Thursday, June 21, 2018

5 YEARS AGO...

5 years ago... (5th anniversary of The Pencilcase Blog!)
...while reading through reviews of The Pen Addict, I thought: "Heck, I can do this too!" On a whim, I pieced together a so-so blog design, chose this terrible and rather irrelevant name (I have surprisingly few reviews of pencils, nor pencil cases), took some crappy pictures with my smartphone (smartphone cameras were definitely not what they are now!), and wrote my first review.

Fast forward a bit and here we are: today marks the 5th anniversary of The Pencilcase Blog! I've been blogging about pens for almost a quarter of my entire life now. That really does sound as insane as it is. I get funny faces when I tell people (non-penaddicts, that is) I write a blog about pens. On top of that, they usually get confused and think I write a blog about pants, which makes the situation even weirder (it must be my accent or bad pronunciation of the word pens).

Anway, I never really thought it would become such a big deal when I started, but almost 360 posts later you could say it has gotten a bit out of hand. So many things changed because of this silly little website: I met new people, made friends for life, got opportunities to see places and review unique products... It's incredible really. I'm infinitely thankful for all of it, and I hope I can contribute my part to this wonderful community for many more years to come!

This is also a good time to thank some people for supporting me from the get go, some of which I had the pleasure to meet in real life and became good friends over the years: Azizah (Gourmetpens), Stephen (SBRE Brown), Ed (Edjelley), Matthias (Bleistift), Mike (The Clicky Post), Brad (The Pen Addict), and I'm probably still forgetting a couple. Thank you guys! 

And because no blog birthday is complete without celebration, expect to see not one, not two, but five (!) GIVEAWAYS coming up really soon! I'll also be doing a Q&A post later on (you can send in any questions you have for me through comments, via email or on Twitter or Instagram)

I honestly don't know what else to say, other than thank you. 

PS: I have to send some love to my five wonderful sponsors as well! These five pen shops are all amazing, and they have stuck by my side for a good part of this blogging adventure. Give them some love if you want, and don't forget the discount codes! 
Appelboom ad La Couronne Du Comte adCasa Della Stilografica ad
Penworld adScrittura Elegante ad
See you around,

Dries

Monday, June 18, 2018

REVIEW: BN WORKS TWIIST 2-IN-1 PEN

BN Works Twiist pen review
In the last few years the market for machined pens has expanded incredibly fast, making it hard to keep up with every new product that pops up. The BN Works Dot -debut product for the Taiwanese design brand- was one of those products. It kind of flew by me unnoticed. So when Tony from BN Works contacted me, I couldn't immediately connect the dots (terrible pun alert!). It's very difficult to stand out as a new brand, especially with a low-key product like the Dot. Their new product however, seems to be a bit more tricked out and managed to grab my attention when I checked it out.
BN Works Twiist pen review
A Schmidt P900 and P8126 refill are included in the box, as well as two additional replacement stylus tips
The BN Works Twiist (no, that's not a spelling error!) looks like just another rollerball pen, yet it has a neat trick up its sleeve! But more on that later. First, let's look at the design...
BN Works Twiist pen review
At first glance, I find the Twiist has a strong resemblance to the Karas Pen Co. Retrakt (that I reviewed HERE), or a Parker Jotter: a wider top section, and a long grip that tapers towards the front. The clip closely resembles the type of bent steel clip that brands like Karas Pen Co. or Schon use. It is connected to the barrel internally instead of the two external screws, which gives it a less rugged appearance.
BN Works Twiist pen review
The Twiist is available in four clean-looking anodized aluminium colorways. They all have contrasting upper and lower body parts: black+grey, grey+black or rose+black. The version I chose is a bit different from the rest, in that it features a solid copper lower section, combined with black aluminium on top. The combination of matte black and copper is striking. On top of that I just really enjoy the way copper creates patina so this was an easy choice (yes, it does leave a penny smell, if that bothers you!).
BN Works Twiist pen review
BN Works Twiist pen review
The double 'i' in the name stands for the double twist action: twist the body and the pen engages or retracts. twist the knurled section above the clip, and out pops a capacitive stylus tip. 
BN Works Twiist pen review
First of all, I think the mechanism is absolutely genius. It's simple but effective, and it offers a clean way of protecting the stylus tip. I'm the kind of person that likes uncluttered design, and I find little use for a stylus in my daily life. The only scenario when I will actually use it, would be while I'm writing and quickly need to check something on my phone or tablet. Other than that, I would rather not have it spoil the design, so it's nice that the stylus isn't visible when you don't need it.

Both the pen and stylus mechanism are made out of brass and have a very smooth action. They twist to engage, and reassuringly click into place with a subtle 'snap'. I liked the mechanism so much that I frequently found myself fidgeting with it. There is a tiny bit of play to it, but it doesn't rattle or feel cheap. Overall it feels solid and well put together.
BN Works Twiist pen review
BN Works Twiist pen review
L to R: RIIND The Pen, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Baron Fig Squire, BN Works Twiist, Lamy Vista, Lamy 2000
I already mentioned the similarity in design to the Karas Retrakt, but the Twiist is also fairly similar in terms of dimensions. It measures 13.6 cm (5.35"). The diameter is about 10.5 mm at the top section, and 9-10 mm where you grip it. It's quite comfortable in the hand. However, because there is no knurled or textured section, it can become a bit slippery.
BN Works Twiist pen review
The writing experience is quite pleasant. BN Works provides both a Schmidt P900 ballpoint and Schmidt P8126 rollerball refill in the package. I went for the P900, that I had never used before. Ballpoint refills don't have the same dark and consistent line as rollerballs do, but I nevertheless quite like this one. It's a smooth refill, and it doesn't leave blobs or marks that smear. One thing I especially like about the Twiist, is that the tip is machined with a tight tolerance. It doesn't have the tendency to rattle or move around when you write.
BN Works Twiist pen review
I'm not gonna lie, stylus 2-in-1 pens generally seem to be quite a hard sell. Is there really a use for a stylus tip, if your finger does the exact same job? I guess for tablet users and people who draw or sketch on digital devices, the answer would be yes. But for the average consumer it doubt it really offers much added value.

Nevertheless, I like how BN works added a stylus without interrupting a clean design. The stylus retracts when not in use. Out of sight, out of mind, a nice compromise. But of course it still adds to the price tag, so that may be a bit of a hurdle for some.

At 85 USD, the BN Works Twiist sits somewhere in the middle of the market. It costs more than the Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, but less than the RIIND pen (that I reviewed HERE). I think the price is quite fair considering the quality and design of the pen, the complex mechanism with the stylus tip, and the additional replacement stylus tips and refill that you get in the box.

This product was sent to me by BN Works 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.
BN Works Twiist pen review

Sunday, June 10, 2018

INK REVIEW: SAILOR KOBE #15 MAIKO GREEN

Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Woohoo! I finally get to try out a Kobe ink! Based on how hard to get these inks are in Europe, that's unfortunately kind of a big deal.

Made by Sailor, this ink is part of a ridiculously large selection of store-exclusive inks (more than 60 colors!) made for the Kobe-Nagasawa store in Japan. Over the years they have become more widely available through some US-based retailers, but so far I haven't come across them in Europe. 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Australian-based webshop Desk Bandit offered me the chance to try out one of the Kobe inks, so I obviously didn't hesitate! My thanks to them for providing this bottle of Kobe #15 Maiko Green ink to check out! 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Surprise, surprise, just like a long line of Sailor inks I tried before this, Kobe #15 turns out to be another one I really enjoy!

Maiko Green is a relatively dark, mossy green color. It has an ever-so-slight yellowish undertone to it, leaning it towards an olive color. I'd say it's a medium saturated green, which makes it an appropriate color for various contexts of use. Shading is very decent. The base color is a nice pastel green, and it shades as a dark green that in some places can appear -almost- black. 
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy F nib
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy B nib
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Lamy 1.5 nib
Like most Sailor inks, properties are quite good -if not excellent. It's a smooth ink with a good, lubricated flow. It doesn't bleed or feather as far as I can tell. Kobe #15 is not waterproof in any way.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.
The only downside with store-exclusive products, especially ones that have to be imported all the way from Japan, is that the price can get quite high. Kobe inks retail for 35 AUD via Desk Bandit, which is slightly cheaper than the US, where they go for about 30$ for a 50ml bottle. This puts them in the higher-end category as far as inks go. 

On a side note: Interestingly, Sailor Bungubox ink -another Japanese store exclusive-tend to be even more expensive, even though they are technically identical as they both come from the same manufacturer. 

One additional downside -as Joe from The Gentleman Stationer quite  elegantly put it in one of his posts- is the sheer number of colors you can choose from. If you're a completionist like I am, you might find yourself on an impossible mission to catch 'em all once you tried one! 

This product was sent to me by Desk Bandit, 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 affiliate links.
Ink review: Sailor Kobe #15 Maiko Green fountain pen ink.