Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Zebra Mini Ballpoint Pen

07/17/2016

When space is scarce and tiny tools are in order, the Zebra Mini Ballpoint could be the perfect fit.

At 3.25 inches closed, this pen can fit in the smallest of spaces. It extends to a useful length of 4.25 inches when it is time to go to work. Pair it with a mini journal for a truly pocket-sized traveling companion.

Zebra Mini Ballpoint (BA55):

  • Sturdy metal barrel – no plastic parts
  • Rated as fine but writes extra fine
  • Ink dries quickly
  • No cap to lose
  • Very little pressure needed to write a consistent line
  • Narrow barrel isn’t the most comfortable, but okay for lists or short passages
  • Pen available in black, gray, white, silver, pink, light blue, mint green and navy
  • Ink refills available in black, blue, red and green
  • Close the barrel and twist off the tip to install a refill
  • Small enough to fit in some wallets

Sometimes really small is just right.

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From The Archives: Pelikan Violet Ink

07/07/2016

Recently I was reminded of the quality of Pelikan fountain pen ink. Here is a link to my review from January, 2015, and below is a photo that was taken at sunset last night. Once in a while, a little drama is in order.

The paper is from a Clairefontaine notebook that loves fountain pen ink.

I checked around and found the one ounce and two ounce sizes reasonably priced at Amazon. Pelikan ink is good in any fountain pen and this is lovely stuff if violet is on your wish list.

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Two Pens For The Price Of One

06/27/2016

For a limited time, Noodler’s is offering two pens for the price of one. It’s a great deal that includes my favorite Noodler’s fountain pen, the Konrad #10 Dixie. The second pen is the Charlie along with a glass eyedropper to fill it.

Carol of Luxury Brands USA sent a #10 Dixie Rebellion Red with a Charlie pen tucked in the Dixie’s box to introduce me to the special. Carol didn’t know the #10 Dixie Methuselah is my most oft used Noodler’s pen so a second Dixie is a real treat.

My opinion of the ebonite #10 Dixie hasn’t changed since I reviewed it in 2014 though the pen has enjoyed more frequent use than I originally anticipated. It continues to be wedded to General of the Armies ink thanks to excellent flow and a degree of lubrication that is perfect for the nib. No reason to stray from such a satisfying pairing.

The resin Charlie was ably reviewed by catbert a year ago and that will suffice for now since I don’t want to delay letting you know about this deal. If you’ve never tried an eyedropper filler, the free Charlie would be a great opportunity to do so. It holds more ink than other filling systems though it has been known to burp a drop of ink from time to time. The Charlie’s clear barrel with no obstructing filler mechanism shows an ink’s color to best advantage. Noodler’s Apache Sunset or Turquoise would be very eye-catching, but so would a lot of other inks. No two Charlie caps are the same according to the insert making each one unique.

The pen models are completely different and so are the nibs. The #10 Dixie has a #6 flex nib while the Charlie has the smaller #5 with a bit of spring to it. The tines don’t open as they would for a flex nib. However, with a little tinkering, that nib can be swapped with a flex nib from a Noodler’s Creaper.

While the Charlie pen has the typical Noodler’s aroma, if less so than some models, the #10 does not. Exposure to air helps with the resin odor, but I’ve read that storing the pen for a few days in a plastic bag filled with baking soda can be quite effective as well. As with all new pens, a light cleaning to remove any residual oil or debris from the manufacturing process is recommended.

Check with your favorite Noodler’s retailer for the two pen plus eyedropper deal. It retails for $40, but it’s a limited offer so grab one while you can.

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Paper Mate Liquid Flair Pens

06/24/2016

Recently, Ed Jelley wrote about Paper Mate Liquid Flair Felt Tip Pens and that was enough to persuade me to purchase a set of eight colors. They won’t replace fountain pens, but they are a handy way to put ink on paper.

The pens are plastic and lightweight, but with enough girth to feel comfortable in my hand. The top snaps on rather loudly and firmly and can be posted without overbalancing the pen. The nib produces clean lines and glides easily with just a hint of feedback. In fact it quite nearly skated over the Midori #013 Tomoe River paper. Adjusting the speed at which I wrote improved control. The smooth, juicy flow produces strong coverage, but dries a little slowly with the medium nib on Tomoe. A more absorbent paper speeds the drying time to a second or two.

The reusable pouch states that the colors are vivid and with that I would agree. The blue has a lot of red in it and dries with a sheen you might expect of fountain pen ink. It wasn’t evident  except where ink puddled, but still impressive when it did happen.

Turquoise, green, orange and pink are reflective catching the light at some angles. However, those colors aren’t as strong as the other four. Black, purple and deep red are very saturated and matte in comparison.

The black will likely find a regular home in the pen box on my desk. The dark red is a rich color and good contrast for the black, so it is headed for the box as well. Turquoise is usually an easy sell for me, but this one is a bit more pale than my preference. However, for the convenience of a felt tip, it will have its opportunities.

None of my fountain pens felt displaced or jealous. Big yawns mostly. However, Paper Mate has done a creditable job of bringing a useful felt tip to market with the Liquid Flair. Besides the attractive colors and comfortable form, these pens should weather the summer heat without fuss. Don’t tell my fountain pens, but that will keep the Flair pens on my desk for months to come. Instant starts and no dried out nibs sound very appealing after last week’s hundred degree days.

My kit of Liquid Flair pens came from Amazon along with the Traveler’s Notebook #013 used for testing. But here’s an idea worth considering. These pens would write very well in those notebooks that can’t handle fountain pen ink. Finally, that stack of Moleskines might get put to use. My FPs certainly won’t mind since they know inferior paper is beneath them. Who can argue with such clever little devils?

 

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The Leuchtturm1917 Finds A Few Mates

06/15/2016

The Leuchtturm1917 paper is so nice to write on that finding compatible inks and pens has become a quest. Every duo on hand whether for personal use or testing purposes gets a page to itself in the search for suitable matches. With a few exceptions, wide and flex nibs have caused dots of bleed through. There is some show through, but it isn’t a deterrent for me. At least in my journal, neither is the tiny degree of Moleskine-like feathering. How the pen moves across the paper is more important for private musings and the sheer joy of writing.

Best duos

Most disappointing duos

  • Platinum Nice M with Diamine Wild Strawberry
  • Platinum Yamanaka SM with Diamine Merlot
  • Pelikan M200 italic with Iroshizuku tsuki-yo
  • Noodler’s 1820 Essex Konrad Flex with Noodler’s Dostoyevsky

The paper is absorbent so free-flowing inks produced the most bleed through. After testing more than twenty, this is now a predictable characteristic eliminating some inks from use in the Leuchtturm. No hardship since other inks work just fine.

However, the tendency to feather along a few of the fibers will be off-putting to some users.

A Pentel Pocket Brush Pen with J. Herbin Lie de The or Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan showed no feathering or bleed through. Good mates for this journal are to be found.

What continues to surprise is the way in which the paper handles light watercolor washes. There is very little buckling though with some colors I had to work at getting enough paint down. The paper held up well considering the abuse. No bleed through, but watercolor is more dense than ink. With more coarsely grained pigment particles and less water than ink, paint dries on the surface. It isn’t as translucent as ink, but for a hit of color or some doodles in margins, watercolor will do the trick.

This might seem like heresy, but the Leuchtturm1917 journal provides a wonderfully soft surface for my Autopoint mechanical pencil with HB lead. Should the need arise, a FACTIS extra soft eraser will leave the paper’s surface intact. It can even be used gently on art paper.

The deal here is that I love the paper and needed to persist to find good mates for it. Hey, persistence is a positive trait, isn’t it?

 

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Strathmore Writing® Paper

06/11/2016

The Strathmore Paper Company has been in business since 1892 so they know a thing or two about making paper. Their line of Writing® paper products is aimed at those who want the best in a writing experience and they have done a creditable job of achieving that goal.

Writing® paper is available in pads, envelopes, flat and folded cards as well as hardbound and softcover journals. The soft white paper has a mildly textured, wove finish that slightly resisted a few inks, but is otherwise quite nice for fountain pens. The stationery is heavy at 24 lb (90 gsm) and comes with 50 blank or non-photo blue, dot-lined sheets to a pad.

The artist who created the calligraphy logo, Heather Victoria Held, is given credit on the cover which is a very nice touch.

A few days ago, I wrote a letter on the paper and decided it has more texture and absorbency than some of my nibs can handle well. Round nibs worked better than italics though a very light touch with a free-flowing ink somewhat improved the latter. Pale inks looked a bit dull on the soft white paper, but aqua and blue took the paper color in stride producing very legible and attractive writing.

The sturdy cardboard back would make the Writing® pad a good traveling companion. For a simple pad, it is well-constructed and should tolerate a modest amount of abuse.

The lines are on only one side of the paper so presumably Strathmore does not expect double-sided use. Even so, there was absolutely no bleed-through and only the faintest hint of ghosting. In that regard, it is an admirable product.

The only version tested was the 6″ x 8″ pad, but the website indicates the same paper is used for the whole line except the cards that are 110# (297 gsm). That rivals watercolor paper which could make them useful for one-of-a-kind, original greeting cards. Strathmore lists the Writing® line under its 500 series paper which is their premium line for artists.

Currently, Amazon offers the pads and journals. Walmart and a few other retailers carry some items from the line, so that is another option.

Admittedly, I am partial to soft white paper and 8 mm line spacing for my widest nibs. Now to find the perfect pen and ink for the Strathmore Writing® pad. Isn’t that half the fun?

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Diamine Aqua Blue

06/05/2016

Aqua is one of my happy colors especially in a transparent pen. While going through old color swatches, I came across a squiggle of Diamine Aqua Blue and that squiggle is all the use it ever got. Nothing wrong with it, but other colors clamored more loudly for attention and so it got pushed to the back of the shelf.

Two days ago Aqua looked just right so the bottle moved to the front of the queue. The stingy Nemosine 0.8 italic nib volunteered to take it for a test drive probably thinking the ink would not be up to the task. Much to everyone’s surprise, on cheap paper the duo produced a very consistent line with the lightest touch. No feathering though some of the outlines are rough. Like Diamine Peach Haze, it did bleed and show through on copy paper. All my hand noticed was that the writing was smooth and stress free. The nib didn’t skate, but it did move comfortably well.

Mild shading is more pronounced on Clairefontaine though the nib didn’t glide quite as easily on the coated surface. No feathering, bleed-through or show-through, but Clairefontaine never has those problems anyway.

Whether a short-term problem or a long-term condition, there are times when writing can be a challenge. At the end of a long day and for the effortless writing, Diamine Aqua Blue is a rich color that makes filling pages with swirls, letters and doodles a delightful activity.

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