Friday, September 30, 2016

Diplomat Aero Fountain Pen Review

This is my first Diplomat pen and I have had my eye on a Diplomat pen for quite some time. I have a love affair with German things, and the language so I guess it is natural that I like German pens. I had a hard time finding one to purchase here in the US so I ordered from Germany direct and so glad i did. Let's take a look.

Photos really do not do this pen any justice. The pen itself is modeled after airships or Zeppelins. I opened the box and I knew it had a fluted body/cap but when I picked it up, oh man. This pen is made of anodized aluminum with a matte finish. The flutes feel nice in the hand but the material really have a wonderful tactile quality that I greatly enjoy.

The pen itself is made of metal so it has some nice heft to it as well, which I am a big fan of. The shape is definitely reminiscent of the old airships and this pen design really shoes the sleek, aerodynamic quality of those. The finial is the Diplomat logo and adds to the aesthetics of the look.

The section is also anodized aluminum in matte as well as the body but I did not have any slipping issues as the anodized material holds the hand grip quite nicely. 

The nib is stainless steel and it does not disappoint in the least. It is etched with the Diplomat logo ad company name. What I really like, though, is that the nib does not have a breather hole in it. I do believe these nibs are Jowo nibs and after writing with it, I am almost certain. So super smooth is the writing experience here that I have a difficult time putting the pen down.

The nib itself is a broad and it is a nice and wet nib. I am quite happy with it and would definitely purchase another Diplomat pen going forward. Call this guy greatly impressed.

This review is based off of my personal experience and opinion. I am not representing Diplomat in any way nor am I being compensated by Diplomat for this review.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The more money, the better it is, right?

This is a topic that can really generate some discussion whether casual or heated. The question is basically whether a pen, ink or even paper is better because it is more expensive than the others? My answer is no, not really but it depends. Allow me to elaborate.

Functionally, a pen will write at any price range, but the writing experience is what can be debateable. A Jinhao x750 can be purchased between $5 - $10 dollars, depending on where it is purchased from. The nib is a medium #6 size and usually a rather wet medium. The pen comes with a standard international cartridge converter and is a great all around pen. Is it less of a pen when compared to a Visconti Van Gogh or Rembrandt? The Visconti Van Gogh and Rembrandt are both steel nib based pens, but come in more sizes than medium, are cartridge converter based and write well. A Rembrandt has a MSRP of $165 and the Van Gogh is $289. These 2 Visconti pens are made with lacquer and resin and mimic Rembrandt’s brush stroke technique or one of Van Gogh’s paintings. Other than the material the pen is made of, in this case, same pen.

I have a Visconti Homo Sapiens Steel Age pen and I love it. I also feel it was worth the cost. It is a piston filling pen but the pen is constructed of a basaltic lava resin from Mt. Etna in Italy and the nib is 23kt Palladium. The writing experience is much more elevated with this pen. I love the heft, the springy nib and the feel of the material. In this case, the price justifies the material it is made of. I do have piston filling pens by Twsbi and Noodler’s and they function very well but the Visconti HS has the notable differences that drive the price.
I have a Franklin Christoph 19 pen which is a cartridge/converter style pen and has a steel nib. It is made of acrylic and resin and I paid $245 for it. Is it better than the Jinhao for a fraction of the cost? To me, yes. The difference here is the nib. Yes, it is steel but it is a custom ground medium cursive italic by Mike Masuyama. The writing experience is elevated by that for me.

Let’s look at ink. Caran D’Ache is roughly $41 per bottle. Bungubox is right around the same cost. Hieronymous is $51 a bottle. Seriously? Why? Private Reserve is $11, Noodler’s is $12.50, Organics Studio is $13, KWZ is $12, Diamine is around $14. The cheaper inks have greater varieties of colors, properties and flow compared to their expensive counterparts and are usually equal in saturation if not more so, depending on the particular ink. Why in the world would I pay so much for an ink? I understand Bungubox is a Japanese import but so is Sailor. Pilot Iroshizuku bottles are as well and are retailed around $35 but can be ordered through Amazon for $20. In my opinion, the same quality but cheaper ink. Is a $41 bottle of ink that much better? I have had samples and I don’t see a reason for it.

I recently went to Ikea and purchased some more notebooks. I did a review of one of them here on the blog and I love it. I bought more of that model as well as 2 others. The paper weight is the exact same as Rhodia paper but it does not have the ceramic coating that makes it so smooth. Ok, that’s fine. The Ikea books are $3 compared to the Rhodia ones which are a bit more. The Ikea books don’t feather, bleed or spread under normal use, a 1.5mm or 1.9mm stub is a bit different though but how often do you use those larger nib widths?

Is price ultimately the decider here? For some, yes but I am trying to get people to realize that is not always the case. There are always exceptions, as I mentioned above and it is always going to rely upon personal experience and opinion. All I ask is you be mindful of the price and know what you are truly getting for that price. Is it worth it to you? Do you feel comfortable paying the elevated cost like in the case of the Jinhao vs the Visconti Rembrandt or Van Gogh? No need to pay unnecessarily and like I said earlier, this is mainly my opinion here. I’m just trying to be the voice of reason in some manner.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

What do I have inked now?

As the days pass by, I change pens and ink quite often, more ink colors than pens, however. Here is what I have inked this week.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Signum Nova Fountain Pen Review

A good friend of mine was gracious enough to allow me some time with this pen so that I could review it. I will admit, I did not want to give it back. Let's take a look at this Signum Nova in Ivory.

Wow, this pen is gorgeous. It is made of a resin and lacquer combo that feels wonderful to the touch. Aesthetically, it is beautiful with the gold accents next to the ivory which has amazing depth on its own. The finial has the Signum logo on it and it is a nice touch. This is a cartridge/converter based filling system.

The real star of this show is the nib. It is a 18k gold nib and has amazing springiness while writing. I don't normally experience this with 18k nibs as it is usually more of a feature on 14k nibs like the Pilot Custom 74. This broad nib is very wet and very juicy. The springy nib combined with the flow makes for an amazing writing experience.

Overall, this pen is purely a joy to hold and write with. It is a bit pricey through standard retail but in this case, you definitely get what you pay for.

This pen was provided by a friend for review purposes and I am not a representative of Signum and I am not compensated Signum in any way.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Making Custom Envelopes for your Pen Pal letters

I have many pen pals and I love to write/receive letters. I recently started to correspond with a wonderful friend named Marilyn and her letters are packaged in a very striking manner. I asked her if she would be interested in contributing to the blog as making envelopes is definitely in tune with the analog experience. Take it away, Marilyn!

Hello, my name is Marilyn.  I love the idea of sending color through the mail.  We already know how much fun it is to get a handwritten letter, but I want to add a personal touch to the envelopes those letters come in.  It is my hope that they stand out among the plain white of bills and junk mail, and make their recipients smile.

Making Envelopes:

Pictured here are all the tools I need to make homemade envelopes:  they include a paper cutter, a scoreboard and bone folder, scissors and double-sided tape.  My scoreboard conveniently came with a guide for some standard envelope sizes - it tells you what paper size to start with, and where to score that paper.  Then as you can see, you get a template that is intuitively simple to assemble!  The scoring makes creasing the paper very easy.  These templates were cut from big nautical maps that were given to me.  I got about twenty envelopes of assorted sizes cut from a map that originally measured 5 ft x 4 ft.

WWII Envelopes:

Maps are a very common thing to make homemade envelopes out of.  Usually they are big enough and interesting.  This very large book was headed to the thrift store, but with just a little creativity, it could be repurposed into many, many envelopes.  I have used several of these with penpals and friends and they often get commented on!  The paper in this book was of good quality, which translated to sturdy, impressive envelopes.  And, since they are pages from a book, they are double-sided!

Flower Calendar Envelopes:

These envelopes were re-purposed from a simple wall-calendar.  Some calendars have such pretty artwork or photography; it would do great justice for them to be sent to someone's mailbox.

Dr. Seusselopes:

This is one of my favorite series of envelopes I have made.  I found a copy of Dr. Seuss's Oh, the Places You'll Go at a library book sale for fifty cents, and I had this intention for it immediately.  Oh, the places these envelopes will go! 

Making envelopes lets me express some creativity and add personalization.  I have many scrapbook paper pads of all different designs and colors.  Like Steve, I am big into fountain pens.  Whenever I write a letter, I choose the paper and pen and ink very intentionally.  But beyond that, I also choose the envelope.  I think about what kinds of things, colors, the intended recipient likes, and then, go to work!