Galen Leather Goods – 3 Pocket Notebook Holder and 2 Pen Holder

26 09 2016

I cannot resist leather goods. I could easily go full vegetarian, but I just can’t give up my leather stationery products. I’m sorry animal friends. I hope you lived a good life.

And dreamed of one day holding notebooks

And dreamed of one day holding notebooks

So when Galen Leather Goods emailed me as well about trying their leather stuffs, I couldn’t type yes fast enough. The pictures on their website looked good, and I couldn’t wait to see them in person. Just to mix it up, I opted for brightly colored options—a yellow Traveler’s style pocket notebook cover with leather 2 pen holder, and a purple Pocket Moleskine Journal cover. Today I’ll be reviewing the former.

Shiny and new

Shiny and new

The packaging is on point, with excellent design and a box so sturdy I can’t bear to part with it. I don’t know the intricacies of international shipping (Galen Leather Goods hail from Turkey), but it’s nice to know the product has protection for the journey. It also came with a little evil eye charm and neatly printed instructions for such things as leather care. I’ve spoken extensively with my evil eye charm and it has an express understanding to especially ward off writer’s block and dried up ink.

I will miss how this made my notebook holder look like a googly-eyed monster

I will miss how this made my notebook holder look like a googly-eyed monster

Let’s get out of the way what didn’t work for me: the pen holder. It’s a terrific pen holder, but being integrated into the elastic band holding the book shut on such a small notebook holder, it was too bulky of an attachment. While I had it on, I rarely used the notebooks inside the holder—as long as it was shut, everything was fine, but opened up there was nowhere for the thing to effectively go. I love the brass charm it came with, but I did have some worry that the edges needed to be more rounded off lest they do any damage to the leather. When I took off the pen holder, I ended up taking the charm off as well and replaced them both with a simple coin I had lying around—enough to weigh the elastic down when I take it off, but nothing that will get in the way. Now I use this thing all the time. The notebook did come with a good measure of spare green elastic band, so I think the option to take the pen holder off was intended and not just my nefarious doing.

Notebook 1: NC Field Notes (full of my opinions of places I've eaten); notebook 2: Tomoe River scratch paper Fountain Pen Day notebook; notebook 3: rotates, currently the Field Notes Two Rivers cover I filled with Tomoe River Paper

Notebook 1: NC Field Notes (full of my opinions of places I’ve eaten); notebook 2: Tomoe River Fountain Pen Day notebook used for scratch paper; notebook 3: rotates, currently the Field Notes Two Rivers cover I filled with Tomoe River Paper

The dyed leather is wonderfully vibrant and consistent. It feels like it’s gotten better, perhaps softer over time? It’s molding to my life, and I’ve been trucking it around for a few months now. I doubt I would have chosen green as the color to go with yellow, but I’ve come to like it. The size is perfect, safely enclosing three pocket notebooks without being any bigger than needed.

?

Exactly perfect

The edges are all burnished, a bit rugged in spots but altogether I love this little notebook holder. Three is a perfect number of notebooks for both daily life and adventures, and I like being able to easily swap them out as needed.

Perfect for adventure

Perfect for adventure

I am still looking for a way to incorporate the pen holder into my life (a necklace? attached to velcro? It’s currently on its own little loop of elastic but I don’t know the right notebook to wrap it around to integrate into my routines). But this notebook holder with its beautiful and reliable leather has become a must-carry in my EDC.

 

Get one of your own at Galen Leather Goods

And here’s the pen holder, if I haven’t dissuaded you from it

 

(Galen Leather Goods provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Hobonichi Techo – A [3/4ths] Year in Review

31 08 2016

The Hobonichi-ordering season is swiftly upon us, so it’s time to gather up my thoughts on the beloved planner and share them all with you.

Look I’m a hip internet thing with my washi tapes and my book readings

Prior to the Hobonichi, I used an extra small Moleskine to keep track of my work schedule and overtime hours, but the paper was terrible. I also had a tiny Quo Vadis Miniweek to have good paper in my life, but the Miniweek didn’t have the monthly overview I needed to plan out my overtime at work. And I’m sure an assortment of various other planners or pseudo-planners waltzed through. My life was a shambling mess of too many not-quite-perfect planners. So why did I go for the Hobonichi Techo? Probably pretty pictures layered with dream-colored filters on Instagram. I too could have a neatly written and washi-taped-up life, if only I bought this fabled amalgamation of Tomoe River paper and unicorn wishes.

here let me bookmark the tl;dr version for you

The short review: I’m buying another planner for 2017. And getting a leather cover for it, so I’m planning on continuing this tradition for a while. The end.

Case closed. Mystery solved.

I ordered the English Hobonichi Planner with Custard cover from the Hobonichi store. It also came with a clear Cover-on-Cover, which I abandoned pretty promptly. It felt too slippery? It made the whole thing ever so slightly wider? For whatever reason, I didn’t like it, took it off my planner, and last I recall it was in the trunk of my car some months ago. No idea if it’s still there now. No desire to find it.

Mostly because my trunk is an interdimensional portal to a netherworld of paper cuts and old iPhone cases

The Custard and Cream color polyester cover is beautiful. Choosing just one of the vibrant covers was hard, but I’m happy with my choice. The drawback to abandoning the protective Cover-on-Cover is that the actual cover has become a little dirty over the course of the year. I could try to wash it off. Or I could order a leather cover for next year. The responsible choice is obvious.

Buy the leather cover AND a new polyester cover. Obviously

The standard Hobonichi cover comes with a lot of little pockets that I like in theory and decoratively, but haven’t actually used that much. The bookmarks and pen loops, however, are essential to my life. I keep one bookmark on the current monthly overview, and the other on the current day. The little tabs at the bottom of the bookmarks weight them just enough to help them lay where they need to and make them easy to grab hold of to move. I think the pen loops are intended to be used as a sort of locking device, the idea being you put one pen through both loops and it holds the cover shut, but I’ve done that approximately zero times since trying it once. I prefer to put one pen in each loop, keep my options open.

And the book open, since it’s not locked shut with writing implement

 

I will not delve much into the extra content, such as size charts, conversion tables, country codes, national holidays, information about Japanese geography, dining, etc. because while these are interesting, they are not the practical-use stuff I’m interested in analyzing. Functionally, the Hobonichi Techo contains the following sections: yearly overview (2016 & 2017), four months at a time overview, monthly overview, daily pages with extra blank page at the beginning of each month, and blank dot grid pages.

The yearly overview is good for quick-glance planning with the strange rotating-pattern schedule I have. The four months at a time overview has left me stumped. I have not yet hit on a good use for it in my life. Maybe if I planned out exercise routines? Planning out dinners? Format-wise, it doesn’t work as well for planning out my work schedule as the monthly overview does.

Here’s the section that has eliminated the need for my little Moleskine planner. This format is perfect for planning out my work/life, and easier for me to visualize my overtime sign up especially given that I work the night shift. There’s just enough room to write down everything I need. Monthly overview, don’t ever change.


On to the daily. I lasted about 1 month writing large fancy things in the middle of pages and filling in words around them. Once I settled into a pattern of just writing whatever I want I’ve done much better. Usually, it’ll be a summary of the day. Sometimes to-do lists. Sometimes doodles, or stickers, or recipes, or whatever. Really, truly whatever. A book this fancy may come with an intimidation factor, perhaps, that causes some people to abandon the effort. Don’t try to force it. Don’t wreck yourself trying to make each page some grand work of art. Let it be what it will be. For me and my life, it’s just enough room to summarize the occurrings of any given day.


The beginning of each month features a “Coming Up!” page, which I’ve used backwards from what I think is the intended purpose. I use it to document an overall summary of the month – the books I have read, the new recipes I have tried, the days I got more than 10,000 steps, the major events that occurred in that month. I’m sure it also works great for making plans if that’s what you’re into. Bonus, the Hobonichi includes half pages for the last 2 weeks of the previous year and the first week of the next year, which is great if you’re just starting a Hobonichi but I’m wondering how I will utilize this transitioning from 2016 to 2017 Hobonichi.


The blank dot grid is where I’ve kept track of the pen and ink combos that I’ve used in the notebook throughout the year. The Hobonichi is known for its use of the magical Tomoe River paper, a substance that is both thin and fountain pen friendly (and friendly to other things like watercolor, but I haven’t gotten that highfalutin this year. I have some mini watercolor pans in a tin. I guess the next step involves actually using them). Tomoe River paper can take a lot of ink without any bleedthrough, but being such thin paper you can absolutely see through it. This may be a drawback or dealbreaker for some people, but it keeps the planner relatively slim and portable while still being wonderful for fountain pen ink. Only you can decide how showthrough impacts you.

Only you can prevent forest fires

Will I be patient enough for the Hobonichi to be in stock thru Jetpens? Or will I cave and order it at the first available second direct from the Hobonichi website? We’ll find out on September 1st, 11AM Japan time if I can resist the temptation.

 

Update: Of course I wasn’t patient enough to wait! The Hobonichi website on the first day of ordering is an exercise in frustration and futility–the servers historically have never been beefed up enough to handle the worldwide demand for a planner we really won’t actually be using for several months. After about 8 or more attempts in which my cart kept repeatedly getting deleted, I finally managed to place my order on September 1st. It was shipped September 8th, and made it all the way from Japan to my apartment complex office in NC on September 13th. As for JetPens, the planners came in stock on September 15th, and I completely missed the email about it. The only thing you don’t get from JetPens are the Hobonichi Store Exclusives (this year, a small toast-shaped plate and a 3 color pen), nor access to the accessories (I also ordered a planner ruler and a pencil board).





Gfeller Casemakers Leather Cover / Clairefontaine My.essential Notebook

28 08 2016

First, you get the fancy pens. Then, you get the special inks to put in the fancy pens, followed by the nice paper for writing on with the fancy pens filled with special inks. The pens get carrying cases. Now, we are entering the stage of the illness addiction insanity hobby where the nice paper gets a spiffy carrying vehicle too. A step up from whatever cardboard claptrap it came factory-clad in. No material better answers that call than leather.

A wild notebook appears


I was fortunate enough to be one of two winners of the giveaway of a Gfeller Casemakers leather notebook cover and a new Clairefontaine My.essential notebook. I’ve given the products a couple months in the rotation, and now it’s time to pass judgment. Let’s start with the leather cover:

When computer screens are able to broadcast tactile sensations I will add the feel of this leather to my review for you all to enjoy


The leather is soft. Luscious, luxurious, rub it on your face soft. I have a pair of Italian leather gloves that are softer, but not by much. The light color worries me–will I stain it? Will I ruin it irrevocably in some unforeseen manner? But this concern is not unique to this case; I would feel the same about any light-colored leather. The notebook cover is well-made with smart details–the flaps that the notebook covers tuck into come much further in than I’ve seen on any other notebook cover, to avoid creating a bulge line under the page, and there is a cut out in the back flap to allow use of the elastic band attached to the notebook. It integrates well. The quality is solid. I’m thinking of getting a Gfeller notebook cover for my Hobonichi, I’m liking this cover so much.

Would I like this as much with no notebook cover? Probably not. I like my medium to large notebooks with a bit of sturdiness to them


On to the My.essential notebook, which the Clairefontaine people told me is a new product that will be available later this year (or possibly already, the email was a few months ago). I’m kind of surprised that this didn’t exist already in the Clairefontaine and/or Rhodia line-up: a paginated notebook with a table of contents, headers on each page, filled with high quality Clairefontaine 90gsm paper. It really feels like this should have already been around. It’s a wonderfully usable format.

Here is what cream colored paper looks like at sunrise, in case you were wondering


In design, the My.essential notebook is very similar to my beloved Leuchtturm 1917. The My.essential is a soft cover with camel-colored leatherlike cardboard pattern, quarter pockets in front and back, and dark brown elastic band and ribbon. It really has everything essential to a good notebook, unless you prefer hardcover. But that’s what the leather notebook cover is for! I have no complaints against this notebook, and hope they’ll be releasing editions besides just lined. Maybe include a 2nd bookmark for bullet journaling? There’s not a whole lot to say; it’s a darn good notebook with fountain pen friendly paper. That’s a Clairefontaine product for you.

 

Various Gfeller Casemakers Leather Covers

The giveaway & fan profile of Steve Derricott at Rhodia Drive

 

(The notebook and cover were won by me in a giveaway, thus I received them for free. Opinions entirely my own)

 





Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib

10 07 2016

Remind me to upload a scan of this sample later, rather than a picture of it

If you have a very good memory, you’ll recall that I’ve reviewed the Kaweco Sport before. Years ago, in fact. So why am I reviewing a Kaweco Sport again? Well, it’s the Skyline edition with different colors and this one has a clip and it came in a different box all the way from Australia.

It's pretty much an entirely different pen

It’s pretty much an entirely different pen

First off, a general update on the durability of the Kaweco Sport — my original survived a trip through the washing machine without damage and without coming open/putting ink all over my clothes. When the feed broke (for no apparent reason) after 5 years of service, Kaweco saw my Instagram post and got me in contact with their customer service, who sent me a new feed/nib/grip assembly. Great customer service. Very durable little pen.

Stealthy

Cool container, Kaweco

I don’t know if this is the box specific to the Skyline edition, or perhaps specific to a certain geographical distribution area, but this is a cool box. Matte black, stealthy metal tin. Much nicer than the tin my Liliput came in.

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It's super effective!

Kaweco Skyline is evolving! Kaweco Skyline has learned clip. It’s super effective!

This pen also came with a clip. When I bought my original Kaweco Sport, I could have ordered the clip separately. Maybe I will. I still can. I’m glad this one came with a clip–it’s sturdy and secure, and help makes the pen easy to find, clipped to the side of a pocket rather than lost in the bottom of a bag. It’s not a clip that will be easily or accidentally knocked off.

cool

Believe me, I tried

The color scheme is refreshing. I prefer silvery accents to gold, so this is more up my alley. And it pairs nicely with the soft mint blue. Can mint be blue?

Sufficient!

I say yes.

The Kaweco Sport is lightweight, being plastic, and pretty comfortable for a compact pen, with its round, slightly curved-in grip. The flat sides on the octagonal cap don’t dig into my hand when I’m holding the pen in my horribly abnormal grip. There is definitely a sweet spot to this nib, and for most of the handwritten version of this review, I’ve been falling off it.

Look close and witness the madness

When it’s on, it’s good stuff. Nice flowing tactile nib. But when it’s off, what a pain. My overwriting angle may be partly to blame. But I probably won’t be entirely satisfied until I’ve fiddled with this nib. Your out of the box experience may vary. Oddly enough, I seem to have little to no problem when I’m using it to jot a quick note, be it at work on a post-it, or on the back of a receipt while on the side of a mountain on a motorcycle trip. It’s just this more longform stuff that brings out the less cooperative aspects of this nib.

Here’s where I’d put a good converter, IF THEY MADE ONE

The biggest drawback to the Kaweco Sport is the lack of a good converter option. The pen takes standard international cartridges, but the body is too short for a proper converter. There’s a squeeze converter available, which doesn’t hold much ink and isn’t the most convenient thing to use, and a mini twist converter that similarly fails to get the job done.

Competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo

A selection of competitively priced entry level fountain pens, left to right: Pilot Metropolitan, Pilot Petit 1, Pilot Kakuno, Kaweco Sport Skyline, Platinum Preppy, Jinhao 599A, Muji Round Aluminum Fountain Pen, Pelikan Pelikano, Pilot Penmanship, Sailor HighAce Neo. Most expensive pen in this pic: the Kaweco

The Kaweco Sport (without clip) used to cost $15 when I bought my first one, which made it a competitively priced entry level fountain pen. The higher that price goes, the harder it is for the Kaweco Sport to remain in that category. It doesn’t have much competition in the compact/pocket size entry level fountain pen front, but for how long? At least you know the money gets you something durable backed by a responsive company.

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

Every day carry. Or at least every other day carry

All in all, the Kaweco Sport remains a decent little fountain pen well suited to everyday carry. The Skyline colorway is a welcome addition to an enduring product line.

Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pen – Mint – Medium Nib at NoteMaker

(Notemaker provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho (Rice Ear) Ink

25 06 2016

Trying out a little different format for reviewing ink. I’ve never been a fan of having to create the very detailed formulaic reviews/scientific lab reports on inks. I enjoy looking at them, but not making them

Left to my own devices, I probably would never have picked up any Iroshizuku Ina-ho ink. Maybe if I was on a quest to try all the Iroshizuku inks and 2ml samples were on sale. Shades of brown are unassuming, and do not call as much attention to themselves. But then fall comes around, and the only autumn inks I have are the same shades as those of a roaring fire. Or three colors of bright-hued flowers. Brown is necessary to distinguish the season’s colors from one another.

Fun fact: my mind decided to pronounce Ina-ho like an incredibly exaggerated Minnesotan rendition of “I know” and now I can’t undo it. Ya-noh? Eye na-ho!

Is this a brown? I suppose it is, but it has tones of greenish yellow to it. A shade of gold, perhaps? I have no concept of rice ear–as an American, the only edible ears I know are corn–but a bit of Googling shows ears of rice to be a golden-brown color, with some tints of green. An accurate color name then.

Turns out rice doesn’t grow in orange bags with “Uncle Ben’s” on the side #themoreyouknow

The biggest surprise about this ink was the unexpectedly beautiful level of shading. I love shading. Possibly my favorite ink characteristic. Ina-ho’s got it. The ink itself is an unusual color but standard enough that you might get away with it for most everyday office use that doesn’t require blue or black ink. Good to the last drop, I had no issues with flow in my Pilot Vanishing Point with architect nib.

What is the little cord for besides decoration and to match the box? What is the utility here?

The packaging of all the Iroshizuku inks is in line with the pricey nature of the ink – fancy glass bottle in a brushed-steel-looking cardboard box. The labeling on the box and the bottle corresponds to the ink color, and it’s a close but not quite match. The labeling is a smidge too warm of a brown.

Expensive but beautiful

I don’t know that I’ll keep this color inked up for the summer (as hot as it’s getting around here, it might put me too much in mind of drought-dead grass rather than a bountiful harvest). But I’m looking forward to putting this color in the rotation combination for my fall ink lineup.

Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-ho Ink at NoteMaker

(Notemaker provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes–opinions entirely my own)





Bookblock Original Customized Notebooks

2 06 2016
_O2A3415

Look at this snazzy, professional picture that Bookblock took! Of my notebook! Makes me briefly consider constructing some kind of light box for my pictures, rather than the random backgrounds of wherever I happen to be

When given the opportunity to customize a notebook with ANYTHING I WANTED….ANY ARTWORK MY IMAGINATION DESIRED…I naturally opted to slather the covers in fur children.

IMG_0473

Not even real camera pictures of the fur children. iPhone pictures. Photoshop-filtered iPhone pictures. The disgrace.

But perhaps I should rewind, and explain the process to create one of these notebooks. You go to the website, click the “Create Your Notebook” button, Launch the Artwork Editor (which seems to have some nice features for finagling around multiple images if desired), Submit Design, choose the color of your elastic band and ribbon book mark, choose your paper type (ruled, plain, or dot grid in 90gsm ivory; or sketch paper of 140gsm) and delivery area, and proceed to complete your order. It’s so enticingly simple that, in spite of already having my sample notebook I’ve received for free, I’ve nearly ordered an additional notebook half a dozen times now, in spite of not really needing one, not knowing what I even want to put on it, and currently trying to save money for the upcoming Triangle Pen Show.

IMG_0463

Once I decide what I want to put on a second notebook, then I’ll order it

I love the quality of the printed image. The notebook is a deliciously soft-touch hardcover, and the images came out beautifully. But I am concerned how that soft-touch finish will wear over time:

IMG_0464

Wear and tear

There’s already a crease in the spine. I’ve had it for about a month. Maybe the crease just seems extra visible due to the light color of my notebook. The notebook itself includes a ribbon bookmark, elastic band, and no inside pocket.

IMG_0458

My paper life was so much easier before I got into fountain pens…

Now here’s the biggest let-down: the paper. The paper comes from a company I have not reviewed before, Monsieur Notebook. Let’s take a brief detour down memory lane and I will tell you why I did not review a Monsieur Notebook.

IMG_0487

Had this not been inside the cover of my Bookblock, I would never have known…

Many years ago, when they were first coming to the US, Monsieur Notebook sent me samples of their leather notebooks asking for my feedback. The leather was wonderful and the paper was absolutely godawful for fountain pens. I told them as much, they said they were working on a version with more fountain pen friendly paper that they wanted to send me a sample of, I intended to wait until I received the potential improvement before doing a review. I never received the sample. That was 2011. Then, in 2013, I received an email from them again, as if we’d never spoken before (it was the same person, same email address both times), about the IndieGoGo campaign they were launching–they’d JUST discovered my blog and wanted to know if I was interested in trying a sample! Sure, I’ll go along with the selective amnesia. Send me a sample, since the last improved sample never made it. Surprise! This sample never made it either. Somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, countless Monsieur Notebooks have no doubt gathered to die, as I’m not the only one who seems to have encountered this phenomena. I emailed back to say I never received the sample, and have heard nothing in the years since. So here’s a mini review of all I know about the Monsieur Notebook (leather cover edition):

IMG_0571

Elastic band, or jump rope?

The paper sucks, the elastic lost all elasticity after about 3 to 4 years, and the leather is awesome but seems to be pulling away from the notebook. If you write with gel pens, ballpoints, pencils, or micron-type pens, then the paper is ok. Anything remotely water-based will fuzz and bleed horrifically, and in spite of the wonderful cover you will essentially never use the notebook again.

IMG_0462

Enough about that! This is a Bookblock review, after all.

Now, back to the Bookblock. My notebook came with plain 90gsm paper–presumably the most modern and theoretically improved paper something Monsieur Notebooks-based can offer. Gel pens, ballpoint, pencils, Pilot FriXion highlighters, a quick and gentle pass with a Faber Castell Pitt Artist brush pen, and a light wash with watercolor pen/waterbrush were fine. Water-based inks still looking…not great.

IMG_0457

Who needs to use both sides of the page anyway

We’ve got showthrough and bleedthrough, including bleedthrough with heavy gel inks like the Sakura Gelly Roll. Very fine fountain pens are almost ok, unless your sketching involves going over a line more than once or twice, then you’ve got bleedthrough. This notebook is primarily suited for pencil or ballpoint pen sketching.

Normally I’m not keen on paper that doesn’t play nice with my fountain pens. So why would I still want another one of these notebooks? I’m not sure you can beat the customization at this price. The notebook is $18, with an additional $8 shipping to the US. And the notebook customization interface is so easy to use. These would make a great gift, especially for ordinary people who don’t care about fountain pens.

IMG_0456

Like Tobi here! She doesn’t give a single flip about fountain pens, because she is a cat.

(Bookblock Original provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes. Opinions entirely my own. Monsieur Notebooks also provided that leather notebook, several years ago, at no charge, and opinions definitely my own since I never heard from them again…)





Skilcraft U.S. Government Pen

10 05 2016

Trying out a Field Notes for this here writing sample. It’s ok because it’s ballpoint

When you get an email with an offer to try “The official pen of the United States Government,” you can’t say no. That’s how you make bald eagles cry, and George Washington would not be pleased with that.

Insert partisan political joke of your choice here


These pens look like a retro throwback straight out of some non-existent idyllic past (a.k.a. the good old days). I dig the stamped-on “SKILCRAFT U.S. GOVERNMENT” label. But wow, these pens are tiny.

Granted, I’m comparing this to normal, full sized pens. Maybe it actually aspires to the compact carry category?

Makes me think about the size of a 1950s McDonald’s meal vs. now. Cheeseburgers of a rational size that look microscopic in comparison to the heaving patty towers of the modern era. I digress. This is a short, slender pen, light of weight and modest of design.

So official

The knock is a slim button, but with a strong and satisfying click. There’s a decent amount of resistance to it–when you deploy the pen, it’s a deliberate action. This! Is! Government! Business!

Does very good job attracting dust and cat hairs

Some minor quibbles – alignment. The clip doesn’t line up with the label. The metal spacer ring in the middle mostly lines up, but you can feel the slight edge line between the plastic and the metal. Psychologically, I really want the words to all be in a line, and the surface to all be impossibly smooth. 

See how none of these refills seem quite centered? That will become relevant

The refill is a bronze-bodied affair rumored to last for a mile (I don’t have paper long enough or patience sufficient enough to make over 5000 one foot long lines to test this claim). It’s no modern marvel–compared to the super smooth ballpoint kings, the Skilcraft refill is lighter in color and not as smooth. It’s good when it gets going, no blobs. There’s about half a millimeter of play laterally between the refill and the end of the barrel, the result being a soft but not unpleasant sound as you write, like a gentle tapping with each pen strike on the page. If you like tactile things, it’s a bit zen-like, your own personal write-powered white noise generator. If you crave absolute silence, then this could at times pose a problem.

Technically I have a dozen of these, but all those not pictured have migrated their way into the fabric of my life, and the reliable bottoms of my bags

This pen seems designed to be as unobtrusive as possible while still retaining usability as an everyday jotter. I doubt this would be very comfortable for a marathon note-taking session, but for quick notes such a slim pen tucks away easily to be ever-available. It’s stood up well to several months of abuse thrown in various bags without care. I find myself including one in each of my bags, in case I need a normal people pen, especially one I won’t have to worry about loaning out or losing.

Available wherever they are sold. Like Amazon, apparently. And probably other places.

A little more about Skilcraft – it’s the trade name of the National Industries for the Blind, employing those who are blind or visually impaired. Let me just link to the Tiger Pens Blog post about Skilcraft, which has a fantastic and fascinating write up about the company that makes these pens.

(Industries for the Blind, Inc. provided this product at no charge for reviewing purposes. Opinions entirely my own.)