I [heart] you: Pelikan M205 and Levenger Shiraz Ink

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

Pelikan M205
Rhodium trim, Steel nib

This pen purchase resulted from a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast where both Brad and Myke sang the praises of their Pelikans. That same day, someone on Twitter mentioned a sale on the Pelikan M205 at Fountain Pen Hospital, so I called it a sign and ordered one. What can I say, my arm was twisted. By fate.

Right around the same time, I was ordering some refills from Levenger, and decided to add a bottle of their Shiraz ink to the order. Both orders arrived on the same day so the obvious choice was to fill one with the other.

Hoo boy, do I love this pair.

Just like peanut butter and chocolate (or chocolate and peanut butter), the Pelikan M205 and the Shiraz ink are two things that work perfectly together. I’m always looking for reasons to use this particular combination, even though I’m someone who leans heavily towards “traditional” ink colors— black, blue-black, blue, brown, and dusty green. The Shiraz looks exactly as I hoped it would— not pink, not red, not purple, but SHIRAZ. It’s not waterproof, for those who care. I love the way it pops on a page without being obnoxious. Simply gorgeous, with a bit of shading. This is an ink that’s kicked me out of my “conservative” rut.

Levenger Shiraz

M205 vs. Lamy 2000
An understated pair for size comparison: Lamy 2000 vs. Pelikan M205

The M205 is one of my smaller (5″ capped; 4-7/8″ uncapped; 6″ posted) and lighter (a mere 14 grams overall) pens, but is an absolute joy to hold and use. It’s a piston filler which makes filling and cleaning fast and easy. The medium steel nib (the only option on this sale pen) is smooth and juicy, but without any flex. This is a very classic looking pen— devoid of any real bling— but who needs bling when you perform this well?! It’s understated and unassuming— a real classic.

Pelikan M205 medium steel nib

Pelikan clip/beak
Pelikan clip/pelican beak

The “pelican’s beak” clip is iconic and suitably springy. The caps band simply states “PELIKAN” and “GERMANY.” I have the black body version, but there are others available— red, taupe, white. Since I’m prone to making sure the pen and ink color complement each other, black is probably the best choice for me, anyway. Everything goes with black. Well…yeah…and also with white. And taupe.

Pelikan M205 ink window

The smoke-colored ink window lets me know when my beloved Shiraz is “down a quart.” I enjoy watching the ink slosh around as the level changes.

This is, admittedly, an entry level Pelikan pen, and there are many prettier and more expensive models available, but for everyday use, the M205 suits me just fine, and it’s been a great way for me to dip my toe in the shallow end of the Pelikan pool.

Pelikan logo

I’m irrationally smitten by the Pelikan logo on the cap— a mama pelican with her chick. Such a sweet pair looking at each other with affection— exactly the way I look at my M205 filled with the Shiraz ink.

Pelikan M205

True love forever.

Shiraz heart

 

 

Setting Sail With the Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

The fine folks at Pen Chalet sent along a Monteverde Regatta fountain pen for review purposes. I was not, and will not be, otherwise compensated. This review reflects my own experiences, observations, and opinions.

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

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Monteverde Regatta Fountain Pen

We happen to live fairly close to the Erie Canal so in the summer Lock 20 is a favorite hang-out. If our timing is right, we can see everything from small motorboats to celebrity-worthy yachts to large and small sailboats. No matter the size, sailboats always fascinate me— all those ropes and masts and sails look like a recipe for a supremely tangled mess. Which is why I’m the landlubber and they’re the sailors.

Monteverde Regatta fountain pen

Despite my lack of boating experience (unless eating “Chips Ahoy!” cookies counts), I can appreciate the decidedly nautical looks of Monteverde’s Regatta fountain pen. With alternating bands of carbon fiber and yellow resin, the Regatta sports a look that calls to mind the colorful signal flags used during sailing competitions.

Regatta's carbon fiber bands

The Regatta checks a number of boxes on my “what I love in a pen” list. Box #1— carbon fiber. Though difficult to capture with my camera, the two carbon fiber bands (one on the cap and one on the body) are smooth and glossy— almost holographic in looks. Really sharp. Really classy.

The carbon fiber bands are bordered by knurled accent rings, which checks Box #2— knurling. Usually you’ll see knurling in the grip area of a pen, but using the knurled rings between the carbon fiber and resin bands is a cool looking detail.

Regatta black steel nib and magnetic cap

What else do I love in a pen? A magnetic cap, and the Regatta has an excellent one. The base of the cap is lined with a strong magnet that makes capping, uncapping, and posting an easy and satisfying experience. CLICK! Capped. CLICK! Posted. This is not a wimpy magnet. Your ears will tell you that. Box #3— magnetic cap. Check.

Monteverde Regatta

At 50 grams (32 g body, 18 g cap), this is a heavy pen. (Don’t drop it overboard!) Posted, I find the weight shifts a little bit too much to the back of the pen. I do sometimes write with it this way, but I don’t recommend it for long sessions. Typically, I use the pen unposted and find it well-balanced and easy to use for letter and journal writing. There’s still a nice heft, but nothing that’s too hard to handle. There is a bit of a step down from the body to the section that could interfere if you tend to grip your pens on the high side. For me, it’s not an issue, and I find the tapered grip to be comfortable.

Unposted Monteverde Regatta

Unposted, the pen is comparable in length to a Retro 1951 Tornado rollerball, so if you’re used to writing with one of those, you’ll know that writing with an unposted Regatta won’t be a problem.

Black steel nib

The black steel nib (medium, in this case) completes the look. This one is smooth and wet. Every now and then, at the beginning of a writing session I’ll experience a hint of a hard start, but once it gets going, it’s excellent. Monteverde nibs are quite easy to swap which means that you can have one pen and multiple nibs for different writing experiences. I happen to have a 1.1 mm black stub on hand that I’ll swap in in the future. I love when a nib swap isn’t a federal case, and that’s true for this pen.

Dismantled Regatta

The Regatta is a cartridge/converter pen, with the converter included. I’ve loaded it with Iroshizuku take-sumi for this review because Pilot’s black is a perfect match for the carbon fiber, knurled accents, and stealthy nib.

The Regatta is also available in red/black and black/black color schemes, and also as rollerball and ballpoint pens, so I have no doubt that there’s a Regatta that’ll float your boat. <groan>

Monteverde Regatta

Personally, I love this particular color combination. One meaning of a yellow and black signal flag is “I want to communicate with you.” What a perfect message for this pen.

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The Monteverde Regatta fountain pen is available from Pen Chalet for $100. Shipping is free on orders over $50. Use the code PENCUP for 10% off any purchase. Thank you to Pen Chalet for providing this pen for review.

Feeling lucky? Pen Chalet “Pen Cash” giveaway is back! Enter to win 1 of 2 gift cards redeemable for any item on penchalet.com including fountain pens, ballpoint pens, inks, refills and more. The first place winner will receive a $50 “Pen Cash” Card, second place winner a $25 gift card. Both gift cards are redeemable at www.penchalet.com and can be used to buy something for yourself or you may give them away as gifts. Click HERE to enter!

Chasing the Winter Blues: Lamy Nexx Opal with Lamy Turquoise Ink

My friend Elaine, at JetPens, sent along a Lamy Nexx Opal and Lamy Turquoise ink cartridges for review purposes. I was not, and will not be, otherwise compensated. This review reflects my own experiences, observations, and opinions.

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

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So we’re officially sick of winter. The freezing temperatures recently caused a sprinkler head to burst in an atrium at work causing it to dump 65 gallons of water per minute before it was turned off. (Fun day.) We’ve had ice and ice pellets and a heap of slushy snow. Then bitter cold. Then more cold. We’re done. Well, I am, anyway.

The students are on Spring Break for two weeks, but I’m not. I’m seriously craving a getaway to a warmer climate, a poolside chaise lounge with a good book, and maybe a swim-up bar. And sun-warmed crystal clear blue water.

Lamy Nexx Opal

Maybe I’ve gone off the deep end, but that’s what this pen and ink combination reminds me of— a sun-drenched beach with turquoise waters like the ones in Tahiti or The Maldives. The color of this perfectly paired Lamy Nexx fountain pen and turquoise ink is a cheerful, tropical blue— just the thing for someone who’s wearing fingerless mittens INSIDE THE HOUSE.

I feel just a little bit warmer when I’m using this pen. (Yes, it’s my imagination, but I’m going with it. When it’s 8 degrees, you’re allowed to go a little batty.)

Lamy Nexx fine nib

But it’s not just the color that makes this a fun pen. The fine nib is admittedly plain, but is notably smooth making it a true pleasure to write with. The great thing about Lamy nibs is that they can be easily swapped between the Safari, AL-Star, Vista, and CP1 models. In the mood for a stub instead of a fine nib? Just swap in a new nib. Super simple.

Grip comparison
Grip comparison: Safari vs. Nexx

The molded rubber, triangular grip fits my hand perfectly— even more so than the molded plastic grip on the Safari, AL-Star, and Vista models. A lot of folks shun those models because of that grip which forces you to hold the pen in a very specific way. The shape of the Nexx’s grip feels less severe and might work better for those who dislike the hard plastic grips on those other models. The rubber material means that it grips your fingers while you grip the pen. There’s just no slippage.

Lamy Nexx triangular body

The aluminum pen body starts out as a soft triangle that gradually transitions to a more rounded shape as it approaches the grip area. It’s a unique look and a fun detail. The Nexx is definitely lightweight— just 18 grams (12 g body, 6 g cap)— so it’s great for long writing sessions as there’s simply no chance of hand fatigue from holding a heavy pen.

Lamy Nexx vs. Lamy Safari

Despite its lack of heft, the Nexx feels durable and ready for anything your day throws at you (even a sprinkler head failure!). Made of aluminum, rubber, and plastic, this is a pen that can handle life’s hard knocks.

Nexx cap & lanyard loop

The Nexx’s cap features a prominent aluminum clip and a lanyard loop that extends beyond the top of the cap. As much as I love my pens, I’ve never had the urge to wear one around my neck, but if you’re looking to do that, the Nexx is your pen. The clip is a bit stiff, but certainly usable. I routinely clip mine in one of my Nock Co. pen cases without a problem.

Turquoise
Opal Lamy Nexx and peacock Nock Co. Hightower case— definitely made for each other

The cap posts securely, despite the uniquely shaped barrel, and doesn’t wiggle off while in use (a pet peeve!).

Posted pens

The Lamy Turquoise ink pairs perfectly with this pen. The color is fresh and vibrant and exhibits some nice shading, even with this fine nib. It really is a breath of fresh air in these gloomy end-of-winter days, and reminds me that azure summer skies and warm breezes will eventually get here. It is the color of hope.

Lamy Turquoise ink

I’m chilled and chapped and a little bit cranky, but summer is coming. Summer is coming. Until then, I’m chasing those winter blues with this pen and ink prescription. The Lamy Nexx Opal and Lamy Turquoise ink— a combination that’s good for what ails ya.

P1030633

Take the cure.

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You can find both the Lamy Nexx fountain pen and Lamy Turquoise ink at JetPens. The pen retails for $30.50, while a pack of 5 cartridges sells for $3.75. (Free shipping on all orders over $25.) Thank you to JetPens for providing both for review.

The Middle Child: Lamy’s CP1 Matte Black Fountain Pen

Thanks to Brad Dowdy’s weekly “Ink Links”, I stumbled onto a beautifully photographed post featuring Lamy’s CP1 Matte Black fountain pen. That post, with its simple yet stunning photos, was enough to push me to purchase this little-discussed Lamy offering.

Lamy CP1 Matte Black fountain pen

CP1 clip and branding
CP1 clip and branding

I think of this pen as Lamy’s “middle child”— tucked between the introductory and familiar Safari/AL-Star offerings and the more upscale Lamy 2000. With its stainless steel spring-loaded clip, matte black body, and simple timeless looks, the CP1 certainly seems like a relative of the classic Lamy 2000. If you’re talking nibs, though, the CP1 is clearly a sibling to the Safari/AL-Star lines as nibs can be swapped between these models, but not with the 2000.

Black steel nib

Speaking of nibs, when I ordered mine from The Goulet Pen Company, I opted for the black steel nib (fine) to complete the pen’s “blacked out” look. I’ve occasionally had issues with black Lamy nibs writing so dry that they had to be returned, so I included a quick note with my order asking if the nib could be QC’ed prior to shipment. I’m happy to report that the fine nib on this pen is wonderfully smooth and very juicy. Really perfect. Though my past issues with problematic black nibs have always been handled quickly, it’s best not to have a problem at all. This one is simply great.

kon-peki colored feed
Iroshizuku kon-peki colored feed

Price-wise, the CP1 falls between the Safari/AL-Star and the higher-end 2000, running about double the price of the former, and less than half of the latter. I paid $56 which makes this a reasonable and cool upgrade/change from the basic Safari without having to go all in on the pricier Makrolon 2000.

Like its Safari/AL-Star siblings, the CP1 is a cartridge/converter pen, but in this case, the converter is included, which is a nice little feature. Having to “add-on” a converter always bugs me just a little bit, so it’s nice to receive the complete package. Filled with Iroshizuku kon-peki, I keep looking for excuses to use this pen. I can’t figure out what the slim matte body is made of— some sort of metal, I suppose— but I do know that I like the weight and balance and ultra-minimalist look. (Some days I’m all about swirly depth and sheen and eye-popping color in my fountain pens, and the next I’m drawn to a super simple, super stealthy look. Oh, how my pen moods swing!)

Weighing just 17g and measuring 0.37″ in diameter, holding this pen is a little hard to describe. It’s light, but has some heft— sort of a denser feeling than that of a Safari or AL-Star. It’s very slim, yet still comfortable. The snap cap posts easily and doesn’t throw off the pen’s balance in a significant way. Vital measurements are as follows:

    • Capped: 5.3″

CP1 capped

    • Posted: 6.2″

CP1 posted

    • Unposted: 4.6″

CP1 unposted

I sometimes initially dismiss pens this slim as being “too narrow,” but then realize that I’m perfectly happy using an even skinnier woodcase or drafting pencil. The CP1 has a bit more girth than a pencil, so though it is certainly slim and trim, it’s not at all uncomfortable for me and my middle-of-the-road size hands. The grip section appears to be plastic (I can see a bit of a seam), but I can’t confirm that either. Even the Lamy website is pretty stingy with material specifics. The grip’s ridges give my fingers just the right amount of traction.

CP1 vs. Stabilo pencil

Middle children often find themselves struggling for attention between the first-born and the baby in a family. Lamy’s CP1 fountain pen seems to suffer a bit from “middle child syndrome,” quietly tucked between the colorful and popular Safari and the iconic 2000. Like those middle kids, this pen is special in its own understated way.

Lamy CP1 Matte Black

The CP1 Matte Black fountain pen— certainly worthy of some attention, and maybe a little of your Lamy love.

Lifesaver: Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen

Those who know me in real life know that this has already been a peculiar year with a bunch of unfortunate occurrences. We’ve had health issues with two of our three Silky Terriers (one was very serious, but all is well now) and lost one of our dear kitties to renal failure. My mother slipped in the house and fractured her wrist. My nieces were in a car accident that totaled their car, but, thankfully, not their bodies or spirits. My glasses broke. My car was sideswiped (hit-and-run) while parked causing $6000 in damages. I’m about ready to kick 2014 to the curb and it’s barely gotten started.

It’s easy to start taking all of this crap personally, which is stupid, I know. And it’s easy to start feeling down and anxious.

The grey, crazy cold winter weather isn’t helping.

I’m not going to suggest that a pen cures all ills, but I have found one that perks up my spirits a bit— The Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe Fountain Pen. I’ve started receiving a periodic email from the Yafa Outlet and sometimes browse through their offerings, EVEN THOUGH I’ve promised myself that I’m not going to make a bunch of pen purchases this year. Well, the Wild Stripe quickly caught my eye, and I resisted for awhile, but in the end, I caved. The stripes are just too cool. And the price was right— $57.50 (50% off of the $115 MSRP).

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

The pen is made via their new Laminata process, which Monteverde describes better than I can:

Specially formulated, liquid acrylic resins are poured layer-upon-layer. Each layer is cured before the next layer is added. Monteverde’s exclusive Laminata™ technique takes far more time, but produces much better results compared to the previous “Cut & Glue” method.

After all of the acrylic layers have cured, the Laminata™ acrylic slab is hand-cut, hand-lathed, and hand-drilled. The pens are beautifully designed, and engineered for their beauty and functionality. The pens are then hand-polished to an heirloom quality luster.

What I didn’t initially realize is that the colored stripes are translucent. So when you hold the pen up to a light, or shine a flashlight into the cap, the colors glow. Not that I routinely walk around with this pen and a flashlight…or do I?!

Illuminated stripes

The nib isn’t earth shattering in looks or pedigree. It’s small (#5?) and says only, “Iridium Point” with some generic scrolling. That being said, it’s a smooth writer with just a touch of feedback. I’ve never had an issue with skipping or hard starts. I have noticed that while writing a letter or the rough draft of a blog post, the pen will sometimes write very wet, then less wet (never dry), then wetter again. I’m not sure why it does that but since it never runs to the dry side, I’m not bothered by this quirk.

The feed is clear, and this amuses me almost as much as the translucent rings. I get a kick out of seeing the feed turn the color of my ink— in this case, J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir.

Monteverde Artista Crystal wild Stripe

The threaded cap posts, but takes a bit of oomph to do so. In fact, at first I thought it didn’t post, but the pictures on the Yafa Outlet site clearly show the cap posted, so I gave it another go. The unposted pen measures 4.5 inches while the posted pen measures a more comfortable 6 inches.

When I posted a photo on Twitter, John Martinez (@iamthefollows) replied “Pretty! Lifesaver pen?” I had to agree that his description fits this pen perfectly. The colored rings absolutely look like a roll of Lifesaver candies.

And while a pen can’t be an actual lifesaver, it CAN be a mood saver. This pen has been that for me. Amidst all of the crap that life’s tossed my way lately, I’m having a blast writing letters and journaling with this cheery striped pen with the clear feed. It’s fun. It’s quirky. It’s not perfect.

Monteverde Artista Crystal Wild Stripe

Just like life.

Fresh Start

Bath night

I’m lucky. The college I work for chooses to close down from Christmas Eve though January 1st, and that break is something I anticipate all year. I look forward to relaxing (after the Christmas hub-bub is over) and catching up on tasks and chores. This year I didn’t do as much relaxing as I’d hoped, but it was still a great break— despite one of my dogs chewing on a menthol cough drop Christmas morning which forced me to Google “Will menthol kill my dog?”, and discovering that my husband accidentally washed and DRIED one of my favorite wool sweaters. Ouch.

I like to kick back a little. Read for pleasure. See a movie or two. AND ORGANIZE THINGS. The urge to straighten up, toss what’s outdated (hello, pantry!), and give my address book a good hard look/purge kicks in strong at the start of the new year. So it’s not surprising that I recently spent some time cleaning out almost all of my currently inked pens.

Ready for the new year and new ink
Ready for the new year and new ink

I had way too many inked and knowing that bothered me. So I spent a couple of evenings getting things under control and it feels great. Now I can ink some new pens, and actually use the ones that ARE inked. I keep my pen/ink list updated in Evernote and right now I only have four or five pens in use. Which is plenty.

Looking ahead to the new year, I plan to maintain this low number of inked pens, while rotating different pens in and out, and to use them more thoughtfully, more intentionally— less like I have pen ADD. I’ve also lined up a couple of pen pals to make sure that I regularly WRITE THINGS. Which is important when you…you know…hoard collect pens.

I’m not planning to reduce my collection. They’re all dear to me. But I feel better knowing that I’m treating my pens well; knowing that they’re clean, well cared for, and intentionally inked.

Well cared for

Here’s to a fresh start. Happy 2014 to you and your pens!

Wish Granted: Ink by Karas Kustoms

Designer Dan Bishop surprised me with a prototype of Karas Kustoms newly launched fountain pen, Ink. This review reflects my personal experiences and observations.

A fountain pen from my favorite machine shop has been on my wish list for months— maybe even before it was a glimmer in Dan Bishop’s eye. I’ve periodically politely pestered the Karas Kustoms designer, and I’m sure that other fans of their Render K, Bolt, and Retrakt pens have done the same. Maybe our prodding did the trick, or maybe Dan’s had this project up his sleeve all along.

Ink by Karas Kustoms

Whatever the case may be— Ink is here! It’s here! It’s here! I’m as excited as Will Farrell’s Buddy the Elf (in case you couldn’t tell).

This is not a dainty pen, and I mean that in a very good way. It’s beefy, polished, and oozes quality as well as a large dose of Karas cool.

Brass section...cool AND warm

The tapered grip section— brass on my pen— is very comfortable. I like how the metal starts out feeling chilly, then warms with the heat of my hand. So it’s cool— but also warm.

#5 Schmidt nib (Medium)

Fitted with a medium #5 Schmidt nib, I’m finding this to be a stiff but smooth writer. I’m not able to coax any line variation from the nib, but that’s not my strong suit. I’m reading that Schmidt nibs are swappable so you should be able to customize your pen in the future, should you desire a larger size nib or a finer or broader line. For me, this medium is perfectly fine— very nice for a daily writer.

Converter with kon-peki

Loaded with Iroshizuku kon-peki, the flow is smack dab in the middle of dry and juicy. Again, just how I like it for daily use.

Ink's cool clip

The design of the pen’s clip is classic Karas— unique and stylish with just a hint of bad-ass. Recessed into the top of the pen’s cap, the clip is anchored with a couple of set screws so it’s not going anywhere. It’s not an exceptionally springy clip, but slides easily into my pocket or pen case.

Top of cap

What I REALLY like about this project is that the anodized color options (and, oh, what colors!) are available right out of the Kickstarter gate. No need to wait until the Kickstarter project is over to snap up some of those richly colored pens.

I’m a backer. An excited backer. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I was backer #1 (ONE benefit of being home sick on launch day).

Aluminum/brass Ink

Here’s what I’m excited for— an aluminum/anodized orange fountain pen that I’ll fill with Iroshizuku fuyu-gaki. Orange bliss.

Not into fountain pens? Now’s the time to change that. But if you’re REALLY resistant, Ink is also available as a rollerball. Same great construction, same superb color choices, coupled with the ever-popular Schmidt P8126 refill.

Mesa, Arizona— where pen wishes DO come true.

Pen eyes
This pen has eyes, don’t you think?!

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Check out all of the backer levels, weight and dimension schematics, material/color options, as well as THE best launch video HERE. As Prescott says, “It’s the bee’s knees!” That’s the same as bad-ass, right?

Uncaged: The Pilot Metropolitan Animal Prints (White Tiger, Violet Leopard)

Pilot Metropolitan Leopard and Tiger

I had every intention of passing on the new Pilot Metropolitan Animal Print editions. After all, I already own one of the black, silver, and gold models, and that seems like plenty. But then I watched Brian Goulet’s Ink Nouveau video and once he hit the White Tiger and Violet Leopard versions, my resolve dissolved. I hopped on over to the Goulet Pens site and placed my order asap. Good thing, too, because by the next day, both of those models were sold out. (At the time of this posting, they’re back in stock.) Seems I wasn’t alone in my new-found enthusiasm for two of the new colors.

Violet Leopard & White Tiger, posted

Squeeze converter
Included squeeze converter (or upgrade to a CON-50 converter which is available separately)

Both pens arrived in short order and were very WELL protected. (If you haven’t ever ordered from the Goulets, you need to do so, just to experience the awesomeness of their packaging. And the complimentary Tootsie pop.  And the bookmark and sticker. And the hand-written note. Their packages are a great example of customer service done right.) I filled the White Tiger pen with Waterman Serenity Blue, via the included squeeze converter, and have been using this pen as part of my current rotation ever since.

Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger

The White Tiger pen is a wonderful pearly white—a color that I wish I could find on more pens. (Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough.) I’m not sure that the look really comes through in my photos, but, trust me, it’s pretty. The purple, too, is hard to capture with my camera, and looks a little more navy in my pictures than it really is. The color is actually a very dark purple— a blackish purple that looks really rich, really beautiful. It’s definitely darker than it looks on the Goulet Pens site, and that’s fine by me. I have very few white pens and no other purple pens, so these are great additions to my fountain pen collection, just for the colors alone.

Leopard and Tiger patterns

As for the “animal print” bands that accent the pens, I like the White Tiger a little better than the Violet Leopard pattern. Really, each pen would look fine without this accent— maybe even classier?

Nibbage

As I mentioned, I’m already a happy owner of a few Metropolitans so I knew that I was getting a solid, good-looking pen with a smooth, fairly stiff, medium nib—medium being the only nib option. Because it’s a Pilot, the medium nib runs finer than a European nib, so I’d peg it closer to a fine, especially on my favorite Rhodia paper. With a brass body and cap, the Metropolitan has a substantial feel which belies its $15 price tag. The cap snaps on with a satisfyingly solid click, and posts easily and securely. I find the pen equally well-balanced whether I’m using it posted or unposted. I’m impressed every time I pick one up. And I’m always thinking, “Fifteen bucks?! Really?!”

Metropolitan Leopard & Tiger

The Pilot Metropolitan is the perfect pen to toss into a backpack or purse, or to tuck into a pocket. This isn’t a pen that you need to baby because it’s fragile or so pricey that you’re afraid to take it out and about. The Metropolitan is a pen to use throughout your day—wherever that day takes you.

As Tony the (orange) Tiger would say- “THEY’RE GREAAAAAAT!”

Leopard & Tiger Metropolitanss

Which got me thinking— what about an ORANGE Metropolitan with little black tiger stripes?! C’MON Pilot, DO IT!!

Local Fare: More Pens by Bob

Now that the holidays are approaching and we’re entering the hardcore craft show season, Fred and I are making the rounds of the area shows. A few weekends ago we stopped at a nearby firehouse in hopes that my favorite local pen people would be there— Bob and Virginia Lenhart of RJL Enterprises. You may recall that I happily stumbled upon Bob’s handmade pens back in April at the same firehouse. Those pens remain favorites—the magnetic caps are STILL fascinating to me—so I was hoping that they’d be there for the fall show. AND THEY WERE! (Were you in suspense?)

Magnetic pens
My April purchases

Why I didn’t take pictures of their table is beyond me. (Next time, I swear!) I guess I get so flustered by the pens! What’s cool is that Bob displays acrylic blanks next to some of his finished pens so that you really get to see how much the acrylic is transformed by the talents of the penmaker. While we were chatting, a woman stopped by the table and marveled at all of the choices and colors and styles. She ultimately walked away with a magnetic capped rollerball pen, much like the one I purchased last time. Good choice, wise lady!

Even though I love the magnetic pens, I wanted to pick something different this time, so a pen decision had to be made. Trying to pick out one of Bob’s pens is like going to an animal shelter and trying to pick out ONE kitten. YOU JUST WANT TO TAKE THEM ALL HOME. They’re all so colorful and polished and obviously made with great care and  love. (The pens, I mean, not the kittens.) Did I want wood? Or a colorful acrylic? Something with a stylus? Ballpoint? Rollerball Fountain pen? Hmmmmmm.

What to choose. What to choose.

Honduran Mahogany pens

I eventually settled on a rollerball and fountain pen pair made from Honduran Mahogany. The pens are identical twins when capped, and are highly polished and coated so that they look and feel like fine furniture. SMOOTH.

Chrome accents

Honduran Mahogany Rollerball and Fountain Pen

Trimmed with chrome and black accents, the look is simple but eye-catching. The grooved grip area makes the section much grippier than a plain metal section, and the clip is great-looking and wonderfully springy. The rollerball takes a Schneider Topball 850, or a Staples brand Avant gel refill, while the fountain pen takes a standard cartridge or converter. Both write like champs. Bob obviously loves what he does, and wants to share his handiwork and love of pens, so his prices are more than fair. I paid $44.95 for this pair, which is a super deal.

Acrylic ballpoint

I also walked away with a gorgeous acrylic ballpoint that takes Parker-style refills and has been to and from work with me every day since. The acrylic is a summery swirl of yellow/orange and green and is a real mood booster. As the days get colder and darker, it’s nice to have some things that bring warmth and sunshine to mind, and this pen does just that. With a Private Reserve EasyFlow 9000 refill (my favorite—thanks, Mike Dudek) installed, it lays down a smooth dark line that’s pure ballpoint joy.

Shimmery acrylic
Shimmery acrylic— even better in person

We saw a lot of really cool crafts that day—from wooden jewelry boxes to soft fleece pillows to leather belts—but my heart will always go with the pen guy. Maybe that’s because Bob puts so much heart into his pens.

The new trio
Still life with pens and Nock Co. case

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Though you may not be lucky enough to have a “Bob” in your backyard, Bob’s pens can come to you. Check out his website at pens4youonline.com. There’s free shipping within the USA!

This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy repeat customer.

Ink With a Twist: Levenger’s Facets Fountain Pen

Levenger’s Facets fountain pen caught my eye a while back, but I didn’t make my move until a sale popped up. I love that— getting a deal on a pen that’s been on my radar.

Levenger Facets FP (Oxblood)

As my fountain pen collection grows, I find myself dismissing pens that don’t offer something a little different. (Don’t hold me to that— I’ll randomly throw that rule out the window when I feel like it.) This pen brings a number of interesting features to the table— the rich/warm color, the shimmering depths of the resin, and, of course, the gently spiraling facets of the cap and body. All of these add up to a pen that’s as great to look at as it is to use.

Facets Fountain Pen

Levenger calls the color of the pen “oxblood,” but to me it looks more like burgundy wine— or very interesting grape juice (which, I guess, is what wine IS). There’s a swirly marbleized effect that gives the pen’s resin more depth and interest than I can capture in my photos. It’s one of those fun-to-stare-at-while-twirling pens because the light, bouncing off of those facets, brings out a gorgeous range of purples and deep pinks. It’s like like looking into a purpley hologram. Mesmerizing.

Facets Fountain Pen

I’ve filled this cartridge/converter pen with Noodler’s Black Swan In English Roses a color I WOULD call “oxblood”—that satisfies my “ink should match pen” need. It doesn’t hurt that I’m fascinated with the name of that ink.

Inked with Black Swan In English Roses

Levenger’s Facets fountain pen is only available with a medium stainless steel nib, but it’s a very smooth and juicy writer. To my eye, it leans just a hair to the fine side, so it works well for me as an everyday writer. I have yet to have an issue with a Levenger nib and this pen just continues that streak of excellent nibbage. The pen wrote right out of the box and hasn’t sputtered or hesitated since. I can get a line from the pen even when I apply very little pressure. It’s just superb.

Facets Fountain Pen

The threaded cap posts solidly, and I’m finding that the pen feels well-balanced both posted and unposted. The body is lightweight (22.7 g/0.8 oz) but still feels, and looks, substantial. The pen measures 5-9/16″ when capped, 6-3/8″ posted, and 5-7/8″ unposted, and has enough room in the barrel to store a spare cartridge. With its chrome trim and clip, this is one sharp pen.

Levenger Facets Pen

There is one piece of bad news— it appears that the Oxblood version is no longer available from Levenger. There IS, though, a Midnight Blue version that’s still available. And I think you’ll probably be able to find the Oxblood version if you do a little hunting around online.

So if you’re looking for a pen with sparkling good looks, a wonderful nib, and just enough of a twist to keep things interesting, Levenger’s Facets fountain pen delivers. I think it’s a beauty.

Notes: Though this may sound like a commercial, I was not compensated in any way for this review. I’m just a very satisfied Levenger customer.