Lamy Al-Star Fountain Pen – Bluegreen 2014 Special Edition – Black B nib

11 04 2014
ggg

Mint chocolate! If only. 

My local pen store and the place I go to get my coffee beans are located in the same shopping complex. It’s a dangerous set-up. I head out intending to get more beans and come home with a new bluegreen Lamy Al-Star.

This is the color mermaids would choose for their fountain pens

This is the color mermaids would choose for their fountain pens

You know how Pikachu will evolve into Raichu with the application of a thunderstone? The Al-Star is basically what the Safari evolves into with the application of more moneystone. Instead of a plastic body, you have an aluminum body that’s slightly thicker but still comfortably lightweight. The only problem is that the finish becomes worn with time.

And yet I keep buying these pens!!

And yet I keep buying these pens!!

But the finish feels nice and smooth, and the bluegreen is a wonderfully mesmerizing color. So calm.

Unfortunately the grips between the Safari and the Al-Star in spite of being similar are not interchangeable. I've tried

Unfortunately the grips between the Safari and the Al-Star in spite of being similar are not interchangeable. I’ve tried

The grip is a smoky translucent plastic, but otherwise identical to the grip of the Safari or Vista. Meaning another shaped grip, which you will probably either enjoy or consider the bane of your existence. Why can’t Lamy put out lots of special color editions of one of their models with a softer, more rounded grip? One that’s also, you know, reasonably affordable?

You can really see the thicker body when looking at the clip. Also, look it's the converter! This part is interchangeable between the Al-Star and the Safari

You can really see the thicker body when looking at the clip. Also, look it’s the converter! This part is interchangeable between the Al-Star and the Safari

In all other respects, the Al-Star is the same as the Safari. Same iconic clip, same cartridges and converter system.

Black nibs is the best fountain pen trend. Coolness factor intensifies!

Black nibs is the best fountain pen trend. Coolness factor intensifies!

Even the same steel nibs. For maximum coolness, I went with a black nib, in broad, as that was the only Lamy nib size I didn’t yet own (besides one of the calligraphy nib sizes, but those don’t come in black). The nib is smooth and steady—you can feel it on the page. The flow is good—I worried that the broad nib would throw down too much ink, but that fear was unfounded. The flow keeps up perfectly with the nib.

Resistance is futile.

Resistance is futile.

I got my Al-Star from Office Supplies and More, and he’ll be taking them to the pen shows (including Atlanta this weekend. THAT’S LIKE RIGHT NOW AS I’M WRITING THIS; GET ON IT!). But if North Carolina or the Atlanta Pen Show aren’t on your way anywhere any time soon, you can also get them online from the Goulet Pen Company.

BONUS PICTURE BECAUSE I CAN!

BONUS PICTURE BECAUSE I CAN!





Lamy Pur Fountain Pen – Aluminum Smooth – EF Nib

2 01 2014
Didn't pack a scanner, so a picture of the writing sample will have to do for this time. Please imagine to yourselves that this appears as the proper Lamy blue.

Didn’t pack a scanner, so a picture of the writing sample will have to do for this time. Please imagine to yourselves that this appears as the proper Lamy blue.

As soon as one of these popped up at my local pen store, I snagged it (I think it actually appeared in their inventory at one of the pen shows; either way as soon as it hit the table I was on it). This has been another impulse purchase that I do not regret.

To commemorate my time visiting the snow, I figured authentic pen snow pictures were in order. This is probably not recommended by the manufacturer.

To commemorate my time visiting the snow, I figured authentic pen snow pictures were in order. This is probably not recommended by the manufacturer.

The body is smooth aluminum, lightweight and beautifully minimalist. It feels lovely to hold, with that smooth finish, and being lightweight aluminum it’s easy to write with the pen posted or unposted.

Wiped off the snow. Snow melted from my hands, and refroze on the pen. Good times.

Wiped off the snow. Snow melted from my hands, and refroze on the pen. Good times.

The clip is a spring-mounted steel clip, on which they should have embossed the Lamy logo—the logo printed onto the barrel is starting to wear off. Not that I’ll mind having a totally clean barrel.

Look! No sharp awkward edges! Just roundness!

Look! No sharp awkward edges! Just roundness!

For me, this grip is what bumps the Lamy Pur into favorite Lamy status (over, say, the Safari/Vista line). I try to work on having a proper, ideal grip, but sometimes I just can’t. This round, unguided grip forgives me.

I should have tested writing conditions in below freezing weather, but I was more interested in finishing the pictures and getting back inside where it was warm.

I should have tested writing conditions in below freezing weather, but I was more interested in finishing the pictures and getting back inside where it was warm.

I got my Lamy Pur with an extra fine steel nib, but any Lamy nib will work on this pen (Goulet Pens has it so you can order whatever nib size you want, from EF to 1.9mm nib, in steel or black color for all non-calligraphy nibs). The nib has been great so far, never scratchy, no problems starting, good flow, nice tactile feeling on the page. I’ve never much had problems with Lamy nibs myself, but know that if you’ve got one you absolutely love but want an upgrade in terms of body, you can just slap that favorite nib right onto the Lamy Pur.

The top kind of curves in, by the way, ever so slightly. Not sure what you'll do with that information but there it is

The top kind of curves in, by the way, ever so slightly. Not sure what you’ll do with that information but there it is

It comes in a decent little box, with one Lamy cartridge and the black-ended converter (the Z26, as opposed to the Z24). This is one of my favorite everyday pens—it looks snazzy, writes quite reliably, and while it’s a bit of a price bump from a Safari or a Vista it isn’t too terribly much more.

I got mine from Office Supplies and More, but you can also get the Lamy Pur with nib of your choice from the Goulet Pen Company online.





Muji Aluminum Round Fountain Pen

10 09 2011

Hold onto your pencil cases, people, this is a good one!

Earlier this year, I got to spend a weekend in New York City / have my head explode into candy at the sight of such pen-related wonders as the Art Brown International Pen Store and Muji. So far, I’ve only gotten around to reviewing my Muji gel ink hexagonal pens, but have yet to say much about what is quite possibly my favorite starter fountain pen. But before we get into that, quickly, look at the wondrous joys of Muji:

You may proceed to roll on the floor and froth at the mouth with delight.

Now, this fountain pen. It pretty much speaks for itself, the way Muji intended: no branding, just beauty and wonderful pen.

Is it a fountain pen? An X-acto knife? A fancy screwdriver??

No words I type can add to what you can see with your eyes. This pen uses pattern and texture in all the right places and all the right ways.

I bet you could put secret messages in the barrel, behind the cartridge. Or emergency scrap paper.

The barrel is just the right amount of slim, and the cap is designed to post flush with the body of the pen, regardless of what side it’s being posted on.

Note the groove-ring on the bottom for the cap to smoothly post onto to.

There’s a little circle on either end, feels like rubber, for those people who insist on having pens with labels; Muji provides with the pen a set of stickers denoting what type of pen this silver cylinder contains (they also offer a ballpoint pen with this same body design).

You'll notice I haven't used mine yet

Everything about this pen is wonderful to touch. I’m afraid if I continue trying to describe this pen to you, I’ll sound like even more of a lunatic. Let’s open it up.

Look at that posted cap. Doesn't it just make you want to weep, it's so beautiful?

Being almost entirely metal, the pen has a nice weight to it; being aluminum, it’s not too heavy. The cap  is so small that it doesn’t affect the balance as far as I can tell. The knurled grip is comfortable, and, being flush with the body, doesn’t end up pressing on my hand in any irritating ways.

Even the nib isn't branded!

The nib is a fine point, but not too fine. I can’t remember if it came with a cartridge or not, but I did buy some Muji black cartridges anyway. I found the Muji black to be too juicy for my tastes, but the good thing with this fountain pen is that it takes the standard international short cartridge. Finding ink for this pen is ridiculously easy! I’ve currently settled on this nice Avocado color from Private Reserve, and I find that the combination is totally Goldilocks-good for me; smooth, but not too wet.

The nib stays remarkably clean. But then, isn't Japan known for its neatness, in all meanings of the word?

It’s also easy to remove the nib and feed to clean the pen out. Being able to do maintenance like that is personally empowering—I am a fountain pen person! I can take things apart and put them back together AND THEY STILL FUNCTION! I have all the passing appearances of an expert!!—and very helpful from a practical standpoint, whether you’re just cleaning between a switch in colors, or you’ve been bad and for some inexplicable reason have let the pen sit so long that ink has dried in it.

I am trying very hard to think of any caveats or drawbacks to this pen. I think the only drawback is that not every state has a Muji store, so people might have to order the pen online rather than getting to experience the whimsy and minimalist enchantment of a Muji store. This pen has everything I would want from a starter fountain pen: simple, easy to use, easy to clean, well constructed, easy to find cartridges for, excellent ink flow, writes smooth and never scratchy, nib is fine enough to be able to write on normal paper but not so fine as to be potentially difficult for a beginner to use. There’s no special angle you have to hold the pen at to get it to work. No difficult to obtain converters involved. Oh, and it only costs $15.50. On the downside, shipping and handling looks like it’ll tack on at least $5.95, and it looks like Muji currently only ships to the US and Canada (well, for the Muji USA website, which, duh, would make sense). BUT!—Muji has stores in Europe, Asia, North America, and Japan, as well as websites for those zones, so it seems like everyone should be able to get their hands on one of these pens, one way or another (international readers, you’ll have to confirm this for me!).

One last suave and sleek pen picture!

Basically, everything is beautiful, life is wonderful, nothing hurts, why don’t you own one of these pens yet?

Aluminum Round Fountain Pen by Muji