The Verdict: TWSBI ECO with J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor

TWSBI ECO with Emerald of Chivor ink

The pre-release photos of J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor ink were so dramatic that I was drooling over the stuff well before it was available for purchase. The reviewers often used folded nibs which brought out the shine and sheen in very dramatic fashion. I don’t own a folded nib so I knew that my results would be more subdued, but I still pounced on the ink as soon as it was available. I picked up two bottles as fast as my “BUY NOW” finger could hit “Enter.”


There was a lot of chatter about the suspended gold particles in the ink, and speculation as to whether or not the particles could/would clog a pen’s feed. So I after I ordered the ink I spent some time thinking about the pen that I’d use it in. I decided to steer away from pens that were pricey or very dear to me, and knew I’d want to go with something replaceable, should there be catastrophic cloggage. One of my many Lamy Safaris would’ve been a perfectly fine candidate, as they aren’t costly, and nibs, or even whole pens, are easily replaceable without breaking the bank.


But instead of going the Lamy route, I caved and purchased a couple of TWSBI ECOs— a white one with a bold nib and a black one with a medium nib. I initially decided to forgo the ECO as I wasn’t sure I liked the look, and was content with my 540s, 580s, Vac 700, Micarta, and Minis. That seemed like plenty o’ TWSBIs for one person. But then I got it in my head that an ECO paired with the Emerald of Chivor ink would be the perfect match, and my “no more TWSBIs” resolution evaporated, as many of my pen-themed resolutions seem to do.


So…was that a good move?

TWSBI ECO filled with Emerald of Chivor ink

Hell Heck, yeah!


The TWSBI ECO is a very reasonably priced ($28.99) piston-filler fountain pen available with EF, F, M, B, or 1.1 Stub mm nibs. I find the 1.1 mm to be a little too wide for my handwriting, but wanted a good amount of ink on the page so I opted for both the bold and medium versions. At the time of this review, I’ve only inked the pen with the bold nib and am very happy with the nib’s smoothness and wetness. My small handwriting is still legible and some of the dramatic characteristics of the Emerald of Chivor ink pop on the page, though maybe not as much as would be seen with a wider stub. It’s a good compromise for me—a good amount of ink, some shine, some sheen, and legible writing.


The clear barrel allows for an unobstructed view of the gold sparkles in the ink. I may be easily fascinated, but I have to admit that this sight continues to dazzle me. A quick shake of the pen and the gold particles are resuspended so that they flow onto the page.

On Rhodia paper

On Rhodia paper, I see a good amount of sparkle, but not much of the red sheen. Still, the color is killer and there’s enough pizazz here to make letter writing or journaling, or even to-do lists, fun.

On Tomoe River paper

On Tomoe River paper is where this ink really shines and sheens. It’s hard to capture with my so-so camera and lighting, but there’s a lot going on on this page—red and gold and teal and blue. It’s pretty marvelous.

Tomoe River paper

I have two bottles and expect that this pen will be continuously inked until I run out. I can’t speak to how hard or easy it is to clean a pen inked with Emerald of Chivor as I haven’t done that yet, and it may be awhile before I do so.


Maybe this Emerald of Chivor seemed too good to be true, or over-hyped, but I’m in love with it. It mesmerizes me in the pen and on the page. Especially as the days turn darker and grayer, the surprising pops of color and shine in the words I write make me swoon in an inky kind of way. And for me, the TWSBI ECO is the perfect vehicle—sturdy, transparent, easy to fill (and probably to clean), with an easy-to-swallow price tag—to lay down a smooth rich line.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Inspired: Lamy AL-Star Ruby Red Limited Edition Fountain Pen

Lamy AL-Star Ruby Red
New to me

This pen popped up for sale on Twitter, via Dan Smith, one of the FPGeeks. The price was right, and I had a hankering for a red pen, so I asked Dan if it was still available. It was. Done deal.

I recently posted a review of the Limited Edition Apple Green Lamy Safari, and the AL-Star is basically the same pen, but with an aluminum body, so I won’t rehash the details found in that review. I did neglect to mention a couple of features, though, so this is a chance to make that right.

Neglected detail #1: The ink window. Found on the Safari and AL-Star models, this body cut-out gives you a peek at your ink supply so that you’re not surprised by an empty tank.

Ink window
Time to re-ink?

Neglected detail #2: The grip. The contoured grip. Some people love it, some people hate it, because you’re forced to hold the pen in a very specific way. If it works for you, you’re golden. If not, you might want to steer clear. Personally, I don’t mind the way the grip (transparent plastic, in this case) dictates where your fingers are placed, as it’s helped me achieve a more consistent writing grip. I don’t find it annoying, but others do.

AL-Star triangular grip
Love it or leave it

Aside from the sweet price and color, I was intrigued by the 1.1 mm stub nib. I usually go fine, and have a growing collection of mediums, but no broads, and no stubs. I’m a true novice. Time to change that.

1.1 mm nib
Breaking out of my fine nib rut

Inked with J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir, this pen and its juicy nib inspired me to write more than my usual pen-testing scribbles. The nib is so smooth, and so…um…NOT fine, that I had to write something more substantial than my name and the dogs’ names.

Tao Te Ching
Test driving the stub

Man, I love how this feels, and how it bumps up my handwriting a notch or two. And I love how words seem more substantial, more meaningful.

I’ve had a less than stellar work day, and I think I did the opposite of everything the Tao says. I worked with effort. I made the easy difficult. I thought of the small as large.

I’m tired, but still inspired. Inspired by a red pen with a stub nib. Inspired by blue ink. Inspired by those words.


Yup, inspired.

Not beige: Lamy Safari Apple Green 2012 Limited Edition (EF nib)

My cousin and I are a lot alike. We both tend to gravitate towards “earth colors” and muted tones. Karen once joked that her autobiography should be titled My Life Is Beige, as she stood in a check-out line with a fistful of khaki-colored and taupe socks. So could mine, Karen. So could mine.

When I select pens, I often gravitate towards the subtle or stealthy colors…matte black, gunmetal, and the like. (I think it’s genetic.) There are exceptions, to be sure, like the Edison Collier Persimmon Swirl, which is eye-poppingly gorgeous. And very bright. But generally speaking, I’m drawn to the blacks and silvers and subtle patterns.

Apple Green Lamy Safari
Prescription for seasonal doldrums

But not this time of year. The Christmas lights are quickly disappearing and the skies are a dull grey. It’s easy to start feeling very BLAH at this point in the winter, especially because we still have months of limited sunlight left.

Maybe that’s why I had the urge to start using my Apple Green Lamy Safari this week. It’s anything BUT blah. Subtlety is NOT its strong-point.

Apple Green Lamy Safari
Want some sunglasses with that pen?

The EF nib on the Safari is no-nonsense, quite stiff, and very plain. I’ve gotten used to seeing nibs with curlicues, scrollwork, and logos, and there’s none of that here. The Lamy Safari nib is a real workhorse that never fails to do its job.

Lamy EF nib
Amish nib…plain and strong

I filled this pen with J. Herbin’s Eclat de Saphir, a favorite blue. The combination of the neon green pen and warm, lovely blue ink just POPS.

Eclat de Saphir (J. Herbin)
Eclat de Saphir by J. Herbin

The iconic Lamy clip is sturdy, yet flexible enough. Eric Schneider, one of the FPGeeks, once said that it reminds him of one of those WHEE-LO toys we had as kids, and I absolutely agree. (Remind me again…why did we think WHEE-LO was fun?!)

Lamy clip
Clip ala Lamy

SO, here we are mid-January, and I’m holding a pen that screams “WAKE UP!!” And while I’m writing, I do.