Posted in Ink, Reviews

A Little Wine with Your Ink?

One of my absolute favorite things about having fountain pens is the options when it comes to inks. Inks can be pigment or dye based, some are waterproof, some shimmer with glitter, and some are fragrant. There are so many options, so many colors, and shades, the nuances are incredible and some are made from wine. Today, I am highlighting a couple inks made from wine by de Artamentis of Germany. I don’t usually review or comment on inks, don’t be critical.

So Why Wine

Wine has been used in the manufacturing of ink since the Middle Ages. Wine, and sometimes vinegar beer, were used in place of water to mitigate the impurities introduced by water-borne contaminants. Sure, they wouldn’t bathe but they worried about their inks. Wine ink is not particularly popular in these times. A couple of the retailers I’ve spoken once sold wine inks but no more. Be warned, many ink names lead one to believe the ink is from wine when in fact the manufacturer is referring to the color and no wine was included in the recipe.

The Company Line

Wine has been added to ink. In accordance with traditional manufacturing processes. These inks consist of concentrated wine and some other ingredients which, for example, bind residual alcohol and the wine acid, and which improve the writing characteristics. Writing with pure, concentrated wine, no additional water is added to the ink. Furthermore, wine ink has unique writing behavior. It flows in an unmistakable, wonderful Red out of the nib. This Red is dependent on each wine. On paper, a chemical reaction occurs and oxidization occurs. Something very remarkable about these inks is the scent of wine, which caresses the nose. These inks fulfill the greatest demands regarding ink techniques and are suitable for all fountain pens. Writing with wine inks is an extraordinary experience and a symbol of the fine writing culture.

The Inks

  • Chianti –A deep crimson ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of blue-grey along the edges. 
  • Riesling –An ochre-colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow along the edges.
  • Brandy –A yellow-brown colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow and green along the edges.

In addition to eliminating water contamination, wine introduces alcohol which has two important properties; dries quickly and prevents fungus from growing in the ink.

Reference Material

Chianti
Riesling
Brandy

All three inks were fragrant, the most aromatic is the Riesling. I didn’t notice the aroma so much while using the ink as I did when I opened the bottle. The color of the written words look nearly the same to me, thus I introduced a little water, illustrating the color differentiation. As the ink dried the color stabilized to the shade you see.

I was a little biased towards the Chianti before the sampling. All three inks flowed well. Each feathered substantially on cheap paper so I switched to a 120 gsm paper used with watercolor.

If wine ink tickles your interest, in the US, sample size bottles are available from Vanness Pen Shop; in Europe, order directly from de Atramentis. I am not compensated for these recommendations.

Reference Material

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

Last month I reviewed the Kaweco Student Demonstrator. I really enjoyed the pen. I liked the feel, how it writes, and the pen aesthetics but the cap clip worries me. The cap is a screw-on and I’m probably a little overzealous when tightening the cap but each time I remove it the pen clip bends to the left or the right. How easy the cap clip blends worries me.

I’ve mixed up the usual suspects this month. The Pilot Prera and Parker Duofold are still inked. I have rotated out the Monteverde Black Tie. Replacing it with the Benu Skull pen.

For November, I have inked the Benu Skull pen. Look the skulls are smiling. I just published my review, and I’m enjoying it. BTW, this pen made my Wish List for 2022,

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started September with a review of August. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how the pens from last month fared and recap the month’s postings.
  • Kaweco Student – School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days The Kaweco Student made my 2022 wish list. I stumbled across a Student demo model at a really good price. It did not disappoint.
  • Celluloid – Real, Fake & FIRE! In this last discussion of my favorite vintage pen materials, I am presenting celluloid. Celluloid comes in a variety of formulas, and all are flammable so why would I like it as a pen?
  • Stylograph Black Sometimes things look better in the picture than in person. SURPRISE! And what a surprise it was. Did I mention it also smelled?
  • Happy All Hallows Eve Not all pens are created equally. Some are inspired by our childhood dreams of piracy and adventure. Sound exciting matie?
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling inspired (or lazy). Today it was lazy, so I will dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. This time I am going back 97 yesteryears and presenting a Waterman 52.

In the News

Conid Pens of Belgium is back and selling their bulkfiller fountain pens with the aid of new business partner Penworld who will be operating the retail front and worldwide sales.

Cosmo Air Light paper being discontinued Nippon Paper, manufacturer of Cosmo Air Light, has announced production termination of a number of papers, by March 2023. Demand for these papers has become so small that it is difficult to meet the minimum lot sizes required for production.

Book Banning

Florida’s Official New Book-Banning Council Was Quietly Packed With MAGA Moms. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “curriculum transparency” agenda, the Florida State Board of Education hastily assembled a council to create new restrictions for public school libraries and librarian training. Nominees with years of teaching experience were snubbed for self-nominated candidates including Michelle Beavers, the local chapter of the MAGA group Moms for Liberty.”

GOP candidate slammed at debate for obsession with book-banning. Michigan Governor candidates were asked how they would balance student access to inclusive literature with parental and teacher concerns. GOP candidate responded, “I stand with those parents that want to make sure we go back to the basics of reading, writing, and math in our schools.”

George M. Johnson’s young-adult memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue has become one of the most banned books in the U.S. The book is about growing up Black and queer. At least 29 school districts have banned the book because of its LGBTQ and sexual content. “Any time you write a book where you write about your truth, there are going to be people who want to silence that truth,”

Musings

During this holiday season, I was sneaky. For those of you who don’t understand, my daughter and I enjoy playing Halloween pranks on each other. She got me with spiders last month so I retaliated by decorating a doll to scare her. Dolls and clowns are some of the scariest things.

This year I used a porcelain doll. I placed it in her car, on the passenger floor. She puts her stuff on the passenger seat. I’m adding a before picture of the doll just to appreciate the transformation.

So I ask, would you be startled or scream if you found this doll in your car?

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Happy All Hallows’ Eve

I just thought this pen is the coolest.  Why? Well I have a fondness for black pens, plus I have a fascination for Día de los Muertos, and who doesn’t like pirates.  There are many “skull” pens on the market but this is the one for me.

The Company Line

Inspired by our childhood dreams of piracy and adventures. Rebellion and daring design is created for those who share the same ideals. Skillfully crafted by hand from glossy resin with its hand-friendly shape and black decorative ring the Classic Black BENU Skull Pen is a member of the Minima line of pens. Use a short international standard ink cartridge. Please note that due to the pen’s miniature size it CAN NOT be used with a standard size converter, only with mini converters that are no longer than 4.0 cm / 1.6 inches.

My Pen

I was super excited when I got this pen, and of course, I found a deal on it (40% off MSRP). I bought it for my birthday and gave it to my wife to give to me as a present (married life is great). This review will sound like I hate the pen and I am ranting, but really, I like the pen. I am highlighting how different this pen is.

Merely stating the obvious, it is a cigar-shaped black plastic pen covered with raised skulls and a screw-on cap. BTW, all the skulls are smiling. Since it lacks a cap clip it is difficult to determine which end is the cap and which end is not. If you take a minute to actually examine the pen, the cap is determined by the shorter distance from the cap band to the end or by the direction of BENU on the cap band. But really, who has time to examine the pen or read the logo each time they remove the cap. I only complain because I want the writing end of the pen in the hand I write with when the cap is removed.

The pen is made of resin which has a different feel and it sounds different. That sounds silly but it is the first thing I noticed when I held the pen – it feels different and when I ran my fingers along the barrel it sounded different. The next thing to note is that the pen is short and the cap cannot be posted, thus if you have a large hand or long fingers you will hate this pen.

It came with a #5, Schmidt, stainless steel nib with iridium tips. I choose the Medium width. Also included is a single short international cartridge. Benu recommends a “Kaweco Squeeze Fountain Pen Converter for the Sport & Liliput lines” if you prefer a converter. Plus Benu also states the pen can be converted to an eyedropper fill.

One final comment, this is a light pen. Benu says it weighs 18g, and with a fully charged ink cartridge installed mine only weighs 17g. I noticed no hand fatigue as I’ve used it consistently for a week.

After inserting the cartridge, it took a moment to start the ink flowing. It is a fairly wet nib, once the ink starts it likes to flow. The writing was initially a little scratchy but quickly smoothed with use.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length: 125mm
  • Uncapped length: 114.5mm
  • Barrel diameter: 16mm
  • Cap diameter: 16mm
  • Weighs in at 17g
COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Kaweco Student – School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days

The Kaweco Student made my 2022 wish list, though my interest was in the Student pen with the green cap. As we all know, I am a sucker for a deal and stumbled across a Student demo model at a really good price. I couldn’t say no.

Company Backstory

Kaweco is a German brand of writing implements, originally introduced by the Heidelberg Pen Company for its dip pens line in 1889. Kaweco became a public limited company in 1921, with an annual production of 130,000 fountain pens.

The company went bankrupt in 1930, Knust, Woringen & Grube (KWG) purchased the Kaweco company name, machines, stock, and patents. After the death of Frederik Grube, the company languished indeterminate until another bankruptcy in 1981. The brand was acquired in 1994 by the cosmetic company H&M Gutberlet Gmbh.

My Pen

As mentioned I purchased a Kaweco demo Student pen not the green one on my wish list. The pen is made from polished injection-molded acrylic with brass metal parts that are chrome plated, a stainless steel iridium-tipped nib, and accepts standard universal cartridges or converters. The pen is inspired by a design from the 1920s and ships in a retro gift tin. Ok, it’s not vintage but it is vintage-inspired.

Why demonstrator, welp the transparent design lets you see the internals, how much ink is left inside, and I think they are cool.

The clear acrylic barrel is crisp and clear while the chrome trim makes it pop – setting off its beauty. Not everyone likes a chrome or metallic section, that includes me but this demonstrator is the exception.

The barrel is not straight, it slowly tapers out to about mid-way then tapers inward to the end of the barrel.

The pen comes with 2 ink cartridges, of which only one is full. Good thing I have a syringe to refill the cartridges. I did find a converter at a really good price but I have put it off until refilling the cartridges becomes a problem or I simply get fed up. The pen accepts standard universal cartridges or converters but I’ve read reviews claiming this is not true. So make sure the converter is clearly approved for the Student.

The Kaweco logo is found on the end of the cap, the nib, and the feed.

The nib is stainless steel iridium-tipped nib. It is decorated with an etched scroll, the company logo, and the nib size, BB.

Time to insert the Royal Blue ink cartridge and give it a go. Compared to the Pilot CM nib the Kaweco BB is a pleasure and I like the CM nib.

Der Kaweco Student Demonstrator ist ein wunderbarer Stift. Ich habe einen neuen Favoriten und eine Lizenz zum Schreiben.

Vitals Statistics

  • Capped length, 131mm
  • Uncapped length, 119mm
  • Barrel diameter, 13mm
  • Cap diameter, 14.5mm
  • Weighs in at 26g

——————— Reference Material —————

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

Last month I reviewed the Monteverde Black Tie. I liked the feel and enjoyed how it writes but hated the pen. The cap would not stay securely attached resulting in an accident whereas I bent the tines. It’s a nice writing pen that cannot be trusted.

I’ve mixed up the usual suspects this month. The Pilot Prera is still inked and in use but I have rotated out the vintage Esterbrook J, and the Scrikss 419. Rotating in the Black Tie and the Duofold.

For October, I have pulled out the Kaweco Student Demonstrator. This pen made my Wish List for 2022,

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started September with a review of August. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how the pens from last month fared and recap the month’s postings.
  • Conklin Crescent Model 50 My pen is a Crescent Model 50 (aka S5) with a #5 nib and surprise it was in working order when I purchased it. The pen dates from 1918-1920. Looking good for her age.
  • “Black Tie” Optional I decided to delve into the Monteverdi catalog of pens finding the Black Tie. Unlike many pens, this one is made of carbon fiber and lots of chrome.
  • Casein “the most beautiful of plastics” Casein is a milk-derived plastic used to manufacture pens in the 1920s. It was very popular in England but never found an audience in the US.
  • Fountain Pen Ancestry, A Story Waiting to be Told I am highlighting the ancestry of 3 pens inscribed with their owner’s name. Maybe I have an overactive imagination or am hopelessly sentimental, each holds a story waiting to be known.
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling inspired (or lazy), I will dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. This time I am going back 90+ yesteryears and presenting a pen by George W Heath – bet you haven’t heard of him?

In the News

Beyond the keyboard: Fountain pen collectors find beauty in ink, The Washington Post sends a Philistine to the DC Fountain Pen Super Show. “Billed as the world’s largest. Display areas … teemed as pen enthusiasts made their way along aisles, testing nibs with calligraphical flourishes and holding the barrels of pens carefully in their hands….”

‘Oh God I hate this’: King Charles expresses frustration over leaking pen, “The new monarch was shown signing a visitor’s book in front of cameras at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast. He reacted after the pen he was using leaked on him….”I can’t bear this bloody thing … every stinking time,” Charles said as he walked away.”

Book Banning

Featuring book banning stories on Books of Brilliance.

Book Banning has Gotten Out of Control in the United States

“Book banning has been around for a long time but over the past year or so, it has increased tenfold. Many parents don’t want their kids to be reading certain books in school or libraries…. From July 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, 1145 books have been banned in school districts all over the United States”

LeVar Burton is not a fan of Book Banning

“I’ve been very, very, very clear about my position. And I’ve been very vocal. Read the banned books, ya’ll. If they don’t want you to read it, there’s a reason why. So read the books they don’t want you to read…”

Girls Who Code Founder Shocked By Book Being Banned

Pennsylvania’s Central York School District banned Girls Who Code without providing a reason for the ban. “They don’t want girls to learn how to code because that’s a way to be economically secure.” Reshma Saujani, the book’s author.

Musings

I have been searching for a vintage Conway Stewart casein pen and I may have found a couple. One includes the original manufacturer’s instructions which clearly specify “do not soak the pen in water,” but the color is meh. Another has colors that are impressive but the clip is heavily brassed. The search continues.

The Fall Equinox has come and gone thus begins the “holiday season.” The other morning I awoke to discover our kitchen had fallen victim to an infestation of plastic spiders. Last year I put 100 plastic spiders in our daughter’s bed – between the sheets. I did this one night when she working late at the hospital. We enjoy the Halloween season.

Also during the previous “holiday season,” I made up a doll to resemble Annabelle.

I crept into her house and strategically placed the doll on the back edge of the tub so that when she looked into the mirror she would see the doll behind her in the reflection….

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Reviews

“Black Tie” Optional

Company Backstory

Monteverdi is a US pen manufacturer that was purchased by Yafa which owns Conklin, Monteverdi, Marlen, Stipula, Maiora, Tibaldi, Diplomat, Pineider, Yookers, and Delta pen brands. Yafa has a very polarizing effect on pen users, either they love them or hate them – there is a very little grey. I happily am one of the few in the grey. The Monteverdi is my second pen within their portfolio. After a quick review of my blog, you will see I have written about the Yafa Conklin brand – sometimes good and sometimes not.

I decided to dip my toe into the Monteverdi catalog of pens. The Black Tie pen appealed to me. I researched, read some favorable and not-so-favorable reviews, and decided on the Black Tie. I got lucky and found a used Black Tie, agreeably priced so I took the plunge.

My Pen

The pen is a Monteverdi Invincia Black Tie made of carbon fiber surrounded by a clear lacquer finish. So what is Carbon Fiber? Welp, according to Wikipedia, it is the product resulting when carbon atoms are bonded together in crystals creating a fiber’s long axis with a high strength-to-volume ratio (in other words, it is strong for its size). Several thousand carbon fibers are bundled together and woven into a fabric. Carbon fibers are often combined with other materials to form a composite.

The carbon fiber that makes the barrel color scheme is achieved by weaving black and white ribbons of carbon fiber fabric.

Back to the pen, all accents (clip, section, end caps, barrel/cap rings, etc) are mirror chrome and sporting a medium stainless steel nib. The lacquer finish makes the pen feel cold and slippery. The cap is a snap-on.

The section unscrews providing access to a removable ink converter. The converter is made of semi-translucent green plastic thus making it impossible to know the color of the ink in the reservoir.

I inked up the pen and the ink started flowing immediately. The nib is a bit scratchy, (one of the reasons I laugh at the iridium claim) but otherwise writes well, for the price.

The Issue

As I mentioned, the cap is a snap-on, which I don’t feel securely attaches to the barrel. The slightest pressure will force the cap loose.

I was seated on the patio as I reached for the pen, securing hold of it by the cap, and weeeeeee the pen went flying across the patio. The result was a bent tine which I did correct with some effort using dapping tools.

I haven’t detected any damage to the writing surface on the tines.

I have been applying multiple coats of shellac to the inside of the cap in the hope it will result in the cap becoming more secure. So far I am still hoping.

After fixing the bent tine, I was feeling a Dilbert moment. As you can see the pen wrote well.

The Opinion

The bottom line is this, the pen cap does not securely attach to the barrel and it will come off. Possibly resulting in damage to the nib. This is very disappointing as I like the pen.

Vitals

  • Capped length: 135mm
  • Uncapped length: 124mm
  • Barrel Diameter: 13.5mm
  • Cap Diameter: 14.5mm
  • Weighs in at 47g
COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Esterbrook Jr (‘J Reborn’) Pocket Pen

The Esterbrook JR Pocket Pen is part of the modern Esterbrook’s revival of the brand with the pen being a call back to one of vintage Esterbrook’s most popular pens, the Esterbrook J.

I inked up my pen to start July and it was a bust. The ink simply stopped flowing. I felt I needed to give the pen a fair shake; an honest review and try using it again.

Back in the day (the 40s and 50s) the Esterbrook J series was as familiar as a Bic ballpoint or Pilot G2 gel pen today. They were affordable, dependable, and offered enough variety to be popular. The brand shuttered in 1971. The brand was reborn in 2014, Harpen Brand Holdings, acquired the rights to the “Esterbrook” brand name, releasing a series of pens. Four years later, Kenro Industries acquired the brand, making rebirth a tenant of the company’s vision. The JR Pocket Pen is modeled after the classic Esterbrook J.

Vintage J and the JR Pocket

My Pen

Is mostly a black pen with some noticeable silver swirls deep in the acrylic body and cap. This color is known as Tuxedo. I have a thing for black pens and this color scheme is intriguing to me. I was visiting the Esterbrook/Kenro web site, getting my facts correct when I saw a JR Pocket pen – Pumpkin Latte. I have to admit it is very attractive and worth a look if you have a thing for unique pens.

Writing with the JR is quite a pleasant experience. The lightweight acrylic section has a natural grip area, providing a comfortable place for fingers.

The nib of the pen is etched with the new Esterbrook X logomark upgrading the look, maybe they were inspired by Montblanc? The nib is a JoWo #6 B(road) palladium (their description). I assume it is stainless steel and the tip is palladium.

Esterbrook was known for their interchangeable nib system. The obvious question is “does the JR Pocket Pen have a converter to accept vintage Esterbrook nibs?” NOPE. Apparently, Esterbrook/Kenro has under development an adaptor for the JR Pocket Pen similar to the adapter available for the Estie. The adaptor permits using vintage Esterbrook nibs in the Esterbrook/Kenro pen. The adaptors are not interchangeable amongst Esterbrook/Kenro pens.

The section with the new style exchangeable nibs is worth noting. The section has metal screws to secure it to the barrel which has screws engraved into the acrylic- not sure how well this arrangement will last long term. The new nib screws into the section, protruding aft providing the nipple for the converter or ink cartridge.

Yes I paid a visit to the hobby supply store and they were have a 50% off sale on paper. I’m liking the Paisley – you?

I inked it up the converted with Serenity Blue. It took a little effort kick starting the ink flow but once it started…. I’ll use it for the next 2 weeks and report.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 125.5mm
  • Uncapped length. 118mm
  • Barrel diameter. 11mm
  • Cap diameter. 13.5mm
  • Weighs in at. 18g
Posted in Pens, Reviews

The Conklin Empire (Strikes Back)

The Empire

According to Conklin, the word empire means absolute control and the inspiration for their design. In actuality, it is inspire by the last pen designed by Conklin prior to the Yafa Brands acquisition, but let’s not get technical.

My Pen

This is the third Conklin (Yafa Brands) that I have reviewed. So far they are batting 500. The All American grew on me while the nib on the Duraflex Element was so appalling I sold the pen.

Conklin Empire (top) vs Conklin All American (bottom)

As you can see they are comparable in length but the All American is fluffier (we don’t say “fat” in the household, we don’t want to hurt its feelings). The Empire is just as heavy as its big sibling the All American – yes, it is a solid pen. The pen color is designated as “oatmeal.”

The very first time I inked up the pen and the ink converter filled completely! I’ve never had a converter fill this full. The ink is Diamine Aurora Borealis. The last time I used this ink I wasn’t impressed, but I’m giving it a second chance.

According to Conklin, the torpedo-shaped pen has a fluted cap and body design created from a shimmering acrylic resin. Torpedo-shaped pens are not high on my list of faves. Yes, I have several, I prefer the blunt-ended pens similar to a Duofold. That being said, there was something oddly appealing to me in the design of the pen; let’s read on.

The design is different but not so much as to be odd or weird. All hardware including the nib and section is stainless. The clip is attached by the typical Conklin method – a small metal flange. The ‘Conklin’ logo is stamped into the clip.

The body and cap contain a distinctive fluted. Both ends of the pen are squared. I would not post the cap. The pen is then 175mm long and you are liable to poke your eye out.

The medium nib is steel (I believe it is a German-made JoWo) as is the section. A couple times the nib “stuttered” when first contacting the paper. The Conklin website indicates the default nib is a two-tone omniflex, clearly not the nib on this pen. The nib writes better when the hand motion is slower. It writes well, a significant improvement over a Duraflex.

The pen sports a hidden mechanism, an all-new twist magnet lock system that allows a swift, soft, and pleasing operation of the cap. The barrel behind the section contains 4 tiny fins. These fins guide the cap onto the barrel until the magnets take hold of the cap then the audible click indicates the cap is secured.

Now that it’s inked up, let’s give it a go.

Welp, I was doodling with it and a couple of the usual suspects. Can’t say I knew what I was drawing but I liked the medium nib. The pen is heavy and fluffy. I’m thinking the weight will tire my hand.

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length. 144mm
  • Uncapped length. 128mm
  • Barrel diameter 14mm
  • Cap diameter 15mm
  • Weighs in at 31g
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Pilot Prera

Pilot is the largest pen manufacturer in Japan. Manufacturing the majority of their pens in Japan, France, and the US. In 1963, Pilot entered the fountain pen market with the introduction of the Capless. Unlike other fountain pens, the Pilot Capless featured a fully retractable nib. The Capless was reintroduced as the Vanishing Point in 1972.

Unlike other fountain pens, the Pilot Capless featured a fully retractable nib. The Capless was reintroduced as the Vanishing Point in 1972.

Pilot Namiki Capless

Sorry, I took you down this rabbit hole. I had to include a couple pictures of a Pilot Namiki Capless. I’m totally into this design and the color. Now back to the Prera.

My Pen

I picked up a Pilot Prera Clear, also known as the Prera Iro-Ai with a medium calligraphy nib. It has a beautifully clean look that reminds me of a TWSBI. Oh and this is my first Japanese pen.

Pilot Prera Iro-Ai

The pen ships in a box with a clear hinged top. The pen is a demonstrator style (another first), providing visibility to the inner workings of the pen. The acrylic body is accented with tasteful pops of transparent color at each end (I choose amber, but you can get other colors). It is lightweight thus easy on the hand. The workmanship is impressive down to the smallest detail. When reseating the cap, there is a cushioned click as the cap finds home.

All the metalwork is chrome. The clip is attached to a blind cap, there are chrome rings at each end of the pen and a cap band. Another chrome band where the section and barrel meet and where the nib meets the section. The cap has a semi-translucent white liner and white printed design with the Prera logo above the cap band.

The pen came with a black ink cartridge and a pre-installed CON-40 converter. The converter has 4 tiny steel balls in it – I guess to keep the ink shaken not stirred. The barrel separates from the section after 4 complete turns. The transparent body lets you admire the ink and monitor the remaining ink levels. Personally, I thought it was cool admiring the ink within the section supplying the feed.

The nib is a steel medium calligraphy point. It is plain compared to some nibs – I think it looks like a Lamy. “Pilot” is laser etched on the nib, along with the type (CM in this case) and “Japan.” It is a straight tip nib, it is not oblique, measuring 1mm across.

Overall, the pen feels very well made, it is ergonomic, lightweight and the steel nib is thin enough that you can use the pen for everyday writing. And my favorite feature, the price. This pen is available for $30-$40 depending on the seller and nib.

Just Doodling

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 120mm
  • Uncapped length 107mm
  • Barrel diameter 12mm
  • Cap diameter 13mm
  • Weighs in at 16g

Other Reviews

Posted in Reviews, Stories

Eco Friendly Stuff, The Review

At the end of November on Cyber Monday, I highlighted some eco-friendly pen and journaling options. To be transparent, I do not have any vested financial interest in any of the products but I was intrigued and willing to try some out, thus I made some purchases.

For Christmas, my wife got me (she also got me a pen, imagine her surprise) eco-friendly pencils, a fountain pen, and a journal. Let’s see how well they did and what did they cost me.

Rainbow Recycled Paper Pencils, wood and plastic free.

The pencils write and act well… like pencils. I put one in an electric pencil sharpener, no issues there, it took a perfect sharp point. Some Amazon reviewers complained about this but I had no issues. I love the rainbow color. The pencil is made from recycled paper and is wood and plastic-free. The writing material is of premium #2 HB pencil lead, conform with EN71 and ISO9001. When I put the pencil to work, the point did not break (another popular complaint). I was sketching a plan for built-in bookcases, I feel I gave the pencils a good workout. At $1/pencil it’s not the cheapest alternative but I can find plenty of more expensive wood pencils.

Zenzoi bamboo fountain pen

The pen cost $24, is handmade, and is classified as a calligraphy pen! I’m not entirely sure why, as it came with a German medium iridium nib. In the Q&A section another purchaser described it as a medium-bold point pen nib, not flat like a calligraphy nib, it’s more like a Speedball B-6 nib. With a name like Zenzoi, yes it is made in China for Germany. The pen is considered eco-friendly because it is made from bamboo, which as we all know is grass.

Zenzoi, a bamboo pen in a bamboo case

The barrel has a smooth finish with just a slight textured feel. The two blind end caps are rough. I am fighting the desire to get out the Danish Oil and apply a finish to the pen.

The converter is the type that is just pushed into the section. At the end that operates the plunger-screw mechanism is easily detached allowing access for cleaning. In the spirit of being green, I inked it up with Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume. The ink writes wet, no sheen, and minor feathering.

Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 145mm,
  • Uncapped length 123mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11.5mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Decomposition Notebook

The Decomposition Notebook turned out to be a fake. I know Caveat Emptor but I got it from Amazon and assumed (yes I know about ass-u-me). The good news, is it only cost me $6 and it is no longer available. I recommend going directly to Decomposition where the books are 50%-100% post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks. I noticed a couple pocket or field journals, maybe I’ll get one, compare it to the fake, and review it.

On a side note, we have started using cloth unpaper towels in place of paper towels for most clean-ups. They are attractive, highly absorbent, and come in a pack of 10. Alternatively, I guess I could have used hand towels or dishwashing clothes but really, they aren’t as attractive, and honestly, they are not as absorbent.

The Unpaper Towels