Posts filed under Fountain Pens

OMAS Limited Edition Calligraphy Set Review

When Kenro Industries reached out to me last year about reviewing some products I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on beautiful pens like the Omas Ogiva Cocktail, Arte Italiana London Smoke, and Arte Italina ART? I had high expectations for these pens, and was blown away across the board.

What I didn’t expect from Kenro was the inclusion of the OMAS Limited Edition Calligraphy Set in my reviewer box of goodness. This is no ordinary calligraphy set mind you. This is where the big boys and girls play, and Omas has put together a package that is hard to beat for serious writers and fans of the Omas brand.

Image via Kenro Industries

Image via Kenro Industries

To get started, let’s discuss everything that is included in this kit. There is but a single pen barrel: The Omas Milord, limited and numbered as part of the 331 sets released. Along with the pen barrel, the four nibs included are the stars of this show. They are as follows:

  • 14kt gold – Broad
  • 18kt gold – Italic
  • 18kt gold – Fine
  • 14kt gold – Extra Fine, Extra Flessible

The pen and nibs are held in a soft Italian leather case that also holds a converter, ink cartridges, and an Omas notebook. Everything you need to get writing, all in one package. And what a package it is.

If you read any of the previous Omas reviews you know my thoughts on their nibs. I don’t think best in the business is an understatement. I have yet to use an Omas nib that hasn’t impressed, and the nibs in this set are no different.

The standouts in this set are the non-standard nibs: The Italic and the EF Flessible. They are both buttery smooth, with crisp lines from the Italic and wonderful line variation from the flex nib. You need to get these nibs in your hand one day to see how superior they truly are.

The stock Broad and Fine nibs are wonderful in their own right, but I would have liked to see even more variation in what is included in this set. It is a calligraphy set after all, so how about a finer stub and and even wider italic? Increase the variety and make this set even more special.

The idea behind the set is wonderful, the products are beautiful, but when putting the whole set in use in one sitting I ran into some roadblocks. The first is that it ships with only one converter. For a set that retails for around $1500 you could toss me a few more converters, right?

That brings us to the next issue. I have four nibs and I want to use four different ink colors. No problem, I grab three more standard international converters to fill with ink, along with the one provided. I have fun using all the nibs, swapping them in and out of the barrel as needed, writing a wonderful letter with amazing artwork. When it is time to pack up, I cap one nib in the barrel…and have three left with ink and converters in them.

If I am out and about and not at home, this is an issue because I cannot store those inked nibs back in the case cleanly. There is no way to seal them off, and rolling them up in the case will make a mess. I don’t want to clean them either because I have full converters and want to use them again tomorrow for more creative awesomeness. I’m stuck.

At home, I temoprarily solved this problem but putting the three remaining nibs and converters in a ziploc bag. An inelegant solution for an elegant product. That is fine in the very short term, as in a day or two, but any longer and the ink starts to evaporate.

It’s clear that this is a luxury set created for a luxury market. I’m good with that. Actually great with it because getting to use all of these nibs was a treat. But it is not a functional set in that it works as a portable calligraphy kit.

For the price, I would like four complete barrels in the set, even if you have to sacrifice on the barrel quality just a bit. The majority of the cost is tied up in the four gold nibs anyway, so why not allow the nibs to be in use AND stored at the same time a priority? That would be a big improvement in my eyes.

My thanks to Kenro Industries for loaning this, and all other Omas pens to me for review. I’ll miss them all when I ship them back this week!

Posted on February 1, 2016 and filed under Calligraphy Pens, Fountain Pens, Omas.

Big Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Giveaway

Image via Goulet Pens

Image via Goulet Pens

The Pilot Metropolitan is the best fountain pen for beginners, and it's pretty awesome for experienced fountain pen users as well. I have SIX of the latest release, the Retro Pop Series, to giveaway courtesy of the fine folks at Goulet Pens.

To win one of these pens, follow the instructions below, but add one thing in your comment: Tell me what color is your favorite Retro Pop. You can see all the colors available here. I can't guarantee you will get the color you selected, but if I have a match available I will certainly send it your way. Otherwise, enjoy the surprise when you open it!

The rest of the details:

  1. Leave one comment on this post anytime between now, and Friday night at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. You are limited to one entry. This contest is open to US and International readers.

  2. For this contest, I will pick six winners at random from the comments section of this post. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.

  3. The contest winners will be posted on Saturday, January 30th. The winners will have one week to email me via the Contact link at the top of the page.

Thanks and good luck!

Posted on January 26, 2016 and filed under Giveaways, Pilot, Metropolitan, Fountain Pens.

Negotiations

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

One of the most interesting things I've gotten to be a part of in the dozen years I have spent at my company is the biannual contract negotiations with our labor union. Management and labor have had a great working relationship for decades, and while negotiations with them are tough, I enjoy being able to participate in the process. I feel lucky; I read about companies that have an acrimonious relationship with their union, and I imagine that wouldn't be any fun at all.

My role on the team has historically been to negotiate and consult on shop rules, operational issues, and our job posting procedure. I'm not a financial guy or a benefits expert - we have other folks on our team to handle those questions. We've had a pretty cohesive team for a number of years.

But this year, the team was shaken up: Peter, our lead negotiator, passed away after a short battle with cancer. He had sat in the "big chair" since 1979 and was a master at what he did. He had a gift for keeping all the proposals and counter-proposals straight in his head, and he knew what we could and couldn't agree to. He was the lead dog and we all followed him. To say his absence from the negotiations process made us nervous was an understatement. Mike, our vice-president of Human Resources and for six years Peter's wingman, suddenly found himself with a lot of responsibility on his shoulders.

We were sitting in a planning meeting when Mike commented that he was worried about keeping track of everything and having a record of everything we talked about. "I feel like we need someone to take really good notes, so we can refer back to conversations or comments if we need to," he said. I realized as he said it that I was the man for the job. I had worked for a few years in journalism and had gotten good at taking notes on the fly, and I was a relatively experienced member of the team and would know what was important to take down.

Plus, I thought, this would be an opportunity for a lot of writing with fountain pens. Help the team and feed my addiction at the same time? Sign me up!

I raised my hand. "I'll do it," I said.

Negotiations lasted two weeks. Most days, our first session with the union team would start before 10 a.m. We would discuss issues and concerns back and forth with the union, and then break into separate meeting rooms to "caucus" on what we had just discussed. This process of meet together and then meet separately would continue into the evening, usually until 7 or 8 p.m. There was a lot of discussion, a lot of back-and-forth, and that meant pages and pages of notes. I have medium-to-large handwriting and prefer a medium nib, so I went through paper quickly. I was still a little surprised when, with one day left to go, I finished the last page of an 80-sheet A4 Rhodia Ice pad. I had hoped I would have plenty of opportunity to use fountain pens, and I certainly did.

The most rewarding part was when our corporate attorney asked if I was saving my notes. "Of course," I said. "I'm handing them in to our Document Services person to be typed up."

"That's good, but you should keep the handwritten notes as well," he said.

My notes were full of scratch-outs, misspellings, and the occasional doodle. Why would our lawyer want me to save them?

"Your notes are considered a 'contemporaneous' account of the proceedings," he said. "They have a value in a court or an arbitration because they have not been edited or modified," he said.

I was tickled. To think that my multi-colored chicken scratch had legal standing was almost too funny to comprehend. The likelihood that my notes would ever end up in a courtroom was slim to none, but I was delighted nonetheless that my indulgent hobby could one day be entered into evidence.

We ended up getting a fair contract - both sides felt a little pain, which is the hallmark of a good negotiation. It was one of the more stressful things I'd done in my career. Making a mistake could have meant a strike and a dent in our longstanding labor peace. Losing Peter's leadership meant we had find our own way through this fire swamp, which was difficult.

At the same time, I enjoyed using my pens and trying out inks. I rarely get to write as much as I did during those seven nerve-wracking days. It felt odd, almost scandalous, to have fun during such a serious time. It was like fighting a fire in flip-flops or running a space shuttle launch from a hot tub. It reminded me of the line from "Mary Poppins": "In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. Find the fun, and SNAP! The job's a game."

Perhaps that's one of the reasons all of us pen addicts are so passionate about our crazy hobby. Whether we're in foodservice or finance, programming or procurement, creative or corporate, using an excellent pen takes away a little drudgery and adds a little happiness to our days.

Pens I used, in no particular order:

  • Modern Conklin Duragraph (medium nib) with J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche – I really enjoyed the medium nib on this pen.
  • Pelikan M1000 (medium) with Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite – Conversely, this medium nib was too wet and broad for rapid note taking.
  • Delta Unica (medium) with Organics Studios Uranium – I picked up the limited edition of the Unica in the gold-orange celluloid. Looks amazing, writes wonderfully.
  • Franklin-Christoph Model 19 (medium) with Sailor Shigure. – I love the feel of this pen in hand, but the nib had some minor skipping issues.
  • Bexley Stalwart (medium) with Private Reserve Naples Blue – The Bexley was wonderful, and the grooved barrel provided excellent grip during quick notes. The Naples Blue, on the other hand, dried WAY too slowly on Rhodia paper. Those pages ended up all smeary.
  • Pilot Custom 74 (fine) with Sailor Oku-Yama – Love Pilots. Just love ‘em.
  • Pilot Prera (medium) with Pilot Blue cartridge – To this day, even against much more expensive pens, the Prera still holds its own. My stone-cold, lead-pipe recommendation for anyone’s second fountain pen.
  • Franklin-Christoph Model 3 (medium) with Noodler’s General of the Armies – The Model 3 is a solid writer if not spectacular. The Noodler’s is really nice in finer-nibbed pens, but in this medium, the dry time was a little long for notetaking.
  • Pelikan M205 (medium) with Organics Studios F. Scott Fitzgerald – This pen fell way, way down in my personal rankings after negotiations. It took a lot of pressure to get a consistent line, and with the small barrel diameter, my hand got tired quick.
  • Pilot Custom Heritage 92 (medium) with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Ryoku. – The Custom 92 was my first grail pen. It’s an all-time favorite.
  • Faber-Castell Ondoro (medium) with Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki – The Faber-Castell steel nibs are very nice, and that’s about it.
  • Lamy 2000 (medium) with Organics Studios Edgar Allen Poe – I feel like the writing experience with the Lamy 2000 is particularly dependent on the ink used. The Poe was a good match and enjoyed using the 2000.
Posted on January 15, 2016 and filed under Guest Post, Fountain Pens.

Omas Arte Italiana Milord Fountain Pen Review

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

If flexible nibs are wrong, I don't want to be right.

I've been using this Omas Arte Italiana Milord for the past few weeks, and it blew my mind the first time I used it. It's my first exposure to Omas, but it's also my first exposure to such a silky smooth, effortlessly flexible nib. If you'be never heard of or tried Omas, you really need to at some point.

The "extra flessible" nib is pure delight, but let's talk a bit about the rest of the pen first.

The aesthetics

The Milord I have is the London Smoke color, which is a gray with subtle swirls. The accents are silver and look extremely well done. When you pick this pen up, there's not doubt in your mind that it is made of high quality materials and workmanship. Even though the pen is light, it feels solid and reliable.

The pen has 12 facets (dodecogon), which gives the pen visual interest, but also makes it nice to grip. The cap features some classy Omas branding around the bottom of the cap, and a simple ring on top of the cap. The clip is strong, nicely shaped, and has a functioning wheel toward the end that allows easier use when sliding it on or off another object.

When you unscrew the cap, the beautiful nib is the first thing you notice. It's long and slender, but fits the rest of the pen body perfectly. The grip section is smooth, and there's a nice 12-sided silver piece at the base of the nib that provides extra grip.

The decoration on the nib is minimal. It has the words "Extra Flessible" engraved toward the top, and then "Omas" and "14k" toward the base. The feed is has a remarkably low profile, which keeps it from looking bulky. Overall, the nib is completely elegant and simple.

The pen accepts cartridges or a converter. I've been using a converter since day 1, and it's been great. The rest of the pen body is flawless and gorgeous. I particularly like the London Smoke color because it has subtle variations that show up in different light.

When unscrewing or screwing on the cap, it feels solid. There's a very high tolerance on the threads, and it makes the process enjoyable.

Overall, the pen is gorgeous, and I'm a huge fan of the design and overall look. The 12-faceted shape suits it perfectly and adds a lot of visual interest. Plus, it keeps the pen from rolling if you set it down uncapped.

That nib

I'm not exaggerating when I say this nib gave me chills when I first used it. I had no idea a flexible nib could be so effortless, smooth, consistent...the list goes on. I'm completely amazed by how well the nib performs. I'be used a couple of flex nibs in my day (a Pilot Elabo/Falcon and a Stipula steel nib), but they don't come close to touching the Omas. It's perfection. Really, this could be your only nib because it works so well.

When using the pen for regular writing, the nib behaves and keeps a fairly consistent line width. Also, it requires a feather touch to put ink down, so that takes a bit of practice. When writing this way, the line width is somewhere between a European EF or F. I've used this pen for several writing sessions and never got tired of using it. It's an excellent performer.

But, when you add a little pressure to your down-strokes, the magic happens. The gold nib is extremely soft and easy when you unleash the flex. It takes practically no effort to generate enough flex to equal a M or B line width on the page. Like I said, I've been using this pen for several weeks, and it still shocks me by how smooth it writes when flexing.

One peculiar characteristic about the pen, though, is the sound it makes when writing. It sounds a bit scratchy, but scratchy isn't the correct word. It's more of a light rubbing sound on the page. It's strange to me because that sound is usually associated with a rough nib, but that's not the case at all. The nib is silky smooth, but still makes a light scratching noise. It's not a down-side at all, but is something that still intrigues me.

I've never had any issues with the pen having starting or skipping issues. When flexing the nib, I have not been able to create any railroad marks. The flow to the nib is plentiful, but not too heavy when writing normally. When I call this nib perfect, I'm not misusing the word at all. That's simply all there is to it.

Conclusion

The Omas Arte Italiana Milord is an exceptional pen, and the Extra Flessible nib from Omas is perfect. With these two descriptions, you have something close to a perfect pen. Now, with that being said, it's no surprise that the price of such a pen is also extraordinary. The retail price of this pen at Pen Chalet is $575, but you can find it on sale for somewhere around $520 sometimes. If you've ever looked at Omas before, you know that they aren't cheap. From what I'be seen, the price is worth the attention to detail, quality, and experience you get from one of their writing instruments. Still, that price is completely within bounds for many other fountain pens that we're familiar with. It's all about what you want in a pen that makes it worth the price or not.

If you like the looks of the Milord and love a good flexible gold nib, this pen is definitely one you should seriously consider if it's within your budget. Since this pen is on loan to me for the review, all I can say is that I will miss it when it's gone. It will be the standard for every flexible nib I try in the future, and it's a high standard.

(Kenro Industries loaned this product to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 13, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pens, Omas.