A work desk still life.
A work desk still life.
The tl;dr: Opus 88 make great pens. Some of their designs are eccentric and not all of them work for me, but they are all excellent value for money, reliable, fun and hold a ton of ink.
I’ve loved my flat-ended Koloro demonstrator since I first got it. It’s oversized and especially with the broad Jowo #6 nib it makes me feel like a kid with a crayon, joyously scribbling. Watching the ink slosh around inside is deeply satisfying.
That said, on the whole I don’t find demonstrator pens that exciting usually because they all look somewhat similar, so I don’t own many. I’ve had my eye on Opus’ Jazz model for a while - it comes in several solid colours with ink windows and several black cap/coloured, translucent body options - and when I needed to cheer myself up recently after a problematic pen purchase (more on that another time) I thought I’d get a Jazz, maybe in the solid baby blue shade. But somehow this frosted version with the gunmetal- coloured trims got ahold of me, and I figured it was different enough to my other Demo to not be boring.
I chose well. The sea-glass effect of the frosted finish is really pretty, and the trim colour is unusual and shows up better against the frosted acrylic than silver would. I keep thinking how cool it would look with a skeleton overlay in this colour…. The medium nib (chosen for general usefulness at work) is smooth and noticeably finer than the broad on my other Demo, but still juicy. I’m not one of those who have a marked preference for flat-top or cigar-shaped pens, so I love the shape of this one just as much as my other one.
Like all Opus pens I’ve tried/owned this one took several minutes to get running after its first fill - something that can freak out a first-time Opus owner. But a bit of patience (and maybe some shaking and nib-licking!) will get you there, and you’ll very likely never have another issue. The eyedropper filling system is very reliable and super easy to clean, so no worries about using shimmer inks in these pens!
Any time I get a new pen there’s a “honeymoon period” where I don’t want to use anything else. I’m in that phase right now, but even more so than usual - I keep picking this one up to look at it and watch the ink inside. It’s just so goddamn beautiful!
Possible marks against this pen for some people would be the lightness, the size and the number of twists it takes to unscrew the cap (about 5 for me, which is fairly typical of Opus pens.) But if oversized, fun and reliable is your thing then definitely consider picking up the Holiday Jazz - it’s truly a sexy beast.
Now, I might just go have another look at that baby blue one….
(PS if anyone is wondering why I got an Opus 88 shipped all the way from Italy to NZ- Opus are not currently available here. Neither is Esterbrook, or Sailor (except by special order) or a number of other brands that are commonly sold overseas. Local retailers/importers do their best for us, but with such a small market and the FUBAR that is international post and freight these days they just can’t supply everything we local pen addicts might wish for. Also Stilo e Stile are excellent and have a huge range and their shipping rates are very reasonable. It’s quicker - and sometimes cheaper - for me to get a pen FedExed from Europe than it is to get one by standard airmail from Australia!)
What can I say. Weeks and weeks of COVID-19 lockdown with my desk and other spaces taken over by wfh stuff… now I’m back in the office but working overtime. It’s all been a bit of a mess on many levels, as life is for a lot of us these days.
BUT. THINGS AND STUFF ARRIVED. Today I got an exciting FedEx parcel from Rome! Stilo e Stile is my favourite overseas pen retailer and their FedEx charges are very reasonable.
This is Patience, a brass pen rest/desk tray from Esterbrook. It comes nicely packaged in a textured cardboard box with gold embossing, and an information sheet inside (nice enough to present well but without excessive packaging.) As soon as I saw this online I knew I must have it (even though I don’t own any Esterbrook pens yet!) I do however own a pet tortoise and enjoy things tortoise-shaped. (This looks like a sea turtle to me, but for some reason Americans don’t differentiate between turtles and tortoises.)
The pen rest is just really really nice and I love that it looks like it could be a vintage item from the 1920s. I also love that Esterbrook included a sheet with 4 rubber adhesive dots on it so that you can protect your desk from being scratched by Patience’s underside. The workmanship on this thing is good, and there are no particularly sharp edges, though I would still be cautious about using it with a pen that was very valuable due to the potential for microscratches. The little scalloped pen rests look tiny but do the job of holding even a large pen steady; and the “shell” tray can safely hold a pen cap or any of those little random ephemera that tend to collect on desks.
In short - a really great addition to any desk, and if Esterbrook’s pens are as good as this pen rest then I definitely need to get one!
That was the first part of my package from Rome. More about part 2 in a day or so….
Today’s work pens:
Waterman Expert bordeaux (series 1) and Opus 88 Koloro demonstrator.
At work I use purple ink. (I’m part of a team of proofreaders, and we each have a designated ink colour so we can tell who made which corrections.) My Galaxea Vertex from Karas Kustoms is my current main work pen, and it’s gorgeous… but it’s also my only Bock nib, and I’m finding it quite different to Jowo or Schmidt in how it behaves with inks.
I’m using a fine nib, even though I prefer M or B, because I often have to write pretty small and on standard copy paper. My go-to ink to date has been Ferris Wheel Press Grape something-or-other; it dries fast while being pleasantly wet, and has some character to it. But in my Vertex it’s FAR too wet! Meanwhile most of the other purple inks from my collection have been too dry in it. My favourite so far has been Diamine Maureen, which is such a mega-sheen ink that it looks green even on copy paper! But alas like most mega-sheen inks it dries slowly and smears horribly under highlighter.
I’ve eliminated any purples that are too close to black, and any that aren’t work appropriate (aka glittery), and so far that seems to leave me with the too dry, the too slow-drying or the just plain boring standard purples with no character. SOMEWHERE out there my perfect purple must exist!
WHY is 1.1mm the default/smallest size of stub nib available for most pen brands??? I love me a broad nib, but 1.1 is just too wide for everyday use. My custom ground 0.7 mm stub from Shawn Newton, otoh, is great. Do pen manufacturers not get that people want to use stub nibs for more than just calligraphy?
When an item is a niche product within a niche hobby it’s perhaps not surprising that few people seem to be aware of it. Such is the case (ha!) with the Girologio Grab n Go; when I was thinking of buying one I looked for reviews and found next to nothing. So now that I have one I feel bound to talk about it a bit!
Girologio are probably best known in the pen community for their large range of leather pen cases, some of which can store incredible quantities of pens. The Grab n Go is also a case, but with a different purpose - as you might guess from the name. I bought mine from www.inkt.co.nz . It comes in three finishes: shiny black or oxblood leather with velvet lining, and matte “bomber brown” suede with a cotton lining. I chose the latter.
As you can see, this case is not dissimilar to a standard paperback in size, being 20cm tall x 14cm wide x 4.5cm deep when closed. It has an external pocket front and back, into which you can squeeze a large smartphone if you haven’t completely overstuffed the interior. It is a tight fit though, and may damage the case long-term, so I prefer to use these pockets for things like receipts.
The zip is very sturdy and goes around the corners well. Once open, on the left-hand side you have elastic loops that will hold 4 pens and easily accommodate larger models while holding them securely. The facing flap is fabric lined and protects your pens from rubbing against anything, which I am grateful for.
Flip this flap over and you’ll find what most people will use as a wallet - 7 card slots and a cash purse. You can also slip stuff in behind (so actually underneath where the pen loops are), and I use this space for rarely-used loyalty cards.
In the centre of the case is a detachable keyring. I need quick access to my keys as they have my bus pass on them, so at the moment I’m just using this keyring for charms, but there are other potential uses for it too - you could loop a charging cable around the ring for instance.
On the right hand side you have no less than 3 pockets for storing other items (2 side-opening and 1 top-opening) which could be configured any number of ways. I have 3 pocket notebooks in mine - one is my journal, one a sketchbook and the third is my ink swatch book - and my homemade pencil board. I occasionally also store loose stickers in one of these pockets, and I’m going to add a ruler. The top-opening pocket would be great for top-bound notebooks. You could also comfortably carry an A6 Hononichi, but the case will not fit A5 notebooks.
I’ve been using this case for several weeks now, and have yet to find any drawbacks with it. If I’m going out somewhere and don’t want to take a bag I can just grab this case, shove my phone in the outside pocket and be good to go. At night I sit the case by my bed so that in the event of some emergency I can just grab it and have pretty much everything I’ll need without having to think about it. During the day I chuck it into my huge EDC tote, which does not close, but because the case does I know my notebooks won’t get wet even if I get rained on! And the case is much easier to find in the depths of my bag than my wallet ever was.
That’s how I use it, but I can see it also being useful to people as a portable office or for planning supplies, or just as a general organiser. I think Girologio gave it the perfect name, and for me it’s working really as a combination wallet, planner and pen case. My only wish is that it could magically hold more pens without getting any larger!
Karas Kustoms Vertex in Galaxea and Bourbon on the Rocks. I love these- the perfect posted size for me, nice chunky interchangeable grips, can be eyedroppered. I think there will be more in my future!
I gather from Northern hemisphere blogs that Field Notes limited edition notebooks are Kind of a Big Thing. When I searched for a NZ stockist there were none, which explains why I’ve never seen them in person! The nearest retailers are in Australia.
Pebble Stationery is a much much smaller brand, but they do have a retailer in NZ, Pen Classics. They produce a range of Tomoe River notebooks in popular sizes, as well as some covered in gorgeous Liberty fabrics; they also have leather notebook covers and have recently released some notebooks with Cosmo Air Light paper. Occasionally they also do their TR notebooks with limited edition covers, which is what I got in the mail yesterday (purchased with my own $.)
The Antarctica is a 2-pack of 3.5 x 5.5 inch / 8.89 x 13.97 cm pocket notebooks with Pebble’s standard 80 pages of 52gsm Tomoe River paper, a sewn binding and 4mm pale dot grid. As per their other notebooks the inside front cover is laid out so you can write your contact details and the notebook contents. Normally the cover would be a pale grey, but for this edition it’s a brilliant white, with the company logo embossed in the bottom right corner. On the back cover is an outline map of Antarctica which also features a cute whale and a penguin!
But my favourite part is, oddly, the page edging. The round-cornered pages have a holographic edging on them which is SUPER pretty and just plain mesmerising. All these elements together result in a notebook which is something a bit special and very aesthetically pleasing. Living as I do in a country so close to Antarctica also lends this cover a particular appeal for me.
The notebooks sell for US$12.99 plus shipping for the 2-pack. Pebble products ship from China, so may take a few weeks to arrive (but what doesn’t these days!), but mine were very securely packaged and arrived in perfect condition. If pocket notebooks and/or original Tomoe River are your thing then I highly recommend picking up the Antarctica! (the drawing is from one of their notebooks that I’m currently using. More on how I use pocket notebooks in a future post.)
But I’ve never been much good at Society anyway. So what the heck. Hi! I’m Stitchpunk and this is my blog for nerding out about stationery. The photo is a clue as to the sorts of things I intend to talk about here. I hope to share my pens, ink, planners, stickers, washi, pen cases etc and do informal product reviews, as well as generally sharing thoughts on the world of stationery from a Southern Hemisphere perspective.
I’m not the patient type when it comes to setting up Things Interweb. But when @brad and Myke had an ad for Micro.blog on the Pen Addict podcast and I checked it out it seemed a bit easier for me to deal with than Wordpress, which reduced me to a state of frustrated stress in the first hour. Which is by way of saying - please forgive me if anything looks weird or the template changes several times! I’m learning.
As it happens something nice arrived in the post today, so expect more photos and words tomorrow! For now - welcome, I hope you enjoy the journey :)
Today’s work pen 🖋- a Newton Pens custom Eastman Bamboo with a .7mm stub nib ground by Shawn. How amazing is that purple and black ripple ebonite! This pen is named Lovecraft.