1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 6 Review

This week I have been using the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in F grade. Before starting this week I held this pencil in high regard starting to think that it could actually be my favourite pencil to use. Every time I used this pencil I realised how much I liked it, therefore it was a perfect candidate for this mini series.

The good points

This week I have really appreciated using the Mars Lumograph in terms of portability and generally how easy it is to use. Pencils are so light and slim making them really easy to use on the go and they’re perfect for jotting down simple notes and to dos. I have enjoyed using a pencil this week but I think that is because of the pencil I am using.

The Mars Lumograph also looks pretty sweet. The blue lacquer on this pencil is dreamy and I love the white stripe and black cap on the end. It finishes off the pencil really well and highlights the beautiful blue. My Mars Lumograph has worn really nicely. The barcode has disappeared and the branding is fading, showing a lovely worn look. I only own this one F grade pencil, but I think I will be buying a dozen of these pencils so I can have them in multiple places and also give a few to friends and family to try out.

The worn pencil barrel

The worn pencil barrel

I think what I am working towards is that I may well be in love with the Mars Lumograph. I love how it looks, I love the price, I love how it writes. The graphite in the F grade is perfect for me. It holds its point really well making it a perfect writing partner. The graphite is light, but not too much just right at the sweet spot for me.

This weeks irritation

The one constant bug bear I have with pencils is the need to sharpen the pencil a lot to retain a sharp point. I love my classroom friendly sharpener and pretty much use this exclusively. This works fine when I am writing at home but when out I have to deal with a blunt pencil as I don’t have anything portable that’s as good as the classroom friendly sharpener. Now I could solve this with the KUM Masterpiece, or by taking multiple pencils. But I have had neither of those this week, so I am being a little grumpy about it. You don’t get this problem with a fountain pen.

Overall thoughts

It is quite possible that the Staedtler Mars Lumograph is the perfect pencil for me. I always enjoy the excitement around trying new pencils and new pencil releases such as the Blackwing volumes. But the despite this every time I use the Mars Lumograph I enjoy it, it feels nice to write with and comfortable. If you were to force me to choose only one pencil to write wth for the rest of my days I think it would be this one. I haven’t been able to say that about any other week during this series.

The final week - week 7

For the final week of this exercise I will be using the Tactile Turn Gist with a fine nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink. I am finishing up with this fountain pen and ink combination for a number of reasons. First up the Tactile Turn Gist is a fountain pen that I have not used for a solid period of time. I feel like I should really like this fountain pen but there are some reservations. Therefore by using this for a full week I think I may be able to organise my thoughts more coherently. The fine nib on this pen is a European fine and therefore has a good line width which should work perfectly with one of my favourite inks, the Iroshizuku Shin-Kai. I have sometimes thought this ink would be the one I would choose above all others if I were forced, this week could test that theory.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 5 Review

This week I have been using the Lamy Safari with Lamy Dark Lilac ink. The charcoal black barrel and the black nib looks really good together. I’ve enjoyed using this fountain pen during the week for numerous reasons and this exercise may have reignited a love of the Safari fountain pen.

The bits I’ve enjoyed.

First up this fountain pen is super light. After last week writing with the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and irritating the mild RSI in my wrist, the Safari feels like a blessing. Its so light and easy to write with for long periods of time.

Like I’ve already mentioned I like the style of this particular Safari. It was actually what made me buy this fountain pen in the first place, the black nib sealing the deal. The fine nib gives me a nice line width to get some glimmer of the shading on the Dark Lilac ink.

And that brings me on nicely to this ink colour. It’s a beaut! I have the T10 cartridges so that I can use this ink colour in the Safari or AL Star and it’s a really nice pairing. This week I have practically finished a whole cartridge which is pretty good going. I actually only have two cartridges left of this colour so may have to get some more.

This ink really shines in my Hobonichi Techo on the tomoe river paper and in the Midori weekly refill (019) insert. On these pages you really get to see the inks sheen and the gorgeous shading. It makes using this ink ten times more enjoyable than on regular paper.

The other bits

I can’t actually see a negative this week from using the Safari therefore this section is titled other bits. These thoughts aren’t negative but they aren’t positive either, they just deserve a mention.

The moulded grip section on the Safari is always something which can put people off this pen. I have actually found that it forces me to hold to pen in the correct way and also stops me from gripping too hard and sliding my fingers down to the nib (something I can be prone to doing). Therefore the moulded grip section has not bothered me at all. That doesn’t mean I like it, I would like a Safari without this, but it hasn’t put me off using this fountain pen at all.

The ink window on this fountain pen is a helpful feature. It’s not something I don't normally notice but when it is it’s actually quite handy to see where you are with your ink levels. You know whether you need to take a spare cartridge out with you or to check to see if you’re nearly done.

A confession

You may have noticed from my previous post that I visited the London Pen Show this week. Day one and I had already failed in the 1 pen challenge as I was using various fountain pens and testing out different inks at the show. This show only comes once a year, so these were extenuating circumstances and surely I can be forgiven on this occasion.

Overall thoughts

I am seriously coming out of this week feeling a renewed love of the Lamy Safari. I need to remember that this is actually a good fountain pen and use it more often. I should also give this as a gift to people to get them into fountain pens.

Week 6

I am back with a pencil for the coming week, the Staedtler Mars Lumograph in F grade. I have often thought that this could be my favourite pencil. I like the design but more than anything the graphite writes really smoothly. It’s a nice writing experience and every time I pick it up I think, ‘I really like using this pencil, I should use it more often!’ So I am. Thoughts on my week with the Staedtler Mars Lumograph will be live on the blog next week.

A recap of my first Pen Show

On Sunday 2nd October I visited my first ever pen show in London. I had been aware there was a pen show in London for a number of years but I had never made it a priority to attend. This year however I thought I would go along and see what a pen show was like and test out some fountain pens.

Initial thoughts on the show

I was definitely a rabbit in the headlights when I first arrived. I would say the London Pen Show is fairly small but despite its size the experience a little overwhelming. There is so much to look at and you have to get up close to the tables to see whats on offer. To add to this newbie status I found the show poorly sign posted. I knew a few online retailers would be there but it took me quite a long time to locate them and I was forced to look at the show map a few times for reference.

Show hall

Show hall

What I found useful

Being able to touch, feel and test out the pens was invaluable and actually changed a few of my purchase decisions. One fountain pen on my shopping wish list was the Pelikan M205, specifically the limited edition Blue or Aquamarine. When I actually held and tested this fountain pen out I was disappointed. I found the coloured demonstrator barrel off-putting and the nib too firm. The pen was also a lot smaller than I expected. I think it goes without saying I didn’t buy a Pelikan M205.

Looking at and testing different inks was also great. I have become more intrigued by the various ink manufacturers finding it a new way to enjoy my fountain pens. Seeing some of the ink colours in the flesh was really useful. After the show I had added some colours on to my ink wish list, and in some cases removed some because they looked different in person. KWZ definitely won me over with their ink testing station and meeting the makers in person and getting their views on the different inks was fab.

The box of new Lamy LX fountain pens 

The box of new Lamy LX fountain pens 

What I took away with me

I came away with things I had on my wish list, but still a little more than I expected. I picked up the following:

  • Lamy LX with a medium nib in Rose Gold
  • Noodlers Ahab flex nib pen
  • KWZ ink in both Brown Pink and Rotten Green
  • Taroko Designs tomoe river paper in passport and regular sizes
  • 2 A5 Clairefontaine ruled notebooks
  • Pelican M400 with an extra-fine nib in brown tortoise shell!

I am really happy with my purchases. I did’t expect to get as much as I did but they are all pens, inks and paper that I enjoy using. I didn’t have the Pelikan M400 on my shopping list, but after testing out the M205 and the M400 there was an obvious and clear winner. This actually ended up being a gift from my husband, who on the day was my enabler, upselling me to the limited edition brown tortoise shell.

My pen show swag

My pen show swag

Overall thoughts on my first pen show

I really found the experience of the pen show useful. I don’t think the London Pen Show is the most dynamic and on face value is a little intimidating, but getting to see different pens in the flesh was really helpful. The staff hosting the show were very welcoming when we arrived. I came with my husband and baby in a pram (causing havoc trying to navigate around).

I was a little disappointed with some aspects of the show. I was keen to try a Pilot Custom 92 but I was unable to find one. Some of the online retailers that stock the pen didn’t have any with them on the day. Naively I thought that most companies would have a wide range of different pens with them at the show so I was a little bit disappointed by this.

Twiss Pens table and some of the acrylic rods - gorgeous! 

Twiss Pens table and some of the acrylic rods - gorgeous! 

I will definitely attend again next year. I may not have big purchases on my list (who am I kidding!) but I think it’s a great place to meet people and look at different fountain pens and inks to help fuel my habit.

And to top it off on my way out I bumped into Myke Hurley himself. We had a great chat about the show and what I had bought. And Myke, I am fully in support of bring some Pen Addict love to the London Pen Show!!

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 4 Review

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

My Start Bay Navigator in Chic Tan and the Karas Kustoms Retrakt

This week I have been using the Karas Kustoms Retrakt paired with the Pilot G2 black gel refill. Before starting out on this week I presumed I would enjoy using the Pilot G2 refill but maybe struggle a little bit with the Retrakt pen itself. This assumption was pretty spot on but I have also encountered a few barriers to the 1 pen challenge.

This week's failures

There have been a few occasions this week where I have been forced to deviate from the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and Pilot G2. First up was a passport application I needed to get filled out and sent. These forms have very specific requirements and you need to use a black ballpoint pen to fill out the forms. This meant that the gel ink pen was not useable in this situation. Secondly I had to send some post this week and I needed to use a Sharpie pen to fill out the shipping information on the box.

These deviations were forced and highlights that 1 pen cannot work in all scenarios. There are times when specific tools are needed to get the job done.

Things I didn't like this week.

I want to get the negative points out of the way first. This week marked the start of my final module with the Open University which has meant that the amount of time I spend writing has increased. Using the Retrakt for long periods of time has been quite strenuous. This pen is heavy, being made from aluminium, and when writing for long stretches of time I found that my wrist began to ache, a lot! I have found it quite uncomfortable in a way I don't think I would have with a fountain pen and definitely not with a pencil.

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

Poor sight line on the G2 tip

In keeping with this theme, the Retrakt grip section is something I cannot persuade myself to like. I find the it too chunky and the sight line to the pen tip poor. This has only been a slight irritation when I have been writing for long periods of time with this pen. For shorter note taking tasks this is less of an issue.

The Pilot G2 refill

The Pilot G2 refill

There are some good points

The Pilot G2 refill is strong. The black line is crisp and dark giving a brilliantly fine line on the page. It flows well and is really smooth to write with. I have particularly enjoyed using this in my Midori Weekly Refill (019) for recording a snippet of the day's events.

The Retrakt is a nice looking, smart pen. It's not one I use regularly simply because it gets bumped mainly by fountain pens. But actually it's a nice pen and it has it’s place as part of my writing toolkit, but as a standalone pen to use day in and day out, I am not sure the Retrakt barrel would work for me.

Overall thoughts.

This pairing is really strong and I have enjoyed using both of them together. I couldn't use the Retrakt and the Pilot G2 as my only pen choice but actually what this exercise has made me realise is it has its place as part of my writing toolkit. As a result I will be carrying this pen around with me a lot more, rather than leaving it outcast on my desk.

Week 5

Moving into next week I will be using the Lamy Safari and Lamy Dark Lilac ink. I really love this ink colour and the Safari is one of those entry level pens people recommend because it is very reasonably priced. It does have its downsides like the mounded grip section, so using only this pen for a full week could be interesting.

Check back next week to see how I've held up.