Noodler’s Berning Red

18 04 2016

I don’t mix politics and pens (pens are for everyone, regardless of whether our worldviews agree), nor did I have the attention span to watch the 35 minute opus YouTube video related to this ink (I’ve tried 3 times and only made it a total of 4 minutes in, but I’ve heard that “it’s a trip” – interpret that as you will), so I can’t comment thoughtfully on the political aspects of this ink. But it’s quite a memorable label, and I don’t think any other ink company has labels as fantastically strange and detailed as Noodler’s labels.

 

What does it all mean? Maybe if I could pay attention for over half an hour I would know

The big draws for me on this ink are the quick drying potential, and the red color (I still haven’t found a perfect fall red). Noodler’s Bernanke Blue is the current gold standard in my life for quick drying ink. I haven’t given it a formal review, but I can tell you when I need an ink I can count on, Bernanke Blue is what I load up. The trade-off with Bernanke Blue is that it has no shading, tends to bleed through all kinds of paper (some more than others), and is given to some fuzz and feathering. It doesn’t come out sharp. But it hits the paper dry, yet has no problems starting up even after I haven’t used it in a pen for weeks. How does Berning Red compare?

 

Well for starters Bernanke Blue is probably around 475 nm wavelength and Berning Red around 650 nm as far as visible light goes

Just as Bernanke is a strong, rich blue, Berning is a strong, vibrant red. It’s not quite firetruck red, more of a warm autumn leaf color. It also has no trouble starting up in my pens after time spent unused, and has given me no dry-outs or hard starts. Good ink flow. Most excitingly, Berning Red exhibits some shading…on Tomoe River paper. Better than nothing!

This picture is the tl;dr summary image of this post

On every other paper besides Tomoe River, Berning Red has the same less desirable characteristics as Bernanke Blue: a tendency to fuzz and feather, to bleed through the page, and just generally fail to deliver a crisp writing line. It’s not the worst, but I’m picky, and generally willing to sacrifice a few seconds drying time advantage if it means ink that will look crisp on the page. I could just use this ink on Tomoe River paper, but on that paper Berning Red loses all dry time advantage; whereas Bernanke Blue dried in about 5 seconds on TR (most paper it takes 1 second, at most 2), Berning Red took 15 seconds to dry, no better than most any other ink. On other papers, dry time for Berning Red varied from 1 second to 5 seconds, maxing out at 25 seconds on the InkJournal paper. It’s mostly a fast drying ink, except when it’s not, and definitely not as quick drying as its close relative, Bernanke Blue.

 

Shade-wise it clocks in somewhere near fall maple leaf

Your mileage will definitely vary based on what pen and paper combos you bring to this ink. If you’re looking to use it as a quick drying ink, stick to cheaper and conventional papers and probably lean toward a finer nib for a better looking line. If you want the best look out of this vigorous red, then abandon all hope of a quick dry time, and pair a broad and/or stub nib with Tomoe River paper. Ideal for lefties? Eh, it can be, with a thoughtful choice of pen and paper.

 

(Pen Boutique provided this product at no charge for review purposes)





Ink Drop Soup: Did I Mention the Instagram?

28 02 2016

  Last DC Pen Show it was brought to my attention that all the cool kids were on Instagram. I promptly went to sign up, realized someone stole my handle before I could sign up, then re-realized the person who stole it was probably me having signed up long ago and forgotten all about it. One “forgot my password” later, I was in. While the blog will remain my repository for long-form reviews, if you’re looking for frequent updates, mini opinions, lots of pics, plus the occasional cat, dog, and selfie, make sure to follow my Instagram. 

My Instagram! Penstagram! 





Diamine Shimmertastic Purple Pazzazz and Red Lustre

14 02 2016

Diamine Shimmertastic ink, in a nutshell: almost more trouble than it’s worth.

Sparkle

In spite of owning every last one, I haven’t reviewed any of the J. Herbin 1670 inks yet. I’ve been too busy enjoying them – that company knows how to both build and live up to the hype. By the time Emerald of Chivor became available last year, I NEEDED that ink to live. I ordered a second bottle from a different distributor because the first one I’d ordered didn’t seem to be coming fast enough (even though it arrived the next day). Emerald of Chivor is life. I HAVE NO REGRETS.

 

It’s like staring into the cosmos


But I was not among those excited by the announcement that Diamine would be dropping a whole line of TEN shimmer-filled inks. I was psychologically spent after the satisfying fulfillment of Chivormania; I didn’t have the emotional resources to care about TEN DIFFERENT INKS that I definitely could not afford all at once. I put the whole line out of my mind, until someone at pen club (possibly Tom with all the Pelikans) brought in a bottle of Purple Pazzazz and a bottle of Red Lustre, giving away samples to try.

 

I thought I was making good choices


I started with Purple Pazzazz in a Lamy Vista with 1.9mm calligraphy nib, chiefly because every last J. Herbin 1670 ink has done fantastically with the Lamy feed/1.9mm nib combination. After about one sentence, the flow choked up. This Diamine stuff was definitely a different beast. I swapped on a broad nib instead, and the pen was coaxed into cooperation. Purple Pazzazz in a Lamy Al-Star with medium nib gave me no trouble. Time then to try the Red Lustre.

 

At least it’s a pretty mess

TWSBI mini with 1.5 stub? NOPE. Nothing but failure. A. G. Spalding Bros mini pen, the juicy one? Couldn’t even get the ink to flow to the end of the nib. Monteverde Artista Crystal? The clear feed shows exactly where the ink stops, and goes no more. In desperation (and seriously lacking in the broad nibs department of my life for some reason), I inked up my Pelikan M205 with the gigantically juicy factory italic nib – at last! Success! Delicious success! 

You can see the shimmer particles settle and move in the juicy lines of ink. Just as I was about to consign this color to dip pens only, here at last a glimmer, shimmer of hope. I swapped the biggest non-stub TWSBI nib I had (a medium) onto the mini, and after some nib-flossing it works now, more or less reliably. More tests will determine if this cooperation is color based, or if I just didn’t have the right pen/nib combos for the red as I did for the purple. I’ve got the Goulet Pens Shimmertastic Sample set now, so in due time I can properly assess the entire line. 

Who needs to look professional when you can be sparkly instead

On to the ink itself, once on the page – a delightful sparkle. Like writing with some form of arcane magic. Moreso than the J. Herbin 1670 inks though, the sparkles will spread all over the page, far beyond where the ink is located. Your writing takes on the appearance of a fairy sneeze when tilted to the light. I don’t know why the sparkle spreads – the particles definitely settle a little faster in the solution than the J. Herbin particles do in theirs, so perhaps that in some way has something to do with it. I haven’t used the pen in the ink bottle technique to fill anything with these inks — I think the sparkles settle too quickly for that. Shake your sample/bottle vigorously, and use a syringe to draw ink from about the halfway down or so point, and you should end up with a decent amount of sparkle and bling. And although I am irresponsible and have left these inks sitting in my pens for quite a little bit of time with no negative consequences, you should probably clean out any pens you put this ink into on a regular basis. 

Pen blogger tested, King Midas approved

In spite of all the attendant frustration, the lovely look of these inks makes it worth my while. Avoid the headache and stick to dip pens with this ink, or brave the sometimes unsuccessful combinations in the quest for a perfect pen/nib/ink shimmertastic trifecta.

 

 





Pilot Twilight Vanishing Point (2015 Limited Edition)

19 10 2015

I wasn’t expecting to get this pen today, and yet it had only been in the store ten minutes when I got there. It knew I was coming, and rushed to meet me there, I’m convinced. Pretty sure that’s some form of fate, destiny, or other predetermined grandiose excuse for buying pens when I don’t need them. This is my first limited edition Vanishing Point, and without ever meaning to it appears I’ve become a small collector of Vanishing Points.  

sweet marmalade ive figured out how to add captions from the wordpress phone app

 

There isn’t much to review at this point; it works just like all my other Vanishing Points. The main differences are this one came in a fancy box:

 

AND THE FANCY BOX CAME IN A FANCY BAG WHOA

 
And that fancy box has a little drawer:

 

To hide things in

 
And all the usual retractable goodness comes wrapped in a wicked cool color fade

 

I think kids these days are calling it ombre, which I thought was how you pronounced the Spanish word for man or dude or something heck I really don’t know Spanish


The purple is a warm, luscious shade filled with sparkles

 

I would also accept a pen entirely this color

Which then fades to an icy blue (which I admittedly am less enthusiastic about, such is my deep and unending love of purple)

 

It’s a nice blue, it’s just not purple but what can you do

And each pen of the series is individually numbered. 

 

So if you see anyone else with pen 1880 they’re either lying or they stole my pen

It’s a beautiful pen up close, and perfect colors for winter (which we seem to have skipped right into in my weather zone, so I guess I ought to ink this up now)

 

each picture in this post is a game of spot the iPhone

It’s a pleasing pen, and I hope this is only the beginning of more Vanishing Points in this coloring style. 





TUL Pens – Serious Ink

8 09 2015
I really need to get my nice big scanner set back up again, so I can easily to writing samples bigger than a playing card again

I really need to get my nice big scanner set back up again, so I can easily do writing samples bigger than a playing card

I received an email from the new representative of the Office [Max/Depot] mecha behemoth advising me that I needed Serious Ink, which I pictured to be a very large bottle of black ink with a stern-faced, possibly dead individual on the label. No, apparently that’s not what Serious Ink is. Serious Ink refers to Office Depot‘s line of TUL pens. Would I like a free sample to review? Sure, I said, as long as these are somehow different from Office Max‘s line of premium TUL pens I reviewed before.

Obviously these are different, they came in their own suitcase

Obviously these are different, they came in their own suitcase

No reply from my Office DaxMepot liason, but this thing showed up on my doorstep (in the arms of the UPS guy, whom my dog viciously barked at). The previous set included a marker pen, a rollerball, a gel pen, and a ballpoint. This set included a pencil, a rollerball, a gel pen, and a ballpoint.

Literally, the same ballpoint

Literally, the same ballpoint

As before, the ballpoint delivers dark, super smooth ink performance in a somewhat bland-looking package. Put the ballpoint refill in the previous TUL line’s gel pen body, and then we’d be talking. But in spite of being the same ballpoint, the refill on this new one tends to sometimes rattle, which is definitely a step in the wrong direction.

The little keys that came with the little suitcase, by the way, do not work.

The little keys that came with the little suitcase, by the way, do not work.

They’ve taken everything I liked about the look of the previous gel pen and completely done away with it, the beter to match the less-inspired design of the ballpoint. The gel ink remains smooth and skip-free, but still has spots where it takes too long to dry. Not very left-handed friendly. This is the medium point size—I’d like to try this gel pen in fine.

Oh rollerball. You have liquid ink, but are not a fountain pen. I never know what to do with you

Oh rollerball. You have liquid ink, but are not a fountain pen. I never know what to do with you

I will give them credit in that the designs of this new set seem to go together a lot better, particularly the gel pen and the rollerball. Again, I’d like to try this in a fine; my handwriting just looks too thick. The medium rollerball seems to write much more consistently this time around, and the dry times are decent—much better than the gel pen.

I'm not very picky about mechanical pencils. Either it works, it's a Uni Kuru Toga, or it's a useless piece of garbage

I’m not very picky about mechanical pencils. Either it works, it’s a Uni Kuru Toga, or it’s a useless piece of garbage

Now this looks like it matches the design of the TUL gel pen that I liked before. I love the long rubbery grip, and that the lead and tip can be pushed back into the nose cone when you need to travel. And almost an inch of twist eraser! No complaints; it does everything a mechanical pencil should and in no way fills me with any rage.

By our powers combined, we are OFFICE INK DEPOT SERIOUS MAX

By our powers combined, we are OFFICE INK DEPOT SERIOUS MAX

Design-wise, the pencil is the clear winner for this TUL group. Performance-wise, the day goes once again to the TUL ballpoint. The refills between the gel body and the ballpoint body are compatible with one another, so I’ve now gone back to my first set and put the ballpoint refill in my much more beloved gel body. Now my life is complete.

TUL Writing Line – Available online or at your nearest amalgamated Office Depot/Max.

Thank you to Office Depot OfficeMax for providing these samples free for review. Please consider adopting a slightly less unwieldy name though. 





The Pen Rest

3 09 2015
Shiny

Shiny

The Pen Rest failed to meet its first funding goal, but creator David Frieslander was undaunted, worked it out with his manufacturer, and got them to make the adjustments necessary to relaunch The Pen Rest with a lower goal, equal to the previous number of backers, so that if everyone just re-pledged, The Pen Rest would make its goal. And it worked! There was a lot (a LOT) of communication to backers over the whole course of the project, and my unit made it to me by the estimated delivery (it was estimated to ship in June, and I had mine by June 18th). I was quite pleased with the packaging—very sharp looking, and the flap contains a little magnet that snaps shut with a most satisfying little noise. The top came wrapped in its own little box inside the main box (the easier to swap in different colored tops, no doubt), and everything arrived in working order.

Heavy metal

Heavy metal

The only part of the packaging that wasn’t exactly according to the original plan is the bit of non-slip material you see in the foreground. The original stretch goal plan was to have a thin, clear rubber piece made to fit the sill and help protect pens/make the sill more non-slip, but that just wasn’t to be this time around. The bit of non-slip material included here is effective, if a bit inelegant. Eventually, a custom rubber overlay for the sill will be the way to go.

I only backed for one of The Pen Rest, because I've backed too many things this year and eventually have to eat more than ramen and Sam's Club Saturday samples

I only backed for one of The Pen Rest, because I’ve backed too many things this year and eventually have to eat more than ramen and Sam’s Club Saturday samples

The top slides on nicely. The whole body of the thing is smooth, especially the curves. Touch them. Let passersby give you strange looks.

Fun fact: any time a Kickstarter includes product dimensions I do not absorb nor visualize those dimensions in any meaningful way

Fun fact: any time a Kickstarter includes product dimensions I do not absorb nor visualize those dimensions in any meaningful way

When I first put The Pen Rest together, two things came to mind. One: this thing is surprisingly heavy. Two: this seems a bit smaller than I imagined. It didn’t help, however, that the first pen I put on it was the titanium Nexus, which ended up being a lot bigger than I imagined.

The solution is to put a pen on it

The solution is to put a pen on it

Once I started putting other pens on it, everything looked okay.

Also put some J. Herbin Emerald of Chivors on it

Also put some J. Herbin Emerald of Chivors on it

The Pen Rest satisfies on all counts. It’s weighty, well made, and looks good holding my pens up. I hate I missed out on the Midnight Blue and Oxford Blue Kickstarter run (perhaps they’ll be available again?) … once I’ve got sufficient funds laying around, I’d like to pick up a couple more of these and play around with how well they stack.

The Pen Rest by David Frieslander now available at The Pen Rest shop





The Patriot Pen

1 09 2015
Hopefully the volatile combination of Doxie Flip Scanner and Pixlr editor on Chromebook rendered this writing sample at least somewhat approximate to reality

Hopefully the volatile combination of Doxie Flip Scanner and Pixlr editor on Chromebook rendered this writing sample at least somewhat approximate to reality

Here we have another successful child born of the Kickstarter penterprise—the Patriot Pen. You may recall I mentioned it before, and now I have it here before me. I have not yet turned into a man from using this pen, in spite of being “knee deep in pure manliness” with every writing session. Nor have onlookers assured me that they knew I was a man of real mettle by virtue of having this pen in my purse (Brad Dowdy did admire the knurling in a bar at the DC Pen Show, but I think that’s a far cry from being a testament to my “complete studliness”). This pen was provided to me free of charge as thanks from the good people of Dimond Point—since I wasn’t a backer, I can’t attest to how they functioned on that end of the process, but they did seem to get their pens out on their actual deadline target.

Hail of bullets not included

Hail of bullets not included

I gave this pen a shout out in the first place because I liked the look of it. A gun-inspired pen that’s tactical, not tacky. The squared-off barrel parts, the long and lanky powder coated spring steel clip, and of course the iconic “muzzle brake” styled tip, all in stealthy black. The only thing I didn’t like was the way the knurled version, when capped, just visually had so much knurling all in a row. I’m still on the fence about it. Posted, the knurling looks good echoed at both ends of the pen, but capped? Capped, the smooth grip style looks better.

Neon orange is such an awesome color that neither my camera nor my Photoshopping ability could adequately capture it

Neon orange is such an awesome color that neither my camera nor my Photoshopping ability could adequately capture it

The threads are well done; it’s easy to get the cap on and off, both capping and posting. However I’ve had the cap unscrew itself and fall off into the pocket of my bag more than once. Maybe I didn’t tighten it enough those times, but the possibility is there. The anodized threads are also starting to show wear already—you can see the metal through the black coating. But I think this adds a personalized ruggedness to the instrument (see Spyderco clip, above).

Doubles as an emergency nail file.

Doubles as an emergency nail file.

The knurled grip is comfortable—if anything would get in the way of my comfort for a prolonged writing session, it would probably be the rounded corners formed by the squared body. The harder you grip your pen, the more those rounded corners may pose a problem.

Unless whatever you have next to the Patriot Pen is made of something hard, like diamond or adamantium, beware

Unless whatever you have next to the Patriot Pen is made of something hard, like diamond or adamantium, beware

Do be careful of putting the knurled grip in a pocket with basically anything else in it that you don’t want damaged—I had it clipped in a bag pocket next to my Bell System Property Wearever twist pencil, and the plastic got quite a bit scratched up.

Quite possibly the longest clip I own?

Quite possibly the longest clip I own?

I couldn’t replicate the smooth pocket-clipping action of the Patriot Pen’s Kickstarter video (but I did come close to ripping my back pocket off), but the clip slides nicely onto papers without assistance (and onto fabric objects if I pull the clip out a little first). I like the texture that the powder coating gives. It makes this pen a delicious sampler of tactile sensations.

brratatatatat! pow pow pow! bang! bang! pyew pyew! wait maybe that last onomatopoeia is for laser blasters ....

brratatatatat! pow pow pow! bang! bang! pyew pyew! wait maybe that last onomatopoeia is for laser blasters ….

The Pilot Dr. Grip refill was a good choice, being common (and thus easy to obtain) while still providing good performance. As I reviewed with the Pilot Dr. Grip pen, this refill is smooth (almost in the realm of the super smooth), sufficiently dark, and held back only by occasional blobs.

AMERICA GEORGE WASHINGTON FREEDOM WAVES OF GRAIN

AMERICA GEORGE WASHINGTON FREEDOM WAVES OF GRAIN

The goal is to eventually add The Patriot Pen for sale on their website, with updates to be announced (possibly on their Kickstarter?) If you’re interested, keep your eyes out!








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