Taming the Chaos

I had a few cool little things to write about this week, but then got wrapped up in a project that’s been on my mind for a long time. I had a week off earlier this summer, and thought I’d tackle it then, but it seemed hard, other things popped up, and the days faded away without any progress. Maybe it’s because I’m headed to the DC Pen Show in a few days…who knows…but suddenly I’ve been overcome by the need to get my pens in order. Like, really in order.

Not that things were truly horrible. I did have them in display cases, Mike Dudek & Karas Kustoms holders, and zippered cases (mostly), but it was all pretty random, and when I wanted to use something, it took a little mental sweating to track it down. Time to up my game.

So I took the fountain pen list I’d generated in Evernote, tracked them all down and laid them out on my dining room floor—a room our dogs can’t enter because it’s gated.

Grouped by brand

My old list needed revision so I used it to create a table—a BIG table—in Evernote with columns for pen description (organized by brand and model), storage location, ink details (when applicable), as well as a field to check a box when the pen’s been reviewed. More fields may be added as I decide what other details I may want to add (like “in use” location), but it’s already a much better accounting of what I have and where it lives.

Then I took those pages and worked through them, placing the pens where it made sense—which sounds easier than it was. I like things to be symmetrical and in a certain order and blah, blah, blah. It’s not pretty when my OCD tendencies kick in. As I placed the pens, I marked the storage location on my worksheet. Let’s just say there was a lot of erasing and rearranging as I worked through the process. And I’m still not quite done. But almost.

Almost done

After placing and logging the fountain pens, I rearranged my ballpoints and rollerballs. I have a few more 48-pen cases on order (via ebay, they’re cheap and perfectly fine), as I plan to get my collection of Retro 51s arranged after I finish the the current project. And then MAYBE I’ll address my pencil situation.

Soooo…the cool things I’d planned to write about will have to wait. I had to tackle this while I was in the mood.

My brain is soooo relieved.

Edison Pearl…Rollerball? Heck, ya!

Edison Pearl in Antique Marble
My Edison Pearl in Antique Marble (Photo Credit: Edison Pen Co.)

One day, back in the winter, I was battling extreme cabin fever by browsing around on the Edison Pen Co. site, as you do. As I clicked around, I noticed a section I hadn’t paid attention to before—a section about rollerball pens. Hmmmmm. Here, Brian explained that you can get every Edison Pen model as a rollerball, if fountains pens don’t do it for you. OR, if you’re like me, and keep a foot in both the fountain pen and rollerball worlds, there’s the very cool option of getting one pen body with two sections—a fountain pen section AND a rollerball section for an additional $50. When I read about this option, bells of joy chimed in my head (they did!) because as much as I love and use fountain pens, I also heavily use, and appreciate, rollerballs.

Edison Pearl Rollerball

Brian Gray and I exchanged a few emails to discuss this “two-fer” option, then came the tough choice of picking a model and material for my new RB/FP pen. I have handful of Edison pens, but no Pearl as yet, so the model decision was settled quite quickly. To choose a material, I clicked through hundreds of photos on the Edison Pens gallery and took note (quite literally) of which materials gave me a little zing. From this subset, I did some focused browsing, and ultimately decided on the Antique Marble acrylic. It’s everything I love— autumnal colors, amazing depth, liquidy swirls, some translucency, and a good dose of chatoyancy. Pretty stunning to my eye.

Edison Pearl RB & FP in Antique Marble
Edison Pearl body with both a fountain pen and a rollerball section

Brian estimated an 11-12 week wait for my custom order, and he hit that timeline perfectly. The pen arrived last week and it’s absolutely everything I hoped for. The acrylic looks like it’s ON FIRE…so hot. With the added versatility of the two sections, this is a pen that will be very hard to take out of rotation.

Edison Pearl Rollerball in Antique Marble

Brian included both a black and blue Schmidt 5888 rollerball refill (medium), along with two springs. The spring is seated onto the back of the refill to hold it in place inside the pen body so that it fits snuggly and perfectly. The Schmidt 5888 is smooth and kind of luscious—like the rollerball equivalent of fountain pen ink. The Schmidt 888 and Schneider Topball 850 refills are also compatible.

Edison Pearl fountain pen

For the fountain pen, I chose a medium nib, as I’m finding that western mediums suit me best lately—fine enough for my small handwriting, yet wide enough to see some ink shading and/or sheen. I will admit that I haven’t inked up this pen as yet, so I can’t speak to the smoothness of the nib right now. (I cleaned a significant number of pens this weekend and feel SO MUCH better getting the number of inked pens back under control. I’m proceeding with extreme care.)

Medium nib

My photos just don’t do this material justice. Much like the Persimmon Swirl acrylic of my Edison Collier, it puts me in a pen-staring trance with its mesmerizing jumble of swirled colors, depth, and translucency.

Chatoyancy
Swirls and chatoyancy

Pen cap
I like that little clear section in the middle of the cap.

Translucent threads
Catching a glimpse of the threads

When you buy an Edison pen, you get guaranteed satisfaction. In the letter that came with my pen, Brian wrote, “Our services go beyond the sale. If you ever have any issues, let us know. If you ever get a scratch, we’ll be happy to buff the pen free of charge.” It’s great knowing that I won’t have to jump through hoops should an issue ever pop up.

Edison Pen Pearl rollerball

While the Edison Pen Co. is famous for their gorgeous fountain pens, they probably aren’t who you immediately think of when you’re shopping for a rollerball. Maybe that’s about to change.

I purchased this pen with my own funds. I was not compensated in any way, nor was I asked to provide a review. But, really, how could I not?!

Slick: Lamy Studio (Palladium, 14k Medium Nib)

Lamy Studio Palladium finish

I’ll pounce on some pens in a millisecond, while others I’ll mull over for months. It’s not really a price thing (within comfortable limits), it’s more of a “what does this pen bring to the table?” type of pondering. I’ve looked at the Lamy Studio many, many times, but never felt won over enough to make a purchase. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve hesitated for so long, but some of it has to do with the polished chrome grip section that you see on most models. It looks like a fingerprint magnet and potentially slippery, and this, I think, is what’s been holding me back.

Lamy Studio Palladium model

A Lamy Studio recently popped up on MassDrop and happened to hit all the right notes— a Palladium finish (so there’s no highly polished grip), a 14k gold nib, and a price that wasn’t much higher than what I’d pay for a steel nib. That trifecta of factors pushed me from pondering to purchasing.

14k nib on the Lamy Studio

The 14k gold nib is a sweet one. To be honest, I’m unclear if the whole nib is gold, or just that piece down the center. In any case, there’s a softness and a bit of spring that you don’t get from a steel Lamy nib. I have some super smooth steel Lamy nibs that I enjoy using, but this is a different feel— a noticeable upgrade. The medium line hits a sweet spot for me— quite juicy, and yet still perfectly suited for my small(ish) handwriting. I could also easily swap this nib onto one of my Lamy Safaris, AL-Stars, or Vista, should I ever want to. (Probably won’t, but I could.)

Lamy Studio clip

Lamy Studio clip

The clip on the Lamy Studio certainly stands out from the crowd. Lamy calls it a “propeller-shaped clip” for the way it resembles…ummm…a propeller, and states that that the way it “turns in on itself is more reminiscent of a modern piece of sculpture than a conventional pen clip.” I see what they’re saying, as it IS sort of sculptural, but I’m a little undecided about the look. I like that it’s unique, but the higher profile makes it seem a little “bulky.” Well…not really bulky…but not as sleek as most clips. It functions perfectly fine for my purposes (clipped into a pen case), so no complaints there. The perpendicular profile might not suit those looking to clip the Studio in a shirt pocket since it doesn’t lay flat. So, yeah, I’m still a little bit on the fence as far as the clip goes.

Lamy Studio Palladium model

The palladium finish on this model means that the grip isn’t a fingerprint magnet, but it turns out that it’s still a little slippery—both in shape and in smoothness. There’s nothing, structurally, to keep your fingers from sliding down towards the nib, so I do find that I’m having to grip the pen a little more tightly. I’d hoped that the “brushed” palladium finish would add a bit of grip but I don’t think that it does. As a result, I sometimes notice more hand fatigue with this pen than with others. Kind of depends on the day and the temperature and the state of my hands—not an issue one day, then more so another day.

Disassembled Lamy Studio

The Studio arrived with two Z26 converters, but I’m quite sure that MassDrop threw in a spare. Sweet little bonus.

The snap-cap posts well, with a very satisfying “click” when pressed onto the end of the barrel. The pen has a nice weight (34 g overall, 24 g body, 10 g cap) and is very well-balanced whether posted or unposted.

Polished end cap

The Lamy Studio is a sharp looking pen—particularly in this champagne-colored finish. The 14k nib is noticeably springier and more fun than its steel counterpart. It’s a slick pen—with highly polished trim, minimal branding, and a uniquely styled clip. But it’s also slick to handle with a sloping, somewhat slippery grip. Though I sound iffy, I’m glad that I finally added a Lamy Studio to my collection, and think that, for me, the pluses outweigh the minuses.

Lamy Studio Palladium

The Lamy Studio—it’s one slick pen. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you.

The pen was inked with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo. The rough draft of this review was written on Levenger’s Vivacious freeleaf note pad.

The Little Things

Last week was a truly brutal one—one that perfectly illustrated the saying, “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” On Monday, the college was forced into a “shelter-in-place” situation from mid-morning until evening because of a phoned-in bomb/active shooter threat. Ultimately the threats proved to be a hoax, but the day was surreal and stressful, and the aftermath promises to hang on for a long time.

Scoutie and Zoe

Along with that awful work situation, we lost two of our beloved pets in the same week. Scout, our 16 year old Silky Terrier, had to be rushed to the vet on that same Monday, and was found to have a large mouth cancer that we never knew was there. Left with no other choice, we said good-bye to our Scoutie, my first dog.

Our 15 year old cat, Zoe, has been failing for the past month, and we finally made the hard decision to let her go on Saturday morning. Zoe was never a brainy cat, but she was a sweetie, a purring machine right until the end. God, this stuff hurts.

I was so wishing that I was at the Atlanta Pen Show, but as things played out, it’s clear that I was where I was supposed to be.

Cult Pens Mini Pen

In the midst of all of this stress and heartache, there was a bright pen-related spot. About three weeks ago, I purchased a gently used Cult Pens Mini Pen and five nibs (by Kaweco) from SBREBrown. The tracking info got messed up by a careless postal worker so I couldn’t track its progress from the Netherlands to the US. But having ordered from Fontoplumo recently, I knew that pens take about three weeks to arrive, which is exactly how it went.

Cult Pens Mini Pen

The pen and array of nibs arrived last week and have served as a nice distraction from the week’s events. Whether I’m doodling or writing a letter with the petite thing, it’s taken my mind off of our absent pets.

Cult Pens Mini Pen

We all know that Stephen has large hands, so it’s no surprise that this pen doesn’t really work for him. It is TINY—just 4.2″/105 mm capped, 4.9″/123 mm when posted. Unposted, it’s a mere 3.7″/93 mm, which means it really HAS TO be be posted to be usable. I’d watched Stephen’s video review so I knew exactly what I was buying. It’s a fun little pocketable pen that works fine for me. It’s truly darling.

BB nib

The pen arrived with the BB nib installed, so that’s what I’ve been using and it’s pure joy—juicy and smooth, and a nice diversion for someone who used to be all about EF and F nibs. It really is fun to branch out of a fine or medium rut. What really sold me on the pen was that Stephen included all of the available nibs—EF, F, M, B, and BB—with the pen. So this is a pen for all of my moods, which can swing to extremes—nibwise and otherwise.

Goodies from SBRE Brown

Along with the pen and the nibs, Stephen tucked a handwritten note and a couple of Fountain Pen Day bookmarks into the package. He also enclosed a packet of his favorite tea for “the full SBREBrown experience.” THAT made me smile in a week where smiles were sorely lacking.

Sometimes, it’s the little things that matter, the little things that make all the difference.

Worth a Look: Reclaimed Wood Pens, by Doug Mann, on Kickstarter

Reclaimed Wood Pens
Photo courtesy of Doug’s Kickstarter page

I haven’t been backing a lot of pen projects on Kickstarter lately, as per my desire to ratchet down the buying, BUT today I backed Doug Mann’s “Custom Handmade Pens” project.

Doug hasn’t asked me to plug his project and I have no prior experience with Doug, so proceed as you see fit. I just thought this project was worth a quick mention.

Doug’s from State College, PA and makes pens using traditional pen making processes combined with 3D printing technology. Interesting.

He uses reclaimed wood (as you’ve probably gathered from the name of the project) like:

  • Game-used MLB Bat Wood
  • WWII Crate Wood
  • Wood salvaged from the mountains of northeastern Kentucky

I like wooden pens, especially those with a bit of a story. Doug is making rollerball and fountain pens available as rewards.

If you do nothing else, give his video a look. It made me chuckle out loud. (No spoilers here!)

Reclaimed Wood Pen
Photo courtesy of Doug’s Kickstarter page

Doug’s project certainly appears to be worth a look. Click HERE to do so.

A Pen With Personality: The Waterman Phileas Fountain Pen

Waterman Phileas x2

If you were trying to set up the Waterman Phileas on a blind date, you’d probably say that it has a “great personality”— which is code for “not that great looking.” With its “marbled” plastic body, gold furniture, and art deco trim, this isn’t a pen that catches your eye. Some may even consider it a little bit ugly.

Art Deco trim

I met The Gentleman Stationer at the DC Pen Show, and though we didn’t chat for long, I could tell he was a good guy. So when he put a handful of his “surplus” pens up for sale, I took a look, liked the price of the Waterman Phileas he’d listed, and decided to go for it. Up to this point, I didn’t own any Watermans so that was some of the draw— the chance to try a new-to-me brand at a good price.

Green Marble Waterman Phileas

And like I said, when the pen arrived, its looks struck me as unremarkable, and sort of not my style. No chatoyancy, no gorgeous swirls, no rich colors. Oh, well, I thought, it’s only $35. Since the body on this one is green simulated marble, I inked it with Montblanc Irish Green and sat down with it and a piece of Tomoe River paper. Despite the “meh” looks, the minute that nib hit paper, I was a smitten. As I doodled and scribbled, I fell deeper in love with this Phileas, so much so that it actually started looking kind of cute. That funny looking pen shot an arrow right through my ink-loving heart.

Waterman Phileas two-tone nibs

I’ve had this green Phileas continuously inked since it arrived in November 2014. It’s become a go-to pen for letter writing and journaling, or just doodling to take the edge off of a stressful day. So, yeah, smitten. Who woulda thought?!

Blue Waterman Phileas

A few weeks ago I noticed a sale going on at Bertram’s Inkwell, so I took a look (despite my vow to rein in pen purchases this year). And well, whatta ya know, a blue marble Waterman Phileas was listed—again for just $35. I’d made that pen-buying pledge so I mulled this over for awhile before ultimately deciding to buy. (Bert offers a 30-day/100% purchase satisfaction guarantee, so that pretty much clinched the deal.) Even though I already own the green version, the fact that the Phileas is a discontinued Waterman model made this find all that much more appealing.

Writing samples

When the pen arrived, I noted that what is called “blue marble” is actually quite purple. I think Wahl-Eversharp’s Everberry ink—a nice purply blue—would be a great match, but for its first fill I went with Sailor Yama Dori. That ink’s not really a match, but it’s a color I love and use often for letter-writing (especially during this InCoWriMo month). I wondered if the first nib was a fluke, but no—this one is just as nice, though maybe a touch finer. That’s kind of nice—the fact that they don’t write exactly the same even though they’re both medium nibs. Both are phenomenally smooth—kind of “soft” feeling. I don’t mean that in the sense of flex (NOT like the softness on my Visconti Opera Elements nib), but in the way it glides over paper. Whispery. So nice and yet so hard to describe.

Waterman Phileas x2

Some quick research reveals that the Waterman Phileas model is from the late 1990’s and is no longer produced. That’s too bad because this pen would be absolutely perfect for a fountain pen novice—a really lovely nib at a great price. (Prices are kind of all over the place on these, no doubt due to the fact that it’s been discontinued.) If I make it to the DC Pen Show in August, I plan to keep my eyes open for some of the other colors—red marble, grey marble, and black—or other nib sizes. I’ve read that the broad nib is particularly glorious.

Uncapped Waterman Phileas

The cap snaps on and off and posts well. The filling system is cartridge/converter, which is fine by me—easy to clean and maintain. I do like the looks of the two-tone steel nib that sports just a hint of that art deco vibe. The pen is light (24g; 17g body, 7g cap), but not overly so—sort of “just right” in hand. It almost feels like it disappears, but again, I think that’s because the nib puts you in a little trance. Well, it puts ME in a little trance.

We all know that saying, “Not everything that glitters is gold.” The Waterman Phileas has taught me that the opposite is also true—not everything that’s gold (or super smooth steel) glitters.

Waterman Phileas x2

Just like that blind date with the great personality, you’ll soon find that there’s something very interesting going on under the unassuming surface of this pen. The Waterman Phileas—the more you get to know it, the better it looks.

Citrusy! The Faber-Castell Lime LOOM Fountain Pen

Faber-Castell LOOM

I had the Faber-Castell LOOM fountain pen on my radar for along time before hitting the “Buy Now” button. I can’t explain why as I’ve read and seen numerous favorable reviews, and have had nothing but great experiences with Faber-Castell nibs. The price— a modest $40-ish— wasn’t the hurdle, either. Whatever the reason, I found myself picking other pens to purchase while the LOOM languished on my Someday/Maybe list.

Lime LOOM

In October 2014, Fountain Pen Hospital ran a “flash sale,” and as I casually browsed the offerings, I noticed this Lime Green LOOM for a slightly reduced price. I like lime green almost as much as I like orange (when I’m in the mood for something bright), so why back-burner this pen yet again?

Unposted vs. Retro 51
Unposted LOOM vs. Retro 51 Tornado Rollerball

I inked the pen as soon as it arrived and found that any niggly hesitation I’d had was not at all warranted. The oversized cap sort of put me off initially, as it looks as though it’ll add an unwieldy amount of weight to the back of the pen when posted, but I haven’t found that to be the case. The pen is light and on the short side (4.7″) when unposted, and though perfectly usable, I prefer the added weight and length posting the cap adds (posted length is 5.9″). The cap snaps on with a convincing click, and posts deeply and securely. Even though the cap makes the pen look a little bit like a bobble-head, it’s actually not an issue.

Posted vs. Retro 1951 Rollerball

This pen’s body features the highly polished “Piano” finish, so, of course, it’s a fingerprint magnet. I give the pen a quick wipe after a writing session and all is well. If fingerprints give you a nervous twitch, you’d be better off choosing a LOOM with the “Metallic” (Matte) finish.

Nib and grip

The matte metal section features a series of raised ridges that help with grip, though I have to admit that I find the section to be a little slippery nonetheless. Because of the curved shape, and the fact that there isn’t any kind “stop” at the end of the section, my fingers tend to drift towards the nib, despite the added ridges. Since I’m a “low-gripper,” this doesn’t really bother me, but it’s worth noting.

Clip attachment
Integrated clip

End of body
The mirrored, concave end of the pen

The clip is spring-loaded and substantial, the branding is subtle, and the lime green color of the cap (other colors are available) pops in a wonderfully citrusy kind of way. But what I REALLY love is the nib. The fine nib on this pen (the only size available during the FPH sale) is super smooth— just like all of my other Faber-Castell pens. Because I’ve read so many great reviews about Faber-Castell nibs, even on the economical models, I have to assume that this is a company that has their nib QC down to a science. Pay a little or pay a lot— you still get a consistently great nib. I’ve had zero start-up issues, writing is silky smooth, and there’s never been a skip or a hesitation.

Oh, that nib!

Available from a variety of vendors (including Faber-Castell), in a number of colors, and in both matte and gloss finishes, the Faber-Castell LOOM is a pen that delivers great performance at a very reasonable price. Fountain pens not your thing? The LOOM is also available in rollerball and ballpoint formats.

After spending the past few months with this pen, I’m glad I finally moved the LOOM off of my Someday/Maybe list and onto the list of pens I own. It’s one that I keep consistently inked, usually with Sailor Yama Dori, and use it often for letter writing,  journaling, and note-taking. Because— wow— that nib!

Faber-Castell LOOM

In a nutshell:
+ Super smooth Faber-Castell steel nib
+ Springy, sturdy clip
+ Snap cap, posts securely and deeply
+ Matte grip section, mirror finish body and clip
+ Cartridge/converter
+ Subtle branding (jousting!) on cap, cap end, and nib
+ Not too heavy, not too light (25g body, 7g cap)
– Mirror finish is a finger-print magnet
– Some may find the grip a little slippery
– Converter NOT included

For a couple of other takes on the Faber-Castell LOOM, check out…
SBRE Brown’s video review HERE
Brian Goulet’s overview video HERE

Faber-Castell LOOM pens are available from:
ANDERSON PENS
FOUNTAIN PEN HOSPITAL
GOULET PENS