Kaweco Royal Blue Fountain Pen Ink: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Kaweco Royal Blue is a blue ink that is similar to Waterman's Serenity Blue but exhibits more of a purple hue. It flows nicely from my Pelikan's italic nib and is neither too wet nor too dry. It has no odor to it (some inks do). The blue pops nicely on white paper but is more subdued on cream or other colors of paper.

This ink should be perfectly suitable for correspondence. I would feel comfortable using it in a business setting, but it might have too much purple in it for some tastes.

The ink does not exhibit any sheen, and the shading is minimal. With a fine point nib, the ink may be too light, but with wider nibs it has good saturation.

At $17.50 for 30ml on JetPens, this isn't the cheapest ink you can buy or the most expensive. If you like a blue ink with a purple cast to it, then this is a great choice. If, however, you prefer a truer blue or blue-black ink, then I would not recommend Royal Blue.

I prefer inks with a little more character--lots of saturation, shading, sheen, unique colors, etc. So, I doubt Kaweco Royal Blue will be in my regular rotation. But I'm impressed by its good flow and it behaves well.

Pros

  • Good blue-purple color
  • Good flow, not too heavy or dry
  • No distinctive, annoying odor
  • A good choice for a basic blue ink

Cons

  • Does not exhibit sheen or much shading
  • The purplish cast might make this less suitable for business use
  • A little expensive
Fun with lighting!

Fun with lighting!

Posted on March 27, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, Kaweco.

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 147 - I Can't Get it Out of My Head

The pen, pencil, and paper community never ceases to amaze me. Everyone is always ready to lend a hand at a moments notice, especially during, but not limited to, times of need. We discuss the raffle to help one of our own and the theme of community permeates the entire episode. Myke and I also talk about some recent purchases and discuss the update to my Top 5 Pens list.

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Dudek Modern Goods: Use code 'PENADDICT' for 10% off.

Massdrop: An online community for enthusiasts of all kinds.

Bushel: A cloud-based mobile device management solution for the Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Posted on March 26, 2015 and filed under Podcast.

Zebra Sarasa Gel Multi Pen Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

In the world of multi pens, there are probably hundreds (thousands?) of different pen, refill, maker, body, and color options available. For the most part, the multi pen version of your favorite gel or ballpoint will likely be just as good as the regular single refill pen. But, there are still differences, and that's why picking up multi pens can be so much fun.

As a kid, I always treasured my Bic 4-Color because of the versatility of having 4 colors (4!) in a single pen. But, as you probably know, those aren't the best refills. Luckily, there are many, many options out there to fit your needs/wants.

The Zebra Sarasa gel multi pen fits a specific genre for my uses: it's inexpensive, it has gel refills, and it writes really well. In this genre, the Zebra is my absolute favorite (possibly until Pilot decide to offer a Juice multi pen, but who knows if that will happen). With that said, let's get into a bit more detail on this little gem.

Options

Like any good multi pen, the Sarasa has plenty of options for you to choose from. As far as the internals go, you can get a few different configurations (every option is in 0.5mm): - 2 gel and mechanical pencil - 3 gel - 3 gel and mechanical pencil - 4 gel and mechanical pencil

After the internals are chosen, you still have more options for body colors. The colors are slightly different for each configuration.

Feel

To be honest, some multi pens can feel cheap, uncomfortable, or make rattling noises when writing. This isn't the case for the Sarasa. The plastic body has a sturdy build with a nice strong clip — similar to the single refill Sarasa version. There's a nice rubberized grip section that makes writing just a bit more comfortable, and the barrel is a nice width for writing comfortably. I've used this pen for some long note-taking sessions, and it's never been uncomfortable to use.

Oh, and the clip has an auto-retract feature that retracts the refill if you clip it onto something (like a shirt or bag pocket).

The refills

Ah, yes. The refills — one of the most important aspects. If the Sarasa multi pen refills write any differently than the original Sarasa Clips, I can't tell. They're really good.

The ink flow is smooth and consistent, there are never any skips or hard starts, and the lines on the page are super crisp. For me, it's an absolute pleasure to write with. I've never had the ink act in a way that was undesired or unpleasant. Again, it's really good.

Now, these aren't the same refills as you'd find in the Zebra Sharbo X bodies, so just be aware of that going in. As far as I know, the Sarasa refills are proprietary and only fit this one series, but I could be wrong. I only have so many multi pens around to test.

At the end of the day, the quality of the refills for the price make this a stupid-good value. You're spending between 6 and 10 dollars for the pen and refills, which is a bargain. The refills are also inexpensive at just over a buck. Of course, these refills are skinny and won't last anywhere near as long as a regular pen, but that's the price we pay for having options.

Wrap up

I've tried a lot of multi pens, and I've always been impressed and happy with the Sarasa. If you're looking for a 0.5mm gel ink multi pen, I'd highly recommend these.

Posted on March 25, 2015 and filed under Multi Pen, Pen Reviews, Zebra.

I Let My Wife Pick My Grail Pen

(This is a guest post by Jon Bemis. You can find Jon on Twitter @jtower42.)

I haven’t been a fountain pen user for very long, but the good fortune of having a little bit of disposable income to put towards my pen addiction has allowed me to explore a broad range of pens at a number of price points. When I first decided I wanted a fountain pen, I had the same reaction most people do; “I can’t believe I’m seriously thinking about dropping nearly thirty dollars on a Lamy Safari!” But I fairly quickly passed through several price barriers – fifty dollars (Monteverde Intima), a hundred dollars (Pelikan M205), one hundred and fifty dollars (Pilot Custom 74). My sensitivity to price was decreasing at a rate proportional to the enjoyment I was getting out of my new hobby.

Somewhere around two hundred dollars, however, I got twitchy. It happened with my first two hundred dollar pen (Edison Pearlette) and remains a sticky price point for me. There is an arbitrary line in my brain, a little voice that says, “Two hundred dollars is A LOT of money.”

Then I heard about Nakaya.

The priciest pens I had seen up to that point – the Montblancs, Viscontis, Auroras – they held little appeal. At least not at their (in my opinion) inflated price points. But when I saw a Nakaya for the first time on The Pen Addict, that voice in my head, my two-hundred dollar conscience? He didn’t have a chance. They were SO BEAUTIFUL. And everyone in the pen community who owned one RAVED about their Nakaya.

So in early fall, when my wife Dana started asking me what I wanted for Christmas, I blurted out “A Nakaya.” She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and asked, “Is that a pen?”

I tried to explain how it wasn’t just a pen, it was a capital-P PEN. Number one on a short list of grail pens. I could tell I wasn’t getting through. I talked about the art of urushi lacquer and its roots in ancient Japan. I tried to explain how a perfectly balanced pen becomes an extension of one’s hand. I attempted to describe what it was to write with a perfect nib, strong but soft, smooth but responsive.

Her expression was a mixture of bemusement and befuddlement. She clearly thought I was in the grip of some terrible fever, and I knew most of my homily was lost on her. She also saw my eyes were shining and my excitement was real. One of Dana’s many qualities is her willingness to indulge some of my obsessions.

Then she asked how much a Nakaya would cost. I told her.

After a double-take and a longish pause, she asked where she could even find such a thing. I directed her to John Mottishaw and nibs.com. She pulled up the website on her tablet and browsed for a few minutes. Then she said the words I had been dreading second-most of all. (Obviously, the words I had been dreading first-most of all were, “That’s ridiculous. I’m not getting you that.”)

What she said instead was, “There are way too many choices here. Just tell me which one you want.” Some of you, at this point, will be wondering what the problem is. I’d been given carte blanche to select my grail pen. I had full freedom to choose exactly what I wanted! The proverbial green light! Why was this a problem?

The problem was I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. And what was more, I didn’t WANT to choose. While I was researching Nakayas, I tortured myself trying to decide which one would be “perfect.” I read reviews, asked Nakaya owners for opinions, and lamented the fact that I couldn’t get to Los Angeles to the pen show to take a test drive. I stayed in this analysis paralysis for months. So the idea of picking one, just one, to the exclusion of all others, was daunting.

So I took the middle road and gave her some parameters. I showed her the models I was interested in; the Portable Writer, the Dorsal Fin, and the Piccolo. I told her my favorite colors; brown-green, blue-green, red over black, and black over red. I did specify that I wanted a medium nib. So I had given her a dozen options. Three models, four colors, zero idea of which one she would choose.

I was never nervous. I never imagined, even for a moment, that I wouldn’t be happy with the pen she picked. Despite not knowing, I knew.

First, I knew that one of the best things about fountain pens and fine writing as a hobby is the infinite number of new experiences available to the open-minded. There are innumerable combinations of pen, ink, paper and nib, and no one can predict which will delight a given individual. So I allowed myself to be open to the idea that no matter which Nakaya I got, it would be a great experience.

Second, and more importantly, by putting the final decision about my grail pen in the hands of my wife, I would be getting a gift given with thought and given in love. I was trusting her with a (relatively speaking) important decision about a thing that was squarely in my world, not hers. I believed and trusted that she knew me, and by accepting the responsibility of choosing, she conveyed to me that she cherished that trust.

At that moment, sitting together in our living room in our favorite chairs, comfortable and happy together, I became certain that there could be no wrong choice. She couldn’t possibly choose the wrong pen, because any pen she chose would always be the pen she chose for me. I knew I would love the pen because I love her, and because she loves me. And when I unwrapped my new Dorsal Fin in Aka-Tamenuri on Christmas morning, I loved it.

We pen people are a little weird, a little off center. We can get a little crazy about pursuing THAT PEN. Letting someone else choose that precious possession may not be something everyone can do. It requires a willingness to let go that certainly didn’t come easy for me. For some, it may be impossible. For me, giving up that little bit of control made the Nakaya immediately and forever my favorite pen. Not just because it’s awesome (it is) but because it was always remind me of that Christmas, and of my wife and best friend who got it for me.

Posted on March 24, 2015 and filed under Nakaya.