My Pencil: The Palomino Blackwing Pearl

Many thanks to JetPens for sponsoring the purchase of the pencils reviewed here. There are no affiliate links and I was not monetarily compensated. This review reflects my opinions and experiences with the pencils. 

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

I blame— or credit— the Erasable podcast for the avalanche of woodcase pencils that have taken over my house. I was bit of a pencil hoarder before, but thanks to their enabling, I’ve taken a deep-dive and purchased and collected more pencils than an entire elementary school could use in a few years. (Some donations may be in order.) I’ve proclaimed the Palomino Blackwings and Palomino Blackwing 602s as some of my favorites, and even got my mother hooked on them. (Great Mother’s Day present, by the way!)

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

Turns out the Blackwings and 602s were merely gateway drugs to a new pencil high experienced with the purchase of the Palomino Blackwing Pearls. When you find yourself walking around your pencil-stuffed house mumbling, “Where IS my Palomino Pearl?”, you know you’ve found your drug…ummm…pencil.

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

I’ve always been a sucker for a true “pearl” finish— on cars, pens, etc.— and these pencils shine with their pearly white coat. I can’t really capture it in my photos, but it’s a lovely and unusual look for a pencil. I think it’s stunning. So yes, I initially judged this pencil by its finish.

Palomono Blackwing Pearl on a writing sample

Pearl writing sample

But to love this pencil for its finish alone would be short-sighted. The Pearl lays down a creamy feeling line— smooth and dark with a point that lasts and lasts. It’s crazy good. Of the 602, Blackwing, and Pearl, I like this one the best. To my eye, the line seems to fall between the 602 and Blackwing in terms of darkness, and with better point retention than the Blackwing. But what do I know? I’m new to this whole pencil game, so take these details with a grain of salt. Bottom line, though, this is a VERY NICE pencil.

Pearl's replaceable eraser

Pearl's replaceable eraser

If you’re new to the Blackwing line, you may not realize that the uniquely shaped eraser is adjustable AND replaceable. That is, you can “scooch” up the eraser in the eraser holder as it wears down, then replace it altogether when it gets too small. I tend to use up my pencil before the eraser gives out (I’m a bit of an obsessive sharpener), but it’s a cool feature.

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

I’m only exaggerating slightly when I say that opening this box of pencils was one of those “I hear the angels sing” writing instrument moments. (I’m not the only one who has those, am I?!)

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

The Palomino Blackwing Pearls— I have found my pencils.

Palomino Blackwing Pearls

———

Want to hear the angels sing, too? Check out JetPens Palomino Blackwing offerings HERE. Hey, there are some pretty cool colored replacement erasers. I didn’t know that until just now!

On Fire: The Delta Unica Red LE Fountain Pen (via Anderson Pens)

Delta Unica Red LE Fountain Pen

I rarely come away from watching the Anderson Pens video podcast without jotting yet another pen onto my wish list. Case in point— just before the DC Supershow, Brian and Lisa announced their Delta Unica Limited Edition Fountain Pen, in a gorgeous red acrylic that’s an Anderson Pens exclusive. Wowza.

Oh, that acrylic!!
[Oh, that acrylic!]

With just fifty pens in this color, I was intrigued. And when I heard the price— just $85 (a small premium over the regular Delta Unica colors)— I knew I wanted this pen. BUT, I was getting to the pen show for Sunday only, so I spent a lot of my road trip from New York to Virginia worrying that they’d be gone by the time I was able to shop. PEN ANXIETY!

They were gone. I didn’t get one. The End.

KIDDING.

I hit the Anderson Pens table(s) pretty quickly on Sunday morning and was relieved to find that there were still some left. I chose #34/50 (medium nib), got one of Lisa’s famous hugs, talked to Brian, and ran off to pinball my way around the rest of the show. (Why I can’t seem to do a pen show in an orderly fashion is beyond me. I think it’s adrenaline.)

AP 34/50 Limited Edition
[Limited Edition, Anderson Pens, 34/50]

Once home, the first pen I inked and spent time with was my Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen (LOVE that thing), so I didn’t get around to inking the Delta until a couple of weeks ago. And that’s when I found a bit of a glitch. The pen would write, then stop, then write again. Sometimes it flooded the paper with ink, while other times it ran completely dry. Well, shoot.

Once I took a close look at the nib, the problem was obvious— the nib tines were simply too far apart. I contacted the Andersons by email, included a couple of photos to illustrate the problem, and had a speedy reply from Brian. At his recommendation, I mailed the pen to him, he fixed the nib, and returned it to me asap. Great service after the sale.

Delta Unica matte steel nib
[All better.]

NOW it writes as good as it looks.

Delta Unica LE Red Fountain Pen

It truly is a stunning pen. The red marble acrylic has amazing depth and sheen and looks like it’s on fire from within. Branding is VERY subdued. (You can just make out the “DELTA/ITALY” engraving at the bottom edge of the cap in the picture above.) The clip features a little roller that makes sliding the pen in and out of a pocket or case snag-free. I love the shape of the cap— how it subtly flares out— giving the pen a really clean and simple, but interesting, profile.

Delta Unica vs. Lamy AL-Star
[Size comparison: Delta Unica vs. Lamy AL-Star]

The size is perfect for me (4-3/4″ unposted, 6″ posted). The cap posts securely and doesn’t throw off the balance of the pen. The 0.46″ grip feels great in hand, and the threads and oh-so slight step-down do not interfere with my grip at all. It’s a joy to hold and use. The pen weighs 22g (15g body, 7g cap)— light enough for even an extended writing session.

Delta Unica Matte Steel nib

The nib is steel in a matte finish, and features branding that I find to be a little busy. The writing experience is a smooth and juicy one, with just a bit of feedback. The Unica is cartridge/converter pen, and a converter is included. I’ve filled mine with Sailor Jentle Grenade, a color that was MADE FOR this acrylic.

Delta Unica in LE Red Acrylic
[On fire!]

I’m very pleased with my Delta Unica LE fountain pen— my Anderson Pens Delta Unica. It’s hot looking, writes great, and feels terrific. Brian’s speedy response and quick nib fix proved why it’s important to deal with people you trust. Sometimes things aren’t exactly perfect— with pens as with life— and it’s great to know that there’s someone there should you need help.

Delta Unica LE Red Acrylic fountain pen

Or a hug. (Right, Lisa?!)

————–

Click HERE to watch Brian’s video overview of this pen.

A Collection: ACME Crayon Rollerballs

My pen collection can certainly be called “random.” I sometimes joke that its theme is “no theme.” I’m simply drawn to shiny things— rich acrylics with mesmerizing depth (chatoyancy! a word I just learned), stealthy black pens, transparent demonstrators, and cool colors. I have a little bit of a lot of pens. Pen A.D.D., I guess. EXCEPT in the case of the ACME Crayon rollerballs by ACME Studio.

P1040869

I started out with one pen, either the red or the blue one. That seemed fine for awhile. But then I found that a local Scandinavian Designs store carried them and one led to two which led to three which led to owning the whole collection. Oops.

ACME Crayon rollerballs

I’m such a faithful customer, and ACME Crayon “completist,” that the shop owner sends me an email when new colors are announced— like the latest purple and teal offerings. What’s also cool is that the shop has (or had) the retired colors— black, white, and silver. Shop local as you never know what lucky surprises you may find!

ACME Crayon rollerballs

The refill is the same as the one for the Retro 51 rollerballs so I usually swap in a Schmidt (or ACME) P8126 as that tip size is the sweet spot for me.  The pens are lacquered brass so they feel substantial and look remarkably like the crayons we had fun with as kids. The colors are so addictive, and not overwhelming in number (just eleven at this time), so owning the entire collection was certainly doable and desirable.

ACME Crayon rollerballs

One thing I don’t quite get is why the green pen has a yellow tip and end cap. Why isn’t it ALL green, like the color of the body? Weird choice by ACME, in my opinion.

In the top photo, you’ll notice my “mutt” pen on the far right side of the photo— a white pen with an orange tip. Sadly, I dropped my white pen on a counter at work and sheared off the brass tip. ARRRRGGGHHH! White is, of course, a discontinued color. I immediately contacted my local dealer…ummm, shop…and found that she still had a few in stock so I quickly purchased a new one. I also contacted ACME to try to get a replacement tip for the damaged pen. Turns out that wasn’t possible, but they did eventually swap in a tip from an orange pen, so it’s usable, but a bit of a hybrid. Lesson learned: Be extremely careful with discontinued pens. DO NOT DROP THEM ON HARD SURFACES. Pro tip.

So while my pen collection is all over the place, my ACME Crayon rollerball collection is currently COMPLETE. I’ve got a Crayon for each and every mood. For some reason, this feels like an accomplishment. For this pen collector, with the attention span of a gnat, I guess it is.

ACME Crayon rollerballs

The ACME Crayon rollerballs remind me of long ago, uncomplicated kid days when I could spend hours lying on the living room rug coloring in a new coloring book. How could I possibly resist buying more of those carefree and happy memories?

Does your pen collection have a theme? I’d love to hear about it.

A Happy Discovery: Fisher Space Pen Cross-style Refills

Cross-style ballpoint pens

I have a few nice pens that have pretty much been dead to me because they take Cross-style ballpoint refills. I’m not a big fan of the regular Cross ballpoint refills as I find them to be too light and too draggy. SO the pens have been gathering dust, which is no life for a pen.

Cross-style ballpoint pens

I happened to be rooting around in my big box ‘o refills when I noticed a couple of Fisher Space Pen Cross-style refills (black ink, medium point). I can’t say that I have any memory of buying them, but unless there are refill fairies, I must’ve.

Cross-style ballpoint pens

I popped them into my languishing pens and – WOW – what a difference! The new refills are dark, smooth, and speedy (i.e., no drag). PLUS- I can write upside down and in extreme temperatures should my day take a turn for the dramatic.

Cross-style ballpoint pens

Fisher Space Pen Cross-style refills- a happy little discovery. So now you know.

Handwritten review

Team Wahlnut: The Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik Fountain Pen

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen

As I mentioned in my quick summary of the DC Pen Show, Fred’s not a pen user, but he IS a talker. He’ll pretty much talk to anybody about anything. As I circled the atrium in the Sheraton looking for deals on Retro 51s (I found a few last year, thus my quest), Fred struck up a conversation with Syd Saperstein, the co-owner of Wahl-Eversharp. After I made my rounds, I stopped at the table and was quickly drawn into the conversation and the pens.

Syd’s a great guy— very easy to talk to and very passionate about his pens. He’s also the perfect salesman— a skill he says he learned from his mother. He’s not pushy in the least, but instead, nudges you towards a purchase with a wealth of information and the interesting history of the Wahl-Eversharp company. He also lets his pens sell themselves. Smart man.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Wahl-Eversharp pens WERE on my “quest list,” but I’d already made a few purchases and was contemplating a gorgeously swirly acrylic pen at another table. But then I tried one of Syd’s tester pens. OH, MY. Once I wrote with the Natural Aluminum Skyline Technik, I was 98% sold. Syd’s easy style, as well as a free bottle of Wahl-Eversharp ink, took care of the other 2%. Even Fred (who’s quite— shall we say— thrifty) was sold. As they chatted, I wrote. And wrote. And wrote a little more. Great nib. (“It’s ceramic-coated,” Syd explained. “And semi-flex.”) Super smooth. Addictively smooth. A nib that makes you say, “Wow.”

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Like I said, I’d been contemplating someone else’s eye-popping acrylic pens, but that Technik tester reeled me right in. Offered in three colors— Natural Aluminum, Black, and Cobalt Blue— I was leaning towards the natural finish while Fred lobbied for the black. He liked the black nib offered on that pen, and in the end, I had to agree. Black pen, black nib. Really cool. Sold.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

Once home, the Technik was the first pen I inked. Filled with my free Wahl-Eversharp Everberry ink, my pen wrote just as smoothly as the tester, and laid down a gorgeously wet fine-medium line. I’m horrible at getting pens to flex— I’m afraid of springing the nib and have a really light touch— so even though I’ve yet to take full advantage of the semi-flex nib, I do enjoy the way it feels— springy and full of life.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

I’m quite taken with the design and the construction. Syd explained how the Technik is cut from a single billet of aluminum, resulting in a very sturdy pen. “This isn’t soda can aluminum,” Syd noted. It is the real deal and gives the pen a nice weight (24g capped, 15g uncapped) and substantial feel. I’m just as happy using it posted as I am unposted. The cap posts deeply and securely and feels very well balanced either way.

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik

The Technik’s details give it a timeless look. The design of the clip, and the way it’s integrated into the cap, looks both modern and vintage at the same time. The finely milled grooves in the cap add interest and give the pen a distinctively retro look. The tapered 5″ (5.6″ posted) body and 0.4″ grip fit my hand perfectly. So even though I was initially on the prowl for a colorful, swirly acrylic pen, this cool black pen completely won me over. And continues to do so.

Technik in hand

I use it EVERY DAY.

Oh, that nib!

The ceramic-coated, black finish, stainless steel nib is easily in my top five— maybe in my top two, just behind my Visconti Opera Elements. I don’t understand how the ceramic coating works, but if it makes a nib feel and write THIS well, then Syd and his business partner, Emmanuel Caltagirone, are definitely onto something.

Disassembled Technik

THE DETAILS
Body and Cap: Anodized Black Aluminum, cut from solid aluminum billet (Natural Aluminum or Cobalt Blue finish also available)
Clip and Trim: Rhodium-plated (Gold-plated option available)
Nib: Fine to Medium Semi-Flex Black Finish Ceramic-Coated Stainless Steel
Feed: Wahl-Eversharp Exclusive computer-designed Magic Feed II
Ink Filling System: Converter included or standard long Waterman style cartridge
Included Literature: Wahl-Eversharp booklet and warranty card
Packaging: Black lacquer piano box embossed with gold “Wahl-Eversharp” on top, with plush white lining inside
Price: $279

The Technik's packaging

The Technik’s style, weight, design, build quality, and even packaging, are all top-notch. That’s what’s cool about pen shows. I’m not sure that I would’ve purchased this pen had I not seen it, held it, and used it in person. Syd’s enthusiasm and deep passion for his pens and his business were as big a selling point as the pens themselves. During the course of our conversation, Syd told us how he’s known as the “Wahlnut” and I can certainly see why.

Clip profile

Just one question, Mr. Saperstein…can I be an honorary Wahlnut, too?!

Wahl-Eversharp Skyline Technik fountain pen

[Want to know more about Wahl-Eversharp's history? There's a great story about the company, the pens, and Syd in the February 2014 issue of Pen World magazine.]

Team Ink Well: An Invitation To Join the Whole Life Challenge

Before WLC

BEFORE WLC

AFTER WLC

AFTER WLC (-20 pounds and a BUNCH of bad habits)

I wrote about my experience doing the Whole Life Challenge HERE. I was part way through the Summer Challenge when I wrote that post, which wrapped up at the end of June. By the end of that 8-week session, I’d dropped 20 lbs and 3-4 belt notches. Clothes that haven’t fit me in YEARS now fit, and I’m completely off of the Omeprazole I was taking daily for acid reflux. I kept saying (sometimes out loud), “Holy CRAP, this works!”

I’m enjoying a little time off from strictly following the Challenge rules, but can’t wait for the next session that starts on September 13th. In this interim time, I’ve maintained my weight, continued to exercise, am drinking only water (with an occasional iced coffee for “medicinal purposes”). In short, many of the changes I made as result of my first WLC session have stuck.

I never want to go back to my pre-WLC weight or bad habits.

If you’re looking for a fun way to make food, exercise, and lifestyle changes, I wholeheartedly recommend participation in the Fall session of the Whole Life Challenge. In fact, I’ve put together a team called “Ink Well” (get it??) that I’d love to have you join. Yes, you!

Information about the challenge can be found HERE.

Early-bird pricing ($39) ends on Sunday, so it’s a great time to sign up. But even if you’d like to take a little more time to decide, $49 is a small price to pay for the changes you’ll see in yourself throughout the eight weeks. I’m not kidding when I say it’s the best money I ever spent. (I sound like a shill here, but I’m just a happy, happy WLC alum!)

If you have questions, by all means send them my way! I’d love to do the fall challenge with my pen friends!

GO TEAM INK WELL!

GO YOU!!

An Indispensable Trio: The Nock Co. Fodderstack, DotDash Cards, and Exclusive Karas Kustoms Render K

I picked up this trio of Nock Co. offerings a number of weeks ago, and though I knew they’d be something I’d enjoy, I had no idea how much I come to RELY on them. All day, every day. On vacation, at a conference, at work, in the car, and just knocking (haha…pun alert) around the house, I’m constantly grabbing for this ultra-portable set of tools.

Fodderstack, Render K, and DotDash cards

The Fodderstack is constructed of 1000D Nylon with DWR coating. That is, it’s tough. I chose the Steel color because it looks good with just about any pen. The interior is lined with nylon pack cloth— Blue Jay, in my case. I like the pop of bright blue peeking out of the top of the case, AND it looks great with my Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Exclusive Render K with its gorgeous blue cap.

DotDash cards, Render K, aand Fodderstack

The Fodderstack measures 5.125″ x 3.25″ which means that it’s designed to hold a stack of Nock Co’s DotDash 3×5 cards. A separate, slim outer pocket holds a pen or two, while the inner pocket holds about 20 of the sturdy, gridded note cards. I use them for EVERYTHING— grocery lists, to-do lists, my DC Pen Show “quest” list, phone numbers, directions, airline flight and gate numbers, blog post outlines, meeting notes, you name it. If you’re walking around and doing things, you need these cards.

DotDash cards

Made of 80 lb. cover stock, and featuring an orange DotDash pattern, the 4.25mm grid is absolutely perfect for documenting all the stuff that flies at me during my day. They’re printed on both sides so I can fit A LOT of information on one card, thanks to my fairly precise handwriting. While I’m usually using my Nock Co. Render K with a 0.5 mm G2 refill, the cards are fountain pen friendly, especially with extra-fine and fine nibs. There’s a bit of feathering with medium and broad nibs, but even that is better than anything I’ve seen when using fountain pens on index cards. Impressive.

DotDash cards

The pen that knocks this trio out of the park is the Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms G2 model Render K. Even though I already have a fistful of Render Ks— plain aluminum, orange, Delrin, and raw— I couldn’t pass up the chance to own one of these exclusive (but not limited) joint Nock Co./Karas Kustoms offerings. You’ll only find this color combination— aluminum body, blue cap, red tip— through Nock Co. The rich colors really pop in contrast to the shiny aluminum body.

Nock Co. X Karas Kustoms Render K

Render K clip

The Render K is made of 6061-T6 aluminum (good stuff), and weighs 1.1 ounces. The screw cap, which features a sturdy clip and accent knurling (mmmmmm…knurling), doesn’t post. Measuring 5.125″ capped and 4.92″ uncapped, the pen feels great in hand. The pen DOES NOT ship with a refill so you’ll have to provide your own. I’ve installed a Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill, though others swear by the 0.38 mm tip size.

Knurling

The whole Fodderstack combo— case, cards, and pen— is just slightly larger then my iPhone 5 so it’s an easy item to carry in hand, or in my purse or messenger bag, which is why it is ALWAYS with me. On the rare instance that I’ve left it behind, I feel undressed, like when I forget my earrings. Ugh. The Fodderstack has become as important to me as my phone. It’s well-designed, well-made, and fun to use, just like my phone.

Fodderstack, Render K, and DotDash cards

Nock Co.’s Fodderstack, DotDash cards, and exclusive Karas Kustoms Render K have become must-have tools for navigating my day. At work and at home, in the car and in the office, they’re perfect for capturing notes and lists, numbers and names, directions, and requests. Or doodling. Even doodling is fun.

DotDash cards and Render K

How did I live without my Nock Co. Fodderstack, DotDash cards, and Nock Co. x Karas Kustoms Render K?! Darned if I know.

Nock Co. Trio of Tools

You can check out EVERYTHING Nock Co. has to offer HERE. Color options for the various cases can be found HERE.

[This post was not sponsored and doesn't contain any affiliate links. All items were purchased by yours truly. I simply love this stuff.]