While taking a shower and considering which pens would make the cut for my “Top 5” for 2018, I realized that I’ve gone pretty deep on a couple new (to me) makers/brands this year. It’s about time I branched out! It’s well known in the addict enthusiast community that I’m a bit Nakaya obsessed (see our 2017 Wrap-up for proof) so I’m excited to be diversifying.
Run by a husband & wife team, Stylo Art is well known for their beautiful wood, urushi and wood & urushi pens. Kazuno-san (Mr. Stylo Art, I guess?) turns the pens himself out of ebonite or interesting woods, including some less common Japanese species. The pens are then fitted with Pilot nibs (and often sections). I’ve admired their pens from a distance for a couple years, but this year I went from zero… to three. (And I have my eye on a fourth, but that’s for 2019)
The three I have are all in the “Asama” shape, the only one available for most of the urushi finishes. All three are fitted with Pilot #15 nibs, an FA, WA and PO from top to bottom. The Pilot nibs (and Kazuno-san’s tuning) make them all fantastic writers. Paired with unique and gorgeous finishes, what more could an urushi fangirl like me ask for?
Like the Stylos, I’d admired the Kasama pens before I owned one, but… also before Kasama became a brand. I’d seen a handful of prototypes during a FPN-Ph mini meet and loved the chunky, short shape and the interesting materials. Several months later, Kasama was born and my brother gifted me my first one for my birthday.
I tend to prefer the look of short pens, and the Kasama Una (the shape of all their pens so far) is short, but not narrow. To make matters worse, they’ve continued to experiment with models and color combinations… so I constantly find myself fighting the urge to collect them like Pokemon. (I’m not sure I’m winning) And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re made in the Philippines — I love the idea of putting my thoughts to paper with an implement that is hopefully the start of a new niche, craft and tradition in my (kind of) home country.
Urushi Studio Bokumondoh is made up of a single artist, Hiroko. She’s not a pen person herself, but she’s more than happy to do custom urushi work on pens you send her (the one caveat is that she can’t get under a clip, so either send pens with removable clips, or pick a design that leave the clip area plain). For my first order, I sent her one pen, for my second, I sent four.
I’ve had a fantastic time working with her on my pens — I had specific for some, and for others I asked her to do what she thought would be interesting. The results have been great all around. I’m currently thinking about sending her a third round, but I haven’t decided what should be in it. Perhaps a pen from Kasama? (She did do a couple pens with Stylo Art that were sold at the SF show this year)
What did you discover in 2018? What are you excited to carry forward into the New Year?
Franz: Another fantastic year has come and gone and 2018 has been an interesting year for me in terms of refining my pen focus. I believe I can categorize this year as both the Custom/One-Off Exploration, and the Vintage Search/Education type. I’ve actually bought less pens this year against any other year however it has been more deliberate and selective. This may be an influence from Katherine. Haha!
And here are my Top 5 Pens for 2018. This isn’t my greatest pens of all time however these are the pens that have been acquired within the year and has been inked up ever since I got it. Also a quick note, one of my invaluable stationery finds for the year is the Musubi pen case (pictured above). This has been a daily carry case for me at work and it secures my pens well.
Newton Pens Moody (Fine M800 Cursive Italic Nib) – I got the chance to be on Shawn’s wait list and it took me a while to figure out what I wanted. I supplied the M800 nib to Shawn, I asked him for a longer section, and also found this fantastic material. I got this early on in the year and it’s been a favorite ever since.
Pelikan M800 (Medium Nib) – I got this from the LA Pen Show from one of the trusted vendors. He said that this was a one-off and it took a long time for him to decide on selling this pen. He dubbed it “Pelimatic” even if the material in the binde used was from a Visconti Wall Street celluloid. I found it on Thursday night but I did not buy it until Friday afternoon. So I know that this pen was for me.
Pelikan M805 (Broad Nib) – This is sort of a cheat. This pen was a Black M805 and has been with me since 2014. However this year, the pen took a trip to Japan around September and came back in November with new clothes! =) The entire barrel and cap was customized with urushi lacquer by Hiroko of Bokumondoh. The technique/finish is called Ginpaku (silver leaf). I love everything about it!
Pilot Custom (Broad Nib) – Here’s a vintage pen that’s always been on my list. I love the Pilot MYU Black Stripe but I found that posting and unposting wasn’t the best for work. Now this Custom Black Stripe is pretty much a perfect Every Day Carry pen for me. A snap-cap, smooth juicy nib, and a simple aesthetic.
Parker Vacumatic Oversize – Hello Parker! =) Parker Vacumatics have always been a pen model that I love. I started getting into Vacumatics even way before I got into Pelikan. But I’ve always had the Major/Demi models which are quite small for my hand. I then decided on just getting the Maxima/Oversize models. This Burgundy Oversize model was an unexpected find while helping out with Mr. Rick Propas’ new website photos. I couldn’t stop ogling and fondling… er… admiring the pen while photographing it. So… this pen eventually found its way to my hands during a pen posse meetup. Aside from the pen itself, the nib is so good as well. Nib was customized to an italic and was provided to have some flex to it. #lovethispen
However, the biggest find for me in 2018 are my Pen Friends! I was lucky enough to be able to once again attend both the San Francisco and Los Angeles pen shows and was able to meet new people either just from the show or via online. The San Francisco Bay Pen Posse pen group has also grown and I’ve met great people whom I see at least once a month. I really love that there is an active pen group that is local to me as it lets me talk to like-minded people in this hobby. So here’s to 2019 for more pen adventures, more learnings, and more fun! Thank you for your readership dear friends!
Katherine: It’s been a crazy year for me — both personally and in terms of pens. In 2018 I discovered a couple new brands and makers (a post about this to follow!) and hoarded acquired more pens than was probably responsible. Whoops.
For my top 5 I’ve chosen a mix of both interesting and super-functional pens: Nakaya ao-tamenuri decapod mini, Japanese vintage (kamakura-bori), Nakaya heki-tamenuri dragon thingy, Parker 51 with ishime by Bokumondoh & Stylo Art Saiun-nuri.
All of them are reliable and solid writers, but honestly some are more practical than others. The Saiun-nuri sports a fantastic PO nib that’s great for my small handwriting and all sorts of paper. On the other end of the spectrum, the carved floral pen is a lever filler, a decent writer but not a pen I’d choose to EDC any time soon. (Though some of that is due to how uncommon it is, I’ve never seen another one like it… nor has anyone I know)
They’re also from a variety of sources, which adds to the fun. The Dragon Nakaya was from my July trip to Singapore for the Aesthetic Bay Nakaya fair. The floral kamakura-bori was muled from LA by a friend who sent me a picture of a dealer’s case, which I zoomed in on and fell in love, and Paypaled them the money… all while brushing my teeth. The funniest story is the Ao Decapod Mini’s — it had been a grail pen of mine for a while, and one day I woke up to a message “This is really silly, but I think I’ve had your grail pen in a drawer all this time, do you want it?” (Clearly, the answer was YES OMG HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT FOR IT… then I ran around my parents house squeeing for a while while my brother’s corgi chased me. Yep, that’s my life.)
I’m excited to see what 2019 brings, and how my hoard evolves! And, I think it goes without saying, if you happen to find a decapod mini in your drawer and want to send it to a new home, you know how to reach me! ♥
Pam: 2018 was a year of big changes for me, which included in less acquisitions (darn adulting!) and exploring what was already in my collection. At least, that’s what my top 5 pens are reflecting to me as we wrap up 2018.
Pilot Custom 823, F nib. I haven’t explored Pilots more expensive pens despite my love of the Pilot Prera. I have become a bit addicted to using this pen when it comes to a writing experience. It’s such a comfortable and smooth writer. It’s also my first vac! Now, if only I could find it’s one true ink pairing…
Lamy 2000, needlepoint grind by Mottishaw. An oldie but a goodie. You know you love a pen when you part with it only to buy it again. I parted with my original Lamy 2000 with the EF nib to a friend who loved it more than I did, only to miss it. I was fortunate enough to find someone at the SF pen show who was willing to part with the needlepoint Lamy 2000 that I coveted since the 2017 SF pen show. It was fated! Yes, I absolutely inked it with Sailor Yama-dori.
Sailor Blue Cosmos, MF nib is a bit of a surprise to me in terms of how much I enjoyed writing with the pen despite it’s broader, relatively speaking, nib size. It is currently paired with my new blue obsession, Iroshizuku Tsuya-Kusa. I can’t get enough of this warm blue which reminds me of bright summer skies. The MF nib shows off the color beautifully. This is my favorite pen and ink pairing in 2018.
Platinum 3776, UEF nib was a gift by the infamous Thomas Hall who is also known for his tiny “hantwriting.” From one tiny handwriting person to another, I am so grateful for this pen. It has been inked with Pilot Blue Black, my ode to Thomas Hall himself. Platinum is a brand that I was introduced to through Katherine who has a bit of a Nakaya obsession and now, I definitely understand why so many love the Platinum nibs as much as they do. I greatly appreciate how different the nibs of the big 3 Japanese brands feel and how they distinguish themselves. I find that to be particularly true in the super fine and extra fine sized nibs. The difference may appear to be minute, but when nib hits the paper, it’s a whole new world.
Brute Force Pequeno with Montblanc 144 nib became one of my favorite SF pen show memories this year and resulted in one of my favorite pens of 2018. I loved the body of the Pequeno but found the standard nib to be lackluster. I really wanted to write with the Montblanc 144 nib more, but hated the skinny body. Claire came to my rescue by notifying me that the 144 nib would fit a Jowo housing if I could acquire one. The hunt was on at the SF pen show! It resulted in trips down memory lane for both Troy and me as I showed him the new improved Pequeno. I paired with with Sailor Rikyu-cha because the broader, wetter Montblanc nib showed off the green-brown color so well. I am still intrigued and mesmerized with this ink color.
2018 was the year of me getting over the Sailor limited edition FOMO. It was a tough year for resisting temptation! It also is making me reconsider parts of my collection that I don’t use out of fear of losing or damaging the pen, particularly when it comes to the vintage fountain pens. In 2019, we are going to fix that! I am going to start rotating in my vintage collection and continue to fine tune my collection. To more inky and pen adventures in the upcoming year!