Faber-Castell Loom Fountain Pen Review

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(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

Faber-Castell has been in the fine writing instrument business since 1761--an incredible legacy. Many of their pens are very high-end, elegant, and unique--but even their more affordable pens show the design and craftsmanship you'd expect from a company that clearly knows what it's doing. I would consider the Faber-Castell Loom to be slightly above entry-level on the pen enthusiast scale. At $40, it's an expensive jumping-in point. But if your first impression of fountain pens is the Loom, there's a good chance you'll soon be referring to yourself as a pen addict.

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This model is the plum color in piano finish. There are a lot of other fun colors to choose from. It took me a little sleuthing to figure out that piano finish are the shiny chrome bodies, and metallic are the matte bodies. It's glossy and looks quite fancy on the desk or when writing, but it collects dust and fingerprints very easily. The body is made from aluminum, so it's also quite heavy, while the plastic cap is very light compared to the rest of the pen. The body is a straight tube that tapers to the grip section, which has a matte texture and five raised ridges meant to aid in grip. As much as I think it looks snazzy, this grip section doesn't work well for me. It's a very wide pen and the tapering is a bit too severe--so my fingers just keep slipping down to the nib. I have to focus on maintaining my grip, and it makes my handwriting look terrible. This may not be a problem for someone with larger hands--but a larger hand may find that the pen feels a bit short to them. The proportions are just a bit unusual. Posting the pen solves this, but there is a risk of scratching that glossy finish.

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The pen takes a standard international cartridge or converter, and comes with a short cartridge and a dummy cartridge meant to hold the short cartridge in place. It does not come with a converter, which is a shame.

The cap is wider than the body, tapered at each end. The clip is sturdy and spring-loaded, and my favorite clip ever. It's flexible but sturdy, and feels reliable. It's attached at the finial, which is stamped with the Faber-Castell insignia, the jousting knights. The name and logo are also stamped into the plastic of the cap. The stamping isn't terribly clear--I had to squint a bit to see what it was, but it's a complex image to shrink down to the size of a pen cap. It's a snap cap, and the snap is very aggressive. It takes more force to remove than it feels like it should. It's nice to know it's so secure, but I hope it relaxes a bit over time.

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The nib, of course, is where this pen reels you in. It's smooth and perfectly tuned, so it's not too wet, but not at all dry. It has no breather hole, but is dimpled all over. It also attempts to squeeze the jousting knights logo into an even smaller space, with limited success--but it still looks fancy. The EF is definitely a western EF--comparable to a Kaweco, but close to a Japanese M. It's a pleasure to write with. There is just enough feedback to give you control of the pen, but it feels butter smooth. I can see why it's said that Faber-Castell has the best steel nibs on the market.

Overall, it's an excellent pen. That wide, tapering grip makes it not work for me, unfortunately. I wish it did, because I can tell I'm missing out on something special. It's definitely a good buy for its cost, and I think it would make an excellent gift--it's in that perfect price range to be something fancy without being extravagant.

I think I'll be trying out more Faber-Castell pens in the near future, looking for one that fits my hand well, and that nib is going to haunt me until I succeed.

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


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Posted on December 14, 2017 and filed under Faber-Castell, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Sakura Ballsign Premium 4*1 Multipen Review

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

No matter what your preferences may be in terms of gel pens, you can probably find a multi-pen variant from that manufacturer or that will fit your favorite refills. Today, we're looking at the Sakura Ballsign 4*1 multi-pen.

The Ballsign 4*1 is available in several color options, but I have the all-black version, which looks fantastic. There isn't a single piece of bling on the matte black beauty apart from the colored refill selectors. It gives this pen a tactical feel, though I don't think the same is true in the other colors.

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Most of the pen is plastic, but the grip section is a coated brass that adds a nice balance when writing. With the center of gravity so low, it's easy to control the pen when writing. This is especially important when using such fine-tipped refills like those that come with the pen. At 0.4mm, they strike a good balance between ultra-fine and still wide enough to show off the colors.

Like most multi-pens, you select a refill by depressing a tab at the top of the pen. When you want to retract it or select another refill, just depress another one. While there are four different gel ink refills to choose from (black, blue, green, and red), it also features a 0.5mm mechanical pencil component. To use this, depress the clip! The integrated clip, pencil selector, and lead advancer is a great implementation for this pen. I've really enjoyed using it and haven't had any trouble with the pencil.

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At the top of the pen, there's a small eraser hidden under a black cap that snaps on and off. Like most pencils with hidden erasers, I worry about losing the eraser cap at some point, even if I'm not routinely using the eraser.

Unlike other mechanical pencils, you don't refill the lead by dropping in more lead in the barrel that also holds the eraser. In this case, you unscrew the pen and remove the mechanical pencil component. The lead drops into the small component, and you can reassemble the pen. All in all, it's only one additional step compared to normal mechanical pencils.

The 0.4mm gel refills that come with this pen are very nice — they are smooth, bold, and have great color. The green is a little dark and a tad blue for my tastes, but it's still an interesting color. It's not a typical hunter green that normally comes with a standard multi-pen. The line edges are crisp and clean, and I haven't had any issues with skipping on most paper. Oddly, the black refill doesn't play nicely with Rhodia, but has no issues on other papers. I assume this has something to do with the coating on the paper, so keep that in mind if you intend to use this pen on any paper that features a smooth coating (like Rhodia).

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As far as refill options go, you're pretty limited in the Sakura lineup. They only offer the same four colors that come with the pen: black, blue, green, and red. Unfortunately, I can't find anything else that fits. Pilot Acroball, Zebra Sarasa, Uni Style Fit, Uniball Jetstream, and D1 refills are either too short or too wide for the Sakura. This is a shame because an important part of any multi-pen is the ability to fill it with whatever colors fit your fancy. It's not uncommon for a manufacture to limit the color options in their multi-pen, but I wish it wasn't true. Either way, also bear that in mind if you're interested in this pen. The refill options are very limited!

Another aspect that somewhat soured my experience with this pen was upon initially opening it and trying to use it. Like most gel pens, each refill had a protective seal on the tip of the point. I've never had any problems removing these, as they simply slide off with a small amount of pressure. The Sakura Ballsign refills (all four of them) were a much different story. Using friction from your fingertips won't cut it; you have to use fingernails in order to accomplish anything, but it's slow work. Only small strips of the protective gel/wax covering came off with each attempt. Even after removing it (I spent 15 minutes doing this), the refills had trouble writing due to small amounts of sticky residue left behind on the gel ball. In time, everything started working perfectly, but it was a frustrating initial experience. Maybe it was a fluke, but consider yourself warned!

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Apart from the lack of color options for the refills and a frustrating unboxing experience, the Sakura Ballsign 4*1 is a solid multi-pen. The refills are all smooth and bold, and the pencil is reliable and well made. The weighted grip section gives the pen a premium and stable feel when writing, and the matte black color scheme gives it an intriguing aesthetic.

The Ballsign 4*1 is available in 2 varieties: standard and Premium. In the standard vein, you have an option of Navy, Red, Black, and Dark Brown. In the Premium vein, you have Black and Silver. The difference between the two is that the Premium pens have the weighted brass section, whereas the standard pens have a plastic, textured grip section. The prices range from about $15 to $25 for both lines, which are affordable and fair for the quality. Overall, these are great multi-pens!

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


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Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on December 13, 2017 and filed under Sakura, Multi Pen, Pen Reviews.

The Pen Addict 10th Anniversary T-Shirt Pre-Order - 11 Days Left!

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Ben Kwok designed this fantastic t-shirt to help me celebrate ten years of stationery awesomeness here at The Pen Addict. This is a one-time print run, with pre-orders ending on December 23rd. All shirts will be printed in January, and shipped shortly thereafter. If you are interested in an awesome t-shirt and want to help support the site now is your chance!

Posted on December 12, 2017 and filed under Shop.