Pelikan Edelstein 2015 Ink of the Year – Amethyst

20 05 2015
There you stood in the doorway. You didn't have eyes, but I could tell you were looking at me

There you stood in the doorway. You didn’t have eyes, because you’re an inanimate object, but I could tell you were looking at me

I don’t believe in love at first sight. Not between humans, anyway. Between a human and a bottle of ink is an entirely different story. As soon as I saw a sample of the Pelikan Edelstein Amethyst, I publicly declared my love. And lo, like an inky cupid, Tom Oddo of Goldspot Pens offered to send me a complimentary bottle for review. Thank you, Tom.

Love is pure

Love is pure

The ever-so-slightly oddly shaped box (it’s not an exact rectangular prism; there’s an extra almond-shaped concave plane colored to match the ink within. Not cool enough for a picture, though) notes on the back that this is “extra soft ink.” I didn’t know that “soft” was an adjective that applied to ink. Wet, maybe. Colorful. Finger-staining.

The ink may be extra soft, but an actual amethyst falls about at a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Actual gemstones not included with purchase

The ink may be extra soft, but an actual amethyst falls about at a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Actual gemstones not included with purchase

The glass bottle is designed to be viewed. Is it a pleasure to hold in the hands, as is claimed? It’s heavy. Its four vertical faces curve ever so slightly inward. I think it’s more of a pleasure to hold a pen in the hand and use the ink rather than sit around clutching ink bottles, but that’s just me.

Also thanks to Tom for this InkJournal! Review eventually forthcoming

Also thanks to Tom for this InkJournal! Review eventually forthcoming

I’ve tried the Edelstein Amethyst in 3 pens so far (Pelikan M205, Sheaffer Lifetime Imperial IV, and my Lamy 2000), and I’ve loved it in every one so far. When an ink is well-behaved, there’s little to comment on. It flows perfectly. Though in the InkJournal the dry time was around 15 seconds or so, in practical use I haven’t smudged it up any yet. It doesn’t lend itself to fuzzing, feathering, or other ill effects on the page; even with crappy copy paper it keeps it pretty well together (excepting some bleedthrough, which, what else can you expect with crappy copy paper?)

I love my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, but trying to accurately represent cream-colored paper using subpar equipment is quite the headache

I love my Leuchtturm1917 notebook, but trying to accurately represent cream-colored paper using subpar equipment is quite the headache

The color itself is a warm sort of purple, containing more red than blue—it’s the warmest purple ink I currently own. Combined with the darker shading, it’s a beautiful ink. If it weren’t for the darker aspect, it might almost border on magenta. It almost matches a baggallini I’ve got, and if I could remember the actual model and color name that might help. But I can’t. Sorry. You’d know it if you saw it. Lovely color.

Every purple is a lovely color

Every purple is a lovely color

If you’re looking for a warm purple with decent shading, then you too can find true love.

Pelikan Edelstein 2015 Ink of the Year – Amethyst – at Goldspot Pens





Pilot Kakuno – Fine Nib – Black Body / Light Green Cap

12 05 2015
Don't ask me how to pronounce "Kakuno." I promise you however I'm saying it is wrong.

Don’t ask me how to pronounce “Kakuno.” I promise you however I’m saying it is wrong.

I’ve had various color combinations of the Pilot Kakuno languishing on my JetPens wishlist for a while, but it took being stuck home sick in a syrupy haze of cough suppressants for me to actually decide to order one. Which I ordered from my Amazon Prime, for whatever reason.

The reason was money

The reason was money

Although I picked everything about this pen based on what option was cheapest on Amazon at the time, I like the dark grey and lime green combo. The color is fun without feeling childish. Not that there’s anything wrong with childish—this is designed to be a kid’s pen. But the design isn’t aggressively elementary school; it’s a minimalism that holds a broad appeal.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

The product description is a lie. The body is grey. Not black.

There’s no clip, but the Kakuno is hexagonal and the cap has an unobtrusive little nub to help discourage the pen from rolling away. The grip is shaped in a roughly triangular hexagon, with all edges (if you can even call them that) quite rounded—the guidance from the grip is subtle and comfortable. The pen itself is lightweight, yet the plastic feels reassuringly sturdy, as far as this price point goes. It’s no luxury resin, but it’s also not some cheap, fragile crap.

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Adorable, or, in the right light, terrifying

Here’s the most unavoidably adorable part: the face of the nib. Literally. A smiley. face. (unless you have one of the soft body colors; then it’s a winky face) — it’s another point of guidance for the novice fountain pen user: if the pen is smiling at you, then you’re holding it right (or at least not upside down). Maybe not everyone is confident enough in their adulthood to rock out such a happy pen on a regular basis. I’m not here to judge you. But it’s really only noticeable to others if you point the face out. Or if they stare at your hands obsessively.

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

For example, if your hands were on fire or something, that might draw extra attention to the vicinity of the happy nib

To be on the safe side, I probably wouldn’t take this pen as my prime writer in a Serious and Professional Meeting of Important Business, but right now it’s my favorite no-worry knockabout pen. I toted it around on a trip to the mountains. I’ve thrown it in countless bags, back pockets, and cup holders. It writes reliably, neither too wet nor too dry, and the fine nib is perfect for everyday use. The performance of the nib itself was surprisingly pleasant (not sure why I was surprised, I should have known Pilot wouldn’t let me down), a sort of tactile feel on the page without any scratchiness or sharp edges.

Impulse purchase yours today!

Impulse purchase yours today!

If you’re looking for a specific color or nib size, JetPens has the full selection. If you’re looking to save a few bucks and aren’t picky, you can likely find a Kakuno on Amazon for under $10 (right now, the winning combination is a fine nib White Body Soft Blue cap with free Prime shipping, clocking in currently at $9.46).

Pilot Kakuno — medium and fine nibs in multiple colors — at JetPens

Pilot Kakuno Fine Nib Fountain Pen Black Body Light Green Cap at Amazon





Yoropen Z3

13 04 2015
Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I'll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

Writing samples will be tiny for a while, until I can get my computer/scanner set up again. I’ll be using my Doxie Flip scanner and hoping it will be good enough

The ever unusual Yoropen! It’s been a few years since the first Yoropen undulated into my life. And now here we are, this silver phoenix born again through the fire of Kickstarter. Thanks to the folks at Yoropen for sending this free Z3 to review.

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I'm not 100% sure where I put the box

Box not pictured, one because it looks just like the box on the Yoropen website, two because after moving I’m not 100% sure where I put the box

The Z3 is an executive pen and comes in a tasteful box to match—nice enough that you’d never have to hide in shame when giving it as a gift, but not so nice that you’d feel like you couldn’t throw it away, if you’re not of the box-hoarding persuasion. Included with my sample pen: 1 proprietary cartridge, and 1 mold to turn other refills into Yoropen-compatible refills.

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

Grip colors available are black, blue, and reddish

The grip is made of comfortable, dust-collecting material. Once you start using it, it will never be fully clean again. The grip is adjustable, making the pen suitable for both left- and right-handers. I’m still trying to figure out exactly where I want my grip twisted to so as to facilitate the correct grip positioning.

I think I'm holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions...

I think I’m holding it correctly. I think I followed the instructions…

To get the full ergonomic benefits of the Yoropen requires some grip retraining, which allegedly will take you about five minutes. I didn’t really time it, but my cursive handwriting of this review did look a lot better by the end.

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I'm writing

The end of that clip is just inviting my cat to walk up and chew on it while I’m writing

The cap snaps securely on the end, the clip a tilde floating in the wind. But closing the pen, the cap is very particular—it only goes on one way, in such a way that it pushes the nub of the clip’s end into the grip.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

The mystery of the dented grip was quickly solved thanks to Scooby Snax and menthol cough drops. Or maybe it was simple logic.

Every time I put the cap back on, I have to remind myself that pushing the clip into the grip is correct. This creates a dent in the grip, which is more aesthetically annoying than really having any functional impact.

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

This is actually the Zebra Surari refill I molded, not the refill it came with. Shhh, they look the same in the pen

It’s surprising how little pressure is needed to get the Yoropen refill to write. It isn’t a particularly dark or striking refill, especially when applying so little pressure. But it flows smoothly and leaves marks on the page.

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

Top refill is a Zebra Surari multi-pen refill molded to fit the Yoropen. Beneath, the actual Yoropen refill. Finally, a Jetstream multi-pen refill being molded in the actual mold

New to the Yoropen Z3 (as opposed to previous Yoropen models) is a little plastic mold (shipped with the Kickstarter pens, currently available on the Yoropen website with each plastic refill ordered, plans in the future to be included with pens sold from the site). This little bit of plastic opens up a world of possibility. The idea is to take any similarly proportioned plastic refill and bend it into a Yoropen refill shape. It doesn’t work perfectly (the writing tip end doesn’t get bent far enough down, compared to the Yoropen refill), but it works well enough to get the newly molded refill into the Yoropen. You may have to finagle a bit, and physically encourage the refill to go where you want when you put the pen back together, but in the end I got mine to work. I first molded a Surari multipen refill (not sure how long it actually takes, as I just left it in the mold for a few days). Next, I went to mold a Jetstream refill and broke the plastic tip off the mold. Oops. The mold still works though, and as long as I keep the broken-off tip I’ll still be able to line up refills to put the Yoropen bend in at the correct distance from the pen tip.

All the pieces

All the pieces

I’m not used to using a ballpoint with such an incredibly light touch, and with a super-smooth refill in it? Smoother than buttered skates on oiled ice. It’s like first learning to write with a fountain pen all over again. You know how you’re supposed to write with your whole arm, not your fingers? The Yoropen is comfortable yet controllable enough for me to actually start doing that. I haven’t adapted quite as well to any other pen that demanded me to change my grip style (tripod style is typically a disaster, and every five years or so it used to be that I’d buy a PenAgain and soon remember I can never write right with it).

Ordinarily I don’t go for the idea of spending top dollar on a ballpoint pen (that money’s for fountain pens), but with a comfortable design and the ability to mold super-smooth refills to fit? That just might be worth it.

Yoropen Z3 Black Ver. 02 at Yoropen Inc.





Ink Drop Soup: A Couple More Kickstarters

8 04 2015

Everywhere, all the time, Kickstarters! I have a few Kickstarterized pens in the wings waiting to be reviewed, but in the meantime, here are a couple more new Kickstarter pens you can choose to throw money at and see what happens.

The Patriot Pen

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Image from The Patriot Pen Kickstarter Page

Inspired by GUNS! Aside from the Space Pen Bullet pens, I don’t know too many pens with designs so overtly tributary to weapons. Are there any sword pens? Do they still make Bond-style pens that are actually guns? Would such a pen gun sticking out of my pocket be considered open carry or concealed carry?

The refill for the Patriot Pen is a Pilot Dr. Grip, which hasn’t come up much (if at all) in any other Kickstarter pens yet (but maybe I’m just not paying attention). The product description seems to walk a fine line between hyperbolic satire and needless genderization (as Bic has yet to learn, pens aren’t piloted by genitals) with lines like “the testosterone boosting power of manly gear,” “every man needs gear that not only works well, but also testifies of his complete studliness,” and “ensure that every onlooker will know you are a man with real mettle.” WILL MY GENDER CHANGE IF I USE THIS PEN??? In the name of coolness, that just might be a risk I’m willing to take.

The Patriot Pen by Dimond Point LLC on Kickstarter

*****

The Umigi Pen

Not umagi (possibly some type of anime?) or unagi (definitely a type of delicious sushi), but the Umigi Pen features a unique shaker mechanism: shake down to deploy, shake sideways to retract. All the other shaker writing utensils I’ve seen so far in my life have been mechanical pencils (shake to advance the lead, but no way of shaking to retract anything). I’m not one to normally watch many videos online (I am just weird that way and like reading things / looking at pictures), but the three 30-second shorts videos under the “fun stuff” section brought a smile to my face. And since you don’t have to change the way you’re holding the pen to deploy and retract, this apparently makes the Umigi Pen more convenient for those with physical challenges. A.k.a. making pens more accessible for everyone! The goal for the Umigi Pen is much further away, but the backing cost of getting an actual reward is WAY lower than possibly any other Kickstarter I’ve seen. The Umigi Pen (blue ink color) for $5??? It’s worth $5 just to throw down and see if it can be done.

The UMIGI Pen on Kickstarter





Zebra V301 Fountain Pen

7 04 2015
Works as a dip pen!

Works as a dip pen!

The first time I bought a Zebra V301 Fountain Pen was July 2011. It was utter rubbish, I decided to attempt to take it apart for reasons unknown (some vague notion of fixing it, no doubt), and basically obliterated the pen beyond all hope of ever functioning.

It was 2011. Things were different then

It was 2011. Things were different then

So what would possess me to buy such a piece of crap again? Poor decision making / it was there / it was only $5 / being sick makes me impulsive

Thanks a lot, upper respiratory infection plus allergies. Like the several bags of discount candy I bought yesterday, you've once again led me astray

Thanks a lot, upper respiratory infection plus allergies. Like the several bags of discount candy I bought yesterday, you’ve once again led me astray

The Stainless STEEL Barrel (so the packaging claims) with black plastic accents makes for a simple, rugged looking pen. The cap snaps on hard (perhaps a little too hard) to close, and snaps a little more easily to post. When closed, the cap stays still. When posted, the cap spins around freely. There’s not much weight that would send it needlessly spinning around, but it’s a bit vexing.

Tubes of metal

Tubes of metal

The pen body is of a comfortable thickness, the grooving and shaping of the grip is nice, and the whole body is very lightweight. I bet it would be a nice long haul writing experience, if the pen actually wrote.

This is not how a fountain pen is supposed to work

This is not how a fountain pen is supposed to work

You know when Cruella DeVille, in 101 Dalmatians, tries to write a check and her fountain pen doesn’t work? And she shakes the pen, shouting, “Blast this pen, blast this wretched, wretched pen!” That’s me right now. Except Cruella actually got ink to come out of her pen. The V301, for the most part, operates on an entirely inkless philosophy.

I tried to find a video clip of Cruella and her pen, but all the clips I found that were NOT two minutes long consisted of Cruella blasting her pen onto other Disney characters. Fetish? I don't know. I don't want to know.

I tried to find a video clip of Cruella and her pen, but all the clips I found that were NOT two minutes long consisted of Cruella blasting her pen onto other Disney characters. Fetish? I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

I put in the ink cartridge. Nothing. Let it sit, capped, nib pointed down for a while. Nothing. Tapped it on the page. Nothing. Eventually I took the ink cartridge out, smacked that on the page, and got ink on paper. Then I dipped the tip of the fountain pen in the ink sitting at the lip of the cartridge and was able to write for a little while. It’s a shame, because the writing felt great for a cheap pen—no scratching, just a very tactile workhorse type of nib. Then the dipped ink ran out, the pen fitfully managing a few more scribbled lines and frustrated expletives before giving up entirely. The pen seemed to work best when writing with the nib upside down, though whoever finished the nib wasn’t in on that plan because the nib is very scratchy upside down. Just so we’re clear:

When you're up, you're up, and when you're down you're down, except when you're a Zebra pen you're in a perpetual existential crisis

When you’re up, you’re up, and when you’re down you’re down, except when you’re a Zebra pen you’re in a perpetual existential crisis

Metal to the sky is right side up. Feed to the sky is upside down. The pictures on JetPens agree with me. But the instructions on the back of the V301 packaging state:

Gently hold your pen with the nib facing down and properly balanced when making contact with the paper.

What do they mean, exactly, nib facing down? Is it really possible that they designed the mechanics of the feed such that the pen only works upside down?? It can’t be. How could it?!?!

Note the dot of ink spreading onto the page as I held the pen there? That did not happen with the nib facing up.

Note the dot of ink spreading onto the page as I held the pen there? That did not happen with the nib facing up.

Other gems from the packaging include:

Your new fountain pen will become a personal writing instrument as the nib of the pen adapts to your personal writing style. For this reason, we recommend that the fountain pen be used only by yourself.

No, I don’t think, if you’re using your steel nib with the appropriate pressure, short of writing with it for a hundred years it will really make that much of a difference in the shape of the nib. Other people can use your fountain pens as long as they know what they’re doing. And as long as you’re using a pen that writes.

Zebra Pen guarantees the performance of this writing instrument. If it fails to perform properly, please return it to Zebra Pen Corp. for repair or replacement.

Why would I spend more of my own money to mail Zebra this terminally dysfunctional pen? I could literally use the money it would cost to ship this pen to buy a working low end fountain pen from another company (for example, Pilot Varsity, Platinum Preppy). Zebra, you need to take this pen back to the drawing board because whatever you’ve done, it’s something very wrong. Perhaps it’s the (what seems to be) felt-like mechanism in the feed. That part is garbage. Throw it out. Re-evaluate your life choices.

Fountain pens really aren't that hard you guys

Fountain pens really aren’t that hard you guys

Bonus, this trainwreck of metal and ink takes proprietary cartridges! ZEBRA, WHY. This pen is the price-point opposite experience of the Paperchase Wonderland Cartridge Fountain Pen I found at Target. For only $4.99 plus tax, Paperchase knocked it outta the park. A near-perfect beginner fountain pen. The V301? Possibly a diabolical plan by Zebra to keep the masses from ever falling in love with fountain pens, pushing them to pursue a life only of ballpoints, gel pens, and rollerballs.

No link today because I don't want you to even think of wasting your money on this thing. Though, for the record, I got mine this time around at a Walgreen's

No link today because I don’t want you to even think of wasting your money on this thing. Though, for the record, I got mine this time around at a Walgreen’s

For five bucks, I don’t want a pen I have to mess around any with. It doesn’t have to be life-changing, it just has to write. For the second time now, this pen fails to meet the basic functioning definition of a pen.





SmudgeGuard

3 03 2015

I first learned about the SmudgeGuard as we left-handers learn about all things critical to our sinister existence—telepathically (at least, I can’t remember how else I came to know about it, so telepathy is the most likely explanation). At some point (probably after smearing several paragraphs of PROBABLY Diamine ink), my need reached critical mass, and I reached out to the SmudgeGuard creator to turn my green dollars into a stretchy black hand covering. (Disclosure: I did receive a blogger discount when purchasing this product).

I gotta hand it to 'em, this thing is a great idea

I gotta hand it to ’em, this thing is a great idea

I went as classic as possible, a one-finger SmudgeGuard in black. After discussing my hand measurements with the creator, I went with the medium size.

The packaging does not lie

The packaging does not lie

It feels comfortable and looks about as unusual as you’d expect. You will be asked what the heck is on your hand. Tell people you have a rare condition that makes just your pinkie allergic to all forms of light.

It matches my notebook

It matches my notebook

It’s unobtrusive enough that I can easily switch between writing by hand and using the computer (especially relevant at work), without having to remove the SmudgeGuard. And it’s worked well so far, especially with sweaty hands (which, combined with fountain pens is typically a recipe for an ink-stained disaster). Now, if you’ve got wet ink on the page like standing water, there’s a very good chance that will still get smudged. It’s not the SmudgeAnnihilator, nor is it equipped with fabric that can bend the rules of time and space. It appears to be well made (time will tell how much abuse it can take). My only complaint is that the finger is just a bit too long for my hand—a situation I’ll probably take to my sewing-inclined relatives to help rectify. Most important to me, however, is that it so far has been preventing one of my biggest pet peeves (when the moisture content of the side of my hand causes already dried ink to be picked up, smudged by my hand, redistributed on the page, on my skin, etc. It drives me nuts). As long as I remember to bring my SmudgeGuard with me, I don’t have to have that problem.

Low profile tag, with no irritating tag bits inside

Low profile tag, with no irritating tag bits inside. Works for right-handed people too, by the way

Most of the testemonials on the SmudgeGuard website are from Wacom/tablet users/digital artists. Now you can add the leftie fountain-pen user endorsement to the list.

SmudgeGuard





Ink Drop Soup: CursiveLogic

14 02 2015

Most Kickstarter projects, at their heart, are a delightfully selfish proposition. I give you money, but you give me a sweet pen, which I will then lord over everyone else in my day-to-day activities. There’s nothing wrong with that. I like that. But the CursiveLogic Kickstarter is a little different. Sure, I can give money and receive a sweet book on how to learn cursive, but that money is supporting a fantastic new system of learning the perpetually-dying art of writing by hand.

This is not your mother's rote memorization

This is not your mother’s rote memorization

Heck, you don’t even have to receive the books yourselves. You can gift them to schools. Schools full of children. Children who can learn and ENJOY cursive writing. Imagine a new army of little cursive writers. They will demand better pens to showcase their beautiful writing. The slow revival of fountain pens will explode with the force of a million tiny hands. Or give them to adult learning facilities. Though the books are colorful and fun, they don’t rely on childish gimmicks to try to force children to participate, and thus are appropriate for all ages. The draw is in the beauty and function of the writing itself.

If you're making a gift of it, I'd recommend pairing with some entry level Pelikan fountain pens, like the Pelikano or the Twist

If you’re making a gift of it, I’d recommend pairing with some entry level Pelikan fountain pens, like the Pelikano or the Twist

The CursiveLogic system for teaching the cursive alphabet makes a lot of sense—breaking it down into a few basic shapes, reinforcing with colors, catchy phrases, etc. I wish learning cursive had been like this when I was in school. Take a look at the CursiveLogic Kickstarter page, which explains the whole system a lot better. I’ve been sent an advance copy to look through and it looks great. Simple, but, dare I say, logical.

CursiveLogic: Cursive is Endangered, Together We Can Save It on Kickstarter








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