White Christmas 2013

P1030272
White Christmas

We had a surprise coating of snow last night and the sun is shining so the world looks fresh and clean. The day is a little odd as Fred is working until 3, so he’ll be late to the festivities at my parents’. But we’re looking forward to a week long break— a chance to catch our breath and venture off for a field trip or two. THAT’S our present.

My “White Christmas” pens were not received as Christmas gifts, but are gifts nonetheless because they connect me to you— my family, my friends, and this great pen community. They truly ARE the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Christmas to you.

-Mary

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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?

Teal and Purple Friday: ACME Crayon Rollerball in New Colors

The new ACME colors

My local source for the ACME rollerballs emailed me just before Thanksgiving to let me know that the two newest colors— teal and purple— had finally arrived. She’d given me a “heads up” a number of weeks prior to this, but every time I stopped in the store, the story was the same— nothing yet. But now, just in time for Black Friday, the pens were in stock.

Teal & Purple ACME rollerballs

When I bought my first ACME Crayon— a red one— I had no intention of acquiring the entire collection. But little by little, I picked up each color until I owned a full set, including the retired colors. There’s something irresistible about these hefty brass pens. The design is pure nostalgia, with colors straight from that big box of kindergarten crayons. The slightly matte body is textured to feel like the paper wrapper on your favorite crayons. These are pens that conjure up memories and tug at your heartstrings. (Can’t you just hear the hiss of the radiator in your elementary school classroom? Or am I the only old one here?)

Well-polished

A collection slowly sprouted up, as collections tend to do, and I knew I’d have to pick up the two newest colors to round out the set. So— on Black Friday— after lounging around the house most of the day and lunching on plates of Thanksgiving leftovers, we ventured out to our small Scandinavian Design gift store and picked up this pair. Other than groceries, that’s all the shopping we did that day.

Exploded view

The ACME rollerballs take the Schmidt P8126 refill and it’s good one— dark, smooth, and consistent. The ink does have a tendency to feather just a bit on some papers. I wrote the rough draft of this review in a Clairefontaine spiral notebook and you can see (if you click on the above photo) that the letters aren’t perfectly crisp, even on this excellent paper, due to the liquid nature of the ink. But I like the pens enough that I’m willing to overlook what some may call a flaw.

BUT, if any amount of feathering makes you crazy, there IS another option. Just as the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 ballpoint refill works in the Retro 1951 Tornado rollerballs, turns out it ALSO works in these ACME pens. Mike Dudek, of The Clicky Post, turned me onto these refills and they really are excellent— one of the best ballpoint refills out there, in my opinion. It’s always great to have options.

Teak and purple rollerballs

So my Black Friday— well, my Teal and Purple Friday— was a quiet one. No doorbusters. No waiting in line for hours. No midnight madness. Just time spent relaxing with my husband, lounging in a cozy chair, eating tasty Thanksgiving leftovers, and, of course, playing with these new pens.

ACME Rollerballs

My motto: A day without pens is like Thanksgiving without the turkey.*

*One year my grandmother made roast beef. It was weird.

Cool (and maybe free) stuff!

I find it hard to resist pen projects on Kickstarter, and have had generally very good experiences. Even though I’ve built up quite the supply of “Kickstarted” writing utensils, a couple of recent projects caught my eye AND my pledge. The project creators haven’t asked for a plug—I just wanted to share some cool stuff and a couple of giveaway opportunities.

Uncapped InTuition
Previously backed InTuition Pen/Stylus

I wrote about the InTuition Pen/Stylus back in February, and continue to enjoy the look, feel, and performance of that pen. Now I see that Tom of e4 Labs has launched a companion project—the InTuition Pencil. More carbon fiber, more goodness. What I like about this project is that there are only a couple of backing tiers, one at $39 for one pencil (0.5, 0.7, or 0.9 mm lead size) and $110 for all three lead sizes. Only 300 rewards are available (now down to 224, at the time of this writing) for the single pencil while just 50 rewards (currently down to 43) are available for the trio of pencils. By capping the number of rewards at each level, Tom won’t suddenly be faced with an avalanche of orders that make his proposed timeline impossible to meet. Tom delivered a great product the last time and I have no reason to believe that this pencil project will be any different. I’m already looking forward to my 0.7 mm version. The funding period ends January 4th, 2014, and the project is currently about 34% funded. Let’s make it happen!

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Another Kickstarter project that made my eyes POP is the The Apollo Technical Pan and Drafting Scale by Pranay and Paul. Do I do any drafting? Heck no. Does that matter to me? Not at all. This thing is just so awesome looking that even my non-pen loving husband is excited. JetPens recently interviewed Pranay and Paul AND announced a JetPens/Apollo Pen giveaway contest. The grand prize is a JetPens themed Tri-Scale set with three pens, while one runner-up will receive a single Apollo pen.

Check out their interview HERE.

Enter the giveaway HERE. The contest ends December 12th.

This Kickstarter project has six more days to go, and is almost 400% funded, so this one is a definite go. Can’t wait.

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The folks at Pen Chalet, a new-to-me online pen retailer, are currently running their own giveaway for  $50, $25, and $10 dollar gift certificates. Who couldn’t use a little help with holiday spending, right? I spent some time browsing their site the other night, while entering the contest, and like what I see selection-wise AND price-wise. Definitely worth a look and an entry. A winner will be drawn on December 15th. Fingers crossed!

Check out their contest HERE.

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UPDATE: Here’s one more giveaway I JUST found— The FPGeeks are giving away a set of six Levenger inks and the True Writer Silver Anniversary Fountain Pen. What a sweet haul! Enter for those goodies HERE. This contest closes on January 6, 2014. Winning this would definitely make for a happy new year.

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Have a great weekend! I plan to spend a little time with some friends, then hunker down with some pens. Bliss.

Classic and Classy: Sheaffer’s Sagaris Rollerball

The folks at Sheaffer provided me with this Sagaris Rollerball pen for review purposes. I was not otherwise compensated, and the review reflects my own experiences and observations.

Sheaffer Sagaris Rollerball
Sheaffer Sagaris

I get a nostalgic feeling when I think about the Sheaffer brand. I was a bit (maybe more?) of an oddball kid and was particular about my pens and pencils as early as junior high school. We regularly bought our school supplies at Woolworth’s— usually the garden variety stuff that suffered from iffy performance. Somehow I got my hands on a yellow Sheaffer NoNonsense ballpoint pen, and that became my pen of choice for years. I remember bugging my father to bring home new refills from the swanky luggage/jewelry/pen store near his downtown office. Ah, memories.

Sheaffer Sagaris
Brushed chrome with chrome trim

Fast forward a number of decades, and my collection is starting to reflect that early Sheaffer love. I picked up the Taranis fountain pen at the DC show and LOVE that thing. This year I also acquired a vintage Sheaffer Lady Balance, as well as a stainless steel NoNonsense fountain pen that reminds me of my junior high pen. Sheaffer’s been around for 101 years and I’ve been a fan for…well…a healthy percentage of those years.

Sagaris branding

The branding on the Sagaris is subtle. “SHEAFFER” is engraved on both sides of the polished chrome center band, and the pen’s clip sports Sheaffer’s white dot of quality. Both ends of the pen are polished to a mirror finish which provides just the right amount of visual interest.

P1030187

P1030185

The cap sports a nicely springy clip and snaps onto the body in a substantial way. I think the flared part of the plastic section is what makes the cap seat so tightly. That part of the section is my one bugaboo with the pen. It’s not exactly in my way, but I find that I notice it when I grip the pen. It’s sort of in the sweet spot of my grip, but doesn’t really cause a problem when I write. It’s just there. I rest my forefinger on it and I’m off and running.

Sagaris section

The Sagaris takes the Sheaffer Slim Rollerball refill which is very smooth, dark, and consistent. This is a liquid ink, so much like a fountain pen, the performance of the refill will vary depending on the paper used. The rough draft of this review was written on Rhodia paper and lookes great. I’ve also had very good performance from the refill on plain old copier paper. But be aware that, unlike gel ink, rollerball ink may feather on some papers.

My only other complaint is that the Sheaffer refills are available only in blue and black and in a medium width. Personally, I’d prefer a finer option. Poking around a bit for other refill options, I found that Levenger sells a compatible 0.5 mm rollerball refill in black, blue, and red. I’m planning to spring for a pack of these to give myself the option of going finer.

Size comparison
Size comparison: Sheaffer Sagaris rollerball vs. Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen

The Sagaris has a nice weight but is not heavy. I generally use the pen with the cap posted and find that this feels nicely balanced in hand.

Sheaffer Sagaris

Packaged in a gift-worthy box, the Sheaffer Sagaris rollerball sports clean good looks. Available in seven finishes, there’s a look to please just about anyone. The Sagaris line also includes ballpoint and fountain pens, so there are plenty of options to choose from. The look is classic and classy— perfect for home, office, or school.

Sheaffer Sagaris

The Sagaris line carries on Sheaffers’s tradition of quality that hooked me as seventh grader and keeps me coming back for more. You can’t argue with that kind of history.

Hmmm…I wonder if I can still get my father to spring for those refills.