Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil 2.0 Review

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Andrew Sanderson, the owner and designer behind Modern Fuel, sent me a prototype of his 1.0 mechanical pencil last year to get feedback on. I liked it, but didn’t love it, and explained to him why. It was too light, and the balance was a bit off. The refinement for a 1.0 release wasn’t there, at least in my book.

With Version 2.0, Andrew has made all the updates I personally was looking for in a quality machined mechanical pencil, and, after getting to test out this prototype, I am happy to back his current Kickstarter project.

The change list from Version 1.0 to Version 2.0 is large, and includes new materials, a retractable tip, and most impressively, a custom built internal mechanism. That last item alone had to be quite an engineering feat.

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By designing his own mechanism, Andrew allows you to easily swap out the internals of the pencil and change the lead size. 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm , and 0.9 mm mechanisms are available, and you can even order all three for a single pencil. The retractable tip was a pleasant surprise as well. I didn’t expect that at all, but it is a big bonus for mechanical pencil fans.

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My prototype model is made from stainless steel, and is accordingly heavy. Not too heavy, mind you, but I prefer using the 0.9 mm mechanism due to the weight. In general, the heavier or larger the pen or pencil, the wider the tip I prefer. The 0.9 mm delivers a line similar to using a wooden pencil, and allows for a greater range of motion when writing. I’m still surprised at how much I like the width.

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One add-on that I haven’t seen offered before is an option for an eraser plug. The standard configuration ships with an eraser, but you can buy an accessory that allows you to remove the eraser and seal the opening. I’m generally a no pencil eraser person, but I think I prefer having the eraser available on this style of pencil. I don’t think the plug adds anything style or functionality wise and likely isn’t worth the additional $12 unless you are really committed to the look.

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Like most of our buying decisions, this one comes down to value. Will you get enough usage out of this product to justify the price? The Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil starts at $70 for Stainless Steel, Brass, or Copper, and $130 for Titanium. That’s very expensive, but worth it in my book. The amount of engineering alone justifies the price for me, plus I like supporting people who make cool things. After using this prototype for the past few weeks I decided to back the Stainless Steel model, and am excited to get this in the rotation once the project completes.

My thanks to Modern Fuel for loaning me this prototype for purposes of this review.


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Posted on October 9, 2017 and filed under Modern Fuel, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Lamy Joy 1.1 mm Calligraphy Fountain Pen: A Review

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

The Lamy Joy Calligraphy Fountain Pen is a black resin pen that comes in nib sizes of 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9.

The pen is packaged in a red cardboard box with a plastic sleeve. It comes with one blue Lamy ink cartridge.

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The design is sleek with only the red stainless steel clip, the red finial, and the red tip on the bottom of the pen as accents. But, boy do those accents pop! Although there are two ink windows, they are embedded deeply in the barrel and the cartridge is so dark, it’s difficult to tell how much ink is left in the cartridge. The cap snaps on and off and can be posted.

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Lamy is lightly enscribed near the bottom of the barrel. The barrel itself has two flat sides and two rounded sides. If you use the pen unposted, the flat sides of the barrel will keep the pen from rolling off your desk.

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The pen is longer than average fountain pens, measuring 179mm capped, 169mm uncapped, and 176mm posted. But it is quite light, weighing only 11 grams unposted.

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The Lamy Joy comes with one blue ink cartridge, but you can purchase a Lamy converter if you wish to use bottled ink.

Like Lamy Safari pens, the Joy has a triangular-shaped grip meant to keep your fingers in the proper position. Some people love this grip, others (like me) don’t. It’s a matter of personal preference.

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This pen has the 1.1mm nib. It’s a stainless steel nib and, in typical Lamy minimalist fashion, it is unadorned. It bears only the nib size and the Lamy name.

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So, how does it write? Well, I’m no calligrapher, but I do use italic nibs quite often, and this nib is, after all, a 1.1mm italic. I found it to be adequate in terms of wetness, though I like my nibs much juicier. However, it isn’t a smooth nib. I’m not sure if the tines are slightly misaligned or if there’s some tipping material causing the scratchiness, but it feels like the nib is digging into the paper on every stroke. In other words, my writing experience was not pleasant. Perhaps a bit of micromesh would fix the problem.

In any case, I wrote a couple of test pages, and the 1.1mm offered some line variation and shading with the Lamy blue ink.

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For calligraphy, I would suggest choosing the 1.5 or 1.9 size nib since the 1.1 seems a bit narrow.

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Neverthless, for everyday writing, the 1.1 nib is a good choice as you can see with the following writing sample.

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You can purchase the Lamy Joy from Pen Chalet for $28.00. The converter is an additional $4.70.

At $28.00, the Lamy Joy is quite a bit more expensive than other plastic calligraphy pens, such as the Pilot Parallel ($8.00 at JetPens). Granted, the Lamy Joy looks much nicer than the Pilot Parallel. But if you’re wanting a decent calligraphy pen for a good price, the Pilot Parallel pens are excellent. I own the 1.5mm and the 2.4mm Pilot Parallels and both nibs are smooth.

Pros

  • The Lamy Joy is a sleek resin calligraphy pen. The red accents make the pen pop.
  • The pen is very light, so it is easy to work with during long writing sessions.
  • It sports a grip that many users find very comfortable.

Cons

  • I honestly think the Lamy Joy is overpriced at $28.00.
  • Although many people like the triangular grip, I find it inhibiting. I tend to rotate my pens a bit when writing, so I feel like I have to fight the grip on this pen.
  • The nibs on Lamys can be hit or miss. This steel 1.1mm nib was scratchy.

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


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Posted on October 6, 2017 and filed under Lamy, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.

Graphilo Notebook 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.)

I first heard about Graphilo Paper from my friend Chris, a.k.a. Mr. Paper, over at Anderson Pens. His review of this notebook was downright giddy. After he let me try it out at pen club, I was sold. I've been hauling it around for a few weeks now, and I feel pretty comfortable saying that it's one of my new favorite papers. I just need someone to bind 200 sheets of it into one book.

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The Graphilo notebooks come in three styles, all A5 size with a thin cardstock cover. There's a white cover that has 8mm lined paper, a grey cover with 4mm graph, and a cream cover with blank pages. Each notebook has 32 sheets. They're bound as one signature with a sewn binding. It's a sturdy spine--I haven't had any issues with the binding at all. The cover is just the right amount of firmness and flexibility--though you will need a writing surface. There are no bells and whistles--this is pure minimalism. No pockets or bookmarks or index. There is a faint foil logo in the upper-right corner of the cover--but it's inobtrusive enough that I keep accidentally opening my book backwards. I'm going to have to deface the cover to save myself that irritation. The clean, minimalist look is nice--but not always practical.

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The paper is, of course, what takes this notebook to another level. It isn't as smooth to the touch as Rhodia or Tomoe River paper. It has some texture to it that gives excellent pen control, but it doesn't feel scratchy or grabby. There is some feedback, but it's pleasant. Despite the texture on the paper, I didn't have any feathering with any ink that I tried. I even literally poured ink on the page and it just sat there--it didn't even seem to want to run when I tilted the page at all. It's like the paper has its own special ink gravity. Once I did get the ink to spread around, I was able to see how nicely it showed shading and sheen. It doesn't show it quite as nicely as Tomoe River does, in my opinion, but it's still lovely--and I prefer this thicker page and texture.

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On the back of the page, I can see some show-through, but just barely. The only ink that bled through was where it sat in a puddle for quite some time. None of the pens bled through except the Sharpie. When Chris used a Sharpie on the blank paper, it didn't bleed--so there may be some difference between them, there. Mine bled even with light pressure. But I'm not going to write in my nice, slim notebook with Sharpie--that would be silly. It performed excellently with literally everything else. The tooth on the paper even made it a delight with pencils.

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One downside to the paper was dry time. Any paper that prevents bleeding this effectively is going to have a slow dry time, but this was pretty excessive. Even at 30 seconds, the ink smudged. At one point, I wrote a full page, and the ink at the top of the page still transferred to the page opposite when I closed the book. It must have been at least five minutes later. So I would highly recommend using a sheet of blotting paper with this notebook. I use one in my Nanami Paper Seven Seas Writer--it's no bother and definitely worth it. I've been using the same single sheet for over a year. Otherwise, what's the point of paper that doesn't bleed through if you can't use the opposite page anyway for fear of smudging ink? Given this, I wouldn't recommend the paper for lefties--at least not with liquid inks.

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The only other issue I have with this notebook is the cost-for-what-you-get issue. $14 is quite a lot, and 32 sheets is not many. I want to write a lot more than 64 pages with this paper. At that rate, if I were to get a notebook with the page count I want, it would cost me somewhere upward of $70. My first impulse, when I saw how slim these books are, was to buy several and see if I could use the existing binding stitches to sew a few of them together into one book. That dream quickly evaporated. At that cost, this will be a rare treat, and I'll stick to more economical (albeit less magical) paper for regular use.

If you need a paper treat, though--indulge, because this is a nice one. This is the fancy-flavored liqueur truffles of paper.

(This product was purchased with my own funds from Anderson Pens.)


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Posted on October 5, 2017 and filed under Graphilo.