Posts filed under Pen Reviews

Accessories for Planning and Travel

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

Over the last several months, I've accumulated numerous accessories that I use for planning and travel. Some I use every day, others occasionally, but all of them are quite useful.

Washi Tape

I love washi tape. It can be used for so many things–marking cables, attaching photos, decorating items. Mark's Maste Washi Tape and collection boxes are wonderful. The box holds the tape and has a serrated edge so you can easily cut the tape without having to use scissors. $14.40 for a set of 8 tapes. $13.75 for the collection box in either black or ivory.

I like to use washi tape to mark special occasions in my Hobonichi planner, such as an upcoming trip to France with my daughter. The camera washi tape is $3.35 on JetPens.

Sticky Notes and Stickers

I can't get enough of these. I found the Paris sticky notes ($5.75) before Christmas and put them in my daughter's stocking and kept a set for myself.

I also use tiny stickers in my planner to mark special dates like birthdays, holidays, etc. The Kurochiku puffy cat stickers are $5.50, Pine Book Kraft Stickers are $2.65, and Midori Film Sticky Notes Birds are $6.75 on Jet Pens.

Adventure Log

Word Notebooks come in many different designs. But I wanted the Adventure Log to record our trip to France. I used some washi tape and my Paris sticky notes to decorate the outside of my notebook. $9.99 on JetPens.

RayMay Swingcut Scissors

I love this set of titanium-coated scissors which are small enough to carry in the pocket of your planner or in a purse/backpack. They are sharp and comfortable to use. $15.50 on JetPens.

Sun-Star Stickyle Pen-Style Stapler

I never seem to have a stapler when I need one, so this portable stapler is terrific. Although it's called a "pen-style" stapler, it's much thicker than a pen. Still, it fits well in a medium-sized purse, and will definitely work in a backpack. At one end is a compartment for extra staples.

The other end is the stapler itself. Simply lift the hinged top, push the button forward (this moves a plate underneath the staple so it will bend when you press down), put your paper in and press.

The staples are small, so you obviously can't use this for large documents or really thick paper. But for a few sheets, ticket stubs, and other small things it works well. $9.90 on JetPens.

Kutsuwa Stad Double Template

This foldable stencil is great to slip into a pocket of your planner. You can use it to make boxes, circles, letters and other designs in your planner. $2.50 on JetPens.

Sketchy Notebook Master Collection Templates and Sketchbook

Sketchy Notebook Templates originated on Kickstarter, but you can order a master pack (6 templates and one notebook for $35) here. The master collection includes lined style, grid style, storyboard, perspective grid, iPhone app mockup and website mockup templates. These templates make using unlined paper fun and simple.

The Sketchy Notebook contains 240 blank, tearable pages with 80 gsm acid-free paper. There's an elastic band to keep the notebook closed when not in use. Plus, the expandable envelope in the back contains two cardboard ruler bookmarks. The paper is creamy and fountain-pen friendly (juicy nibs don't bleed through, but there's definitely show through). I can use this notebook for fountain pen testing, ink swabs, and occasional sketches. I may even bring it to France and pretend I'm an artist.

Sketchy Notebook.jpg

ArtBird Crossbody Sling

The ArtBird Crossbody Sling $24.95 will be perfect for my trip to France. I'm planning to use my iPhone as my primary camera, so I bought Moment Lenses and a Moment Case for it. My iPhone, all three Moment lenses, and my Adventure Log will all fit easily into this bag.

(JetPens provided these products at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 29, 2016 and filed under JetPens, Pen Reviews.

Lamy 2000 Rollerball Review

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

Back in 2014, I wrote about the iconic Lamy 2000 fountain pen, and talked about my love for the design and the writing experience of the pen. Well, here we are in 2016 and I've expanded my Lamy collection to include a Lamy 2000 rollerball. A lot about the rollerball is the same as the fountain pen version, but this one is obviously a bit more simple since it only has a rollerball cartridge inside. Even though there are a lot of differences between this and the fountain pen, it's a great pen that would be perfect for a lot of people looking for an elegant, classy, and reliable pen for daily use.

Aesthetics

In my original Lamy 2000 review, I wrote about the design of the pen:

The Lamy 2000 is unique. There isn't another pen like it in design. It's sleek, modern, and welcoming at the same time. It looks like a pen meant to write, but classy at the same time. It works with casual and dress clothes splendidly. It always gets comments out in the wild.

I don't think it's fair to call this a "different" pen, since the exterior is completely identical aside from the nib area. When the pens are capped, it's difficult to determine which is which. From what I can tell, there's only one way to tell from the outside: the top of the cap has a small dimple in the rollerball version, whereas the fountain version is completely flat and smooth. The fountain pen version also feels like it might weigh a few grams more, but not much.

Obviously, it's pretty easy to tell them apart once the caps are off, but the differences are limited to the nib area only. The grip section is identical, the cap fitting is identical, and even the piston knob is identical. But, why does the rollerball version have a piston knob? Well, it's not actually a piston knob — just a section that screws off to give you access to the cartridge. But, the thing is the back cap is the same length and location as the piston knob, and equally difficult to notice when closed.

Saying that the attention to detail that went into the rollerball version of the 2000 is impressive almost does it justice. Lamy went above and beyond to ensure this looks every bit as classy, timeless, and modern as the older, more sophisticated cousin.

This is a rollerball that can stand its ground in any board room.

Writing experience

That's great that it looks just like the fountain pen version, but the fountain pen version writes so well (provided you don't have a faulty nib), right? Right, but that doesn't mean that the rollerball version has a bad writing experience. Quite the opposite, actually.

From what I can tell, Lamy sourced the cartridge through Schmidt, and we all know what that means. This is a smooth writer. Coming from the same company that provides the ever-so-glassy-smooth Retro 51 refills, this Lamy 2000 refill is no slouch. Lamy dubs it the M63, and it retails for $5.

Like the Retro 51 stock refill, the Lamy 2000 is also a 0.7mm size, and it is smooth and well-flowing. I'm a huge fan of Schmidt refills of all kinds, and this one is no exception. There really isn't anything I dislike about the way it writes — it's smooth, it always starts right away, never skips, and lays down a dark, crisp line of inky pitch black.

My only gripe is the line width, which is the same "problem" I have with the Retro 51 stock refill. To get a smaller size (like a 0.5 or so), you'll have to find the refill directly from Schmidt. While this is fairly easy for the Retro 51 refills (Schmidt P8127), the Lamy version can be a bit difficult to locate. From what I can tell from reading this Schmidt catalog (pg. 25), the Schmidt SRC5888F (0.6mm) and SRC5888M (0.7mm) refills would work in the Lamy 2000 if you had a small extension for the base — about 2mm long. Still, the price is about the same, so unless you want the slightly smaller tip size, I'd stick with the Lamy-branded refills.

Conclusion

If you're a fan of the Lamy 2000 design, but are looking for a non-fountain pen version, the rollerball is perfect for you. It's a bit cheaper than the fountain pen version, just over $100. It's not "cheap," but it's also a price that I feel is fair given the attention to detail, prestige of the 2000 line, and the beautiful design and writing experience.

If you're nervous about jumping on a Lamy 2000 because you're new to fountain pens, this might be the perfect entry point into fine pens.

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

Posted on January 27, 2016 and filed under Lamy, Rollerball, PHX-1, Pen Reviews.

TWSBI ECO Fountain Pen Review

Like many in the pen community, I was anxious to get my hands on the TWSBI ECO. I saw it as an important release for one primary reason, a reason no other manufacturer has been able to pull off with any success, or even attempt. Could TWSBI deliver a quality, low cost, piston filling fountain pen? Without question they can, and they did with the TWSBI ECO.

The idea of the ECO goes back almost two years. TWSBI likes to share design prototypes and ideas through their Facebook Page to get feedback along the way from their customers and fans. Not all pens that show up on Facebook make the final cut, and for a while many wondered if the ECO would come to fruition. I wondered that myself, especially from a pricing standpoint. There would have to be a large enough gap between the new piston filler and their existing ones in the Classic and 580 lineup.

Then one day it happened. TWSBI announced a release date and a price. For less than $30, TWSBI was set to compete with any entry level fountain pen on the market. Especially the Lamy Safari, the long-standing dominant pen in this realm.

The overall design of the pen is an economical one in an effort to keep the cost down, hence the name ECO. There aren’t many moving parts outside of the piston, and the clear barrel is accented only with a white or black cap and matching piston knob. I think the cap itself is a little chunky compared to the rest of the pen and wouldn’t mind if it were slimmed down a bit. It is also too big to post and keep a good writing balance.

The ECO’s piston filling mechanism works smoothly and effortlessly, just like in their other models. If, over time, the piston needs to be re-lubricated, TWSBI includes the tool and silicon grease to do just that. I’ve done this on my TWSBI Mini before and it is a simple task. Instructions are even provided in the form of an insert.

I’m a big fan of all of TWSBI’s nibs, and the #5 steel nibs in the ECO are no exception. The extra fine nib in mine is firm and smooth, with little to no feedback, no hard starts, and no skipping. It is spot on, and a pleasure to write with.

This is a flat-out cool pen, and one I have been recommending constantly since its launch last summer. For someone like myself who has some experience with fountain pens, the ECO is a daily workhorse that can be taken out, used and abused, refilled, cleaned, nib swapped, and any other worry-free fun you want to have with a low cost fountain pen.

For beginning fountain pen users, it is a fantastic choice as well, and second on my Top 5 Pens Under $50, behind only the Pilot Metropolitan. If you have never used a fountain pen before and want to jump right into bottled ink instead of cartridges, the ECO is the way to go.

It’s clear by now that TWSBI has another hit on its hands. They are already teasing new colors in the lineup and I know I won’t be able to help myself when they launch. I bet many of you feel the same way.

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

Posted on January 25, 2016 and filed under Eco, TWSBI, Pen Reviews.

Bic Cristal Ballpoint Pen Review

For a blog that reviews pens you would have thought I would have reviewed one of the most famous pens in the world by now. But I hadn’t, despite many, many calls to do so. Why has it taken so long for me to review the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen? I have no idea.

The fact is, this is a good pen, if not a great one. Released to the public in 1950, it has had a 65-plus year run and shows no signs of slowing down. The design is revered too, with its clear hex-barrel being featured in the Museum of Modern Art. A design classic that has stood the test of time? Sign me up.

From a performance perspective it has a wide variety of uses. The oil-based ink writes well on many surfaces, is smooth, and dries quickly. It is also water-resistant, making it a good choice for outdoor use as well as waterproof paper such as Rite in the Rain.

What I find the most impressive is that the Bic Cristal has been the choice of designers, engineers, architects, and artists for decades as well. Just look at the detail someone like Andrea Joseph can get with a balpoint pen. Google “ballpoint pen drawings” and your jaw will drop.

I don’t have the artistic chops to appear in those search results, but I do enjoy writing with the Cristal. It’s lightweight, smooth, surprisingly clean - no globs or mess from the ink around the tip - and you can get shading variation depending on the pressure used. There is some white space in the lines, which is the primary downside. It’s not as solid or deep in color as a Uni-ball Jetstream or Pilot Acroball for sure.

The best part about the Bic Cristal? It will cost you about .20 cents per pen. Grab a dozen or two, throw them around the house, car, office, gym - anywhere a pen might come in handy - and know that you are covered in a pinch. You may discover that it ends up in your writing rotation more than that.

Posted on January 18, 2016 and filed under Bic, Ballpoint, Pen Reviews.