Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pelikan Souveran M400 White Tortoise - Broad Nib

"Wait. You bought half a ski worth of pen!?"  
That was the reaction from my friend/temporary roommate(who bought a whole ski around the same time, huh huh.)when I confessed to her my darkest secret. By the way, I did so with a happy and smug face, just like her dog/roommate no.2 when she ate my lunch/chewed up my makeup brush.

I have owned and used this pen for almost 9 months already and I guess it's time for a short review.
Pelikan M400 White Tortoise is one of the pens that had been on my list forever, and as soon as I got my second paycheck from my grown-up job (the first/ the whole thing,  was to take care of the rent and deposit. The joy of living in New York area), I went online and hunted this baby down.

The reason of my strong desire is quite apoarent: Look how pretty and shiny it is!

There are plenty of pictures of the white tortoise on the net so I won't go all spammy: In real life, it's just as beautiful (as it was in my day dream). The white pen has a simple design with gold accent.

The acrylic barrel, where most ooh-and-ahh is induced, has warm toned striations that glitter and flicker under sun. This kaleidoscope-like beauty is further enhanced with inks in shades of yellow, amber and orange. 
The grip section of the M400 is short but long enough to rest on my finger without running into the thread. Anyway, the well-balanced pen is lightweight enough that it wouldn't cut into skin even I am holding onto the thread. 

For the nib, I picked up a broad (mainly because my appetite for pin-point precision can be fulfilled by the Japanese). It's less stiff than the 14k from Sailor but a tad springy than the stainless nib from Lamy. It writes well, in a smooth and sheer way that showcases shading in lighter ink but admittedly, I can't say it's better writer than pens in cheaper price brackets.
Writing sample with Diamine Jade Green on Muji grid notebook. It took me months to use up the barrel full of ink now that I no-longer have notes to take and my actually handwriting has to be done with ballpoints. The horror.

Overall: It's a beautiful pen and a decent writer. I can't say it's worth all the Benjamins but it has been making me really happy. If you want a more expensive pen with a solid performance and tangible craftsmanship, I think a Pilot pen in the 100-dollar range will bring you more joy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Noodler's Bulletproof Black Ink Review

Why yes, this picture was taken almost three years ago (when the ink was relatively full)
Noodler's Bulletproof Black is arguably the best-known black fountain pen ink in the US market. The bulletproof designated to their range of ink that's waterproof (red label is not, I had to draw it back with red Pilot G2 after touching the bottle with damp hand), fade proof and UV proof. Each fill-to-the-brim (be careful when you open it!) bottles contain 3 oz of ink and retails for 12.5 dollars, making it the most affordable ink per unit volume in US. I have a love-hate relationship with this and I am still not able to come up with a verdict after using it for more than a year.
Noodler's black is a warm black, one with a brown/taupe undertone to it (I suppose I like it better than one with an eerie teal shadow but I would still prefer an inky, neutral black). Initially, I thought the color is a tad watery and gray for a "bold black", it turns out that the dye are settling into solid bits at the bottom (all I needed was some shake before syringe-filling). The ink has an almost serum-like consistency and a strangely food-like smell (like a cross barley tea and soy milk). For the first month since I got the ink, I had done quite some unintentional nib-sniffing during writing because it just seemed so pleasant and different (the only bottled black ink I had used regularly was the one by Hero, and boy did that stink!).
One of the qualities that I like the most is how smooth it writes (so why would people actually need the "eternal eel" with extra lubricant) and that it problem flowing out from even the finest nib. Anti-feathering is the second quality that I notice - it just writes very well on more porous paper. The main selling point would be the water-resistance, which was certainly delivered...but if and only if it fully dries (given its serum-like consistency, it means that it would take up to a few hours depends on what kind of paper you use). To be safe/paranoid, I usually wait overnight before erasing penciled guidelines or adding water color on top.
Bigger pool and still passing the drip test with flying colors
So far so good, eh? Well, the affordability, smoothness and water-resistance (other might not need this function but I spill, drip, get caught on rainy day all the time) are some aspect that I love. The ink stains (not so much on the hand but) the interior of the barrel where converter/cartridges is attached, it's different from a film of color covering the areas, more like little blacks particles sticking onto the surfaces. It's near impossible to get rid of with just rinsing and I guess it could clog pen over-time.

Overall: Smooth, affordable, dark and (unlike many other fountain pen inks) archival. I love it but I like to reserve it for cheaper and non-limited release pen (limited Lamy Al-Star still count since the feed section is technically the same for all pen).

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Brause No. 76 Rose Calligraphy Nib - Glamour Shots Only

Because for the 1.5 years I have purchased this (as a filler, to reach Jetpens free-shipping threshold), I never figured out a way to use it. Yeah, I should have bought some Japanese holder back then...
Anyway, I tried a random nib-holder from Michael's, it was just really dry and scratchy...I have seen people doing magic with this nib so I think I was just using the wrong tool/way. Back to topic (sort of), I love how this small rose "dies" instead of wilting, the petals fades and dries up slowly.
 Anyway, this is just a filler post and an apology for my prolonged absence from this blog. After three months of unemployment, I finally got a job and moved away from the cultural desert called Texas! I have grabbed my fountain pens, Lamy steel nibs (Sadly, I left my Sakura micron and manga pens...before I even get to review them) and will have my bottled ink shipped here!
 I think I will buy a pen or two (or maybe four because I haven't even gotten the Lamy special editions pen this year, consider I love blue-green and coral!) as a Christmas present bundle to myself...Then I have a few notebooks I will be reviewing (I think there will be some snowy backgrounds). So...See you very soon, my pen pals!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Kate Spade Saturday Slim Notebook

These Kate Spade Saturday Notebooks were found in the clearance section of TJ Maxx a while back. After peeling off the layers of red stickers over it, I discovered that these China-made notebooks have an MSRP of 20 dollars but was put on sale at TJ-Maxx for 12 dollars...Well, no body bought it so it ended up being cleared out for 3 bucks a piece(After all, for 12-20 bucks, you can get leather-covered ones with three different refills and various accessories). 
 The notebook is sewn-bound, hence being able to opened completely flat. There is a fabric covered on outer spine, combined with the cardboard cover,  makes the notebook somewhat wear-proof.

The paper used is bright bleached white with neon-yellow (looks darker here due to sunset) grid that are not too noticeable but works well enough as guide line. The surface is slightly textured but overall quite smooth (not the slippery type) enough to write on. It's pretty fountain pen compatible, allowing some shading and never causes feathering or bleeding...Basically, it's the same type of paper as note card.
Given individual sheets are so thick, the notebook achieve the slim figure simply by having very few pages (24 sheets/48 pages). Since it's a bit of a hassle to carry a heavy (compared to the capacity) notebook with few pages, it's not handy as a note jotter to carry around. Instead, I use it for more permanent writing: Hand copying down pattern that I would knit over and over again (I have finished 5 of the same hat since summer!). It could work as a sketch book, even though the yellow grid kind of gets in the way. 

Overall: For 3 dollars, it still seems like a bit of a rip-off. (I could get a whole box of on-clearanced Pukka bagged tea at TJ Maxx!).