The state of the (work) desk today. Not shown: 14 bottles of ink 🤣
The state of the (work) desk today. Not shown: 14 bottles of ink 🤣
PAKIDGES! I reckon opening one of these TN Ltd edition sets is about as much fun as a Stationery Addict can possibly have 💜
Hello blog, it’s been a little while! That’s the thing with having lots of hobbies - sometimes one take precedence over the others, and for the last few weeks I’ve been heavily involved with the Tour de Fleece (an online event for spinners of yarn that happens annually in connection with the bicycle race of similar name.) I’ve also been attempting to save $, for some pens I want to buy as well as a very expensive weaving loom. However I’ve been looking out for this particular ink for a while, so when I saw that Fitzgerald Taylor had it back in stock, I had to get a bottle.
As you can see from the photos, I have… a few bottles of Kyo no oto ink. I just seem to like everything about it, from the elegance of the white letterpress outer boxes to the beautiful, minimalist shape of the bottles. The ink itself is generally regarded as being either a little or a lot dry, depending on the colour, but I find it well behaved in the wet broad nibs I prefer, and the shades are often unusual and easy to clean out.
Sakuranezumi is no exception. I would describe it as a dusty, dark, cool plum shade. Right now I have it in a Karas Kustoms Vertex with a broad (Bock) nib which is very wet, and it’s performing beautifully. The most interesting thing about this ink for me is that it has a sort of silver tone to it. I don’t quite know how to describe it as it’s not what I would consider to be a sheen… the colour doesn’t change with different light angles. Whatever it is, it’s intriguing and beautiful, and the ink is right at home among my other dark inks. Below are some swatches from my ink notebook, which is 52gsm OG Tomoe River. I have adjusted all the photos in an attempt to make the different colours more apparent, but the adjustments are consistent across all of them, so hopefully you can get some idea of how Sakuranezumi compared to my other dark purplish inks.
(This ink was bought with my own funds.)
CONTROVERSIAL OPINION: stuff made from Ultem looks like it was turned from a frozen urine sample. I do not understand the appeal AT ALL.
TFW you desperately want a pen that you have no hopes of affording. Scribo, you torment me! 😭 (but I still love you.) This is the releasing-soon Feel in Maddelena. The Feel is a piston filler and I generally prefer c/c, but I feel (ha!) like I will want a Feel at some point to add to my Piumas, and OH that colour!!!
Inks: Herbin Louis XIV, Sailor Sou-boku, Sailor Manyo Haha, TWSBI Sky Blue, TWSBI Pink (diluted), Robert Oster Honeybee, Robert Oster Orange Rumble, Kyo-no-oto Yamabukiiro. 52gsm TR paper in a Galen journal. Done with a glass dip pen.
Inks:Sailor Ink Studio 173, Herbin Bouquet d’antan, Robert Oster Orange Rumble, Smokescreen and Velvet Crush, Kobe Hydrangea, Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun (diluted). Drawn with a glass dip pen in a Galen original TR journal.
An experiment that probably would’ve gone better if I’d had a water brush for blending rather than my fingers! Still, all a learning experience innit
Thought for the day…
When Sailor released the Pro Gear Slim Purple Cosmos a few years ago I debated getting it, repeatedly. I mean, PURPLE! And glitter! But in the end I felt the purple was a little too close to black and there wasn’t quite enough glitter, so I resisted. Recently however I discovered that Pen Classics had a few Benu samples floating around (they are not regular stockists of Benu currently), and I decided to buy the Briolette Milky Way with a crystal pen stand (not the glow-in-the-dark version.)
If these pens were at a party (weird I know, but bear with me) the Purple Cosmos would be leaning against a wall looking mysterious and unknowable and probably wearing sunglasses. The Milky Way would be in the very centre of the dance floor, under the disco ball, doing an arms-out spin while wearing a feather boa. In other words, the Milky Way is much more in your face (while still being a bit restrained by Benu standards.)
Normally I’m all about leaning on walls while trying to look cool (mostly in the hopes no-one will try to talk to me)…. But in this case I’m glad I ended up with the Milky Way Dancing Queen. It’s just fun! And it does feel galactic with the gorgeous dark purple glitter that can look black depending on the lighting, and the LOOK AT ME super chunky silver.
I shall regret the Purple Cosmos no more. Given the state of Things these days, I reckon a carefree twirl under the disco ball is gonna be good for my soul.
PS: For those who want to know, the perfect ink for this pen would be Herbin Amethyste de L’oural. However I recently sold my bottle (coz I’m clever like that. But I just found it too dark for my taste.) Right now I’ve got Robert Oster Cosmic Swirl in there - the name works with the theme, plus if you lay it on really thick on TR paper you can get a little gold sheen from it. Ultimately I’m gonna want a sparkly purple ink though.
PPS: the pen stand works really well. The Briolette has lots of facets anyway so it won’t roll around on a desk, but as it doesn’t post you can put the cap into the stand for safe keeping and then screw the body of the pen straight into it. Also it reminds me of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, so it gets +5 nerd points!
My new Precious!
Inks: Platinum Carbon Black Robert Oster Honeybee (yellow) Sailor Manyo Haha (blue) A mix of Robert Oster Smokescreen and Sailor Ink Studio 670 (brown) Graf von Faber Castell Violet Blue (purple) Sailor Ink Studio 167 (peach) TWSBI Prairie Green (light green) Herbin Verte d’Atlantide (dark green)
Paper: Tomoe River 52gsm in a leather bound journal by Galen
And then there were three!
Inks: Sailor Manyo Nekonayagi, Sailor Ink Studio 670, Sailor Shikiori Yamadori, TWSBI Tangerine, Troublemaker Abalone, Herbin Louis XIV, Montblanc Lavender Purple, Platinum Carbon Black. Paper: Hobonichi Techo Cousin (Tomoe River).
Oops I did it again….. 3rd Scribo Piuma incoming…. #sorrynotsorry
All the US pen folks are getting excited about going to pen shows again. I’m JEALOUS AS. I hope they all know how lucky they are. (The nearest pen shows to me are in another country - Australia - and not really the same as what happens in the US/Europe/Asia because we have fewer distributors and products available in the Southern Hemisphere. )
Needless to say, if I ever win Lotto a luxury trip to a pen show, with a BIG shopping budget, will be a high priority. A girl can dream.
(This set of Iroshizuku inks was provided to me free of charge by (https://penclassics.nz) [Pen Classics] for review purposes.)
The set of new Pilot Iroshizuku ink colours arrived in an understated but elegant little box with a navy blue cover with silver lettering. The inks are in the smaller 15ml glass bottles with the usual labels - not as eye catching as the bigger bottles that Pilot also does, but a more practical size for those of us who have extensive ink collections!
The new shades are Hana-ikada (a pretty light pink), Hotaru-bi (an unusual chartreuse), and Sui-gyoku, which is teal. I have to admit to being a bit puzzled by them. Having tried both the pink and the chartreuse in my everyday pens I can report that they are both very light colours that really need a broad or stub nib to be legible. Light inks do seem to be a bit of a trend lately, and are great for introducing subtle shades to doodles and artwork, but not so useful for normal writing.
My sample book indicates that Hana-ikada is a shade lighter than Akkerman Gourmet Pens Pink, the closest match I have. In a heavy deposit on TR paper it shows a bit of an orange halo, but this is not apparent in normal writing. It’s a little too bright for me to class it as a pastel pink, but it’s not a full-on, in-your-face pop pink either. It makes me think of cherry blossoms and all things kawaii.
Hotaru-bi is definitely my favourite of the three- having tried it in a medium nib I think I need to see how legible it is in a very wet, broad nib. I think of it as “electric chartreuse” - not quite yellow, not quite green, almost fluoro….in my beloved collection of murky green- yellow inks there is nothing that comes close to this colour. Herbin Vert Olive would be the nearest, but it’s a few shades darker and much greener.
Sui-gyoku is the only one of the three that shows much evidence of sheen, but then only on TR paper. It is a mid-range teal, not very dark or very light. It’s definitely greener than Ku-jaku but looks as though it might be closer to Syo-ro (I don’t have any of this one so can’t be certain.) While it’s a pretty enough colour there are a lot of inks out there in this colour area, and I’m not sure it’s different enough to its neighbours in the Iroshizuku range to really justify its existence.
Iroshizuku inks are always high quality and reliable, and if you or someone you know is into drawing with fountain pens then this could be a neat little set to pick up. For serious writers though I’d suggest buying Sui-gyoku on its own, and perhaps considering Hotaru-bi if you’re into very broad nibs and/or looking for a potential highlighter ink.
My thanks to Rene at Pen Classics for sending me this interesting set for review!
Sailor Ink Studio 670 on copy paper… I do love murky greens and yellows!
And today here’s Kyo-no-oto Kokeiro on copy paper. The flexible Scribo nibs are so great for maximising shading.
A small thing that made me happy today: my Scribo Piuma plus Troublemaker Foxglove on regular copy paper.
The Surrokko is, to the best of my knowledge, the first modern mass-produced fountain pen (and rollerball) to be designed and manufactured here in Aotearoa New Zealand. As such I absolutely had to have one for my collection! I’m going to be nitpicking in my review because…well, that’s what Kiwis do to their fellow Kiwis?
The first thing I want to mention is the name. I kinda hate it. If you go to the website (https://www.surrokko.com) the makers of this pen explain the name…but. The spelling makes me go ARGH (#proofreaderproblems) . If they had spelt it Sirocco, after the famous native kakapo parrot who once attempted to mate with a zoologist’s head on camera - only in NZ, etc! - I would have forgiven them. But to name it for a wind that occurs on the other side of the world and then SPELL IT WRONG? No. Just no. However, moving on…
As you can see in the photos below the Surrokko is thoroughly packaged. The outer black cardboard sleeve with the branding on it is removed to reveal a plain black cardboard box that has an open front, and within that is the main box. The black and grey checker pattern on the top of the box is accented with a red stripe down the side which immediately evokes racing cars, but the hard modern effect is softened slightly by the logo, which is of two native falcons in a tree.
This main box is interesting in that it opens from the top, not the front, revealing the pen inside on a cream suede bed. I like the overall look of this, it’s very stylish and for some reason makes me think of coffins and vampires! I do think though that the luxurious presentation is let down somewhat by the 2 pieces of white polystyrene (or something similar) that hold the pen in place. Black foam would have been more in keeping with the overall aesthetic. On the whole though the box is super cool and bound to have the desired effect when this pen is given as a gift. Unfortunately I, like many other pen collectors, already have a pile of nice pen boxes that are of no utility whatsoever, and this case will end up being one of them. I suspect however that veteran pen collectors are not really the target audience here- engineers, designers, graphic artists and business people would be my guess, and they may like a cool place to keep a special pen and display it on a desk.
Now, on to the pen itself. On first glance it appears to be a minimalist, modern style of metal-based pen, not so different from many others that have appeared on Kickstarter. The tapered, matte black body reminds me of the Rotring Art Pen. The clip is a simple folded piece of silver metal, engraved with the Surrokko logo in black, and reasonably stiff. When you pick the pen up though, you’ll notice a few unique things. Firstly, the finial features the twin falcon logo engraved in white. Secondly, the taper on the body of the pen is not symmetrical - it actually has a flat(ish) side meant to help prevent rolling. And finally there is the finish, which is described on the website as a “ceramic anodising solution.” It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever touched on a pen (but perhaps I haven’t bought the right ones.) Very matte and non-slip, but with a velvety texture. It feels to me as though it should be slightly squishy or rubbery, but it definitely isn’t.
So far, so good. A stylish modern pen with a couple of interesting touches. But when you take the cap off….things get a bit wild! The cap is a push fit, held in place with a red o-ring (the pen shipped with 2 spares, which is nice as I don’t know where one would get o-rings in this colour.) At this stage anyone who has read The Night Circus will probably start grinning just like I did, because check out that black and white striped grip and the red nib! Black and white and splashes of red is 100% Night Circus and fans of the book will love this pen for that reason alone. (A note here about the colour scheme: the official flag of NZ is very boring and almost interchangeable with the Australian one. But the EMBLEM of Aotearoa NZ is a silver fern on a black background, and most of our national sports teams use some variation of this logo and black or white uniforms. Additionally the flag of the indigenous Maori people is black, white and red, so this is probably where the colour inspiration came from. Night Circus fans still have every right to be delighted though!)
The 12mm diameter grip is heavily machined -those white stripes are actual grooves, not just paint. They are well done and there are no sharp edges. If you are the type to hold your pen in a death grip you will definitely notice them when writing though (maybe treat it as a reminder to loosen up!) The idea behind them is to make the pen easier to hold, but I’m not sure they were necessary for that as the matte finish is quite non-slip as is. They are very eye catching however and depending on your proclivities might remind you of engines, gun barrels, Tim Burton or striped circus tents.
But the most eye-catching part of this pen is definitely that blood-red nib! It is made by Bock and it sounds like the colour is applied in-house by them. You can still see a bit of their standard nib engraving, but the coating appears to be quite thick; I won’t be entirely surprised if it wears over time, but for now it looks fantastic.
For some reason the pen unscrews not where you think it would, at the top of the grip, but right down by the nib. Once removed you are left with a protruding piece of plastic to fit a cartridge on to (the pen shipped with one of those neat little tins of Herbin Perle Noir cartridges.) Due to the tapered shape of the barrel the pen can only take short international cartridges or a mini converter. (I haven’t tried one as yet, but the Kaweco and/or Sailor mini converters seem like they should fit.) I believe this indicates once again the target audience for this pen, who would likely prefer the convenience of cartridges over fussing with a tiny converter that probably holds less ink anyway.
In the hand the pen seems well-balanced, but at 35g unposted is heavier than my personal preference (the pen seems to post ok, but I’d be worried about marking the finish over time, and at 142mm long unposted the Surrokko will be fine to use that way for most people.) Those who like a weighty pen will enjoy it. My broad nib has good flow and is an absolute nail with no flex or line variation at all. It is fairly smooth but not the smoothest I’ve encountered, perhaps due to the red plating (though that doesn’t extend onto the ball of the nib tip.)
For me this is not a pen I would pick up for lengthy writing sessions, because the weight and that grooved grip aren’t great for slightly arthritic fingers. But it is definitely convenient for shorter notes with the press-fit cap and anti-roll shape. And what’s more, it’s FUN!
On that note, I do wonder who the Surrokko is meant to be fun FOR. I feel like the very sleek first impression is completely counteracted when you take the cap off, and then you’ve got the falcon engraving and the chequered pattern on the main box. It seems as though elements of motor racing, NZ national identity, vampires, machinery and Nightmare before Christmas have all been shoehorned into one item,so there isn’t really a cohesive look to the overall package. But perhaps the business people and designers that the pen is aimed at won’t mind that. And really, I’m not sure I do either. The Surrokko oozes quality in its manufacture and packaging and it pleases my little black Goth heart rather a lot! That name though…..
Here’s a pen even @brad probably isn’t familiar with! Designed here in Aotearoa New Zealand. Review to come…
Today’s page in my day-free Hobo, somewhat capturing my mood as Omicron arrives in NZ. Inks: Pelikan 4001 Violet, Kyo-iro Higashiyama no-tukikage and I think Pilot black.
NID! Courtesy of Pen Classics. A review will be forthcoming…
Disclaimer: the five new TWSBI 1791 inks were supplied to me for free by Pen Classics for review purposes. The six original colours were purchased by me.
When Rene at Pen Classics (www.penclassics.nz) offered to send me the new TWSBI ink colours to review I figured it was a good opportunity to put all 11 colours together for a giant review. I’ve tested all the inks on three different papers - Tomoe River original 52gsm, Rhodia, and standard copy paper. Tests were all done with a glass dip pen, which is not ideal as it tends to put a bit more ink down than a fountain pen would - but inking up and cleaning one fountain pen 11 times was never gonna happen!
The original six colours (named S1 for the purposes of this review) are Pink, Prairie Green, Royal Purple, Sky Blue, Orange and Emerald Green. The 18ml bottles are made of an attractive frosted glass with a translucent red plastic cap, and are available individually or in a boxed set. The box is plain white cardboard reminiscent of TWSBI’s pen packaging, and while not very decorative it does provide a practical way to carry the inks around securely.
The S2 inks (as I’m calling them) are Forest Green, Grape, Navy, Tangerine and Crimson. The bottles are identical to the S1 inks, but only come individually - a strange choice IMO considering that they could easily have added a brown ink to the mix and offered the option of a whole boxed set again. But for whatever reason, this time they come packed in individual sturdy cardboard boxes.
PRAIRIE GREEN (S1): a bright spring green, dark enough to be legible in most pens. Looking through my own ink swatches the closet match I have is Iroshizuku Chiku-rin, which is similar but has a bit more blue in it.
EMERALD GREEN (S1): sits on the border between green and teal. Nothing in my swatches is similar, but that’s because I go for the teal shades usually.
FOREST GREEN (S2): this one is not as far removed from Emerald Green as I thought it would be. It’s definitely less blue-toned and more of a traditional green though. My closest match (forgetting the shimmer) is Herbin Emerald of Chivor, though that is a bit more blue.
PINK (S1): a pretty pale pink with orange undertones that is too light for legibility in a dry or fine nib. My closest matches for this are actually corals - Herbin Corail des Tropiques and Sailor Ink Studio 173.
ROYAL PURPLE (S1): a bright standard purple, somewhat similar to Iroshizuku Murasaki-shikibu.
GRAPE (S2): a dusky dark pink and not at all a colour I’d associate with grapes! It’s quite unlike any of my other inks - the closest I could get was a very old sample of Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses.
SKY BLUE (S1): a bright, happy turquoise. I don’t have a good match for this, Iroshizuku Ama-iro is my closest but Sky Blue definitely had more green in it.
NAVY (S2): an opaque blue-black. KWZ Walk Over Vistula is similar but has more sheen.
ORANGE (S1): a darkish shade that leans quite red. Robert Oster Orange Rumble is as close as I can get, but the TWSBI orange is redder.
TANGERINE (S2): very very bright - the iPhone camera couldn’t capture it properly, but it’s really only a shade away from being a fluorescent. Nothing in my collection comes close!
CRIMSON (S2): a blood red that leans blue. Diamond Red Dragon is similar but has a bit more blue - Crimson is more of an arterial red!
All inks behaved well on Tomoe River, and most exhibited some haloing in heavy deposits. Emerald Green, Forest Green and Navy all showed some red sheen on the swatches, but Navy was the only one to show a hint of sheen in actual writing. Prairie Green and Sky Blue look like the best bets for getting noticeable shading.
On the Rhodia paper there was feathering in all the swatches except for Pink and Tangerine, the two lightest colours. None of the inks exhibited any haloing, sheen or shading.
On the photocopy paper Tangerine was the best-behaved, with all other shades showing feathering - Crimson and Navy were the worst offenders.
My conclusion from my testing was that these inks are best used with high quality paper and are too “runny” to look good on cheap paper (with the possible exception of Tangerine.)Most of the colours are fairly standard, but may exhibit some interesting halo or shading under the right conditions. As such they are a good match for TWSBI’s pens, which are similarly unpretentious and affordable.
My favourites out of these are definitely the Grape and Tangerine, which I feel take a step beyond “normal” colours into the territory of “interesting.”
Thanks to Rene for ink, my cat HarrietJonesPrimeMinister for assisting as a background model, and the little unnamed guest reviewer who was too shy to voice an opinion!
(Note: in the photos the Tomoe River paper is first, copy paper second and Rhodia third. The closeups are all Tomoe River.)
Packidges! New TWSBI inks to review courtesy of Pen Classics and gorgeous new accessories from Hurlestobe to protect my precious Scribo pens (colours will be approved of by @brad I reckon). Like many Kiwis I’ll be off work for 3 weeks over Christmas so I plan on doing a big ink review comparing the new TWSBI colours to the original set.
And then there were two!
The Scribo Piuma is pretty much my perfect pen. Here’s why.
A classic torpedo shape with no unnecessary decorations - just the SCRIBO name engraved on the side, a small feather logo finial, and a simple streamlined (but springy) clip. Capped it reminds me of the timeless and iconic Lamy 2000, but with the addition of interesting coloured resin options to stop it from being boring. Although it has a circular cross section the Piuma thoughtfully has two flat facets on both body and cap, which stop it from rolling away when you put it down - a really nice design element! (Also I should note here that while the Piuma is theoretically postable you can tell as soon as you try that it’s not really meant to be posted - so having the facets to prevent rolling of the loose cap is really useful.)
Uncapped the Piuma continues being minimalist, with just the cap threads, a narrow metal trim ring and the nib itself, which is engraved with text rather than anything fancy or swirly. Not everybody likes having a nib with “Feel the FLEX” on it and I can understand that tbh. It just doesn’t bother me as when I’m using the pen I’m more focused on the feel of the nib than the look of it.
2) Size and weight.
Here’s where it would be helpful to have some scales, but I’m writing this at work. Suffice it to say that I find the overall size and weight of the Piuma comparable to the Lamy Safari, and about what you’d expect for a resin pen with minimal metal components. Size-wise I think it’s probably also similar to a Montblanc 146 - so, pleasantly chunky but not what I’d consider oversized. I have a little arthritis in my hands so light weight is definitely my preference.
Although it is light the Piuma doesn’t feel at all flimsy - the body and cap are both thick-walled and not likely to crack at the drop of a hat (unlike some!)
When you unscrew the cap it’s immediately apparent that there is quite a step down from the barrel to the grip section. The edge of the step has been rounded off, but it does still look like a potential source of discomfort when writing. However Scribo have had the good sense to make the grip section itself generous in both length and diameter. I have quite fat fingers that can struggle with short grip sections, but I find the Piuma very comfortable indeed, and there is room for adjusting your grip if need be. I don’t notice the step down at all when holding or using the pen.
A lot of people seem to feel that a very $$$ pen must be a piston filler or have some other arcane filling mechanism in order to justify the cost. But you know what? Piston fillers are a pain in the butt to clean. I guess that doesn’t matter if you use the same ink colour all the time, but if you’re a serial ink changer like me then it quickly becomes a real chore to flush out a piston filler pen. The cartridge/converter set-up is one of the main reasons why I chose the Piuma over the more expensive Feel model, which is a piston filler. Sure the latter mechanism will hold a lot more ink, but if you change colours a lot then ease of cleaning is MUCH more of a priority.
Scribo nibs are made in-house on the machines that used to belong to Omas, and come in either a 14k “flex” or an 18k nib in sizes ranging from UEF to stubs, and with an ebonite feed (fairly essential for keeping up with the ink flow in very broad and/or flexible nibs.) This was a big draw card for me - so many pens now use Jowo, Schmidt or Bock nibs that it is really refreshing to find something different with a wider range of sizes. I’m usually a broad nib person, but I’d already heard that Scribo nibs were quite wet, so I went with a 14k flex medium.
So is it a true flex nib? Not really, by the standards of vintage pens, but I’d say yes by modern standards. I think it’s comparable to a Pilot Falcon inasmuch as it’s definitely a bouncy nib, and gentle pressure will spread the tines and put more ink on the page. However, the nib is VERY wet, so I found initially that I couldn’t really get any noticeable line variation with it. In fact it was so wet as to be impractical for normal use - more like a BB in terms of the sheer amount of ink it put down.
I was somewhat unhappy about this to start with, but as it turns out it sent me down rather a rabbit hole of looking at ink PROPERTIES as well as colours, and seeking out drier inks to use with my pen (a great reason to buy more ink!😁) Pelikan’s basic ink range is supposed to be one of the driest but has very limited availability here, so I instead investigated the more readily available (and beautiful) Kyo-iro/Kyo-no-oto ranges of Japanese inks. I ended up with 4 that I really like using in my pen (with Lamy blue-black and Herbin Vert Atlantide as backups.) The bonus is that dry inks don’t feather on the copy paper we use at work, so I can use my Piuma daily - and the nib is able to give me great shading even on this inferior paper.
In all honesty I don’t care overly much about producing a huge amount of line variation; but I do like a responsive nib, and the soft 14k ones certainly are (not to mention very smooth.) My next Piuma (currently winging its way to me!) will have the EF 14k nib though, so that I can use more inks with it.
Individual tastes in fountain pens vary enormously, and of course of the Scribo pens are very spendy. But if you like a nib that’s really responsive, a forgiving grip, uncluttered, classic good looks, top quality and an easy clean, and you have or can raise the $, then the Scribo Piuma is definitely worth close consideration (just maybe buy a finer nib size than your usual!)
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go back to obsessively refreshing the tracking on my Piuma Impressione…
Honestly I don’t find the Kaweco Sport very comfortable to use, but how could I NOT get the dark olive to live next to the Fox so they can look fabulous together?! The ink is a brand I’ve never heard of so I got a couple of colours to try and review (assuming I manage to get the caps off the bottles, they are TIGHT.) Both pens and ink are from Fitzgerald Taylor here in Auckland.
WARNING -WALL OF TEXT ALERT!
I’m not sure where/when I first saw a photo of the Scribo Piuma in Lieve-Grigio (blue-grey), but I was immediately captivated by the shape and the colour, a shade I’ve never seen in a solid-coloured pen before. I read a bit about it, drooled a bit, but figured I’d never own one because of the price. It stayed in the back of my mind, and every time I came across it I drooled a bit more. Then Pen Chalet had some at a great sale price…..and I still didn’t think I could afford it, and really what was I going to do with a pen that cost that much? I’d be scared to use it!
However not long after that a switch flipped or a synapse went AWOL or something and I suddenly Could. Not. Live. Without. This. Pen. I started selling off other pens and scraping up cash in the finest traditions of a grail pen quest, desperately trying to locate the colour and nib I wanted at an online retailer. I found one. I placed an order with a European store and paid. The next day I got an email saying “Oh sorry, we don’t have that after all and can’t possibly get it.” Swearing ensued. I located another one, in the USA, and made frantic phone calls to the bank, trying to speed up the refund to my credit card, terrified the LAST REMAINING ONE ONLINE ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET would sell before I could order it.
Reader, I GOT IT. I had to pay a small fortune (in my eyes) because the exchange rate was less favourable and FedEx from the US costs a bomb. It shipped. I refreshed the tracking every 15 minutes and looked at pictures and watched reviews.
Several obsessive lifetimes later, IT ARRIVED. It was beautiful and everything I hoped for, albeit rather wetter and broader than I expected for a medium nib. But the 14k flex nib was bouncy and super responsive. I did notice though that it….kept running dry? So I switched out the Scribo-branded converter for a generic international one, and that seemed to fix things.
Day 3 with my perfect pen. I unscrewed it so I could flush it out and change the ink colour and…. The entire section that holds barrel and nib together pulled out. (If you’re into disaster porn and want to see this actually happen, check out the Pen Gangsta’s YouTube review of this model.) WOE!!! The pen was still usable, but really, I expected better of something in this price range. I immediately emailed the shop.
I’m not going to identify said shop. They took several days to respond to my distressed email. I’m 100% certain they get a lot of emails with a lot of queries and problems and this was all just a normal day for them. But for me it was the most expensive pen I’d ever bought and I was freaking out and every second that I didn’t hear back from them was agony. We had a long weekend here in NZ and I couldn’t enjoy it because I was so stressed and worried about whether I’d bought an enormous waste of $.
FINALLY I heard back from them and they contacted Scribo for me…about the broken section only. My concerns about the converter issue and extreme wetness of the nib were unfortunately not passed on. But I was informed that Scribo would replace the broken part for me. HURRAH!
At this point I was somewhat surprised (and pleased) to be contacted directly by Luca from Scribo, who assured me that the new section would be sent by FedEx and was “re-engineered” so that the same issue could not happen again. HURRAH! (Again.)
The replacement part took quite a number of days to arrive; it seems that even FedEx have reached the point of backlog now in the disaster that is international mail. But it came with a handwritten note of apology and advice about how best to fit the nib into the new section. It is a perfect match in terms of colour and fit, and now….the pen is perfect. It’s the most expensive pen I own and it travels to work with me every day and I use it all day, every day. I’m not sure I’ve even used another fountain pen since.
A review will follow very soon. But for now…you may have noticed the Black Friday sales last week. It was also my birthday. I got $. I tried to tell myself I should save it. But the way things are these days it feels like the world could end anytime, and what’s the good of money when you’re dead?
I ordered another one.
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.