Eye Candy: Kaweco x Bungbox June Bride Something Blue

Eye Candy: Kaweco x Bungbox June Bride Something Blue

One of my first fountain pen loves was Kaweco fountain pens. When I was given the opportunity to get a limited edition Bungubox June Bride Something Blue AL-Sport, I said yes immediately. I didn’t know what it would cost with the premium and currency exchange and shipping but I threw caution to the wind and bought it.

The pen came in a specially stamped black tin box with the BunguBox logo and the “June Bride Something Blue” name on the lid. The type face leaves something to be desired but that’s the designer in me talking.

Inside the tin is the pebbled finished turquoise aluminum Kaweco which is a gorgeous color and stamped in white matte foil or silkscreen is the same type “June Bride Something Blue”.  Also included is a piston cartridge converter. This is the first time I’ve gotten one of these from Kaweco so I’m crossing my fingers that its more efficient than the squeeze converters.

(Amusing upside photos of the cap as seen from the perspective of a left-handed writer.)

I purchased the fine nib but I have yet to ink up the pen. I have so many other Kaweco Sport pens that this one has made its way into the “collector” category at the moment rather than into the “user” category. Have I become that kind of pen collector?


Link Love: Vintage Colored Pencils

First, my apologies for the lateness of Link Love this week. Recording Pen Addict yesterday morning threw off my schedule and then the review for the Wancher True Urushi Kickstarter pen was supposed to go live on Wednesday was delayed until this morning so that also toppled my schedule a bit. Throw in my getting over a cold and my road tripping visitors and you had the imminent delay! So, I hope I made it worth your wait.

Big news this week is that Ink Smudge popped back up in my feed due to a weird RSS glitch so there was a back log of posts. Most importantly because there’s a great “Being Left handed” post that joins Maybelline from On Fountain Pen’s post about the Lamy Nexx (also a lefty) and a regular staple on Link Love Junee from Alt. Haven who is another favored lefty. Enjoy a plethora!

The Art & Art Supplies section is all of Tina’s Vintage Colored Pencil reviews this week which are so fun to see gathered together. No nepotism here!

Everyone is gearing up for LetterMo and InCoWriMo so get you pens, paper and stamps handy there’s still time to participate. You can always write to your family, your local friends or even your local politicians.




Paper & Notebooks:

Letter Writing:

Art & Art Supplies:

Other Interesting Things:

Kickstarter: Wancher True Urushi Fountain Pen in Red

Kickstarter: Wancher True Urushi Fountain Pen in Red

Wancher from Japan has just launched their Kickstarter for the True Urushi line of fountain pens. Its one of the pens in their full Kickstarter that includes an ebonite “Dream Pen” (Super Early Bird is $175/Early Bird is $185)  and a maki-e pen as well. The True Urushi (Super Early Bird pricing starts at $350/Early Bird at $385) is available in black, red and blue and the tamenuri red which is a pooled dark red finish. The maki-e is a black urushi design inlaid with sakura (cherry) blossoms (Super Early Bird pricing is $1000/Early Bird is $1100) in a traditional Japanese design. The project is being launched as a chance to sell urushi pens direct to consumers from the manufacturer reducing the costs and hopefully making these unique pieces more affordable.

After talking with friends and examining the Wancher True Urushi pen, it is definitely a beautiful example of urushi. The weight in the hand is good and the finish is smooth. The cap has a spring load to help keep the nib from drying out similar to the design used by Platinum.

The transition between the grip and barrel where the threads are is comfortable though the overall pen is pretty large. The urushi keeps the pen light. Its a feeling unique to urushi pens. The finish is smooth but not slippery.

I examined the exterior of the pen closely and saw no flaws in the finish. With no decoration, there would be no place to hide if there was a bubble or scratch or other flaw and there was none that I could see.

My pen came with the German (Jowo, I think) gold nib in medium. There’s a bit of flex in it and, as a lefty, worked better if you write from an below-the-line writing position. If you are an overwriter or more of a side writer, the gold nib is probably going to flex too much and get choked by pushing it so I would recommend the steel nib instead. Its a friction fit nib so it could easily be swapped out at a later date should you choose to upgrade it.

The feed is ebonite and available in black or red. Upon photographing it with my macro lens, I was able to see it in a way I wasn’t with the human eye. The bottom three or so fins — do they look black to you? I wonder if the “red” ebonite feed is actually just painted to appear red? I wouldn’t have thought so until I took the macro photos but now I have to wonder. Regardless, the ink flowed well and the look is lovely. Will it stand up to repeated cleanings and stay red still remains to be seen but at the price point, I’m willing to risk it.

I don’t normally choose a medium nib but it provided a decent range of line variation. In a pen this size, I think a fine nib would probably be too small.

The True Urushi pen weighs 26gms capped and 18gms uncapped. Due to the lightweight quality of the urushi, even though the pen is the largest in my collection, it is certainly not the heaviest. The cigar shape does make it wider than many of the pens in my collection and after writing with it for some time, I did start to notice that it was noticeably wider than most pens that I use. For some, this wider shape will be a blessing. For me, it was just a touch too wide in the grip section to be comfortable in longer writing sections but I have VERY SMALL hands.

I’ve mentioned this in the past, my hands are kid-sized gloves small. This is probably the only issue I had. I will never have a future as a concert pianist and I have trouble with large pens. My hands are small. I don’t get to make jokes about Trump’s small hands because mine are smaller. Most adults will not have an issue but if you are also of wee petite hands, this pen might be a bit big in your hands. There. I said it.

The True Usurshi pen cannot be posted but is still a relatively long pen. It’s almost as long as many of my pens posted. From left to right: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 45, Sailor 1911, Pelikan M605, Lamy AL-Star, Wancher True Urushi, Pilot Custom 912, Platinum 3776 Shungyo, Sailor Pro Gear Slim.


I was lucky enough to have my pal Kasey come into town last night with his Nakaya Decopod in tow so that I could do a side-by-side comparison of the Wancher True Urushi with the Decopod. It had been some time since I’d held this particular pen in my hand so being able to compare apples to apples (so to speak) was a great way to wrap up this review. Of course, its not really apples to apples as we were joking last night because, really, the Wancher Ture Urushi is just going to be an urushi gateway for a lot of people.

Physically, the two pens are quite similar is length, width and weight. Lengthwise, the pens are almost identical. The Nakaya Decopod weighs 23gms capped and 17gms with the converter so it’s a little bit lighter. The grip section is a litle bit longer and the barrel overall is a bit narrower. The way that the facets line up everytime I unscrew and screw the cap back on really is sort of magical.

The Wancher True Urushi is 90% of what people want in an urushi pen. And when you set it next to something like a Nakaya Decopod, some of that 10% becomes clear. Of course, that 10% also comes with many $100s of additional more dollars as well so 90% may be enough.

The seam between the cap and the body is not as seamless as a Nakaya but it is consistent with a Namiki Urushi pen or Platinum’s Urushi 3776 Maki-e designs which are basically cigar shapes as well.

The pooling of color of the urushi finish that clearly denotes the exterior as urushi means a lot to people. If so, the tamenuri dark red will probably be the color that will be the most appealing.  But, of course, some of the various sizes and shapes of some urushi pens like the facets of the Decopod, the Piccolo, or the Dorsal Fin are what set the urushi pens apart from turned pens. The cigar shape of the Wancher True Urushi will whet the appetite for the feel of the material and the luster and sheen but the other details will have to be saved up for another time.

If you’ve never held an urushi pen in your hand before, the Wancher True Urushi fountain pen is a wonderful specimen of urushi work. It is priced to be within the reach of most fountain pen collectors (I think) for what it is. This is a handcrafted pen with a gold nib. It is priced consistently with a hand turned resin or acrylic pen or even a hand turned wood pen from a quality craftsperson. If owning an urushi pen has been on your bucket list but spending the money for a Nakaya or Danitrio seems prohibitively expensive, then the Wancher True Urushi is a great option.

The Luxury Leather Pen Case

If you purchase two pens in the Kickstarter, you can receive the Luxury Leather pen case as a bonus. Susan over on the Pen Addict wrote a review about this case in November and there was some dust kicked up about the case and its similarities to a Franklin-Christoph case. I did not know about the case when I accepted the review of the True Urushi pen review nor did I know that the case would be included in the Kickstarter. I’ve since talked to Brad about what, if anything, had happened regarding the pen case.

While yes, the shape is quite similar to the Lucky13 Penvelope, the material and weight is markedly different. The interior of the Luxury Leather pen case is soft fabric and not nearly as stiff as the material used in the Franklin-Christoph Penvelope. That said, I’d now like to discuss the case on its specific merits as its a free bonus. I know it may be a hot button issue for some people but its my understanding that due to the quality differences (this is not a stiff boot leather material) the Wancher Luxusry Leather pen case, which aesthetically very similar is not in the same league with the Franklin-Christoph Lucky 13 Penvelope.

The cover I received is navy blue pebbled leather with an ivory interior. Viewed from the side, its easy to see there would be more than enough room for taller pens than my small, dainty pen collection normally contains.

The Wancher True Urushi is clearly the largest pen in the case and fits snugly. The last five slots on the right contain my tiny Lady Sheaffer Skripserts which practically swim in the pockets as they are slim and clipless. Just to left of them is my new vintage Platinum ladies pen which does have a clip but pinched the fabric a good deal. All the pens to the left of those are modern pens and had clips and fit appropriately.

There was enough space in the pocket in the front to hold a slim A5 sized notebook and still snap the magnetic lock which would make this a good case to take to a pen meet-up or other pen-related event for pen testing and demonstrating. I wouldn’t try putting anything thicker than a notepad or slim notebook in the case though but its nice to know that you can at least get some writing material in there to make an on-the-go package out of it.

The case is a bit flexible overall but the leather feels nice in the hand and the interior ivory looks elegant and sturdy. Issues with comparisons to the Franklin-Christoph case aside, the Luxury Leather Case is a beautiful perk.


There are some additional add-ons in the Kickstarter campaign as well like a pen rest they call the “Pen Pillow,” roll stops that can be added to your pen for a more personalized design while keeping your pen on the table and two stretch goals to add additional urushi colors.

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

Fountain Pen Review: Opus 88 Koloro Blue Blue

Fountain Pen Review: Opus 88 Koloro Blue Blue

I was curious about the Opus 88 Koloro fountain pen ($93) which combine ebonite body components with transparent resin as well as being eyedropper fillers. This combination of elements seemed very unusual in a streamlined design I found aesthetically appealing so I was willing to give it a try.

The pens ship in a fairly simple package with a cardboard shipping sleeve and a magnetic closure box containing the pen and a rubber eyedropper.

I ended up filling the pen using my regular syringe rather than the eyedropper included as I felt I could better control it and get around the plunger mechanism. I made sure to watch the video posted by Pen Chalet about how filling mechanism works and how to loosen the piston before using the pen to aid in ink flow. I’ve never used an eyedropper that required this so I’m glad I watched the video.

The nib looks to be a standard German nib unit with the Opus 88 branding added.

The cap can be posted and it looks pretty streamlined but it makes the pen pretty back heavy. Uncapped, the Koloro is 5″ long. Capped it measures 5.5″ and posted it measures a whopping 6.25″.

I worked with the pen over several days and it was definitely hard starting after sitting and required priming the feed by twisting the piston out a turn and then turning it back in and then out again a couple times to get ink flowing again. At least, that was my experience. While this was not the exact advice from Ron, it was the quickest way I found to get the ink going again.

Once the ink was flowing, the pen writes beautifully. The weight in the hand is nice and the grip and threads transition nicely so its easy to write with it for longer periods. I prefer using it unposted.

The combination of ebonite and translucent sections is really mesmerizing. I do wish that the ebonite has included an ebonite feed which I think would have helped with the ink flow.

I do like the beaded detailing around the clip as well.

The two clear sections on the pen align with where the nib section is and where the ink is so you can see the nib and your ink capacity which is both aesthetically appealing and functional. I tried to put somewhat coordinating ink in the pen using Monteverde California Teal (review coming soon). I wondered if a more lubricated ink might have also helped with overall ink flow.

For size comparison, from left to right: Kaweco Sport, Pelikan M605, Sailor 1911 Regular, Lamy AL-Star, Opus 88 Koloro, Pilot Custom 912, Karas Pen Co. Decograph and TWSBI 580.

The same pens listed above, posted.

The Koloro weighs 25gms capped and 15gms uncapped, filled with ink. The weights listed above are all for pens capped or posted so the Koloro is pretty consistent with many of the pens of similar size.

Overall, I find the combination of materials interesting and was intrigued by the filling mechanism but I am finding some issues with the tendency to need to prime it. I’m not sure how effective the Koloro would be as an everyday writer for meetings and being used on and off through out the course of a day. That is a test I did not get to put it through yet. But just in my weekend writing tests between one day and the next and needing a good while to prime it means this may be better suited to use for letter writing, journal writing or other longer writing sessions where you can sit and prime the pen prior to use.

There’s something about it, in its aesthetics that appeals to me, so I want to find a way to make it work for me. Does that ever happen to you? Beyond rational though, you like a pen despite its flaws?

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.

Ink Review: Sailor Shikiori Shimoyo

Ink Review: Sailor Shikiori Shimoyo

Sailor has released all of their ink colors in tiny 20ml bottles under the Shikiori sub-brand. But with this release, there are four new colors available only in this set and one of those colors is Shimoyo (20ml bottle for $15).

The bottles are actually very elegant with a matte gold faceted plastic lid and a square glass bottle. The labels are rounded squares with decorative patterns in colors similar to the ink color. The patterns remind me of the designs on currency as does the design on the crest on the box.

If you don’t keep the box and don’t read Japanese, you might want to peel the sticker off the box and put it on the top of the bottle since the bottle is not labelled with the color name in English.

Shimoyo is a solid blue black color. I jokingly wrote in my hand written sample that this color is “business in the front and business in the back too.” There is a bit of shading but I didn’t notice much sheen until I was doing the written sample.

In spite of its overall, buttoned-up appearance, there is a hint of  reddish magenta around the edges. Its ever-so-slight. It made me think that if this very business-y ink were a person, it would be a very proper salaryman who might occasionally toss back a few too many drinks at the bar after work and get up and croon a few sappy songs on the karaoke machine but never ever admit to it in the morning.

As much as my initial instinct was to say that Shimoyo looked like every other blue black ink, there are subtle differences between each color swatch I pulled out. Some were bluer, some were more violet, some were darker and some were lighter.

While I don’t know that I needed another blue black in my already copious collection, if your collection is not as extensive as mine and you were looking to pick one, Shimoyo is a nice option. The small bottle means its not a huge commitment and it also means its not a huge price tag either.


Eye Candy: Eraser and Pencil Accessory Case

Eye Candy: Eraser and Pencil Accessory Case

My pencil problem has an equal rival: the pencil accessories problem. To accompany my pencils, I have pencil point protectors, erasers, sharpeners, and leads for mechanical pencils. The accessory collection has grown to such proportions that it warranted its own organizational system.

I use an old military green metal box with divided compartments that keep leads in a section, point protectors in another section, erasers in another and so on.  It’s not exactly efficient organization at the moment but at least I can see where everything is. Sharpeners still live in a divided section in a drawer because they take up a ton of space. There is a small lead point in the case as it goes along with the leads more than regular wood-and-graphite sharpeners.

My favorite lead refill is this vintage Mikado red lead refill. RED!  So, for all the ink refills I have… I have an equal number of pencil refills should my reputation for being ill-prepared ever come into question.

Girl Scout ’til I die.