The OTHER Mini: The TWSBI Diamond Mini

A writing sample and a little TWSBI background

All together now…TWSBI!! (TWIZ-BEE!!) I seriously cannot stop saying this! (Try it. It’s addictive.)


While the tech world is abuzz with news of the iPad Mini, pen folk FINALLY got their hands on a different mini…the TWSBI Diamond Mini. Before becoming a regular listener of the FPGeeks podcast, I’d never heard of TWSBI. But Eric and Dan mentioned the company so often that I started stalking TWSBI pens online and read a ton of reviews…but only recently picked up a TWSBI Diamond 540 (Amber). Awhile back, talk of the mythical TWSBI Mini ramped up, but the release date remained elusive. I was so impressed by the 540, that ordering a Mini was a no-brainer. But when would it hit the market?? TWSBI apparently spends a lot of time refining their designs to incorporate the suggestions of their fans, so release dates are not exactly carved in stone.

But last week, the Mini launched, and as soon as I got wind of it, I ordered directly from TWSBI (from bed, on my iPad). A couple of days later, my Mini arrived, and I am loving it.

I picked the demonstrator model (all clear) because I like seeing the ink (Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue) sloshing around inside. The piston-filling system is a breeze to use and just sort of fun, in an inky kind of way.

See the ink?

I’d read a few reviews that noted dry writing with some TWSBIs (mainly the Micartas) so I was a little leery, as I have zero knowledge of how to adjust a dry pen. But I needn’t have worried as both the Diamond 540 and Mini wrote wonderfully out of the box. I’m very happy with the EF nib and the wetness of the line.

This extra-fine nib makes me smile

To post the cap, simply thread it onto the back of the pen body. Voila…perfect size for comfortable writing.

Posted cap

But how mini is it? Here’s a comparison of the Mini vs a couple of Kaweco pocket models (the AL-Sport and the TEENY Liliput)…

Top to bottom: TWSBI Mini, Kaweco AL-Sport, Kaweco Liliput

So while the TSWBI Mini isn’t super small (honors for that go to the Liliput), it’s nicely compact and easy to carry. The TWSBI Mini also feels less “loseable” than the Liliput, which is just a wisp of a pen (but cool, in it’s own way).

Pen aesthetics and performance aside, what REALLY drew me into the brand was the company philosophy, which is spelled out on the pen’s package insert. TWSBI strives to provide quality at a “favorable retail price,” but also stresses the value of enjoying life. In their words…

We hope that it can teach its users, however young or old, to understand the value of enjoying life. We at TWSBI approach each project with the end user in mind. In this particular case, we had the following goals:
-For the pen to be functional, as well as aesthetically pleasing
-For the pen to help the user express him- or herself
-For the pen to bring people together
-For the pen to be affordable
-For the pen to teach the user how to enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle.

For someone who has a hard time getting off the hamster-wheel of life and quieting down, TWSBI’s goals were just what I wanted/needed to hear. And I think that using the TWSBI Mini, or any fountain pen, really DOES help to slow things down. There is a bit of ritual with a fountain pen…selecting the ink, filling the pen, choosing the paper, seeing the ink flow, cleaning the pen…all are steps that force us to ratchet down from the crazy pace of our days. As we write, we breathe and relax. Just a little bit. Just a little bit.

TWSBI also encourages users to periodically perform preventative maintenance on their pens by providing detailed diagrams as well as the necessary wrench and silicone grease for complete disassembly. Am I THAT brave? Not yet, but maybe one day. It DOES look quite simple.

Here’s how you do it

And here’s what you use…

Cleverly hidden in the bottom of the pen’s packaging

TWSBI’s tagline is “Inspired by Writing” and I can honestly say that the Mini (as well as the Diamond 540) DO inspire me to write. AND to slow down.

TWSBI, you’re the prescription I’ve been looking for.

Exhale. I feel better already.

Both Worlds: Monteverde Invincia Stylus (F nib) in Matte Chrome

The Matte Chrome Monteverde Invincia Stylus

My handwritten thoughts

I’m a bouncer. All day long I hop between digital devices and applications (Clear, Evernote, Day One, Twitter, email) and my favorite paper products (Field Notes, Frictionless Capture Cards, Rhodia dotPads, and plain old scrap paper).

iPad and dotPad

Analog capture hub

I keep “on the fly” notes in both places…in the Clear app on my iPhone, and on paper, depending on where I am when the mood or need strikes. I love the feel of pen on paper as much as I enjoy fiddling around with iPad and iPhone apps. Evernote is, ultimately, the place where I bring all all of my lists and tasks and brainstorming together. Everything syncs and I feel calm. Calmish. I feel calmish.

Monteverde Invincia Stylus. Shiny!

So. Yeah. Like so many of us, I’m a fan of digital AND analog tools. Apps and paper. Pens and styluses (stylii?). Which is where the Monteverde Invincia Stylus comes in. Sweet fountain pen on one end, high quality stylus on the other. I can write a letter with the pen, then poke around on my iPad with the stylus. One tool for both worlds. Happy Mary.

As I mentioned in my handwritten review, the stylus works very well on my iDevices. I’ve found using a few other styluses to be frustrating. Usually they’re too mushy and I end up having to tap the screen repeatedly to get a response. At that point, I go back to using my finger. But the response from the Monteverde stylus has been great, probably because it has a “fingerlike” firmness. I’m really impressed with how well it functions. This is not a “novelty” stylus.

Stylus and matte black clip

Stellar nib

The nib is a bit oversized, which I enjoy. The dark nib and black matte accents look great against the matte chrome finish of the body. In the right light, this thing SHINES. And it writes great. No scratchiness. No drag. Filled with Private Reserve’s DC Supershow Blue, I’m finding this pen to be one that I make excuses to use. Just an all around fun package.

Bottom line? iLove.

Front-burnered: Lamy Safari Charcoal with Private Reserve Tanzanite Ink

Still life with Lamy Safari & Tanzanite

That’s the hand-written version up there. In a nutshell, I wasn’t as crazy about the “stealthy” Lamy Charcoal (EF nib) as I thought I’d be, but that was undoubtedly due to the fact that the first pen just wouldn’t write. I shot an evening trying to get it going before I shipped it off for an exchange. Once the second pen arrived, it wrote just fine…fine as in “good” AND fine as in “a very thin line.” But I just didn’t find myself reaching for it.

Act II: Stephen Brown did an Inkcyclopedia video on the Private Reserve Tanzanite ink, and shortly thereafter, a bottle found its way into my online shopping cart. What a great pairing…the matte finish of the Lamy coupled with the purpley-blue (or bluey-purple) pop of the ink. Okay separately. Great together.

The body isn’t what I would call a true black. To me, it looks like more of a deep espresso. This Lamy is very lightweight and sports the signature clip in black, as well as an all-black nib. Understated and pretty cool.

Iconic clip

The stealthy nib

The Tanzanite ink is a super color– very fun, but not out of place in a business setting. It can party, AND put in a full day of work. Best of both worlds. I LOVE it.

Jar of awesome

The ink bottle is very no-nonsense, with a nice wide opening so you can see what you’re doing when you’re filling your pen. I appreciate that, as do my counters.

One is subtle. One not so much.

Like lobster and butter (mmmmmm), this is a pair that was meant to be together. Where together? Why on the FRONT burner, of course.