Fountain Pen Reivew: Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen

Fountain Pen Reivew: Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen

Inside me there is still a 16-year-old goth girl. There. I’ve said it. I outed myself. So, when I saw the Benu Skull & Roses Crow Fountain Pen ($163) I knew I had to have it.

I first saw the Skull & Roses pens at the LA Pen Show at the  Dromgoole’s tables where Jesi and I were working. We both debated buying the pens on the table but we had so many people checking them out that we both waited to see if the pens sold at the show.

Then we got all “quick! we gotta pack up!” and I forgot to grab the Skull & Roses pen. A few weeks after returning from the pen show, I started thinking, “Dang! I wish I had bought that BENU,” but by that point, I couldn’t find the pen in stock anywhere.

I gave up getting one, until I saw that Truphae had them in stock and, as June is my birthday month, I decided to celebrate still being a kid, and bought it for myself.

The BENU packaging is pretty uneventful (and hence, not photographed) and that’s fine by me. It’s a simple white box with gold lettering and the pen is in a white, paperboard tube cushioned in paper shred inside. While the packaging is fully recyclable it doesn’t give away the cacaphony of color or funkiness going on inside the box. Sneaky.

The Skull & Roses Crow is a pretty silly pen all things considered.  It utilizes a traditional tapered, cigar shape with deeply engraved roses along the cap and barrel and a ring of engraved skulls around the cap band. The pen is a solid black plastic material with a texture in the non-embossed areas to give the pen a leather-like look — kind of like the texture on an old book.One might think of it as a budget-friendly subtler version of the Chaos pen (IYKYK).

If you look closely, you can see the letters BENU hidden in the rose vines.

The pen did come with a universal cartridge converter which I filled with “be still my Goth-y heart” Sailor Studio 350.

The nib is a standard Schmidt #5 nib. Love ’em or hate ’em, BENU uses Schmidt nibs. I got the EF nib and it was a little scratchy but I used a bit of micromesh and was able to smooth it out. I’m spoiled from years of using Sailor nibs so I still find the nib to be a bit stiff and not as fine as I’d like it but its a decent nib.


  • Length: 5.375 (capped)
  • Length  5″ (uncapped)
  • Weight 21gms (capped and filled)
  • Weight 16gms (uncapped with full converter)

The smooth grip section is about 0.875″ long with a minimal step down from the threads and an added bit of smooth matte grip area along the pen body creating a space of about 1.5″ overall to grip the pen without coming into contact with the deep sculpted designs.  For some, the deeply engraved exterior and small size may cause pressure on your hand from the design. I didn’t find the sculpted body to be too bothersome for everyday notetaking but I wouldn’t choose this pen to do NaNoWriMo or other marathon writing.

The cap is not really post-able which limits the length.

The Skull & Roses is also available in a translucent red and a mixed black-body-with-translucent-red band called Smolder (currently sold out).

In the end, the plus sides are the ridiculously goth-y design, lightweight and reasonable price. For some folks the downside would be the small Schmidt nib, not post-able and too much engraving that may interfere with overall writing comfort. My thinking is that if you are attracted to the design, the “downsides” can be overlooked because… c’mon, skulls & roses!

DISCLAIMER: Some items were purchased with funds from our amazing Patrons. You can help support this blog by joining our Patreon. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Octopus Write & Draw Inks Part 2

If you missed it, make sure you read first part of the Octopus Write & Draw inks review! Again, due to the large number of inks in this line, I am only showing an overview of the Write & Draw colors rather than comparing colors to other inks in my collection. This line consists of 25 pigment inks!

The Write & Draw ink line consists of 50mL glass bottles that I have found for $17.33 at Vanness Pen Shop. This works out to about $0.35 per mL – a great deal for colorful water resistant inks.

The color lineup today isn’t as colorful as part 1. Here we have the blues, grays, greens, and the one black ink. Blue Koi is a brilliant sapphire blue, Grey Meerkat is a neutral grey, and my favorite blue – Blue Lynx.

Grey Fox is one that I would classify as a blue-black.

I have a feeling that Petrol Axolotl will be a popular choice in this line – a dark teal that reminds me of the popular Taccia Sabimidori ink. Green Eagle is a nice bright green that leans a bit towards yellow, but not much.

The last three colors – Green Squirrel, Grey Frog, and Black Elephant make quite a trio. Green Squirrel is a fun muddy green and Black Elephant is a deep, dark, opaque black – as a pigment ink, it can achieve the true black not found in dye based inks.

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori Cotton paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Tomoe River 52gsm (TR7) paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori MD paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Cosmo Air Light 83gsm paper:


In part 1 of this review, I promised to test the water resistance of the Octopus Write & Draw inks. To test this, I first sprinkled several drops of water on every color swatch – here I’m showing the test on Midori MD paper.

After letting this sit for one minute, I blotted each swatch with a clean paper towel.

Not a single trace of ink on the paper towel.

I repeated this with the inks from part 1. The same result. I could not get the ink off the paper.

I decided on another test – I held the Black Elephant swatch under running water for 30 seconds and again blotted the paper dry. Nothing. The swatch looked identical before and after the flowing water.

I am truly impressed with the water resistance of the Write & Draw inks. Colorful waterproof inks are hard to find, but I have found all 25 colors to withstand brutal levels of water. I would consider these a great purchase at their price point.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided at a discount by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Link Love: It’s Wednesday Already?

Link Love: It’s Wednesday Already?

This is a “short week” for Americans since many of us had Monday off for Memorial Day. However,  that means that Tuesday feels like Monday and so forth. So, I had a panic moment when I remembered I needed to get Link Love done today. Such creatures of habit, we are.

Link kismet is a lot of purple ink reviews, Kottke also got caught by the eloquence of John Green, and beloved bookstores in NYC and stunning libraries. Lots of travel art supplies and even a travel Filofax. I think we all have the itch to travel this summer. Do you have any travel plans this year?




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

We need each other. Please support our sponsors, affiliates or join our Patreon. Your patronage supports this site. Without them, and without you, we could not continue to do what we do. Thank you!

Pen Review: Sailor Ink Pen Set of 3

I’ve been watching with interest over the last several years as Sailor has released so many beautiful new inks. However, my ink drawer overfloweth (I have more than enough ink to last me a lifetime!) so I haven’t been purchasing many. Last time I perused Yoseka Stationery I was interested to see that Sailor is also releasing combination brush pens/felt tip fine liners in some of the new ink colorways. I eagerly purchased the Tone of the Evening Calm set ($9.50 for 3-pen set).

The set I purchased includes pens in the following ink colors:

  • 473 – a bright peach/orange
  • 435 – a plummy purple
  • 943 – a dark blue black

The set was “inspired by the evening calm of the setting sun that quietly envelops the harbor as it watches over ships.”

I think I was most taken with the packaging on these pens. Even though it is written in Japanese it manages to convey that it makes use of the bottled fountain pen ink colors to create these pens in tons of different shades. The packaging is specific to these three colors, yet also shows the colors available in this format, either singly or in other combinations.

The pen itself has two ends – one with a brush tip, and one with a felt tip fine liner. The fine liner writes beautifully and if I were more skilled with a brush pen, I’d be stoked with that one too. I think this is a fun way to explore Sailor’s ink line without having to buy full bottles of fountain pen ink, which of course opens it up to a wider audience. Of course there are always the bottles if you find a favorite shade or two!

DISCLAIMER: Some of these items were purchased with my own funds, others were provided for free or at discounted cost for the purposes of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Mini-Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Ink Cartridges

Mini-Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Ink Cartridges

Pilot Iroshizuku inks are now available in cartridges ($14 for 6 cartridges). Is this something we wanted as a pen community? I am not sure. If I said yes, I don’t thin I would have imagined each cartridge to cost $2.33 each. I mean I love Ku-Jaku but I like being able to put the ink into any pen that I own not just Pilot-specific cartridge-accepting pens.

Pilot Iroshizuku bottled ink is about $24 for 50ml (that’s $0.48 per ml). The bottled ink can be used in any fountain pen with a converter or piston filling mechanism while the cartridges will only work with Pilot fountain pens.

Of course, if you or someone you know is buying their first-ever fountain pen like a widely-recommended Pilot Metropolitan, then a pack of Pilot Iroshizuku cartridges would be a great starting point.

So, if you are trying to build a great starter kit for a graduate, fountain pen-curious friend’s birthday or what we like to think of as a “first taste is free” gift, then pairing a Pilot Metropolitan and a pack of Pilot Iroshizuku cartridges is a good way to do it. For more experienced fountain pen fans, this may not be your most flexible or cost-effective method to keep your ink needs met.

Of course, I say all this and then I thought “Oh, this is great to have at work in case my pens run our of ink during the day.” I think I drank the ink.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Mini-Review: Tombow Mono Correction Tape

Mini-Review: Tombow Mono Correction Tape

When is an eraser not an eraser? When its a Tombow Mono Pocket Correction Tape ($3.15 each)housed in a case that looks like the brand’s most iconic white plastic eraser. I couldn’t resist the twist. The Mono Pocket Correction Tape is kind of like an eraser for ink, right? Its a small, portable capped correction tape which makes it great for anyone who schleps their office supplies back and forth to school or work (like me).

The only downside of this correction tape is that it is “disposable”.  Tombow does offer a refillable correction tape in their “air” line but in my research, most correction tape dispensers are not refillable.

When the cap is removed, its easy to see the tape and the clear body makes it pretty easy to place it accurately.

The “before” photo
The “after” photo

As shown above, the Mono Pocket Correction Tape works well in covering any mistakes, cancelled meetings or other changes. The samples above are on Paperblanks slightly creamy paper stock so the bright white of the correction tape is more apparent then it might appear on whiter paper. The tape did cover the text pretty well and was easy to apply.

If I need to carry correction tape, it might as well be fun correction tape, right? It’s small size makes it easy to fit in my pen case too. Do you use correction tape? What is your favorite correction tape?

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Octopus Write & Draw Inks Part 1

Ink Review: Octopus Write & Draw Inks Part 1

Today’s review is a bit different – I am showing the first half of the inks in this line rather than a more in-depth look. Vanness Pen Shop recently added a new ink manufacturer by the name of Octopus. Octopus has various lines of ink, one being the Write & Draw line which consists of 25 pigment inks.

Each of the inks in the Write & Draw line come in a 50mL glass bottle for $17.33, about $0.35 per mL.

The Write & Draw inks are all named for the color and an animal – none that match the usual color of the animal, however! Yellow Zebra, Brown Penguin, and Brown Colibri are up first.

Red Duck, Orange Skunk, and Pink Gazelle:

Pink Alpaca, Red Turtle, Pink Owl:

Violet Raccoon, Violet Bee, Violet Lion, and Blue Chameleon:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Cosmo Air Light 83gsm paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori MD paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Tomoe River 52gsm (TR7) paper:

Octopus Write & Draw inks on Midori Cotton paper:

Next week I’ll show the remaining 12 Write & Draw inks along with a look at the level of water resistance offered by these pigment inks.

DISCLAIMER: The items included in this review were provided at a discount by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.