Pens

Baron Fig Squire: The Insightful Spectre Pen Review

Baron Fig sent me their latest limited edition Squire pen, The Insightful Spectre to review on the blog. I have been using this pen since its launch and have thoughts to share with you, however to be clear, all opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Lovely, simple packaging. A nice way to be introduced to your new pen

Lovely, simple packaging. A nice way to be introduced to your new pen

The Insightful Spectre is the latest limited edition release in the Baron Fig Squire line-up. It’s actually my first experience with a Squire pen. The Squire is a very simple aluminium pen design that tapers out slightly towards the pen tip fattening up so that the pen stays in your hand when writing and stops slipping. There is no cap or knock on this pen, the refill is exposed through a twist mechanism. All of this helps keep the Squire aesthetic very simple.

IMG_1038.jpg

The limited edition features of The Insightful Spectres are the dark, foggy barrel colour. In person The Insightful Spectre appears a deep purple / grey colour. I was expecting it to be darker, almost black because of how it appears on Baron Figs website but it’s nothing like that, the real colour was a nice surprise. It adds a bit of interest.

IMG_1039.jpg

Baron Figs branding appears on the barrel in a contrasting white. On the other side of the barrel is the very cute ghost that makes up part of The Insightful Spectre story. The ghost has white eyes that really pop on the pen, almost like he's watching you.

IMG_1048.jpg

I have been using my Squire for NaNoWriMo to the point where I have used the entire refill. I have found when using this for long periods of time that the weight of the pen becomes a little heavy. I don’t think this is perhaps an issue with the pens design, it’s the aluminium that makes it uncomfortable. Because of this I don’t recommend using the Squire for writing for long stretches of continuous writing. It is however great for short note taking, journaling and everyday use.

The ideal pen for note taking?

The ideal pen for note taking?

The refill that comes with The Insightful Spectre is very good. It takes the Schmidt P8127 which is a popular pen refill. This limited edition release came with a fine black refill which is perfect. The line width is not too thin and scratchy but not obnoxiously wide either. The black ink is deep and dark, not a wussy black ink. The refill doesn’t let this pen down.

A comparison against something black, plus I like this photo. 

A comparison against something black, plus I like this photo. 

Overall thoughts

I have really enjoyed using The Insightful Spectre over the past month. It’s a well designed pen made from materials that make this a durable pen. There is no fear when using it on the move, or when small people try and steal your writing tools.

I would like to thank Baron Fig for sending me The Insightful Spectre to review on the blog.

A mass of Uni-ball pens

Last month Uni-ball offered to send me a selection of their products to review on the blog. I have been using a few of these pens over the past few weeks to test out how they work in my everyday writing. The opinions expressed in this review are my own and aren’t influenced by Uni-ball in any way.

Uni-ball Air

Part of the Uni-ball package were two Uni-ball Air pens. I wasn’t familiar with these pens before testing them out for this review. The first thing I noticed was how the grip section through to the tip of the pen merged into one. It’s very distinctive and looks a little futuristic. It does make it hard to see where the tip is and took some getting used.

The grip section on the Air isn’t particularly comfortable. It’s completely smooth made from a high gloss plastic material which isn’t grip friendly.

I received both pens with a broad tip. There isn’t a specific size call out but it’s definitely edging towards the 1mm tip size. The ink performs well on a variety of different paper stocks, although on the Mnemosyne paper I did notice a bit of feathering. The ink flows as you would expect from a rollerball pen and the colours are deep and vibrant which is good.

I don’t think the Air would be a pen I would buy. In Uni-balls current line-up I don’t really see the appeal, I think there are other rollerballs that work better and have better tip sizes, such as the Vision Elite.

Uni-ball Signo TSI

The Signo TSI is Uni-balls version of the Pilot Frixon erasable pen. I didn’t actually realise this when I started using the pen, but after a while the rubber like end of the pen intrigued me enough to test if this was an eraser.

Again the grip section on this pen is a smooth matte plastic material with an attempt at ridges cut in to give grip but they’re pretty useless. The ink is ok, a little patchy and I am not sure if that’s the ink colour I have or the ink make-up of the pen.

Erasable pens may have a purpose and of use to some people but it’s not something I need or enjoy using. I think there is a big sacrifice in the performance of the ink which I prefer not to take.

Uni-pin

I have reviewed the Uni-pin drawing pens on the blog before therefore I won’t regurgitate old opinions. I did receive a few of these pens including a blue and red version which I hadn’t tried before. I have been using these pens in my bullet journal for marking off tasks and adding colour accents to my headers. For drawing pens I like using black ink and always have a use for these but less so on the coloured ink pens.

I do enjoy the Uni Pin drawing pens a lot and think they are one of my favourites. The price is great and they write really well therefore I would always recommend these pens.

Overall thoughts

This Uni-ball pen pack didn’t really showcase the best of what Uni-ball has to offer. I have used a few of their products in the past and I have always liked the Uni-ball rollerball pens. The Air and the Signo TSI feel weak in comparison to other pens within their line-up and there just isn’t enough pull to make me want to buy and use these pens.

Thank you Uni-ball for sending me this selection of pens to test. All views expressed in this review are my own.

Experimenting with Brush Lettering

All the brush pens

All the brush pens

This year one of my stationery resolutions was to learn brush lettering. I really like the style of brush lettered pages, journals and greetings cards and decided I would try and emulate this myself.

To get started I bought a few different brush pens online. I went for brands I knew but didn’t really consider everything aspect in depth. I kind of just bought on a whim which meant I made some errors.

Kuretake Zig Clean Color Real Brush pen

Despite the (lengthy) name of this pen I didn’t realise that this pen would have a real brush tip. I know ridiculous as it says it right there in the name and on the pen. Anyway after giving the pen a try I was put me off. Before venturing into brush pens I had attempted to brush letter using a paintbrush and found it really hard to control the brush. This pen just reminded me of that, which could be a good thing, but for a beginner with my preferences it put me off.

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

Zig Clean Color Brush tip

The Zig Clean Color holds a water based ink. This was another research error on my part as it meant that it wouldn’t be suitable to letter envelopes if I wanted to post to actually arrive at its destination. Ideally I would have liked a waterproof ink so that I could use this for any purpose. Being water based this slightly limits to way I can use this pen.

There are a couple of small downsides with the actual pen itself. I would like the ink to be a darker black. The ink isn’t a pure deep black and thats a bit of a shame for me. As this is a real brush tip I have to be careful with the pressure I apply when writing with it. My heavy hand could really damage the brush tip and ruin the pen completely.

Despite these few initial set backs, most of which are all completely down to my lack of research, it turns out I am enjoying this brush pen. After trying out a few different pens it has the one I have reached for the most because of the great brush tip it has. I just needed to practice with this pen a little to get used to it.

Sakura Koi Coloring Brush Pen

The second pen I chose was from Sakura. Again this is a water based ink, another error. The tip on this pen is what I had been expecting from a brush pen. It’s a bit firmer than an actual paint brush and means that I am able to apply a little more pressure with use.

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

Sakura Koi Brush pen tip

The black colour ink in this pen is really nice, its quite dark and looks really nice on crisp white paper. So far I have found it hard to get good line variation with this pen, but that is probably down to a lack of practice on my part. I am sure with time I should be able to improve my brush lettering skills using this pen.

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji brush pen and packaging 

Bimoji Brush Pen

This may not be the official name of this pen but it’s the only one I can make out from the packaging. I found this brush pen on a recent visit to JP Books. This was a second phase brush lettering purchase after my initial haul. I really liked the traditional style of this pen, it just screams Japanese culture to me.

The pen comes with a moulded grip section adding comfort when you use this pen. I really like this feature. It suggests that lettering should be a task you take time over, not rush. It’s looking to provide you with comfort when using it.

Moulded grip section and clear cap

Moulded grip section and clear cap

There is a small loop on the end of the pen which I can only presume is to secure the pen to something when not in use.

Fab Japanese branding and loop

Fab Japanese branding and loop

The clear cap makes it easy to make sure you’re capping and uncapping the pen without damaging the brush tip, very useful!

Zig Cocoiro Brush Pen

I have had this pen for quite some time and had cast it aside feeling that it wasn’t really a true brush pen. The tip is really quite fine and you have to work hard at getting line width variation. I think it could be useful if I need to do smaller, more detailed lettering.

The Zig Cocoiro is the only coloured ink I have gone for when testing out brush pens. It’s not a firm favourite of mine, but I could see this being more useful the more I experiment with brush lettering, so I am not writing it off just yet.

Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Pen in B

Ok so I bought the wrong pen. Somehow when they turned up this wasn’t the brush tip I was expecting, but rather the Pitt Artist pen’s bold. The one happy accident of this purchase is this pen is waterproof.

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Faber-Castell B pen. The tip is quite brush like

Despite buying the wrong tip I still played around a little with it and because of the tip you can get some line width variation when writing. It’s not a real brush pen, but you can get it to mimic brush lettering with some effort. I have actually been using this more in my sketchbook to date the pages and add a header in here and there. I actually really like the Pitt Artist pens so at some point I will rectify my mistake and buy the brush tip I was actually looking for.

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Writing samples from each of then pens 

Initial thoughts on my brush pens

My brush pen resolution is just getting started. So far I am only playing around with these pens and trying to get used to holding them the right way and playing with the line variation when writing. Normally I have such a heavy hand when writing so using these brush pens is taking some time to adjust.

With InCoWriMo coming up I am planning on lettering envelopes and trying to be a bit more creative with what I send out to people. I am also using the brush pens in my personal journal and in my Hobonichi Techo to letter certain events. I am pleased with how I have started with this resolution and hopefully as the year goes on my brush lettering technique will improve and my knowledge on these pens will grow.

Pilot Frixion Slim 05 Black Pen Review

The Pilot Frixion erasable rollerball pen that come in a wide range of colours. This review will be focusing on the black Frixion fine tip, slim barrelled pen.

On the end of the pen is a small clear eraser which allows you to erase the pens ink. In actual fact the eraser makes the ink on the page transparent rather than erasing it completely. And it works really well. There is no dust from the eraser and the lines disappear from the page. In some instances you can see a small indentation of the pens line but no different to graphite and an eraser.

Frixion eraser

Frixion eraser

I have used a few different variations of the Frixion pen over the years but the one I prefer is the slim barrel pen. The diameter of the slim barrel is much nicer to write with than the standard pen. The slim barrel is also easier to carry around and fits in various pen loops like the Leuchtturm1917 pen loop.

Pilot has tried to have some fun with the Frixion design. The barrel has a swirled design that kind of reminds me of a tattoo. For the different coloured pens you have a macthing coloured barrel. This makes them stand out and easy to see when reaching into your pen pot. They probably do this better than the other gel and rollerball pen brands.

The Frixion writes well. I really like the fine needle tip on the slim barrel pen, it makes it really easy to see what you're writing on the page. I also really like the 0.5mm line width. I have found that it writes on most different paper types with ease with no skipping problems. The eraser does its job as well and gets rid of anything unwanted.

The needle tip 

The needle tip 

The downside for me with this pen is the colour of the black ink. It just isn’t really very black. As the ink is erasable it obviously changes the properties of a standard rollerball or gel ink pen. The ink colour is really noticeably different. Below you can see a comparison against various other black gel and rollerball pens that shows how light the Frixion black is. It's more of a grey colour and kind of looks faded. I would like to try a couple of different colour inks in the Frixion line to see if they suffer from the same faded look.

Written comparison against other black ink rollerball and gel pens

Written comparison against other black ink rollerball and gel pens

After using this pen for a while I don’t have a positive or negative view of this pen. It writes ok, it does what it says it should and erases quite well with no weird fluffy residue to deal with. But the thing is I like my black inks to be a really dark black, not grey, not a light black, a real black. This pen just doesn’t cut it. Because of this my black Frixion now lives in my car so there is a pen to hand if I ever need one. I think this is the perfect fit.