Tag: review

Pen Review: Regal Alice Fountain Pen

regal alice fountain pen title

The Regal Alice fountain pen is a slender copper body pen with a shimmer metallic finish and silver tone hardware. The pen is pretty, inexpensive and feels nice in the hand. Everyone who sees it compliments its looks and asks about it because the color is unusual and the slim understated design is something not often seen in modern pen designs. Originally, the pen only shipped with a medium nib but is now designed to accept an EF fountain pen nib ($10) or can be retrofit to accept a rollerball refill if you change out the grip section..

The pen ships with standard black ink cartridges and there is an option to use a cartridge converter. A cartridge converter is available directly from Regal for $3 or the Monteverde Piston Converter which is more widely available.

regal alice fountain pen

regal alice fountain pen EF nib

I swapped out the medium nib for the EF nib which is quite fine and perfect for everyday office writing since its fine enough to stand up to inexpensive copy paper and the like. I also went ahead and got the cartridge converter because I wanted to be able to use lots of ink colors easily.

regal alice fountain pen writing sample

Fountain Pen Weights

The pen is fairly long and slender but because of the brass base material it has a nice weight. The cap does not post because of a plastic lining material inside the cap that helps seal the cap and keep the pen closed tightly. It reminds me of the cap on the Pelikan Stola III in that way. I didn’t mind that it didn’t post but I know this might be an issue for some folks.

regal alice fountain pen close-up writing sample

I normally write pretty small for notes and daily writing so the EF nib on a small, slender body fits my writing style nicely. The Alice is a bit drier writing pen overall so it felt more like a needlepoint rollerball or gel pen and may feel more familiar to people just starting in fountain pens than a wet writer. It also makes it a good candidate for mucking about on everyday office papers where you don’t get a lot of say on the types of paper it is on but would still like to use a fountain pen.

regal alice fountain pen writing samples

I tested the Alice on a bit of Moleskine Cahier paper, Tomoe River Hobonichi and some cheap 20# office paper just to prove my point. There was no feathering and very little show through with the light turquoise ink color I was using. YMMV.

The Alice is available for $20 from Regal in black, white, pink, turquoise,  and champagne pink (fuchsia). It’s also available as a rollerball or ballpoint. At a price like this, if the colors appeal to you, its a fun pen to add to the collection and one that may intrigue non-fountain pen users into the hobby. It definitely catches attention.

regal alice fountain pen

The Alice got to visit my very own Wonderland… in my backyard this weekend. I think it looks right at home.

regal alice fountain pen

Ink Review: Ink Crate Volume 2

Ink Crate Volume 2

I finally got a chance to test out the inks in the second volume of the Ink Crate subscription service. Each month, the service sends five 2ml samples each month for $10 per month plus $3.99 shipping worldwide (at present) in their signature mint blue “crates”. Should shipping costs change, Ink Crate will notify subscribers and subscriptions auto-renew via credit card. I say that only because I know how expensive it is to ship overseas from the US, and $3.99 is a STEAL.

Ink Crate Volume 2

This month’s colors were, once again, a nice variety of colors. Two Diamine shades, Aurora Black and two colors from an ink company I had not heard of before: Seitz-Kreuznach. Overall, the color selections seemed “ripe” for heading into fall with tomato red, green apples, denim blue and a maybe not- entirely unwelcome cooler arctic blue. Aurora Black is a classic that is often overlooked but is a staple that should probably be included in any ink collection so its nice to have a chance to take it for a test drive.

Ink Crate Volume 2

Ink Crate Volume 2

According to a thread on FPN, Seitz-Kreuznach is actually a (EDIT!) German ink brand sold mostly on Ebay and their color series is called “The Colors of Nature”. Thus far, I quite liked both of them and am pleased that Ink Crate was able to surprise me with something new. That’s not easy to do!


Tested on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 with Kaweco Dip Pen and Zebra G Titanium nib, and watercolor paintbrush. I purchased the Ink Crate with my own money.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre header

J. Herbin has introduced another ink to the 1670 line, Caroube de Chypre which is a lovely deep chocolately brown with gold flecks. I love the look of the 1670 bottles despite being difficult to use with large nibbed fountain pens or for getting ink out beyond the first few fills. I like the gold cord, the waax seal and the wax around the cap. They are beautiful, fancy treats and the only bottles that often sit out on my table for months.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre gold particles in the bottle

The gold flecks do settle so be sure to roll or shake the bottle before filling your pens in order to distribute the  flecks evenly.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre close-up

I tested the ink with both a dip pen and in my Lamy Safari Joy with a 1.1mm nib. The color appears much darker with the dip nib where in the stub 1.1mm, the color is a warmer, lighter shade of brown. Almost like dark chocolate and milk chocolate depending on which tool I chose.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre writing sample close-up

The ink dried pretty quickly in the Lamy but took quite awhile to dry when I used a dip pen, especially on the Rhodia paper.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre in the sunlight 2

I took my ink samples out into the sunlight to best capture the gold. I took two different shots. Depending on how much I turned the swatch in the light, you can get a better impression of the ink catching the light, both in the swab and even in the writing. I hope it is easier to see the greenish halo as well. There’s such a variety of depth to the color. I’m not normally a fan of brown inks because I find them rather flat and dull. They don’t have the variety and sheens and shading that blues and purples and reds often get but Caroube de Chypre is the exception to that. Thank you, sparkle, shimmer and shine!

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre in the sunlight

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre swatch comparison

Back inside, under more sedate lighting conditions, you can see the brown in comparison with some of the few brown inks in my collection. Caroube de Chypre is a bit more of a neutral brown than Kaweco Caramel Brown which has a bit more red in it. I put in the swatches of KWZ Honey and Callifolio Heure d’Oree knowing those are both quite popular colors at the moment and every other brown or sepia color I had was much darker, or cooler in tone. These were the closest in hue, all feeling the most candy-like.

I know that, of the 1670 colors, Emerald of Chivor has been one of the most popular colors but I actually quite like Caroube de Chypre and I think moving into fall and winter, this is the perfect hot cocoa color. I do find that the gold particles seem to settle even faster in Caroube de Chypre but I also think that means that they are smaller and lighter and less likely to clog overall. It does mean that you’ll want to roll your pen regularly to redistribute the gold as you use it though. My best recommendation is to put this ink in a demonstrator pen like a TWSBI 580 or a Lamy Safari with a wide nib so you can see when the gold flecks start to settle. Then gentle roll the pen on the table a couple times to redistribute the gold in the ink.

J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre

I purchased my bottle of Caroube de Chypre at the DC Pen Show from Federalist Pens.

The Giveaway:

The fine folks at Exaclair kindly sent me a bottle of J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre so that I could spread the love of chocolate gold dust around. So, one lucky reader can win a bottle of Caroube de Chypre of their very own.

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what Caroube de Chypre reminds you of.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, September 25, 2016. All entries must be submitted at wellappointeddesk.com, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please use your REAL email address (not some crappy Hotmail account you never check) 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 the winner does not respond within 14 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 residents & APO only. Sorry international folks… but hey, your croissants are better!


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

Ink Review: Robert Oster Torquay

Robert Oster Torquay

I confess I had to look up what exactly Torquay was in the dictionary and it turns out to be the name of a resort town in Devon, England, considered to the English Rivera. Its also the name of strip of coastline in Victoria, Australia, home to Bells Beach where iconic surf brands like Quicksilver and Rip Curl got their start. That explains why Robert Oster Inks chose this name for this exquisitely turquoise blue-green ink shade so reminiscent of seas, surf and ocean waves.

Robert Oster Torquay writing sample

In a very fine nib pen, tested specifically because I’d read elsewhere that folks found Oster inks to be a bit dry, resulted in a lovely light turquoise shade. And no, I did not find the ink to be a hard starting ink at all. Not even in an extra fine, budget-priced fountain pen. With a dip pen, like the Kaweco Special Dip Pen, I found it well behaved and a much deeper ocean blue. There was lots of shading and a hit of red/purple edging in some places.

Robert Oster Torquay writing sample close-up

I must admit that the color is so vivid that it was very difficult to capture it on camera. It glows.

Robert Oster Torquay Swatch Comparison

Compared with other aqua and turquoise shades, it has a bit more green to it. Diamine Aqua Lagoon being the closest in color to it that I had in my collection. All the other shades were much more blue turquoise shades and the reddish halo around the Torquay made it a very unique color.

The Oster inks come in recyclable plastic bottles which are nice in that you don’t have to worry about breakage in shipping and their slender shape make them easy to store. However, they will become challenging to fill pens with them after awhile because they are so tall and skinny. The inks really will need to be transferred into more user-friendly containers over time, something lower and wider, or syringe or pipettes will need to be used to transfer inks into pens. Just a warning. Overall though, I think there are some really great colors at very reasonable prices so when the time comes, I am prepared to transfer my inks into other containers.

A 50ml bottle of Torquay is available from Anderson Pens for $16 or a 3ml sample for $1.25.


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

Pencil Review: Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Colored Pencils

Pilot Color Eno Colored PencilsPilot Color Eno Colored Pencils Title

I was very curious about the Pilot Color Eno Mechanical Pencils ($2.75 each) so I bought all eight colors. The are 0.7mm colored pencils in mechanical pencil form and they are supposed to be erasable in the same vein as the Col-Erase but in mechanical pencils which means that pencil sharpeners would not be needed. So, I thought these would be worth a try. Each pencil is $2.75 each and there are replacement colored leads ($1.65 per tube) in the original formula and newer Neox leads ($3.30 per tube) as well and there are replaceable erasers too. ($1.65 per pack of 5)

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Because the leads are 0.7mm, you can get a fine line but there are some sacrifices.  If you press too hard on the fine 0.7mm lead, it will snap. But with some of the lighter colors like the yellow, you can’t really see the color unless you bear down on it. Some of the other colors, like the blue, is just too hard and scratchy. You can’t get a rich, creamy color like you can with other colored pencils because the lead had to be formulated such to hold together in such a fine diameter. So, yeah… sacrifices.

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils: Good Colors

Based on my experiments, I wouldn’t recommend getting ALL the colors. I’d recommend getting the “animator’s friends” which would be the soft blue (AKA non-photo or non-repro blue) and red (which is similar to the beloved Col-Erase Vermillion or Carmine Red favored by animators). I would recommend, if you like thes ecolors, to then upgrade to the Neox leads though.

I also like the violet and pink pencils for sketching. The violet is actually quite dark and smooth and, conversely, the pink is pretty light. I liked the pink so much, I actually upgraded the lead to the Neox which doesn’t seem to wear down quite as fast. I burned through three of the standard pink leads in about a week.

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils Pink Jelly Fish

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils Cyan Dragonfly

Above are some quick sketches using the Pink Neox and the standard soft blue leads.

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils: Not So Good Colors

The colors I wouldn’t recommend are the yellow and the blue. The yellow was just too light to be useful and the blue was the hardest lead of the lot. Maybe I got a dud lead but it was super scratchy and uncooperative. I just couldn’t get it to lay down any color. I might try the Neox lead for the blue pencil to see if I have better luck because the stock lead did not do me any favors. I found the orange and green to be acceptable but not colors I’d race out to buy again.

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils: Worst Color

As for the erasability, I’d not recommend the erasers anymore than I do the erasers on Col-Erase. They do erase a bit but its by no means a complete success. They are just OK. I would recommend trying other erasers like a foam or plastic eraser for better success. The nice thing is that the pencils are not super smudgey like graphite and that their erasable tendencies mean that if you use these as part of a base drawing for a painting or inked artwork, you can choose a color that might coordinate with your overall color palette so that it will blend in and disappear as color is added where graphite might gray your colors.

For sketching in meetings, the Pilot Color ENO mechanical pencils are a lot less intrusive to use rather than being the d-bag who brings in the handheld sharpener and leaves a pile of shavings on the table. They also make it easier to have a good portable kit for travel as the pipe for the lead is fully retractable into the plastic barrel so it will not be damaged in transport.

Note: These pencils were tested on the Block Bitacora spiral-top 90gsm bond paper made by Minerva from Peru. Acquired in one of the many kits received from Rad + Hungry.


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.

Pilot Color Eno Colored Pencils

Ink Review: Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose header

I think I spent more time editing my photo export settings trying to get the color to look just the way I wanted it to than I did actually writing this review. And to be honest, I’m still not entirely happy with the outcome. As the days get shorter, I have less daylight to work with and so its harder to capture the perfect color. And with a color as bright as Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose, I wanted the lighting to be just perfect. But as the saying goes, sometimes “done is better than perfect” and I knew there were people waiting on these reviews so I wanted to get them out. So… put your rose-colored glasses on and pretend these are the bestest lit photos ever.

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose

Kobe 41 (Suma Rikyu Rose) was one of the three bottles of ink I purchased from the Kobe table at the DC Pen Show. There was such a fervor about the Kobe inks on the opening morning of the DC Show it was practically palpable.

The only enthusiasm greater was for the the Kanilea Pen Co. debut. I could afford ink. I did not have it in my budget for a Kanilea Pen though I stopped at their booth immediately and dreamed about my Hawaiian pen fantasy which would look great with my tiki mug collection.

Back to the Kobe inks. I was working for Vanness Pens for the DC Show so I had to wait for a window of opportunity (read: a lull in the crowd) to hop over to their table and snag a couple bottles. The enthusiasm for the Kobe inks was so great by Friday afternoon, two-thirds of their stock had already been sold. These inks are not usually all that easy to come by in US and for many folks, this was their first chance even seeing them. The colors are all themed around the colors in the Kobe region of Japan which gives them an extra something special as well.

Brad, Father Kyle, Matt and I had spent the morning making plans to purchase ink in such a way that we might be able to swap a few sample vials amongst ourselves in order to extend our ink sampling opportunities. However, once at the Kobe table, the depleted selection lead to each of us having to choose from what was left. That somehow lead to Brad and I both choosing Kobe 41! Since both of us own Sailor Pink Love pens, I guess it was inevitable that we would gravitate towards another shade of pink that might so closely match our pens.

The Kobe 41 shades nicely but is a bit more of a raspberry/purple-pink than the original ink we chose to match the Sailor Pink Love which was the Callifolio Andrinople. The Kobe 41 does have a bit of a gold sheen which is visible in the swatch. Its a good wet ink with some nice shading that shows to good effect with the music nib in my Pink Love. And I do really like the color a lot but, as a match for my Pink Love, its not such a good match. I might actually switch to the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji for my next fill as its a warmer pink. I don’t normally match my inks to my pens, but for some reason, the Pink Love seems to demand it.

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose swatch comparison

At the moment, there are no US sources for Kobe inks but you can purchase them through the Nagaswa Shop online shop if you’e brave enough to stumble through awkward online translation or speak Japanese. Or you can cross your fingers and hope that they come back to the DC Pen Show next year. Should I hear news that any of our favorite online retailers start stocking Kobe inks, I’ll be sure to let you know.

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.