Sunday, March 22, 2015

Pelikan M1000 on Massdrop!

I'm a sucker for Pelikan pens, it has to be said! I bought an M805 about half a year ago, and it all went down from there, a few months back I bought an M1000, and it's safe to say that I'll probably add another one to the flock this year! (Think Stresemann or the M805 Demonstrator that was introduced a couple of weeks ago)

Pelikan M1000 fountain pen closed

So that's why I wanted to share with you that Massdrop now has a great deal on the M1000. The sales end in three days, and they are offered at a really competitive price point! If you're ready to splurge on a pen like this, I'd say check out the drop HERE. They are available in the green striped version seen on these pictures, or in solid black with gold trims, nib sizes are EF, F, M or B.

I should note that I'm not sponsored, supported or affilated with or by Massdrop at all! I genuinely think Pelikan makes awesome pens, and I wanted to let you know about this great deal. If you want to read my review about the Pelikan M1000, click here!

Pelikan M1000 fountain pen in hand

Monday, March 16, 2015

Inktastic: Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho
Ah yes, Iroshizuku ink! It's been quite a while since I last bought another bottle of this wonderful stuff, which is probably -certainly- because of its price. But even then, at the price of two bottles of Montblanc or Pelikan Edelstein ink, I couldn't resist getting some more of it. The color I chose this time is Ina-Ho (Translated: Rice ear). I actually wasn't planning on buying this specific color, but once I saw it in real life, I was smitten...

Ina-Ho is a rather light brown, almost gold-ish color. Brown-gold really is the only way I could describe it. As an Iroshizuku ink, I expected nothing less than perfection, which is exactly what I got. The color is absolutely gorgeous, both bright, vivid and relatively subdued at the same time! I wrote this with my Pelikan M1000 with BB nib, which has a gusher of a nib, and I think that's where this ink belongs. I didn't try it out with a dry writer yet, but I'm guessing it would get a lot lighter, and lose part of it's appeal. 

This is not at all an EDC ink, I guess, except if you like your important documents to have a bit of a yellow color accent to it. It's not one I'd use for taking notes in class, that's for sure! 

Ina-Ho has great shading properties, especially in combination with wetter nibs. It dries relatively fast, doesn't bleedthrough most decent paper, and it doesn't have the tendency to feather. 

Pilot Iroshizuku ink is expensive, really expensive! Where I live, a bottle of Iroshizuku costs about 35-40 Euros, which is ridiculous. Luckily it can be found for less, if you search around carefully. In the end, it's a matter of choosing between another pen and a bottle of this. But every now and then, I think it's well worth it! 

As a little extra for you, dear readers, I've made some more pen p0rn wallpapers, you can find them over HERE
DISCLAIMER: These pictures are not watermarked, personal use is fine, but please be kind and don't copy or spread them without asking me first.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Diplomat Excellence A Plus ballpoint pen

Diplomat Excellence A Plus Ballpoint pen

It shouldn't come as a surprise: I'm not a huge fan of ballpoint pens! Give me a solid fountain pen or a fun pencil and I'm happy, but ballpoints just never really seem to do the trick for me. That being said, I do appreciate the effort Diplomat put in this ballpoint version of the Excellence A Plus. It's a hefty thing, pretty top-heavy, as is the case with a lot of ballpoints, but it's very well-made and it actually looks quite good, especially when paired with the matching fountain pen (Of which I did a review here). 

The Excellence Plus has a pretty standard form factor, as is the case with the Excellence fountain pens. There's nothing wrong with going for a conservative looking pen though, as a design like this will probably never go out of style. Same as with the fountain pen, the Plus ballpoint improves over the previous version with a spring-loaded clip, which is a nice extra, although I'm not certain if it's worth the premium.

Whereas the Plus fountain pen added both the redesigned clip AND a threaded cap, the ballpoint pen doesn't. The new clip is the only difference from the older model, however you'll pay the same premium as with the Plus fountain pen. If you like to clip your pens to your shirt pocket or alike, this one might be worth the 30 or 40 EUR premium (The new clip is indeed easier to use.), but I probably wouldn't bother spending the extra money on it.

The twist-mechanism operates smoothly, and it satisfyingly clicks into place. Operating the mechanism one-handed is a bit of a stretch, but it's doable (Strangely, it requires a longer turn than the fountain pen to open, at about half a turn). The tip of the refill fits snugly through the nose cone, which results in little or no rattling noise when writing, it's a small detail, but it does show how precise the manufacturing process is.

Diplomat goes for pure quality. When you hold this pen, or any other Diplomat pen for that matter, you'll see what I mean. Every Diplomat that passed my hands so far has been incredibly well made. Fit and finish are always spot on. Which, together with the sturdy metal construction, makes these pens extremely solid and durable.

Whereas the fountain pen has a pretty solid, chunky grip section, the barrel of the ballpoint has quite a noticeable taper to it, which means it gets rather thin towards where I use to grip it. I wasn't blown away by the comfort when in use, wich might be partially to blame on the fact that I tend to write quite heavy-handed with ballpoint pens. It's also a rather heavy pen, which didn't really help either. After about ten minutes or so of continuous writing, my hand would become slightly cramped.

The Excellence takes standard parker-style refills so you have quite a lot if choice to swap it out for something different. According to Diplomat, they use Shmidt Easyflow refills in their high-end ballpoint pens, which is a good choice. It has a smooth, consistent flow, and the ink is nice and dark. One thing I did find was that it often didn't dry as fast as I wanted it to, resulting in a couple of smeared out letters (as you might be able to see in the written review!)

I'm pretty self-conscious about the fact that I'm probably not the best person to review a ballpoint pen. I just don't use ballpoint pens all that often. And when I do use them, it's because of the convenience rather than comfort or writing experience.

As with the Excellence fountain pen, you can clearly see that this is a high quality writing instrument, the amount of effort and thought Diplomat puts into their products is clearly noticeable. Personally, I don't think it can match the fountain pen price/quality-wise. At around 140 EUR /160 USD (estimated) it's a solid option, but it's not the best in its class.

Ask me what to do with that kind of money, I'd suggest going for the Excellence fountain pen, even if it requires some more saving. But if you already own the fountain pen, and you want a matching ballpoint, regardless of the price, there's no reason not to go for this one. Going for one of the regular Excellence A pens is also still a valid option, it will save you some bucks and you get the same high-quality writing instrument!

Note: this pen was sent to me by Diplomat, free of charge, so I could try it out and write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, nor was I monetarily compensated. The opinions shared in this review are completely my own!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Les Plumes de L'ange 'Blanc & Bleu' fountain pen

Les Plumes de L'ange 'Blanc & Bleu' fountain penTo make an affordable, though high quality pen, that's the main idea behind the new Belgian brand: Les Plumes De L'ange. Did they succeed? Let's find out...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Original Crown Mill correspondence paper

Original Crown Mill correspondence paper

I've been blogging for over one and a half years now, and despite being a rather seasoned pen collector for years, I never wrote any letters up untill now. I had never been in contact with correspondence paper either. My trusty Rhodia pads always did the job, so why would I buy even more expensive paper?

But recently, I started writing letters with a fellow-blogger, and I received the most amazing letter I had ever seen in my life, written on hand-laid paper of course. I did my very best to write a decent letter on my Rhodia pad, but no matter how hard I tried, it didn't even get close to looking as good as the one I received. It wasn't difficult to figure out why a silly piece of white ruled paper (no offence Rhodia...) couldn't match the luxurious look and feel of the handmade paper. So off I went to the stationery shop...

And there I found this, 'Original Crown Mill' laid paper and matching envelopes. I had heard of the brand before, but never reached out for it. Original Crown Mill is specialised in making high-quality paper, and the best thing about it: It's made in Belgium! I honestly feel somewhat ashamed for not knowing a pen-related brand situated only 50 or 60 miles away from my house!

The paper comes wrapped in plastic foil, and is protected by a hard cardboard backing to keep the sheets nice and flat. There's 50 sheets per pack, and they aren't bound together. It's a bit tricky to stash a pile of paper that isn't held together in any way, but at least you won't risk damaging the paper while removing a sheet from the stack. I don't think presentation on something else than a pen is really important or noteworthy, so I'll leave it at that (not that there is any noteworthy presentation anyway really...).

First thing I noticed: it's seriously heavy paper! at 135 grams per square meter, it's more than 60 percent heavier than most Rhodia paper. There's also a 200 gram version, which is not really meant for correspondence , but rather for cards and artsy stuff. 

Of course, the most interesting aspect of laid paper is the texture. The subtle horizontal lines give the paper it's character, and make for an interesting experience when writing. I expected the texture to be quite noticeable and annoying, but most pens work perfectly fine, only my Lamy 1.5 stub had some issues to get a consistent flow going, but it also does that on other paper.

The heavy, cream-colored paper handles pretty much every pen very well. It's very feather and bleedthrough resistant, despite its rather fibrous appearance. In the end, a permanent  marker was needed to get consistent showtrough and some bleedthrough. But as long as you only use one side of the paper, even permanent markers are still perfectly usable, it didn't even feather. Very impressive! The fibrous paper has quite a bit of texture to it, which means it's not as smooth as Rhodia paper, but it has endlessly more character and style to it! I also found out that it takes away some contrast and shading from your inks, but it gives solid, consistent performance in return. Which sounds like a fair deal to me.

I'm completely smitten! This Original Crown Mill paper really impressed me on pretty much every aspect. I never thought I'd find anything better than Rhodia paper, which- don't get me wrong- is still the smoothest of the bunch, but this is it! Writing on this kind of paper is an experience on its own, and the performance is excellent! I paid about 8 EUR/ 9 USD for the paper and another 6 or 7 EUR for the envelopes, which is a bit more than Rhodia paper, and it's only fifty sheets instead of eighty, but I'd still consider it a pretty good deal.