Colorverse Season 4: Able & Miss Baker + Hayabusa Ink Review

Before anything else, a big shout out of appreciation to Pen Chalet, for sending us inks to review! Pen Chalet was generous and sent us the inks at no charge, but we promise the review below is unbiased and our own uninfluenced* opinions.

* Except maybe by the food coma that followed our dinner gathering

For those unfamiliar with the Colorverse brand, each set contains two bottles, a big one (65ml)and a small (15ml) one. For this review we’re taking a look at two sets: Able + Miss Baker, and Hayabusa + Hayabusa Glistening. Able + Miss Baker is part of Colorverse’s Season 4 offering, Trailblazer in Space. Hayabusa is a Tokyo 2018 Special Edition.

Packaging

Inky Dispositions

Franz: Here goes our first ink review! =) For a period of time now, I’ve been intrigued with the ink bottles of Colorverse. Their bottle shape is very unique as well as their decision to ship two different size bottles and different ink colors. I also really love their outer space themes.

In this review, I only got to test the Able and the Hayabusa (non Glistening). Oh by the way, I kept referring to it as Habuyasa. Good thing I spelled it right in my sample below. Anyway, back to the ink review please.

Able: Color- mossy green; Saturation- low; Shading- high; Wetness- dry; Dry time- fast; Overall thoughts- The green color is very nice to look at however it is too light. The italic writing is from a wet, medium size Pelikan M800 nib but it doesn’t look like it below.

Hayabusa: Color- violet (more of in between violet and purple); Saturation- high; Shading- low; Wetness- medium to high; Dry time- medium; Overall thoughts- I’m loving this color! I don’t have too many purple inks but this definitely hits it for me. The difference in Hayabusa’s lubrication is noticeably different against the Able.

Ms. Baker: As I stated earlier, I was not able to test this ink but I was able to compare ink swatches and the two ladies’ writing samples. I would describe the color a light hot pink. I only own 3 pink inks (Monteverde Kindness Pink, Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji, and Kosumosu) but they don’t match Ms. Baker at all.

I’m happy to have been able to try out inks from the Colorverse brand. I will look into getting more samples of their growing ink line up.

Colorverse Able on 52gsm Tomoe River paper in a Musubi diary notebook
Colorverse Hayabusa on 52gsm Tomoe River paper in a Musubi diary notebook

Katherine: First off, I think the Colorverse bottles and packaging are adorable. There are even little stickers! But, that Able label is misleading. It looks solidly grey, but as you can see in our swatches, is solidly green. Perhaps a muddy green, but definitely green.

Packaging aside, the inks are well behaved — flow well and wash out easily (I did splatter Able and Miss Baker on some clothing and my face before dinner over the weekend. It washed off easily and no one looked at me funny as I ate my fancy multicourse meal). My one gripe is that Able is really, really light in most nibs — even wetter ones like Pelikan nibs. The highlight of trying the three for me is that Hayabusa Glistening both sheens and shimmers — a purple ink with green sheen and gold shimmer, so much fun!

Overall, I really like Hayabusa (I’m a sucker for purple ink) and Miss Baker. I like the overall color of Able, but found it too light except when in a narrow wet nib (the FCI in my writing samples).

Paper: 52gsm Tomoe River in a Seven Seas Crossfield journal notebook

Pam:  My favorite color of the three is Colorverse Hayabusa. It’s a fantastic purple color.  It reminds me of the Montblanc Psychedelic Purple.  There are subtle differences between the two; Hayabusa is a cooler purple (more blue undertones) where as Psychedelic Purple is a warmer purple (with more red undertones.) Both have a subtle gold sheen, although, the sheen on Hayabusa can appear more green in certain lights.  I find Hayabusa to be a great purple ink that has great readability that behaves very well in pens.  Hayabusa was easily the most saturated of the inks and performed extremely well in F and EF nibs.  My architect nib is particularly dry so this saturated ink has more shading without losing it’s vibrancy.

Miss Baker was a pleasant surprise for me.  As someone who passed on Sailor Peche and sakura-inspired pink hues for ink, Miss Baker was surprisingly pleasant to behold.  I particularly liked it with the Sailor 21k F nib, which is the wettest of my three nibs.  My bias towards saturation is obvious, but I can’t deny that Miss Baker is capable of some great shading.  Unfortunately, I don’t see myself using Miss Baker often due to the softness of the color.  I am not sure if I would find a page of Miss Baker to be highly readable, or if it’s a color that would capture my attention in the margins in a sea of black print.

I will admit that I was expecting Able to be a gray ink, so my disappointment on this particular color may overshadow any positive qualities that this ink may have.  Able is NOT gray.  It’s a dull green-gray (more green).  It lacks vibrancy of a green like Montblanc Irish Green or even Bungubox Norwegian Wood or the interest of a green-variant like Ku-jaku or Bungbox Dandyism.  Able is just a blah-green.  If there is any gray in the ink, it just took away the vibrancy and readability of the ink.  It’s the least saturated ink of the three and is a pale ghost of it’s already zombied-green self in my EF and dry architect nibs.  If anything, I feel mislead by the packaging and disappointed by the color.

Overall, I found all the Colorverse inks to be wet in flow and really easy to clean out.  I will definitely be adding some Colorverse inks to my collection in the near future. Thank you again Pen Chalet!  My order will be in your queue soon!

Paper: Filofax notebook.
Paper: (insert here, wait for Pam)
Paper: (insert here). A comparison of different purples side by side. Lavender Purple is much redder.

Ink Circles and Comparisons

Paper: Rhodia 80g Dot Pad. Able is definitely not grey, but is a pretty unique light muddy green. Able is a bright pink, but not similar to anything we had on hand. Katherine suspects it might be close to J Herbin’s Bouquet D’ Antan.

Paper: Rhodia 80g Dot Pad. Hayabusa’s closest match is Waterman Tender Purple, they even have the same greenish sheen.

And for the shimmer fiends, here’s a close up of Hayabusa Glistening. Unfortunately I couldn’t get the sheen and shimmer to show in any writing samples.

We received these inks free of charge for the purposes of this review. We were not compensated monetarily for our review. Everything you’ve read here is our own opinions.

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Opus 88 Koloro (Blue, Medium Nib)

Before anything else, a big shout out of appreciation to Goldspot Pens, and Tom for providing this Opus 88 Koloro fountain pen for review. Goldspot Pens is an online shop for pens, and stationery goods and they are an authorized retailer for diverse brands that we love!

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: Like many, this pen ain’t my thing aesthetically. I’m not a big fan of the solid matte blue paired with the shinier blue green — the two colors are too close for me (I also can’t stand denim on denim… or blue shirts with blue denim, but that’s besides the point). The demonstrator version looks neat though — but once again… this is all personal preference. 🙂

Pam:  The demonstrator version is very striking, however, I am relieved to see different colors for the Koloro.  All I see on Instagram is the demonstrator version! The slight translucency of the blue makes the material more interesting than a matte plastic.  That said, why not just maintain the same material throughout, like the demonstrator?  Lastly, the demonstrator version of the pen is pretty modern, and I wish the clip would reflect that.  But then again, I am heavily influenced by the Lamy 2000 clip.

Franz: The Koloro is an interesting looking pen. The acrylic parts of the barrel and cap has a cloudy transparency and allows me to see inside with a bit of light behind. The dark blue ebonite is quite spectacular to look at and hold (and smell). When you look closely, you’ll notice that there are black bits in the ebonite and gives it a sandblasted effect. And finally, the dome shape of the cap’s finial makes me smile for some reason. =)

In the Hand: Opus 88 Koloro (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Opus 88 Koloro (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

Pen Details

In the box: The Koloro is shipped in a box with foam cutouts. An eyedropper is supplied along with the needed instructions for filling and using the pen. The presentation is very nice.
The Koloro is mostly an acrylic pen with blue ebonite accents on the cap. and blind cap on the barrel.
A close up of the blue ebonite on the cap. The blue-green acrylic in the middle is translucent.

 

The Business End

Katherine: The pen takes a #5 Jowo nib, which is nice. The one that came with this pen is smooth and well adjusted out of the box. I love that this takes a #5 though, since it seems like it would be a good candidate for frankenpenning with a vintage flex nib and nibs that fit aren’t hard to find.

Pam:  At first, the nib felt really dry and was unpleasant to write with.  However, a special feature of the pen is the shut off valve.  After we opened up the valve and saturated the feed, it was a much more pleasant writer.  (Thank you Katherine & Franz!) The #5 Jowo nib performed consistently and as expected.

Franz: There is a taper to the section that makes the #5 nib size suitable however, a part of me wishes it came with a #6. That’s just me though. As for the writing experience, it was smooth as can be and wrote nicely.

I noticed that the medium nib on the Koloro seems finer than my usual medium Jowo nibs. So I took a loupe and compared it to my other medium #5 Jowo nib. The tipping was slightly smaller/finer than on my Franklin-Christoph Model 45. Of course, this is only from one Opus 88 nib unit but I can’t help but think that since these are Taiwanese pens, could it be that their nib line widths are more towards the Japanese size?

Franz’s writing sample on a Hippo Noto Pocket A5 notebook with 68 gsm Tomoe River cream paper.

 

Write It Up

Katherine: The section is maybe a smidge slimmer than perfect, but overall it’s a comfortable pen that’s well balanced in my hand (unposted). I found it comfortable for long writing sessions, but my one gripe is that once the feed runs dry (because I forgot to open the knob and wrote for a while) it takes a while for the ink to make its way down. When loosened, it’s great… when I forget, it can be a little annoying, though the pen does keep writing, just more dry.

Pam:  I had no problem with the width of the pen.  I found it to be pretty comfortable actually.  The threads and the mild step was a bit sharp for me and had some bite in the tender area where thumb meets palm. It wasn’t painful, but it was very noticable.  I had to loosen my grip and readjust multiple times during the prolonged writing session.

Franz: I wrote in my journal with the Koloro for a good chunk of time and I did not experience any fatigue. I do prefer writing with the cap posted but it’s perfectly usable even when unposted due to the length of the section. It was my first time to use a Japanese-style eyedropper and as long as the blind cap was unscrewed, the ink flows as it should.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: Sorry, three cap turns is just too many. I take a lot of stop and go notes… and this just doesn’t work. Otherwise, the clip feels strong and is maybe a smidge tight, but seems secure and comfortable.

Pam:  I couldn’t use this pen at work since it took far too many turns to uncap to be a good EDC at work.  It is definitely a 2 hand operation.  If that’s not a hinderance for you, the clip did keep the pen secure in my pen case.

Franz: Like the ladies above, uncapping the Koloro took a while and with a work setting of having the need to constantly cap and uncap, definitely was an irritation. As long as one doesn’t have the need for quick deploy, the Koloro is a great pen to use on the daily. I actually liked using this pen while taking notes on a conference call. The build of the pen seems sturdy and can withstand being jostled around in a pocket or a bag. The eyedropper filling system allows the pen to have a little over 2 milliliters of ink for a lot of writing.

The photo below shows the Koloro’s ink chamber and eyedropper’s plunger rod slightly pulled back. The section does have an O-ring which prevents ink from leaking out.

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: I’m really excited that a modern maker has chosen to build a pen with the Japanese Eyedropper mechanism! This pen doesn’t do it for me aesthetically, but it’s solidly made and writes well — I can’t wait to see what else Opus 88 comes up with!

Pam:  The price is fair for what you get in this pen.  If you like the aesthetic, want a relatively novel eyedropper with shut off valve, and a reliable nib, you will be hard pressed to find a better alternative.  This pen is not for me mostly due to personal preferences, however, as an introduction to Opus 88, it’s a solid opening volley.  Bring it on Opus 88!

Franz: One thing I would say that’s a negative (for me) is because the Koloro’s barrel is acrylic, I don’t get the warm ebonite feel while writing. I only have a few ebonite pens but the warm feel is something that I’ve come to expect. That’s just my personal thing though.

The Koloro is a fantastic pen to use as it has a lot going for it (fairly large size, Japanese eyedropper filling system, different color choices) and as Pam mentioned, it’s at a fair price. It is a pen I find myself using a lot for my journal time whenever I do get the time.

 

Once again, thank you to Goldspot Pens for providing this pen for review. If you’re interested in the Koloro, check out the other options on their site, here.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy Safari, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Opus 88 Koloro*, Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M805
Posted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy Safari, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Opus 88 Koloro*, Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M805
Unposted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Lamy Safari, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Opus 88 Koloro*, Platinum 3776, Lamy 2000, and Pelikan M805

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

We received this pen free of charge for the purposes of this review. We were not compensated monetarily for our review. Everything you’ve read here is our own opinions.

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June 2018 Pen & Ink Pairing

Katherine: I didn’t have a pen and ink pairing for June — I had 30! I kept up with the #30inks30days challenge on Instagram and had quite a lot of fun.I repurposed the (empty) June page from my 2017 Hobonichi to track my progress. I own more ink samples than I’d care to admit, and I had a lot of fun trying new ones and revisiting old favorites. I also own more pens than I can use regularly, and this gave me a chance to get some of them inked up and writing!

 

Pam: As luck would have it, ’tis the season to reveal an ink in my stash that I have been hoarding.  It has patiently waited for a pen-mate.  Thankfully, my minty dreams have come true with the Vanness edition of the Franklin Christoph Model 45 which is the perfect color match to Papier de Plume’s Lake Michigan Summer. The minty color sings of happy summer days as well as the soothing waters of a lake shore in both ink and pen.

I have typically avoided minty inks due to the a possible brightness that detracts from the readability of an ink.  I don’t have any problem with this ink.  It’s dark and well saturated to make reading a breeze. The comfort of the model 45 rivals that of my Pilot Prera which is practically a daily carry at work.  Not only is the ink and pen pairing a dream come true for me; I can’t imagine a better color than the minty Vanness edition Model 45.

 

Franz: Hellooo BLUE-tiful! I have had this M800 Blue o’ blue for a while now and figured to ink it up just for practicing and improving my novice italic calligraphy skills. The Blue o’ blue (Blue over blue) was a Special Edition pen by Pelikan in 2010 and I was fortunate to have gotten this pen early in my collecting days. The translucency of this material never ceases to amaze me. #ilovebluepens

I also inked up the M800 Blue o’ blue to match with the Maruzen Athena Eternal Blue ink that I have been growing to like. The Eternal Blue ink has shading that mimics the Blue o’ blue’s material. The double broad italic nib is a fitting nib for this ink because it helps bring out the shading even more.

 

Pam’s writing sample
Franz’s writing sample
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Benu Chameleon (Charming Chameleon, Medium Nib)

We want to thank Lisa and Mike Vanness of Vanness Incorporated for lending us this Benu Pen Chameleon fountain pen for review. And sorry it has taken a while Lisa! The Vanness family has had a pen shop in Little Rock, Arkansas since 1938 and is celebrating 80 years of being in business. Check their store out if you can. They also travel to pen shows in the United States and one of the shows that we will see them at is the upcoming San Francisco Pen Show in August.

The opinions in this review are always our own and we were not compensated (monetarily or otherwise) for this review.

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: This pen is… very purple. The unique shape of many of the Benu pens has intrigued me since I started to see them on Instagram. Many thanks to Vanness for lending us one so I could finally try one! And such a cool purple material too. Off the bat, I suspect the looks of this pen will be very polarizing — you either love it or you don’t. Personally, I like the galaxy-ish purple material and the unique shape. However, I couldn’t get the triangular sides to line up, which bugged me (I could also just be incompetent EDIT: Franz confirmed — I’m incompetent and it lines up for him).

Pam:  It’s a very unique pen in terms of aesthetics.  The material is “loud” to me but the shape is intriguing.  It’s not often that we get to see a triangular shape in the world of fountain pens.  I will admit that I am not particularly fond of the material as I find it very distracting and detracts from the cool shape of the pen.

Franz: Yep, this Benu Chameleon pen definitely has a distinctive design. It reminds me of the crystal that Superman used to create his Fortress of Solitude except that it’s blue and purple (blurple) and not a glowing green. Hmm… I hope that wasn’t too geeky of a reference. Hehehe… =P

 

In the Hand: Benu Chameleon (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam
In the Hand: Benu Chameleon (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, and Pam

 

Details

Benu’s packaging is pretty nice and simple. The white box seems perfect for the colorful pens they make. An instruction booklet also comes with the package.
A close up of the Charming Chameleon’s finish.

 

The Business End

Katherine: It contains a Schmidt nib, which is perfectly usable, but not particularly memorable. It’s on the smaller side though — so I bet you might be able to swap a vintage nib into it (though I didn’t try, so proceed at your own risk!).

Pam:  I do find the Schmidt nib to be small relative to the rest of the pen.  It’s not ideal for my angle of writing with this particular set up.  It puts my hand closer to the paper than I would like it.  The Schmidt nib is a reliable nib, writing smoothly and well right out of the box.

Franz: This Chameleon has a medium steel nib and is smooth out of the box. The smaller #5 nib complements the taper of the barrel and section nicely. This nib wrote nicely as it should and I liked it. I believe Benu pens currently have F, M, and B as nib size choices.

As Katherine alluded to, you can “gently” pull out the nib and feed to swap a similarly sized nib. Please remember that any modification you make to any pen may void any warranty there may be.

 

Write It Up 

Katherine: When I uncapped it, I was initially worried about the size of the step from section to barrel, but the section is long enough and I hold my pen far enough forward that it wasn’t an issue at all. The section is on the narrower side, and the pen is on the heavier side, which generally isn’t a combination I love. This pen was no different — usable, but not a pen that feels perfect in hand.

Pam:  The triangular shape surprisingly doesn’t detract from the comfort during the writing experience, however, the step does for me.  It’s not very sharp, but that does depend on how heavily you grip the pen.  I was left with some indentations on my hands based on my typical grip.  I do think Benu created this pen for those with a traditional grip in mind.

The cap does post rather deeply and the material is light enough that it doesn’t add too significant of a weight to the back end of the pen.  Posting the pen may be beneficial for those with the larger hands.  I found it did upset my balance, especially since the nib is relatively small and it threw off my typical writing angle slightly.

Franz: I comfortably wrote with this pen unposted for a long time and it’s due to the longer than usual section. My grip ends up on the threads and they are not sharp at all. Posted, the Chameleon definitely becomes longer. And I really love the notches on the barrel to keep the cap in place. I surprisingly prefer writing with the Chameleon unposted.

Unposted, one can see the notch on the barrel for the cap to latch on to. The longer section allows for the step to be further back.
Posted, the cap covers about an inch of the barrel and is very secure.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: Upside: it doesn’t roll. Downside: it doesn’t have a clip. It takes two turns to uncap, but they’re two wonderfully smooth turns.

Pam:  The pen did well in my Nock Sinclair case for EDC-ness, however, it wasn’t user friendly for me at work being clipless.  On the flip side, it was quick to uncap and the nib performed admirably well on crappy office paper. The cap does post relatively securely for those quick notes.  My biggest hesitation with this being my EDC is that the material is also quite loud which made me hesitate bringing it out in the hospital setting.

Franz: In the workplace, I used the Chameleon either on the go stored in my shirt pocket or on my desk. I found that this pen is the sit-down-and-write kind due to the number of cap turns (2 and a quarter), as well as the facets that made sure the pen did not roll away. The medium nib wrote nicely on the copier paper and was all around nice.

This pen is also fun-ny because my coworkers thought I was holding a mascara tube or something. Technically, it applies color to a surface, right? ;-P

Chameleon sitting on one of its facets ready to pounce… er… write!

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: The unique shapes and materials are the big draw with this pen. If it’s not your thing, this isn’t the pen for you. But, if you’re like me and you’ve been curious about them for a while, it’s a bit of a relief to find out that while it isn’t the most comfortable and perfect pen for my hand, it’s definitely a usable and reliable writer. My one peeve is that the facets/sides don’t line up.

Pam:  Benu is willing to break tradition with unique materials and shapes.  This pen is best suited for those with a traditional tripod grip.  So if you are looking for a pen with a unique aesthetic and reliable nib, this might be the pen for you.  Based on the material and how it works out with my grip, this pen just isn’t for me.

Franz: Hey Katherine!!! The cap and barrel’s facets do line up. You just gotta give it a gentle twist. 😉 Overall, the Chameleon pen is a good size pen and the shape definitely stands out against other pen designs. What also captivates me is the “Charming” finish on this pen. Blue and purple are my two favorite colors and this is a great example of a blurple pen. I do like this pen a lot and if it is up your aesthetical alley, try it out!

Another shout out of appreciation to Lisa and Mike Vanness for the opportunity to review this Benu pen! The Chameleon pen in this finish and others can be found over at their site, www.vanness1938.com.

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Benu Chameleon*, Edison Beaumont, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Posted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Benu Chameleon*, Edison Beaumont, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari
Unposted pens from left to right: TWSBI Eco, Platinum 3776, Pilot Vanishing Point, Franklin-Christoph Model 31, *Benu Chameleon*, Edison Beaumont, Lamy 2000, and Lamy Safari

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Mini Review: Moleskine Chapters Dotted Journal

It’s Mini Review time! As usual, it’s Katherine writing about another bit of fountain peripheral stuff, this time the Moleskine Chapters notebook. I was gifted one because they’ve dropped to being pretty cheap on Amazon, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. (Also it seems a little inconsiderate to not try something you’re gifted… no matter how bad the reputation of Moleskine paper)

It’s a notebook with six sections plus a set of lists (space for 13) at the very back. Each section has a title spread, and the last section and the lists are perforated. Neat in theory, but I’m not yet sure what I’ll use this for — if you have six things going on in your life, this could be great. For me, I’m not sure.

I know all you really care about is the paper, so here it goes — it’s the typical (I think?) Moleskine paper which is kinda fountain pen tolerant, but not quite friendly. If you prefer drier and narrower nibs, it’s totally fine, with wetter and broader nibs, less so.  What surprised me was that even my rollerball showed through — what are you supposed to use? Pencils? Just the driest fountain pens? (Notice the Perkeo barely shows through)

And, there’s a fair amount of show through… which isn’t great. Moleskine products are so cute, I wish they did better with fountain pens! Alas, they aren’t, but this layout could be perfect for something, I’m just not sure what yet…

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May 2018 Pen & Ink Pairing

Katherine: I’m another year older and (supposedly) another year wiser this year… so I’ve chosen to celebrate with a Platinum 3776 Yamanaka, paired with Edelstein Olivine. I’ve loved the texture on the Yamanaka for a while, and was finally lucky enough to pick one up last month. It sat uninked for a couple weeks while I wanted to find it a wonderful partner (pretty uncommon for me, I usually ink things up immediately!). Franz brought over a bottle of Olivine and it seemed like a perfect match. The deep green reminds me of plants, and the textured transparent body of a terrarium — a perfect pairing for the middle of spring.

Here’s to another year of friendship, adventure and pens. (And maybe a few more plants)

Pam: I had struggled to find the perfect ink color for Pelikan’s Ocean Swirl. The teals were either too blue or too green. I originally attempted Organic Studio’s Walden but found the flow of the Ink to be too wet for an already broad EF.

My last attempt with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku was a serendipitous hit. The Pelikan nib is wet enough that the ink color shines though and the line width is within the expected range of an EF. Also, like all well behaved inks, it is much faster drying with little concern for smearing in my Midori’s travelers notebook.

I am glad to return to my first inky loves in the last couple of months. Can’t wait to try more of the “oldies but goodies.” Are there any new ink brands that are comparable to the staples like Pilot and Sailor?

Franz: This month, I finally inked up my Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV Vanness Exclusive pen. The mint color of this pen really just appeals to me even if I know that it’s a small pen for my hand. But for the past couple of weeks, I’ve used the pen in conjunction with my Starbucks Philippines Weekly Planner and so far it’s a nice complement to it. I’m “trying” to be a bit more organized in scheduling tasks and events and by using this combo, it’s been enjoyable for me.

Since this is a Vanness Exclusive pen, I figured to ink with one of Lisa Vanness’ favorite colors, turquoise. The Sheaffer Skrip Peacock Blue is a nice vintage ink to complement this pen. I know for a fact that there are inks out there that would match the color of the pen however, this is a more personal ink to me for various personal reasons. Let’s just say that this ink is a homage to a couple people. One of those people used to say, “An italic gives you traction…”. And come on, who doesn’t like turquoise ink? Hmm? Hmm? ;-P

Writing Samples

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Rome Store Recap

Following up on my Naples Store Recap, here are my photos and notes from my time pen shopping in Rome.

To start with — almost everything (both touristy and pen related) seem to be clustered in the same area. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case, or if the things I could find were biased because I’m searching in English. But, here are the stores I visited —

First up, Stilo Fetti! This store is super close to the Pantheon (about a block away) and very much in the center of the main tourist area.

They had quite the selection of pens — including drawers upon drawers that you had to ask to see. A huge selection, but prices were on the higher end of the spectrum for new pens.

And a small selection of Omas celluloids. The larger ones are all rollerballs, but the smaller ones were fountain pens. They had a handful of new celluloid Omas pens, but none of them came cheap (though I also don’t think the prices were necessarily absurd, Omas celluloid just isn’t cheap these days).

Second, Novelli. This is a pen and pipe store, featuring a smaller selection than Stilo Fetti, but still worth a visit.

A selection of vintage pens under a glass case — Derek was more than happy to show them to me and answer any questions I had. The third Aurora on the bottom was plenty tempting. Derek also tipped me off on the fact that I could get my tax refund in the city, in cash! Nifty. You end up getting 11% of your purchase price back via the VAT refund (the provider eats the rest of it as profit). All the stores on this list will do a tax refund for purchases over €150 (or maybe 155?).

In addition to vintage they also stock quite a few modern pens at reasonable prices. On new pens, the prices seemed a smidge lower than Stilo Fetti (though I didn’t compare extensively across brands). Here’s a selection of M600s and M400s.

Corsani was our third stop — though it’s further out from all the other stores on this list. But if you visit the Vatican (or St Peter’s Basilica) then Corsani is only a short walk away.

I think Corsani is one of the most famous Roman shops, or at least the one I’d read about most before visiting. It’s also a more modern feeling shop than Stilo Fetti or Novelli and carries a wide range of pens across price points — from cheap to high end.

I don’t know much about these, but I saw them in the window and they looked interesting. The staff here were very friendly and happy to test nibs and let you dip pens. My brother ended up buying a Visconti here and they were more than happy to let him pick a nib and (hopefully) avoid the inconsistent QA Visconti is known for.

Fourth, C’Art, which isn’t really a pen store but does sell pens. It was on sale when we visited and the selection wasn’t particularly interesting, but it is there if you’re looking for a pen, any pen. Waterman, Parker, at ST Dupont all had quite a few pens on display.

Fifth was Vertecchi. They sell an assortment of school-supply-ish stuff, cute pouches, backpacks, calligraphy supplies, notebooks and have a dedicated room for fountain pens!

Some of their calligraphy supplies. I was on the lookout for a glass dip pen, but I’ve realized I don’t like the brightly colored swirly ones. They also had glass cases for pens, all the usual suspects, but also Pilot! (though Pilot was pretty expensive). Price wise, higher than Corsani or Novelli, probably on part with Stilo Fetti for the items they both sell. The selection is pretty boring, entirely modern fairly easy to find stuff, but I did almost buy a bunch of cute boxes/pouches/pencil case things.

Lastly, Campo Marzio, which is the name of both a street (where one of it’s branches is) and a store is a “fashion accessories” (read: synthetic leather) brand. But, they also carry a bunch of cheap colorful pens.

The bulk of their pens are rebranded Chinese pens, but the small striped pens and the faceted pens below were both new to me (though definitely both Chinese made). The pens above are €24 for a fountain pen, €17 for the rollerball. Ignore the price tag. The faceted pens below, I forgot to double check if the price tag was right.

True to the theme of this blog, here’s Katherine’s hand with the small pen unposted. They’re very small!

And the last note, the Vatican museum gift shops carry this Delta pen (and a black RB counterpart). The Vatican definitely isn’t a pen store, but I thought I’d note this for those looking for a souvenir pen.

All in all, Rome has quite a few pen stores all within walking distance. Prices here aren’t a steal compared to buying online or in the US (not sure about other locations) even for Italian brands. However, some stores (Corsani!) have brands I don’t typically see, and many of the stores (Fetti, Corsani, Novelli) have quite a selection of pens that you may not find in store — Omas, lots of Delta, vintage, etc. And, because the pens stores are all clumped together, you can eat gelato or other delicious things while walking from one to the next (I had a delicious burrata and anchovy “stuffed pizza” after Corsani, on my way back to Stilo Fetti).

All in all, my Rome (and Italy overall) pen haul was one fountain pen, one rollerball and two bottles of Omas ink. I didn’t call out the store where I bought them because I bought the last two. The only other store where I saw Omas bottles was Novelli, but I think they were part of the display. Corsani had lots of Omas cartridges.

Happy pen shopping!

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Naples (and Amalfi Coast) Pen Store Recap

Hi there! It’s that time again, another recap of pen shopping by Katherine. Previous ones include Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka.

I spent a couple days in Naples and on the Amalfi Coast last week, and had a chance to do a little bit of pen shopping — but not much buying. (A post about Rome, where my wallet bled, will follow)

First stop: Casa Della Penna, really the only store that shows up when you search for pen stores in Naples.

They have a pretty good selection of several brands — mostly mid and higher end ones. Montblanc, Aurora, Omas, Pelikan, pretty standard fare.

They still have Omas in stock — but their prices seem to be pretty standard retail prices, so no deals here. I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit, but if you’re in the area (or live in Naples) it’s a pretty neat store to have near by. Beats anything we have locally in San Francisco!

Second stop: Amodio, I found this one by accident, I was walking around the “old” part of Naples being a tourist (and eating some fried seafood out of a paper cone) and the pens in the window caught my eye —

This is much more of a general office supply store than a pen store, but they do carry a selection of Pelikan, Delta and Lamy pens.

Here’s the lovely M205 in the window display. They also had quite a few other M200-ish Pelikans. I don’t think they carry any pens over €200.

But lots of notebooks and paper! Including quite a few fountain pen friendly brands.

Third stop: stores in Amalfi. There were a couple of these stores in the town of Amalfi (I suspect they exist in other towns along the Amalfi coast, but I didn’t run into them) — stationary stores that sell primarily dip pens and Italian paper. The pen selection isn’t particularly interesting, as they mostly look like cheap souveniers — though a few had interesting glass dip pens, but those were easily €30-5o.

But the paper selection was gorgeous! Beautiful patterns, and available in every usage — postcards, notebook, sheets (embossed with the Amatruda logo!), envelopes and cards… etc.

All in all, it’s always fun to shop for pens, but don’t go out of your way, there’s more to life than buying pens. While in Naples, eat lots of pizza, sfogliatella, cuppo (fried food in a paper cone). And in Amalfi, drink limoncello (or buy some so you can drink it after you spend all your money in Rome…) and enjoy the view!

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Review: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (Brooks EPW, 14k Fine Cursive Italic)

In this review, we are once again joined by our friend, Roz. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this pen Roz!

For this post, we are reviewing a color prototype finish of Franklin-Christoph’s Pocket 20 model. This pen was acquired at the 2016 San Francisco Pen Show and seems to be one of the first pens they made with the EPW (Emerald, Purple, White) acrylic created by Mr. Jonathon Brooks. These EPW and other Brooks acrylics are seemingly used by Franklin-Christoph to produce different models in a small batch fashion and is usually only sold at pen shows when available.

As mentioned before, we primarily produce reviews to reflect our different hand sized perspectives. We thank you for your continued readership!

 

Hand Over That Pen, please!

Katherine: The Pocket 20 is so cute! And this material is gorgeous. Overall, I prefer the look of its longer sibling, the Model 20, but the P20, especially in a nifty material like this is quite nice too. My one gripe, as with the Model 20 is that the engraved lines are a little weird to me — I’d prefer this pen if it didn’t have those and was just a smooth cylinder. But, the busier material on this pen does a good job of hiding them.

Pam: The material on this pen is outstanding. It has a lot of color, depth and patterning.  I believe that the material is from the now famed Jonathon Brooks.  His “blanks” are breathtaking.  The shape doesn’t take away from the material and really let you see it in all it’s glory.  I really enjoy the Pocket 20 for its unique shape and portability.

Franz: That Pocket 20 is small! It definitely is a “pocket” pen. I honestly love F-C’s bevel designs on their cap and barrel and the Pocket 20’s silhouette shows them very well. The carved rings leading to the beveled edges are just so cool.

As for the pen’s EPW acrylic finish? What else can I say that the ladies haven’t mentioned yet? A fabulous shimmery nebula? I have to admit, I frequently caught myself admiring the beautiful finish and at times distracted me from my writing time. Hehehe… =)

Roz: I have to say, as someone who shies away from the shiny and glittery, the Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 does a pretty good job balancing a subtle glimmer while still having distinct flecks of shine in its pen. It’s more a galaxy sparkle versus a disco ball.

In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (posted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz
In the Hand: Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20 (unposted) — from left to right: Franz, Katherine, Pam, and Roz

 

The Business End

Katherine: I love the F-C Masuyama FCIs. And this one was no different. A wonderful balance between smoothness and line variation — this is the nib that first got me thinking about line variation and how much fun it could be. Everyone should try this nib at least once.

Pam:  I am really partial to cursive italics for their crisp line variation.  The fine cursive italic is a well tuned nib with the right amount of ink on paper.  I agree with Katherine that this nib is worth trying for yourself, particularly with a gold nib.  I am a firm believer in steel nibs (particularly in my newly dubbed “tiger grip”) however, this is an example in which having a “springier” material is beneficial to the line created and the writing experience.

Franz: I must mention that recessed nib/section designs float my boat. The Pocket 20 and its bigger brother, Model 20 Marietta, have the same design and fits a #6 nib size. This fine cursive italic was tuned perfectly with beautiful line variation. I definitely enjoyed writing with it.

Roz: The nib on the Pocket 20 took me a while to get used to. Even though I find it maybe too scratchy for me to write comfortably, the lines are very sharp and crisp.

Franz’ writing sample on a Rhodia Meeting Notebook

 

Write It Up

Katherine: I find the Model 20 quite comfortable, and the Pocket 20 is no different. It’s shorter, but because the Model 20 is so light, the Pocket 20 feels very similar. The big upside is I can imagine eyedropper filling a P20, but not a Model 20 (I’d just NEVER write it dry) — and eyedroppering could give it a little more heft, if that’s what you’re looking for. Personally though, I enjoy the way it feels like a light extension of my hand.

Pam: I prefer both the look and the feel of the Pocket 20 compared to the original model 20.  Due to the slip cap, I find the pen to be really comfortable.  Even more comfortable than the pocket 66 due to the lack of a step and threads. I think the only other F-C pen that I find comparably comfortable is the model 45.  So if you like the model 45, the Pocket 20 is a winner.

Franz: I wrote with the Pocket 20 posted for about 15 minutes and I love that it posts deeply and provides a balanced weight. It weighs almost next to nothing and I did not feel fatigued at all. There’s pretty much no step between the section and the barrel and I gripped the pen comfortably. Unposted mode for the bear paw? It’s a short pen for comfort and I’ll just take another half a second to post the cap for longer writing sessions.

Roz: Super light! The Pocket 20 was so light I almost lost track of how long I would be writing. I did need some adjustment time getting used to the engraved rings near the start of the pen’s grip, but it wasn’t any deal breaker – just something my thumb had to get used to.

 

EDC-ness

Katherine: No clip! This pen loves running away… but it does do great tucked into my zip hobonichi case or dropped into a pocket. The slip cap is super convenient for notes on the go — but I did notice that there were a few instances where I didn’t cap the pen tightly enough and almost put an inky disaster into my pocket. After a couple scares, I got much better at capping it tightly — but it’s still something I worry about.

Pam:  It’s difficult to justify adding a clip to the pen because the material and lines of the pen already is a complete package visually.  However, on a utilitarian point of view, a clip would greatly enhance the EDC-ness of the pen.  I kept losing the pen to the bottom of my white coat pocket and always feared getting ink all over the section and nib from all the jostling.  Definitely kept the pen in a case after half a shift.

Franz: In my workplace, the Pocket 20 is a decent Every Day Carry pen. No twisting of the cap needed so it was quick to open and sign my name, or take a phone number down. The fine cursive italic wrote nicely on the copier paper we use and gave line variation to differentiate from my co-workers’ gel pen writing. As for carry-ability, just like Pam I found the pen always lying down in the bottom of my pocket and had to fish it out often because of the lack of a clip. Franklin-Christoph does provide the option of purchasing the pen with or without a clip so no biggie.

Filling system options? Unfortunately, the short length of the pen does not allow a converter to fit so you are limited to either inserting a short international cartridge, or eyedropper filled for more ink options as long as you apply silicon grease on the appropriate areas. Although, you can do what I did and empty out a cartridge and syringe fill it with any of your favorite fountain pen inks. =)

Roz: I’m not confident enough to carry a pen with no clip in anything but my lovely Nock case, but I really enjoyed using this pen throughout the work day. I spend a lot of time stuck on a keyboard, so it’s nice to take a break from typing position and pick up a light pen and go to town!

EPW material close up of the cap and barrel

 

Final Grip-ping Impressions

Katherine: If this was my only pen, would I use it and love doing so? Yeah. Do I own one? Nope. Where’s the disconnect? Welllll — It’s a perfectly solid and reasonable pen, but the aesthetic doesn’t stand out to me. It’s a pen that gets the job done and I enjoy writing with (I do own two FC+MM FCIs) but given all the pen choices out there (even just from Franklin-Christoph!) I like other pens more.

Pam:  I really miss the beautiful utilitarian-ness of the Pocket 20. Honestly, the slip cap and clip (should there be one), makes this pen a great pen for quick and easy deployment.  It’s not as great for “rough” play like a Kaweco Sport due to the lack of threads to cap the pen, but it’s the perfect pen for my specific use case at work.  If you are in the market for a beautiful pen that is really convenient to use for quick note taking without rough and tumbles throughout the day, this pen is for you.  Bonus, there are enough materials this pen is made in to match any person or setting.

Franz: The Pocket 20 is a neat pen to have and if pocket pens are your jam, you gotta have one of these. For my pen habit, this wouldn’t be a pen I’d always have in my pocket due to the smaller size however, I would keep it inked up and kept in my daily bag for portability and emergency use.

Roz: I admit I started off unsure about the look, the nib, and the grip of the Pocket 20. However, at the end of my time with the Franklin-Christoph, I must say this pen really grew on me. It was a pleasant pen to write with and I enjoyed having a chance to really try the Pocket 20 out!

 

Small/Pocket Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300
Posted pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300
Unposted pens from left to right: Peilkan 140, Wahl-Evershap Skyline, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, Pilot Prera, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Franklin-Christoph Model 45, Kaweco Sport, and Pelikan M300

 

Pen Comparisons

Closed pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805
Posted pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805
Unposted pens from left to right: Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco, Edison Beaumont, Franklin-Christoph Model 20, *Franklin-Christoph Pocket 20*, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari, Pelikan M805

 

Pen Photos (click to enlarge)

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Mini Review: Atelier Musubi Pen Case

Atelier Musubi is known for their handmade Tomoe River diaries. They recently released these two pen cases in two sizes, a large and a small. I bought a large for myself, and a smaller one for my mom for mother’s day (ssssh — good thing I know she doesn’t read any blogs!).

True to the Musubi description, the small one is a great size for short pens. The long, perfect for longer pens. The long comfortably fits Nakaya Decapods, a Newton Shinobi, an old style Paragon and my Montblanc 146. I’ve only had this for a couple days, so I haven’t tried too many pens!

I haven’t tried too many pens in either case yet, but most of my pens fit in the shorter size, but some, like the Montblanc 146, fit but make the flap slightly harder to close. The 3776 fits perfectly in the short case though!

Overall, I really like the case, it’s very well made and seems very sturdy. My one complaint is that the pens do touch each other in the case. The tab at the top keeps the two pens from touching at the top. In the small size, fatter pens (including Piccolos and the caps of the 3776 and MB 146) they do rub as you slide pens in and out. In the larger case, the above pens don’t rub, but do clatter against each other if you shake the case. I stuffed a small piece of cotton at the bottom of the long case with a bump in the middle, and it seems to hold the pens apart at the bottom too. (They might still rub a little, but at least they don’t clatter against each other when I shake the case)

It’s hard to photograph, but that’s a 3776 and Montblanc 146 in a large case… probably touching.

TLDR: Great cases, but not for you if you want a healthy space between all your pens at all times.

Edit: Musubi is rethinking their design to add a separator between pens. Keep an eye out on their social media for updates!

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