Monday, May 21, 2018

ENSSO PIUMA RAW AL & STONEWASHED TI FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
Not to exaggerate, but the Ensso Piuma fountain pens -when I first looked at them (you can read my original review HERE), kind of set a new standard for metal pens of its kind... Ok that may sound like a bit of an overstatement, but still it remains one of the most thought-out yet minimalist metal fountain pens available.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
The Ensso Piuma and Namisu Nova! Which one is your favourite?
As much as I enjoy the Namisu Nova (You probably know by now that I have a thing for minimalist metal pens!), it's a design piece first and foremost. In terms of functionality, it's not THE most comfortable pen ever. The Ensso Piuma improves on the Nova by creating a rather successful symbiosis of design and functionality. Let's quickly go over the design again because that's nothing new. These two new pens differ solely in their finishes from the original three material options (matte black Al, brass and polished Ti).

The Piuma is a thoroughbred minimalist piece, without a doubt. It's not as uptight and 'strict' in appearance though. The rounded bullet shape gives it a more 'organic' (for lack of a better word) look that is easier on the eyes. The design... it just works! It might just be me, but I think it's very elegant; The metal counterpart to a Nakaya almost.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
L to R: raw Al, polished Ti, stonewashed Ti
The new finishes: raw aluminium and stonewashed titanium are both quite possibly my two new favourites between the -now- 5 available options. The raw Al is light and utilitarian. It comes scuffed out of the box (from machining), and picks up more blemishes with use. The stonewashed titanium has been my favourite ever since I saw photos of it on social media. Which was quite a while back during the original Kickstarter for the Piuma. Stonewashed Ti was a Kickstarter exclusive finish back then. Only recently did they reintroduce this finish to their standard lineup.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
The threads are polished to give a smoother action when capping/uncapping
I love how stonewashed titanium looks and feels rough, and it brings out the brown-grey tone of the metal. It's also a perfect finish to hide blemishes and scuffs, which titanium pens -no matter how strong this metal is- inevitably get with use.

For detailed measurements and weights, I'll refer you to my original review (link HERE). The weights for the respective new Al and Ti finishes are identical to the original ones, which means they are both not too heavy.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
Where I think the Piuma really shines, is in the comfort department. Don't get me wrong, it's not the perfect pen. But for a metal pen, it's a solid step in the right direction. The pen has a good girth and length. And the gently tapered section is very comfortable to hold, at least as far as metal sections go. I have personally never found metal sections to be particularly more slippery or less comfortable than acrylic ones for example, but I can see where this opinion comes from. Especially on metal that has a smooth finish (such as the raw aluminium), you shouldn't expect the pinnacle of grippiness.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
With the simple but performant #6 Bock nibs, you can almost always bring a smile to my face. I know some will have a different view on Bock, but a world where everyone would agree with each other would be a boring one, right? The way Bock nibs write (bouncy nibs with a bit of feedback and a balanced flow) resonates well with the characteristics that I look for in a good pen.

A year after my original review, the Piuma continues to be a solid pen. Made in the USA, with attention to detail... there really isn't much negative I can say about them. If you're somewhat into metal pens, the Ensso Piuma was, and continues to be, a pen that should be on your watch list.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review
Compared to similar pens on the market, the price of the Ensso Piuma is more or less in line with the alternatives. The two new finishes follow the same pricing as before, so 79 USD for the raw Al and 139 USD for the stonewashed Ti. Ensso's most direct competitor that I can think of, Namisu, has their pens come in at a slightly lower price point. But the jump in comfort and functionality in a beautiful minimal package, makes up for the difference in my opinion.

These products were sent to me by Ensso 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.
Ensso Piuma raw Al & stonewashed Ti fountain pen review

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

OPUS 88 KOLORO DEMONSTRATOR FOUNTAIN PEN REVIEW

Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
I must admit that I have a tendency of being rather skeptical towards new brands. However sometimes it's almost impossible to ignore them... especially when they are onto something good!

The brand we're looking at today, Opus 88, isn't even technically a new brand. It has existed for over two  decades, but used to be mainly focused on handmade high-end pens (including some very nice urushi work!). They never had a worldwide breakthrough, until the Koloro pens were launched. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
I had the chance to try them out during my recent visit to the new brick&mortar Fontoplumo store, and I fell in love with the Koloro Demonstrator right away. There's a lot about this pen that makes it punch far above its class, while remaining relatively affordable. So let's dive straight in! 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
The Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator is, of course a demonstrator pen (duh). The design is very simple: just a straight cylindrical flattop shape. The ends taper ever-so-slightly, but the profile is overall fairly straight. The black matte clip is the only piece of hardware on the outside of the pen, and I really love how it contrasts with the clear acrylic construction of the pen. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
The insides of the pen all received a frosted finish to give it a matte appearance. This finish is incredibly even and consistent throughout the entire pen. The finials on top and bottom of the Koloro are polished, to contrast with the rest of the pen. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
Let's be clear (pun intended): demonstrators are ruthless when it comes to fit and finish issues. If something is wrong, even by a little bit, it'll inevitably show up. There's no place to hide production flaws. I inspected every inch of the Koloro Demonstrator and I have to say they really nailed the production across the board. All parts are polished perfectly and fit together with tight tolerances. The clip is perhaps the weakest point of the entire pen. It could've been made from slightly thicker steel to give it a sturdier feel, and the matte black coating might wear down over time. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
L to R: TWSBI 580Al, Opus 88 Koloro, Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator, Lamy aion, Lamy 2000, Lamy Vista
The Koloro Demonstrator is a substantial pen, and the imposing design without taper helps to accentuate that. It measures 14.8 cm (5.88") open, and 13.9 cm (5.47") uncapped. Together with the fairly consistent width of 1.8 cm (0.688"), this makes for a noticeably oversized pen. However, the all-acrylic construction keeps the weight low (total of just 27g). 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
Despite the size, it's a rather comfortable fit for my hand. The section has a nicely tapered shape that narrows down a bit compared to the barrel, but not too much. The threads are shallow, but more importantly the step towards the barrel is low enough to not interfere with my grip at all. The writing experience is comfortable and fatigue-free. Of course it's good to keep in mind that I'm partial to large pens, and I'm definitely not saying this will be everyone's taste. But it has to be said that Opus 88 managed to make a large pen that doesn't feel unwieldy or imposing. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
On to the filling system: this is probably the area where you could easily mistake the Koloro Demonstrator for a much more expensive alternative. The filling system is what's called a Japanese Eyedropper, something you normally only see on high-end urushi pens and the like. Throughout the barrel, you can see an ebonite shut-off rod that can be moved up and down by twisting the blind cap. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
The rubber seal at the end of the ebonite shut-off rod
In the closed position, this rod shuts off access to the feed, which leaves a tiny volume enclosed that can be filled with ink (the writing reservoir, if you will).  Opening it up allows ink from the barrel to flow towards the feed, which creates a wetter ink flow. The entire barrel can be eyedroppered with ink (a ridiculous ink capacity of 3-4 ml, I haven't actually measured it). The pen is made for eyedropper use through rubber o-rings at the nib unit threads, and barrel threads. I added some silicon grease on the barrel threads as well, just to be sure.
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
The nib is a stock JoWo unit, with the Opus 88 brand name laser-engraved across it, and some standard flourishes that I don't think really fit the overall modern appearance of the rest of the pen. 

The plus side of a stock JoWo nib is that you can easily swap it out with any other nib that suits you. No need to do so right away though, because this stock unit is an extremely pleasant writer! It's a broad nib, smooth as butter and with a nice rich ink flow. Depending on the paper, it can be a bit prone to skipping, especially with oils from your hands it can occasionally have a hard time. All in all though, it's a great nib to use that lays down a rather nice broad line. 
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review
The best part: 100 EUR (120 USD) for all this! In terms of value for money, I'd put it alongside the TWSBI 580. It's a bit more expensive, but the build quality seems better (seemingly no issues with cracking!), and I'm a big fan of the minimal and clean aesthetic. I'm having a hard time finding any downsides about this pen. It would be an understatement to say I've had a pleasant first encounter with this (not really) new brand!

Note: I received a discount on the purchase of this product from Fontoplumo. 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.
Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator fountain pen review

Thursday, May 10, 2018

LAMY LX GIVEAWAY WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!

Lamy Lx giveaway (sponsored by Milligram Store) winner announcement!
Touchdown! The Lamy Lx giveaway has come to an end! Thanks to everyone who participated, and big thanks to the kind folks over at Milligram, who sponsored this giveaway. Only one thing left: to announce a winner who will receive a brand new Lamy Lx fountain pen! 

From a total 240 (!) participants the winner, as chosen by the Random number generator, is: 

Simon Morrison-Baldwin!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations Simon! We'll get in touch via email to get your prize  to you!

Thanks again for all the support, and thanks for entering the giveaway! Didn't win this time, or missed out? Maybe consider following The Pencilcase Blog on social media , that way you'll never miss future giveaways!