Monday, September 10, 2018

PAPER REVIEW: MILLIGRAM STUDIO LINEN NOTEBOOK

Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
In the almost five years that I've been writing this blog, I can probably count the amount of excellent paper products I reviewed on one hand. For a long time I thought I was just unrealistically picky. Fountain pens -after all- are quite demanding in terms of paper quality...

But in reality, it's just a matter of searching in the right places. So many brands claim that their paper is fountain pen friendly, however from experience I know that in reality that's not always the case. But I don't give up, and recently I've had a couple excellent notebooks cross my path, such as the Midori MD (review can be found HERE). So eventually I'd have to come across another one that surprises me, right?
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram suggested I'd try out their new line of Milligram Studio stationery. Milligram Studio is a selection of luxury stationery, ranging from desk accessories, collabs with established brands, and their own range of notebooks. I was sold on their design style right away. You can clearly notice their preference for minimal looks, which is something I can completely get behind. I was under the impression that they were first and foremost focused on design, not so much on paper quality. 

I was wrong.
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
The notebook they sent me is part of the Linen notebook range. As the name suggests, it's a hardcover notebook wrapped in cloth. The paper type (blank , dot grid, grid or ruled) is hot foiled on the front in silver, the Milligram logo can be found on the back. The Linen notebooks are available in both B5 (25 x 19 cm), or A5 (21 x 15 cm). This particular one is the larger B5, which I think is a pleasant size to write in, yet you sacrifice some portability.
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
I like the simplicity of the design, and the linen cover is sturdy and durable. Unfortunately the black fabric does pick up dirt and dust quite fast. One of the other color schemes (terracotta, blue or beige) might be a better choice in that regard. Overall construction of the notebook seems to be excellent. In the few months that I have been carrying it with me, I noticed no wear and tear. Pages are sewn together, and can lay almost entirely flat. 
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
A black elastic closure keeps the notebook shut, and on the inside you'll find a black ribbon page marker, and a pocket inside the back cover. There's no table of contents, and pages aren't numbered. Considering the retail price, it could've been a bit more feature packed. But just like the design, they kept the functionality simple and straightforward.
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
The paper is where the real value of this notebook is at though. Inside you'll find 96 sheets (192 pages) of 85 gsm Italian Fabriano paper. You might've heard of Fabriano paper before, and in that case you'll know it means good quality. 
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
This is one of those cases where fountain pen friendly isn't just an empty statement. It's fantastic to write on with everything from fountain pen to pencil. It's smooth, but has the slightest bit of texture so that it can accommodate most writing utensils quite well. However I would recommend it mainly for use with fountain pens. 
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
The reverse side of the test page
I found the overall experience not too dissimilar from the Life Tsubame notebook I reviewed a long time ago (read the review HERE). The paper accommodates ink like a champ, without any bleeding or feathering at all (Some ink swabs showed some minor bleedthrough as you can see in the photo above, but the back of the page is still perfectly usable). Because the paper is relatively thin, you do get some ghosting on the other side of the page. 
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Shading is present, but not with as much depth as on the Tsubame paper, or Rhodia for that matter. Sheen, on the other hand, does come across quite nicely. The Tsubame paper seemed prone to oils from your hands transferring to the page (causing fountain pen nibs to skip), this Fabriano paper doesn't seem to have that issue, or at least not nearly as pronounced.
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review
Milligram pleasantly surprised me with their Linen notebook. The simple yet detailed presentation and design, combined with excellent paper, makes me want to see more of their brand. The Milligram Studio Linen notebooks carry a pricetag of 40 AUD (approx. 30 USD or 25 EUR) for the large B5, or 35 AUD (approx. 26 USD or 22 EUR) for the A5 size. It's not particularly cheap paper, but the quality more than makes up for that if you ask me.

This product was sent to me by Milligram 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.
Milligram Studio Linen notebook review

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

REVIEW: SCHON DSGN CLIP PEN

Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
I was sceptical about the Schon DSGN pen. More than sceptical really. Judging from pictures, it looked clunky and crude. Especically the section seemed like it would never in a million years be comfortable in the hand. Yet, I kept reading positive things about it online, what was it about this pen that I didn't see? 

After getting one in hand for this review, I found out what's so special about this little pen, and I had to thoroughly re-evaluate my opinion (this seems to be a recurring trend with many products I review...). 
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
The Schon DSGN Classic pen (or Clip, depending on your choice of clipped/clipless) in a neat box that folds open to reveal the pen with its 'buyer's card' accompanying it. I had a little WOW moment when I first opened it, because the pen itself is sooo much tinier than I expected! It's often quite difficult to judge a pen based on measurements you find online, but in this case I completely missed the ball. 

Anyway, we'll come back to the size later. Let's focus first on the design, because the moment I held the Schon Clip pen in my hands, I started to appreciate the design choices that Ian (founder of Schon DSGN) made. It doesn't look crude or clunky in person. Very industrial, yes, but you can clearly see the thought that went into this -seemingly- simple pen. 
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
Symmetry is key!
It's a straight, flattop, cylindrical pen from the outside, so nothing too spectacular per se. But as is the case so very often: the devil is in the details! The body of the pen is equal in length to the the cap, and to enhance the symmetry between both parts, the three grooves near the cap finial mimic the the threads at the back of the barrel. Nifty!
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
The folded steel clip is very similar to those used by Karas Pen Co., which is a sound choice for EDC-focused pens, and continues the industrial look. Different to the one found on Karas pens, the Schon pen features a narrower clip, which looks elegant but is also a bit easier to use because it's less stiff. The clip is bolted to the top of the pen, almost flush with the cap finial, so the pen doesn't stick out too far if you wish to pocket carry. 
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
Underneath the cap, you'll find a slender but very long section, which ends in a short and stubby nose cone. The block threads are really short and placed towards the back of the section, closely followed by a rather large step. All these aspects together make for a rather interesting section that looks a bit out of proportion, but it really isn't. My only gripe would be that the nose cone is a bit too stubby, making it hard sometimes to see what you are writing.

The back of the barrel has the same short block threads which allow the cap to post. It looks like a cross-threading nightmare, but to my surprise that only happened occasionally. Most of the time, the cap and barrel align itself quite well and thread together smoothly. 
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
The Schon DSGN pens don't dissasemble near the section, like most pens do. Instead, you'll find a brass set screw at the back finial, which you have to unscrew to change the refill. I like this quirky design element, and I particularly like that all pens (various different materials, from stainless steel, brass or copper to annodized aluminium) come with the same brass screw, almost like a maker's signature.
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
The set screw has one downside however: changing the refill means you have to have a flathead screwdriver handy. The Clip pen takes care of that, as the the tip of the clip is pointed upwards just enough to use it as a screwdriver! I wouldn't suggest using the clip for DYI jobs, but just for this task, it works perfectly. 
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
L to R: Kaweco Al Sport, Lamy Pico, Baron Fig Squire Click, Inventery Pocket fountain pen, Schon DSGN Clip pen, Lamy Safari, Lamy 2000
At 10.2 cm (4") closed, 14.6 cm (5-3/4") posted and with a diameter of 1.3 cm (1/2"), these are definitely pocket pens. They have a surprisingly good heft to them, at 34g (1.2 oz) for the aluminium Clip version (up to 93g/3.3 oz for the solid copper versions!). 

It's obviously not meant to be used unposted, because it will literally dissapear in your hand. But with the cap posted, it transforms into a surprisingly comfortable full-sized writer. The section may be slender, but because it's long, it does a good job keeping my grip away from the threads and step. So while it may not seem comfortable at first, it's actually quite enjoyable to use for such a compact pen.
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
The refill closes the deal for me, as Ian chose to make his pens compatible with the popular Fisher Space gas pressurized refill. These are excellent ballpoint refills. They are well-behaved and put down a smooth and relatively dark line that is as consistent as ballpoint pens go. Apart from that, it obviously has the advantage of being perfectly usable in wet, cold or hot environments, on difficult surfaces or even upside down. The choice of refill makes this pen all the more appropriate for EDC use. The only downside is that the refills are smalL, and quite expensive.
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen
To round up, the Schon DSGN Clip is a pen that does things right; It's clear aim at EDC use reflects in every aspect, from the durable build, practical size, strong clip,...all the way to the quality Fisher Space refills. I've followed Ian and his brand for many years (despite never pulling the trigger on one of his pens) and I know how anal retentive he is about quality and even the smallest of details (Talking about details: check out his drop-dead gorgeous handmade watches at Schon Horology! Expensive, but holy cow they are cool!). 

Ian persuaded me about his product, I have to admit I'm now one of the bloggers that will tell you this is an amazing pen. Yes, the price is a bit higher compared to the rest of the market, but that seems to be a recurring theme with made in the USA, EDC goods, and there is clearly a market for these high-quality products. If you want an excellent EDC pocket pen, and are willing to invest, watch the Schon DSGN pen!

This product was sent to me by Schon DSGN 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.
Pen review: The Schon DSGN Clip pen

Saturday, September 1, 2018

REVIEW: BARON FIG SQUIRE CLICK BALLPOINT PEN

Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
The Squire from Baron Fig (read my review here) has quickly become a staple within the community. For good reason of course, as it is a superb pen all around. But when Baron Fig announced a new iteration of the Squire: the Squire Click, I was left with slightly mixed feelings. I loved the idea of a knock mechanism, but at the same time it seemed to lose a bit of the clean look of the Squire's design.

But as always, it's quite difficult to assess a product just from photos online. So my thoughts changed when I got one in hand for review -thanks Baron Fig!
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
I was still a bit unsure about how I felt about the design choice of using a standard Schmidt knock mechanism, although I do like that the barrel and knock sit flush against each other. When you pick up the pen, you'll notice that it slimmed down a bit compared to the regular Squire. Basically what they did is remove the taper towards the front of the pen so the diameter is now uniform across the entire length of the pen. Without that teardrop shape, the Squire click lost some of the character that the original Squire had, but it's still a good looking minimal pen.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
L to R: Kaweco Al Sport, Riind The Pen, Karas Pen Co. Retrakt, Baron Fig Squire, Baron Fig Squire Click, Lamy 2000, Lamy Safari
At 12.7 cm (5"), it's the same length as the Squire. The barrel diameter was reduced from 10 mm (0.40") to 9 mm (0.35"), which doesn't sound like a lot but it's easily noticeable when you hold them side by side. They also cut the weight by 4 grams, from 24g to 20g. Overall the differences are relatively small, but surprisingly they create a very different experience in use.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
The Click lost a little weight around the front of the pen
Whereas the regular Squire is IMHO a 'comfortably slim' pen, the click is a bit narrow for my taste. I did get used to it after a while, but I won't say it's the most comfortable pen ever. The size makes it ideal as an agenda pen, and it fits perfectly into a journal pen loop without adding bulk. 

Now here's the weird part: after a good while of use, the Squire Click actually grew on me...a lot! So get this, the size may make it a bit less comfortable, but it also makes it extremely versatile in use: Throw it in a backpack, pants pocket, notebook pen loop,... it's small and thin but still long enough to sit comfortably in the hand. 
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
Frankly, the stock Schmidt knock mechanism is a lot easier and faster to operate than the custom machined twist mechanism on the Squire. The obvious trade-off is that it doesn't look as clean and minimal.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
The Schmidt Easyflow 9000 may be one of the greatest parts about the Click!
Surprisingly, the Click comes with a different refill, which helps differentiate it from the regular Squire in the Baron Fig lineup. Inside the Click, you'll find a Schmidt Easyflow 9000 ballpoint refill (instead of the rollerball refills in the regular Squire). I really enjoy the change, especially because the Easyflow 9000 is a fantastic refill that combines the good sides of both ballpoint and rollerball refills. It lacks the bleedthrough issues that rollerball refills sometimes have, but the medium line is dark, consistent and smooth. Only issue I found is that it sometimes seems a bit more prone to smudging.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen
It honestly took me a while to make up my mind on the Squire Click. The slimmer barrel is not my favorite, and the design is a bit less sleek because of the standard knock mechanism (maybe something to custom-machine in the future?).

On the plus side, the slimmer form factor makes it even more portable than the regular Squire, and the knock mechanism is more practical in use. Oh, and the ballpoint refill it comes with is straight up fantastic. The price point of the Squire Click is very reasonable too. At 45$ it's not too precious for everyday use, and it's an ideal pen to throw into your bag, purse, pants pocket...

This product was sent to me by Baron Fig 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.
Review: Baron Fig Squire Click ballpoint pen