Tuesday, November 21, 2017

FRARA ROAD LEATHER PEN ROLL REVIEW

Frara Road Leather pen roll review
When it comes to carrying my pens, I'm quite a conservative person. I never really liked the idea of pen rolls, and rather stuck to my trusty Visconti Dreamtouch cases until now. 

You see, my irk with most pen rolls is that the design never feels practical to me. Surprisingly, a lot of them have very wide pockets, which are meant to accompany more than one pen at a time. That obviously means the pens (or clips) can touch.

Now I might just be the most overprotective pen weirdo ever -I take full credit for that- but I really don't like the idea of throwing some expensive pens in a pen roll and have them damage eachother in the process. That's kind of what I want to avoid in the first place when I pick out a pen case. So that's where the Frara Road pen leather pen roll steps in... 
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
Frara Road is a young brand created by two brothers. They are based in South Africa, and make a curated selection of leather writing accesories. I saw this pen roll online and was immediately intrigued by the simple -and seemingly clever- design. Special thanks to Jesse and Jamie, who were kind enough to send one of these cases over for this review.

The design...well it's a pen roll, so the name says it all. It's a piece of leather that holds your pens and rolls up into a cylindrical shape. If you look at different pen rolls, they are all similar, yet each brand has a slightly different take on how they think it should look. In my opinion, these different designs either work or they don't...this one belongs to the first category.
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
I like what Frara Road did with the design. They kept the entire thing simple and straightforward. The edges are straight and are folded over to give a clean finish and add some strength. Everything is cut and stitched neatly. They use normal thread to stitch all the details, which might prove a little less durable than the thick waxed thread you often see on leatherwork. But, at least from my experience, it definitely feels solid and well put together.
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
The dark brown full grain leather is extremely soft and supple. The leather is thick enough to offer protection, but not too thick so that it doesn't add unnecessary bulk. The finish on the leather already looks 'broken in' when it arrives, with minor scuffs and wrinkles right out of the box. It also has a very pleasant soft matte feeling in the hand, and of course that fantastic smell new leather goods have. 
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
The case is held closed with a leather strip that is stitched to one side of the roll. I like how it cleanly folds behind the back when you lay the case flat open on a table. The entire thing rolls up to a tight package, and the leather band can be threaded through an oval hole to secure it. The back of the leather has some texture that really grips onto the loop to give a secure fit. The closure mechanism takes some time to get used to, but it's very minimal and it works quite well. Perhaps some stitches around the hole would make it a bit more durable. But again, it doesn't look like it will break or wear out anytime soon.
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
I've been throwing this case in and out of my bag for a few months now, and can't really notice any aging. The leather picks up scuffs and scratches, but it blends in nicely with the 'aged' surface finish that it already had upon arrival. The leather doesn't seem to pick up oils as much as I thought it would, so it hasn't become shinier so far (after about 2 months of use).
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
In terms of size, it's a good bit longer and thicker than the Visconti Dreamtouch pen case, which also holds 6 pens. But the shape is completely different, so depending on your needs this might actually be better suited for you. The shape of the pen roll makes it easy to hold in your hand, while the slimmer profile of the Visconti case might be better suited to fit a briefcase. The Frara Road pen roll measures 18.5 cm (7.3") by 7.5 cm (3") when closed, and 30.5 cm (12") by 28 cm (11") when opened flat. The leather itself is about 2mm thick, but it's two layers thick in most places, so give or take 4mm total. 

Perhaps the only downside about a pen roll like this, is that it's quite large when opened flat. You can tuck away the protective flap to reduce the size a bit, but it still takes up a good chunk of real estate on your desk. That being said, it does lay flat and you can see your pens when it's on the table, whereas the flap of the Visconti Dreamtouch case always closes automatically. 
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
But how does it do in terms of protection? Let's just say that I still don't trust it as much as the Visconti Dreamtouch case when it comes to protection. I'm sure by now you heard me ramble about the Visconti case more than enough, but the hard shell design just makes it a really safe and sturdy option to take your precious pens along. That being said, Frara Road comes in on a close second. The leather has a pleasantly soft back side that hugs your pens and doesn't leave scratches. Each pocket is just tight enough to hold each pen securely in place, yet large pens do still fit (up to a MB 149 is no problem). I like that the pens don't move around, especially smaller pens don't fall all the way down into the slots. 
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
The case can accomodate surprisingly large pens. Pens of up to 16 cm long (like the Franklin Christoph 66 Stabilis) are no problem and fit right in. The protective flap covers the top part of the pens so that they don't touch when you roll up the case. The fact that the slots are tight enough on itself means that you don't have to clip the pens to the slot to keep them in place. As a result, the clips don't stick out either, so there's no possibility of pens damaging each other... My OCD sense of pen-overprotectiveness is pleased! 

One thing to note is that the fibrous texture on the back side of the leather does leave small pieces of lint everywhere and on your pens, especially during the first few weeks. All in all it's a minor nuissance on an otherwise great product, and most of those loose fibres go away after a couple weeks of use. 
Frara Road Leather pen roll review
I'm seriously impressed with the Frara Road pen roll, they delivered a top notch product. It has become part of my everyday carry ever since I got it, and it's the perfect companion to my Visconti cases (that I still prefer to use for more expensive pens). The design is stylish and minimalistic, the build quality is top notch, and most importantly: it does a great job protecting your pens! Pricewise, they hit a solid sweet spot in the 75 USD range, which is quite competitive compared to other brands on the market.

Note: This product was provided by Frara Road, free of charge, so I could write this review.  I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

RE-REVIEW: EDISON COLLIER FOUNTAIN PEN

Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
The first time I reviewed the Edison Collier, it caught me by surprise. I wasn't completely convinced of the bulky, rounded design of the pen. And on top of that I'm not a fan of materials with multiple colors or busy patterns, which coincides with about 95% of all 'custom' pens, like the ones from Edison. But it was such an amazingly comfortable writer, and the design was so much cooler in person that I became an instant Edison-fanboy... So much so, that I recently got another one when I saw the new  Edison Collier Burnished Gold pop up at Scrittura Elegante

If you haven't read my original review of the Edison Collier (HERE), I suggest you start with that one before coming back here for a more comprehensive and complete review of the pen. In this Re-review I'll highlight the important things, and how my opinion about the pen changed (or not).
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
The new Burnished Gold was an immediate win in my book. I was literally sold as soon as I saw the first product shots online. For those that are wondering what 'Burnished Gold' is, it's the new material option Edison introduced to the production line of the Collier.

Without a doubt, it's this material that won me over. Unlike most acrylic materials that you see on custom pens, the Collier Burnished gold comes in a very subtle and subdued black-brown colorway with streaks of gold dust randomly scattered across the pen.
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Surprisingly, whereas I was immediately sold on the less colorful material, I haven't really seen or heard much about it from other people. While that's odd to me, I'm well aware of the fact that most people actually enjoy the bright colors and mesmerizing patterns that can be found on the myriad of other materials available out there! It won't satisfy the color-crazed among you. But for me personally, I think Edison found a fine balance between a striking yet subtle material.
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Depending on the lighting and how you hold the pen, the gold streaks show up
It's by far one of my favourite acrylic materials that I've come across. It's one you have to see in person to really appreciate the depth and color. When the light hits it right, the depth in the gold swirls comes through.

The design of the pen is still somewhat quirky if you ask me. The weird -slightly bulbuous- shape with kind of flat-top design and pointed bottom finial originally didn't speak to me at all. But I do think the new material suits the shape of the pen better... Or I simply got used to it over time?
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
L to R: Kaweco Sport, Pelikan Souverän M800, Montblanc 149, Edison Collier, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
As I mentioned in the original review, the Collier is quite the oversized pen. It measures in at 15 cm (5.9"), and the bulky shape (1.6 cm at the widest point) makes it appear even larger. As you can see from the comparison picture, it completely puts the Montblanc Meisterstück 149 and Pelikan Souverän M800 in the shadow. And look how tiny the Lamy Safari appears next to it! 

While I'm quite a fan of larger pens, it's undoubtedly not everyone's cup of tea. Yet for what it's worth, it's large but not unweildy. Entirely being made out of acrylic, it weighs in at only 26 grams.
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Once again, I find myself in love with the comfortable concave shaped section. The section is relatively short, and the shape is quite pronounced, but the design just works for my hand. Comfort is what won me over originally, and two years after my original review this still holds true. Again, your mileage may vary. Especially if you don't like large pens or have smaller hands.
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Edison equips their pens with JOWO nib units. I originally reviewed the Collier with a bi-color steel nib, but 18k Gold nibs can be had at a premium. Since I was already impressed by their steel nibs I wanted to see what the gold ones could do. I ordered mine with an 18k broad, which has the same two-tone gold color scheme as the steel nibs, but a slightly different (less cluttered) design on the nib face. 

The gold nib is smooth and wet. It's ever so slightly springier than the steel nib, but I'd still call this a stiff nib. It's an excellent performer, but so are the steel nibs. I don't know if it's worth the 100 dollar premium over the steel nibs. I personally like the design of the gold nib better, but the difference in performance alone probably wouldn't be enough to win me over. 
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish
Two years in, and I still think the Edison is a fantastic pen. Even more so now that I found a material that better suits my personal style! It's a fantastic writer, and one of the more comfortable pens I can think of off the top of my head. Coming in at 140 EUR/150 USD for steel-nibbed versions, or 263 EUR/ 250 USD with an 18k gold nib (even semi-flex nibs at an additional premium), Edison's products are priced rather competitively when compared to similar products on the market.

Especially if you want to dabble into the world of 'bespoke' custom pens, a brand like Edison might be a good start. Ok, their production pens aren't really made to your specifications. But the end product is essentially the same, and usually at a fraction of the cost (with popular bespoke brands running in the 250-400 dollar range for base models with steel nibs!)

Note: Scrittura Elegante is a sponsor of this blog. I received a discount on the purchase of this product. I was in no way influenced in the making of this review, the opinions shared in this review are completely my own! This post does not contain affilate links. 
Re-Review: Edison Collier Fountain pen in the new Burnished Gold finish

Saturday, November 11, 2017

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT - FOUNTAIN PEN DAY 2017 GIVEAWAY

First of all: I hope you all had a fantastic fountain pen day, filled with ink-stained hands, juicy nibs and especially LOTS of fun! 

One week later, our FPD giveaway -in collab with the fantastic people over at Scrittura Elegante- has come to an end. I'd like to quickly thank Scrittura Elegante for sponsoring this amazing package, and for the continued support of the blog! Also, thanks to the 350 (!) awesome people who entered this competition! But enough chit chat, let's get right to the winner announcement, shall we?

The winner of the fountain pen care package is.... (imaginary drumroll in the background) 

Scott D.!!!

Congratulations Scott! I'll send you an email shortly so we can get the package mailed out to you asap! Thanks again to everyone who entered! Didn't win? If you feel like buying some of these products yourself, definitely check out Scrittura Elegante!