Pen Stalking: Chicago

Last Monday night, we took the train from Utica to Chicago for a few days of vacation. I was excited. The train! Vacation! Chicago! We traveled overnight and though sleeping was a little tricky, I loved the ride and the fact that we were practically delivered door to door.

Stupidly did not figure out the REAL footrests until 8:30 am. Oh, well!

This was vacation with a very short agenda, which is just how I like it. We knew that we were going to a White Sox-Yankees game, and that we had reserved tickets for the Field Museum, but other than that, it was all free form. Perfect.

That’s a little bit of a lie…I knew I wanted to visit Century Pens, a pen store that I had tracked down online. So Day One, off we went and found the store after a short walk.

Century Pens. We found it!

The guys in the store were great and let us poke around to our hearts’ content. I fogged up a display case or two while we were there. I held a Pilot Prera (wow…very light fountain pen!) and oogled the Krones, a line of pens that was entirely new to me. We saw the Winston Churchill pen up close and personal, thanks to the genuinely enthusiastic salesmen. Despite their enthusiasm, THAT $5900 pen stayed put, while I browsed around for something more affordable, preferably without lions. There was not a single Retro 51 in the house, because, they said, no rep ever calls on them. Darn! I was anxious to see the Invader model in person. If they had had a Monteverde Color Fusion Invincia Stealth fountain pen in stock, I would’ve swooped down on that, but it was not to be. Instead, I picked up a slightly used Stypen…a small retractable fountain pen…that caught my eye.
One store, one pen. This vacation was off to a great start.

Capped Stypen

Deployed Stypen

By then, I was so hungry that I could’ve eaten a skyscraper, so we took a break.

Yes, I was THAT hungry.

Next up…Dick Blick! I’ve seen their website, but never an actual store. I explored the place from top to bottom but in the end made just a few small purchases, but I’m very happy with them.
1) Rhodia No. 16 Dot Pad. WOW. I didn’t really get to try it out until I was home, but this paper is THE BEST for fountain pens. And i love the dots. They provide just enough structure without getting in the way. Great stuff.
2) Pilot G2 0.38 mm (black). I tested a few Stabilos and LePens, but couldn’t quite get into them, and instead opted for the super crisp line of the 0.38 mm G2. Though G2s are easy to come by locally, that tip size isn’t. Super cheap, but very nice.
3) Pilot G2 0.38 mm (red). See #2, just in red.
Nothing exotic purchased there, but these were solid finds, nonetheless.

Rhodia No. 16 Dot Pad…yum!

Not fancy, but oh so crisp.

On Thursday, our last day, we trekked WAY up N. Michigan Ave. in search of the Montblanc Boutique. Once there, I hesitated at the threshold. It’s a fancy place and there I was in my shorts and Life Is Good t-shirt. Awkward! But the salesman, Brian Morrow, couldn’t have been nicer. I asked if they had a Limited Edition Alfred Hitchcock fountain pen, which they did. He sat us down, donned a glove, and got out the $3000 beauty. I was hesitant to touch it because I’d forgotten to pack my pen-handling glove (silly me), but no worries…he handed it to me to examine. VERY cool. Heavy in details…twisting design on barrel, dagger clip, etc. But a tad pricey. Just a tad. (I’d also forgotten to pack my bag o’ money.)

After we finished with the Hitchcock, and it was returned to its vault, Brian brought out the Limited Edition Jonathan Swift fountain pen that had JUST arrived at the store. I’d heard about the Swift pen on an FPGeeks podcast where the design was much debated, but to be honest, I liked this one better than the Hitchcock. The “trifoil” cap, the ladder-like clip, and the inlaid rope design make for a very good-looking pen (in my opinion). I may have drooled just a little bit. This one runs $900+ so while it was fun to hold, we resisted Brian’s charms, and walked out with just one bottle of Montblanc Mystery Black ink. Ah, the restraint.

And with that, our Chicago vacation came to a close. I loved the city’s architecture, museums, and parks. I loved the super friendly people. And, of course, I loved the pens. (If only I’d packed that bag of money!)

Oh, Chicago, you made me smile.

When Comfort Is Key: The Sensa Meridian Fountain Pen (M nib)

The Details…
Pen: Sensa Meridian, Stainless, Medium nib
Paper: Circa Rhodia via Levenger
Ink: Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue cartridge

Review, page 1 [click to enlarge]

Review, page 2 [click to enlarge]; Note: In the 7th line, the word “also” should be “always.” Oops.

I think the handwritten review pretty much says it all, but in a nutshell, I’m glad that Daly’s Pen Shop sends me their daily “specials” because sometimes you can pick up a real gem at a great price, and this Sensa Meridian falls into that category. Though the medium nib is much broader than I normally use, it gave me a great excuse to own a medium nib pen. I’m toying with the idea of having it ground to a finer size at some point, but we shall see. I may just leave it as is and enjoy its “mediumness.” It IS a joy to write with.

A few pictures:

The boxed set

Note that the pen looks pink/purple in the picture, but that’s just because the stainless finish was reflecting the color of my t-shirt. It is a MIRROR.

A good view of the pen rest/eye pillow

With regard to the eye pillow, the package insert states, “Used on the eyes at room temperature or chilled, your Satin Pillow produces total darkness which far exceeds the 67% of ambient light blocked by the human eyelid, The eye/brain reaction to total darkness is to send a relaxation response throughout the entire body. The Sensa Satin Pillow can restore your alertness, strength, and creativity in less than 5 minutes. We hope you enjoy it.” Why, yes…yes, I will!

Uncapped pen taking a nap

Nib view & shiny cap

The catch? Sensa Meridians appear to be tricky to come by, as I believe the line has been discontinued. Which is a shame, because who doesn’t need a little more comfort in their lives?! And strength. And creativity.

I KNOW I do.

Nothing Compares 2 U: Edison Collier Persimmon Swirl

Apologies to Sinead O’Connor for stealing the song title to title this post, but I am dopey swoony over this pen. Like I miss it when I’m not around it. It has completely stolen my pen-loving heart. It has spoiled me for all other pens. This is serious, folks.

Behold the Edison Collier in Persimmon Swirl. Oh, my. There I go, swooning again. (Did I faint? Did I get the vapors?)

Use with cartridge or converter OR as an eyedropper pen

By listening to the Fountain Pen Geeks podcasts, I’m learning a lot about the fountain pen players, including Brian Gray (Edison Pen Company, the maker of this pen) and Brian Goulet (The Goulet Pen Company, the seller of the pen). The Collier is one of Brian Gray’s production pens and is sold by The Goulet Pen Company, as well as a few other sellers. I love poking around on The Goulet’s website, and let me tell you, when I spotted this pen, my eyes popped out of my head, just like a cartoon critter’s.

Yes, like this.

This is the biggest pen I own, but it’s wonderfully comfortable and fun to hold. The section is perfectly shaped for my grip, so writing with it is a dream. A DREAM. The #6 two-tone steel nib (fine) writes smoothly and without hesitation. The looks are truly killer. Photos don’t really do justice to the sheen and depth of the persimmon swirl pattern. The branding is simple and subtle. There is not one misstep with this pen. Not a one.

I could blabber on like a fool all day long, but I think I’ll just let the photos do the talking.

Persimmon Swirl. (Reminds me of Nemo!)

Oh so subtle branding

A view of the #6 nib

Edison Collier vs. Lamy Vista

Edison Collier, I’ll say it again. Nothing compares 2 u.


AND here’s a super review from another fan: Stephen Brown’s video review.

You, too, can have The Perfect Pen Case.

The Pen Case…from concept to reality [Photo from the project’s Kickstarter page]

Obviously, I own my share of pens, and I’m always giving the new pen projects on Kickstarter the once over. Some I’ve backed, and some I haven’t. The Render K has become a daily carry pen, and I’m waiting for a few more projects to wrap up production and ship. Kickstarter is a super cool way for folks to promote their products/projects, and for those interested to get in on the ground floor and provide the funding to “kickstart” the project.

Given the number of pens I own, I’m particularly excited to back Alicia Klein’s project- The Pen Case. I’m always looking for ways to carry my pens, and Alicia’s product is both unique in design and looks, while still being practical. What I really like, in addition to this being an excellent way to carry my pens, is that I can set the case on my desk and use it to corral the pen clutter that invariably happens as my work day wears on. My pens will be organized AND protected, at home, at work, and on the go.

End the desktop clutter [Photo from the project’s Kickstarter page]

But there’s a catch…Alicia’s Kickstarter project has 10 more days to go and needs a little over $1000 in pledges to reach its funding goal. She’s in the homestretch. Let’s make The Perfect Pen Case a reality, ‘k?

I really want one. Don’t you?

Smooooooth Sailing: Frictionless Capture Cards

I was all set to write about a pen today, but then found myself absolutely LOVING Aaron Mahnke’s Frictionless Capture Cards. So, an executive decision was made (All in favor say aye. AYE!!), and I quickly shifted blogging gears.

The beloved cards

To be honest, I’m not sure where I first heard about Aaron’s cards. It may have been on Twitter or on the Mikes on Mics or Home Work podcasts, or maybe from the Pen Addict himself. Doesn’t really matter. I’ll admit that I had a couple packs in my online shopping cart, then thought better of it. “Do you REALLY need these cards?” the voice on one shoulder whispered. I listened to that voice and deleted the contents of the cart. Then I sensibly went to Staples, picked up some plain old ordinary index cards, and heard a second voice say, “Those Frictionless cards don’t cost much more. Go for it!” So I put DOWN the ordinary cards, ordered four packs of the Frictionless cards, and haven’t looked back. Voice #2 is apparently the wise, wise voice. Voice #1, not so much.

Sturdy cards!

When I opened the package, a few things struck me immediately. First of all, these cards are sturdy. Because they’re printed on 70 lb premium card stock, a stack of 100 Frictionless cards measures about double what a stack of 100 ordinary index cards would measure. The thickness is, to me, absolutely perfect. They’re so substantial that your mind immediately takes them seriously, rather than looking at them as a throwaway. They hold up great, even when dragged through day-to-day activities. No more flimsy cards for me.

Structured, yet flexible

I was also immediately smitten with the layout and colors. LOVE the pale grey grid, which gives enough structure without getting in the way. And the colored header and footer felt very natural to use. I don’t spend a bunch of time spinning mental wheels about what I should write where. I instinctively write the subject in the upper grey box and a reference date in the upper red box. In the body of the card, I create itemized lists of action items for projects, meetings, and even groceries. I pen in tiny check boxes, then color them in with red when the item is completed. Once everything on the card has been completed, I write a celebratory “DONE!” in the grey footer, then file the card for future reference. I should mention that the back of the card is gridded as well, and features a narrow red header, and a grey footer with a white grid. Both sides are equally usable.

While attending a conference last week, emails continued to roll in for work and life in general. I kept a couple of cards handy, and jotted down everything that required my attention during and after the conference. Everything was quickly and easily captured. I could let go of the emails, hunker down at the conference, and enjoy some free time without that endless loop of responsibilities swirling around in my brain. Frictionless? Yeah, it kind of was. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Keeping it all straight

Now that I’m back at work, there’s lots to be done. I’m using the cards to keep each project straight. It may look overwhelming, but because everything is captured and organized, I can easily review where I stand with each project and chore. And I love coloring in those little boxes.

Pen-wise, I’ve mostly been using the Pilot Frixion 0.5 mm pens, as well as my Render K and Pilot Hi-Tec-C, as the fine line of these pens plays nicely with the grid on the card. But the cards are not fazed by fountain pen ink, and I can create neat notes using my Lamy Safaris (EF & F nibs) and Pilot Vanishing Point (F nib) with various inks. I haven’t, as yet, experienced any feathering.

Can you believe that I’m going on and on about 3×5 cards?! Yeah, me neither. But the Frictionless Capture Cards are that good.

I simply love this tool.

Your fan,