Ink Drop Soup: The Pilot Prera-Plumix Switcheroo

20 10 2012

This recipe calls for one Pilot Prera and one Pilot Plumix

Here’s a few quick pictures for those of you curious about swapping out the nib of your Pilot Prera for the lovely italic nib on the Pilot Plumix. Possibly you want to make your handwriting fancier or maybe you dropped the nib on a hard tile floor; whatever the reason, here’s how I did it.

I recommend you do this with pens devoid of ink

I started with the Prera for this demonstration simply because it was closer to the camera when I started taking pictures. If you haven’t done this before, maybe start on the far cheaper Plumix (or Pilot Penmanship, if you’re looking to swap on an extra fine nib); the motion is the same. Hold the barrel in one hand. Hold the nib and feed with the other (I prefer putting my thumb under the feed and my index finger on top of the nib). Slowly pull the nib and feed out, and perhaps try gently twisting the barrel as you do so if it seems stiff. The nib and feed should come out, and you’re halfway done. If you started with the Plumix, keep the nib on hand and set the rest of the pen to the side.

Same as before

Take the second pen, and do the same thing to get the feed and nib out. Though I swap the nibs, I like to keep the feeds with their original pen, but that’s probably not necessary.

Now for the magic

Take the feed you want to put in the Prera and the nib you want to be on the Prera. Put the nib on top of the feed; the feed is notched on the top and sides in such a way that you’ll know when it’s on where it should be.

And back in it goes, voilà

Hold the nib and feed together in one hand, the barrel in the other, and slide them together until they stop. From what I can tell, there’s no particular way the feed and nib have to line up with the barrel, so there’s no big worry. If you’ve done this all correctly, you should have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib. If you’ve done this incorrectly, I absolve myself of all responsibility.


Pilot Prera Clear Body Fountain Pen – Plumix Medium Italic Flat Nib – Translucent Blue Accent

18 04 2012

This nib's work should look very familiar

Now, this is a story all about how my pen got flipped, turned upside-down—and then it fell on the nib, which turned out to be a stroke of hidden luck—but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don't look at one of these in person unless you want to buy it...because you'll want to buy it.

Simplistic, but in a most beautiful way. I love every bit of the design, from the little rows of dots around the cap to the delicate curve of the clip. It’s lightweight, but the plastic excuse me, acrylic feels appropriately well-made and durable.

And the way the cap closes sealed the deal. Also the pen. But mostly the deal.

This might very well be the most satisfying capping mechanism I have encountered in a pen. Slides on, then snaps neatly into place. There’ve got to be small magnets involved, the way it gently gives a little pull at the very end as you slide it on—subtle, but utterly, unreasonably satisfying. The cap stays solidly in place (hence why I’m certain it’s magnets miracles magnets), but paradoxically is easy to uncap with even one hand. Let me reiterate: this is my current top pick for best cap.

Not miniature, but it is delightfully petite

It’s small enough to look nice clipped on a small notebook, slipped into a jeans pocket (not as nice as a Kaweco Liliput, but not every pen can be a luxurious choking hazard), or even tossed unobtrusively in your coat pocket, but it’s not so small as to inhibit its useability or be considered a mini pen. I have no problem using it unposted, but people with bigger hands will probably want to post the cap.

Now, about that nib

Tell me what you see above this sentence. If you answered, a really terrible performance from a nib on a pretty pricey pen, then you would be correct! I must have tried nearly half a dozen inks on the F nib it came with. It vexed me to no end. I’ve learned how to use fountain pens and Japanese fine nibs at this point, so it wasn’t me. It was undeniably the nib. And on one of my repeated trips to flush out the pen to try a different ink during a break at work, invisible forces (possibly known as gravity) slapped the pen right out of my hand (not even the whole pen, mind you, just the assembly of nib, feed, grip, converter) and caused it to land nib-first on the hard tile floor.

See how bowed the nearest tine is? And this is AFTER having a professional try to make it better.

It made the writing…kind of better? But not better enough. That’s when it clicked—this feed is exactly the same as the Pilot Plumix feed, and this nib is exactly the same line of “Pilot Superior Quality” found on the Plumix. Could this possibly be the answer I was looking for?


The Plumix italic nib fit like a dream, and wrote as smooth as a professional ice-skater on a freshly Zamboni’d ice rink. That metaphor may be a little ham-fisted, but I’m not (anymore) and I can actually use an italic nib now in a way that isn’t embarrassing to the entire tradition of handwriting. Add the round grip (as opposed to the Plumix’s molded pliers-style grip) to the mix, a dash of the always quick-drying Lamy blue ink, and I daresay my handwriting even passes as being moderately attractive. You don’t see it? Maybe you’re not squinting hard enough.

Ultimate unstoppable combination pen for most excellent and presentable handwriting

So, after a few character-building hiccups, I now have a highly ideal pen. It’s stood up well, so far, through at least half a year’s worth of casual-use daily abuse, and it’s still going strong.
Pilot Prera Clear Body Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – Translucent Blue Accent at JetPens

Pilot Plumix Fountain Pen – Medium Italic Flat Nib at JetPens

Lamy Blue Ink at JetPens

Holiday Gift Guide — AND GIVEAWAY!

24 11 2011

It’s just about that time of year, my good people, when all your favorite gift-giving holidays convene. That’s right, such holidays as: my mom’s birthday. My grandmother’s birthday. National Fritters Day. Letter Writing Day. Pepper Pot Day. AND MANY MORE!

You will need to be armed to the teeth with gifts if you hope to make it to the other end of December alive. Personally, I like to do all my shopping from the same location, as far away from humanity as possible, and preferably while sitting. I think you know what that means—online shopping! This post will almost entirely feature items from JetPens; maybe, if I’m feeling particularly industrious, I’ll do another (or more?!) post(s) involving writing utensils from other websites.

And! As promised in the title, there will be a giveaway associated with this post. Details will follow. But first—pens!

I’ll organize this into two major categories—pens I own, and pens I don’t own but am going to recommend anyway—and for the first category, I’ll break it down by price. Let’s begin!


Pens I Own

$1 to $10

There are far too many pens in this category to list them all individually. So I’ve compiled a wish list of them on JetPens! And now it can be your wish list.


$11 to $30

Pentel Pocket Brush Pen for Calligraphy – $13.50

Great for artists and people who can write in Japanese.

It’s got individual synthetic fiber bristles, and it’s refillable. Can write from a hair-thin line to an I-can’t-be-bothered-to-measure-how-thick broad line. Comes with 2 refills.


Uni-ball Alpha Gel Kuru Toga Mechanical Pencil – 0.5mm – $14.00

This has all my favorite things in a mechanical pencil. All of them. Including lead.

Fantastically comfortable Alpha-Gel grip + Kuru Toga lead-rotating mechanism = maybe the best pencil ever? Especially helpful for those who have to take a bunch of scantron tests / handwrite a bunch of essays in pencil. A.k.a. students.


Uni-ball Jetstream Alpha Gel Grip Series Ballpoint Pens – 0.7mm – $16.50

There is possibly nothing I can do to make this ballpoint pen better.

Can’t have my favorite mechanical pencil without my favorite ballpoint pen. As an added bonus, I have reviewed this one before! This body takes any size Jetstream retractable refill (I currently have the 0.5mm refill in mine), and also fits the Zebra Sarasa gel refills.


Sailor HighAce Neo Beginner’s Fountain Pen – $16.50

Be careful, you're gonna put your eye out with that thing.

I’ve reviewed this one before, too. It’s a nice fine nib pen. Warning: doesn’t come with a refill. I’d advise buying the converter; it’s cheaper than the cartridges, and easier to refill. Warning: I bought the cartridges (which I refill by syringe), but I have not personally tried the converter.


Akayashi Sai Watercolor Brush Pen – 5 Color Autumn Set – $17.50

Convenient watercolors? Yes. It can exist.

I would recommend buying these brush pens with the Akashiya Sai Watercolor Mini Pallet ($4.50) and a waterbrush pen like the Kuretake Small Compact Size ($4.25), which actually pushes the total cost of this set up to $26.25, but I think it’s worth it. And the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen works great with these for a watercolor black.


J. Herbin Tapered Body Frosted Glass Dip Pen – Large – $20.00

Fun fact: I studied abroad in Venice before my fine pen obsession kicked in. I only bought 1 glass dip pen from Murano. I REGRET THIS VERY STRONGLY.

Impractical, but beautiful. Especially nice for ink enthusiasts (I recommend Noodler’s, which you can get through places like Goldspot Pens or the Goulet Pen Company). Easy to clean; just don’t drop it.


Kaweco Classic Sport Fountain Pen – $21.00

Alas, the price has gone up on these since I bought this one. Curse you, modern economy!

From extra-fine nib to broad nib in a variety of colors. Also check out the Kaweco Ice Sport line if you like translucent and bright colors. I have the medium nib, which I find to be one of the thinner mediums I own.


Lamy Safari, Vista, and Al-Star Fountain Pens – $26, $26, and $37.50

So the Lamy Al-Star is technically out of this arbitrary price category I decided to sort things by. JUST TRY TO STOP ME!

Colorful, durable, with nibs ranging from extra-fine to broad, and in my experience, they’ve all been wonderful writers. I’d recommend getting the converter with this one, as these pens go well with having a nigh unlimited spectrum of ink colors to choose from. Warning: also recommending the converter because the Lamy takes a special cartridge rather than the standard international short cartridge. The pen is designed so that you just drop the cartridge in and then twist the nib section back onto the barrel; the cartridge then punctures itself. Warning: I’ve never actually tried to shove an international short cartridge into a Lamy, as far as I can remember, so I can’t advise what would happen.


Lamy Joy Calligraphy Fountain Pen – $29

Pen is conveniently named to describe what emotion you'll be experiencing while using said pen

Comes with a converter. And a lovely tapered body. And the cap posts on the end! Calligraphy nib options: 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm. Nibs are interchangeable with the regular Lamy nibs, if you just like the body.


$30 and up (except for the already mentioned Lamy Al-Star)

A. G. Spalding & Bros. Mini Fountain Pen – Fine Nib – $33.00

Sleek and classy, like a little sci-fi spaceship.

This pen has grown on me a lot more since I first reviewed it, and especially since I started using Rotring Turquoise ink in it (warning: that is a ridiculous price; I paid $4 for my refills at the Art Brown Pen Shop, but they don’t seem to sell that refill online). More of a medium or maybe even broad (what do I know; I never use broad nibs) nib. Warning: do not try to take the clip off or accidentally take the clip off. It comes off, and scratches the satin metal finish in the process. Oops.


Kaweco Liliput Al Fountain Pen – $53.00

This is such a disappointingly unsexy picture of a phenomenally sexy pen.

I got the fine nib. Yes, this pen is everything I hoped for, and also more. Yes, I desperately owe you all a proper review of this pen;  I am waiting for the opportunity and the lighting so that I can take the kind of pictures that do this pen justice.  Comes in extra-fine to broad nibs. Takes international short cartridges. Also takes….YOUR HEART.


Pilot Prera Clear Body Fountain Pen – $58.00

When I first held this pen, I couldn't leave the store without buying it. And now here we are!

I bought the fine nib, which was a Japanese fine nib—also known as an extra exceptionally fine line nib. Possibly the finest nib I own (too bad I dropped it on the nib (ARGH WHOOPS)). Also comes in medium nib. I’d recommend getting the Pilot Plumix as well (currently cheapest at Target, I believe); the nibs are interchangeable. You (like me) can have a Pilot Prera with an italic nib! Makes your handwriting look even fancier than normal.


Pens I Don’t Own

I’m only going to make two recommendations. First, the Uni-ball Jetstream 4&1 4 Color Ballpoint Multi Pen + 0.5mm Pencil ($16.50); I bought one for a friend and he loves it. Four colors of Jetstreams, a pencil, and an eraser all in one body! Second, the Zebra Sharbo X….specifically the Zebra Sharbo X LT3 Pen Body Component – Silver ($49.50). Look at that thing. I want it. Why wouldn’t you?





Brad at JetPens has generously offered up a $10 JetPens gift card for one lucky commenter on this post! The rules:

  1. Leave one comment on this post any time between now and Sunday, November 27th 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. This contest is open to all readers in any country! That includes you, international people!
  2. One winner will be picked at random from the comments section of this post. Just make any kind of comment—but only one comment! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner in the evening of Sunday, November 27th (sometime between noon and midnight). Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.

Good luck! And preemptive happiness to your holidays!



P.S. I should have it set up so comments will post without my having to approve them all moderator-style. But if your comment doesn’t show up right away, that means I didn’t set that up correctly, and your comment will show up when I go through and hit “approve” on all of them. Don’t worry! Or, if you are worried, feel free to email me!