The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode 258 - Kind Of Not Interesting

I’ve had some interesting topics in my inbox that were waiting for the right episode to make their appearance. This is the one. Who doesn’t want to learn about cellulose nanofiber and how it makes your writing experience better?

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Pen Chalet: Click the ‘podcast’ link at the top of the website and enter the password ‘penaddict’ for this week’s special offer, and to get your code for 10% off.

Blue Apron: A better way to cook. Get three meals free with your first purchase, and free shipping.

Posted on May 25, 2017 and filed under Podcast.

Sakura Decorese Gel Pen Review

(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.)

It was the pretty pastel color palettes that drew me to the Sailor Decorese Gel Pens. With the Floral and Fruity sets combined, there's a great variety of spring colors.

I was surprised when I first wrote with them. I'd definitely say these fit more into the realm of art supplies rather than writing tools. The ink wasn't quite what I expected from something called a gel pen--they remind me more of pigment or paint pens. The ink is thick and coats the paper, maintaining a glossy, raised surface even after drying. Drying takes quite a long time. When I used it to fill in areas in my journal, it wasn't a sit-and-wait-for-dry-time ink, but a get-up-and-do-something-else-while-you-wait dry time. The ink also can dry out on the tip of the pen, and sometimes requires wiping away, so it doesn't clog the flow or drag on the page. When the pens are left uncapped or set aside for a length of time they can require some priming to get started again. I also ran into issues when I tried to go back and write over the ink when it was partially dry. The tip would scrape away the old lines and make a general mess of things. But as long as the lines were totally dry, they could be layered safely.

Once I adjusted my expectations of these pens, I really enjoyed working with them. The flow is good, the ink has great coverage, and they write on a number of surfaces, like plastic, glass, metal, photos, or dark paper. They work great for drawing highlights or writing overtop of other media like watercolors or color washes.

The pen bodies are very well constructed. They're a sturdy white plastic with a flared snap cap. The cap helps stop the pen from rolling and also has an easy-to-see ink color swatch at the top. It also snaps to post securely. The body is decorated with a clear plastic wrap that's printed with the branding, a gold filigree pattern, and a floral mark that also indicates the ink color.

There isn't a grip section. They have a long conical tip in the same white plastic as the body, and a metal rollerball point. It feels fine to hold the pen back on the body, but I'd definitely prefer a defined grip section. Still, the pens are clearly not designed for long writing sessions, so grip comfort isn't a huge consideration.

Ultimately, I was disappointed to not have a standard gel ink in these lovely color sets. I do still use them fairly often, but the dry time is a bit of a deal-breaker when it comes to everyday use. They are very pleasant as paint pens, but the product name is misleading. There's nothing wrong with the product itself--it's just another reminder of how product names shape users' expectations--and how a good product can bum you out if it's not what you were looking for.

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

Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

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

Posted on May 25, 2017 and filed under Sakura, Gel, Pen Reviews.

TWSBI Diamond Mini AL Blue Fountain Pen Review

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

Way back in 2013, I wrote my first review for Brad on this site. It was a review of one of my favorite pens at the time, a TWSBI Mini. The first generation of Mini, like the larger 540 and 580, were mostly plastic and sometimes had issues. Luckily, I've never had any problems with my TWSBIs, and I still really enjoy them. Now, here we are almost 4 years later and I have my second TWSBI mini, but this is the new AL Special Edition Blue.

Like the original, the size and form factor are stellar. It's a small pen, but behaves like a full-length pen when you post it. It was a delight in 2013, and it's still a delight today.

If you're unfamiliar with the Mini AL, it's a small piston-filler demonstrator (apart from the section and piston mechanism, which is aluminum) fountain pen that comes in a variety of nib sizes. Another fun thing about TWSBI is that you can swap out the nib units if you want another size without buying another pen. For the price, the TWSBI is one of the most affordable ways to try out piston fillers. And, they're just loads of fun.

The Mini AL is largely unchanged from the original, apart from the aluminum parts that were swapped in to provide a higher-quality good. It's a great pen that feels steady in the hand and writes beautifully.

The pen feels sturdy and well-made. I couldn't always say that about the plastic model, but the AL model is stout. The plastic is sparklingly clear, and the chrome and aluminum accents give it a classic and distinguished look. Being plastic and aluminum, it isn't very heavy. This makes it ideal for long writing sessions, because it won't tire your hand.

There's a small bit of branding found on the band of the cap that indicates the TWSBI brand and model, and there's the iconic red and silver TWSBI jewel in the finial. And, of course, you can see your ink sloshing around in the reservoir, which is always fun.

The piston mechanism is smooth and sure. Like every other TWSBI, they provide a small container of silicone grease for doing your own maintenance, but that's really something that you'll need down the road. Out of the box, the pen works flawlessly. I don't have an exact measurement, but I estimate this pen can hold about 2 ml of ink.

The cap fits snugly on the pen when closed, and the clip has a nice spring to it. It's not too tight, but it gives easily enough to make clipping onto things an easy action. Some pens lean toward the "too strong is better" camp when it comes to clips, and I appreciate the balance this Mini achieves in that regard.

When writing, the cap can be posted to provide a more comfortable pen length for writing. Posting is very stable since the cap screws onto the back of the pen. And, the cap threads onto the pen without affecting the piston knob.

When capping or posting the pen, both ends feature a small o-ring at the base of the threads that provide a very snug seal when screwing down the cap. It's a nice feature that adds a level of quality and security to the pen.

The pen looks and feels great, but how does it write? Like a champ.

I've always had really good experiences with TWSBI nibs out of the box. I'm sure there are some duds out there, but you can generally expect good things from the TWSBI nibs. This EF is no exception. It's smooth, crisp, and reliable.

The line width that this pen lays down is smaller than most of my other German EF nibs. It's closer to a Japanese F, which is fine in my book. The line is also very crisp and well-defined. There's no burping or feed problems when writing, and the ink flow is very consistent without being dry.

The nib writes well from the start with no stuttering or skipping. Even after being uncapped for a while, it only takes a couple of light strokes to get the ink flowing again.

The steel nib is very rigid, which means there's no flex to speak of. If that's what you're looking for, you'll have to look somewhere else as TWSBI nibs are known to be very stiff. It's a reliable, good writer, and that's what matters!

Overall, the TWSBI Mini AL in Blue is a solid iteration on an already great pen. The added aluminum parts not only increase the quality of the pen, but the aesthetic as well. It costs a bit more than the regular Mini, but it's well worth it. The blue edition will likely sell out soon, but there's always the standard silver AL! For most other piston-filler pens, you're looking at spending well over $100, so the price point (sub-$70 range) of the TWSBI Mini is unbeatable, especially considering the quality you can expect from them.

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

Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, which I am very grateful for.

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

Posted on May 24, 2017 and filed under TWSBI, Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews.