It’s that time of the year again — holiday cards! I ordered this year’s batch of cards from Minted, so I thought I’d share a quick writing sample incase other folks were interested —
The paper seems to be coated, so many inks seem to sit on top of it, the exceptions are Pilot Blue Black (but feathered quite a bit when wet), Platinum Carbon Black (a little feathering, but much less) and Sailor inks, other than Sei-Boku.
Wetter pens seem to saturate the paper enough to get through the coating, but some do feather.
A tiny bit of feathering with PCB when it’s really wet, but it’s overall easily readable, and I wouldn’t hesitate about putting it in the mail when it’s wet and rainy. (I ordered post cards)
All in all, these aren’t fountain-pen friendly, but are tolerant if you’re willing to do a little experimentation and find a nib and ink that work for you. If you want to play it safe, Platinum Carbon Black delivers.
Have you ordered from another online card printer? Want to do a guest post, let us know!
Katherine: I love the shape of this pen — it’s so clean and well proportioned. My one gripe, as with the Pocket 20, is I don’t love the lines on the cap and at the end of the barrel. I’ve owned two Model 20s, but over time I’ve sold both. I love the frosted finishes, but the barrel is too large for me to want to eyedropper the pen (because I’ll never be able to write it dry) and they don’t look quite as nice with converters.
Pam: Franklin-Christoph never disappoints. I am happy to review their classic Model 20. I was initially turned off by the shape of the pen when it saw it in the Ice and Antique Glass finish. In the black finish, it’s actually quite subtle and doesn’t bother me at all. One of my favorite features of this pen is the snap cap. It’s so practical for my specific use case.
Franz: The Model 20 looks so simple and sleek! The beveled flat ends, and the very slight taper of the barrel give the pen a lovely silhouette. Actually, the barrel’s slight taper is there for both function and form. I’ll expand more on that later on. For now, I’m just saying that the Model 20 Marietta looks oh so good! =)
The Business End
Katherine: Yay Masuyama cursive italics! I prefer the Fine, but the Medium is similarly smooth while still be nice and crisp.
Pam: The nib is a Masuyama M cursive italic that was tuned by Jim Rouse at time of purchase. The cursive italic has a small amount of bite, but nothing bothersome. It’s also the nature of a cursive italic grind to be less smooth than a typical stub grind. Like always, it’s a joy to write with and the bit of a bite is pleasant feedback.
Franz: As far as I know, when Franklin-Christoph introduced the Model 20 in early 2015, it was the first recessed nib fountain pen they had. And that design alone attracted me to the Marietta at the 2015 LA Pen Show. It wasn’t sold back then but I knew I had to have one!
The Model 20 is fitted with a #6 size Jowo nib like most of their larger pens. This nib in particular was pre-ground to a cursive italic by Mr. Mike Masuyama and then as with all F-C pens sold, it was finally adjusted by Mr. Jim Rouse to my liking. It provides a crisp line and also quite forgiving.
Write It Up
Katherine: This pen is definitely comfortable — it’s light and the section is a good size! I’ve definitely written page upon page with this pen, it’s unobtrusive and, paired with a nice grind, lots of fun.
Pam: Due to the lack of threads, my typical writing grip is REALLY comfortable. Yay for no threads or steps! The section is a good fit for me in the tripod grip. The little flare is quite helpful in keeping my fingers in check. However, due to the lack of a step and the seamless transition from section to body makes it so the section can accommodate larger fingers and grips. #bearpawsallpaws
I highly recommend using the pen unposted for those of the smaller hand persuasion. It’s a bit top heavy when posted. Without the cap the pen is nice and light.
Franz: Just like Pam, I definitely enjoyed the lack of threads on the barrel so that the pen can be held at any spot you’re comfortable with. As for myself, I was comfortable gripping either on the pinched section or the barrel itself. Also, both writing modes (posted and unposted) were very comfortable for my large paw. As a preference though, I prefer the cap posted for it gives more weight and a better balance for me. With the cap unposted, the pen seemed to be a little too light.
Katherine: I’m not generally good at tightening my caps or well… remembering to close things all the way. Except the fridge. And the Model 20 is no different, but the slip cap is even more dangerous. As a desk pen, or one sandwiched in a notebook, it’s generally fine — but if I relied on the clip, I had several close calls with the body sliiiiiding away toward the floor. Yikes. It’s super convenient, but because it’s a slip, not snap cap, I have a pretty hard time telling when I’ve closed it “enough”.
Pam: As mentioned previously, this pen is one of the best EDCs for me. The snap cap makes this pen really easy to deploy and use for quick notes and comfortable enough for longer writing sessions. It’s a great all rounder pen for me. The clip was secure and the capping was easy. The only thing missing from the capping action is a satisfying snap like the Pilot Prera. (Insert total bias disclaimer here.) It’s hard for me to determine when the cap is securely capped but it is a snug fit and I haven’t had issues with the pen falling out into my pocket.
Franz: Another top reason why I was attracted to the Model 20 is its slip cap feature which makes it a perfect candidate for an every day carry pen. The two ladies’ comments about the pen not having a positive snap is very valid and was one of my issues when I first got the Marietta. However, after watching Scott Franklin’s introduction video of the Model 20, I learned a lot about how the pen was engineered. So with just a liiiiitle push, the cap secures very well. And this works in both closing the pen, and posting the cap. The lip end of the section and the tapered end of the barrel was designed to attach firmly deep inside the cap. To detach the cap, it’s easier to just use one hand. If you’d like to watch the video, link is here Model 20 Marietta Introduction.
The Model 20 can be inked either via a cartridge/converter filler, or eye-droppered. I prefer using the supplied converter and it is a standard international one.
One thing to note, the clip on this Model 20 is the older version and it doesn’t clip to clothing easily. I’d need to lift the clip with my fingers and slip it in my dress shirt. Franklin-Christoph changed the clip to a better functioning one so that issue is solved.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: This is a pen I thought I loved, but with use found that while I certainly enjoy it, it wasn’t true love. Even then, it’s more one of those “it’s not you, it’s me” things — it’s a very solid pen that’s fairly unique in the industry, but it’s got a couple quirks that just don’t work for me (the generally super convenient slip cap and the lines on the cap and barrel). But every time I see one for sale second hand… I’m tempted, maybe the third time’s the charm?
Pam: I know that I have mentioned that the Sailor Progear Slim is an “upgrade” to the Pilot Prera starter pen. I think the pocket Model 20 and Model 20 is the Western “upgrade” to the Pilot Prera. They both are snap caps and Franklin-Christoph boasts one of the largest variety of steel and golden #6 nibs on the market for their pens. If you want a great EDC pen with a variety of different nibs that can be swapped out, the Model 20 is close to perfect.
Franz: What else is there to say except to say that the Model 20 is one of my favorite pens to ink up! In the pen comparison photos below, it is very similar to a Pelikan M805 and that’s about the perfect pen size for my larger hands. The Model 20’s features check pretty much all the boxes for me. Simple aesthetic, larger size (length and girth), slip cap for quick deploy, lightweight, and a fantastic nib performance!
Like a lot of their pens, Franklin-Christoph offers the Model 20 in a few different colors on their site, and they also offer more color prototypes at pen shows. I definitely recommend this model for your daily use or even just part of your rotation. See if it’s a comfortable pen for your paws. =)
We would like to thank Pen Chalet for lending us this Platinum Izumo fountain pen for review. Pen Chalet is based in Mesa, Arizona and has been a company that sells pens and stationery items at competitive prices. They also frequently run promos for specially priced items as well as provide discount coupons. Check them out if you haven’t yet.
That being said, the opinions below are our own and we were not compensated (monetarily, or otherwise) for this review.
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: The shape of the Izumo isn’t my jam… but I have a general bias against bulbous caps. Tapered? Maybe that’s a less graphic word. Anyway, general shape aside, the Izumo comes in many beautiful finishes (ugh I really wish I liked their base shape more!) this one is soratame, a green and black tamenuri, pretty subtle, but quite nice when you look closely. The pen also comes in a variety of other finishes, some of which are really quite breathtaking.
Pam: Whoa! This is a big pen! The urushi finish is flawless on a classic cigar shaped pen. At first glance, pen is really intimidating based on it’s size and finish. It’s not my aesthetic. To my untrained eye, I wouldn’t know that this pen had urushi on it because it’s just a boring black cigar shaped pen. The nib is a very business like nib. The design is either really retro or modern.
Franz: The Platinum Izumo is quite large, curvy and seems to create a grand stature. It’s like the pen says, “Hey look at me!” whilst flexing its muscles. I believe in the closed position, the pen is just a little over 6 inches. I’m one to appreciate urushi lacquered pens and this Soratame is beautiful and simple. I love the hints of color in the seams of the pen.
The Business End
Katherine: The Izumo nib feels much more “western” to me than the 3776 nib, but that’s a sample size of one. It’s smooth, wet and stiff — a great nib to get things done with, but not one I’m excited to write with.
Pam: I am going to enter a “expectations management” disclaimer. Given that this is a Platinum nib and my only experience with Platinum is through the 3776 nibs so my expectations included a characteristic and unique Platinum nib. I am biased. That being said, the Izumo nib is… serviceable. It’s just not memorable and lacks any characteristic that makes me want to pick it up again. It’s really really smooth which is fantastic for those looking that kind of writing experience. However, that’s not what I was expecting.
Franz: It was my first time to write with a President nib from Platinum and I echo the ladies’ comments above. It wrote smoothly, a good flow, and did not skip like any good nib should. I always love the heart-shaped breather holes of Platinum nibs.
Write It Up
Katherine: The section of the Izumo is very comfortable (though that gold ring at the very front bugs me, especially on the dark and subtle soratame finish) — though it doesn’t have the “flare” at the very end that I prefer. It’s a heavier pen than I expected (a little heavier than the m800?) but very manageable, I’m just used to urushi pens being super light. All in all a comfortable and usable pen, but not outstandingly so.
Pam: The nib is fantastically smooth. Almost too smooth. There is no feedback and it lays down a nice saturated line without being overly wet.
Franz: Being an ebonite pen, the Izumo was very pleasant to write with and was balanced. The cap is “post-able” however we did not attempt to do that since it is a loaner and posting generally mars the urushi finish. One thing though, my index finger naturally lands on the threads in the middle of the section and they’re kinda sharp. It doesn’t hurt at all but you can definitely feel them. But I’ll live with it because the urushi’s green underlayer shows very nicely. Needless to say, I did not experience any fatigue while writing in my journal.
Katherine: Super fast uncap (1 turn) and a strong clip — it’s a little big for me, but definitely EDC-able if you like the size.
Pam: Given the size of the pen and the finish, I didn’t take this pen to work. The clip works well and keeps it secure in a case.
Franz: The Izumo was a very lovely pen to use at work for jotting down notes as well as for signatures. The pen just stayed on my desk for most of the the day, but I did clip it onto my shirt pocket for safekeeping as well.
Like other Platinum pens, the Izumo is cartridge/converter filled and the supplied Platinum converter was very sufficient. If I were to use this pen every day at work, I’d probably refill it with ink every 3 days or so.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: The Izumo has all the pieces — a beautiful finish, a solid nib and solidly built. At the end of it all though, half of this hobby is about the aesthetics and the Izumo just ain’t my thing. If you love the aesthetic, it won’t disappoint!
Pam: This a great pen for those who can appreciate the classic look, the nuances of the urushi and a very smooth writing experience. That being said, this is not the urushi pen for me. Perhaps I have been ruined by Nakaya, just maybe.
Franz: Overall, the Izumo is a great pen to use. Ebonite pens have always been a favorite of mine and this seems to be one of them. I do love the stealthy tamenuri finish of the Soratame. As I said in the beginning of this review, the Izumo’s size and shape makes a statement. And something that’s true with every pen one holds, does that pen speak to you?
We thank Lisa and Mike Vanness of Vanness Incorporated for lending us this Benu Pen Essence fountain pen for review. 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 or they could also be attending a pen show near you.
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: Aesthetically, this pen is not my jam… but I do know some people who love it. So, to each their own. But, robin’s egg blue and glitter aside — it’s a well finished pen that feels sturdy in hand.
Pam: This pen is “rich” in decor and chunks of glitter which borders on obscene in my more minimalist preferences/opinions. However, to those who find this aesthetic pleasing, it is definitely an eye catching and bold pen.
Franz: The Benu Essence is surely tugging on my color palette for I love the minty, turquoisey tone! Sans the glitter/ice part though for it makes it a bit garish. I really like the swirly bits of color in the acrylic. The Essence’s torpedo shape is plain which balances the material’s garishness.
The Business End
Katherine: Like the other Benu pens, this one sports a Schmidt nib. It’s a well behaved nib that puts ink to paper just fine, but doesn’t have a lot of character. It would be a great candidate for a grind or a swap with something more interesting (like the Benu Chameleon, this one is also a loaner, so no experimental nib swaps for me…).
Pam: I really have no complaints or major compliments about the Schmidt nib. It’s a fully functional, works well out of the box, and not very memorable nib. Aesthetically, the nib to be a bit small relative to the rest of the pen. Currently, it’s a #5 sized nib, which makes me wonder if a #6 nib would be more balanced.
Franz: The Benu’s fine nib wrote well out of the box and I enjoyed using it for my daily writing. It was pretty smooth and with Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro, the flow was moderate to generous.
Contrary to Pam’s thoughts, I feel that the current nib complements the shape of the pen and tapers with the section. I placed a #6 Schmidt nib beside the Essence and it became somewhat too small. However, I do wish that Benu could stamp their name/logo onto their nibs. I know it’s an aesthetic thing but I always prefer the nib branding to match my pen.
Write It Up
Katherine: I found the pen comfortable in hand for long periods of time — the section is a smidge small for me, but still perfectly usable. I had no issues with this pen for either journaling or writing quick notes.
Pam: The section and the step are right at the “sweet” spot of the tender bit between thumb and pointer finger. The step wasn’t particularly sharp, but it wasn’t comfortable if I tightened my grip like I inevitably do during a long writing session. The pen was balanced closer to the nib end and comfortable for a longer writing session. I appreciate the added girth of the pen, so it might be pretty comfortable for someone with larger hands (if it wasn’t for the length.)
Franz: The length of the Essence was quite comfortable for me even unposted. I feel that the balance is better when the cap is posted so I wrote with this pen posted for a while. The cap is definitely secure and the grooves on the back of the pen helps it so. When the cap was not aligned to the grooves, it still posted but it wasn’t as stable.
Katherine: It’s a small-ish pen that fits easily in a pocket. Additionally the clip felt strong and I didn’t hesitate to clip it to my skirt pocket for the day. My one hesitation is that it’s so glittery that I didn’t think customers might take me seriously if I used it in a meeting… but that’s true of a lot of pens, even my beloved raden and maki-e pens. So, coworkers’ raised eyebrows aside, I’d give this a thumbs up as an EDC.
Pam: Due to this pen being a loaner pen, I didn’t have it in my lab coat pocket. And like Katherine, looking young with a blingy pen only adds to an image akin to Doogie Howser sans medical degree.
The clip was strong and was snug within my pen case.
Franz: The Essence was a great pen to use on the daily. I used it at work and the clip secured the pen in my shirt pocket. I appreciate that I don’t need to post the cap to be use it comfortably for a longer period.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: To buy or not to buy? In the end it comes down to the aesthetic. Like the Benu Chameleon we reviewed a few months ago, it’s a solid pen, it all comes down to aesthetics, if you love it, you won’t be disappointed.
Pam: The pen is a serviceable pen for those who appreciate the aesthetic. My reception of the pen is lukewarm, but I see those who appreciate the over the top decor of the pen to enjoy this writing instrument.
Franz: The Benu pen company create pens that stand out from others. The acrylic designs catch your attention and then their different pen shapes will intrigue you. The Essence collection is probably one of the more conservatively shaped pens in their lineup and is great to use.
In the beginning, I was apprehensive when I saw the taper of the Essence’s section. I was worried that it may be too small for my larger hand, but I ended up really liking the pen. The pen has a good medium to large size to it that I appreciate very much.
Once again, thanks to the Vanness Incorporated team especially to Lisa Vanness for lending us this Benu pen. We really appreciate your support!
Hello pen friends and folk! Franz here, and I’m writing a quick recap to highlight two great things that happened at the 2018 San Francisco Pen Show this past weekend of August 24 thru 26. That would be the Pay-It-Forward Project Table, and the Pen Dash Mixer hosted by Lisa Vanness.
There were lots of events that happened at the show that I will definitely include in my lengthier annual SF Pen Show Report. But I really wanted to highlight these two before my pen show report comes out in the next couple of weeks.
Before anything else, I would like to thank the San Francisco Pen Show organizers for allowing the Pay-It-Forward table, as well as the Pen Dash Mixer to happen at the show this year. And also for continuing to have a bigger, and “funner” pen show each year!
This was the second year that the Pay-It-Forward (PIF) table made an appearance at the SF Pen Show. Even if we were not able to do a blog post, or even a social media post asking for physical and monetary donations, a LOT of generous people have donated to the table this year. Actually, some friends who weren’t even at the show and some out-of-state messaged me for a shipping address and sent oodles and oodles of pens, ink samples, and other stationery items. To all of you who have donated, you know who you are. A VERY BIG THANK YOU from myself, the Pay-It-Forward Project team, and the San Francisco Pen Show!!!
We are happy to report that we have given out 100 PIF Starter Kits (pen, ink sample, and paper) to beginners. And more than 60 donated pens were given away via the Give a Pen, Take a Pen initiative. It is definitely heartwarming to see smiles of excited newbies when they realize that they can choose a pen for free and learn from our volunteers. Makes it all worth the effort to Pay It Forward.
Now I’d be remiss if I did not mention this. The PIF table was staffed by a number of volunteers this year and I would like to give a shout-out of thanks to all that helped out this year. Thank you Sarah M., Carrie H., Andy D., Pam T., Tommy S., and Jim K.! If I missed anyone else who volunteered, please accept my sincere apologies. And last but not the least, a big thank you Kimberly L. for being my co-host of the PIF table this year. She did a lot of things to help prep for the PIF table at this show! And the PIF photos are by Kimberly as well.
If you want to find out more information, or donate either items or funds, please check out www.stationerypif.com for details. You can also check the schedule for the next pen show a PIF table might appear! Thank you for making this community of ours a fun and caring one!
Pen Dash Mixer
Last year’s SF Pen Show was the first time Lisa Vanness and company tried to have the Pen Dash and ever since then, they hosted it at different pen shows. This year, we had to make sure that this event continued at The Fun Pen Show. So the Pen Dash happened on Saturday at 5:30pm and it was a great success!
Wait, what is a Pen Dash you may ask! In a nutshell, it’s an effort to create a way for people in the community to interact with each other. But more importantly, to learn from selected table leaders or as I called them, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). The participants will stay at the table and listen to the SMEs talk about their topic and then after a certain amount of time, the participants then change tables. So it’s kind of Speed Dating except that there is no anxiety and lots of learning.
We had 13 tables separated between 3 rooms and each table had a SME to talk about a certain topic. Topics ranged from vintage and modern pens, pen customization, Japanese urushi pens, paper types, bookbinding, nib styles, creating art pieces, etc. In a span of 10-15 minutes, the SMEs will talk about their topics and answer any questions. After each time frame, the participants switched to another table to learn from another SME. The participants stayed in their respective groups within the room so each person had an equal opportunity to learn from a leader.
At the Pen Dash, we had a little over 100 participants at different ages and different levels of involvement in the stationery community. At the end of the mixer, Lisa took a chair and gave closing remarks in each room and some prizes were given away! Here’s a quick video showing some prize winners!
On behalf of Lisa Vanness and myself, Franz Dimson, we would like to thank Ana Reinert, Pam Tien, Claire Rice, and other Pen Posse volunteers for helping to make this Pen Dash a success!
And we are giving a huge shout-out of appreciation to all the table leaders/SMEs who volunteered their time, knowledge, and effort:
It’s that time of the year again — major pen show hangover for the HOTP crew, the San Francisco Pen Show has ended and we sit around wondering why our wallets are so light and why our coworkers aren’t excited by our new pens…
In an effort to stave off some of the post-pen show despair, Katherine has compiled pictures of some of the fluffy friends who graced us with their presence last weekend. The hotel and show are dog friendly, and there were several this year!
Did you make any fluffy friends at the SF Show this year? If you have any photos of your pup at the SF show and would like them added — let us know in the comments!
We are very thankful to have received a bottle of this Pacific Ocean Teal ink from the San Francisco Pen Show group for review. They have commissioned Robert Oster Signature Inks in Australia to create an exclusive ink for the 2018 San Francisco International Pen Show to commemorate their Fifth Anniversary. They wanted a nice teal that shades and Robert Oster delivered!
The Pacific Ocean Teal ink bottles will be on sale at the pen show happening this weekend, Friday August 24 until Sunday August 26. We are told that supplies are limited so act fast! They will be sold near the show’s registration desk in the foyer area of the Pullman SF Bay Hotel in Redwood City, California.
For more information and details of the San Francisco Pen Show, check their website at: www.sfpenshow.com.
Katherine: It’s pretty! 😀 I prefer it in drier nibs (as pictured below) where it’s lighter and shows more shading. In wet nibs it just looks black. Overall it seems well behaved, and maybe a touch on the wet side. And oddly hard to photograph!
Franz: Teal, this color is in the realm of my favorite color which is blue. I say that like nobody knows it. hehe.. Anyway, inks made by Robert Oster are always well-behaved and are a treat to write with. This Pacific Ocean Teal is no exception. I’ve used the ink in different pens and they all wrote well consistently. My writing samples shown below were made via a Pelikan M800 because of the full range of nibs but I actually used a medium nibbed Vanishing Point at work with this ink and it was great as well.
The color of this ink is very close to what you find when you do an internet search for teal and that’s pretty cool. This ink may be at the medium to high in wetness for me but the dry-time isn’t too long. Some folks look for sheen and it’s there but not too much. It does show up in broad nibs or in flex writing if people really want that. But what I really like with this ink? It’s the shading for sure. You can use an extra fine nib up to even a triple broad nib and the shading is there!
Overall, I really love this ink! I don’t have many teal inks because my taste in ink color seems to lean more towards the blue side but this color is a fantastic one. I hope to get a bottle (or two) for myself at the show.
Pam: I had my reservations when I heard that the SF anniversary ink would be “teal.” Not another blue ink! However, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s. definitely within the blue family. It has the warmth and clarity of color that I loved about Iroshizuku Tsuya-kusa. The color reminds of Pelikan Turquoise. Albeit, it’s lighter than Turquoise and capable of some shading. I didn’t detect sheen when I have been using it.
The ink is well behaved in my book, producing lines that are as expected. It may lean wet, but only by a smidge. It runs really well through EF and F nibs, which is greatly appreciated. I don’t see a loss in color or saturation unless I am using in a really dry nib like my architect.
Overall, I would recommend this ink. It’s a beautiful color, reminiscent of the ocean blue waters surround our Golden Gate. I can see it being very dynamic for a calligrapher or any that experiment with a dip nib. The shading would be pretty great with this ink. Yet, it’s still readable, pleasing to the eye and can be used on a regular basis for your flair of “blue” in the office.
In this review, we are once again joined by our friend, Roz. She’s volunteered to be our left-handed reviewer and we love having her back. Especially when she brings us cupcakes. Thanks again Roz!
Hand Over That Pen, please!
Katherine: I have a thing for faceted pens, and this is no exception. I love the chunky, stubby look of the Ondoro paired with clean faceted lines. I really want a white Ondoro… but they appear to be discontinued, so for now I have an orange one. I like the bright playful orange and the contrast with the chrome cap. The bright orange paired with the chunky look reminds me of those big grip pencils that little kids get.
Pam: The Ondoro’s unique design and eye catching color did make me curious to pick one up. I am glad that Katherine ultimately decided to get one. The shape of the barrel reminds me of an oversized pencil. I mean, a fountain pen is an adulting pencil right? The chrome barrel is a great cherry on top to this design in my opinion.
Franz: Stout! That’s one word I’d describe the Ondoro. Its shortness in length is balanced by the girth of the barrel and cap though. The hexagonal facets make this pen interesting and different from others. The shiny cap is cool looking but is a fingerprint magnet for sure.
Roz: Wow, my eyes! The Ondoro is definitely an attention getter. The bright orange with shiny silver cap, I’m awake and excited to experience this pen. I’m still not sure about my opinions on facets – but I feel like a pen of this size benefits from the facets breaking up the amount of solid colors there would be otherwise.
The Business End
Katherine: This was my first experience with a Faber Castell nib. I like the nib and it’s pleasant to write with, but nothing particularly notable. It’s a western fine with a nice balance in wetness — wet enough to be comfortable for writing, but dry enough to see lots of shading with the right inks. The feedback on the nib is a smidge feedbacky — which I really like. Hurray for nibs that aren’t super smooth and “buttery”.
Pam: I do really enjoy the Faber Castell nib. It’s a pleasant nib to write with and does somewhat remind me of a pencil in terms of feedback. It’s not super smooth, but the feedback isn’t distracting either. The nib performed well and had more feedback on Midori paper than Tomoe River paper in my opinion. The nib is a good balance between dry and wet. It’s dry enough for a decent consistent line, however, you also get to enjoy the ink color you have put into the Ondoro. I would prefer a more saturated ink in this instance given that I shading inks make my handwriting look messier, especially if it’s beyond a couple of sentences.
Franz: Aesthetically, the smaller nib size (#5?) looks good on this pen. I also love the design of dots with chevron shape. As for nib performance, the fine nib has a bit more feedbacl tha I refer. But I am the medium/broad nib kinda guy so not a biggie for me. It did write with a consistent ink flow though.
Roz: The nib was a bit scratchy for me at first, it took me a while to find a good angle – but I did find it! Once I got my angle down, the nib was pretty easy to write with. Additionally, the nib made a sound while writing that I really liked.
Write It Up
Katherine: I was initially hesitant about this pen (why I never bought a white one) because of the narrowed section. However, it’s surprisingly comfortable, but does force me to hold my pen slightly further back than I usually do (probably more like a normal person). I use the pen unposted and it’s well balanced and pleasant to write with for extended periods.
Pam: The short section was a bit of a concern for my dinky iron grip initially, however, I had no reasons to worry. The smooth transition from body to section meant that the entire pen is one big grip for me! The angles on the pen is soft enough that no corner actually bites into my hand and the section being tapered doesn’t detract from my capacity to grip the pen. I do get sweaty hands so there are times that I have to reposition a bit. Surprisingly, slippage was relatively minimal. That’s more my hand sweat problem and less about that pen.
Franz: Okay… writing with the Ondoro for 20 minutes, I’ve come up with some issues. Probably it’s just specific to me but I didn’t find the Ondoro comfortable to write with either posted or unposted. Posted, the cap definitely makes it unbalanced and top heavy. I seemed to have to exert some force to counterweight the cap to put the nib to paper. Unposted, the length is barely enough for my usual higher grip. With the Ondoro’s pinched/concave section, I needed to grip it higher because of the smaller diameter of the section.
Now here comes the probably just specific to me part and you as a reader shouldn’t worry too much about. Gripping the Ondoro higher above the section wasn’t comfortable for me either because my usual writing angle causes my fingers to land on the edges and not on the flat side of the facets. This bothered me a bit and when I adjust my grip to the flat sides of the facet, either the writing angle felt weird to me, or one of the nib’s tines was not hitting the paper optimally and caused me to feel scratchiness or more feedback. Again, this is possibly just me.
Roz: My grip tends to move around a lot when I write; so having to keep to a narrower range of angles, I really expected my hand to tire quickly. But I didn’t! The girth of the pen kept my hand from cramping up and the grip dipped in such a way that it really helped with my writing fatigue. Writing with the Ondoro unposted was a bit unbalanced for me. While I preferred to write posted, the cap does add a good amount of weight to be wielded.
Katherine: It’s a snap cap! Hurray! My only complaint with this pen as an EDC is that the snap isn’t satisfying — it doesn’t have that clean click that makes me think “now my pen is capped”. I’m not sure if all Ondoros are like this, or if it’s because this one came to me used. That being said, I’ve never had it uncap itself, so it seems pretty secure and my gripes about an unsatisfying snap are purely aesthetic. (Does the word “aesthetic” still apply to how satisfying something is to hear and feel?)
Pam: I love a good snap cap! I makes me so happy that it’s so quick and easy to deploy at work. The snap does leave a bit to be desired in terms of “aesthetics”, but on the flip side, it’s a quiet snap cap action so it’s not going to announce to the world that your capping and uncapping your pen. The clip worked pretty well in my white coat pocket, nothing crazy notable in terms of tightness or looseness when it came down to it snagging on the fabric.
Franz: Echoing the ladies here, snap cap FTW. =) It definitely is a good pen for on-the-go, quick notes kind of writing. And the fine nib performed very well with copier paper found in our office.
Roz: I kept the Ondoro snugly in my Nock case during transport. I don’t get to write a ton during my work day, so it was really fun to bust this pen out for random thoughts, meeting notes, and quick breakdowns.
Final Grip-ping Impressions
Katherine: I like this pen! At $150 MSRP, I think it’s a little steep for a steel nib, but it has a unique look and often shows up slightly discounted. It’s a solid pen with a solid nib that makes a great sturdy EDC.
Pam: I honestly really like the Faber Castell Ondoro. It’s a great pen for those who enjoy faceted pens, an industrial aesthetic, and a snap cap. The nib is a great bonus. With the different colors available, it’s a great statement pen for those looking for a good pizazz in their pockets.
Franz: Here’s another plus one for liking the Ondoro’s aesthetics and its faceted disposition. I love the nib’s looks and performance, and that orange is very pleasing. I have stated (with some length) how I feel about writing with the pen for a longer period of time and I’m thankful that I got to try it without buying one. I’ve concluded that because of my larger paw, and kinda picky writing angle, this pen isn’t really for me. And that means I won’t steal… er… borrow the pen for a long time from Katherine. =)
Roz: Overall, the Faber Castell Ondoro was an interesting one for me to try out. Without a doubt the Ondoro is a pen that makes a statement, but in the end I think it was too much pen for me. And I’m still not sure about my opinion on facets!
I got to Aesthetic Bay at 10am, in preparation for an 11am appointment. The slots, predictability, ran late. Yoshida-san got to my pens at about 2:30. But, it was more than worth the wait. (Also waiting with fellow Nakaya fans is a lot of fun)
While waiting, I met several other Nakaya enthusiasts, oggled their collections, egged people on into buying their own Nakaya, talked about notebooks… etc etc. It turns out that I don’t get hungry as fast when standing around with a bunch of other rabid pen folks. Pen clinic adrenaline?
At the clinic, Yoshida-san and his assistant (I think her name is Sanae-san, but I’m not 100% sure) will tune or adjust any Nakaya or Platinum pen. However, they will not grind Platinum pens, only Nakaya. And some grinds take a while, so they don’t do them at the clinic, they need to be brought back to Japan and will be shipped back to their owner (someone asked for an Architect and that was the response, I’m not sure which other grinds fall into that category).
My first request was a stub on a BB nib. It’s a joy to watch Yoshida-san work, he uses no power tools — only traditional whetstones and some elbow grease. Additionally he has made a lot of his own tools — special feeds for grinding, a steamer with silicon blocks for warming feeds and a bunch of other things that we didn’t see in action.
My pen (the stub) compared with the music nib from their nib testing set. The two nibs put down similar-ish lines, but feel very different when writing. The BB stub is extremely smooth on both sides, possibly even smoother when used upside down. Sorcery.
After this Yoshida-san tuned and tweaked a couple nibs for me, and installed a wisteria roll stop on a kuro-tamenuri Decapod Mini for me. The first picture in this post is all the pens he worked on for me. (I guess people like me are why all the slots ran late…)
Nakaya also brought out this super cool yatate in the morning, a wooden single pen holder. It’s made of wood, with fabric cushioning on the inside and finished with urushi.
Unfortunately it also costs more than many entry level Nakaya… so I’m sticking to my Musubi two pen case (which is also far more practical). Speaking of Musubi,
I had a chance to oggle the new Musubi sizes — here they are compared against a Nakaya Piccolo. So cute!
Here’s a last photo of Yoshida-san, installing my rollstop, but more importantly, you can see his customized kettle for warming feeds. Steam comes up between the white silicon blocks and warms the feed, while the nibs never get scratched.
I don’t know when the next pen clinic will be, but if you love Nakaya as much as I do, I highly recommend going. Many thanks to Aesthetic Bay for putting this together and hosting!