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


Pelikan Pelikano Blue Left-Handed Fountain Pen

20 04 2011

Forgive this writing sample; I wrote it in the first day of having this pen, and knew not quite how to use it.

If you follow my tweets, you might recall I mentioned this pen about a week ago, and expressed great need for it to exist in my life. But!…I am currently in a pen-buying hiatus until I have my next job lined up. Quite a dilemma. Much sorrow felt across the land. But then, like Father Penmas of old, Tom, of the fantastic Goldspot Pens, offered me the opportunity to review this pen for free. I think I now owe Goldspot Pens a life-debt in gratitude, or possibly an ink cartridge containing 3 drops of my soul mixed with 2 parts blue-black ink…I digress.

I wept internet tears of desire merely over the sight of this pen. Look at it! The plastic is probably made of 53% recycled FUN.

I was first drawn to this pen based on looks—-the design is playful, but not childish. No parts to knock off or damage; the pen has a very sturdy appearance. I’m not going to worry about carrying this pen around every day. The body is thicker than most, but I like that. Pens that are too thin hurt my hands. You have something substantial to hold on to, but the pen itself is pretty light to medium weight—-most of the weight is in the brushed metal cap. Speaking of the cap, is that plastic bit that reads “Pelikano” intended in any way to be a clip? I’ve noticed I can slide a single sheet of paper up to the “i” but I’m terrified to actually use this as a clip for fear of breaking off the playful plastic. We’ll say it’s not a clip.

What an adorable logo. I hope it never wears off.

My biggest complaint about the cap is that, when posting the cap, there’s no snap-into-place intended alignment. You just push the cap on the end until it stays there. It’s pretty sturdy; you have to knock the end of the pen on a table a couple of times before the cap will come loose. It just isn’t psychologically satisfying. I prefer a cap that snaps into place when you post it. That way I know I’ve done it right.

At the other end, the cap snaps over the nib quite decisively to close the pen. And once it’s closed, it’s quite secure. This is not a cap that will be accidentally jostled off. You have to open the Pelikano and mean it. As I suspected from appearance, this is a pen that will doubtless travel quite well in the hodge-podge I call my daily pen arsenal. I won’t have to baby the Pelikano.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate the blue, almost turquoise color of the body of this pen. Isn’t that lovely? I have a lot of notebooks this will look really nice with.

Now, enough about appearance; that speaks for itself (all of the above could be summarized as: “LOOK AT THIS PEN”). What really matters is what’s under the cap. How does this left-handed fountain pen write?

Obviously, it writes by transferring ink to the page. DUH.

The answer isn’t straightforward. One of the reasons this review took longer to get out than I intended is that I spent all weekend trying to figure out how, exactly, to use this pen. This is not a failing of the pen, per se; every right-handed person who has picked up my Pelikano has had no problems getting it to write. I think the problem is with my grip.

On the left, how I think this pen intends for me to hold it (APPROXIMATELY LIKE A NORMAL PERSON). On the right, how I normally hold pens (LIKE A WEIRD PERSON)

If I hold the pen the way I normally hold pens, then I ignore the grips explicitly put on the pen to help improve proper grip and writing position, but I have no problem getting the pen to write. If I try to hold the grips somewhat properly (or at least the closest I can manage to what I imagine is proper), I often end up having difficulty getting the pen to write.

A very particular nib (underside view)

The nib is designed specifically for left-handed writing; note how the left side of the nib is smaller/thinner than the right. In my experience, this nib has a sweet spot—-when I’ve got it lined up just right, writing feels so perfect. You can feel the nib moving along the page, smooth but making contact. This writing feels substantial. It feels like what everyone is always talking about when they go on about the experience of putting pen to paper.

Back it out a little. Zoom on out there. Everything will be okay.

But when I don’t have it lined up on that sweet spot, all bets are off. It becomes alarmingly easy to hold the pen in a way that results in no ink coming out at all, as the nib is no longer properly contacting the paper in a way that will transfer ink. And what way of holding the pen leads so often to that result? The way I think the grips are indicating I should hold the pen. Maybe it’s because I’m resting the pen on my third finger instead of my second. Perhaps it’s creating a bad angle for writing in spite of the pen being left-handed. Either way, much of my weekend was spent in mild frustration, trying to figure out how to hold this pen in a way that both utilizes the grips and makes writing happen. I’ve used up probably a third of the ink so far, writing stream-of-consciousness in a nice, orange Clairefontaine notebook as I tried to master the grip. Most of the writing was pen-existentialist, questioning reality itself, bemoaning what I might be doing wrong, where did fault lie, why is this happening, why is writing being this hard—-and so on.

I want you to look at this nib and tell me what I am doing wrong. OUR LOVE IS MEANT TO BE, PELIKANO. WHY DO YOU RESIST DESTINY?

I’ve been trying and trying to find the perfect way for me to hold this pen and extract the best writing experience from it. You’d think maybe I’d give up. But no—-I’m convinced the problem here is me, not the pen (though I do wish the nib had a greater range of angles from which it would write), as no one else who has picked up my pen has had any problem making it write. I haven’t tested it with any other left-handed people, mind you, so perhaps my data is incomplete, but I have hope that I will, at some point, crack this problem and unlock perfect medium-nib writing.

Because honestly, the pen has a lot to offer there; of my medium nib fountain pens that actually write a medium-nib line, this Pelikano is my favorite. It is generous with ink only as much as it needs to be. I’ve been using it in my large Piccadilly grid notebook with no bleedthrough and almost no fuzzing or feathering. What little fuzzing and feathering I do see is something you have to look very, very closely for. There’s no pooling of ink, no taking forever to dry. It’s not the fastest drying ink I own, but it dries fast enough that I’ve had no problems with smearing or smudging in everyday use. My typical concern with medium nibs is how messy they make my writing, and this was not a problem I had with the Pelikano.


Aside from my current inability to adapt to a one-size-may-not-fit-all grip, this is a great pen. Solid and stylish design, smooth writing (when held correctly), perfect ink flow. Many thanks again to Goldspot Pens for making this review possible!

Pelikan Pelikano Blue Left-Handed Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens

EDIT: Many thanks to Connie and Erin for pointing out something that in hindsight seems obvious–the tines of my nib were slightly misaligned. I must have stared at those pictures I took of the nib for ten minutes or more without noticing, but I looked at the nib today through an eye loupe, and sure enough the tines look slightly off. I applied a brief fix attempt using only a red table clamp, a pair of tweezers, and when that failed to have any effect, my fingers—-and I’ve got the tines lined up much better now. Already the difference is palpable. As I wrote after realigning the tines, “These people are geniuses. whoa. ****in magic whoa whoa – – – much better. This is amazing.” I’m going to have a look at the tines under a diamond microscope this weekend to make sure they’re fully aligned, but already I’m writing, using the grips, and hitting nothing but sweet spot. This is fantastic.

SO…do you know what this means? It means I’ll have to do an updated mini review! I’ll take some new pictures of the nib, and put up a little writing/possibly drawing as well sample. Yay!

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal – 0.3 & 0.4mm – in Blue, Sky Blue, and Light Green

14 04 2011

I had one heckasaurus rex of a time trying to edit these colors to match reality, and I still do not think I succeeded. The solution, obviously, is for you to just buy these pens for yourself.

I recently took a quick weekend trip to New York City, where I had the opportunity to buy a myriad host of fantastic pens with reckless abandon. My first pen-stop of the trip was to Muji, a store of which I’d only heard tell of, in hushed and awestruck whispers, through the aether of the internet. If you’ve never been to Muji, imagine IKEA and Japan having a baby, and that baby is a store. It’s something like that.

It is also reminiscent of candy.

Among the many items acquired in my orbit around the stationery display, we have three very similar, brightly colored and hexagonally shaped pens.

Only three, because I realized buying the entire rainbow meant not eating food for the rest of the day.

I was drawn to the simplicity of design; these pens are like a reimagining of the traditional #2 pencil, if pencils were pens, and were rendered in rich, brilliant colors instead of the most boring shade of yellow ever conceived. The pen, being almost entirely plastic, is lightweight, and does feel in the hand very much like a standard pencil–but perhaps that is just a consequence of the hexagonal shape they share.

How do I describe such appealing simplicity? These pens echo the pure essence of color -- or something ridiculous like that.

The colored body of the pen has two stand-out features. The plastic of the body consists of some kind of non-slip texture, almost like matte (as opposed to being smooth/glossy)…I’m trying to think of something to compare it to, it’s so unusual. Perhaps like the handle of a no-slip kitchen knife? There is no grip on this pen because it is entirely grip, in a very subtle and unobtrusive way.

The other feature I find interesting is the little slit of window near the writing end of the pen on the body–there are two such little windows, on opposite sides of the pen, presumably so that you’ll be able to see when the ink is running low. Very minimalist. These windows are the only additional elements of design on the body of the pen.

This is the only writing you will see on the pen (aside from the barcode sticker, which peels off with surprising ease)

The cap is clear, shiny plastic that snaps securely into place when closing the pen. There’s no snap when posting the cap on the other end, but it feels secure. The clip seems pretty easily breakable, but that just means I won’t clip this pen onto anything. I was concerned that lining up the hexagonal cap and barrel would require some extra effort, but it’s easy to put the cap on without having to have a second thought as to whether the hexagons are in alignment.

Why are Sky Blue and Light Green snubbing Blue?? I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS EXCLUSIONARY DRAMA AMONGST MY PENS. Play nice.

Matching the matte-texture of the colored body, the [whatever that conical section piece is called] is done in frosted metal. It’s thematically consistent. These things are important, especially in such a minimalist design. Every detail counts. And, at this point, I think we’ve covered every detail existing in the exterior design of this pen. So let’s delve inside.

Not that far inside. Put the pen back together, please.

The writing experience: satisfactory. I feel like I’m getting a little more resistance when writing than perhaps a right-handed individual would get, but maybe I’m just being overly sensitive and setting the smoothness bar too high. This is what happens when a pen is pretty good–I expect it to be even better.

0.3 mm VERSUS 0.4mm. THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE* (*plus or minus one)

Ink flow was equally consistent with the two different sizes, though the 0.4mm wrote a bit more smoothly to my liking than the 0.3mm. Both sizes made crisp lines–not too much ink, rarely if ever too little, and no bleedthrough. My hand did start to pick up some of the already dried ink while writing, but it doesn’t look like it smudged anything or put transported ink back down on the page.

The best part about these pens, for me, was the color. These colors are vibrant, and the bright color on the barrel really is about the exact color that comes out of the pen. They’re suitable for sketching (I felt neither particularly inspired nor particularly ..uh..creatively oppressed?), but if I got more of these it would be for the fun, minimalist design and deliciously saturated colors.

Unfortunately, I don’t think all the colors I bought are available on the website, but I think you’d do well with any of the color choices. I didn’t have any outstanding problems with any of my pens (except that I grip my pens too hard and it hurts my hand, but that’s my fault) and I’d bet this is a consistent product.

If you buy enough of them, maybe you can arrange the hexagons into rainbow honeycombs. A dream come true, I know.

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal 0.3mm

Muji Gel Ink Ballpoint Pen Hexagonal 0.4mm

Pilot Precise V5 – Extra Fine in 5 Colors

1 04 2011

I should have just made this page all sketches and leprechauns. Who needs words, anyway?

It is apparently disclaimer week for me, because I have a disclaimer for this post as well: I am currently traveling (probably at a speed of around 65mph), and had to do my pen pictures from my cozy little bus seat. So, if the picture quality is somewhat lacking this week, please blame the poor suspension system of this vehicle I’m sardined into.

Black! Red! Green! Purple (I swear it's purple)! Blue! Also...Maryland? Probably Maryland.

I picked up the 5 pack of these (for once, a set of pens easily available at probably any major office supply retailer but NOT on JetPens) so we can get all the colors out of the way in a single review. I loved drawing with this pen–ink flow was perfect, though when writing I did feel some slight friction drag. This might be a left handed thing, since I’m pushing the pen across the page rather than pulling, but this is why buttery-smooth writing pens make such a big difference to me. I also didn’t have any problem with ink getting picked up off the page, carried around, and deposited elsewhere on the page via the side of my hand.

You can easily tell the pen colors apart based on the body. This is the only nice thing I have to say about the body.

My only problem with this pen (aside from the slight (ever so slight) drag while writing) is the body. Look at it. It looks like the 1990s distilled into a single writing instrument. I mean literally, I’m pretty sure I have some of my mom’s POWERFUL BUSINESSWOMAN pens from the 1990s, among those several old Precise V5 or V7 pens, and they look exactly the same. This is a cylinder with a clip on it. It also has no grip, for those of you who find grips crucial. This model is primarily for the purpose of having a pen that makes its marks well, but has such a cheap aesthetic that, if it walks out of your pen cup in the hands of a coworker, it’s no big deal.

IT'S WHAT'S INSIDE YOU THAT COUNTS. BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP. Except with pens. Being a pen is like being in a beauty pageant that never ends.

There is one design element I like: the colored tips. Those are pretty neat-looking.

My judgments against this pen are completely superficial, which is good–I feel like a lackluster exterior is much easier to fix than a pen that looks neat but writes like crap. And I know there are several other Precise V5 models–I think I’ve seen a nicer looking retractable version on the shelves that would be worth checking out. As long as it writes as nicely as this model. But that will have to be another review!