Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Pentel Touch Brush Tip Felt Pen

08/07/2016

Pentel has a real winner for calligraphers with the Touch line of felt tipped pens. That is something I already knew from YouTube and Instagram videos before I got my hands on one. What was a genuine surprise is how little effort it takes to make a mark with a Touch. Just skim the paper with the pen and bold lines result. Banish hand fatigue though writing large is the best I could do.

The two on my desk came from a local art store and are not equal. They were in an open display and one tip has suffered mild abuse making delicate lines elusive. The other pen has a dream tip that glides effortlessly. It is an absolute delight to use for lettering though I have no hand for true calligraphy. You should see the colorful notes all around my desk. They draw my attention to what must be accomplished today and that is a good thing.

Worthy of note is that the Touch pen did not feather and produced only a few tiny dots of bleed-through in my new squared Moleskine journal. Ghosting was its only flaw, no surprise on Moleskine. That brings up the Moleskine caveat: Their journals are possessed by fickle paper so your results may not be comparable to mine. Even printer paper suffered zero bleed-through and less ghosting than the Moleskine. My other journals handled the Touch without complaint.

The Pentel Touch is a fun-to-write-with pen that comes in a variety of colors. There are two versions so look for the brush tip if you want the one reviewed here. Amazon offers individual black and blue pens among other colors as well as a twelve color set. Local stores did not stock this pen except for the one, distant art store where I purchased my first two. The full set is on my wishlist because the Touch is so much fun to use. Plus it has all those colors and I am always a sucker for color. The notes around my desk will never look the same.

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Moleskine Surprise

08/05/2016

When it comes to journals, Moleskine has set the standard for form. Sturdy, but lays flat. Natural white paper. Ribbon marker. Elastic band and rear pocket. The size is just right in the hand. But in recent times, the paper has left much to be desired when it comes to fountain pen ink.

When I started using Moleskine some twelve years ago, my pens were quite happy with it and the few inks I owned would cozy up to the paper and leave marks with clean outlines. Extra-fine and fine nibs were perfect, especially a vintage Parker 51 fine-medium that was the pen I carried everywhere.

Skip forward a few years and the paper quality suffered. Spidery feathers bloomed from every letter and blobs of ink showed through on the backs of pages making them worthless. One-sided writing cut the value of the pricey journals by half. Moleskine betrayed my trust and I swore off for good.

To be fair, paper sources can change over time and being ever hopeful that the company had come to its senses, I tucked a squared notebook into a recent Amazon order. The wrapper says “Mix. Paper from responsible sources.” What does that mean? It also says the notebook was manufactured in China. Lots of paper comes from China, but most of it isn’t fountain pen friendly. Hoping to be surprised, I put the Moleskine to the test.

Every instrument except the fountain pens worked well enough that both sides of the paper were useful. Clean outlines and almost no feathering with only very faint ghosting from the Sharpie Pen and the Pentel Touch make the Moleskine an excellent choice.

The scan shows a new Moleskine at the upper left with a Rhodia notebook to the right. The bottom two are Moleskine journals purchased several years ago. The recent Moleskine has paper that is more white than in the past which is another indication that the paper is from a different batch.

Fountain pen ink produced mixed results. To the good, feathering has been reduced. Not gone entirely, but spidery offshoots did not happen. That is a significant improvement over the Moleskine journals I last purchased. Outlines are less jagged though under magnification still imperfect with some inks. It isn’t Rhodia quality, but it will do.

Bleed-through on the reverse proved frustrating, but ink and nib width made a difference. Noodler’s Black in a fine nib was perfect. Sailor Peach Pink did not bleed even from a Platinum #3776 Music Nib. J. Herbin Bleu Azure from a Platinum Century B Nib left only a couple of dots. Other inks in wide nibs left so many spots that the reverse was unusable at least by my standards. However, a dry nib or an extra-fine to fine nib should have less trouble. The narrow nib for many users will be more suitable for the size of the journal and the 5 mm grid spacing anyway.

The bottom line is Moleskine has improved the quality of its paper at least in the grid notebook I tested. Some pen and ink duos will work beautifully on both sides of the paper. If you only write on one side, use any pen and ink. With the feathering reduced, Moleskine is no longer off my list. Is it time to put it on yours?

 

 

 

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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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