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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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Ink: Sailor Jentle Grenade

Pen: Waterman Harmonie

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

Just Right: The Karas Kustoms EDK

Right here on my desk, there’s a sizable (and ever-growing) collection of Karas Kustoms pens within arm’s reach. Render Ks, Fountain Ks, Bolts, Retrakts, INKs—all at the ready. All well-loved. I simply can’t resist their hearty, machined goodness. But lately, the Karas Kustoms offering I reach for most often is the EDK.

Karas Kustoms EDK

Why is that?

Let’s take a look.

Size comparison

At just over 5″ (12.9 cm), the EDK is the shortest of the Karas Kustoms pen models, and, man, does it feel perfect in my hand. The EDK is stubby and thick, in all the right ways. My anodized black aluminum pen is substantial and well-balanced. At 28 grams, it’s not too heavy, not too light. Every time I pick up it up, the pen pleasure center in my brain lights up.

Size comparison vs. pencils

Much like a wood case pencil that’s been used down to just the right size, or the thick and perfectly weighted Lamy Scribble (love this mechanical pencil), the EDK is a pen that’s instantly comfortable—like a pair of well-worn jeans or broken-in sandals.

Knock and knurling

The retractable mechanism—or “knock”—is the same one found on the Retrakt. It’s nearly silent, smooth, and reliable. The Karas Kustoms website warns that compulsive clicking can damage the inner mechanism, but because there’s no audible “click” with which to annoy your friends and loved ones, the urge to engage in this type of behavior is reduced (for the most part).

The machined knurling at this end of the pen is a subtle and classic detail. I’m always a little happier when a pen includes some knurling.

Grooved barrel

The anodizing on my all-black pen is super smooth and flawless. I’ve been carrying and using the pen a lot and have yet to mar the finish. The grooved barrel provides visual interest, but doesn’t seem to influence the grip one way or another. That said, I don’t find the EDK to be a particularly slippery pen, despite its satiny smooth finish.

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The clip is pure Karas Kustoms. Formed from stainless steel and attached to the pen body with two hex screws, this clip is very snug, very sturdy. It’s certainly not going anywhere, but still exhibits just enough “give” to allow the pen to be clipped into a pocket or case.

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But none of these details matter if the pen body doesn’t house a quality refill. Fear not, for I bring you tidings of great joy! (Oh, wait…that’s a completely different story.) But there is joy, as the guys at Karas Kustoms wisely decided to build the EDK around the Schmidt P8126, a liquid ink refill that glides over paper like an…ummm…exceptionally glidey thing. I’m usually writing on Rhodia paper or my stash of (discontinued) Levenger Vivacious freeleaf note pads and the experience is sublime—rich, dark, and smooth.

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This Karas Kustoms EDK is a comfortable pen with classic good looks and an excellent refill. Not to go all Goldilocks on you, but this is a pen that’s “just right.”

++++++++++++

I purchased the EDK reviewed here with my own funds. There was no cajoling or haranguing or arm-twisting by anyone at Karas Kustoms to provide a review. I’m just a total Karas Kustoms fan girl…and proud of it. 

You  can check out all of the Karas Kustoms machined pens at http://karaskustoms.com/pens.html

“It’s Quality Bro!”

A Vacation In a Pen: The Woodsmen by Bear Claw Woodcraft

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My cousins own this charming little camp in Long Lake, NY. Though tiny, it has everything you need to step away from the world without sacrificing comfort— a cute little kitchen, a strong hot shower, a wood stove. In order to get or make cellphone calls, I have to walk down their road, head to the bridge in town, and stand in just the right spot. That, honestly, is the best feature— being inaccessible. I’m never happier than when we’re vacationing at their camp.

There’s scenery…

The Wild Center

and trails…

Newcomb Trails

places to rest…

Charlie Scout, and Boo

and the world’s best pie from the Noonmark Diner

Raspberry Crumble pie

When we spend even just a few days at their camp, I feel my breath returning to a slower, deeper rhythm, my neck and shoulders unclenching, and a feeling of calm seep into almost every cell in my body. There’s no such thing as a stress headache in Long Lake. I’m pretty sure they’ve been outlawed by the town board.

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The Woodsmen ballpoint pen by Bear Claw Woodcraft has become a real favorite, not just because it takes my favorite ballpoint refill— the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000— but because its rustic carved body transports me to those lazy days in the Adirondacks. The look, the feel, and even the smell, remind me of the woods and of days without appointments and stress. This pen, I’m convinced, lowers my blood pressure every time I use it.

Bolt action

At 44 g, this is a weighty but well-balanced pen. The antiqued brass hardware looks right at home against the carved walnut barrel, and has proven to be sturdy and durable. The bolt action works easily with just my thumb, making it as convenient as a clicky pen, but certainly more fun. Need something to fiddle with in a meeting that just won’t end? This is your pen.

Carved body

Touted as being the only carved pen on the market, this is where the pen fits me perfectly. I love the rustic, but smooth, feel of the walnut body in my hand. There’s character and workmanship and the great smell of the natural oils used to finish the wood. This pen hits all of my Adirondack-loving buttons.

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The tiny wood-burned detail reminds me of a trail marker and our daily hikes on the Newcomb Visitors Center trails, where the smell of pine and the sound of loons means we’re far far away from our loaded inboxes. Bliss.

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The Woodsmen takes Parker-style refills, so if the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 isn’t your thing, there are other options available (e.g., Fisher Space Pen refill, Moleskine gel refill, etc.). Priced at a very reasonable $46, Gabriel offers a pen that writes, feels, and even smells great. When I hunker down at my desk for a day of work, the Woodsmen reminds me of those warm summer days full of sun and relaxation, of pine trees and campfires and, of course, pie.

The Woodsmen is a vacation in a pen.

For another review of the same pen, check out this post by Matthew Morse. His post was the one that prompted me to buy this pen. Thanks for the nudge, Matthew!