about minimalism and the KonMari Method, my office and desk has reached an all-time level of excess and extreme measures need to be considered. Today is a grey and rainy day and there’s no time like the present to tackle some serious purging.

This is the first video I’ve seen that has translating the “spark joy” metaphor into something relating to work or functionality relevant to one’s office or other situation where you may need to keep items that serve a purpose.

I’m going to go Kondo the studio now. Cross your fingers for me.

Ink Review: Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Ink Review: Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve

Robert Oster Australian Opal Mauve ($17 per 50ml bottle) is one of my favorite ink colors from 2017 and I cannot believe I hadn’t written a review for it already. So, I’ll start out with an apology for waiting so long to write a review  and confess that this will be a wholly biased review.

I swatched this ink color from a sample at the Little Rock Pen Show in 2017 on a whim. Up until this point, I’d mostly tried Oster’s blues and greens and Opal Mauve was so unusual from any of the other colors I’d seen from Oster at that point, that I walked across the aisle of the show and handed Chris at the Vanness table the requisite funds for a whole bottle.

I really wouldn’t describe the color as mauve as the word as developed such a disreputable association over the years. It is absolutely luminous. It hovers between lavender and red-violet with an occasional flash of deep violet or pink shading depending on whether it gets dark or light.

Look at that range of color! It is like a purple opal for sure.

Even with a fine nib, its still fully legible for writing with a plummy tone — not too pinky but not a dark purple either. If you’ve read this blog for awhile, you might remember a few years back I was on a hunt for a smoky plum ink? Opal Mauve is a little bit pinker than what I had originally envisioned but a heck of a lot closer than any of the inks I tried.

Opal Mauve has little-to-no water resistance but would make lovely shading inks for painting.

Compared to some other inks in my stash, Opal Mauve certainly has the greatest range of color shading. Colorverse #4 Einstein Ring is a bit darker. Private Reserve Arabian Rose is very close in color but does not have the same range of shading not does Rohrer and Klingner Alt. Bordeaux.

Like I said at the beginning, this is one of my favorite inks from Robert Oster and one of my favorite ink colors in general. The color is beautiful, with tons of shading and color variation. The hue is unique but legible. Not that I could ever narrow my inks down to a Top 5, but if I could, this would probably be in that list.


Sharpener Review: Caran d’Ache Pencil Peeler

Review by Tina Koyama

For most uses, I sharpen pencils in the most expeditious way possible: my trusty electric Bostitch Quiet Sharp 6 (or, on the street, a portable Kum). But for some pencils or specific drawing purposes, knife-sharpening is the best or sometimes the only way. I have a knife that does the job at home, but what about when I’m traveling? Even my modest Opinel has a blade longer than the TSA-approved 2.36 inches.

That’s why I was so intrigued when I saw the Caran d’Ache Pencil Peeler. Designed in Switzerland in collaboration with the prestigious Ecole Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne and a 2017 ISPA & Innovation Product of the Year Award winner, the peeler has a simple, elegant design. Although it has an exposed blade, it’s only an inch long!

Available in red or stainless steel, the pencil peeler comes packaged with three spare blades. It can be used for pencils of all types as well as crayons.

The back of the package indicates three ways that the peeler can be used: A. By pulling the pencil and simultaneously pushing the blade with the thumb; B. by pulling the blade; and C. by reversing the blade and pushing it against the pencil.

Since the sharpener came with the blade installed in the direction shown in A and B, I gave that a try first. I decided to practice on a new, inexpensive yellow pencil (it’s so generic that all it says on it is No. 2/HB). (In retrospect, it may have been a bad choice to learn on.)

Using some hybrid of the techniques shown in A and B, I used a pulling motion. The pencil’s non-cedar wood was a bit harder than pencils I typically knife-sharpen, so it required more pressure than I expected. The collar isn’t pretty (David Rees I am not), but I learned how to use the tool sufficiently. Learning on something softer such as a cedar Blackwing might have been better, but I preferred to mangle something cheaper.


With that under my belt, I moved on to a Koh-i-Noor Magic Jumbo triangular colored pencil, which doesn’t fit into any sharpener I own, so it must always be knife-sharpened. It helped to have practiced first on the conventional size pencil.

Feeling confident, I decided to turn the blade around so that I could try the pushing method shown in C. Removing the blade was easy; it’s held in place by tension, so all it takes is slightly pulling the two sides of the peeler’s U shape in opposite directions, and the blade drops out.

Replacing it, however, took a bit more dexterity and practice (sorry, no photo of this move – I needed both hands and, in fact, could have used a third). You must pull the two sides of the U and simultaneously place the blade carefully into the two grooves that secure the blade. And by the way, don’t cut yourself. (And don’t forget which way the blade is facing if you sharpen by method A!)

Now it was time to sharpen the pencil that I am most likely to need the peeler for while traveling: a Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelle, one of my favorite colored pencils and a daily-carry. With a barrel that’s slightly larger than standard, the Museum Aquarelle often requires knife-sharpening because it doesn’t fit into many conventional sharpeners. Made of cedar, it was much softer and easier to cut through than the generic or Magic pencils, but the pushing motion of method C felt awkward and unnatural to me (your mileage may vary). I got through the basic sharpening, but I turned the blade back around to the A/B direction to finesse the pencil’s core.

Final Impressions

Although not easier to wield than a conventional knife, which has more to hang onto, with a little practice, I got the hang of using the pencil peeler efficiently (someone more adept at using a blade would probably feel comfortable even more quickly). It’s exactly the replacement I needed for a knife when flying, and it’s definitely going into my travel carry-on bag.

I do have one complaint, however: For this price ($25), it should come with a protective case. With the blade facing in the C direction, I could certainly see myself unconsciously digging around in my bag and encountering it in a very unpleasant way. With the blade facing in the A/B direction, it’s less likely but still possible. Even a simple vinyl pouch with a flap would be better than nothing. I’m sure I have something around the house that will serve the purpose, but come on, Caran d’Ache – we know you can afford it.

Link Love: Ebbs and Flows

As summer rolls in, the blog post rhythms change. Folks in academia have more time as they are coming into their summer breaks. Folks with young kids have less time as the kids are now home from school and they might be preoccupied with kid activities. Some of us are coming to our mid-season pen show gap between Chicago and DC where we can catch up a bit with our regular lives, catch up on some much-missed sleep and a back log of reviews, posts and other things. Longer days here on the northern hemisphere help so hopefully there will be a wave of posts to get caught up on in the coming weeks here on The Desk.

This week, Junee at Alt. Haven reviews KWZ IG Green that doesn’t really look green, Kelly at Mountain of Ink reviews a bunch of purple inks, Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils! tackles the UK’s Silvine Exercise Notebook and Brad goes to Texas and leaves the Pen Addict in the hands of Jeff and Sarah (Go, team!).

My Giant Strawberry delves into the heady topis of what it means to choose joy while The Cramped tackles our favorite debate: analog over digital for thinking and idea processing. The Pelikan’s Perch provides great info on nibs and the Ink Smudge considers the “whys” behind fountain pens and pencils.

It’s always interesting to watch the blog post tides roll in and roll out.




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