Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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It’s National Pencil Day. What Do I Use?

03/30/2021

Do mechanical pencils count? I use them daily and have a decided need in my journal for easily amended notes. The no fuss MP writes without hesitation and requires no special care, perfect for my Traveler’s Notebook Diary.

Recently, I switched from 2B to HB lead to reduce smearing and breakage as well as downsize from 0.7 to 0.5. However, the 0.7 is easier to read so a test of HB at that size is pending. Uni Nano Dia is smooth and relatively sturdy making it my lead of choice. 

Having the right diameter, weight and balance for my hand has made the Tombow MONO graph the mechanical pencil I return to time after time. Next in line is the Zebra DelGuard 0.7. For variety, a Uni Kuru Toga and a Pilot Opt round out my rotation. Yes, I have a mechanical pencil rotation just like a fountain pen rotation. 

A Pentel Clic Eraser (ZE21T) is an essential tool with all of them considering my fickle nature and obsession with editing.

The fact that a pencil will write on any paper is very convenient. However, I still favor quality paper although writing with MPs has made it possible to use some of the lesser quality notebooks like the Moleskine that have come my way. 

Did I mention mechanical pencils are economical? Few cost more than $10 and most cost less than $7. A package of 120 leads costs about $7. Not bad, eh? It isn’t a fountain pen but it will do nicely for everyday use.

Shopping list for products mentioned. Inkophile may earn a tiny commission and I do mean tiny.

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Walmart Fails to Deliver

01/22/2021

Color me gobsmacked. (Is that really a color?) I knew it was bad out there but this situation was an eye-opener. Due to the lockdown, instead of going to a brick and mortar for a much needed scanner/printer, I shopped online, a frustrating endeavor to be sure.

After hours of research, I settled on a Canon Pixma and proceeded to look for it at a price in my budget range. Believe me it took a lot of research and time to finally come up with a printer and source. Walmart is not my usual retailer but it was the only offer that would work for me. So I placed an order on 1/12 and received an acknowledgement that included an arrival date of 1/20. Subsequent confirmations gave the same date. A UPS shipping label was generated on 1/13 and my credit card debit cleared on 1/14. All good, right? Heh. 1/20 came and went without a sign of a printer. This did not bode well. I initiated an email to the third-party seller through the Walmart site and this is the response I received:

Hrumph. So I called Walmart and after a couple of attempts, spoke to “David”. Pleasant enough guy but he told me that Walmart was not responsible though they would issue a refund that my bank is currently holding. Guess they don’t trust Walmart either.  Regardless, it’s too late for me since the good prices, discounts and product availability have evaporated. A comparable printer will cost double to triple what I paid Walmart assuming there is a model with the same specs. David also told me that the vendor, PTM, does not have an address so there is no physical location. A guy in his mom’s basement perhaps?

What really speaks ill of “PTM” is that they knew they hadn’t shipped the item but failed to notify me so the funds could be returned and I could shop elsewhere. The only reason anything happened on it today was because I initiated a query to Walmart. Apparently, Walmart does not require a follow-up from a vendor when an item has shipped so basically you are on your own. The pile of work on my desk will have to wait for a future printer sale and a windfall of cash.

The lack of concern and responsibility is mind-bogglingly stupid in any age but particularly in the age of social media. 

I won’t order from Walmart again. Far too much trouble. Whenever the lockdown ends and I can go to local merchants, Walmart and the like had better look elsewhere for buyers because I won’t be one of them. Am I alone in this? How about you? Do you expect to return to your former brick and mortar sources or has the lockdown turned you into an online shopping addict?

 

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When Just A Few Pens Will Do

08/25/2020

Recently, I cleaned all of my inked fountain pens. Yep, not a single filled pen on my desk. Can you imagine that? A Platinum #3776 Century Nice from Luxury Brands is patiently waiting for a fill but which color? It will be the only pen on my desk for the next few weeks so it wouldn’t seem right to call it a rotation unless a mechanical pencil and a uni-ball Signo 307 count.

Well, that didn’t last. I ran across some swatches and resistance was futile.

Two pens qualify as a rotation, right? So it will be the Platinum with Kyo No Oto Kokeiro and a stainless Lamy Studio with Diamine Eau De Nil.

As for the inks, Eau de Nil has average flow from the Lamy and dries fairly fast. Kokeiro flows a bit too freely from the Platinum pooling enough to dry slowly depending on the paper. No feathering with either one. All fine but the colors are why I selected them. In this case, the blue plays well against the yellow green creating a nice pair for a minimal rotation.

That will do for now. I’m already considering inks for an autumn rotation despite the current heat wave. Stipula Calamo Verde Muschiato and Iroshizuku Yu Yake look promising. They could even be added to my summer inks for a four pen rotation. Wouldn’t that be neat and simple.

Shopping List:

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Mechanical Pencils In The Spotlight

07/05/2020

Cult Pens has deemed July 5th as Mechanical Pencil Day making this a good time to review a few models beyond the ubiquitous Pentel.

Autopoint, Pentel, Ibis Sketch, Tombow MONO graph, Pilot Opt., uni Kuru Toga, Zebra DelGuard

For years, an Autopoint has been a staple in my rotation while a few uninspiring MPs accumulated in a drawer. No love for that lot. Then came the quarantine and the time to play with the unloved bunch to which I added one that is especially comfortable in my hand. Much to my surprise, I now like all of them if to varying degrees.

Just as pens and inks need to be matched for best performance and a satisfying writing experience, mechanical pencils and leads benefit from similar consideration. How could I have missed this?

Lead properties include diameter, lead darkness, smoothness, sturdiness and durability. Pen characteristics include grip, diameter, materials, lead advancement, and eraser size. Color and form are less varied than in fountain pens as MPs are more workhorse than eye-candy though there are a few pastel and neon models in addition to black, white, and red. Doesn’t that sound simple compared to the vast world of fountain pens and inks?

Best features:

uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip – Lead advances with only a gentle shake but the mechanism broke quickly.

Pilot Opt. – Shaker advance with wide barrel.

Tombow MONO graph – Locking shaker advance with long needle tip.

Zebra DelGuard – Tip design reduces breakage to zero for me.

Uni Kuru Toga – Lead rotates producing a very uniform line.

Pentel icy – Best value and availability.

Autopoint Jumbo All-American – Very sturdy. My first one lasted 15 years.

Ibis Art Sketch – Wide 1.8mm rectangular lead.

Zebra DelGuard, uni Kuru Toga, Pilot Opt., Tombow MONO graph

Comments:

Only the Autopoint 0.9mm with HB lead stood up flawlessly to heavy-handed use.

The Zebra Delguard 0.7mm with 2B lead did very well with soft to medium pressure. With HB lead, the tip did not break easily. This pencil is a very comfortable diameter for long writing sessions.

The uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip 0.5 HB has a gel grip and advances the lead with a gentle shake rather than having to press a button. This significantly reduces the interruption of writing flow. Uni Nano lead is less inclined to break in it. Unfortunately, the shaker mechanism broke after only two weeks of modest use.

Pilot Opt. 0.5 has the shaker mechanism so lead advances easily. It is a bit heavier than many of the other pencils with a slightly wider diameter than most and has a soft grip. The clip is far and away the easiest to use. Just push the top against the barrel and the clip opens.

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 is another pencil with a shaker advance but this one locks so the lead won’t advance if jostled in a case or pocket. The metal sheathing for the tip is very long making it especially suited to precise lines and for use with rulers. It is paired with Uni Nano Dia 4B lead for a dark line.

The Pentel Icy 0.7mm with Pentel B or HB lead is a little more prone to breakage but it is inexpensive and available everywhere.

The Uni Kuru Toga 0.5mm has a unique tip that rotates the lead so that it maintains a consistent line shape. The tip gives a little to accomplish that feat and for me worked best with a light touch. I like it best with Uni Kuru Toga 2B lead.

The Ibis Art Sketch Mechanical pencil is unique. It comes with a flat 1.8mm 2B lead that puts down a very wide line.The lead is too solid to break and very smooth.

Ibis Sketch 1.8mm lead

Conclusions:

I already own four Autopoints, so there is no need for another. If I were to purchase a second pencil from one of the other models, it would be the DelGuard 0.7mm. In addition to lead not breaking easily, the grip and balance suit my hand very well. Uni Nano Dia lead is strong and a good match for it whether HB or 2B.

The shaker pens are very convenient to use. The Tombow MONO graph with its needle point is perfect for tiny writing and fine details because the lead tip is highly visible.

As for 0.5 and 0.7mm leads, I used Kuru Toga, Pentel, and uni Nano Dia. The latter wins as it breaks less easily in the 0.5 size than the others.

At 0.9mm, the Autopoint HB lead does not break at all. For those who are heavy-handed, this lead in an Autopoint pencil might be just the thing. The line is a bit soft but that for me has been an acceptable trade-off.

The erasers are very similar in size with the Pentel and the Autopoint being somewhat larger. I rarely use them and prefer a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser when needed.

Not a day goes by that I don’t use a mechanical pencil. It is an essential tool in my kit and a bargain at the price.

Teoh review of the Uni Kuru Toga.

Product Links:

Available at Amazon from which I might receive a tiny commission should you purchase through these links.

Autopoint All American 0.9

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 pastel, neon or gunmetal

uni Kuru Toga 0.5 colors or black

Pilot Opt. 0.5

Zebra DelGuard 0.7

Pentel icy 0.7 (newer model)

Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker 0.5

Ibis Art Sketch 1.8mm

Autopoint 0.9 HB lead

Pentel 0.7 HB and B leads

Uni Kuru  Toga 0.5 2B lead

uni Nano Dia 0.5 4B and 0.7 2B leads

Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser block or stick

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Brush Pen Ink Test

02/18/2020

Though not crucial for doodles or writing in a journal, permanence is a necessity for use with watercolors. Inspired by Teoh’s pen comparison, I tested some brush pens that contained their original inks.

After allowing the ink to dry for a minute or two, I applied water to the right side of the swatches to see which ones would move. Two were not waterproof. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it can be exploited to make shadows or to add color to objects. Those that are waterproof won’t mix with paint placed next to or over them. That opens up a wealth of possibilities.

The test paper is Bee 100% Cotton Watercolor Paper. Though I use brush pens more often in a sketchbook, watercolor paper provides a better surface to test a pen that will get used with paint.

For drawing, the Kuretake 630-8670 due to its brush-like nib was the best for my purposes. Unfortunately, it seems to have been discontinued.

The Kuretake Cambio is readily available and comes in different nib widths and colors which makes it a bit more interesting for my doodle notebooks. It also has excellent flow and coverage. When I need to purchase another brush pen, the Cambio will be the one.

From top to bottom: Kuretake ZiG Cambio Shu-Boku in vermilion,  Sakura Pigma Sumi Brush XSDK-TA, Sakura Pigma Brush sdk-br#49, Kuretake 630-8670, Pilot S-50FDF-B,  Tombow ABT N15.

A few of the brush pens tested are available at Amazon. Inkophile earns a tiny commission when you use these links to make your purchases.

Kuretake ZIG XO50-10B Cambio Medium Brush Pen, Black

Kuretake Zig XO50F-10B Cambio Fine Brush Pen, Black

Kuretake ZIG XO50-070B Cambio Shu-Boku Medium Brush Pen, Vermillion

Kuretake ZIG XO50-091B Cambio Usuzumi Medium Brush Pen, Gray

Sakura Pigma Black Paint Brush Pen (XSDK-BR-49)

Tombow Dual Brush Pen, N15 – Black, Brush and Fine Tip Marker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tuesday Tidbits: Pen, Paper And Ink Links

01/28/2020

José Naranja makes beautiful journals that he on occasion offers for sale. Oh, and I didn’t even make it through January without falling in love with an ink from Colorverse. What do you think of it?

From the archives, a photo of my mother’s jet beads, a silk flower, Rhodia pad, and ten pens. The red Lamy Safari looks out of place but it’s a good writer. In my rotation, how a pen writes is more important than its form. Which is more important to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sometimes A Rollerball Beats A Fountain Pen

01/21/2020

Yes, you read that right. Sometimes a fountain pen isn’t the best choice, especially when a pen might be idle for months at a time. Recently, I became acquainted with the Uni-ball Signo 307, a gel pen that suits such situations admirably.

The 307 was recommended for use with watercolors due to its permanence and saturated black color. Unlike some gel ink, the Signo does not produce globs that dry slowly. It is smooth, archival, and skip-free. According to Uni-ball, the 307 contains “Super Ink™ that protects against water, fade, and fraud.” In addition, rollerball pen tips do not fray or wear down on textured watercolor paper like felt tips do. The combination of permanence and durability makes the 307 a useful addition to my collection of watercolor tools. It is a bonus that it fills my need for a maintenance-free, always read to write pen.

It is comfortable in the hand, extremely light weight, and should tolerate normal use easily. It has been many years since I used a rollerball and it is good to see there has been improvement in the quality of the ink.

My 307 has a medium 0.7 nib that comes with black, red or blue ink. The kicker is that it requires absolutely no pressure to write a consistent line. My hand is very happy with it even if it is an inexpensive plastic pen. My fountain pens aren’t remotely jealous. The little stinkers have no fear of being replaced by a no-class upstart. Have they been raised right or what?

You don’t have to take my word for it. The Pen Addict posted a review in 2015 if you want to learn more from a trusted source.

On Amazon, I bought several to keep in locations where I write only on occasion but don’t always have a fountain pen handy. Note that there is an earlier model 207 that does not seem to have the same ink though it is a smooth writer. It does come in more colors if that is important for your needs.

Inkophile is an Amazon Affiliate. If you buy through these links, I get a tiny commission that will help finance new products to review.

Signo 0.7mm black ink

Signo 0.7mm assorted color set

Signo 0.5mm black ink

Signo 0.5mm assorted color set

Signo 307 Refills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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