A Micro Review: On The Fly with a Fisher Space Pen

Commencement Notes

At Hamilton College’s Commencement ceremony yesterday, the student speeches were clever, funny, and meaningful enough that I found myself wanting to take notes. I ushered at the event so I had virtually no belongings with me, except this Fisher Space pen and the Commencement program and my lap. Problem solved.

My handwriting is rushed, the paper was a stiff program cover, and the ink was just a simple medium point Fisher Space pen refill, but it all got the job done.

One student spoke about pineapples, and how we are like them. Prickly and weird on the outside, we need to find the right tools to get to the sweet delicious fruit inside. Hamilton College, he said, provided those tools. I loved the fact that he propped an actual pineapple on the podium as he spoke.

Another student said, in effect, that our lives are like Tetris and we should stop playing them like chess. Whereas chess is all about protecting and saving yourself, Tetris is about taking the random experiences that fall into our lives and looking at them from all different angles. We should be rotating those experiences, thinking about them, making them fit.

So my handwriting is sloppy, and the Fisher Space refill, though quite good, is not my favorite. But I had this pen in my pocket and, with it, I was able to capture these thoughts from a couple of creative and thoughtful young minds.

I made it work. Like Tetris.

Rainbow Fisher Space Pen

This particular Fisher Space pen was fully reviewed HERE.

Time is hard to find lately, so I’m planning to post more of these micro reviews—quick posts about pens in use in real life. You like?

The Write Tools

Write Notepad Pocket Notebooks

Back in November I sang the praises of the newly released pocket notebooks from Write Notepads & Co. I’ve been a fan of their products and aesthetic from the company’s infancy, when I first met Chris and Mark Rothe, and saw their spiral notebooks, at the 2013 DC Pen Show. The pocket notebooks are so good (durable binding, fountain pen friendly paper) that I’ve decided to let my Field Notes subscription lapse, in favor of a Write Notepads pocket notebook subscription. Field Notes are fun and cool, but I have plenty on hand (HUGE understatement) and feel like spreading my notebook wings. (Okay, there isn’t any such thing as “notebook wings,” but still.)

Lenore notebooks and pencils

Their first quarterly offering—  the Lenore pocket notebooks and pencils you see above— blew me away. As subscriber #16, I look forward to seeing what Chris dreams up for the next release. The bar has been set very high right out of the gate.

I’m so drawn to their notebooks and pencils when I’m browsing on their site, that I didn’t immediately notice the perfect little accessories that they offer alongside their notebooks. But once I saw the “made in the USA” Pocket Linear Measuring Device ($7.99) and Folding Pocket Scissors ($9.99), I had to order both.

Pocket Scissors and Measuring Device

The Pocket Linear Measuring Device is made about 40 miles from my house, in East Syracuse, NY, by Gaebel. It’s stainless steel, features a sliding pocket clip, and includes four units of measure—pica, inches, points, and metric. I’m a compulsive underliner (yet another quirk), and I like my underlines to be straight, so I use this tool every single day in my daily personal and work pocket notebooks, and even on the index cards where I compose my grocery lists. I keep this perfectly sized ruler in my Nock Co. Sinclair, so it’s always at hand.

Folding Pocket Scissors

Tucked inside a 3-3/4″ vinyl carrying case, the Pocket Folding Scissors measure just 3-1/4″ when completely folded. To deploy the surgical stainless steel blades, just pull the handles apart…

Folding Pocket Scissors

then press the handles down until they meet. Voila— sturdy and adorable scissors are at the ready.

Folding Pocket Scissors

Made and hand-assembled in Sweet Home, Oregon, these small but mighty scissors have become a favorite pocket carry. Once you start carrying scissors, you realize how often they come in handy. I receive and open a LOT of packages in my job, and while I use a box cutter to do the heavy cutting, these are the perfect tool to cut into the inner packaging. I’ve use them to clip coupons, to cut sign up forms out of the church bulletin, and to trim a pulled thread. They even made an appearance at a recent baby shower, where I lent them to the mother-to-be to snip a particularly stubborn ribbon on a gift. Carry scissors and save the day! Amaze people with your preparedness! Who wants to walk all over the house or office looking for the full-size (and often misplaced) scissors when you can have this cute little pair tucked away in your pocket?!

Write Notepads Accessories

The Pocket Linear Measuring Device and Folding Pocket Scissors, available from Write Notepads & Co., are quality, USA-made, everyday carry accessories. They are the Write tools.

All Write Notepad & Co. products shown and discussed in this review were purchased with my own funds. Chris did not twist my arm to write a review, and I haven’t been compensated in any way. I just love his products and can’t wait for the next pocket notebook subscription installment.

 

Namiki What?

Namiki Pencil Boxes

When you start venturing into the world of fountain pens, you don’t have to stroll too far to run into all kinds of Pilot-Namiki pens. From the disposable Varsity to the very affordable MR (Metropolitan) all the way up to high-end Maki-e works of art, there’s a Pilot-Namiki pen for every taste and budget. I own several Vanishing Points, a couple of Preras, a handful of Metropolitans, and a Custom 74 and have yet to be disappointed by any of them, no matter the price. Pilot-Namiki is a brand that I trust implicitly.

Namiki Grance

A week or so ago, an email arrived from Anderson Pens featuring an intriguing photo and a link to some Namiki mechanical pencils. Namiki what?? Pencils?? Yes, pencils. I clicked the link, and tumbled down THAT rabbit hole headfirst.

Namiki Impressions and Grance

Isn’t that how it goes? One minute you don’t even know a thing exists, then the next minute you HAVE TO have it. Especially if it’s gorgeous. And New Old Stock. And Namiki. And sold by the Andersons.

IMG_1419

The Namiki Grance mechanical pencil (0.5 mm) features burgundy marbled lacquer over brass, so it’s nicely hefty (28 g), despite its slender body (9.4 mm, 0.4 in).The lead is advanced by pressing down on the upper half of the pencil. The action works smoothly and easily.

IMG_1445

The Andersons describe the Sapphire Impressions (27 g) as having “gorgeous colors set in clear cellulose resin,” and they’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head. This thing is a stunner, which is something we’re used to in the fountain pen world, but not so much in mechanical pencil offerings. I fell hard for the depth of color in the resin.

IMG_1438

I’d never really seen mechanical pencils that excited me as much as some of my fountain pens. Maybe I don’t get out enough—maybe these are all over the place—but they’re certainly new to me. I have enough wood cased pencils to choke a small horse (as my mother would say), and plenty of mechanical pencils that are perfectly fine, but none of that was going to stop me from picking up both a Namiki Grance ($25) and Impressions ($85). These look and feel like heirloom quality pencils, and came with price tags that seemed more than fair.

IMG_1428

Branding is wonderfully subtle which is very much the Namiki way.

IMG_1456

Tucked under the “cap” of each pencil is a tiny but usable eraser, still in fine shape despite the fact that the pencils are circa 2000.

IMG_1448

When the current leads are used up, I may swap in something just a touch softer—maybe a 2B or 3B. Or maybe I’ll leave a harder lead in one and a softer one in the other. The 0.5 mm line is crisp and fine—perfect for use in my Hobonichi or just for jotting down notes. This size lead is a little more prone to breakage, but I still prefer it over the thicker 0.7 mm option, at least in these pencils.

IMG_1427

I’m still trying to rein in purchases, and am, for the most part succeeding. (I even gave up my place in the waitlist for a Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 in Antique Glass as I just don’t need—well, want— another pen right now.) BUT, I caved on these mechanical pencils. Namiki’s stellar reputation for quality writing instruments coupled with my trust in the Andersons, and the fact that these New Old Stock beauties aren’t readily available made this purchase an easy one to talk myself into.

Namiki mechanical pencils?!

Yes, pencils. Now you know.

At the time of this review, Anderson Pens has some Namiki Impressions in stock in Amber (0.5 and 0.7 mm) and Sapphire (0.5 mm) finishes. The Grance pencils appear to be sold out.

Both Namiki mechanical pencils reviewed here were purchased with my own funds. There are no affiliate links in this review. 

 

 

 

 

Yet Another Architect Grind

Levenger Element Guilloche

It’s déjà vu all over again. Yup–it’s another Architect Grind by Dan Smith (@nibsmith). When I sent him my Edison Glenmont (broad) for this grind, I also sent along this Levenger Element Guilloche (medium) for the same treatment. The original nib was perfectly acceptable—smooth and wet—but needed a little more pizzazz.

Levenger Element

Dan’s mad nib skillz took this nib from acceptable to WOW!

Levenger Element

Loaded from my new bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine—Edelstein’s 2016 Ink of the Year—this great looking pen, beautiful ink, and jazzed up nib make a great team. The ink behaves well and shades nicely—at least on the narrow range of papers I’ve used it on (Tomoe River, Life Bank Paper, this Levenger Vivacious Circa refill).

Architect Grind

Like the modified nib on my Edison Glenmont, this custom-ground Levenger nib can be easily swapped into my other Levenger True Writers, like the pretty, pretty Kyoto.

Guilloche

(Mmmmm…Guilloche. Sweet stuff.)

So now I have both a medium and a broad Architect grind, and feel sure that I’ll have the same done to a fine nib in the not-too-distant future. Dan does great work, at a fair price, with good turnaround times.

Hobonichi with Architect Grind

Architect again. Happy again.

All of Dan’s nib services can be found HERE. There’s no charge for the added happiness. That’s included with each and every modified and expertly tuned nib.

———————————

Life just keeps happening. My dad had some unexpected surgery yesterday and is currently recovering. At 87, surgery and hospital stays are no joke, but he seems to be doing okay. First my mom, now him. I haven’t been able to write here as much as I want to lately, but I’ll be here when I can. Lots of cool things in the queue!

On a better note, I had an excellent appointment with my MS doctor last week, and he’s very pleased with how I’m doing. The appointment was a great incentive to keep at it in the gym with weights, cardio, and tai chi. Onward!

———————————

All pens, ink, and nib services mentioned here were purchased with my own funds. There are no affiliate links in this post.

A Hobonichi Techo Update: March 2016

Hobonichi Techo

The only thing consistent about my previous attempts to maintain a journal is that I’ve failed. Every. Single. Time.

Which is why I was reluctant to pick up a Hobonichi Techo. Who needs another failed attempt added to that pile?!

Hobonichi Techo

BUT——after all those years of half-filled or barely touched journals, we finally have a winner. The Hobonichi Techo and I have bonded and I don’t see us ever breaking up.

I’m journaling every day. NO misses. I’m using the Techo pretty much as I described in my original post—for appointments, for recording good things, for jotting down quotes, for keeping track of our dinners.

The Hobonichi’s Tomoe River paper handles fountain pen ink, gel ink, and pencil without issue, which adds to the ease—and joy—of use.

Exercise log

I’m still logging my exercise, steps, and mileage, which keeps me motivated and interested in doing better each day and each month.

The Hobonichi Techo has become my bible. It holds my laughs and tears, triumphs and struggles, encouraging words, lots of Anne Lamott quotes, and all of those little joys that used to simply evaporate.

This Hobonichi Techo holds my life.

 

High Praise: An Architect Grind by Dan Smith

Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA

I bought this Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA (Limited Edition Acrylic), as part of an annual Edison Pen Co. group buy, with a broad nib, which was not my usual nib choice back then. But I had my reasons. Well, reason. I knew that, at some point, I’d probably like to have some sort of nib grind performed and figured that starting with a broad nib would give the nibmeister a good sized chunk of real estate to work with. Obviously I didn’t rush into the nib work as it’s been nearly two years since I bought the pen, yet I only recently took the nib-grinding dive.

Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA (Wine Acrylic)

The Wine Acrylic on this Glenmont is stunning and almost looks like it’s lit from within. The chatoyancy mesmerizes me. And while the broad nib on this pen was very nice—smooth and wet—I felt that a pen this good looking could use a little something special. I’m trying to make 2016 the year of fewer acquisitions and more/deeper use, so it finally seemed like the perfect time to send this pen off to Dan Smith, The Nibsmith, for some nib magic.

Architect Grind

I couldn’t do anything with a nib—except ruin it—but Dan took my “clear as mud” directive and turned this perfectly acceptable broad nib into one with wonderful smoothness and character. My Edison Glenmont now sports a Dan Smith Architect grind.

Writing with broad Architect grind

Dan explains an Architect (aka Hebrew or Arabic) grind on his website, saying, “You can think of this nib as a stub rotated 90 degrees. It creates a thin vertical stroke and a thick horizontal stroke.” I test drove a few Architect grinds at the DC Pen Show but wasn’t quite ready to jump in then, mostly because I wasn’t completely sure which pen/nib I wanted modified. I tend to be a ponderer—so I pondered.

Edison Glenmont with Architect Grind

In the end, I came back to my original idea and sent off the Glenmont, and man, am I glad I did. This thing is crazy good. I filled the pen with a sample of Bungbox Sapphire and the combination of this ink with this broad Architect grind is sublime. It’s smooth and expressive and just plain fun. Capital F fun.

Architect Grind

Even without a macro lens, you can see the Architect grind. Impressive work, Dan.

What’s cool about having this Edison nib modified is that I can easily swap it into my other Edison pens should I want to change things up.

IMG_1325

I like looking at writing from strange angles. Rather than focusing on the words, you can focus on the ink properties and expressiveness of the nib. It’s a little quirk of mine.

I couldn’t be happier with this pen or with Dan’s work.

IMG_1334

Just one little bone to pick—I have this wonderful Architect grind but it hasn’t helped my architect skills one iota. I still can’t design a house to save my life.

Okay, that “joke” probably made you groan, but I can assure, this nib will make you sing.

Songs of high praise, that is.

IMG_1318

I paid for the pen and nib modification with my own funds, and I was not (nor will I be) compensated in any way for this review. The Bungbox Sapphire ink sample was graciously provided by my pen pal, Phil Olin (@SgtStretch). 

Check out all of Dan’s nib services at nibsmith.com. The Architect grind shown here costs $55 at the time of this review. Prices for other nib services and grinds can be found on Dan’s website.

 

 

 

 

One Simple Truth

Sometimes the world feels very complicated.

Even in our beloved pen community, things can seem overwhelming. There are so many…

opinions,

tastes,

skill levels,

SHINY things.

Whenever I feel confused, whenever my head starts spinning, I remember one simple truth…

IMG_1136

Ink: Sailor Jentle Grenade

Pen: Waterman Harmonie

Paper: Levenger Vivacious Free Leaf Notepad (sadly, discontinued)