Tag: pen

Pen Review: Zebra Sarasa Fujiya Scented Gel Pens

zebra sarasa milky

I’ve always liked the Zebra Sarasa gel pens and because somewhere inside me there’s a 9-year-old who occasionally has to be entertained, when I saw the limited edition collection of Fujiya scented Milky 0.5mm pens, I had to try them all. Can you blame me? I mean, don’t you always sniff those Mr. Sketch scented markers too?

Each of the Zebra Sarasa Fujiya scented pens is $3 each. There were pre-packaged sets available but they are already sold out so if these are calling to your inner grade-schooler, or your actual grade-schooler, you better hit the “buy now” button now because they are all marked LAST CHANCE. But, first, best to read on… because you might want to skip a couple of them.

zebra sarasa milky

First of all, the actual barrel designs are a cacophony of Japanese candy wrapper mayhem, complete with a Milky kid medallion at the top of the clip. If this is going to make that dreary Monday morning staff meeting al that much better, than I say go for it. The Lemon Squash, while not particularly lemony scented, has a glittery translucent barrel with white polka dots that is definitely going to liven up some seriously dreary winter days. The Nectar Peach has no discernible scent at all which was a complete disappointment since peach is one of my favorite candy flavors but the ink color is a fabulous peach-tinged pink and the pen barrel is bubblegum pink.

And can we pause for a moment and thank all that’s holy for the absolutely awesome shade of green tea green in the Maccha Milky Light Green? My photo does not do it justice. It’s pretty much the perfect spring grass green. It does not really have much of a scent though. Sadly because if it actually smelled like matcha green tea I would be in heaven.

The Pop Candy Orange reminds very much of an orange Starburst candy and is a nice bright orange color too. Totally acceptable.

For some reason, a decision was made to make the black ink smell like “Country Ma’am Chocolate Chip” rather than make it a brown or brown-black. Okay fine, suit yourself. It’s a bit of a faux chocolate smell and not the cutest barrel design. If you were looking to save a few pennies, this might be one I’d pass on as the scent is a little odd and it took me awhile to recognize the floating shapes on the barrel as cookies.

And now, the ones I didn’t like…

First, the least offensive was the Strawberry Milky but it was emotionally the biggest disappointment as Strawberry Milky is one of my favorite candies. And the pen does NOT smell at all like Strawberry Milky. NOPE. It smells like fake strawberry. It’s okay but I didn’t like it. I might just swap out the ink cartridge and keep the cool barrel. Because I love the bee and Peko and the strawberries. Problem solved there. Next is the Soft Cream Milky which has the standard blue ink and smells like a flowery air freshener. Blech! This is another one I’ll have to do refill replacement on. I love the goofball graphics but it smells awful. And the last offender for me, the Milky Light Blue which smells like licorice. This is a personal distaste. I don’t like the smell of Red Ropes licorice at all. If you like the way they smell, you will love the light blue. If you don’t, you’ll be in the same boat as I am.

So, mostly these pens rock for the Milky packaging and some of the colors. If you have young kids who like the slightly artificial candy smells, they might love the strawberry, chocolate and licorice scents and even the weirdly air freshener smell of the blue one. I give three cheers for the lemon, orange and maccha (matcha) for sure.

And of course, Zebra Sarasa gel pens in general rock for the feather-resistance, lightfastness, and water-resistance. So, you know, you can’t go wrong. And you could always try the Chupa Chups ones instead.

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.

Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen

Sometimes the right tool shows up at just the right time and your whole work process just falls into step. For me, that tool was the new Kaweco Special Dip Pen.  This elevates the dip pen out of the realm of old school or art school into a classic, modern tool for the modern calligrapher. The material for the Kaweco Special line is a matte black, faceted, anodized aluminum that has a nice weight to it. At the end, where the nib is inserted, there is a nice shiny bit of chrome giving the pen a polished look. It’s a lengthy tool, like a paint brush for a bit of an artsy look.

The pen comes with a fairly flexible nib (totally unlabelled so I have no idea what it is) but it will hold any standard nib so you can replace it with your favorite nib like a Zebra G, Nikko G or anything else, vintage or modern.  I do recommend scrubbing the nib with standard white toothpaste to remove the oil from it in order get inks to adhere to it before using it. Lindsay over at The Postman’s Knock has several other tips for removing oil residue but toothpaste has become my recommended method.

I used the Kaweco Special Dip Pen to annotate all my new ink swatches from all the pen shows I’ve gone to this summer. I also used my favorite paintbrush for the ink swashes. It’s a Silver Black Velvet #6 round watercolor brush and the swatches are done on the last of my Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book cards. I don’t know what I will do when I run out of these cards.

Overall, the Kaweco Special Dip Pen is more expensive than a Speedball plastic nib holder but I think its worth it. If you’re the kind of person who would drop $100+ on a fountain pen than $36 on a dip pen nib holder probably doesn’t seem crazy. The Kaweco Special Dip Nib Holder feels nicer and weightier in the hand and looks much better too than a cheap $7 plastic one. If you know someone who uses a dip pen, it would make a good gift too.

The Kaweco Special Dip Pen is available from JetPens.

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

Ask The Desk: Karas Kustoms RETRAKT/Cross Selectip Hack


My favorite pen is the superb Cross Selectip rollerball. Sadly, all but two of the Cross pens that take this refill (and I’ve got a BUNCH) require you to uncap it to use it. Only the diminutive Cross Click, which is too small for my hand, and the Cross Edge, which I find impossible to open with one hand, operates without a cap. I’m looking for a pocket pen I can operate with one hand – either push-button or twist – that takes the Cross Selectip rollerball refill. Does anyone else make one? Thanks, Gary

The new Ti Arto Kickstater project from Big Idea Design claims to accommodate 200+ refills would be perfect but it, too, is a capped pen. So, I turn to the Karas Kustoms RETRAKT and a little refill hacking to solve your problem. The RETRAKT is available in aluminum and brass and is a wider barrel pen body, comparable in width to a Sharpie permanent marker so should feel quite substantial in the hand. I use and aluminum barrel version which is weighty but can be opened and closed with one hand. My husband has a heavier model with a brass grip section if you want something even more substantial. Prices for the RETRAKT start at $55.


When you purchase a Cross Selectip rollerball refill, it comes with a little plastic cap. Keep this! It is the key to my little hack. Though I suspect a rubber band or string could be used as an alternative. I cut the wide part off and used about 1/8″ or 3mm of the plastic sheath as a spacer between the base of the refill and spring to provide a bit more length to the refill barrel for the spring to travel along. I also needed to shave a little bit of the nubs off the blue cap in order to fit into the barrel of the RETRAKT. You might find a little more plastic is better (or a little less) but there is more than enough left from the cap to experiment a bit.


This last photo shows the Cross Selectip rollerball refill fully extended, with my little plastic mod and the spring inside. Voila! As Tom at Goldspot Pens likes to tease, I’ll hack any pen and any refill.


Kickstarter: Ti Arto – The Ultimate Refill Friendly Pen

The new Big Idea Design Ti Arto Kickstarter project features the most ambitious Ti pen yet. This one will allow for over 200 different refills without any hacks or tip wiggle. How could I not support a project like this? So, if you, like me have a favorite refill or six, then this is a pen you’ll need to add to your collection. One titanium pen is $65 when backed through Kickstarter and there is still more than 30 days left in the campaign to get in on the project. They have already exceeded their goal about 20 times over so its pretty safe to say this project is a go. Its also the twelfth Big Idea Design Kickstarter project so these guys know what they’re doing in terms of meeting deadlines and shipping requirements.

I had the pleasure of meeting Chadwick Parker (half of the Big Idea Design team) in Chicago this spring and he is as passionate about pens and craftsmanship in person as he appears in the video so I am delighted to back this project myself. That’s right, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

So I’m looking forward to having one of these pens in hand and putting the 200+ refill claim to the test — and you know I will.

Good luck to Big Idea Design on their newest venture and congrats to them on creating another amazing looking project. I’m so excited to try it out. Will you?

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: 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.

Review: Retro 51 Bouquet (compliments of Anderson Pens)

Retro 51 Bouquet

I never thought I’d be a collector of Retro 51s. However, in the last couple of years, I’ve acquired a variety of different Poppers and a Classic Lacquer and, I must admit, I have a collection now. So, I now keep an eye out for the regular seasonal releases in the Popper series.

Retro 51 Bouquet

Just prior to the Atlanta Pen Show, Retro 51 released their spring design, Bouquet, and I scrambled to find a retailer who didn’t sell out in a minute. Luckily, the fine folks at Anderson Pens set not one but TWO pens aside for me and, as a result, one lucky reader will get claim this beauty as their own – or to give to their loved one, their mom, or their favorite person who deserves an everlasting bouquet of flowers.

Retro 51 Bouquet

The Bouquet is a smooth, watercolor floral printed on an ivory background. The flowers definitely have a tropical feel. The graphics are some of the most complex I’ve seen on a Retro 51 and they turned out really well. The colors are clean and rich. And the printing is flawless.

Retro 51 Bouquet end cap

The hardware is a soft, brushed gold. I’d almost call is rose gold but its not pinky nor is it brassy. The end cap is a rosy pink dot to match the flowers.

Of all the “Mother’s Day” releases that Retro 51 has done, this is by far the best one yet.

Retro 51 Bouquet

GIVEAWAY: See that one in the photo above still wrapped in shrinkwrap? That is #0288/1000 and it can be your. All you need to do is leave a comment below and tell me who in your life deserves a beautiful bouquet of flowers. AND… read the FINE PRINT. Big thanks to Anderson Pens for providing the giveaway pen!

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Monday, April 25, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please include your real email address in the comment form 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. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US delivery addresses only please this time. Apologies to our international readers!