Link Love: Over-Reaktor

Apologies for the delay on this post. I stayed up late last night watching the Cubs play the Royals love in Kansas City with my dad. This game was hot on the heels of my flight rolling into Kansas City from DC post-pen show. So, I spent the better part of today catching up on my “jobby-job.”  I know, where are my priorities?!!?

There are several great recaps of the DC Pen Show in Other Interesting Things as well as the monthly wallpapers. This week’s pen section is chock full of reviews of the new Karas Pen Co. Galaxie and Starliner pens which are slowly being released this month. And Les over at Comfortable Shoes Studio has started her annual Compostion Book reviews which you can find links for in the Notebooks and Paper section.

And last, but certainly not least, our beloved Tina has returned from Portugal to share her sketching adventures in the Art & Creativity section and will hopefully have some new reviews here on the blog soon.




Notebooks & Paper:

Art & Creativity:

Other Interesting Things:

Pen Review: Platinum PTL 5000A Balance Fountain Pen

Review by Jessica Coles

The Platinum 5000-A Balance caught my eye a couple weeks ago when I noticed it had a gold nib.  That’s not actually a remarkable thing in itself; Platinum makes many excellent gold nibbed pens.

However, I was looking at pens sorted by price.  There was no way I had scrolled down far enough to get to the gold nib prices – I hadn’t even made it to the Monteverde Prima or Lamy Studio yet (both have steel nibs).  I double checked.  A gold nibbed pen (from a well-founded and respected company) that cost on $64? There was no way! So of course, I had to try it.  As soon as humanly possible.

Luckily, Pen Chalet had the 5000-A in stock.  When it arrived, the packaging beautiful and understated.

Still not a pen that I would suspect contained a gold nib.  Had this been a mislabeled pen?


A 14kt gold nib in a pen that cost $64 (at the time of this writing!).  It was with trepidation that I began to test the pen with a writing sample.

The pen performed beautifully.  Like other Platinum nibs, there is a moderate amount of feedback.  You can feel the page under your nib.  I personally enjoy this feeling, but those who prefer a smoother feel could easily adjust this.  The nib is not listed as flexible or soft, but as a 14kt nib has a bit of responsiveness to the pressure variations that occur during a writing session.  Make sure you do not think I’m saying this is a flexible or even a soft nib!  It is not!  DO NOT TRY TO FLEX THIS NIB.  But as you can see above, the thickness does vary a bit throughout the writing.  (Please ignore any shaky hand parts you may see…)

Now for the size.  The 5000-A Balance surprised me in the size and weight category.  I was expecting a heavier pen. The pen weighs approximately 11.5 grams.  Lighter than anything we have on our chart, including the ubiquitous Lamy Safari.  The body of the Platinum is plastic while the gold clip and accents are metal.

pen weight comparison chart

With the snap-cap removed, (you read that correctly.  The cap snaps. And it is a satisfying snap as well.) you can see the nib is close in size to that of the Lamy. What you don’t see in this photo (because I inked up the pen as soon as it came out of the box) is that it has a clear feed! Beautiful, especially with brightly colored ink.

The only other thing I can say about this pen is this: go get it right now.  Quickly.  Before they realize that they have underpriced an amazing pen.

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

Ink Review: KWZ Meet me in St. Louis

Review by Laura Cameron

Even though the show is over and new shows are on the way, I wanted to post about St. Louis’ special show ink, KWZ’s Meet me in St. Louis.  Unfortunately I have no link for this one because it was a special limited run and they are completely sold out. However, you might be able to find some samples if you’re hanging out in the pen community.

KWZ Meet me in St. Louis is a saturated teal ink.  In light applications it leans a little green and in dark applications it’s just dark swirling ocean teal. Sadly there’s no water that looks like that near St. Louis, but it does make me dream of the ocean.

There’s no shimmer in this one, and no sheen that I can see.  Just tons of lovely shading and depth.  It goes on a little lighter and dries a little darker, but for the most part what you see is what you get.

In regular applications, the ink seemed to try fairly quickly. However, in my ink splotches you can see that the ink is still a little tacky and not quite dry, even after 24 hours.  And those ink splotches are so deep dark that you can barely see the teal in there.

In terms of color comparisons, I leaned greener when I pulled samples out of my Col-o-Dex.  While it was tempting to pull Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue and Fire & Ice, they are much bluer than Meet me in St. Louis.  I did pull Blackstone Sydney Harbour Blue, which is too blue, as well as a variety of more teal inks: J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor, Banmi Dragon and Birmingham Pen Co Kier Refinery Petroleum which is actually a bit too green.  It’s interesting how putting Meet me in St. Louis next to the blues makes it look green, and the greens make it look blue.

If you missed this one, don’t worry. There will always be more shows and more show inks!

Eye Candy: Birmingham Pen Co. Inks

Birmingham Pen Co. Ink

I am sucker for these Birmingham Pen Company inks. This is batch number two for me. The first batch was so lovely I knew I would order more. First, the colors are so muted and complex and I love that Birmingham names all their colors after people and places from their community. Second, they are so stinkin’ cheap. A 30ml bottle is just $7.99. So, I can’t resist buying them.

This round I bought some of the newer colors more recently released and some that have been restocked: Andy Warhol Pop Art Purple, Southside Market Boysenberry, May Lou Williams Piano Girl PinkFred Rogers Cardigan Red, Thomas Mellon Evergreen and Schenley Park Thicket Green.

Evergreen, Cardigan Red and Pop Art Purple are the most saturated, vivid colors I’ve gotten from Birmingham Pen Company thus far. Schenley Park Thicket Green is a lovely forest green and Boysenberry is a good raspberry purple. However, Piano Girl Pink is no more pink than Gerbera Pink I picked up in the first batch. As long as I think of Piano Girl as a burgundy its a nice color but pink, it is not. For all the things Birmingham Pen Co. is doing right, pink is not their strong suit.

But oh, their deep, dark muted tones are so good. So, if you have not tried out some of the Birmingham Pen Company inks yet, now is the time.

I promise that I will do more in depth reviews of some of these ink colors in the coming weeks.

Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF Fountain Pen (AKA The Kung Fu Panda)

Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF Fountain Pen (AKA The Kung Fu Panda)

Oh, Platinum! Why did you name such a beautiful pen with a name that sounds so awful to English speakers? I trie to resist the Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF Fountain Pen on the name alone but when everyone kept telling me how stunning the color was, I couldn’t hold out any longer. Then Lisa Vanness said, “You can call it the Kung Fu Panda.” I caved. And christened it the “Kung Fu Panda” and clicked on Buy It Now so fast your head would spin. My previous 3776 is a Soft Fine so I decided to go for the Ultra Extra Fine (UEF) even though many people have said it is too fine even for super fine gel pen enthusiasts. So, I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF

First, let’s just say that the looks did not disappoint. The Kung Fu Panda is the picture of summery life aquatic perfection. The waves and transparent teal blue is gorgeous. I cannot take my eye off it. And the silver/chrome hardware is perfect. Though, to be honest, this pen would probably have been just as pretty with gold hardware and I almost never say things like that. I am glad its silver though.

In terms of pen specifications, the Platinum 3776 is a fairly lightweight pen. Filled with the converter, it weighs 26gms. Uncapped, its a mere 14gms. It’s about 5.5″ long capped and 4.75″ uncapped and 6.125″ posted.

pen weight comparison chart

(Comparison chart is for pens capped and filled.)

Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF

Would you look at the wicked stiletto point on this nib? Hoo, boy!

Platinum 3776 Kumpoo UEF

So, I made a point of choosing an ink I knew would be lubricated for a nib this fine and chose Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku. It was a lovely match as well. I don’t know when I started matching my ink to my pens but I did. Now its just a contest with myself, I think. I love how fine it writes. It has a slight crispness to the line that my other fine pens do not have and I quite enjoy. I did some comparison writing with my 3776 Shungyu with the SF nib (the ink ran out a couple words in so I swapped it out hence the roughness at the beginning. And OMG! I can’t believe I’ve never written a review for this pen!), and two Sailors – one with a stock H-F and one with a custom needlepoint. I would say the my Sailor with the custom Needlepoint is most comparable in terms of line weight but it did require a nibmeister.

So, if you are looking for a UEF, I definitely think the 3776 is a good option and the color series is really stunning. Platinum definitely keeps upping the bar on the look and design of this line. I wonder what color is next?

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.

Ink Preview: Colorverse x Opus88 Inks

Ink Preview: Colorverse x Opus88 Inks

Colorverse also released a set of inks in July to coordinate with the Opus88 Koloro and Picmic pen lines.  The seven eight colors in this collection all include traditional inks (no shimmers) and both of the bottles in the 2-bottle sets are the same colors (65ml and 15ml bottles for $36 per set).

I received samples of these colors but the Colorverse x Opus88 inks also received the same upgraded packaging as the Season 4 Trailblazers in Space did with the added foam to protect the bottles in shipping.

Colorverse x Opus88 Ink

Colorverse x Opus88 Ink

Colorverse x Opus88 Ink

I was super excited about Girls Just Wanna. I mean why wouldn’t I be excited about a bright, almost-flourescent pink? I thought I might have something similar from Kobe (Sailor) but I don’t think I do after all. I think Horizon may be a bit similar to Crystal Planet without the sheen. Soul is a lovely chocolatey brown. It’s warmer than JFK’s Dog Pushinka. Laurel is a dark forest green. It’s darker than Able. Tango is a terra cotta orange that’s a bit more ruddy than V2 Rocket and there’s a lot more of it in this set. Supernatural is darker than Albert, a bit more “slime green” to the “limeade” green of Albert. The truly unique color in this set is Adobe which is one of the best non-metallic golden yellow colors I’ve seen. It is not too yellow in thin lines. It keeps a golden quality. This should have been Golden Record in the Voyager I set, IMHO.

OMG, I apologize but I don’t have a swatch for Depth. I don’t know how I missed it. Especially considering that Depth is supposed to be the ink to match my favorite Blue Blue Koloro. I’ll try to add the swatch into this post as an addendum ASAP and will definitely have a review in the future along with reviews of several of these colors, particularly Adobe and Girls Just Wanna!


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.