Posts Tagged ‘review’

Ink: Papier Plume Inks

papier-plume-2

My fine friend Father Kyle, sent me an assortment of inks to try out including three Papier Plume colors. Papier Plume is a New Orleans-based pen shop with a small collection of their own inks. I had the pleasure of trying out the Midnight Blue, Violet and Forget-Me-Not Blue. Papier Plume offers their inks in three bottle sizes: 15ml ($5), 30ml ($8) and 50ml bottles ($12).

papier-plume-1

I tested the inks with an Esterbrook 2442 nib in a Shawn Newton nib holder on Rhodia paper as well as did swabs with a watercolor paintbrush on the left hand side. On the right hand side, I waited for the inks to dry and then went over the swabs with water to see how much the inks bled.

The Violet was dried to a lovely chalky hue. It was a very mellow violet and pretty. The Violet was the least The Midnight Blue looked almost black when its wet and but dried lighter like a denim-y blue. What was so surprising to me is how much I liked the Forget-Me-Not Blue. I normally think of a true blue as blah but this blue is lip-smackingly beautiful. The only comparison I could make was to describe it as Cornflower blue. Its lovely.

All the colors dried fairly quickly, even in the stub nib and wielded by a messy left-handed writer. I’m inclined to recommend placing an order for either the Violet or the Forget-Me-Not Blue right now.  I would also love to try their Moss Green if its ever restocked. It looks fabulous!

Review: Lamy Scala Blue Black with 14K EF Nib AND Lamy Dialog 3 with 14K F Nib

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition in presentation box

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition

I recently purchased a Lamy Scala BlueBlack fountain pen (special edition 2015) with 14K gold nib (198,00 €). The pen shipped in a presentation box with a bottle of Lamy Blue Black ink and a converter. It was to be my first experience with a gold Lamy nib.

The Scala has a stainless-steel barrel with a dark blue-black finish. Its supposed to have small inclusions in the finish to look almost like stars in the night sky but it came out too subtle. The blue is much too dark and the twinkly bits are too small to be seen well. Everyone who has seen the pen asked if it was black. That said, the finish is glossy and smooth and the chromed details look sharp and professional. I’m just bummed it isn’t more “starry night” looking.

The cap is spring loaded to make it easier to loop onto a pocket or notebook. The branding is super minimal, just the Lamy name embossed in the side of the clip.

lamy dialog 3 box

lamy dialog 3 in presentation box

lamy dialog 3

lamy dialog 3  14K gold F nib

Then Mike Dudek of the Clickypost sent me his Lamy Dialog 3 to try out which also has a 14K nib on it. Its a F nib and so I could not help but compare the two pens. So this review will be a two-for-one.

The Dialog shipped in a protective outer box but the pen was nestled into a wedge-shaped beech wood box with a lovely groove cut into where the pen rests. I don’t usually place much value on the packaging but this is a compact box that can be used to store your pen when not in use.  The oversized paperboard box for the Scala is a behemoth and will end up in the attic.

The Dialog 3 is a matte black finish over metal with matte silver clip and accents. There are painted silver lines on the barrel and the Lamy logo. When closed, the painted lines align. (I noticed, in my photos, I didn’t get the Dialog closed perfectly. Its driving me crazy!) Opening and closing the Dialog 3 actually takes two hands. One to hold the barrel and the other to twist. This made me a little sad since its not at all as convenient as a retractable with a spring button mechanism like the Pilot Capless or any disposable ballpoint. The twist mechanism is also quite snug. This is good in that it won’t accidentally come open but it means it takes some effort to open and close the pen.

I’ve been using my new Lime Lamy Safari over the past few weeks, so switching to the Scala and the Dialog 3 was a bit of a change. Both pens are very weighty.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 size comparison

The Dialog 3 measures 5.5″ closed and 6″ open. It weighs 48gms filled. Its a seriously big pen for me. Since there is no cap, there’s no way to lighten this pen. It is what it is. Its also a very wide barrel. In my munchkin hands, I felt like I was holding a My First Crayon or a broom handle.

Capped, the Scala is 5.5″. Uncapped, the pen body is 5.125″ and with the cap posted it measures a whopping 6.75″. Filled and capped, the Scala weighs 43gms. Uncapped and filled, the pen weighs a much-more manageable 25gms. The cap alone weighs 17gms! If I try to use the Scala with the cap posted, the pen becomes seriously top heavy and awkward feeling but if you have large hands, this might be a great option.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 writing samples

Initially, I thought the Scala felt like a big, heavy pen but after using the Dialog 3 for awhile, the Scala felt practically dainty. Its still a big pen and weighty compared to plastic pens like the Safari but it feels good in the hand.

Grumbling about the pen sizes aside, both of these Lamy 14K nibs wrote beautifully. I can see why people get so enthusiastic about the Lamy 2000 and its 14K nib. Both the Scala and the Dialog 3 use the same gold nibs and they are absolutely buttery. The EF nib is perfect for my writing style, it gives a little variation to my strokes without closing up most letterforms. The F nib is even smoother but my writing is too tiny to keep the counters on my letters from closing up in casual writing. As European nib sizing goes, and because the gold adds some flex and softness to these nibs, I’d recommend going down a nib size. If you generally like a medium nib, go with the F and if you generally like an F nib, go with the EF.

As a lefty, I was able to use both the EF and the F nib without any issues in my overhanded writing style as well as testing it in a more traditional under writing style. This is very exciting news for me. Other modern 14K gold nibs have not been as forgiving of the overhanded writing style.

As you can see from the writing sample, visually the EF looks a bit lighter than the F nib. I think its more a result of the line weight difference than F nib being wetter. The EF definitely shows more color variation in the ink as a result of the finer nib. They both have not given me any false starts or required much priming, even after sitting for a day or so.

Lamy Scala Blueblack Special Edition and Lamy Dialog 3 size comparison

I find that the Dialog 3 fits a pen niche I don’t specifically need filled. I’m thrilled to have had a chance to test it out and I recommend that, since its such a unique size and shape, to find a retailer that has them in stock and try one before you buy it. Its shape and retracting mechanism will be somethng you either like or don’t. I don’t think there’s a lot of middle ground with this pen.

The Scala is easier to recommend since its size and shape is more in keeping with traditional fountain pens. Its available in other colors and can be purchased with a steel nib if you’re not interested in the gold nib options, which reduces the price quite a bit.

Both pens were tested with Kaweco Midnight Blue ink on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 pad.

Big thanks to Fontoplumo for getting the Scala blueblack Special Edition with EF for me. I purchased the pen but Frank did all the hard work. Remember, if you want to place an order with Fontoplumo, new customers should use the code “WAD” and returning customers should use the code “WAD2“ to receive a 10% discount on their order. These codes will be valid through the end of 2015!

Review: New TUL Serious Ink Pens from Office Depot/Max

TUL Chest

The folks over at Office Max/Office Depot kindly sent me a new sample pack of the new and improved TUL Serious Ink products to try out. When they contacted me, I was expecting some blister packs of pens in a padded envelope. Instead I received this industrial-tough lunchbox with lock and key. Clearly, they are serious about this launch.

Pens in the TUL chest

Inside the aluminum box, in foam cutaways, were four sample tools (TULs?), one for each of the product types: a rollerball, a gel pen, a ballpoint and a mechanical pencil. They also sent along some rub-on tattoos that I forgot to photograph. It was quite the package!

The rollerball is the only capped pen that was included in the kit. The gel and ballpoint pens are both retractable and the mechanical pencil can retract not only the lead but the lead tube as well making it easier to transport and protect the lead tube from damage.

All the pens feature simple, clean design. The overall color schemes are black, silver and clear plastics. The barrels of the pens are plastic, painted with metallic silver and black paint. The cones that hold the pen tips and the mechanical pencil are metal expect in the rollerball.

The logos and graphics are minimal and minimal branding is really quite an appealing feature to me in pens. I find a lot of modern “big box store” pens have way too much text, graphics and branding on them. The TUL series is a nice antidote to this.

All the TULs feature silicone grips, or in the case of the mechanical pencil, the whole body is a soft matte rubber.  The rubber make all the TULs comfortable to hold but prone to collecting dust particles and pocket lint.

TUL Serious Ink writing samples

In writing tests, I was pleasantly surprised with all the TULs. Usually rollerballs choke on me and stop writing a few words into writing but I had no trouble using the TUL rollerball in medium (0.7). The black ink was dark and dried pretty quickly. The gel pen in medium (0.7) was also dark black and quick drying but a little bolder line than the rollerball. Both of these are also available in fine point (0.5) which I would probably love as both the gel and rollerball in medium were a little bold for my daily writing style. But otherwise, they are good “big box” pen options.

The medium (1.0) ballpoint was notably slippery on the Rhodia paper. On standard office stock, this feature would probably be a bonus but on super smooth paper, it felt like the pen moved faster than my brain. It didn’t skip as much as a standard office ballpoints which is a plus. I suspect the ink is closer to a hybrid ink than the traditional oily ballpoint ink. If you favor ballpoints, this would be a good option. A fine (0.7) tip version is also available.

The mechanical pencil writes comfortably with its fully rubberized body and features a retractable eraser on the end. I was curious as to exactly how long the eraser was and untwisted the whole thing. There’s a good inch or more of eraser that is twisted inside the pencil barrel. Very clever design! Spare erasers can be purchased online too. To be honest, the mechanical pencil was my favorite TUL. I even liked the thicker 0.7mm leads though I am inclined to try the thinner 0.5mm lead version as well, just to see. Pencils rock. Pencils with long retractable erasers rock even harder.

I forgot to photograph the water tests! The ballpoint is waterproof. The pencil showed no ill effects from the water but a softer lead might show a little blurring. The rollerball pen is considerably less water resistant than the gel pen. It surprised me a bit that the gel pen is more water resistant since gel ink is not often very water resistant but a wipe with a wet paint brush left a light grey halo but the lines I drew are still visible. The rollerball lines survived my wet paintburush but a lot more of the ink reactivated creating a much darker grey halo.  So if wet conditions are an issue for you, stick to the gel, ballpoint or pencil.

TUL Serious Ink Pens

I’m quite pleased with the overall quality of the TUL line. The writing quality and build quality was much better than I anticipated. Each of the TULs seems to be a house brand competitor to a brand name and I feel like I should probably do a  side-by-side comparison of the TUL version against the name brand versions, particularly the gel pen.  I suspect its supposed to directly compete with the Pilot G2 and the Pentel Energel. I think the TUL version is comparable but without doing a true side-by-side I can’t say for certain if the performance is exactly the same.  As for the rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil, the TUL brand versions are on par with other products in the same category. I think the mechanical pencils is particularly appealing with its retractable, extra-long eraser and rubberized barrel.

I will say that, aesthetically, I prefer the TUL pens and the prices are comparable to similar products. If I were stocking my company supply cabinet, I might purchase the TULs over name brands just for the minimal branding and visual simplicity.


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

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pigment Pens

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Set

Technically, the full name for these pens is Kuretake Zig Memory System Millennium for Drawing & Scrapbooking but that is a mouthful. So, are we okay just calling them Zig Millennium Pens for the duration?

This set of five pens was recommended to me following my recent round-up of archival, pigment felt tip pens. Turns out the Zig Millenniums are budget-priced pens that offer all the same features of the more expensive brands and can often be easier to find in local craft and hobby stores.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Writing Samples

I purchased this set of five on Amazon for the rock bottom price of $6.56 with free Prime shipping. The set included one of each in 005, 01, 03, 05 and 08 sizes which is a perfect size variety for me.

The pens are a wide barrel silver plastic — just a smidgen wider than a Sakura Pigma Micron. The Zig Millennium pens are 5.375″ long capped, just shy of 4.75″ uncapped and the cap will post making the pen 6.375″ long. The clip is metal and reminds me of the clip on the Pilot Precise V5. The Zig Millenniums are only available in black ink but, with these permanent felt tips, I find I only ever reach for the black pens anyway.

I’ve been using these pens regularly for over a week and the points have held up to various papers including over acrylic paint, watercolor brush markers, and colored pencil without being any worse for the wear. I’ll be curious how well the points hold up long term and if the ink lasts as long in the pen as other brands.

Kuretake Zig Millennium Pen Comparison

Colorwise, the ink is not as rich black as a Sakura Pigma Micron which is the gold standard at almost twice the price. Compared to other brands like the Copic Multiliners, Staedtler Pigment Liners and the Sharpie Pen, the Zig Millenniums are totally comparable in regards to how rich the black ink is. Actually, if I had to rank these felt tips by how rich the black ink is, I’d put the Zig Millenniums second only to the Microns, especially at the wider nib sizes.

With their wide availability and comparable pricing to Sharpie Pens, the Zig Millenniums are a great addition to your archival felt-tip pen collection, especially if you are looking for finer or broader nibs than are available in the Sharpie Pen.

Review: Hadera RePaper A5 Pad

Habera Repaper pad

When I started this blog, I never thought I’d be so fortunate to receive stationery gifts from all over the world. For example, Amit kindly sent me an A5 notepad from Hadera RePaper, all the way from Israel. The paper is a deeply speckled, taupe sheet in a tearaway pad bound at the top like a classic legal pad. The paper is listed as 100% recycled and a glance at the Hadera Paper web site made it clear that the material used to make the paper is collected from all over Israel in special collection bins. Hadera also does not use bleach in making the paper to keep the environmental impact down.

Habera Repaper pad

The biggest surprise of this office supply staple is that the paper is fountain pen friendly. I am as surprised as anyone about this since most recycled papers are known for being super absorbent even with the most average of supply cupboard pens. But not the Hadera RePaper. Not only is it a pleasing color and a nice alternative to stark white but all three fountain pen nibs I tried on it performed admirably. So much so that there wasn’t even any show through on the back which means the whole sheet can be used for writing, not just the fronts. Try that with most legal pads!

Habera Repaper pad

The Hadera RePaper web site was interesting as it gave me a peek into what the standard Israeli office products might be. The stock spiral bound notebooks with the spiral on the right hand side since Hebrew is written right to left. I think lefties would love all the right hand binding options in Israel. Israelis use standard A4 and A5 notebooks and RePaper even has an A6 pocket notebook like Field Notes.

I also got to do cost conversions from Israeli New Shekel (which has the coolest symbol that looks like cupped hands) to US dollars. Most of the Hadera paper products were competitively priced with American big box stores so this is the best fountain pen friendly paper in the world I think. A 5-pack of A5 notepads is 14.90 in New Shekel which is about $3.87 US. That’s less than $1 per pad.

I could not find any information on the site about shipping outside Israel but since the paper is made from locally sourced recycled material and pistachio shells it seems counter-intuitive to their environmental mission to ask them to ship a bunch of notebooks and paper internationally. I’ll have to get by with my one little A5 notepad and hope that someday I’ll have a reason to be in Israel so I can stock up on RePaper notebooks. I wonder what other stationery wonders exist in Israel?

(Thanks to Amit in Israel for sending me a pad to try out!)

Review: Kipling 100 Pen Case

kipling 100 pen case

I was serious last week when I said I bought the Kipling 100 Pens Case. I found it on sale at the Kipling USA website in the dragonfly pattern but they offer new patterns every season as well as an assortment of solids. The 100 Pens Case retail for about $49 but can be found on sale for as low as $25 or as high as $80 for past season popular colors or patterns. The fern colorway is currently available for $34 plus the additional 40% off “BIGSCOOP” discount code making it about $21 which is quite a deal.

kipling 100 pen case

The case reminds me of a soft-sided cigar box. The case measures approximately 8.75″ x 6.5″ x 3.25″ with a big sutrdy plastic zipper. The zipper only has one pull. I’d prefer if it had two so it could be zipped closed on the long side rather than along the spine.

I’ve decided to use this case as my traveling sketchbook/art-making tool kit and its PERFECT for this task.

kipling 100 pen case

Inside is a stiff divider panel with elastic loops to hold pens or pencils as well as matching loops on the inside of the cover.  The loops are perfect for colored pencils or slender pens like Marvy LePens but they would not work for beefier tools like fountain pens or pens with big clips or silicone grips. There are 26 loops which is just about enough for a travel assortment of colored pencils. I’ve used the case for over a week and its easy to slide pencils under the loops, point first from the bottom. I just love looking at my array of colors!

kipling 100 pen case

When the pencil flap is folded back, a large open compartment is exposed that can be filled with additional tools and supplies. As you can see, mine is packed solid.

There is a hack on YouTube for adding a few elastic straps on the blank flap to hold loose papers like cards, stickers or notes.

kipling 100 pen case

These are all the tools, pens, pencils and brushes stored in the open compartment. The tin holds a small traveling supply of watercolor pans.

kipling 100 pen case

And here’s everything in the case. Did I get 100 pens into it? Not quite. I was able to fit 77 pen-like objects including an assortment of water brushes, wide drawing markers, Tombow brush markers, and felt tip pens as well as three pencil sharpeners, tape, glue stick, ruler, letter opener, ink cartridges, bone folder and my “tool” keychain. At present, it zips closed but just barely. I’m hoping to determine if there are a few tools I don’t use regularly and pull those out.

This case is going everywhere with me these days. Its perfect for storing art supplies on-the-go since it makes everything easy to see and access as opposed to more common zip pouches.

kipling 100 pen case

How could I pass up a chance to take a picture of the lime green gorilla key fob that was included with the case? It is easily removable if toys on your pen case are not your speed.

Review: Cognitive Surplus Notebooks

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across the Cognitive Surplus notebooks which feature grid paper on the left hand page and lined paper on the right. It sparked a lot of interest so the folks at Cognitive Surplus were kind enough to send me a couple books to try out. I received the Languages & Alphabets cover and the Geographic Map cover.

The books have a matte finish on the covers that feel nice in the hand. The corners are rounded giving the books a finished “composition book” feel. The books have 56 sheets/112 pages and measure 6.5″ x 8.9″. The binding is stitched and the pages easily lay flat. The paper is 100% recycled.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The ruling inside is printed in brown ink along with a “100%recycled” mark in the lower right corner and decorative “brain” squiggle in the left. The lined and grid is spaced at 7mm. The lined ruling seem thicker than the grid lines which I find a little distracting. The grid is the perfect lightness but the lined pages seem a little too heavy for me. I wish the grid ruling was a bit tighter but that’s just me.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

I did some writing tests expecting average performance but was pleasantly surprised that the paper handled fountain pen ink much better than expected. I even pushed it to the extremes with the wide italic nib and the writing didn’t feather or spline. There was a little show through but it was quite mild and both sides of the paper could still be used. The closest comparison paper-wise that I could make would be Paperblanks. I wouldn’t put my wettest, flex nib to work on this stock but everyday pens would be great. Oddly, the Sharpie Pen also had a little show through. I think, in general, lighter fountain pen inks would also be good with this paper — the blues and turquoise inks didn’t show through at all but the black and dark purple inks did. Gel pens and pencils did outstanding on this paper. Pair one of these notebooks with a machined pen or favorite pencil and you’ll be happily writing and drawing all day.

Cognitive Surplus hardcover notebook

The Cognitive Surplus hardcover journals ($15 each) are available in 26 different cover designs as well as an assortment of softcovers as well.


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

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 Fountain Pen Set in Menthol

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

While I was in Atlanta, I finally got to see the new Wahl-Eversharp fountain pens up close and personal. The whole line is such a great homage to the original pen designs. There are a lot of different variations available of the Skyline design but all the details are right. My biggest dilemma was deciding which design to buy. In the end, I decided on the Skyline 50 in menthol green ($159). I purchased the pen from the Anderson Pen table at the show and they were tickled to inform me that the pen came in a gift box with a matching toy Corvette. The gift box is 1950s-theme drive-in design with a magnetic closure. It was a nice package but I’m inclined to prefer my pens in a small, wholly-recyclable paperboard boxes. Still, the graphics are fun.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The toy Corvette is cute and now sits on my mantel as a souvenir from the Atlanta Pen Show. The pen, on the other hand, is living it up as a daily carry in my NockCo Lookout case with my other daily carry pens. The body is 50s refrigerator green plastic with silver tone accents. The Wahl-Eversharp site says the details are “palladium plating.” The cap is smooth chrome with a coordinating green plastic dome nestled under the clip which loops over the end. The cap is a signature element from the original Skyline and is beautifully recreated here. Because of all the metal, the cap is quite weighty. If you prefer a heavier pen, the cap easily posts but the pen is long enough to be used without posting… at least for me.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The tapered end reminds me of a lot of classic desk pens but the Skyline 50 is not as long and the end is a softer cigar shape. It feels lovely in the hand.

One of the unusual aspects of the pen is how the pen needs to be disassembled in order to fill the converter. The chrome ring at the end of the pen untwists to reveal the twist knob of the converter but I could not see if I was getting ink in the converter so I ended up having to untwist the pen at the nib to pull the whole nib/converter out of the pen to successfully fill the converter. It wasn’t a huge big deal, just odd. Alternately, there is the convenience of this pen taking standard cartridges so filling on-the-go would be a breeze.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib details are what sold me on this pen. Look at the engraving! Its reminiscent of the details on the top of the Empire State Chrysler Building and is just gorgeous. The only downside of the Wahl-Eversharp Skyline was that the only nib option is a medium. But I was willing to give it a whirl despite it not being my favorite nib size and I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

The nib was a little noisy on paper (especially after testing out the Edison Premiere which was silky) but it gave the writing experience a little toothiness. I didn’t feel like the pen was going to move faster than I could write. The line width of the medium nib was on the finer side of medium. There is also a little softness to the nib, its not as stiff as a lot of the steel nibs available today but I wouldn’t really call is a flex nib.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyliner 50 in Mint

I’m glad I purchased this pen. It is a beautiful pen, writes nicely and is such a great design. The Skyline 50 series is also available in a bright cherry red and a sky blue if minty green is too much for you. There are also more traditional Skyline designs available including the lust-worthy Skyscraper Limited Edition 100th Anniversary model with the sapphire accents and guilloche engraving.

Pigment Pen Comparison (AKA Archival, Waterproof, Felt Tip Pens)

Pigment Pens

Felt tip (aka, fiber tip, pigment pens, archival pens, etc) are some of my favorite writing and drawing tools. A couple years ago I did a Showdown of some of the pens I had in my collection but I thought it was time to take another look at these inexpensive and endlessly usable pens.

This time, I am comparing the Sakura Pigma Microns, Staedtler Pigment Liners (they discontinued their Mars Professional line), Copic Mutliners SP (same insides as the previously reviewed Copic Multiliners but in refillable bodies) and the Sharpie Pen.

What all these pens have in common is that they are all archival (acid-free) inks that are waterproof. I’ve been using all of these to draw as well as write and the waterproof qualities mean I can add watercolor, markers or paint to my drawings without losing the pen marks. These can also all be used for addressing envelopes with no worries that rain will obscure the destination.

Pigment Pen Comparison

Sakura Pigma Microns ($2.50 each):

The gold standard in archival, waterproof felt tip pens. Available in seven tip sizes and six colors besides black.

  • Plus: Best black ink of all the pens I’ve tested. Tried and true.
  • Minus: The ugliest beige pen barrel I’ve eve seen. The numbering system that Sakura uses on the Microns is wonky. All the other brands list the exact tip size, 0.3 = 0.3mm, but Microns have their own wonky math. The 03 Micron is actually 0.35mm. When selecting Microns, be sure to check you are getting the actual size in millimeters that you want. I prefer 0.3mm tips for most purposes so I have to buy the 02 Micron. Confusing, right?

Staedtler Pigment Liners ($3.30 each):

Available in five tip sizes, black ink only.

  • Plus: The set I purchased came in a plastic carrying sleeve.
  • Minus: The black ink just isn’t as black as the Micron ink. And the pens are slightly more expensive than either the Sharpie Pen or the Sakura Pigma Microns.

Copic Multiliner SP ($9.20 each):

Available in 8 different tip sizes in black as well as a brush tip. A dozen colors available but only in the 0.3mm size

  • Plus: These pens feature a refillable aluminum barrel. Tips can also be replaced. Widest range of tip sizes from 0.03mm to 0.7 plus the brush tip.
  • Minus: The pens cost over $9 each and replacement tips and ink refills are more than $2 each. So if you do the math, the cost of being more environmentally friendly by not throwing away a whole pen is exponentially higher. In the end, its probably a better value to purchase the standard Copic Multiliners rather than these.

The Sharpie Pen (approx $1.79 per pen):

  • Plus: Available in almost any office supply store, big box or drugstore in the US. Less than $2 per pen.
  • Minus: Only available in “fine” which is comparable to an 0.3mm roughly. If you prefer finer or broader, you’ll want to consider a different brand.

There’s one other brand that is frequently mentioned for archival pens and that’s the Faber-Castell PITT line. I was so unhappy with the PITT brush pens in the past that I’ve only ever tried these once. A four-pack of the felt tip models are $12.50 on Jet Pens so the pricing is competitive to the other brands. The Faber-Castell line guarantees lightfastness for 100+ years as well as acid-free, archival, waterproof ink so they are definitely a comparable option. I have seen these for sale in sets at big box hobby craft stores so these may be a good option for some folks who don’t have access to an art supply store or have a must-get-some-now need.

If you’re just starting out with pigment/felt-tip pens, I’d recommend starting with the Sharpie Pen. Just walk into your nearest office supply store, drugstore or big box and grab a couple black ones. If you want a super fine tip or a range of tip sizes, start with the Sakura Pigma Microns. To be honest, they will be the only ones you ever really need.

Pigment Pen Comparison

I tested a few of the colored ink variations but, to be honest, I almost never reach for them on a day-to-day basis. The best thing about these pens is the fine lines, dark blacks and waterproofiness. If you are planning to invest in a pigment pen, skip the colors and stick to black.The colors are very ho-hum. If I want color, I’d prefer to use Marvy Le Pens or my Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners. Though neither are water resistant, the colors are more vibrant and interesting.

Even with the Sharpie Pen which I find myself using everyday for everything from sketches to grocery lists, I only ever want to use the black one. And this is the exact opposite to my reaction about all other pens and inks.


DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013 Special Edition

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

In Atlanta, I mentioned I’d never tried an Edison pen and when I returned home, my pal Kasey (AKA Punkey) had kindly sent me his Edison Nouveau Premiere to try out. This particular model is the limited edition Macassar Ebonite model that was sold through Goulet Pens in 2013. The coloring reminds me of wood grain in warm coffee and cream swirls. What was most surprising was how light the material was. The ebonite feels different from plastic, both lighter and more rigid. It also has a slightly matte appearance, not a glossy sheen. It made the pen feel warmer.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

The stock F nib is two-toned and looks good with the pen and the coordinating gold-tone clip. Its a good quality nib and the writing experience was smooth and comfortable albeit a bit wet and wide for me. I would have preferred an EF nib but borrowers can’t be too picky.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

Fountain Pen Weights

Unposted, the Ebonite Premiere weighs just 12gms. That’s lighter than a plastic Kaweco but its a full-sized pen. Even posted, the Premiere is 19gms. Pretty impressive. For me, it was more comfrtable to write witht he pen unposted and its measures 5.125″ unposted. Posted its a whopping 7″ long and a wee bit top heavy.

Edison Nouveau Premiere 2013

I was highly impressed with my whole experience with the Edison Nouveau Premiere. The lightweight ebonite material made a larger pen comfortable, even in my little tiny hands. The craftmanship is impeccable and I am definitely going to be in the market for my own Premiere. Maybe that gorgeous lilac acrylic version currently available at Goulet? I found Mary’s review of last year’s Cherry Blossom edition and the pen is equally lightweight in acrylic. Sweet!


Big thanks to Kasey for letting me try this pen.

The pen was tested on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 pad with a 7mm guide sheet underneath and Diamine Twilight blue black ink.

Ink Review: Noodler’s Purple Wampum

Noodler's Purple Wampum

The last ink my “hunt for the perfect purple” is Noodler’s Purple Wampum. While its not the last possible purple ink I could try, I needed to limit my search or I would go broke. Noodler’s fills their bottles to the absolute top so be sure to open them carefully. Alternately, it means that when you buy Noodler’s ink, you definitely get your money’s worth. The bottle hold 3 oz. which is about 88ml for $12.50. Quite the bargain when compared with other inks.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

One of the first bottled inks I ever bought was Noodler’s Purple which I found too bright and a little garish. Purple Wampum, however, is a deeper, more complex alternative and more of what I had in mind. Its definitely a purple standing firmly between a reddish hue and a bluish hue making it a true purple rather than a blue violet or reddish purple.

Noodlers Purple Wampum

Purple Wampum is probably the closest to the color I was envisioning in my head when I said I was looking for “the perfect purple”. Because the color is a bit wet and dark, there’s not a lot of shading in the writing sample but I was dipping my pen so the color results might be more consistent with the results of a finer nib than the fine italic I was using. It certainly looks lighter in the last few lines with a bit more shading so I think that’s more consistent with the results I suspect I would get with a traditionally filled italic pen.

Noodlers Purple Wampum Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

In my swab sample, there’s a little sheen but in my water tests, there was no hint of other colors in the ink. Its one of the darkest purples I tried but not as dark as the Private Reserve Ebony Purple. Purple Wampum is actually more reddish in comparison to Ebony Purple.

In the end, I’d be hard pressed to choose a favorite among the four purple inks I’ve tried over the last couple weeks. Purple Wampum reminds me of grape juice, Private Reserve Ebony Purple has the most bluish cast and is the darkest, Diamine Damson is the duskiest, and Montblanc Lavender Purple leans furtherest into a reddish purple. So, in the end, the best purple ink is entirely a personal preference. Even I like all of these ink for their subtle variations and will probably discover over time which I like using most in daily writing but they are all great options.


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

Ink Review: Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is a purple ink I wanted to try in my hunt for the “perfect purple” and this  was available in a diminutive 30ml mini-bottle for $7.

Diamine Damson

Diamine Damson is  the smokiest of the purple inks I’ve tried and probably closest to some of the colors I already had in my collection. It is quite similar to the P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet and Kaweco Summer Purple. Damson is similar in hue to these but a little bit lighter. Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa is also quite similar but a little more grey.

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson ink swab comparison

Diamine Damson

Because Damson is a relatively dark color there’s not a ton of shading and there isn’t any sheen I could discern.  The ink dries quickly even though its not specifically quick-dry. Its not water resistant but it I wasn’t expecting it to be. The color has a dusty matte quality when dry.

I’m inclined to like Diamine Damson though its quite similar to other colors in my collection. If you’re in the market for this sort of dusky violet, the fact that Diamine Damson can be purchased in mini bottle makes it a good candidate for trying before investing in a larger bottle.


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

Review: Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pen 20-Color Set

Sai Watercolor Markers

My good friend introduced me to the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Brush Pens when she brought an assortment home from Japan. I ordered several individual colors to try them out myself and loved them so much I went ahead and got a full set of 20 colors ($34.50). The pens originally came in reusable plastic package but I like keeping them in a jar where they are easier to access quickly. These brush pens feature a filament brush tip that behaves more like a real paintbrush than other felt tip brush pens. This creates a finer point and greater line variation.

Sai Watercolor Markers

The colors are both vivid and unusual like a bright, pastel sky blue and a more traditional artist-based yellow ochre. There’s a super pale apricot color that is fun to use for blending and a indigo-like midnight blue that I love. The 20-color set provides a wide variety of color options and I didn’t feel like any color was missing from the spectrum.

Sai Watercolor Markers

Colors can be altered, lightened or blended with water or each other to create more colors. I tested these pens on my standard Rhodia pad but on a watercolor stock, the inks could probably be manipulated and modified to greater effect.

Individual Sai Watercolor pens can be purchased for $3.50 each. There is also an assortment of pigment, waterproof “liner” brushes that can be used in combination with the watercolor brushes. The liner brushes sell for $5.25 each or a 5-color set for $24.75.

If you’re looking for a brush pen that can be used for calligraphy or art-making, these are totally worth the price.

Artwork to cheer myself up. #sai #watercolor #markers @jetpens

A photo posted by ana reinert (@wellapptdesk) on


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.

Ink Review: Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

I’ve had good experience with every Private Reserve ink I’ve used up to this point so I had no concerns about the quality of the ink. My goal was to find a purple that I loved and Ebony Purple was recommended to me buy the fine folks at Goldspot Pens as a color I might just love. I got the 50ml bottle of Diamine Ebony Purple for $10. While its not the prettiest bottle in the world, its easy to use with a simple, cylindrical shape and a wide mouth that makes it easy to refill pens.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple

Ebony Purple definitely lies on the the darkest end of the spectrum and more violet than purple. Because the color is so dark there’s not a lot of shading. In my waterproof tests you can see the blue and the red undertones in the ink. The ink is definitely not waterproof but makes it easy to clean out of the pen.

I’m not a huge fan of plain black inks so Ebony Purple is a good alternative for a dark ink that’s respectably blackish but with some personality. I like it for this quality but my search for the “perfect purple” continues.

Private Reserve Ebony Purple Swab Comparison


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

Re-Review: Pilot Varsity

Pilot Varsity

I took a lot of ribbing from readers after I reviewed the Pilot Varsity awhile back. I had a particularly bad experience so when I spied the newly repackaged Pilot Varsity ($3), I decided it was as good a reason as any to give the Varsity another try.

Pilot Varsity

The new pen design is the same shape as the original pen but features a black, grey and silver diamond pattern on the barrel and a small yellow “Varsity” logo on one side. The clip is a little larger and bulbous and too plasticky but the pen is comfortable in the hand and the cap is easily postable. The nib is labelled as a medium and its definitely equivalent of a European medium nib.

Pilot Varsity Writing Sample

I’ve been writing with this pen on and off for over a month and I’m quite pleased with its performance. It writes smoothly and starts as soon as I remove the cap. There are no hard starts or need for priming. The nib is wider than I generally prefer for an everyday writer but its a pleasing medium nib with some nice line variation and requires the lightest of touches to put ink on the page. Even writing upside down, sideways and just grabbing the pen to quickly write down a number presented no problems for me.

This is one of the best values in fountain pens. While the Platinum Preppy is available in a much finer nib and refillable, the Varsity will put a smile on anyone’s face. “Three dollars for this?!?! What a good deal!” I’m willing to admit that my previous experience with the Varsity might have been a fluke, one bad apple in the bunch. If you had a bad experience with a Varsity, I recommend you give it another shot. At $3, quality control is probably not a top priority but it also means it won’t break the bank to buy two.

Ink Review: Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple

After my Fashionable Friday: Purple Rainy Day, I’ve been itching to add more purple inks to my stash. I started hoarding various shades of purple and taking recommendations from friends and shop keepers. The first color that was brought to my attention was Montblanc Lavender Purple (60ml bottle for $19) thanks to Matt over at The Pen Habit.

I don’t usually dwell on the bottle designs of inks but I’m finding as I accumulate more inks, I’m becoming more opinionated about bottle shapes, sizes and graphics. Lavender Purple is one of the “standard” Montblanc inks and comes in one of the most useful and interesting bottles in my collection. Its a long oblong glass bottle with a divot on the bottom of the bottle just behind the cap. This creates a divided chamber in the bottle. By tipping the bottle forward, ink in the back chamber can fill the front chamber making it easier to refill a pen as the ink volume is depleted. Ingenious! And except for the slightly too-modern label on the top of the bottle, its a really aesthetically-appealing bottle overall. Its such a nice bottle that I could see buying an empty Montblanc bottle and transfer some of my inks in difficult-to-dip-my-pens bottles into this little gem.

 

Montblanc Lavender Purple

Montblanc Lavender Purple is not really lavender nor purple, at least not to my eyes. Its reminds me a bit of Grape Kool-Aid. Its a warm, purplish-black with a bit more red in the color than any of the other purples I tried in my hunt for the “perfect purple.” I like purples and violets that have a duller, deeper tone rather than garish, bright jewel tones. Its not to say that a vibrant purple isn’t beautiful, I just find that I don’t reach for such “showy colors” on a regular basis.

The color has a little shading and depending on how wet the nib or feed is, the color can look almost purple-black or a softer, muted black cherry. I had no issues with drying times though I’m not very scientific about dry times. If the ink dries before I get my hand over it, then it dries fast enough. On the Rhodia paper, drying is slower than most and I had no issues.

Montblanc Lavender Purple ink swab comparison

When I put the swab swatch next to some of the other purples in my collection, its easy to see how much rosier Montblanc Lavender Purple is to the other colors in my stash. I’ve had a couple days to admire it and the more I look at it, the more I like it. This is definitely a color that will be moved into my regular ink rotation.

Review: Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner 0.4 mm 18-Color Set

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

One of my friends had a set of the mini Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners in her pen case that she uses to draw and sketch on the go. I have always envied this set so I finally broke down and got my own set. I got the 18-color mini finerliners in the “sporty” water bottle for $15.

I confess that I have a huge soft spot for metal-tipped, felt-tip markers. Marvy Le Pens were one of my middle school “gateway drugs” into the wonderful world of pens. I like the slight grippiness of the felt tip that helps me slow down and write a little bit neater than with the smooth-as-glass experience I get with some rollerball and gel pens. I love the wide array of colors for taking notes and color-coding my planner and calendars so a large set of colored, felt-tip markers thrills my inner 12-year-old. If I get anymore excited about this little mini bottle of markers, I might start drawing rainbows, kittens and unicorns.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner

The pens are shorter than the regular Point 88 Fineliner 0.4mm marker pens but the cap posts nicely so that it feels like a full length pen in use. Since I tend to wear the tips of these sorts of felt-tipped markers out long before they run out of ink, the shorter pen seemed like a reasonable option. I can also fit a lot more of these shorties in my travel case, which is a bonus.

(via JetPens)

The pens are the same width and shape as a standard hexagonal pencil. Even the color of the barrel is reminiscent of a classic yellow Ticonderoga pencil but with classy white pinstripes. The cap snaps snugly on the pen cap or the base for posting the cap.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner writing samples

The individual Point 88 mini pens do not have color names written on them so I made up some descriptive names as I went along. Jet Pens lists official names if you’re curious. The colors were all bright and clean colors. The point size is in my “sweet spot” for nib sizes at 0.4mm and exactly the same line width as the Le Pens.

(I lost to my inner 12-year-old and drew a panda. You forgive me, right?)

My first reaction when I started testing the Point 88 minis is how much the writing experience and colors reminded me of the Marvy Le Pens. I’m don’t have a complete set of Le Pens here but was able to cross-reference the writing experience and color with at least a dozen colors and there are some very comparable shades between the two brands.

The inks are not waterproof but neither are the LePens. The Stabilo pens are designed to allow for a long cap-off time without drying out. I didn’t test this out but hope that they live up to the hype and provide me a long life of colors over the next several months.

Stabilo Point 88 Mini Fineliner comparison to Marvy Le Pen

When posted, the Stabilo Point 88 minis are a tiny bit longer than the Le Pens full length but unposted.

The same Stabilo 88 mini Fineliner marker pens are available in a soft plastic wallet instead of the goofy “water bottle” but it costs $0.75 more for the envelope rather than the bottle. My Stabilo mini Fineliner pens will end up being dumped into my regular pen case so I’m okay with the $0.75 savings. The full-sized set of Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners includes all 25 standard colors for $21.50. I might go ahead and order the full set so I can have the greys, browns and the midnight blue color which are some of my favorite shades to use. Individual pens are $0.80 each so its worth adding a few to your next order if you’re not sure you want a full set or you need to “complete” your set.

The Staedtler Triplus Fineliner 20-color set is a little bit more expensive ($25) but a little bit finer at 0.3mm. I know the Staedtlers are quite popular as well so if you find the 0.4mm to be a bit too wide, these might be a good alternative. I’m going to stick with the Stabilo Point 88s.

 

Ink Review: Diamine 150th Silver Fox

Diamine Silver Fox

I’m sorry it took me so long to post the review for Diamine 150th Anniversary Silver Fox ink. I wrote the review but forgot to photograph the results. In the meantime, its been dark and rainy here for two weeks making it almost impossible to take good photos of the results, especially the neutral grey-on-white combination of this ink.

Then my darling cats decided they should help and caused me splotch ink, then walked around on the test sheet with wet feet. Sheesh. I’d think this ink review was cursed if the color wasn’t so lovely and the ink so well-behaved. So its not the ink that’s cursed this week — just me.

IMG_2895-2

Silver Fox is as neutral a grey ink as I’ve ever seen. Its not a cool grey with bluish tones and its not a warm grey with reddish hues. Its in that sweet spot, a true neutral grey. To be honest, Silver Fox is quite similar in color as the J. Herbin Stormy Grey, just without the divisive gold flecks. It also reminds me of pencil graphite so this could be THE ink for pencil lovers.

The dry time is reasonable for this ink and there’s some fun shading. Since the color is so neutral, there was not any sort of sheen. The ink dries a bit lighter than it looks when wet which is preferable to inks that start light and darken like the J. Herbin Gris Nuage which is practically invisible when wet and much too hard to write with in my opinion.

Diamine Silver Fox ink comparison

In comparing ink samples, Diamine Graphite is a bit of a greenish cool grey and DeAtramentis Silver Grey is a bit bluish in comparison. I think the Montblanc Meisterstück 90 Years Permanent Grey is similar in hue but a little bit darker grey.

Diamine 150 Years Silver Fox is available for $18.50 from Jet Pens in a 40ml pie-shaped bottle. This ink is part of a special collection so if this is a color you think you might want to try, better purchase it 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.

Ink Review: Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat

Callifolio Grenat is the second ink I purchased from this line produced by L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio and sold in the US through Vanness Pens in Little Rock.

Callifolio ink bottles

I’ve had the worst time trying to describe this color. Grenat is a warm, reddish brown that leans a little to a wine color — like “red wine stain” almost. Its not a vivid bright, eye-watering red but a subtle color that could potentially be a daily user because its not so garish as to be off-putting.

Callifolio Grenat

Grenat shades a little bit and there appears to be a greenish blue halo around heavier strokes. The color dried quickly, even on the Rhodia stock so that I could comfortably write without worrying that I’d stick my hand into wet ink as I went. Not a scientific number but I never hit a point where I was unconsciously smearing so I figure that’s good enough for me.

Callifolio Grenat ink comparison

Honestly, I had no other color in my stash that was even remotely similar to Callifolio Grenat. Its reddish but not bright or vivid so comparing it to red inks seemed too far from the mark. Instead I put it next to purply J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune and Kaweco Caramel Brown so you could see the color is neither purple nor brown.

At $11 per bottle, its totally worth investing in a bottle of Callifolio ink, whether you decide to experiment with Grenat or one of the many other colors. I’ve been pleased with both the Grenat and the Oliphants ink and I’m willing to try other colors in the near future.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Following the success and enthusiasm over the gold fleck-filled Stormy Grey and Rouge Hematite, J. Herbin reformulated the 1670 Bleu Ocean to include gold flecks as well. I was really excited about this change because who doesn’t like sparkles?

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

I love the shape and look of the 1670 series bottle. Its a square glass bottle with a wax seal label and “wax sealed cap”. The cap is not actually wax sealed, its a traditional threaded twist cap but the cap is covered with a faux wax material so it looks like wax. I think the bottles are gorgeous and I love the details that have been added to make them look special. I have not tried to get ink out of the bottom of the bottle yet but I imagine it will not be easy. I suspect that to completely use all the ink i the bottle, I’ll have to use a syringe or transfer the ink into another container to access the ink as the opening will not be convenient to dipping a pen after multiple uses. That said, its really pretty.

As with the other versions of the 1670 ink, the gold flecks will settle to the bottom of the bottle and will require some stirring, shaking or rolling to redistribute the gold in the ink. I’ve heard folks mention that if they fill a pen with any of these 1670 inks, they will often roll their pen on a table to keep the gold flecks from settling in the reservoir.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

The ink color is actually a darker blue than most of the “true blues” in my collection and the addition of the gold flecks makes it even more appealing. The gold was quite noticeable in my swab sample, more so than with either the Rouge Hematite or Stormy Grey.

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

When I painted the title, I got really excited about this ink. It sparkled, there were lots of color variation and I really liked the color. All this enthusiasm took a nose dive when I dipped my Esterbrook 9314M Medium Stub into the ink and the ink softened around the edges as I wrote. It didn’t bleed or feather per se, but it smooshed all my writing together making the line edges indistinct and filled in the counters of my letter. I dipped my pen in the ink and then wiped the nib of excess just once but the ink continued to display as runny and soft to the end of the page. I can’t imagine how much this would bleed or feather on lower quality paper instead of the Rhodia stock I used!

J. Herbin !670 bleu ocean with gold flecks

Does this photo sum up my  feelings about the new formulation of Bleu Ocean? Yes it does.

Ink Review: P.W. Akkerman Voorhout Violet

Akkerman Voorhout

I was so excited to be able to choose a bottle of P.W. Akkerman ink at the Vanness table at the Atlanta Pen Show. For the past year, Akkerman has been “the ink” to acquire. And Vanness is the only place to get the ink in the US. So being able to peruse the quickly depleting stock at the pen show and seeing the ink sample swabs in person was a dream come true. I only purchased one bottle because (1) its pricey stuff ($30/bottle), (2) many of the colors had already sold out before I found the Vanness table and (3) I couldn’t make a sound decision to save my life. I really need to make a spreadsheet of all the inks and colors I have so I know what colors I have.

One of the most striking features of Akkerman is the extremely unique bottle. Its a very tall bottle with a long slender neck. Inside the neck is a ball that allows it to block the flow of ink back into the larger bottle reservoir. So, to ink up a pen, you tip the bottle slowly upside down and then right it so that the neck area fills with ink. This should be a very effective way to get the most mileage out of the bottle without a lot of trouble. And it looks really cool!

I’ve been on a bit of a purple/black kick recently so I picked up a bottle of the Akkerman#15 Voorhout Violet.

Akkerman Voorhout

Voorhout Violet is definitely a purple/black color. In my swashy brush testing, there’s a nice array of dusty purply tones and a distinctly warm undertone. When writing however, the ink appears almost black and then lightens a little as it dries for that more of the purple tones show through, particularly with a wider nib. There’s a bit of shading but because the ink is so dark, its pretty subtle.

The ink behaved well and dried in a reasonable amount of time. I write my samples at a standard writing pace to test “real world” usage and I use Rhodia paper which can slow drying time a bit. But overall the performance was very good.

Oh, I forgot to mention the noticeable “lacquer” odor when I opened the bottle. It wasn’t a noxious smell but it was notable in that there was a smell. Most of my inks don’t have a noticeable smell, the exception being Noodler’s inks which have a similar odor to the Akkerman. Once I dipped my pen and closed the bottle, I no longer noticed the odor but I wanted to note it.

Akkerman Voorhout ink comparison

When compared with my growing arsenal of purple/black inks, the Akkerman is not notably distinct to the other colors I have. Private Reserve Ebony Purple is very similar. In writing, I’m not sure I’d be able to distinguish one from the other. Kaweco Summer Purple is also quite similar in color. And both the Kaweco and Private Reserve inks are considerably cheaper.

I’ll continue to use this ink and try it in an assortment of different pens and under more diverse writing conditions so I may feel differently about this ink in a few months. Right now though, I’m sort of “hmmm” about this color.

That said, I think the Akkerman inks are a good array of colors and worth the investment for the unique bottle alone. I will be trying more Akkerman inks in some of the more popular colors like #5 Shocking Blue and #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen. I’m also itching to try the wildly yellow-green #28 Hofkwartier Green. I could always use more green ink, right?

Check out Ed Jelley’s review of Voorhout Violet for a different perspective.

Ink Review: Callifolio Oliphants

Callifolio ink bottles

One of most unusual items that I picked up at the Atlanta Pen Show was to bottles of Callifolio ink in Olifants and Grenat from the fine folks at Vanness Pen Shop. Actually, the official product name is French, L’Artisan Pastellier Encre Callifolio. But can we agree to just call them Callifolio inks?

The bottles for the Callifolio inks are absolutely identical to the bottles that Diamine is using for the 150th Anniversary inks — the pie slice wedges. The labels on the bottle are simple white labels with black printing. It’s not the most interesting packaging but I’m not going to judge this particular book by its cover.

Callifolio offers over  30 different colors in either the 40ml wedge-shaped bottles or in 50ml foil refill pouches. The refill pouches can be used to refill an existing bottle of Callifolio inks or poured into any ink container (like a TWSBI ink bottle or a vintage inkwell). One of the most appealing thing about the Callifolio inks are the price — just $11 per bottle or $8 per foil pouch. I could buy FOUR foil pouches for the cost of one bottle of Akkerman ink.

Callifolio Oliphants

I picked the Olifants color because I just love the teal-y blue/blue-black inks so I wanted to try a Callifolio ink in a color I’d use regularly. There was some nice shading to the color and a bit of a halo.

Callifolio Oliphants

Olifants dried quickly and with my fine stub testing nib, there was no feathering or line softening. I did test the ink on Rhodia paper so there may be some different results on lower quality or lighter weight paper but my initial reaction is that Callifolio is making good inks at great prices.

I did not test for waterproofness but I will do a little follow-up in a few days with more of my experience with the Callifolio inks but for general performance, I’ m quite pleased with this ink.

Callifolio Oliphant ink comparison

The Olifants color is a bit more green than Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo and a bit bluer than Sailor Jentle Yama Dori. But with the wide price difference, Callifolio inks are a reasonable substitute for the more expensive Japanese inks.

I’m really pleased with my purchase so far and I can’t wait to review the Grenat color which is not a color I normally buy.

Pen Review: Lamy Safari Neon Lime (2015 Special Edition)

Lamy Safari Neonlime sample

When I saw the new Lamy Safari in Neon Lime (the 2015 Special Edition Color) (19.50 €) I knew immediately that I’d have to have one. The color is just too perfect not to own it. The color is such a bright yellow green its practically highlighter yellow.

The Lamy is one of the longest pens in my collection but because its made of plastic, its very lightweight. I think it would be a comfortable pen for most writers, tiny to extra large hands. It can be used posted but it makes the pen extremely long. If that’s comfortable go for it but I prefer to use it unposted.

Lamy Neon Lime writing sample

I attempted to use the Neon Lime ink but quickly discovered that it is more useful as a highlighter ink than a writing ink.

I got the Neon Lime Safari with a Medium nib which is one of the only nib sizes from Lamy I had not tried yet. I had a little bit of an issue with a rough spot on the nib so I ran it across some micro mesh to smooth it out and then it seemed good to go. I tried to keep my fingers on the grip section as the grooves indicated but, as a lefty, it ends up being a little awkward to get the proper angle and goo ink flow upside down that way. Once I cocked the pen slightly, I was able to get more consistent ink flow with the medium nib. If I write with my hand below the line I’m writing (mirroring most right handed writers) I got much darker ink and flow.

I stand by my recommendation that lefties don’t start their fountain pen adventures with a Lamy Safari since the grip section can make it more challenging to find the best nib angle for our often-unique writing angles. A pen with a smooth grip section will work better as an introductory pen for a left-handed writer like a Pilot Metropolitan or the higher-priced Lamy Studio.

Lamy Neonlime writing sample

The great thing about the Lamy line is how easy it is to swap out the nibs. I pulled the 1.1mm nib out of my Lamy Studio and tried it in the Neon Lime. Surprisingly, I had an easier time getting the ink on the paper with the wider nib and I found the line variation more interesting.

Lamy Safari Neonlime

Overall, the Lamy is a great introductory fountain pen with easy-to-swap nibs and the Neon Lime color is bright, fun color. My only caveat to recommending the Lamy Safari is, for a left-handed writer, the molded grip section can introduce some challenges if you are an overwriter (you hook your hand above the line you are writing). That said, the Lamy Safari line is quite reasonably priced so if you haven’t tried one yet, its certainly won’t break the bank. Its a classic design in a bold new color.

Comparing Neon Lime

(Just for color comparison:  Pilot Prera,  Neon Lime Lamy Safari, Monteverde Intima in Neon Green, Monteverde Prima in Green Swirl, and Karas Kustoms Render K in green.


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

Review: Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5 Cartridge System

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

My gateway pen was the Pilot Precise V5. I’ve always had good results with it and found it to be one of my favorite big box store pens. Sadly, they are disposable plastic pens. I had always hoped there would be a way to refill them. And now there is! The V5 Hi-Tecpoint 0.5 Cartridge System (Way to come up with a confusing naming convention there, Pilot!) is the answer.

The V5 Hi-Tecpoint uses the same Pilot cartridges as Pilot’s fountain pens which means the pen could be fit with a converter as well. I believe either the Con-20 or the Con-50 should fit but you could also syringe fill the cartridge the came with the pen.

Aesthetically, the pen is the same round, straight barrel as the original V5 Precise. The clip is plastic rather than metal though. There’s new branding graphics which I’m lukewarm about but giant graphics on pens seem to be standard operating procedure for pens under $25 so I can’t fault them for going with the trend.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

On my first test run, I removed the stock black ink cartridge and replaced it with a colored ink cartridge from the Pilot Mixable Color set for the Parallel Pens. I chose the violet cartridge. I was not sure how effective running water through it would be for removing the previous ink color so I just swapped out the cartridges and scribbled for about a half a page until the ink color shifted from black to purple.

Pilot Hi-Tecpoint V5

The Parallel ink cartridge seems to work fine in the V5 Hi-Techpoint. I had no issues with flow or feathering so I feel pretty confident that I can jump to standard fountain pen inks next. Can I tell you how excited I am about this?

If you’re looking for a refillable rollerball that can take fountain pen ink, for $3.20 this is as good an option as the J. Herbin and gives a considerably finer line. The Hi-Tecpoint is also available in the V7 0.7mm version if you perfer a bolder line.


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: Monsieur Notebook Soft Classics Leather A5

monsieur notebook

Monsieur Notebook has continued to improve and expand their product line. I can’t believe its been four year since I reviewed their first batch of notebooks. Since then, I’d like to think that my reviews have improved as much as their products have.

monsieur notebook

The latest product release is called the Soft Classics leather notebook. The leather cover is glued to cardstock end papers to give the leather a bit of stability but the book has some flexibility. I love the visible leather edge.

The book I received is the medium A5 sized (approx. 5.875″ x 8.25″) in Royal Blue. The book includes a matching vertical elastic and ribbon bookmark. I’d like it clearly stated that the ribbon bookmark is sealed at the end to prevent fraying. This is a little detail that means a lot to me. There is not pocket in the back cover.

The only branding in the book is on the front end paper at the bottom of the page. I appreciate the minimal branding and no logo on the cover of the book which I find presumptuous.

monsieur notebook

Inside the paper is 90 gsm, acid-free, ivory paper. I received a lined notebook but they are also available in plain and dot grid. The paper is described as ivory but I would call it “soft white”. Its not as yellow-y as Moleskine paper. I find it creamy enough not to feel stark white but not so tinted as to interfere with ink colors.

The ruled line spacing is approximately 6mm, comparable to US “college-ruled” in fine grey lines. While ruled paper is not to everyone’s taste, this is very easy on the eyes and fine enough to not be intrusive when writing. I’d be curious to see the dot grid to see if its as light and unobtrusive as well.

To round out their product line, Monsieur also sells a 120 GSM sketch paper, 200GSM watercolour paper and 100GSM bright white specifically for fountain pens.

monsieur notebook

Knowing that Monsieur also makes a notebook with paper specific to fountain pen use, I was a little concerned that the stock paper might not stand up to fountain pens. Turns out, I didn’t have all that much to worry about.

monsieur notebook

I tested a full array of fountain, rollerball, gel and felt tip pens and had no visible issues with feathering or dry time. I tested fountain pens with daily use nibs: EF, F, M and a 0.6mm stub and a 1.1mm stub. On the narrow ruling, I wouldn’t really be inclined to use a fountain pen with a nib much broader than that. My results were very good.

monsieur notebook

Close-up you can see the ink behaved nicely on the page and the ruling sort of vanishes once there’s something else to look at on the page.

monsieur notebook

From the reverse side of the paper there’s a tiny bit of showthrough but no bleed through at all.

The Soft Classic notebooks will be available in the US in August at a retailer near you or through Amazon. The list price on Amazon for the A5 is $25.95. The price puts the Soft Classics notebook in the “premium” category but I think the combination of quality leather and above average paper makes it a pretty competitive price for it. The original hardcover notebooks are a little less expensive and appear to use the same paper. They are listed on Amazon below the MSRP of $19.95 by a few dollars. And the original hardcover notebooks are available now if you can’t wait until August.

Overall, I really like this notebook. Its gotten all the things right that I normally complain about. Good paper, unobtrusive ruling, finished bookmark and a quality cover without enormous branding all over it. The Soft Classics will also be available in an array of cover colors (three shades of blue, two shades of red, British Racing Green, black and brown) that should satisfy most preferences.


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

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