Posts Tagged ‘review’

The Overcast Podcast App

Overcast app screenshot

To help me get through my days, staring at pixels on a computer screen, I listen to a lot of podcasts. For the last few weeks, I have been bouncing back and forth between three different podcast apps for my iPhone: Overcast (Free, unlocked all features $4.99), Pocket Casts ($4.99, for iPhone/iPad or Android) and Instacast ($1.99). Why would I have three podcast apps installed at once? I was trying to figure which one I actually prefer.

Each app offers a similar experiences and all are an improvement from Apple’s default Podcast app. After futzing around with all three, I found myself deleting Instacast first as it was the least intuitive feeling to me. It was the first podcast app I purchased after I became annoyed with the Apple Podcast app and the first to fall short for me. I love the looks of Pocket Casts but in the end, despite aesthetic superiority, there were a few things that forced it out of the running.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you which one I prefer and why.

Overcast is my favorite podcast app at the moment, though I still find myself stumbling around the app a little. Here’s a few reasons why I’ve chosen it over the others.

  • Overcast has feature to speed up the podcast. It helps to shorten pauses in speech and make a podcast a bit more brisk. Very handy. Audio can also be sped up a lot which sounds like everyone had WAY too much coffee, but not like Mickey Mouse. Overcast also has an EQ voice booster which helps podcasts that may not have the best sound quality.
  • There is a web-based interface which lets me listen to podcasts at my computer rather than on my phone at work. It spares my data plan, phone battery and I only have to subscribe to the podcast once (not have to maintain an additional subscription in iTunes for desktop listening). Playlists don’t carry over to the site but being able to listen to podcasts in my wi-fi-free office without getting throttled by AT&T is excellent.
  • I like that I can adjust the quick forward and quick back buttons. They are clear to understand and easy to use. Some of the other apps have the double arrows  associated with fast forward and rewind which are less clear to me that I’m jumping 15 or 30 seconds in a podcast. I don’t often need to rewind a podcast all the way back to the beginning.
  • Under “Playback” there is a sleep timer and/or play episodes continuously or one-by-one.
  • Overcast is free. I appreciate that Overcast is willing to offer this app for free to entice people to try it and listen to more podcasts. When they find the app useful and easy to use, users can unlock all features for $4.99. I upgraded the app immediately.
  • Overcast uses Twitter to recommend podcasts based on what people you follow are subscribing to. The more people who use Overcast, the more recommendations. It seems a lot of my followers/folks I follow listen to the Pen Addict and Erasable. I’m shocked!
  • In the download queue, there is a switch to toggle between using cellular data for downloads and not. Which is handy that’s it’s not buried in a preferences or settings menu somewhere.
  • My one big gripe is I wish that sliding to the left would provide a “mark all as played” option. I keep deleting podcasts thinking I am deleting an episode.

Overcast recommendation screenshot

The more I use Overcast, the more I like it. If you haven’t tried any podcast app other than the Apple Podcast app, I recommend trying Overcast. If you have your own favorite podcast app, please leave a note in the comments.

Review: Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook

After trying out the Stillman & Birn sampler packet, I went ahead and got two sketchbooks. A 5.5×8.5″ Epsilon series hard cover and an 8.5×11″ Alpha series hard cover. I always think of the 8.5×11″ black hard cover as the quintessential artist’s sketchbook. This was the first sketchbook I ever got when I started art school. Its the book made popular by graffiti artists often just called a “black book” or “piece book”. Many companies produce versions of this book and, to be honest, I’ve always considered the popularity in the Moleskine notebooks attributable to the ubiquity of the “black book” sketchbook.

That said, in recent years, I’ve found the quality of the standard black sketchbook to be so-so. The paper seems thinner than ever and the construction is not nearly as durable as I remember it being. Until, that is, the Stillman & Birn books came into my life.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks

Both books feature a heavy 100lb/150gsm weight paper and have a textured, black leatherette over stiff hard cover boards. The interior pages (62 sheets/124 pages in each book) are stitched. There are no additional features to these books: no pockets, ribbon bookmarks or other embellishments. These books mean BUSINESS and they feel super durable.

Once the paper branding bands are removed from the book, the only branding is a blind deboss of the Stillman & Birn logo on the lower portion of the back covers.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The smaller Epsilon sketchbook has a smoother paper texture than the Alpha paper and the label describes it as “plate surface”. The recommended use listed is “…line drawings without feathering or bleeding”. With the smoother surface, the line quality is a little crisper than with the Alpha, especially at smaller sizes. The paper color in the Epsilon books is also a tiny bit whiter than the Alpha which is more of a natural white.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

As you can see from the reverse, the only real show through was the Zebra Permanent marker (similar in formula to a permanent Sharpie marker). In person, I can see a bit more of the ghost of the writing on the previous page but I feel confident that I could use both front and back of each sheet without bleeding issues or obscuring the previous page.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook writing sample

The Alpha Series features a natural white paper with a slight tooth to the paper. The label lists the paper as “vellum surface” and lists the recommended uses as “suitable for all dry media, will accept light washes”.

I tested the Alpha paper with ink and some of my more arty tools since I expected that this, of all paper, would be able to handle it. There’s a tiny bit of show through but no bleeding at all, even with the wet ink that was applied like watercolor. The paper did not buckle with my light ink wash. I’m sure with a wetter application of watercolor, it might buckle a little bit but it seems more than adequate for a range of tools, including wide nib fountain pens, and a little experimentation.

If you are looking for paper able to withstand a lot of water application, try the Beta, Delta or Zeta line. Those are 270gsm paper designed for wet media. If you’re more inclined to do some light washes or mixed media, the Alpha or Epsilon books should be perfectly adequate.

Stillman & Birn Sketchbook reverse of writing sample

From the reverse of the Alpha book, you see there’s very little show through. In person, I can discern a bit more show through than can be seen in the photo but not so much that I wouldn’t be comfortable using both sides of the paper.

Honestly, its hard to have any criticism of these books at all. The paper is beautiful and they handle fountain pen ink without bleeding or feathering. The construction is top-notch and super-durable. Stillman & Birn offer such a great range of products that if these books didn’t satisfy my needs, one of the many other books in their line would. The S&B sketchbooks are priced neatly in between budget-priced black sketchbooks available in art supply stores and the prestige notebooks like Moleskine and Rhodia.

I always like to have a “black book” handy at work for sketches and rough drawings and I think my go-to brand now will be Stillman & Birn. Maybe I’ll even start that sketch journal I’ve been meaning to do?

The best online source for Stillman & Birn is Goulet Pens or ask your local art supply store to start carrying Stillman & Birn.


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

Review: Noodler’s Ahab with Goulet Pens 1.1mm Italic Stub Nib

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

The Noodler’s Ahab pen is a good plastic fountain pen option for the price point.  And to be honest, though it is light in the hand like a plastic pen, it doesn’t look cheap or plastic-y. The metallic sheen in the color makes it look like a pricier pen. The chrome trim looks good and the construction is clean and well-assembled. Compared with the Dilli pens, this is a much nicer looking pen.

Its has a large-capacity, piston-filled ink reservoir. This gives you lots of opportunities to play with bottled inks.

At just $20, its also a great way to try a flexible nib. There are lots of color choices with the Ahab line but I chose the Amazon Pearl. There were actually several green options available so it was hard to pick just one.

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

If you find that a flexible nib is fun but not something you are inclined to write with everyday, the Ahab is a great way to try out one of the Goulet Pens #6 nibs. I’ve already tested out the Goulet Pens EF nib on my Jinhao X750. I used the 1.1mm italic stub nib from Goulet Pens($15) with my Ahab. The Goulet Pens nibs are chrome nibs with the Goulet ink drop logo and some etched, decorative scrollwork. They are quite pleasing and matched the chrome trim on the Ahab.

Noodler's Ahab with Goulet Stub Nib

The nib worked as soon as I swapped it out and the line quality is pretty crisp thanks to the 1.1mm stub nib. It was super smooth and even left-handed and upside down, I had no trouble getting the pen to lay down a steady flow of ink.

I really like the quality and pricing of the Goulet nibs. I might buy one of the Noodler’s Acrylic Konrad fountain pens in order to have a full-time pen body for Goulet Nibs and keep this Ahab as a dedicated flex pen. (PS: A review of the Noodler’s Flex nib in this pen is coming soon!)

I tested the nib on my Rhodia No. 18 Uni Blank pad with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku teal-y blue ink.


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.

Review: Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Do I love lime green? You know I do. (See the matching nail polish for proof.)

Do I like Leuchtturm1917 notebooks? Yup.

Do I really like when the two things come together with all the genius of peanut butter and chocolate? Of course!!

Okay, on to the real review…

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

The Leuchtturm1917 notebook line was recently updated. They added four neon colors (orange, yellow, lime and pink) in their large and pocket-sized hardcover notebooks. The other notable difference with these neon books is a subtle dot texture in the cover leatherette material. As it catches the light, the dots are visible. Its really kind of a cool effect.

The only exterior branding is a debossed logo, centered across the bottom edge of the back cover. I appreciate when brands recognize that I don’t want their logo front and center of my notebook.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

I think it’s been awhile since I’ve used a Leuchtturm1917 but I noticed that the large hardcover notebook was a bit wider than most A5-ish notebooks I’ve used. It’s 5.75″ (14.5cm) wide and 8.25″ (about 21cm) tall. In comparison, my current notebook, the Palomino Blackwing Luxury notebook, is just over 5″ wide.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside, the notebooks feature the same 80 gsm ivory paper with light grey lines. The lines run from edge to edge and there is a top margin for the date. These books, like all the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include the index pages in the front as well as page numbers on each page to help to organize and archive your writings.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook

Inside the back cover is a gusseted pocket. The vertical elastic and ribbon book mark match the covers. I’m noticing some fraying on the bookmark already so I’ll hit the end with a little white craft glue (fray check will work too) to keep it from falling apart.

Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include a sticker sheet for labeling the cover and spine as well as a thank you note and a short history about the brand.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample

For my writing tests, I made sure all my pens color coordinated with the book, at least from the outside. None of the fountain pen inks feathered (not even the super watery J. Herbin) and dry time was pretty reasonable.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook writing sample reverse side

There’s a little show through on the reverse side of the page but no bleed through. I think the show through is more noticeable in person than in this photo. I would not be inclined to use both sides of the paper with dark inks or a wide nib fountain pen but with gel pens, felt tip, ballpoint and rollerballs, its not too bad.

Overall, I really like the Leuchtturm1917 notebooks. The lines are pleasingly light, the index and numbered pages help get me a little more organized than I might otherwise be. And you can’t beat the color choices. The paper is a good upgrade from other similarly-priced notebooks (like Moleskine) but  its not as fountain pen-friendly as Rhodia/Clairfontaine which is a little more expensive, offers fewer cover color options and puts a big honkin’ logo on the cover.

The Leuchtturm1917 large hardcover notebooks sell for $18.95 each through Goulet Pens. And yes, there are several other, more sedate colors to choose from.

Leuchtturm 1917 Neon Green Notebook


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

Review: Monteverde Prima F Fountain Pen in Green Swirl

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The Monteverde Prima is another of the gloriously swirly body designs from the Monteverde line. Like the Intima, the colored resin is beautifully done. While the Intima is lime green blended with white and kelly green, the Prima is blended with black. For some reason the luminous, almost iridescent quality to the resin is more noticeable in the Prima.

Monteverde Prima Green Swirl

The Prima has black accents with small chrome details. The clip and the nib on the Prima are silver toned instead of black. Overall, the Prima has a more traditional fountain pen look even though the colored resin is very contemporary and vivid.

There is a slight transparency to the green resin so I can see the shadow of the internal workings of the pen. I don’t think its noticeable unless you’re looking intensely at the pen. I suspect in darker resin colors, this effect is probably less evident.

The pen is heavier than I expected, it feels solid. The Prima and Intima are my first experiences with resin fountain pens rather then plastic or metal. The material feels sturdy.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The nib is super silky. I am continually being surprised by how nice the Monteverde nibs are. I’ve now tried the medium nib, the 1.1mm stub nib and this, the fine nib. It easily writes in almost any position. If I grab it to jot a quick note, there is no needing to find the “sweet spot”. Its also so slick that when combined with good ink and high quality paper, I have to work a little to keep the nib from getting ahead of me. I think this makes this pen a good candidate for a drier ink (or a not-necessarily lubricated ink) and the assorted, everyday papers found in the average office. I tested it on a few copies — the standard 20-24# bond found in most pritners and copiers — and the nib had a bit more “traction” which worked out well. It definitely makes this a good option for an office pen, where you may have less control over exactly what kinds of paper you may have to write on.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

The nib is labelled “Monteverde Monteverde USA” and feature the jagged mountain range logo across the nib.  Why they need the brand name twice in that wretched Architect font, I do not know? That said, the branding on this pen is also very subtle. It only appears etched in the chrome ring around the base of the cap and on the nib. On the end of the cap is the mountain range branding mark which, while I don’t love it, I can tolerate it.

Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl

Like the Imtima, if lime green isn’t your thing, there are a lot of other colors. I particularly like the turquoise and the tiger’s eye colors. I’m getting lured by the purple though. Who’d a thunk?

The Monteverde Prima is available at both Goulet Pens and Pen Chalet for $56 in the full range of colors and nib sizes.


Thanks so much to Jon who very kindly decided I might want another green fountain pen. He was so right.

Review: Nock Co DotDash 3×5 Notecards

Nock Co Dot Dash notecards

Now that Nock Co has opened the online shop, I can finally rave about their DotDash 3×5 notecards. Using a beautiful, silky smooth, bright white, 80lb stock, NockCo has created a notecard to be reckoned with.

Printed on both sides with NockCo’s signature orange ink is a “dot dash” grid. The ink used for the dot dash grid is light enough not to interfere with the legibility of most writing tools including pencil. Normally, I don’t lean towards grid ruling because the lines are often too dark but the shade of orange Nock Co chose for these cards is fun but not too bright, nor are the lines too bold as to be distracting. The grid is spaced at 4.25 mm. All in all, this is one of my favorite grid rulings.

Nock Co Dot Dash Writing samples

As promised, almost any writing tool I threw at these notecards worked as promised. Neither fountain pens, gel pens, rollerballs, ballpoints or pencils had any issues with bleeding or feathering. Some wet inks may take a couple minutes to dry completely on the stock, just to be on the safe side.

Nock Co. Dot Dash writing reverse

Even from the reverse, no color bleeds through to the back. This means the cards really are two-sided.

Brad made me keep my secret stash of 3×5 notecards secret for ages. They were sitting on my desk at work for “real world testing” when someone grabbed one to write a note and said “I can’t write on this! Its too nice!” I had to insist they try it just to get someone else’s impression but she refused. Instead she took the card back to “keep”. So somewhere, there is a lone NockCo DotDash 3×5 enshrined on someone’s desk. Well, there’s no need to enshrine these cards any longer now that they are available in packs of 50 cards for $6. I recommend ordering at least two packs straight away because you’ll want to share them.

The DotDash is also available in an A4 (8.3″ x 11.7″) staple-bound notebook size.

A 50-card pack of notecards is $6. And now the cards are also available in a dusty blue dot dash.


If it wasn’t clear in the post…
DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Nock Co. for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen

Pelikan M205 comparison

First, I have to say thanks to Mr. Mike Dudek at The Clicky Post for letting me borrow his Pelikan M205. His review of the M205 suggested that the pen may not live up to its hype so I was pleased to have a chance to try it before I invested in my own. Mike had purchased two different M205s and sent me the one that worked better for him right out the box.

I was so excited to try it. I have to admit, I hoped that maybe Mike wrote with an unusual angle or pressure and that my experience with it would be perfect. I pulled it from the package like Excalibur with a magical thrum and a radiant glow. This pen is so dreamy to look at.

Pelikan M205 pen comparison

The pen itself reminds me of the classic looks of vintage Esterbrooks. The M205 is still just a plastic body fountain with chrome accents and I’d definitely describe it as understated for the over-$100 average retail price. But its a smaller, subdued pen. It doesn’t scream “expensive” or “fancy” and I like that. I love the look of the old Esterbrooks so a modern pen with these classic lines has a lot of appeal for me. The translucent ink window reminds me of some of old fountain pens as well. The simple piston filler is also a holdover from the days before cartridges and converters. It seems like Pelikan has just continued to make the same good-looking pen since the early 20th century. This makes this pen everything that would be a “holy grail” pen for me.

Pelikan M205 nib

Mike sent me the white body with a fine nib which was exactly the one I would have ordered. I inked it up with a good lubricated ink — Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku — and hoped for the best.

The nib has some spring in it which is really quite amazing for a modern steel nib. On the nib, is a beautiful swan emboss and a classic script logo as well as the nib width. How irresistible.

Several folks asked to compare the Pelikan M205 to the Pilot Prera, as well, which has a similar-sized nib and the pen, overall, is a similar size. It’s a fair comparison as they are both plastic bodied, with a small steel nib. There’s a bit more chrome detailing on the Prera and it does take Pilot cartridges or a converter. The price for the Prera is even much less, even after my Plumix modification. The Pilot nibs run much finer and stiffer than the Pelikan though.

Pelikan M205 nib comparison

And then I started writing and the whole experience started to sour.

My first experiences were on miscellaneous office paper, 3x5s and the like. And I was not getting good results. Not a good sign. My experiences, while not exactly the same as Mike’s were definitely less than stellar. The ink seemed choked. I would get flow with some strokes but not with others. I had a feeling that the M205 did not approve of my overhanded lefty writing position.

Pelikan M205 writing sample

When I switched to my “I’m doing calligraphy” below-the-line writing position, the pen behaved much better. But…. I shouldn’t have to do that. There’s shouldn’t be just one sweet spot. None of my other pens, modern or vintage, require that the pen be held in a very specific position. Modern Kawecos? They don’t care what angle I write. Lamy? It will withstand my divergent grip even while digging into my knuckle. Monteverde? Whatever angle is fine and it glides across the paper. So why should a pen made for decades be so fussy? Oh, M205? Why are you trying to ruin my dreams?!?!

I cleaned it out and refilled it hoping maybe a fiber got under the nib or something innocuous but nothing seemed to improve the performance dramatically other than being very very specific about the pen’s position on the paper. So other lefties, be warned.

To quote Mike:

Are your torches lit yet?… Has someone piled up the wood for the fire?…

I know that the Pelikan M205 is often the gateway pen to higher priced modern fountain pens. I just don’t have the capital to spend $100 or more on a pen that only “sort of” writes for me. Sadly, I think I will have to cross the M205 off my grail list and move on to some of the other candidates.


I forgot to mention that Mike purchased the Pelikan M205 from our fine sponsors, Pen Chalet at a deeply discounted price. If you’re ready to give one of these classics a whirl, be sure to use the code “wellappointeddesk” at checkout to get an extra 10% off. And also know that Pelikan/Chartpak has good customer support and will swap out your nib unit should you have an issue like Mike did initially.

Review: Rhodia Ice Notepad

Rhodia Ice covers

I finally got a chance to see what all the hullabaloo surrounding the new Rhodia Ice pads is all about. In honor of its 80th anniversary, Rhodia has released a white covered version of its classic notepads. I got the No. 16 (6 x 8.25″) which is a good desktop sized, comparable to an A5 or Steno pad. The logo is metallic silver on the warm white, matte-coated cover. Inside, the paper is white with a light grey grid.

The Ice notepads are available in lined or graph, both with the same light grey ink for the lines. The Ice notepads all feature the same high-quality paper that the original Rhodia notepads use.

Rhodia Ice writing sample

Since my Rhodia pads tend to have the cover folded back from the moment they are unwrapped, the color of the cover isn’t all that big of a deal. But I’ve avoided anything but the blank Rhodia notepads because I find the purple lines to be too dark and distracting for me. The grey lines in the Ice notepads is such an improvement! The Ice notepad is a lot more usable to me than the standard lined or graph in the orange or black notepads.

I much prefer the grey lines to the standard pads. I might have to stock up on the Ice pads in case they discontinue them.

Prices for the Rhodia Ice pads range from $2-$9, depending on size, on Goulet Pens.

Tested with my Kaweco Skyline Mint with Kaweco blue ink. Seemed like a good icy companion.


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

Review: Zebra Sharbo-X Multi-Pen in Mint

Sharbo X minty green I had been hesitant to invest in the Zebra Sharbo-X because its a pricey multi-pen at $49.50 for the body only. But its one of the few brand name multi-pens that has an aluminum body rather than plastic. So, when I saw that quantities of the minty green model were getting limited at Jet Pens, I bit the bullet and bought one. This particular model the F-Line is considered a slim “lady” model.  Its the same diameter around as a Pilot Precise V5, so its not wispy but I think its probably a little slimmer than the more commonly reviewed LT3.

Sharbo X outer packagin Sharbo X presentation box Sharbo X revealed

I don’t know that I recall anyone mentioning it before but, the packaging for the Sharbo-X is top notch. The pen came in a clear presentation case which is shipped in a protective glossy black paperboard box. I don’t tend to care much about packaging but, at this price point, its nice that the pen wasn’t delivered in a clear polybag or a blisterpack.

Sharbo X rubber end

The minty green is gorgeous. It has a slightly metallic sheen to it. The eraser is hidden under the end cap which has a color-coordinated rubber bumper on the end. Why? I don’t know. The rubber end is not conductive so it can’t be used with touch screens nor is it an eraser. Curious little detail.

I filled it with the 0.5 mm mechanical pencil module and two 0.4 mm gel refills: one blue-black and one in emerald green. I also added an extra pack of erasers.

Sharbo X writing sample

I was worried about the writing performance of the gel inks but they perform admirably. They wrote smoothly and I had no issues with flow or consistency. I have not determined how long my refills will last but comments indicate that these mirco-sized gel refills run out quickly so its best to have a few extra standing by. Zebra even makes a little carrying box for extras which I kind of like (PEN NERD!!!).

Sharbo X eraser

The mechanical pencil works as expected. Pushing the end of the pen body advances the lead. Despite the petite size of the pencil component, a full-sized lead refill will fit into the pen body. Holding the click down allowed me to push the lead back into the pen body as well.

Sharbo X meets Kaweco Skyline Mint

I was tickled to discover that the Sharbo-X in minty green is just a slightly darker version of the mint color of the Kaweco Skyline so its needless to say that these two pens have become my pocket’s new best friends. With these two, I have a fountain pen, two gel inks AND a pencil. I think this may be my go to everyday carry for awhile.

I’m very happy with my purchase and I think that, in the end, the Sharbo-X is worth the sticker shock. Its stylish, functional and great quality. If you’ve got some money burning a hole in your pocket, this might be a good investment.


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: Perfetto Pencil

Perfetto Pencil box lid

When I first saw the Perfetto Pencils, I was smitten. The whole project was designed by well-known designer Louise Fili. I’ve been familiar with her design work for years so I would, of course, be interested in any pencil project she might create. The box alone is a work of art. The packaging is beautiful and sturdy and vintage-inspired.

Perfetto Pencil Box

Inside the box is a dozen, beautiful two-colored pencils. It’s graphite on one end and red colored lead on the other. The pencils come pre-sharpened with a decent point, usable for those too impatient to sharpen it properly.

Perfetto Pencil

The pencils inside are just as stunning. The pencils are round and the paint is glossy and even. The silver foil is stamped perfectly and centered evenly.

Perfetto Pencil writing sample

The best news is that they write really well. The graphite is smooth and dark. I’d almost compare it to a Palomino Blackwing. And the red lead is soft like a good quality, artist’s grade colored pencil.

The first pencil I pulled out must have been dropped because the red lead kept breaking. The graphite was fine though. I pulled out another pencil and the red lead sharpened fine so the first must have been a fluke. I used a good quality Staedtler two-hole hand sharpener and got a good, sharp point on both ends. With the soft colored lead, I recommend sharpening with a hand sharpener rather than a desktop or electric sharpener because they’ll just eat through the pencils.

When erasing, the red lead leaves visible ghosting which is good if you want to use the pencil for grading or other indelible uses. The graphite erases cleanly with a the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, the Cadillac of erasers.

Perfetto Pencil box notes

The whole package was produced by the Princeton Architectural Press and boxes come marked with a $13.95 retail price. According to the box, the pencils are made in Taiwan. I purchased mine through Amazon for about $11.50.

 

Review: Pen & Ink Pocket Sketchbook

Pen & Ink Sketchbook cover I picked up the Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketch with medium weight paper in the pocket (3.5×5.5″) size. I chose the blank version though it is also available in graph and lined plus a heavyweight paper version. In the images on Jet Pens, the lines on the lined and graph looked much too dark for my liking. I’d rather use a blank book with a guide sheet. It’s described as medium weight (80gsm) paper, but it feels like the same weight, maybe a tiny bit heavier, than Moleskine’s standard paper.

Pen & Ink Sketchbook Pocket

From the outside, its pretty indistinguishable from a Moleskine pocket hardcover. It has a stiff leatherette cover, elastic closure and a ribbon bookmark. Upon opening the book, the paper is a soft white and there is a gusseted pocket in the back. If you like Moleskines but wish for a cheaper alternative, at first glance, this would make a great option at a mere $8.

Pen & Ink Sketchbook writing sample

Pen & Ink Sketchbook  reverse of writing sample

Comparing Moleskine to Pen & Ink Sketchbook

There’s a few things that actually make the Pen & Ink Sketchbook a better value than a standard Moleskine. First, the bookmark is sealed on the end so it shouldn’t fray. Also, the paper is slightly better quality than the Moleskine paper. Not epically better but, in a side-by-side comparison, there is less feathering and splining with the Pen & Ink paper than Moleskine (shown on the left). With everyday writing tools like rollerball, ballpoint, gel, pencil and fine-nibbed fountain pens, I found the paper totally acceptable. Yes there is a little showthrough but nothing that wouldn’t be expected at the paper weight and price point. The elastic closure also feels more durable. We’ll see how it performs overall but it feels like it will survive longer than a Moleskine elastic.

This is an everyday pocket notebook at a very reasonable price. It has 96 pages (192 sheets) which is comparable to three Field Notes for about the same price. So, if you prefer a hardcover pocket notebook with the classic good looks associated with a Moleskine, this is a good alternative. If you’re hoping for more substantial paper, you might consider the heavy weight paper version (145gsm) instead.


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.

 

Field Notes Colors Edition “Arts & Sciences”

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition

I finally got around to opening my Field Notes Color Edition “Arts & Sciences” notebooks.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition size comparison

The Arts & Sciences edition really do feel like a Hagrid-sized version of the classic Field Notes. At 4.75″x7.5″ they are substantially bigger than the standard Field Notes’ 3.5″x5.5″ size but not as large as a standard A5 (6×8.25″) notebook. They live in a happy, in-between place.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition

This Colors Edition, due to the larger size and slightly increased page count (64 pages compared to the regular 48-pages in a standard pocket Field Notes), came with two books instead of the standard three-pack. Everything about this edition seems to similar BUT different! And I like that.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Inside Pages

Inside, the pages are printed on the right hand sheets. The Sciences edition is printed with quadrille graph lines and the Arts edition is printed with lines. Both are printed in a pale “Academy” grey.

Field Notes Arts & Sciences Edition Back covers

Both the covers have embossed logos with metallic silver ink and a coordinating icon on the back. The red book is the Arts edition and features palette, paintbrush, ink, tape, pencil and more on the icon. The Sciences edition in the dark grey color with an icon with a DNA chain, beaker, celestial bodies, and amoeba and more. How long before someone gets one or both of these as a tattoo?

All in all, I love that Field Notes continues to experiment with each version of their Colors Editions. Now that they’ve added size as a variable, it seems like the possibilities are endless.

Remember, the Colors Editions are limited so order a set or two today ($9.95 per 2-pack). Or subscribe and receive the Arts & Sciences edition and future editions as soon as they are available.


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

Review: Caran D’ache Chromatics INKredible Colors Delicate Green

Caran D'ache Chromatics Delicate Green Ink

Someone recently asked me if I had a recommendation for a really good green ink. That’s such a loaded question for me. Are you in search of a jewel-toned kelly green? A green-black? A green ever-so-slightly hinted with blue? Maybe something woodsy? There are just too many variations when it comes to green to pick just one and say “THIS is THE green”. Until now.

Caran D'ache Chromatics Delicate Green Ink writing sample

Caran D’ache Chromatics INKredible Colors Delicate Green is, for lack of a better description, officially my signature green. It is a bright, vivid green with just a hint of yellow to keep it citrus-y. I’m pretty sure Delicate Green matches my masthead and I wouldn’t describe it as delicate. Its punchy, cheery, “spring grass” green. I had to sniff it to make sure it didn’t smell like grass clippings (sadly, it doesn’t).

The only comparable shade I could find in my stash was Diamine Kelly Green ($12.95) or Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-rin ($28). But the Kelly Green is obviously more kelly and the Chiku-rin leans more of a mustard seed yellow-green.

Often times, green inks in this yellow-green category are often a bit too light for everyday use and get relegated to “highlighter” inks or used just for play. But Delicate Green is bright and vivid enough to be legible and usable.

Caran D'ache Chromatics Delicate Green Ink

This is by no means a budget priced ink. But the inks come is a sturdy hexagonal box that hides the funky angle the bottle sits on when its removed. The bottle is a thick sturdy hexagonal glass with a solid silver metal cap. At $32 per bottle, the Caran D’ache Chromatics line is definitely a “special occasion” purchase but there are nice details in not just the ink but the packaging and presentation as well. Trust me, you’ll be glad you splurged.

To see more images of this ink in action, check out last weeks review for the Monteverde Intima.

Caran D'ache Chromatics Delicate Green Ink

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.

Review: Plumb Goods Notebooks (& Giveaway)

Plumb Notebooks from Knock Knock

The folks at Knock Knock recently launched a new line of paper products called Plumb Goods. These are a collection of notebooks designed by artists to help inspire creativity. Every book in the collection includes a full-color card with information on the artist.

The products were each so different that this is a super image-heavy post. Every book deserved a full view so this is really a review of FIVE notebooks, not just one.

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Review: Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm Stub Fountain Pen

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

You may be asking yourself “Why didn’t she own this pen already?” Trust me, I’ve been asking myself the same question since it arrived. The Monteverde Intima ($52) is a stunningly swirly mix of lime and kelly green colors with a white opalescent sheen embedded in the resin. All the hardware is black including the nib. I just hold it in my hand and admire the swirls.

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

The pen arrived in a cardboard slip case (which I sort of destroyed trying to get it open) which protected this epic presentation box. Its a deep forest green shimmery clamshell box with silver metallic edging and logo. Its a box that one would expect to find a much more expensive pen inside. And probably a little more dignified than my Willy Wonka green swirl, St. Patty’s Day-is-everyday pen. But that’s beside the point. The box looks impressive.

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

Inside is a white faux velvet lining. The bottom section with the band lifts out to reveal the box of cartridges (only two were in the box) and instructions for using the included converter which was in the pen. The box could definitely get a second life as a storage box for pens and accessories. Its durable.

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

This is only the second Monteverde pen I’ve used and with each experience, I’m becoming more impressed with the quality and diversity of the Monteverde product line. I was initially skeptical  of the black anodized nib but as I used the Intima, I grew to appreciate the understated-ness of the nib and hardware next to the brilliant showiness of the neon green swirls. Its a really beautiful combination.

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

The weight of the pen is heavier than I initially anticipated. Somehow I thought the pen would be light like a plastic Kaweco but the resin is weightier than plastic. It feels good in the hand. The nib is astoundingly smooth. I am thrilled with how well this wrote right out of the box.

The cap can be posted which makes the pen a sizeable 6.375″ long but I found the weight of the pen unposted to be most comfortable in my hand and plenty long enough (4.675″). The length of the pen capped is 5.25″.

This has immediately become my go-to pen. It writes beautifully, its perfectly weighted for my hand and its the PERFECT color.

My biggest gripes with Monteverde is a dislike for their logo. The branding on the Intima is so subtle that it is barely noticable. The black anodized nib disguises the cheeseball “architect” logotype and the pen name is silkscreened in white in a miniscule font on the reverse side from the clip on the black edge of the cap. Its completely ignorable which is a delight to a design snob like me.

Monteverde Intima Neon Green 1.1mm stub italic

The Intima comes with a converter but will accept standard European cartridges. I immediately inked mine up with a coordinating green ink, Caran D’ache Chromatics INKredible Colors Delicate Green ($32) and it is the perfect combination. Both are bright and vibrant and make me insanely happy. (A review of the Delicate Green ink will be posted soon.)

I tested this on the Rhodia Uni Blank No. 16. Its the smaller version of the Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18.

The Monteverde Intima fountain pen in neon green is a thing to behold, at least for someone like me with an uncompromising love of the color green. But don’t be frightened away, the Intima is also available in more dignified colors like Glacier Blue and Volcano Grey, both of which I like too.

The Intima is available in a variety of nib sizes and other colors if green is not your thing for $52 each at Goulet Pens. The Intima takes a #6 nib and replacement nibs are also available for $24 each in black anodized or silver. Or try out one of Goulet Pens signature nibs with the Intima. The Goulet branded nibs are available in six different nib widths for $15 each in silver or gold toned.

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.

Review: Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen

Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen tip

Last week, I reviewed the Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen which is a fun, little, budget brush pen. Then, I had my world rocked by its slightly beefier cousin, the Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen this week.

Aesthetically, its a plain barreled cylinder brush pen with a plain metal clip. If I had to find it in the bottom of my bag by feel, I might mistake it for a Pilot Precise V5. But its what’s inside that makes it something special. Its features the same tiny felt tip as the extra fine version, just more of it. Its a firm, springy tip which yields good line quality, quickly and easily. The black is a good dark black which makes scanning it awesome.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen

You all know I draw a lot of letters for my day job and the Kuretake Fudegokochi Regular Brush Pen has, in less than a week, surpassed all my other pens to become my go-to brush pen for lettering. I started out using it on tracing paper, just to get a rough sketch and the Fudegokochi Regular Brush pen dried almost immediately without bleeding. That never happens! Then I transferred my lettering onto my regular “work” stock, Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper and the ink dried almost immediately and no bleed!

I addressed a bunch of birthday cards on standard envelope stock and the ink also dried without smearing. Are you impressed yet?

Then, in my final test, I used my Rhodia pad and the ink still dried almost immediately and, of course, no smearing or feathering.

Even after a week of pretty heavy use, the felt tip has kept its point and its only a little bit drier than when I started using it. The Fuegokochi pens are not waterproof which is the only downer for me.

Did you notice how great it makes my handwriting look? This brush pen gets my top rating for that reason alone. Add this little $3.50 gem to your next order. You’ll thank me.

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: Pilot G-2 0.7mm in Lime Green

Pilot G-2 0.7 in Lime

Is anyone the least bit surprised that I’m reviewing a lime green pen? Today its the Pilot G-2 0.7mm in Lime Green. I’m a relative latecomer to the joys of the G-2 line of gel pens. Most of my previous experiences have been with the versions sold in big box office supply stores that are 0.7mm and 1mm tips in the standard black and blue. Usually, pens this wide are a recipe for disaster for me so I was inclined to avoid them entirely in favor of my razor point Japanese market gels like the Pilot Hi-Tec C, Zebra Sarasa Clip and Uni Signo DX models.

But times are changing, or maybe its just as I learn more about pens and paper, I can see the appeal of different pens.

The other thing that kept me from embracing the G-2 line is that the retractable pens are just ugly. I don’t like the bulbous, curvy clip at all and the bold, brash logo-ing on them. Part of what I appreciate about a lot of Japanese pens is the absence or removeability of a lot of the branding. I like when I have to squint at a pen to see the teeny tiny word “uni” or the like as opposed to the HUGE “Pilot G-2 07″ emblazoned on the clip.

Pilot G-2 0.7 in Lime

That said, there is a reason people like the G-2 ink and keep using these ugly plastic pens. They write well. They write smoothly. The ink dries quickly on most papers. They aren’t expensive (this one set me back a whopping $1.50).

Even though the 0.7mm tip is a bit wider than I am normally accustomed to, I did not have any issues with ink smudging or dry time and the slightly larger size did not create too many letters to fill in. Everything seemed fairly legible and the tip created a smooth writing experience. This pen had the same springy feedback as my previous experience. I think it has to do with the retractable button moving slightly as I lifted the pen, creating a vibration inside the pen down to the spring holding the refill in place. This may be one of the reasons I tend to favor capped pens over retractable because I don’t like this feedback. In the end though, the vibration was no better or worse than in other G-2 retractable pens. I may hack the refill out of this and put it into one a G-2 compatible pen body with a cap (i.e. the Render K G-2 model or one of the pens listed here).

How do I feel about the color? Good, really good. In my never-ending hunt for the perfect lime green pen, this is edging up the list. If it was available in a 0.5mm version, it might just be my favorite. Its a good lime popsicle green, perfect for summer ramblings.

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.

Head-to-Head: Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.3mm vs Pilot G-2 Retractable 0.38mm

Pilot G-2  vs Zebra Sarasa Clip

I realized there were green gel pens I did not yet own, so I immediately popped over to Jet Pens to remedy the situation. This time, it was both the Zebra Sarasa Clip 0.3 in Veridian Green and the Pilot G-2 0.38 in Green. When they arrived I noticed how remarkably similar these two pens were to one another. The shape, the color and even the point size. So I decided to put them head-to-head to see which one was better.

Aesthetically, these two pens are almost identical. Both feature rubberized grip sections though the Sarasa Clip grip is more of a silicone material while the G-2 is a harder plasticky rubber (one for Sarasa!). Both have large capacity clips but the Sarasa has the hinged clip making it the easiest gel pen to clip on a binder or notebook cover (upper cut for Sarasa!).

Pilot G-2  vs Zebra Sarasa Clip

Colorwise, the Sarasa veridian green is a bit woodiser and, for lack of a more descriptive term, seems a little drier. The Pilot G-2 green is more of a vivid Kelly green, a bit brighter and juicier (its tough to call but I think this punch goes to Pilot!).

Overall, they both have good color, good ink flow and reasonable prices ($1.80 for the G-2 and $2.20 for the Sarasa). The score was 2:1 for Sarasa but if you’re looking for a bright green, you may favor the G-2.

Pens were tested on Rhodia Pad No. 18 Uni-blank using the Well-Appointed Desk paper guides to keep my lines straight.

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: Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen

Brad challenged me to try the Kuretake Fudegokochi Super Fine Brush Pen last week on The Pen Addict Podcast so I went ahead and ordered it. I’ve been on a brush pen kick lately so I saw no reason not to give this pen a try. He described it as being fine enough for writing so I was definitely intrigued.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen

The Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen (try saying that five times fast!) is a relatively nondescript-looking pen. It has a smooth, ivory-colored barrel and a simple, metal clip on the cap. The grip area is a smooth clear plastic that lets the ink capillary fins to be visible. The tip is a very small felt/fiber tip which is quite firm. Aesthetically, it reminds me of the Pilot Precise V5 pens with slightly rounded ends.

Kuretake Fudegokochi Fine Brush Pen Writing Sample

Writing with the Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen was an unusual experience. I tend to use a different grip and writing technique with brush pens than writing tools but this was so fine that I ended up using it like I would a regular felt tip pen or marker. It gave my writing some thicks and thins which was kind of fun. I wondered if the pen’s purpose was as a signature/sign pen for documents so I tested the waterproofiness. It ended up being a little water resistant but not waterproof so I think it would probably work for signing most things. It certainly made writing my grocery list a little more fun than the usual assortment of reject pens I normally leave in the kitchen. The gray wash that resulted from the waterproof test might be appealing to artists for loose pen sketching too.

The Kuretake Fudegokochi Extra Fine Brush Pen is $3.50 per pen. There is a wider regular version available as well as a gray version.

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: Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm Green

Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm

In my endless quest to own all the green pens in the world, I stumbled across the Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm. At a whopping $1.35 I couldn’t resist picking it up. But I had to wonder…. “What’s makes it so super?”

It turns out that instead of being a slender refill inside a plastic pen body like the Pilot G-2 and other similar gel pens, the whole pen body is full of ink. Think of it as the eye dropper version of a plastic gel pen. Then there’s a roller ball tip in the end of it and a cap on the back. That’s it.

The overall design is basically no design. Its a capped, clear plastic pen. The body is a rounded hexagonal shape until you get to the grip area which is round with smooth plastic ridges to create a grippable area. There’s no silicone or rubber added for comfort and the width of the pen is similar to a round pencil.

There are both up sides and down sides to this pen. On the up side, there’s a lot more ink in this pen than a Pilot Hi-Tec C or the G-2. As well as the considerably discounted price.

On the down side, there’s the potential to break the plastic pen and have ink seeping out everywhere, think of high school and exploding ballpoint pens. The other down side is the Super Gel is a totally disposable pen. Once the ink is used, there is no way to refill it.

Pilot Super Gel 0.5mm writing sample

In the plus column, I found that it wrote well, especially at such a bargain price. It has a little more friction than some of the higher priced gel pens but not so much as to be unpleasant. In fact, if you generally find that gel pens are too slippery for your taste, this little budget pen might be appealing to you.

Finally, if you are likely to have a jar full of communal pens in your work space or home that have a tendency to walk away, this may be a great option. Its not so stylish that someone would be inclined to walk away with it while not being an unpleasant experience to use.

I know that Brad reviewed this pen several years ago and panned it but I hope that this will convince you try it and let me know what you think.

The Pilot Super Gel is also available in more traditional blue, black and red in the 0.5mm size and if you hunt around, other widths and colors may be available.

Review: Lamy Logo F Fountain Pen in Brushed Aluminum

Lamy Logo capped

I recently spotted the Lamy Logo fountain pen in brushed aluminum and clicked on the Buy It Now button before I knew what I was doing. I love the Lamy nibs for their smoothness and easy interchange-ability but I don’t like the molded grip featured in the Safari/AL-Star lines so the Logo series was a perfect upgrade. The Logo features a brushed aluminum body and a ridged grip area more conducive to overhanded (hooked) lefthanders. The cap, end, clip and grip are accented with polished chrome.

Lamy Logo Brushed Aluminum

The Lamy Logo is also a little narrower shaft overall compared to a Safari or Al-Star. If you’ve found the Safari/Al-Star to be a bit bulky in your hand, than the Logo may be a good option for you. I’d compare it to the width of a round pencil maybe a little bit wider but considerably more slender than the Safari.

Lamy nib fine

The cap is a snap cap like other Lamy pens. Its a tight snap but I suspect it will loosen over time. As it is, it will be some time before it loosens, if ever.

The Lamy Logo accepts standard Lamy ink cartridges or the Lamy comverter for even more ink options.

I purchased the fine nib version which to my writing style feels more like a medium, even in comparison to the Kaweco fine nib fountain pen. The fine Lamy nib writes smoothly so the broadness is not really a downside. Just different.

Lamy Logo writing sample

Fountain Pen Weights

The Lamy Logo weighs 17 gms, filled with a cartridge and capped so its a bit lighter than the Lamy Al-Star and unposted it weighs in at 13 gms — as light as a capped Kaweco Sport Classic.

Its a bit of an upsell at $45 from a Safari which is under $30 and the Al-Star which is under $40. But its still a good deal less expensive than the Lamy Studio or Lamy 2000. If the look of the TWSBI is not your taste, the Lamy Logo is a good alternative at a similar price point.

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: Eco-Essential Pen & Pencil Set

Eco-essentials Pen & Pencil Set

Felt Flex Carry Wrap is sold separately for $15

The Eco-Essential Pen and Pencil set is a beautifully packaged product. I don’t usually swoon about packaging because I mostly want to throw it away but the Eco-Essential set came in a black, paperboard box with a white paper sleeve wrap. Simple, elegant and perfect for a gift. And because the packaging is all paperboard, it can easily be recycled.

Inside the swank packaging is not only the matching pen and pencil set but two pen refills (Pilot Hi Tec C 0.5mm in black and red), an array of colored aluminum rings to personalize your pen and pencil set and end caps to swap out with the touch-sensitive tips that come pre-installed on both tools. (The felt wrap shown in the photo is not included.)

Eco-essentials Pen & Pencil Set

I love that I was able to decide which tool, if any, had the touch sensitive tip. When swapped out, there is a stylized embossed “U” on the end. There are four ring colors to choose from: green, orange, blue and red, plus the simple black that come installed.

The Eco-Essential Pen Set started its life as Kickstarter project but it is now available directly from the Now N Then shop.

Both the pen and the pencil are aluminum cap, hardware and shell with a bamboo outer casing. It makes for a very lightweight but durable tool. The pencil is a tiny bit longer than the pen due to the click mechanism at the end. Otherwise they are virtually identical so I could see using the colored rings to make it easy to recognize one from the other.

Eco-essentials Pen & Pencil Set

Once I found the rings and cap in the box, I immediately customized my set to have matching lime green rings and flat caps. I love how the bamboo looks with the green and silver. I love the looks of these! And the bamboo feels warm in the hand. Its finished to a smooth lacquered finish but not shiny. I can feel the undulation of the wood but no burrs or roughness. I just like spinning these in my hands.

Eco-essentials Pen & Pencil Set

A nice touch is the threads on the end of the tools to attach the caps. It makes for a fairly light, long tool. I don’t think even the largest hands would find this awkward. The lightness makes it easy for longer writing sessions. The only issue is that the threaded cap hides the click mechanism on the pencil. To advance the lead, you will need to remove the cap.

Alternately, when not in use, the delicate tip of the pencil mechanism is protected by the cap so it will not poke out of bag or pocket.

Eco-essentials Pen & Pencil Set

Since both the leads (0.5mm) and the pen refill can be replaced with your favorite color, width or grade, the writing tests were mostly to get a feel for the weight and balance. I found it comfortable overall.

I did notice the absence of a clip which comes in handy for me more in keeping my pens from rolling away than actually clipping to a pocket. But its such a nice feel to have a perfectly smooth, cylindrical barrel that I can see why the design was not sullied with the addition of a clip.

Customized: Well-Appointed Desk-style!

Customized: Well-Appointed Desk-style!

The pen is available in a Pilot G2-compatible size as well as the Pilot Hi-Tec C size I received. There is also a dark finish called Incognito. A pen unit with rings, flat cap, stylus and a refill is $55 in either finish or refill size. The pencil includes the rings, flat cap and stylus tip and is preloaded with leads for $50 for either finish. A pen & pencil gift set includes two sets of rings, styli, flat caps and refills for $95. I like these so much I think I’ll be ordering the G2 model as well for more refill options*. Shipping rates are super reasonable, and quick too. I got my set in less than two weeks.

Overall, I am hugely impressed with this set. I like how flexible the options are and how well thought out the development was. I know I will noodle around with the rings and caps until the end of days because I can.

(*I’m working on a giant list of Pilot Hi-Tec C- and Pilot G2-compatible refills that I should have ready soon.)

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.

Hands On: Kaweco Skyline in Mint

kaweco sport line up

Its a well-established fact that I love Kaweco pens. As fountain pens go, the Kaweco Sport line ticks all my boxes:

  • great nib
  • not too big/heavy
  • reasonably priced
  • pocket-able
  • classic looking
  • clip is optional
  • interchangeable nib system

The only downside with Kaweco was the lack of appealing body colors. Beyond black, white and aluminum, I wasn’t all that keen. I currently own two out of three of the colors mentioned, so I was starting to run out reasons to add any more Kaweco Sports to my stash. Until now.

kaweco skyline mint

When I saw the new Skyline series in Mint, I knew immediately I had to have it.  The Grey model was a very-close second. The silver hardware and nib just add to the appeal for me. I’ve enjoyed my gold-toned hardware but I’m so glad to finally have the option for silver.

The color is the softest mint turquoise color. It looks luminous even though its a simple, opaque plastic body. A ghostly almost supernatural color. I love the color. I mean LOVE it!

kaweco skyline nib

The writing experience is consistent with all my previous Kaweco Sport pens – it writes smoothly, is comfortable in the hand (when posted) and generally makes me happy to use it. I prefer to use my Kaweco Sports posted with the clip which adds just enough weight to make the pen feel more substantial. I either use cartridges or reuse an old cartridge using a syringe to fill it with bottled ink. The Skyline is no different.

Despite the likelihood that the Skyline series may be limited edition, the price point makes it a pen I’m comfortable carrying around with me on a daily basis.

kaweco skyline comparison

The Kaweco Skyline series is currently available for pre-order at Fontonplumo in the Netherlands. The Skyline is available in Mint, Grey and Black for €16.95 (about $23 US). Frank kindly sent me the first one he could get his hands on so that I could share it with you. Estimated delivery is early July.

Also, Fontoplumo is offering all Well-Appointed Desk readers a 10% discount if you enter the code WAD2014 on anything you order. This offer is good until the end of 2014. Thanks, Frank!

Review: Dixon Tri-Conderoga Pencil

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

I’ve always been a fan of the classic Ticonderoga  pencils from Dixon. Where the Ticonderoga is a classic hexagonal wood-cased pencil, the Tri-Conderoga is a triangular pencil. The Tri-Conderoga has a rubberized coating with a matte black finish.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

What most surprised me is that the Tri-Conderoga is wider in diameter than the regular Ticonderoga or other triangular pencils. The Faber-Castell Grip 2001 is a similar shape but smaller, more comparable to a regular hexagonal or round pencil.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

The matte coating on the Tri-Conderoga reminds me of the finish on the WOPEX pencils. Love it or hate it but I think more and more pencil manufacturers might embrace this soft-touch finish. It feels pleasant to touch and may make writing more comfortable but I kept feeling like my hand was sliding down the pencil as I wrote.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

I did need to use a large diameter sharpener to sharpen the Tri-Conderoga. I used the KUM “Special Diameter” sharpener which worked well. This explains why Tri-Conderoga sells the pencil in a blister pack with a sharpener because a regular diameter sharpener will not work. Of course, a pen knife or an adjustable sharpener (like the Classroom Friendly or the classic wall-mounted Boston) would work as well.

The pencil performed well in writing. The lead did not crumble or flake while I wrote and the darkness was a little on the light side on the smooth Rhodia test paper. I suspect office paper or standard notebook paper which is a bit toothier would cause the line to look a little darker and probably require more frequent sharpening.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

Since the pencil is a bit larger than an average pencils, the eraser is also a bit larger. Its a black rubber compound eraser and it ended up working better than I had anticipated. But for ease of use, I recommend using a plastic eraser like the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser if you’ll be using any pencil.

Dixon Tri-Conderoga

I found the overall size of the Tri-Conderoga a little large for me but I can definitely see where younger folks and anyone with larger hands would find it comfortable to use. I do love the triangular shape for comfort and the lowered likelihood of rolling away when you set it down.

Thanks to RJ for sending me the Tri-Conderoga.

Review: Staedtler WOPEX Pencil Review v.2

Staedtler WOPEX pencil

When I was in Hong Kong a couple years ago, I picked up a Staedtler WOPEX pencil. The pencil I picked up did not have a ferrule or eraser on it and the paint color is a little lighter than the WOPEX pencils currently available in the US. Johnny from Pencil Revolution was kind enough to send me a couple. First, to satisfy my curiosity about any performance differences and second, because they are a lovely shade of green.

Besides being a bit brighter color (more granny smith green now), the new WOPEX pencils do not have the slight metallic flake in the paint that the older model does.

Staedtler WOPEX pencil

Both versions of the WOPEX are hexagonal, with a soft-touch rubber paint, made from the composite wood material. The cool thing about the composite material is that it makes perfect sharpening roses. As mentioned by Johnny in his review, I don’t recommend using an electric sharpener since the rubbery coating can confuse the auto-stop mechanism and chew up a whole pencil. I used a relatively new KUM handheld sharpener which worked fine.

The new pencils feature a silver ferrule and a white, rubber compound eraser on the end.

Staedtler WOPEX pencil

In writing, the leads seem to perform identically to the previous version. Its a smooth writer and I had no issues with the lead performance.

Staedtler WOPEX pencil

In the hand, the newer WOPEX pencils are not as sticky to hold. The paint/coating feels like a lighter touch was used in applying it. Its smoother in the hand and feels more like a matte finish than a squishy rubbery coating.

Staedtler WOPEX pencil

The fact that WOPEX is Staedtler’s attempt to make a more ecologically-responsible pencil is a big plus to using the WOPEX. Oddly I prefer the feel of the earlier rubber-y WOPEX but it might also be that as lovely as the new ferrule and eraser make the WOPEX look, I don’t tend to use them and they just make the pencil longer and a little unwieldy until its been sharpened a half a dozen times.

All-in-all, I think its a good pencil option and one that is readily available in your local big box or office supply store.

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