Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Nemosine Singularity Stub – First Look

08/29/2015

Review notes for the Nemosine Singularity 0.8 stub.

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Two Stub Nib Pens That Were Almost Created Equal

08/07/2015

Recently, a TWSBI Diamond 580 1.1 Stub arrived to join my wide nib collection. The other stock nib model I’ve purchased in the past year is the Conklin Duragraph 1.1 Stub. How do they compare?

Although the pens look very different, both retail for $55 and discounts can be found on the Duragraph. They are the same length capped though the TWSBI weighs slightly more. Uncapped, the TWSBI is longer. Neither needs posting and both are well balanced without the cap. Build quality is good for both and better than expected for the price. Either should last a very long time.

Essentially the pens are comparable except for the filling mechanism. The 580 is a piston filler while the Duragraph is a cartridge/converter filler. The latter screws in which is uncommon and will help keep the converter properly seated. However, the piston does hold more ink – not a bad thing for a wide nib pen.

The nibs on both models are sold as 1.1mm stubs. Neither has tipping material and the nibs are formed from steel. Both models are smooth though the TWSBI has a very modest amount of feedback. The stealth nib on the amber Duragraph has even less feedback. Perhaps that comes from the black coating, but it is minimal and should be irrelevant to most any user. The uncoated steel Duragraph nib has virtually no feedback if that is your preference.

The corners of the Duragraph are more rounded than the 580 and it has a stronger ink flow. Because the nib is a true stub, it can tolerate some rotation without reducing that flow. Lines do not suffer from missing areas even when writing rapidly. The line quality in the images suffered slightly due to the pen needing a refill – not from poor flow. For some combinations of ink and paper, the flow may be too strong to dry in a reasonable amount of time. If you like a juicy nib, this one will do nicely.

The 580 nib has sharper corners and produces a slightly more crisp line. Consequently, the nib has a smaller sweet spot and does not tolerate rotation to the same degree that the Duragraph does. In other words, to achieve consistent lines, the nib needs to be more dead-on. It has less flow than the Duragraph, but that means more inks and papers should work well together. It isn’t lacking flow – it’s just not as wet as the Duragraph. The line is wider by approximately 0.25mm. For someone new to stub nibs or for someone who applies too much pressure, this nib might dig into the paper, something easily resolved by using a lighter touch.

I was asked which is the better pen. It isn’t that one is better, but they are different. In the hand, the TWSBI feels chunkier or maybe it is more solid. The Duragraph looks more traditional and has a larger nib. The shape of the grip fits my hand very well which makes it suitable for many hours of use. When writing for my own purposes, the cracked ice Duragraph does the job admirably. It glides across the paper and has become my standard against which all other stock stubs are measured. When writing correspondence with a bit of italic flair, the TWSBI would be the one. My daughter prefers my writing with the amber Duragraph and Noodler’s Antietam. Perhaps her artist’s eye sees something I don’t. However, the images show little difference. If you want to try out a stub, either will do.

Time for a caveat. The two Duragraphs arrived ready for work. The 580 had an issue that took a day on FPN to sort and resolve. Since TWSBI has had some trouble in the past with pen parts breaking, I was reluctant to tinker with it. But with suggestions from FPNers, I was able to make the pen work without causing damage. The bottom line with a TWSBI is don’t over-tighten it as cracks may develop. Customer service is good about making things right, but it’s better to proceed with caution and never need a repair or a replacement part.

Remember that nib grinding, whether by machine or by hand, is a delicate undertaking. The most minute variation can turn a nib into a stinker. Consider that should your experience with these pens differ from mine. Also, read the seller’s return policy in case you get a damaged pen. I ran into a very restrictive one recently and was put off by it for future pen purchases.

If these pens appeal to you, the Duragraphs were purchased from Pen Chalet and the TWSBI was purchased from Jet Pens though a number of retailers stock them. If your order doesn’t meet the minimum to qualify for free shipping, add an ink that shades well and you’ll be good to go.

Oh, if you wondered about the paper, that’s a Midori Traveler’s Notebook Grid Insert #002 sent by Jet Pens for an upcoming paper review. The Celtic i-clips holding the pages open were purchased at Amazon.

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TWSBI Eco Review

07/23/2015

If you haven’t ordered a TWSBI Eco, this review might make your decision easier. Dan Smith does a great job of presenting the pen’s attributes along with his impressions. Would I be giving something away if I said the Lamy Safari finally has a true competitor?

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A Paperchase Notebook Makes Some Inky Friends

07/05/2015

When it works well with fountain pen ink, Paperchase is just right. When it doesn’t, it fares no worse than Moleskine and with less bleed-through. At the price point, it is a viable alternative and with many inks, it is a better paper for clean, clear writing.

For testing purposes, I purchased the Purple Metallic Notebook (7.5 x 5.75″). It has a textured softcover, rounded corners, and sewn binding that holds 128 pages/64 sheets. This is a no-frills cahier style notebook with only a small, discrete logo printed on the back. Count me a fan of its minimalist but colorful design.

The off-white paper has a smooth finish and pale gray lines, a good combination for fountain pen use. Line width and line color are identical to Moleskine while the paper is slightly less yellow. Half the inks tested produced clean lines and an unusual degree of shading. The other half experienced some uneven outlines though little feathering along the fibers that paper like Moleskine can produce. Bleed-through was evident with some inks, though for the most part only the occasional dot.

Worthy of note is that most inks dried slowly so lefties beware.

Show-through or ghosting depended on ink flow and was evident with all inks tested. Some inks produced too little to be offensive especially when paired with a fine nib. With thin paper, this is common and frankly I don’t mind the look of it. Wide, wet nibs deposited too much ink making the backs of pages less useful. Free-flowing inks may produce the same result. To demonstrate how unpredictable I found this problem, Sailor Tokiwa-Matsu and Iroshizuku tsuki-yo in Pelikan italics exhibited more show-through than Diamine Dark Brown in a Platinum #3776 Music Nib. Platinum Pigment Ink showed through the least even with a very wet broad nib. That does not hold true on Moleskine where the same pen and ink made a mess with both feathering and bleed-through.

Confusing? This is one of those situations where matching ink, pen and paper could make Paperchase work well for you. Or you can take a more relaxed perspective and just write with whatever is at hand. Most of my journaling will never get read so it doesn’t matter whether a page has marks from the other side that show through. As long as I am writing, all is well.

For convenience I often carry a green metallic Lamy EF loaded with Noodler’s Black. The duo performed perfectly in the Paperchase journal. The ink did not bleed through so both sides of the paper were usable and since black is highly visible even in low light conditions, I could write anywhere. Thus all of my off-site requirements were met. In addition, the Lamy barrel is a pleasing contrast to the purple notebook cover. Attractive tools do tend to trigger my creative urges and that is a significant plus.

Along with the notebook, I picked up a packet of three larger cahiers (8.5 x 5.75″), one blank, one lined and one printed with a pattern. I couldn’t resist the foldaway bag in the Secret Garden pattern and put it to work immediately. It travels in a diminutive carrying case with a clip that will make it a steady companion for shopping excursions or a carryall for my doodle kit and journals. I managed to stuff it with purchases from two shops plus my daily notebook and writing instruments. Not too shabby at all.

Despite the iffy performance with a few inks, I will continue to purchase Paperchase notebooks. The form suits me very well and the ease of buying it at a local store along with the reasonable price, makes it a worthwhile addition to my paper wardrobe.

All of the Paperchase items were purchased at Staples and are available in several patterns. The metallic notebook was $4 and the 3-pack of larger notebooks was $8. Even my frugal budget monitor cannot frown at those prices, and if he does, he will get laughed at to be sure.

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J. Herbin Stormy Grey, A Simple Review

06/17/2015

Any questions?

Oh, bottle courtesy of Karen Doherty at Exaclair, who thankfully insists on feeding my ink and paper addiction.

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Inks That Cause Problems Including Negative Opinions

05/01/2015

Recently a Tweet about ink caught my attention. In 140 characters, a pen blogger announced he was ending his use of a well-known brand of ink. Apparently a bad experience with one ink means all inks in the line are bad. He may have had other bad experiences, but only referenced one in the Tweet. Certainly, no one wants to damage a pen over the use of an ink. Unless mold-contaminated, nearly every ink has its place and pen mate. That should make it pretty darned hard to condemn an entire company over one ink.

Not to condemn any brand, but I’ve had problems of one sort or another with Diamine, J. Herbin, Private Reserve, DeAtramentis, Rohrer & Klingner, Parker Penman, Iroshizuku and Noodler’s. (Note that Diamine, J. Herbin, and Noodler’s are on my short list of favorite brands.) In most cases, the issue was with a particular color. A few inks degraded over time while others stained vintage pens. Some grew mold though that could have been contamination not attributable to the manufacturer.

R&K is a special case since the ink isn’t a problem, but the caps on my bottles don’t seal well. That has produced evaporation and messy leaks. I haven’t purchased a bottle in two years, so that issue may have been resolved.

Sure, some of my pens have been damaged by ink. Two Esterbrooks with green barrels sport stains acquired on my watch. Since that happened to two different models with the same type of plastic body and with two different brands of ink, the material might be the cause rather than the ink.

So here’s the deal. Highly saturated inks can cause pen staining and other forms of pen damage. Some inks have bad reputations for good reason. But if you use one of them, you “takes your chances.” Is it worth it? If you love an ink’s color or properties, then go for it, but in the right pen, please.

Reviews and opinions will vary, but it’s the lack of context and balance to those Twitter remarks with which I would take issue. If I have been remiss in this regard in the past, I apologize. There are rarely no positives. People who are sincerely trying to make pen, ink, and paper products that expand our choices deserve our support and sometimes a measure of constructive criticism – not condemnation or company death wishes.

Despite it all, I use every brand though not every color. If it makes me happy, the ink gets a mate and goes to work. And that is what enjoying fountain pens is all about.

Inkophile’s Guidelines for Ink Use

  • Pricey pens get low saturated inks.
  • Inks with dicey reputations go in cheap pens or a dip pen with a feed.
  • Saturated inks go in converter pens.
  • Vintage pens get low saturated inks especially Waterman and some J. Herbin colors.
  • Pens with sacs get low saturated inks and/or very frequent cleaning.
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Diamine Bilberry Ink

02/11/2015

Recently, Jet Pens sent Diamine Bilberry for review. It’s a very dark purple-blue ink that needs good lighting to show off its highly saturated color. In low light, it looks black. Does that make it a chameleon?

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