Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm

26 02 2014
It comes with normal lead, but what's the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

It comes with normal lead, but what’s the fun in leaving a writing utensil unaltered? Gotta make it yours, though sometimes all that means is just putting in a different color lead

Ever since the Kuru Toga came into my life, I haven’t tended to give much thought to mechanical pencils. But the Pentel Jolt has kept a stylish place in my heart, and it’s high time I got around to reviewing it.

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Especially since I first mentioned the Jolt almost 3 years ago

Style style style style STYLE. I love the look. I love every part of the look. I love the faceted nosecone (and I love that it allows the tip to be retracted).

It's a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up onit

It’s a pretty subtle faceting until you get right up on it. Minus 2 points for me not having fully retracted the lead/tip in this picture

I love the zigzags indented in the grip, which is a nice grippy black rubber that doesn’t grab up a bunch of debris. And that shaker mechanism window, bright white spring popping against the black tube—

I could stare at this all day

I could stare at this all day

Just a solid YES. Even the branding looks good.

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

Probably named as a nod to Jolt Cola, that highly caffeinated beverage of my youth; consuming Jolt Cola will aid and amplify in the use of the shaker mechanism

A++ on this design, Pentel. Please call up whoever worked on this design and remind them of what a good job they did.

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

This is a real eraser. None of those useless little crumbs that companies like hiding under an easily lost plastic cap

Not content with mere aesthetic mastery, the Jolt hits as many functional points as it can. Number one in my heart is this extra large, wide black eraser. The only improvement there would be for Pentel to make it out of their hi-polymer black eraser material.

I don’t have many shaker pencils, so I don’t know exactly how to evaluate them. You shake the pencil, and like you’re some kind of wizard having a fit, lead magically advances from your flailings. Or, if you’re more traditionally inclined, you can advance the lead by pressing down on the eraser.

Strong lead for a strong pencil

Strong lead for a strong pencil

I forget what kind of lead it came with; I loaded it with Pentel’s Ain Stein enhanced 0.5mm blue lead. It’s smear resistant, with a reinforced silica core. Plus it makes all your drawings look cool.

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

Also comes in a lime green body for the 0.5mm; pink and orange bodies with white accents are for the 0.7mm

At a little under $3 and widely available in regular office supply stores, the Pentel Jolt is probably one of the best-looking mechanical pencils you can get out in the wilds of the American market.

Pentel Jolt Mechanical Pencil 0.5mm at Pentel

Pentel Stein Enhanced Silica Pencil Lead – 0.5mm – Blue at JetPens





Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014
What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)





Monologue Soft Sketch Book A6

29 12 2013
Bear with me kids; I'm still getting the hang of this picture editor. On the plus side, since it doesn't do resizing by percentages, every picture is now maximum of 1000 pixels.

Bear with me kids; I’m still getting the hang of this picture editor. On the plus side, since it doesn’t do resizing by percentages, every picture is now maximum of 1000 pixels.

Allegedly, this is a soft sketch book, and technically speaking yes, this is a soft, not hard cover on this book, but you will not find a stiffer notebook for your dollar without falling down a rabbit hole of double entendres. How am I supposed to use a notebook I can barely even open? Step one, crack this book like a winter walnut.

With great force comes great flatness

With great force comes great flatness

I like the texture of this cover, and the size of the notebook. I’m a fan of small portable notebooks for my doodles.

This is a very thick elastic band. Like possibly would double a headband if you pulled it free. And had a small circumference head

This is a very thick elastic band. Like possibly would double a headband if you pulled it free. And had a small circumference head

I’m not, however, a big fan of horizontal elastic closures, but this one seems to get out of the way pretty easily. That’s just a general preference issue on my part.

Maybe I should have just scanned these. Not that it really lays flat enough for that. Oh well.

Maybe I should have just scanned these. Not that it really lays flat enough for that. Oh well.

The paper is the same good heavy-duty paper as found in the Monologue Orange Sketch Pad, meaning it’s great general use art paper. And once you go through and crack the spine it isn’t so bad. It works for me because I can rest my hand on the left side of the pages to draw, and it keeps the book open. It still doesn’t want to lay remotely flat on its own, instead choosing to settle itself into something like an acute angle.

This is as far as it shuts itself. Elastic band required for full closure.

This is as far as it shuts itself. Elastic band required for full closure.

With the elastic band, I’m definitely more comfortable throwing this sketchbook in a bag. And I like the paper. Just get past the stiff spine, and you’ve got a stylish little sketchbook to use.

Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample.

Monologue Soft Sketch Book at Grandluxe





Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – Orange

24 10 2013
I swear I didn't plan on having such fabulous fall colors

I swear I didn’t plan on having such fabulous fall colors

On appearance, the Monologue sketch pad is getting a lot of things right—love the warm orange paired with grey cloth interior, and this striking minimalist design (pressed? embossed? cut? spellcast?) on the cover. The cover (suede polyurethane) isn’t standard smooth polyurethane; it feels like imitation cloth…which is beyond my understanding as to why the feeling of cloth would be one to imitate, but here we are. That’s art.

Things I probably shouldn't keep doing: pushing the cover askew

Things I probably shouldn’t keep doing: pushing the cover askew

I don’t like the free-floating factor of the front cover—I can’t in good conscience just toss this sketch pad in a bag because there’s 100% chance something else in the bag will push the cover askew, which can’t be good for it over time.

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

I suppose the trade-off for the free-floating cover problem is that it opens up quite nicely

The main sketchpad seems well attached, and the way it’s designed the pages lay nice and usably flat. But how is the paper?

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper surface treated with vegetable gel,  Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal - Chalk - Graphite - Pencil - Pastel - Oil Pastel - Wax  Crayon - Red Chalk - Acrylic - Collage - Oil - Marker - Spray - Tempera.

The paper, according to Grandluxe: 140 gsm Italian acid free rough textured drawing paper, surface treated with vegetable gel, Suitable for drawing with the following techniques: Charcoal – Chalk – Graphite – Pencil – Pastel – Oil Pastel – Wax Crayon – Red Chalk – Acrylic – Collage – Oil – Marker – Spray – Tempera.

No worries! It does great for an all-purpose sketch paper. The only bleedthrough was from using Copic markers (which still look good on the page, just can’t use both sides). Everything else, from fine pens to watercolor to pencils and more, did wonderfully. The paper has some tooth to it, you can see, but not so much as to get in the way of using any of the pens. Good art paper all around.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Some people hit the open road. Some people hit the open sketchbook.

Though I’ll worry about inadvertently tearing off this unsecure cover over time, the quality and usability of this paper ensures that I will be still using it until the cover falls off.

Thanks to Grandluxe for providing this sample!

Monologue Sketch Pad A6 – in Grey, Orange, Blue, & Red at Grandluxe





Mini Review: Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink

1 02 2013
This drawing is from 2010!

This drawing is from 2010!

In honor of Hourly Comic Day, I wanted to give a little shout-out to my HCD pen of choice, the Tombow Fudenosuke twin tip brush pen.

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

What does it say on it?? Probably says BEST HOURLY COMIC DAY PEN YOUR EQUIVALENT OF 4.25 US DOLLARS CAN BUY

It pairs well with my Rhodia Dotpad No. 12 for the perfect quick-sketch experience.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I'm still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

The caps are not the most convenient things to post on each other, but you do what you can. BONUS! This picture is actually of 2 pens. I’m still waiting for the first one I bought in 2010 to die.

Though a little dark, the gray is perfect for rough sketching and shading, and the black is sufficiently dark for inking and borders. There is a little give in the brush tips, but not so much as to be unruly or unwieldy for a brush pen novice.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Old tips on the left, new on the right.

Though I would prefer a lighter gray, the big winning factor for the Tombow Fudenosuke is convenience. I only need to grab one pen and my Rhodia dotpad, no keeping up with multiple pens. The tips do wear down over time, and as they near the end they get dry, but you more than get your money’s worth before that day comes.

If I draw anything sufficiently neat this year, I’ll add it to this post! Happy Hourly Comic Day!

 
Tombow Fudenosuke Brush Pen – Twin Tip – Gray & Black Ink at JetPens
Rhodia DotPad Notepad – Black Cover – 3.25″ X 4.75″ – 80 Sheets – 5 mm Dot Grid at JetPens

 

 





Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue

26 01 2013
Feel the sparkles in your heart

Feel the sparkles in your heart

I’m no connoisseur when it comes to glittery gel ink pens—I may snag one as a novelty, but I don’t have my finger on the pulse of that movement like I did in the 6th grade. My knowledge of the quality of entrants in the field is lacking. That said, I do have a rather cat-chewed Sakura Gelly Roll gel pen in sparkle purple that I will use for comparison.

Pleasantly acceptable!

Pleasantly acceptable!

The body is nice, as far as these cheap things go. Sparkles in the body and cap—noticeable but not gaudy. Cap posts securely on both ends. Pen itself is theoretically easy to refill (who knows how easy refills will be to find, however).

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn't.

Looks like a mess waiting to happen, though I assure you it isn’t.

First, how the ink writes. I find it smoother than the Sakura Gelly Roll, and generally more consistent. If I’m gonna be taking some sparkly notes, on writing quality alone I favor the Uni Signo over the Gelly Roll.

Unless I'm writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly  Roll

Unless I’m writing on my hand, then the day goes to the Gelly Roll

As far as personal preference goes, be advised that the Signo ink is more translucent and the Gelly Roll more opaque.

Let it shine

Let it shine!

There is a big flaw in the Signo that you have to be warned of, one that does not plague the Gelly Roll: the Uni Signo glitter ink smells like fish. Smells *powerfully* like fish. If you write with it long enough (read: at all), you’ll think you’ve been transported to an open air fish market. It is truly bizarre.

Perhaps I should have known, blue---> water---> ocean---> FISH.

Perhaps I should have known, blue—> water—> ocean—> FISH.

If you like fish, get this pen. If you want glittery and smooth writing, get this pen. If the mere thought of seafood turns your stomach, DO NOT get this pen.

 

Uni-ball Signo Sparkling Glitter Gel Ink Pen – 1.0 mm – Blue at JetPens





Tombow Olno Body Knock Pencil – 0.5 mm – Clear White

29 06 2012

The ever elusive pencil review!

The only need I have for mechanical pencils anymore is when I want to psych myself into thinking I want to take a bunch of scan-tron tests. When I need pencils for drawing, I’ve been going for lead holders and wooden pencils, and I have no normal need to write with something so irredeemably smudgy as graphite. It takes something truly peculiar to make me want to go get my hands on a mechanical pencil.

Truly, something peculiar

This is the first and only grip I’ve encountered that covers every point where my hand touches the pencil. It looks a bit unbalanced, but it feels great. And inside this grip of exceptional dimensions you’ll find the most fantastic little innovation this side of the Kuru Toga.

According to JetPens, ‘OLNO’ is a play on the Japanese word “oru”, or to fold/bend. I will generously assume the pun is much more enjoyable if you know Japanese.

In addition to the snoreatorium standard method of lead advancement (a.k.a. clicking on the eraser end), the Olno allows lead access by applying pressure toward the upper part of the grip.

IT MAY BEND, BUT IT WILL NEVER BREAK! Actually don’t lay down the violence too harshly—I’m sure it will eventually break.

At first it seems unnatural, as if you’re violating the sacred trust between you and a $5 writing utensil that you shouldn’t be manipulating as if to snap in half. But once you get over that feeling and realize you’re not manhandling the pencil to pieces, it’s a pretty efficient maneuver. It’s just a slight upward squeeze of the thumb for me, and it doesn’t disrupt my grip of the pencil—intuitive stuff.

Also includes non-intuitive stuff

The only thing that doesn’t make sense here is the eraser. The semi-circle clip-like object doesn’t keep the pencil from rolling away if it has any momentum going. And you can’t really clip it to anything because it pops right off—that’s where the eraser is hiding.

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME

Standard mechanical pencil-sized eraser, but in a less than convenient format. You can smush it in upside down, and it will stay put—as long as you don’t actually use it. Then it pops right out. Pretty sure this is bad for the plastic.

One day I will learn how to make fine, snobbish distinctions so as to be like a wine connoisseur of pencil leads. For now it’s pretty much THIS WRITES or THIS DOESN’T WRITE WHICH MAKES NO SENSE BECAUSE LEAD ALWAYS WRITES

Just leave the eraser secured in the top (for emergencies) and use a separate eraser. Otherwise you’ve got an unwieldy little choking hazard on your hands. Eraser aside (or capside), it’s a neat little treat to write with. No problems with the lead or general use of the pencil.

Public Service Announcement: the lead goes in here

For your general reference, to refill the lead, pinch at the top of the grip and the bottom of the clear part and twist the two apart. Don’t worry—the pencil is designed so that the little red-orange bit doesn’t fall out.

Without opposable thumbs or a written system of language, Tobi has a hard time using the Tombow Olno pencil.

Many thanks to JetPens for providing this sample to review!

Tombow Olno Body Knock Pencil – 0.5 mm – Clear White at JetPens

Tombow Olno Body Knock Pencil – 0.5 mm – All the other exciting colors at JetPens





E+M Workman Pocket Clutch Lead Holder – 5.5 mm – Red

13 06 2012

Needs more drawings

Still needs more drawing…

OK PERFECT! STOP. No more drawings.

I have a love/fear relationship with art supplies. I love acquiring and making art with them, and I’m afraid that I won’t make art good enough to do justice to the art supply I’m reviewing. And there you have the reason why I put off this review for about two weeks.

Fun fact: the background is the inside of my favorite hat

The construction of the E+M Workman pocket clutch lead holder is eminently pleasing—this is a nice, solid object, full of wood and metal and class. The wood is smooth—no splinters—and the extra-thick barrel is just long enough to fit perfectly in my hand.

Not pictured: how perfectly this pencil fits in my hand

I’m no expert on these clutch mechanisms, but this one seems pretty sturdy. It’s got an eternal death grip on the lead, and I haven’t had any trouble with it projectile launching its contents to the floor, even though it’s the same basic clutch style as my Prismacolor Turquoise lead holder (that style being where the only place that the lead is held into the pencil is that metal clutch at the tip, as opposed to being held by some other mechanism in the barrel such that lead can be advanced one click at a time, like typical mechanical pencils).

I’m sure there are specific names involved, but I’m not in the know as far as lead holders go.

The clutch clasps back down on the lead almost instantaneously after the button is released, such that it’s pretty easy to catch the lead exactly where I want it, instead of drastically overshooting it like I do with the Prismacolor Turquoise.

Simple, clean, efficient, modern German design.

No clip, which is great for slipping into a pocket, and terrible on any minutely inclined surface. I’m torn on this point; I don’t want it to have a clip, as that would no doubt get in the way of my grip and general aesthetics, but I also don’t want my nice art supply making constant suicide attempts off of tables. There’s just no winning. At least it’s a bright, easy-to-spot-on-the-floor red.

Includes one HB (“Hot Business”) lead

Even when the tip is dull (I haven’t bought the lovely matching sharpener yet), there are still sharp angles to be found on the vast surface of this lead. And being HB, it’s got a good value range for sketching—easy to make light marks, but still capable of getting decently dark.

While this isn’t one of those “absolutely need it to live, breathe, and make art” items, it’s an absolutely perfect treat—either for yourself, or some lucky someone who likes lead holders—that, at $15 (at time of writing), doesn’t necessitate shelling out serious dough/pleading with your ATM that no really, just one more major cash withdrawal, I promise this is the last day of this pen convention and then I’ll quit (not that…I did any of that…at the Raleigh Pen Show, cough, cough, no). Good price, well made, quite the handsome little piece.

E+M Workman Pocket Clutch Lead Holder – 5.5mm – Red (and other colors) at JetPens

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample for review! :)





Uni Live Pigment Sign Pen – Extra Fine – Black

18 05 2012

After an unexpected disappointment comes an unexpected delight!

Porous tip pens aren’t usually my kind of thing, but the Uni Live Pigment Sign Pen was fairly new, and whims are funny things. Thank you JetPens, for indulging those whims with this sample free of charge. I expected this to be the most underwhelming of the recent goodies, but I was five cents shy of a full order, so I threw it in.

Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. It is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts. But hey, the outside actually ain’t too bad!

Inexpensive pens have a unique design challenge. You don’t want the pen to look like cheap crap, but at that price point, options are limited. The Bic big mistake is overcompensating with gaudy printed-on accents. Minimalist is probably the best way to go, but if you don’t play it right you overshoot minimalist straight into boring ink cylinder territory. I think Uni got it just right on this one. The barrel’s evocative of a Kuretake No. 33 brush pen, and the cap looks like a happy face.

Oh mai gahsh! It’s greaeat to be a pen, eh!

The only bit of design I don’t know what to do with is the directions printed on the barrel in a language I obviously don’t understand.

The only language I speak is “Pen.” And also “English.” And I used to know French and Italian but we’re getting off topic here, moving on

For writing, the porous tip style of pen just isn’t very amenable to my left-handed pushing across the page style. But it’s sufficient for any writing I need to add to a drawing, and boy howdy am I digging this pen for drawing.

Plays well with other art supplies. I’d say it’s almost 99% waterproof. The water test has a faint, nigh-impossible-to-see-in-the-scan wash of gray picked up from the ink, but the ink itself didn’t get washed away.

I haven’t quite puzzled out exactly why some of the pens I don’t like writing with, say they’re too scratchy or have too much resistance when writing, can be such absolute delights to draw with. Once I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

Porous tip pens baffle me. How do they work? Is it witchcraft, or advanced space technology?

There’s a nice amount of pressure-dependent line variation while sacrificing none of the stability and control that get lost when you first try to use a brush pen. The lines have character (within a limited scope), and the ink is a rich, dark black. I had no problems with smudging, smearing, no ink getting picked up onto my hand—the pen performs like a dream.

If I had to guess, I’d say this part says something like “Uni Live Pigment Sign Pen / Awesome Little Treasure”

I’m trying really hard to think of any suggestions for improvement regarding this pen, but I can’t think of anything. It hits all the right points—great price, pleasant design, stellar performance—with no niggling problems or caveats needed. Good job, Uni! I didn’t even know I needed this pen, and now I’m not sure how I’ve managed so long without it.

Uni Live Pigment Sign Pen – Extra Fine – Black at JetPens





Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body

21 04 2012

I forgot; my scanner is too small for 9x12" drawings. Oops. I'm sure you're not missing out on much. Except for catsnail (snailcat?) in the bottom right corner.

It seems I have not yet taken the opportunity to embarrass myself with a brush pen. Luckily, JetPens has been kind enough to assist by providing me with this Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen, free of charge (the embarrassment, however, is all up to me).

LET THE INADEQUACY BEGIN

In spite of a continued lack of mastery wherever brush pens are concerned (unless they are waterbrush pens, but that’s a different story), I persist in loading them onto my wishlist and acquiring them on a dispiritingly regular basis. Those of you who know what you’re doing with brush pens may want to turn away now, and skip to the link at the bottom—unless you like cats.

Cats not included

This is quite a pen, bigger even than the eternally popular Kuretake No. 33, by about 5mm. Almost as big as two Liliputs put end to end. This isn’t something you’ll just slip in your pocket (though it will easily fit in my preferred pencil case). Given that it would take a pocket of some exceptional depth to contain, I’m not much concerned by lack of clip.

Despite being made of bamboo, this pen will make a poor substitute for chopsticks

Unless you absolutely hate anything vaguely Asian/the color red/Communism more than McCarthy did, then I think you’ll agree that this is a lovely, elegantly repurposed piece of bamboo (in America, the typical purpose of bamboo is sushi placemats, chopsticks, and swords/fishing poles for children lucky enough to live near a random bamboo forest). But I have a few design quibbles I’d like to knock out real quick. The cap doesn’t post, which is irksome when there’s nothing on the cap to keep it from rolling away. The white lettering is already starting to wear off (good thing I can’t read any of it anyway)—though my Rotring Art Pen also had that problem shortly after I reviewed it. But most confounding of all, the cap does not secure satisfactorily. If you look close up there, you can see a gap between the bottom lip of the cap and the rest of the body. It doesn’t go on any further, but it also doesn’t snap into place so you know that that’s as far as it’s supposed to go. Not that it feels like it’s in danger of popping off, but there’s something profound that’s missing. In lesser mortals, this would be an invitation straight to a psychological meltdown.

Pen also comes with instructions, all in Japanese. I bet this cat can read them, but he won't tell me anything. Probably because he's a jerk. Or because he's an inanimate object.

For reasons lost on me (probably because the only part of the packaging I can read, besides the pictures, is the barcode), the two cartridges this pen comes with are exact clones of the typical Platinum Preppy cartridge; word on the internet is that the Platinum converter is a perfect fit—and this is a pen that would make the converter worth buying.

The other, less reliable word on the internet is that the ink provided isn't a true black. Well, I gathered up every black I could find in brush form...either that person is full of it, or I don't know what true black is.

Now, when it comes to brush pens, I don’t know what I’m doing; I just own several brush pens and use them on occasion, wishing I could be like those other people who pick up a brush pen and turn it into a magic wand. The closest I get to wizardry is easily replicable card tricks, relying on as little deception and actual magic as possible.

Pictured: (cat)people who have a better idea than me how to actually use a brush pen

That said, and in spite of my quibbles, I enjoy using this pen. Though I can’t get lines quite as fine, nowhere near as often as I can with a Pentel brush pen (a review for another day), I prefer the hard body that still manages to have a surprisingly consistent ink flow—generous, but not juicy. The Akashiya doesn’t have bristles as long or as few in the middle (for some reason, I want to call that area the “sharp”? Don’t quote me on it), thus why I can’t get the same consistently thin lines, but maybe this brush pen isn’t designed to cramp you into a scale that small. A big bodied brush like this seems to be gunning for a big, flourishing stage. More open, relaxing.

HE'S TALKING ABOUT ME, YOU GUYS

All the other brush pens I have are unerringly purposeful, their designs an absolute sentence of utilitarianism. But something about the design of this pen makes it feel fun. Playful.

Unless you're these guys. Then it feels like work.

Moreso than my other brush pens, this one begs to be doodled with. It doesn’t have the look that sternly chides, “I am for professionals who know what they are doing.” This pen says, “Come here! Let’s make tea and have fun! And talk to ourselves! And get strange looks from people nearby!”

What does this say? Does it say bamboo? It looks a little bit like the Eiffel Tower to me. Pretty sure it doesn't actually say "Eiffel Tower."

Hopefully, I’ll be able to make an update to this post titled “Here It Is, You Guys, I’ve Finally Figured Out What I’m Doing,” but in the meantime, I’m going to have a lot of fun doodling with this pen.

Thanks again to JetPens for providing the sample!

Akashiya Bamboo Body Brush Pen – Red Body at JetPens

Platinum Fountain Pen Converter at JetPens








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