Mini Review: Pilot Vanishing Point Matte Black Body

14 03 2014

I feel like I’ve referenced this pen in one way or another enough at this point that it ought to have its own review of sorts. I bought my stealth matte black Pilot Vanishing Point with a medium nib (an excellent decision, as I love the M nib for general use), but I’m not going to re-review the M nib just because it’s a different color (refer to this Vanishing Point review with the black plated nib; they behave the same). This will focus instead on the infuriating mercurial beauty of the matte-black Vanishing Point body.

Neither the cat nor the sunlight wanted to cooperate today for a more dynamic photo of this unusual pen box

Neither the cat nor the sunlight wanted to cooperate today for a more dynamic photo of this unusual pen box

The box it comes in combines a strange attractiveness with maximum space inefficiency—too cool to throw away, and too bulky to easily store. It would be great to display on the mantle…if I had a mantle.

9 out of 10 ninjas recommend it

9 out of 10 ninjas recommend it

The matte black rides that ineffable line between class and badass. That look was why I bought it— I wanted a Vanishing Point to be my motorcycling pen. It looked good. It felt good; wonderful to hold, so smooth to the touch. I kept the pen well protected in various pockets, but discovered after one trip that the finish was so delicate that it had worn away in several places down to the brassy metal of the barrel. It looked horrible. But the good news was that Pilot responded with great customer service—I took the pen in to my local pen shop, he mailed it off, and it returned to me looking brand new.

And then I ruined it again

And then I ruined it again

In spite of being fixed, nothing could change the fact that this matte finish is just too darned delicate. Despite taking extra care this time around, you can already see more wear on the body. It hasn’t gone completely through the finish yet, but it’s not looking good.

Here's what the regular 18k M nib looks like, for your reference

Here’s what the regular 18k M nib looks like, for your reference

Looks cool, but too high maintenance. Unless you’re a delicate person/don’t actually intend to use this pen, think twice before going for the matte black finish.

I got mine from Office Supplies and More, but the matte black Vanishing Point is widely available online (the Goulet Pen Company, JetPens, and Goldspot all carry it, just to name a few).





Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body

4 03 2014
mrrr

Grab a glass of water; this writing is far too dry

I’ve had an interest in this pen since 2011, when it first landed on my wishlist. Thanks to JetPens for providing this free sample to review.

sdlkf

Tasche is probably not short for Mustasche but it should be

The Tasche has a great compact design—small for carrying, full size for use. There’s a classic elegance to its look, all shades of silver and smooth black.

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

Note the little rubber ring on the end that helps keep the cap smoothly secured in place

The cap snaps satisfyingly shut to close, and slides smoothly on the end to post. In terms of portable use, this is probably the best, most easy to use design I’ve dealt with. It feels secure when posted, and you don’t have to deal with the slight time delay of unscrewing a cap. Unfortunately, that ends the portion where I have good things to say about the pen.

It's all downhill from here

It’s all downhill from here

First off, the pen didn’t even want to write when I put the cartridge in. I managed to get the pen to write, and it’s been an anemic struggle ever since.

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

Handwriting this review out was infuriatingly near-impossible

This is beyond dry. This is barely usable. This is the Sahara desert in the form of a pen, minus the jackals and sand lizards. I get the sense that maybe the nib slit is too narrow, meaning I might be able to fix it with some effort, but you don’t buy a pen whose quality control record operates on the kind of odds you’d find in a casino. Most people aren’t going to spend good money on an ordinary pen knowing that you’ll probably have to fix it just to get it to be usable. Rescuing this pen will be good practice for me, but unless you’re looking for a rescue operation, stay away.

Sorry Tasche, I'm not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

Sorry Tasche, I’m not just looking for a pretty face to dress up my pen case

If you want a working compact pen in the same general price range, drop a few bucks more on the Kaweco Sport. If you want an attractive quality control disaster, feel free to gamble on the Ohto Tasche.

Ohto Tasche Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Black Body at JetPens





Pentel Tradio Pulaman & Stylo “Fountain Pens”

19 02 2014
What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

What a throwback! This writing sample was done in my old Behance Dot Grid Journal. I switched to Rhodia Dot Blocs because I was too cheap to cough up $24 for a new Behance Dot Grid Journal when I filled the old one up, plus I already owned several Rhodia Dot Blocs.

Time to write the Tradio review that I thought I’d already done. The  nomenclature of these two pens is screwy from top to bottom; I think the Pentel policy is to arbitrarily switch what is called the Tradio Pulaman and what is called the Stylo on a regular basis in accordance with some arcane and esoteric ritual. The black, refillable Tradio I have is called Tradio PulaMan; for 50 cents more you can get what, according to JetPens, is the exact same pen, but called Tradio Stylo. Meanwhile, the disposable brown model I have says “Pentel Stylo” on the clip; JetPens’ disposable is called and labeled “Pentel PulaMan.”

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

One of these things is significantly cooler-looking than the other

The disposable is a very simple, retro sort of design, while the refillable model is a much more modern and attractive affair. Basically, everything I said about the Tradio TRF100 design, minus the black pearl coating. This black is a nice, solid-feeling matte black.

These are no so much "grips" as just the sections where you grab the pen...not exactly much went into the grippability of these sections

These are not so much “grips” as just the sections where you grab the pen…not exactly much went into the grippability aspect of the grip

The smoky translucent grip of the refillable gives something of a clue to the biggest baffling mystery of the naming of these two pens: clearly you can see a feed in there. But rollerballs also have feeds; that doesn’t magically make them fountain pens.

Maybe they're like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the "nib" they meant?

Maybe they’re like cocoa nibs? Maybe that was the “nib” they meant?

This is what they’re calling a nib, such that these things may be called fountain pens. But I don’t think they’re fountain pens any more than a chimpanzee can be said to be a human. They’re similar, they’ve got a common ancestor, but you are dealing with two different branches on the tree. This is some kind of chisel-tip thing, some sort of hard-tip brush or marker-like thing. There is this plastic assembly where the felt/marker/brush tip comes out through the middle…if I were to describe it in terms of a fountain pen, I’d say imagine a nib made of plastic, and instead of a breather hole and slit replace that with some kind of long thin felt marker strip connected to the feed and then devolve into sheer madness and that’s about what it’s like.

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

Their common ancestor was probably the quill pen

So how do they write? The refillable is leaps and bounds better than the disposable. The disposable is scratchy, catches on the page, and creates little splatters of ink (you can see some in the writing sample). The refillable is much better, but takes way too long to dry. My hand is a mess. This handwritten review is a mess.

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

Look at this mess. Mess on my hand, mess on the paper. Slow-drying is an understatement

But maybe it’s more of an art pen.

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that like, absorbs and distorts pretty much anything you put on it

Moleskine sketchbook paper, the only paper that absorbs & distorts pretty much anything you put on it

More suited to smaller drawings, I think, but maybe I’m too baffled by the false fountain pen-ness of it to truly appreciate its use.

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

THE NAMES MEAN NOTHING

The disposable is a bust. The refillable is something worthwhile, but with slow drying times is not a lefty-friendly pen. I may use its rich black ink to draw, but I won’t be using it to write

Pentel Tradio Pulaman Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink at JetPens

Pentel Tradio Stylo Fountain Pen – Black Body – Black Ink – Allegedly identical to the above linked pen but costs 50 cents more??? at JetPens

Pentel Pulaman JM20 Disposable Fountain Pen – Brown Body at JetPens (same as the pen I have here that has Stylo on its clip)





Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen – Black Pearl Body – M nib

4 02 2014
If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I'd say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I’d say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

Fun fact: up until I received this pen, I would have sworn I’d already reviewed its felt-tipped older brother, the Tradio Pulaman “fountain pen” marker. Somewhere I’ve got the pictures, and the writing sample; I just never did the actual review. I keep wanting to reference a review I haven’t even written yet, and for that, I apologize. I’d also like to thank JetPens for providing this sample (and this lovely green J. Herbin ink cartridge) for review.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type, besides the completely monopolized retractable.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type (the first being the completely monopolized retractable)

I’ve got to break down this design three ways: the basic overall design, the black pearl coating, and the wonderful little window. Design: all thumbs up. Simple, attractive, modern work of pen designing art. Look at that cap. Look at the window.

So sleek! Such curves!

So sleek! Such curves!

This might be my favorite part. You can see the nib! There it is! Hi! Wave at the nib! I wish I could see all of my nibs even when capped—the nib is the quintessential fountain pen part!

See the seam on the cap? Don't lie; you totally do

See the seam on the cap? Don’t lie; you totally do

This black pearl finish is where I start to have mixed feelings. It feels smooth. It looks cool. But it makes the seams on the cap stand out more (they’re smooth, as smooth as with the matte black body on my Tradio Pulaman), and stand-out seams can cheapen the look, no matter how well they’re smoothed. Also: smooth surface picks up skin debris like you paid it to collect every discarded cell. We’re talking mad crazy. This is fingerprint/handprint city, in a way that the matte surface definitely isn’t. If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, this might drive you insane.

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Black grip combined with the black pearl body? Not sure how I feel about that. Two toned nib? Good choice. The cap posts securely (though I’ve read of problems with similar models) and is almost necessary for so lightweight of a pen. It feels like it could just float out of my hand.

Says "IRIDIUM POINT Pentel" on the top, but that wasn't quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

Says “IRIDIUM POINT Pentel” on the top, but that wasn’t quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

On exceptionally smooth Clairefontaine/Rhodia papers, a problem emerged: this nib has got undeniable butt cheeks, the result being times where the ink doesn’t want to get on the page, as capillary action is holding the ink up in the crack instead of bringing it down to the where the cheeks touch the page. It happened so bad on the S in “Smooth” on the writing sample that I had to go back and write over it again until ink happened or there would have been no S at all. I busted out my eye loupe to confirm, and sure enough:

Cheeks, people; two of them.

Cheeks, people; two of them.

The cheeks weren’t a problem while handwriting this review in cursive on Leuchtturm 1917 ruled medium notebook paper. It’s been a good tactile nib on this paper, no flow problems, but I know I won’t rest until I’ve smoothed out that butt.

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

One micromesh buff stick and some lapping films later, and I’ve got the butt cheeks toned down. And now, I’ve got a very smooth tuned nib. Aw yeah.

The competition; the compatibility

The competition; the compatibility

At this price point, the Tradio is in direct competition with the Lamy Safari. The Tradio line can’t compete on color and nib options (there’s only medium nibs, and only a handful of colors, though I did find that the Tradio Pulaman body and cap are fully compatible with the fountain pen bits), but the Tradio has two big advantages going for it: no proprietary cartridges (takes the standard international cartridges) and rounded grip (as in, not faceted-sculpted-telling-you-how-to-live-your-life-and-grip-your-pen-type grip).

Carry it around, it won't weigh you down

Carry it around, it won’t weigh you down

The Tradio TRF100 is a decent, very lightweight plastic body beginner fountain pen. Some simple nib smoothing may be needed to achieve peak performance, but for me this pen will find a comfortable home as a knock-about work pen.

Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen Black Pearl Body at JetPens





Zait Jerusalem Olive Wood Fountain Pen

25 01 2014
The purple looks even better in person. A little more dusky I think than this scan could capture

The purple looks even better in person. A little more dusky I think than this scan could capture

I think I’ve found the exact embodiment of what ordinary people are thinking of when they think of a fancy fountain pen. Though I didn’t exactly find it—Zait contacted me to see if I would be interested in one of their pens, and without any idea what exactly I’d be getting I agreed. Thanks to Zait for providing this sample to review

Orange background plate brought to you by my favorite coffee shop, Joe Van Gogh.

Orange background plate brought to you by my favorite coffee shop, Joe Van Gogh.

Imagine my squealing delight when I opened the box and unwrapped the bubble wrap to this beauty. The beautiful wood (Jerusalem Olive Wood I’m told, though ‘TREE!’ is about the finest recognizeable distinction I can make when it comes to types of wood) goes perfectly with the chrome accents. The black nylon-coated threads to post the cap are visually balanced by a black ring between the wood and the chrome at the top of the cap and the black background of the floral center band. It’s a good looking pen.

Let's play a game called what color is the wood, really. The answer is: I cannot Photoshop to save my life.

Let’s play a game called what color is the wood, really. The answer is: I cannot Photoshop to save my life.

To post or not to post? I can’t decide. The weight of the posted pen is solid and reassuring, but with the size of my hand borders on becoming unwieldy. The pen is certainly long enough for me to write comfortably with it unposted…but there’s some ineffable quality that the extra weight adds. The faceted grip looks great, but picks up my fingerprints like crazy (so if you’re looking for a pen to star in a crime drama…). Any white residue on the nylon-coated threads is just a protective wax applied before shipping, and wipes away with a soft cloth.

Majestic mountains!

Majestic mountains are no match for the goat!

The nib is a gilded stainless steel iridium tipped Bock fine/semi flex. If, like me, you live under a rock you might not have known prior to a little Googling that Bock is a major nib supplier to a lot of companies. Though I no doubt own many pens with Bock-made nibs, this is the first I’ve seen with the Bock branding. Look at the little goat. Why a goat? Because Germany.

Just enough flex to make me feel bad for not being able to adequately utilize it

Just enough flex to make me feel bad for not being able to adequately utilize it

The semi-flex fine nib is a lot like the nib on my old Pelikan M150 in terms of both fineness and flex. It makes for a great everyday writing pen (I find fine nibs typically have the most success in random paper encounters) and, being both fine and a little bit flex, good for drawing. I did have to adjust the tines just a smidge* (one was a fraction of a millimeter high) but this is a fix so quick that it’s worth learning for every fountain pen user. Once the tine was in place it was smooth sailing—a nib with a nice tactile feeling on the page, excellent flow and no problems with starting, skipping, ghosting, or anything. Now, the aesthetic choice of a gold-colored nib on an all chrome-accented pen is another matter…

Not only is there a wax seal on the box, but there's a wax seal medallion INSIDE the box! IT'S LIKE THE ARCHDUKE OF FANCY WRITING IS HERE AMONG US

Not only is there a wax seal on the box, but there’s a wax seal medallion INSIDE the box! IT’S LIKE THE ARCHDUKE OF FANCY WRITING IS HERE AMONG US

These pens are handmade and hand-assembled. The Jerusalem Olive Wood is sustainable and sourced locally to the company’s production plant in Jerusalem. It comes with a converter and takes standard short international cartridges. This pen retails for $100, which includes registered international shipping from ISRAEL! Which probably isn’t very exciting when you live in Israel, but here in America I’m always excited when something comes all the way across an ocean. All in all, a very satisfying fancy pen that would make a handsome gift—for you or for someone else.

Jerusalem Olive Wood Fountain Pen — model ZPXXI — at Zait Pens

* When advised that I had to adjust the tines a little on the nib, Zait Pens told me the following: “We were very surprised by the non-alignment of the nib tines. Each of our fountain pens are ‘Road Tested’ for at least two days by our resident calligrapher to ensure that no problems arise with nib function. After each two day writing test the nib housings are dismantled, washed, re-polished and re-assembled.  Now you have alerted us to this problem we are reviewing our re-polishing and packaging techniques in case either of these may be responsible.”

I was very pleased with how responsive they were to the problem!





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.





Rotring Newton Fountain Pen

14 12 2013
I think I actually spelled the name of the ink color correctly. This might be the only time I managed that for this color...

I think I actually spelled the name of the ink color correctly. This might be the only time I managed that for this color…

This particular peculiar Rotring entered my life as a birthday present from my dearheart, who went to the local pen store asking for something I didn’t already have. Voilà—a Rotring I’d never even seen before.

I think I need to add another fake sun to the left side of my desk.

I think I need to add another fake sun to the left side of my desk.

With a bit of Googling I’ve decided that this is a Rotring Newton, the mod odd update to the very popular, hexagonal 600 series. The pen has a lot of solid metal and oblique angles going for it, and I love the finish.

You can't just have a pen, you have to gaze deeply into its very surface

You can’t just have a pen, you have to gaze deeply into its very surface

It’s not just solid black—look very closely and you see some dark twinkle to the finish. And all the silvery bits? This pen is a looker.

Untwisting and untwisted.

Untwisting and untwisted.

But beautiful as it is, this pen has some quirks to note. The biggest is how you get to the cartridge/converter side. Look up at the picture of the whole body, see the silver bit on the non-cap end? Twist it counter-clockwise like you’re retracting a tube of chapstick (go clockwise—as though advancing a chapstick—to secure it back to the body). Not what you were expecting. But then why not, why not involve some randomly strange mechanism? Quirk #2: do NOT reuse a standard international cleaned-out cartridge in this pen. I’ve read somewhere before that you need to use the special (pricey) Rotring converter in the Rotring pens or it won’t seal properly…I don’t know for sure about all that, but I know it doesn’t play well reusing a cartridge. The cartridge came loose, ink was everywhere; so I decided not to tempt fate anymore and slapped in the one Rotring converter I have. Fits perfectly. No more ink everywhere.

Modern nib decoration

Modern nib decoration

The writing is mostly wonderful—smooth without being out of control, never scratchy. But I think the nib might be currently suffering from a bit of baby’s bottom.

Is it? I can't exactly tell. The nib looks very round at the tip.

Is it? I can’t exactly tell. The nib looks very round at the tip. That’s about all I can tell

There are times, not even the span of an entire letter really, just the first stroke, where there’s no ink, right at the beginning. Then it starts up just fine. If it is a case of baby’s bottom, it’s an easy fix.

Also it comes with a neato-keen octagonal-type box

Also it came with a neato-keen octagonal-type box

Mine came from Office Supplies and More, but I haven’t seen him have any of this pen before or since. Goldspot carries them, looks like…let me know if you know of any other good retailers that stock the Newton and I’ll add a link!





Paperchase Wonderland Cartridge Fountain Pen

29 08 2013
If I had a lot of money, I'd buy multiples of every pen to get a better idea of quality control, then I'd give away the surplus pens. TOO BAD I DON'T HAVE SUCH PHAT STAX O CASH

If I had a lot of money, I’d buy multiples of every pen to get a better idea of quality control, then I’d give away the surplus pens. TOO BAD I DON’T HAVE SUCH PHAT STAX O CA$H

I wasn’t looking for a fountain pen when I went to Target (I’ve given up on them since the brief glory days when they carried Rhodia notebooks, Pilot Plumix, 0.38mm gel pens, and such came to an end) but as I made my way through the back-to-school carnage (admittedly not nearly as bad as what I saw in Walmart) I spotted abandoned there, on a miscellaneous free-standing product display, one lone blister pack containing a Paperchase Wonderland Cartridge Fountain Pen. As I hunted down the source, I promised myself, if it was under five dollars, I’d give it a try. I found the rest of the Paperchase Wonderland collection on an endcap over in Home Office. The pen was $4.99.

I'm thinking pair this pen with a Piccadilly notebook and some Earl Grey tea.

I’m thinking pair this pen with a Piccadilly notebook and some Earl Grey tea.

From what I can tell, the body comes in two designs: all black, and the whimsically decorated purple, covered in Alice in Wonderland illustrations. The design (the whole themed collection, really) screams painfully trendy-cute in much the same way slapping an owl or a mustache (or a mustachioed owl for radmax hipster points) onto something would, but we will forgive it for that. The plastic is of the cheapest sort, and will surprise no one should it break. The cap is snap-on, and posts easily. The grip section is easily my least favorite part, because though there is texturing there, further up the barrel the ridges for the cap collide with my grip style for a purlicue-irritating experience.

I was surprised to open the pen up and find something I had never seen before

I was surprised to open the pen up and find something I had never seen before

The pen comes with five blue standard short international cartridges: four displayed in the blister pack, and one hidden in the body of the pen. It also came with the empty bottomless cartridge pictured above left, in the pen body on the feed as though it were a cartridge in use. I suspect this was a clever little way to demonstrate by example how the cartridges are supposed to be used without having to print up any instructions.

Good nameless German steel? Possibly.

Good nameless German steel? Possibly.

The nib is labeled only with “IRIDIUM POINT M” and according to the package, this pen hails from Germany (veracity, at this price point, somewhat dubious). It’s a true European medium by my reckoning, and writes a little more wet than dry, though by no means is it what I would consider juicy. You feel the nib as you go across the page—it’s a tactile feeling, satisfying in its way, nothing scratchy about it, no unaligned tines, no skipping or problems with ink flow. I was impressed with how quickly after the cartridge was in place the pen was writing—it was ready to go as soon as I put the pen together and put it to paper. Non-fountain pen users aren’t interested in a finicky pen. This just might be the gateway pen I’ve been looking for to lure those folks in.

Shall we take bets on how long it will be before these fanciful designs wear off?

Shall we take bets on how long it will be before these fanciful designs wear off?

This pen has everything I could want in a gateway barebones beginner pen. You can find it in a common store (Target). It’s refillable with the most standard cartridges around, and has room in the body to carry a spare cartridge. It comes with a total of 5 cartridges to start you off. It writes right away without any finagling, and though it isn’t some buttery nirvana of smooth steel sliding words across the page, it writes satisfyingly well. And it’s cheap—cheap enough to be bought on a whim, to bring new people to fountain pens, and when it inevitably breaks or its owner gets tired of the cheap grip or what have you, they’ll be hooked, they’ll want more, and they’ll begin the fantastic spiral into buying better and better fountain pens.

 

I’m having trouble finding a link to anywhere suitable to buy it online, so check your local Target, or coerce someone you know who lives near a Target to check theirs and mail it to you if they find one.





Custom Shaw Pen – Gilbert Fountain Pen w/ Steel Nib

5 10 2012

Fun fact: this pen is one of the few I currently have with black ink in it

Picture it: my very first pen show. No idea what I’m even looking for. Lot of cool pens. One of the pen makers asks me if there’s any particular kind of pen I’m looking for, and it hits me: dark purple fountain pen. At the time, I had yet to see any in existence. And it just so happens that this particular pensmith is Alan Shaw. He had done some work recently with dark purple, and he offered to send me a sample.

Pictures fail to do it justice. And that’s why I kept pushing back this review, continually seeking justice…and continually failing.

This is not just purple, my friends, but sparkle-infused depths-of-deep-space-hydrogen-clouds purple. If fountain pens were magic wands, then this would be grade-A wizarding material. Thus I ordered my first custom-made fountain pen.

Seriously. Pictures fail to do it justice. We’ll just have to hang out sometime and maybe you can see it in person.

The finished product did not disappoint. It’s big, heavy, and beautiful. I ordered the Gilbert model with steel nib, which has rare earth magnets in the cap, making the cap easy and secure to close and post. Though, in my experience, posting the cap creates a serious Dolly Parton effect—top heavy, unwieldy, singing country music and spawning theme parks.

Am I writing or falling over? I can’t even tell.

Let’s take a picture moment to appreciate the material of this body. It’s smooth, it’s enchanting—

Like a Disney prince. In fact, this might actually be made out of compressed Disney princes.

It takes standard international cartridges / converter. It’s a decent nib, the kind I’ve seen before on other custom-made body kit-nib pens.

Standard functional steel nib

Mine’s a little on the dry side, very nice for drawing, but I’ll probably work the nib (when I get a little better at that) to be more juicy. Will keep you posted on that.

IS THIS A FAIRYTALE??

The pen is an absolute delight, and Alan was very easy to work with. The pen came in a nice box, with a converter and a bunch of cartridges. First custom fountain pen is a definite success.

Perfect purple pen

Here’s Alan Shaw’s website, and here’s the product detail for the Gilbert model. Thanks Alan!

One more picture. Just because we can.





Chelpark Terminator

1 06 2012

Best pen name? Or absolutely best pen name?

Think of India. What are you picturing? If you’re picturing food, saris, or stereotypes, SHAME ON YOU. You should be picturing fountain pens. And not the kind that are so uselessly, ludicrously expensive (five figure price tag, anyone?) that no mortal would dare write anything with it, short of the One Perfect Novel. No, we’re talking about sensible pens, the people’s pens, that strike that perfect balance between affordable and reliable.

Affordable and Reliable are also the names of two towing companies, fun fact.

I tend to shy away from eyedropper pens—I’m the paranoid type. I like to have as many safety mechanisms as possible between me and a potential ink spill. This is living on the edge for me, as far as pens go.

A writing delight, or a tick-ink time bomb? Only time will tell.

I’ve given this pen no particularly special treatment—it’s been hobnobbing with all my plebeian pens, bouncing around various pockets, pencil cases, and bags. It seems fine so far. This is a school pen, after all, so it’s probably built with an eye toward withstanding a fair amount of abuse. The cap closes with a nice snap, posts securely, pops open when needed, and does a good job keeping the pen from drying out.

Most importantly, it’s colorful

The only major issue in design is the conspicuous lack of an ink window. The only clue you have that you’re running out of ink is when the ink starts leaking out in big blobby drops when you write (a feature of eyedropper pens, apparently—when the ink gets low enough, the heat of your hand holding the pen makes the air expand inside the pen, forcing out drops of ink). An ink window would be great, provided it’s flush with the body of the pen (I’m not a fan of windows that are recessed or that jut out).

No time for frills. We’re being sensible here.

What the “C” signifies, I’m not quite sure (chitinous? charming? cantankerous? cool?), but it writes like a fine nib. Smooth, this pen is not. I’m hardly in danger of putting too many loopies in my cursive. But I wouldn’t call it scratchy either. Scratchy means unpleasant to write with. This nib makes you think, it imposes a deliberate consideration as you write with such a hard and hardy nib. This is tactile to the max. It’s perfect for a school pen, especially one made in a tradition devoted to good handwriting. You don’t want your schoolwork to be rushed. Take your time, think about what you’re doing, that’s what this pen is for. And the fine nib is suitable for all kinds of paper, from Clairefontaine to cheap printer paper, from Mead to the typically fountain-pen-unfriendly Moleskine.

Works on Moleskine paper? THIS TRULY IS AN EXOTIC PRODUCT FROM A MYSTICAL LAND.

I don’t know how hardy this pen will prove to be, how crack-resistant the resin will end up being over time, but for now, this is a great little workhorse pen that I’ll be keeping in inked-up rotation.

For those of you used to a JetPens timeframe of delivery, getting this pen will be a culture shock (unless you live much closer to India than I do), because the source of this pen is a guy in India. It takes a few weeks. But it’s worth it!

You can get the Chelpark Terminator from Fountain Pen Revolution as part of a 3 for $15 deal, or get it by itself for $8.