Filtering by Author: Brad Dowdy

Three Questions With Patrick Rhone

To know Patrick Rhone is to love him. I'm a big fan of all of his work, from Minimal Mac, to The Cramped, to his many books. Did you know Patrick is one of the reasons the Pen Addict Podcast exists? Yep, that too. My thanks to Patrick for taking the time to answer Three Questions.

1. What role do analog tools such as pens, pencils, and paper play in your day to day life?

That's like asking me what role does walking play in my day to day life. I mean, I find that rarely a few minutes go by when I'm not interacting with some analog tool or resource. Be it writing notes, changing the status of items on a task list, reading a book (yes, the dead tree kind), or logging something in my daily log. I just simply love paper and use paper and pen constantly. I always have it within reach. Even when I'm sleeping because I have had whole books reveal themselves in dreams and I need to make sure I can capture those when I'm startled awake by them.

2. What are your favorite products you are currently using?

Gosh, not sure where to start. Here are a few:

I'm really loving the Pilot Metropolitan right now. I have a ton of fountain pens at all price and quality levels but find I use this one mainly these days. It's not only a great "starter" fountain pen it is a reliable and steadfast "every day" pen.

I also have pretty much abandoned all other pocket notebooks in favor of the Muji A6 Craft Cover notebooks. They actually take fountain pen ink very well despite the fact the paper is recycled. I use fine nibs as my handwriting is pretty small so your millage here may vary. But, I have also fallen in love with the A6 as a size. I have found that it is the perfect size of notebook for me — a bit more wide than the US standard. This is likely due to my love of...

The Hobonichi Techo that I use as a Journal and Daily Log. This has become my most prized possession. Like, if the house caught fire I'd grab my wife, my kid, my pets, and this thing and go running out the door still in my underwear and watch the rest of it burn to the ground (the fire would keep me warm so who needs clothes, right?). It is the only journal or log that I have continuously maintained for more than a few months. And, thats because it is a joy and pleasure to use. Especially the Tomoe River paper that it is filled with.

Speaking of Tomoe River paper, I'm currently researching and writing my next book in a Seven Seas "WRITER" A5 Journal from Nanami Paper and Supply. I also got the faux leather cover for mine at the same time. It, also, is a pleasure to write in with a fine pen and gives the work a greater elegance and gravity. Makes my writing feel important even if it is not.

3. What post are you the most proud of on your blog?

Actually, on The Cramped it is a post that I felt was more of a manifesto so I made it a page, Why Analog?

It states, definitively, why I use analog tools, why they still matter, and why they remain better than digital for so many reasons.

Posted on January 31, 2015 and filed under Three Questions.

The Pen By Ajoto Review

I didn't back the original Ajoto pen Kickstarter. In retrospect, that was a huge mistake now that I have one in my hands that Ajoto graciously sent me. It is an exercise in beautiful simplicity, which is often times difficult to get right. Ajoto has nailed it with The Pen.

The first thing you notice when opening the envelope is the packaging surrounding the pen. I'm not a packaging guy in general, most of it hits the trash after all, but what Ajoto did here makes you take notice. The pen itself lays in a molded cork tray which slides into an anodized aluminum box. And not just that, there are additional printed cards included to top the cork box with (that also includes your product serial number) and a great little folded card covered in the Ajoto logo that holds the refill. If Ajoto cares this much about their packaging, then what is contained inside must really be special.

And it is. The overall feel of the pen is not just solid, but completely in sync as a whole. This is done by limiting the moving parts and having a smooth twist deployment mechanism for the refill. It is quiet, easy, and simple. To top it off, the refill the pen is built around is the Schmidt P8127, which for my dollar is the best rollerball refill on the market.

All of the fawning up to here would be pointless if the Ajoto pen didn't live up to its design beauty when ink hits the page. And there, it excels. In a metal machined pen, in this case brass, balance is key. Many first time pen manufacturers miss this critical point, but not Ajoto. At 50 grams, weight could be an issue, but the way the pen is balanced makes it feel almost weightless as the pen glides across the page. An impressive feat for sure.

The elephant in the room with the Ajoto pen is the price. It is very expensive, with aluminum models starting at £125 (~$188), and moving on up the charts for Brass, Rose Gold, Rhodium, and 14ct Gold barrels. This is not a purchase to be made without consideration.

After using the pen, I understand the price. This is a high-quality production that will last a lifetime. That doesn't make it any easier to pull the trigger though, and I would have a hard time recommending it over pens a fraction of the price. But, if you are looking for something unique that will make an impression in the hand and on the page then Ajoto is a brand well worth checking out.

My thanks to Ajoto for providing this pen at no charge for review purposes.

Posted on January 30, 2015 and filed under Pen Reviews, Ajoto.

AskPA: Punting On The Prera

@chiroho: @dowdyism What sort of cloth do you wipe your fountain pens with when inking them? Do you use something different when cleaning them? #AskPA

If I am doing a cleaning session where I have myself set up at the sink and going to town on a bunch of pens I use a plain paper towel. I generally have it damp, but I really take no other precautions than that, and it works well for me.


@chiroho: @dowdyism You said ink like J Herbin Stormy Grey is best used for dipping. What calligraphy dip pens/nibs would you recommend? #AskPA

I use a Morriset (no relation to Morrissey) glass dip nib. I have two: One screws into a handle made for me by Shawn Newton, the other, possibly more useful one, fits most old Esterbrook pens. They aren't impossible to find, and when you do they run under $10 from what I have seen. Definitely worth hunting down.


Pilot Custom 74 Orange Barrel

Pilot Custom 74 Orange Barrel

@elpmike: @dowdyism #AskPA Fave sub-$250 FP with a F/EF gold nib? And, fave ≤0.5 rollerball/gel pen that comes in more than 6 colors? Thanks!

The sub-$250 gold nib fountain pen could go so many different directions. Lamy 2000 is the easy answer, but I have been using my Pilots - the 74, 91, 92, and 912 - a ton recently. All easily fit in that price range, with my orange Custom 74 and blue Custom 92 getting the most action.

Fave sub-0.5 mm gel ink pen with great than six colors available is easy: Uni-ball Signo UM-151 0.38 mm (aka the DX).


@Sketchscape: @dowdyism If you could only ink up three fountain pens for the next six months, what would they be? #askPA

I love this type of question! Number one is easy: Nakaya Portable Ao-Tamenuri with Fine cursive italic nib. It's much tougher after that, but the Pilot Custom Heritage 912 PO nib would be second, and a relatively new to me Lamy 2000 with a Bold cursive italic nib that I am having a ton of fun with. Interestingly, all three are black barrel pens.


@mattbrictson: @dowdyism What are your thoughts these days on the Pilot Prera? You spoke very highly of it back in episode 2 (“My Favorite Pens”) #AskPA

Follow up! The nib on the Prera is fantastic, but overall there are better options these days. The Pilot Metropolitan has usurped it by having a metal barrel and the same nib at less than half the price. I'd even go TWSBI 580 over it for ~$15 more. The Prera has fallen behind and could use an overhaul.


@Nic_v5: @dowdyism Are you an early bird or just a night owl? I'm up because I'm stuck in the office all night with IBM support. Your excuse? #askpa

I'm an early bird stuck working 3rd shift for the past few years. That doesn't work out too well for me.


That's all for this week! I have plenty more to get to, and if you want to add your question to the list be sure to use the hashtag #AskPA on Twitter.

Posted on January 29, 2015 and filed under AskPA.

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 139 - This Is Gonna Be A Party

Thank you all for allowing this short diversion this week. Between the surprise Kickstarter launch and not covering a single thing we planned on covering on the podcast, I owe you all some new pen review goodness. I'll make it up to you - I promise!

Myke and I thank you so much for supporting our little adventure. We literally could not have done something like this without you. If you are interested in how this all came together this is the podcast for you.

And there are more surprises to come...

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

lynda.com: An easy and affordable way to help individuals and organizations learn. Free 10-day trial.

Posted on January 27, 2015 and filed under Podcast.