Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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Fountain Pens Are Cool

11/02/2018

Last week, HisNibs.com shared a link to a Bloomberg article about fountain pen ink that stated, “Worldwide, fountain pen sales are forecast to total $1.15 billion this year, up 3 percent from 2017 and almost 31 percent from a decade ago, according to market-research company Euromonitor International.” Yes, fountain pens are cool and so is ink.

An inkophile needs a stable of pens to test and compare several colors at the same time. A five-pen rotation works well for me and for a reasonable investment, these are some of my favorite models.

  • Pilot Metropolitan – My three are good writers, but might seem slender in a large hand.
  • Pilot Kakuno – Mine has a good nib and adds virtually no weight to my kit.
  • Platinum Plaisir – Good nibs and attractive colors. Slightly larger than the Metropolitan.
  • Kaweco Sport – Modern pocket pen works well in small spaces. Nibs can be swapped.
  • TWSBI Eco – Small nib and simple design, but folks swear by the Eco. The Diamond 580 is my preferred model.
  • Lamy Safari – Sturdy build, but the grip is awkward for some users. Nibs can be good if finicky about ink. The Studio is my preferred model for an everyday pen.
  • Nemosine Singularity – Good build for the price. My italics work best with well-lubricated inks.
  • Conklin Duragraph – The stub nibs are smooth and juicy. I liked the design and performance well enough to purchase two.

Although I have owned a few inexpensive Chinese pens that wrote well enough, most brands have been too inconsistent to recommend. However, for the modest investment, they could be worth the gamble. Amazon and eBay offer quite a few, but you might have better luck at His Nibs.

The Pilot Metropolitan has emerged as my favorite fountain pen for ink testing because it cleans easily and flows well with every ink. The Duragraph with its wide nib is good for general writing so it will often get filled with an ink I would use for a journal or correspondence. The Kakuno or the Singularity come out to play when aqua ink is on the menu. The Nova Orange Plaisir is happy with orange ink or sometimes a fill of Noodler’s Lexington Gray. Either way, it makes my desk look cheerful.

My current pen rotation for testing ink includes

  • Silver Pilot Metropolitan – green ink
  • Aqua Pilot Metropolitan, Kakuno, or Nemosine Singularity – blue/aqua ink
  • Plaisir – red/orange ink
  • TWSBI – purple/burgundy ink
  • Duragraph – black/brown ink

That makes five pens for under $150. Or a mix of Metropolitans and Plasirs could be put together for less than $75. Add a selection of ink samples and you are on your way to being a collector. Now wasn’t that easy!

Though I have never needed to make a return, do purchase where that would be easy. Low-end pens can be imperfect by some accounts though I suspect that is less common with the pens on my list.

Most of the links are to Amazon from which Inkophile receives a tiny commission when you buy within 24 hours of clicking the link. Thank you for your support.

 

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A DIY Journal With Tomoe River Paper

03/02/2018

It is always satisfying to assemble a DIY journal for a new year. For 2018, I discovered a leather passport case that will accommodate two Traveler’s Notebooks. It makes a small and lightweight companion that takes up little space, but looks great and offers enough pages to keep the writer in me creative and content.

The notebooks come in diary, blank, grid and lined editions all with fountain pen friendly paper. I prefer the Traveler’s #005 with Tomoe River paper that Leigh Reyes introduced me to a few years ago. Tomoe takes fountain pen ink like a champ, but also holds up to a light watercolor application which makes it fine for small sketches or to add extra color to written pages.

The Sea Green (more teal than turquoise) cover from Banuce is eye-catching and just the right size for the Traveler’s Notebook. It has lots of slots for credit cards, stickers, and other bits and pieces. Another passport-sized cahier might fit, but the Moleskine does not. I might purchase the coral to house all those lists and task notes that clutter my desk. Two notebooks doesn’t seem excessive when it comes to being organized, does it?

The leather is smooth to the touch, but firm enough to give the journal a solid writing surface. Either a writing board or a piece of blotting paper will protect lower sheets, but Tomoe has rarely bled through in my experience. The cover folds back easily for notes on the go.

The snap clasp will keep everything firmly inside. The corners are slightly round, and the stitching consistent. The black edging offsets the striking color and gives the journal a finished look.

The only drawback is the over-sized stamp of the manufacturer’s name. It would have been more subtle centered on the lower edge of the back cover.

This is not a pricey item and durability is hard to predict, but it should last through the coming year. It arrived attractively packaged should you want to give it as a gift. Add a Traveler’s Notebook and any writer would be happy to fill the pages. For less than $15, the cover and notebook make quite the bargain.

Banuce passport covers here and here. Traveler’s Notebook with Tomoe River paper. J. Herbin Blotter Paper. Taroko Design Pencil Board. All links are to Amazon. When you purchase through my links, I get a tiny commission but every penny helps keep this Inkophile supplied with new items to review.

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A Fountain Pen In “Bad Taste”

01/20/2018

The Kaweco Perkeo is an entry-level fountain pen that comes in four color combinations. The “Bad Taste” model is black and a warm pink, the color of Rohrer & Klinger Fernambuk or J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier. I couldn’t resist the name. It’s kind of cool and raunchy at the same time. And an good wake-up call on a gloomy winter’s day.

“Come play with me! I’ve got trouble written all over my sleek body and colorful cap.”

Renowned for quality craftsmanship, Kaweco has been in business since 1883 so they know a thing or two about pens. The lightweight, matte plastic Perkeo is solidly made and comfortable in the hand. It is long enough to use without the cap and well-balanced enough to be used with it. The faceted snap cap is designed to rest solidly on a flat surface so it won’t roll away. All and all, it’s a well-thought-out model that should prove a sturdy companion for years to come.

The stainless steel, iridium tipped nib is stiff, but will give slightly with pressure. It puts down a consistent line thanks to its steady flow. The fine glides well with a little feedback on Rhodia paper. On junk paper, it is a little less smooth. My Lamy Safari nibs might glide a little more easily, but I prefer the grip on the Perkeo. The Pilot Kakuno is comparable in most ways except flow. The Perkeo might be a bit more controlled, but that could just be slight differences in the nibs that only someone who is incredibly picky would notice.

With a light touch, I found the Perkeo pleasant to use on any paper whether for sketching or writing. It scores bonus points for an instant start following a month of no use. That’s a significant advantage for casual writers.

The black and pink model seemed to fight with many colors of ink. However, a stroke of luck paired it with my favorite non-black drawing ink, Noodler’s Lexington Gray, and that settled its future. Not that Lex Gray hasn’t had many suitors, but the Perkeo makes an especially attractive mate and offers a very enjoyable nib for the ink.

The Perkeo uses Kaweco cartridges and converters though International carts should work as well.

Who knew a pen in “Bad Taste” would be such a find?

Your purchase from Amazon helps support An Inkophile’s Blog. Thank you!

Kaweco Perkeo “Bad Taste” fine nib

Cartridges in grey and black

Kaweco Converter

Noodler’s Lexington Gray

The Well-Appointed Desk has a review, too.

 

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Review: Spectrum Noir ArtLiner Pens

10/15/2017

Spectrum Noir sent a generous supply of ArtLiner pens several months ago and they have been good tools for doodles and lettering. However, for a different perspective, my daughter Tessa, the artist in the family, agreed to take them for a spin and write about her experience. Please enjoy her art and comments.

The Spectrum Noir ArtLiner 6 piece set is a nice addition if you do art in ink.

I primarily used the 005 (finest tip) and some of the 01 (second finest) along with the brush pen for the thicker strokes. The strong point of this set is the variation in the size of the tips. I will say that it wasn’t an opaque, true black, but particularly for the finer lines, I don’t mind. It just depends on your preference. The crowning piece was the 005, used all throughout her skin. It was a lot of fun for detail, and is a pen I will definitely use in the future. I did notice some build up of ink, which is noticeable in certain lighting (I believe this is from the brush pen, and can be seen around her eyes), so that was a bit strange, but didn’t bother me. It might even be an asset to some.

I’m curious to use them more, and I do think the pens (even if not all) will make their way into my usual tools. I’m excited to see what else I can do with them.

For the mixed-media piece, I used a combination of the black, finer point ArtLiner pens and the brush pen for the line work. The coloring of the face was done with Prismacolor colored pencils. The hair was done with ArtLiner’s color brush pen set (and the black as above) with a combination of the dark blue, pink and purple. They draw almost like they’re running out of ink when tilted, which could be beneficial to some. I don’t have a background in painting, so it’s not my area of expertise. Regardless, they are fun to use and the colors are really nice.

Images courtesy of Tessa Maurer. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

Teoh Yi Chie reviewed these art pens on YouTube. The Art Gear Guide has a video review, too.

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If You’ve Ever Wanted To Try A Pilot Kaküno

07/28/2017

The Pilot Kaküno is one of my favorite bargain fountain pens. The white barrel with a soft blue cap is just right for a number of blue inks and looks rather sassy with orange. Pink and magenta are attractive colors for it, too. It writes well and is the most lightweight pen in my collection. That is all to the good.

While perusing Amazon for other items, I discovered the blue Kaküno has earned an Amazon’s Choice ranking and is currently listed at less that $10 for either the fine or the medium nib. I ordered mine with a three-pack of CON-50 converters though the pen comes with a cartridge that can be refilled via pipette or syringe.

Hey, what’s not to like about a nib that winks at you!

 

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Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue Ink

06/05/2017

Blackstone delivers beautiful, saturated color with its Barrier Reef Blue ink. My 30 ml bottle came from Anderson Pens and at $8.50 it was a steal.

Blackstone ink hails from Australia and is available in nalgene bottles that are incredibly sturdy. I’ve the same bottles to decant vintage inks preserving them for years. I’m interested in ink, not the packaging, so this is just right for me.

Don’t expect any water resistance. Do expect rich blue that swings from a near purple to a deep, medium blue depending on the paper. The red component can fade as the ink dries which makes it a chameleon of sorts. No feathering on good paper. There were some rough outlines on cheap copy paper, but that was only noticeable under magnification.

The Conklin Duragraph 1.1 mm nib has a juicy flow, but Barrier Reef handled it well. Lubrication is average and should suit most pens. The wide swath of ink took a few seconds to dry, but not unreasonably long. This ink might be a good match for a dry writer, but none of my pens qualify for that test.

After a month of use, I am happy with the results especially in my Quo Vadis Plan & Note. The color even received some nice compliments from family members, something rare for a blue ink and high praise indeed. That glint of red makes Blackstone Barrier Reef Blue intriguing and at the price point, a decidedly cheap thrill.

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About Pen Reviews And Reviewers

03/16/2017

Pen reviews and reviewers is a hot topic at Fountain Pen Network. There are a daunting 111 posts so far, but since I write pen reviews from time to time, it seemed worthwhile to get a fresh perspective on what folks want to know about prospective pen purchases. Whoa, did I get an earful along with confirmation you can’t please everyone or even anyone some times. How can a post about using a pen be anything other than subjective? But some folks want specs down to the millimeter, objective comparisons to other pens and more.

For the record, I have never been paid for a review. (Wish I had!) Some pens have been given to me, but most were purchased with my own funds. Most of the inks and paper mentioned have been purchases or gifts from pen friends. (Lucky me!) There have been exceptions, but that is always noted.

Since the writing experience is what intrigues me most, my posts are slanted in that direction. However, the aesthetics of a pen are well-described by images whether mine or those of a manufacturer, retailer or another reviewer. Look to those for accuracy. I do.

One caveat. Even machine-made nibs can vary. Where I have been able to write with more than one pen from a single model, the nibs are different. They aren’t identical in terms of flow and smoothness. To be sure, ink and paper play a part in the way a pen writes. But apples to apples, nibs are different. My fab nib may be a stinker for you or vice versa. So be prepared.

I do expect a fountain pen to perform reasonably well out of the box. If a nib needs tuning or the flow needs adjustment just to be useful, the manufacturer has failed. Quality control may be a lost art, but that doesn’t make it acceptable to foist on consumers worthless products. Reviewing them is unrewarding, but on occasion necessary.

So there you have it. The FPN thread continues to gather comments though it has shifted to candy bars for some of them. Heh. Really!

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