Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Kaweco Liliput Fireblue Fountain Pen Review

Reviewing the Kaweco Liliput Fireblue was a huge challenge, more so than any other pen I can remember. There is so much to discuss with it that even finding a starting place is difficult, but let's give it a shot.

The Fireblue pen came about as a special project from Kaweco CEO Michael Gutberlet. Each steel body Liliput - the first in this material I am aware of - crosses Mr. Gutberlet's desk to be individually tempered with a 600 degree flame to give them their distinctive look. JetPens has a great video showing how these pens come to life:

The colors that result are amazing. I got this pen sight unseen and when I opened the package to see what was inside it was a definite "whoa" moment. The blues, purples, coppers, silvers and nearly every other color of the rainbow had me inspecting every millimeter of this pen. It is fascinating to look at each and every time it is put into use.

Using it is great too, as it is with all of my Liliputs. The size makes it the most portable fountain pen on the market, and the steel body gives it a weight that the standard aluminum doesn't have and is close to the brass model. The nib I use is the bold cursive italic I swap between all of my Kawecos. Its crisp, sharp line is one of my favorites.

Since each Fireblue is hand finished it causes the pens to be somewhat supply constrained. They aren't limited but are a JetPens exclusive and the first batch of 40 or so pens sold out in a matter of hours. That shocked me to be perfectly honest because at nearly $170 this pen is very expensive. This is where my original dilemma comes in. Do you know what kind of awesome pens you can get for that price? It's a long list, and you could even grab multiple pens, and throw in some ink to boot.

So it boils down to this: The Kaweco Liliput Fireblue is pure luxury. Yes, many of the products I talk about that fit that description, but this one especially so. If you want a nice, portable fountain pen, you can grab the aluminum Liliput for $55, of upgrade to the amazing Brass Wave for $83. Is the Fireblue worth more than twice that? More people than I thought believe so. The market doesn't lie.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on December 22, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Kaweco, Liliput, Pen Reviews.

Pelikan M215 Blue Stripe XXXXF Waverly Nib Review

The Waverly nib is a special nib grind designed to make the tip of the nib smoother and more comfortable to write with. There is a slight upturn at the end of the nib, which hopefully you can see in the image above, and turning a standard Pelikan XF nib into something ultra fine with a Waverly grind should provide an excellent result. But it's not for me.

As my possibly flawed logic told me before even putting nib to paper, a Waverly grind should be worse in an XXXXF nib, especially on the horizontal strokes. At least with the way I grip and write with fountain pens. With the nib turned up, the sides of the nib will have a larger contact area on the page than a standard, straight XXXXF grind. Right? Writing with this nib grind confirmed just that.

If I am getting this fine of a nib grind done I want the resulting lines to be fine, sharp, and consistent. None of that happened with this nib. It wrote perfectly fine and was smooth, but the consistency was not there and it seems better suited for wider nib pens. My stock Pilot Vanishing Point EF nib fits my style more by a long shot.

My enabler Thomas loaned me this nib last year and feels similarly. I'd love to hear from anyone else with a Waverly nib grind to get another opinion and see if I am missing something. As it stands now, a standard ultra fine grind is the winner in this scenario.

Posted on December 19, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pelikan, Pen Reviews.

Cult Pens Mini Fountain Pen Black Edition Review

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

When Brad sent me the Cult Pens Mini fountain pen to review, the first thing I noticed was the BB nib. I'm kind of disappointed to say it's my first time writing with this size nib, but I'm glad I had the chance. It's not nearly as wide as I thought it would be, but it's so, so smooth.

Anyway, we'll get to the nib a bit later. Like I said, Brad sent me this pen to review and I was pretty excited to put it to use. So, who makes this stylish black pen? Cult Pens designed it, but it uses Kaweco nibs. In my opinion, a great combination. 29 pounds (about $47) is a fairly good price for a metal pen with a nice Kaweco nib. So, how does it stand up against other mini pens? Not bad, but it might not be for everyone.

First off, this pen really is mini. It's nearly the same exact length as a Kaweco Sport, but much slimmer. The black body and silver metal accents give it a classy, elegant look, and the small size makes it even more interesting to the eye. When you pick it up, it has a nice weight to it without being hefty. You can tell it's made of metal, but it's still lightweight and solid. The one thing that put me off initially about the look of the pen is the Cult Pens logo on the top of the cap opposite the clip. It's a bit large and the spacing between the letters seems cramped. Also, the typeface could be more elegant. It doesn't seem to match the overall style of the pen. But, those are minor niggles.

The cap screws onto the pen, and the threads feel good. No squeaking or harshness in the turns. Like most Kawecos, I can't use it without posting the cap. The cap posts solidly on the bottom of the pen, and it turns it into a decent length for writing.

Everything is good for me so far, but then it takes a major hit when it comes to the grip. Personally, I love metal grips. This is a metal grip, but it's just too thin for me. I can't get a comfortable grip on the pen because my fingers are too close together when writing. Also, I'm not a huge fan of the scoring in the grip – four rings around the grip that don't seem to help my grip problem.

This is usually a problem for mini pens – when creating a small pen, there will always be trade-offs. This won't be the pen I use to write a 5,000 word essay in class, but it is a great pen for everyday carry and jotting down quick notes. And, if you like small grips, this might be perfect for you. There's nothing wrong with the grip, it just doesn't fit my hand and writing style.

Moving on from the grip, the section unscrews from the body to reveal a nice interior. Again, this pen does not feel cheap at all. Everything is made of high-quality metal and machined precisely. Of course, it takes the same cartridges as any Kaweco, plus any international shorts or short converters.

The clip is strong, which is important for a mini pen that will likely be put in bags, pockets, purses, and so on. If you clip this pen to something, it's not coming off by accident.

Now, to the writing experience. I'm so pleased to say that this is the first Kaweco I've used that was fantastic out of the box. Being a BB nib, it's a smooth, wet line that is probably 1mm at its thickest point. Writing with this nib is a pleasure. It's a bit thick for thin-ruled notebooks, but it's so smooth that it makes up for this small problem. I've really enjoyed this nib, and I'm almost convinced that I should try out some more Kawecos – but not quite yet.

What I am definitely convinced of is that I need to get out of my rut of nib choices. I generally always go for a fine nib, which is good most of the time, but also pretty boring when every pen I own is the same tip size. Trying out the BB nib was a great experience, and I need to branch out more into medium (of which I own a few) and also purchase my first B nib. Ya know, for comparison's sake.

I wish I had a Kaweco Lilliput to compare this pen to, but I don't. I can only assume it's very similar. But, the design of the Cult Pens pen is much different, which will appeal to a different set of customers and writers. If you're into mini pens, this is a great place to start. This is a well-built pen that won't let you down.

(CultPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on December 17, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Kaweco, Pen Reviews.

TWSBI Micarta Review

I'm feeling guilty about this review for many reasons.

One, this pen was loaned to me by the wonderful Ionsomnia many a moon ago. This is his pen in the review, we discussed it and the additional nibs he sent with it several times, and I sent it back in a timely fashion. But I never posted the review, because...

Two, the TWSBI Micarta was discontinued. Version 1 only came with a gold plated nib and clip, plus it had some feed problems that TWSBI wanted to correct. Version 2 corrected the feed issues and added a clipless version to go along with the gold furniture model. Now we are talking.

Three, I bought the clipless model, swapped in a silver steel crispy bold cursive italic nib, and fell in love. And you can't get one now, at least not easily through direct channels.

But this is a great pen and it deserves to be talked about, so here we go.

What the heck is Micarta? That is probably the most often question asked about this pen if I had to guess. I had no idea either, but learned from Wikipedia that it is "a brand name for composites of linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber or other fabric in a thermosetting plastic". To me, that sounds like scrap repurposed to make a new material, and that is kind of neat.

You can see some of the material and texture in the Micarta pen body, and it has a feel that is warmer than that other acrylic pens. I found myself just holding it on more than one occasion because it felt so great. That is also partially because the barrel shape is fantastic, fitting my hand as good as any pen I own.

These partially natural materials do have some downside though, primarily the ability to be stained by ink. Kind of a problem in a pen, huh? Ionsomnia found that out by dipping the pen in an ink bottle to fill it. I found out by having a bad feed in mine. As you can see below, a crack caused the ink to spread, soaking the inside section threads and the front exterior edge of the grip section.

TWSBI replaced the feed for me, which works fine now, and I didn't ask them to replace the pen. Why? Wabi-sabi. Old me would have had a conniption and would have wanted a new, pristine pen as a replacement. New me has found the beauty in acceptance of imperfection. That acceptance is why I was finally able to purchase my first Nakaya and not worry if it might get dinged or scratched. It's my pen, and things happen, and it's ok because the pleasure of using a pen far outweighs being afraid to take it out of the pen case.

So my Micarta is not perfect, but it is mine, and I love it. That's why I'm guilty about this post, because I think a lot of you would love this pen too. Maybe TWSBI will surprise with a Version 3 one day.

Posted on December 15, 2014 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, TWSBI.