Posts filed under Amy

Review: Muji Aluminum Retractable Pen Case (with 0.38mm gel refill)

This review is done by Amy, a university student in Los Angeles, California.

MujiAluminumPenCase-1Two Muji Aluminum Pen Cases with green-black and red refills.

Back in October, I went to New York City for a conference of an organization I am involved in. This meant a mandatory stop at Muji, a Japanese lifestyle brand, as they only have US stores in NYC. I really adore Muji because of their simple yet wonderful designs, in addition to the fact that they preach being a "no-brand" brand. While I stocked up on many of their stationery items at Muji SoHo, I was really there to buy the Aluminum pen case they have as a part of their "Make Your Own Pen" area of their store. One of my friends has this pen body and it just had a very solid feel and nice weight to it - I just wanted it. And then now I can submit to my wants.

MujiAluminumPenCase-4The Muji Aluminum Pen Case with green-black refill dissected.

What is absolutely fantastic about any item that is a part of the "Make Your Own Pen" station in the store is that they really consider the fact that you're going to be removing and replacing pen refills every so often. This translates to the parts of the pen being very minimal and stable, and there are no unnecessary parts. For example, the pen refills for the gel pens all come with a cap at the end (which if you don't know, isn't normal for pen refills). However, as frivolous as it may initially seem to be, this cap has the purpose of securing the pen refill inside the pen case and is quite integral to the function of the pen.

MujiAluminumPenCase-2The pen clip and the pen tip.

Back to the Aluminum pen case, the case really consists of three parts: the "cap," the body, and the tip area (with a spring). The spring frankly can't be removed, unless you want it to be removed, and is really stuck there. (I take a part retractable pens a lot when I'm bored, and subsequently have springs flying everywhere.) The pen case is solid and the clip that is a part of it is really stiff and can keep things clipped. The ONLY problem is the "cap". I didn't know this before, but the cap is not aluminum -- it's plastic. I found out about this after seeing a crack in it. I just hope it doesn't break on me and become useless. However, it figures that this cap actually doesn't contribute to the function of the pen, except for the aesthetic appeal to bring the metallic design of the pen to the tip. This "cap," as opposed to the cap of the pen refill, has no real function at all.

MujiAluminumPenCase-5The cracked pen cap and the spring of the pen tip.


The writing experience of the pen is as wonderful as it is with any other Muji retractable gel pen (see writing sample on left). The aluminum pen case definitely adds a more substantial feel to the pen with it's smooth surface. The weight is light, but not as weightless as the plastic bodies. It's just quite different grabbing the pen that is cool to the touch. If you haven't tried a Muji retractable gel pen yet, you really have to get one - it writes quite smoothly and enough ink leaks out to make it quite satisfying. I think it really depends on the refill though -- some tend to be more inky than others. But really, you have to try it if you haven't. Whenever my friends look at my pens (or rather I force them to look at them), they always say that the Muji retractable gel pen is their most favorite out of all of them (and I have quite a variety). Of course, as with other gel pens, these pens do have the problem with the pin getting loose at the tip and ink going everywhere (or the pen becoming more inky) - I've had this problem with the black ink refill (on multiple occasions).

These Aluminum pen cases run for $5.75 and can be purchased from the US online Muji store here. The pen refills for the case are $0.99 each in a variety of colors, and can also be found at the online Muji store here. The regular Muji retractable gel pen with the plastic body is also available here for only $1.50! A great deal for a wonderful pen.

Posted on January 17, 2011 and filed under Amy, Gel, Muji, Pen Reviews.

Review: Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen - Super Fine

PlatinumCarbonDeskPen-1The Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen in it's brand new packaging glory.

After becoming obsessed with Esterbrooks, I've felt a need to acquire an Esterbrook desk pen set. I really wanted to try out desk pens and see if I could really use it daily. While this never happened, I got a Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen instead. This pen is particular in that it comes with a cartridge of carbon ink, which is waterproof.

PlatinumCarbonDeskPen-2The pretty gold-plated stainless steel nib of the fountain pen. It has the signature Platinum "P" logo.

The Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen writes as smoothly as a fountain pen should and solidly. It has a 14K platinum nib and takes ink with cartridges. After the ink empties, I'm pretty sure you can just take a syringe and fill it up perhaps. What's interesting about the cartridge though is that it is stopped by a metal bead which plugs the whole of where the ink comes out. Just stick the cartridge in the pen, push with some force, and then the bead is dislodged and the ink is flowing. The pen feels very nice in my hand and looks very elegant with its elongated body. The cap feels a bit cheaper, but this doesn't mean that it not good quality. I guess it is because it comes with a stand to put the desk pen in, but I did not buy it and felt that the cap was sufficient for me.

PlatinumCarbonDeskPen-4The fountain pen tested on Clairefontaine 90g paper.

I found that I really loved the carbon ink! It's waterproof and it dries reasonably fast compared to the majority of fountain ink pens. However, this carbon ink is lighter in pigment and is more so a dark grey than black. And also, because it is carbon ink, it is not suitable for all types of fountain pens and may clog up some of the finer more delicate ones (or so I have heard). 

However, I found that I cannot ever posses a desk pen. In the beginning, I was able to use it daily and it was nice. Yet, as time went by and I became swamped with school things, I used it less and less.. and it made a big mess as the ink pooled to the bottom since I heard that a desk pen has to be stored pointed down.

PlatinumCarbonDeskPen-3Another view of the Carbon Ink Pen and the cartridge it comes with.

In conclusion, I found that this pen is not for me. At all. I've realized that I really do need portability for me to actually use pens (daily), especially since I am not always at my desk. But, the carbon ink is really interesting and some people may be able to find good uses for it, particularly artsy folk who like to deal with watercolors and other watery things. I'm highly considering buying a bottle of Platinum carbon ink and loading it up a fountain pen, if I find the correct fountain pen to use it with.

The Platinum Carbon Desk Fountain Pen can be found for a mere 12$ at! A fairly great price. (But it appears to be sold out currently). The accompanying stand can be found for 18$, and a bottle of carbon ink can be found for $22.50 - both at

Posted on December 20, 2010 and filed under Amy, Fountain Pens, Ink Review, Platinum.

Fountain Pens for Daily Use

I recently starting collecting fountain pens this past summer and fell in love with them. This compelled me to convert all my school stationery to become more fountain pen friendly, with the idea that I could use fountain pens to take notes in class.

On the first day of lecture in my physics class, I tried it out and decided that I should really just stick to using gel pens to take notes. I had the following problems: the doesn't dry fast enough making the ink smear, the ink is too water soluble, and I just feel really pretentious (and I just get distracted by my pen and start writing random things). It seems that all the problems are down to the ink, as I am basically using Private Reserve Velvet Black, but I'm really afraid of loading other types of ink into my fountain pens, and the safest inks seem to have similar problems. 

FountainPensDailyUseThe mild sadness that is seen through my physics notes on a side-staple bound ~A5 Rhodia notebook. (Areas circled in red = problems which include smudging and distraction.)

Now, it's really difficult for me to find time to use or take care of my fountain pens. I've basically emptied them all and then now only dip whenever I feel the need to use them.

I'm wondering, how do you find time to use fountain pens? And if you use them daily, how often do you use them and in what situations do you use them in? 

Posted on December 2, 2010 and filed under Amy, Fountain Pens.