Pilot

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.

My Fountain Pen Day Line-Up

The fist Friday of November marks International Fountain Pen Day. This year to celebrate I have decided to share the fountain pens I am using and the paper products I use with them.

Lamy LX, Tacticle Turn Gist, Kaweco AL Sport, Kaweco Skyline Sport and the Pilot Kakuno

Lamy LX, Tacticle Turn Gist, Kaweco AL Sport, Kaweco Skyline Sport and the Pilot Kakuno

Fountain pen and ink combinations

Lamy LX in Rose Gold with a medium nib and KWZ Brown Pink - this is a new fountain pen and ink combination both bought at the London Pen Show. The rose gold colour of this pen is gorgeous and works so well with the KWZ Brown Pink ink, it's a natural pairing. Over the past few months I have been enjoying broader nib widths and the medium nib on the Lamy LX is perfect. This was I get to really see and enjoy the inks I am using.

Tactile Turn Gist with a fine nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai - this combination is left over from my 1 week 1 pen mini series. It’s my sensible combination that I can use is almost all scenarios.

Kaweco AL Sport with a fine nib and J. Herbins Bleu Nuit - I really love my AL Sport. The grey colour is so nice in person and the Bleu Nuit seems to be the perfect ink colour for this pen. It’s a very wintery fountain pen and ink partnership.

Kaweco Skyline sport with an extra fine nib and Diamine Ancient Copper - I love the mint colour of this fountain pen, it’s possibly one of my favourites. I have this loaded with a Diamine Ancient Copper cartridge, an ink colour I have been keen to try for some time. The thing is I am not sure that this pairing works very well, therefore I don’t see this partnership lasting long.

Pilot Kaukuno with a medium nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro - I love my Kakuno. As it’s a simple, entry level fountain pen I don’t feel too precious about it and its one that comes on the move with me. I opted for Iroshizuku Syo-ro as it’s a nice deep green for the autumnal season.

The notebooks I am using

The notebooks I am using

My current paper choices

The Soukime plain A5 slim notebook is used for blog post planning and outlining of ideas. I have this with plain paper in the dark green cover.

I have a Midori Kraft notebook that I use as a photo journal. This is crammed with photos of my son documenting the small developments he is making and the things we are doing together. This isn’t a journal I use everyday and is somewhere I can experiment with different journaling techniques.

My Rhodia staple bound ruled notebook is being used for notes for my Open University course. I am using this in my Start Bay Navigator.

I have a Clairefontaine ruled notebook for morning pages, or my version of it. This is also in my Navigator.

I am using a Field Notes Lunacy edition notebook to capture notes on the move and for some journaling on the go.

I have the English version of the Hobonichi Techo which I am currently using as a sort of bullet journaling and planning notebook.

My Midori 019 free weekly refill is being used as a small memory keeper recording snippets of my day.

Fountain pen day 2016

I have found that my fountain pen usage has swayed towards Western brands and that I have begun to enjoy a range of different nib sizes. A year ago all of my fountain pen choices would have been extra-fine or fine nibs, but this isn’t the case any more. I have tried to align my current ink colours to the time of year enjoying Autumnal tones. As usual I am using a lot of different notebooks at one time, (I plan on streamlining this a lot next year). Due to my love of fountain pens I have found and acquired a range of notebooks that have the right types of paper for fountain pens.

This year I won't be celebrating Fountain Pen day by adding to my foutain pens as I am happy with my purchases from the London Pen Show. Instead I will be enjoying some time writing and appreciating those fountain pens I own.

The Lure of the Limited Edition

A selection of limited edition stationery items 

A selection of limited edition stationery items 

I have been sitting on this post for some time not entirely sure how to approach it. I want to share my thoughts on the stationery limited edition, where I have had experience with them and how I now approach them.

Limited editions are a popular marketing tool used by numerous stationery brands. It is not uncommon to see brands using a limited edition product as part of their standard offering, an annual event or to celebrate an anniversary. In the past I have found myself being pulled in by the lure and urgency that surrounds a limited edition product. In some instances the limited edition may be different with a unique feature, however in other cases the limited edition contains purely cosmetic adjustments.

Field Notes colors and limited editions

The most obvious brand that comes to mind and where I have had the most experience is with Field Notes. They have built a business around offering limited run seasonal colors release where each notebook has a different design and sometimes a different feature. This is where my almost anxious state of snagging a limited edition product started. I used to buy multiple packs of Field Notes after a new release to ensure that I bagged enough of these notebooks. This was without even using one first, my purchase decision was based on a web page, a video, community chatter and the brand alone.

Some of my limited edition Field Notes

Some of my limited edition Field Notes

Alongside buying silly quantities of current colors editions I had also been trying to acquire older colors releases looking for editions I believed I would like and that were talked about. I was successful to a point but didn’t pursue this with dogged determination. I got stung a couple of years ago when I managed to secure a pack of the Northerly edition, paying far more than you should for 3 little notebooks, but nowhere near the crazy levels I have since seen, and then really disliking the notebook paper inside.

I started to question my enjoyment and desire for the Field Notes colors editions when I looked back at some of the recent releases. The differences to each edition were small, the internal paper stock was often the same as the standard, readily available Kraft notebooks but perhaps with a slightly altered grid. The cover design was definitely different with a heavier or prettier cover stock with a cool design and maybe there were some different staples. But did this warrant me buying three or four packs of these notebooks only to have them sit in a cupboard? I started to question why I was buying so many of the seasonal release notebooks and where this urgency had come from.

So I changed tact. I didn't renew my subscription because I wasn't using the notebooks I had in my possession as fast as I was buying them. I had been buying enough for a years worth of use each time a new colors edition was released. I also stopped taking part in the mad scramble for those editions outside of the seasonal releases. I decided to stop buying what I didn't think I would use.

Alongside this change in my buying behaviour I also discovered a love of the Travelers Notebook. I like that I can use my fountain pens on the Midori paper, something I didn’t enjoy doing with Field Notes. I buy the notebooks that I need, usually ruled and plain paper which were not common with the Field Notes colors editions, and I don’t hoard as Travelers Notebook don't have limited edition notebooks. It turns out this has become my paper brand of choice.

Limited Edition Fountain Pens

Field Notes aren’t the only brand who create limited edition products and it would be unfair to just recount my experiences with them. The other area where I have fallen for the limited edition buzz is with fountain pens. Lamy is one example of a brand that release a different limited edition Safari and AL Star each year. This year for example it is the Lamy Safari Dark Lilac and the Lamy AL Star Charged Green. Previously I was not that concerned with these limited editions but in the height of my limited edition fever I found myself wanting to make sure I picked one up before they sold out, despite the fact that I already owned a couple of each just not in that years colours.

The Lamy Safari Dark Lilac would usually be a pen that would really appeal to me, however I took a step back, reviewed my current Lamy collection, 2 Safari's and 1 AL Star (modest I know), and concluded I didn't need another Safari. As a sort of compromise I decided to buy a pack of the ink cartridges to use in one of my existing Lamy fountain pens as I enjoy using purple inks and this one appeared to be good. I am far more likely to use the ink than to use several Lamy fountain pens at once.

My Lamy Dark Lilac ink cartridges in use

My Lamy Dark Lilac ink cartridges in use

Lamy are not the only brand that create limited edition fountain pens but they are one of the most affordable options available and the one I have interacted with the most. I bought the AL Star Copper Orange partly because I liked the colour but also because my local stationer actually had one in stock and I was able to see this pen in the flesh. Pilot, Pelikan and Kaweco are just some of the other fountain pen brands that have created limited edition fountain pens in the past.

Other limited edition options

Field Notes and Lamy have run limited edition items for some time however we have seen other brands venturing into the world of the limited edition. Last year Blackwing launched volumes editions of their increasingly popular pencils and this year Write Notepads launched a subscription service with limited edition releases. This suggests that the limited edition model works and that the buzz generated around a strong stationery brand within the market makes this marketing tool a worthwhile exercise. A keen stationery addict could very easily have over $300 on seasonal subscriptions plus additional spending on non subscription based models, such as the Lamy fountain pens, and that is without considering the addicts general stationery wish list.

Final thoughts

This post is not intended to be a rant or dismissal of the limited edition stationery item. During my stationery journey and acquisition of new products I had started to notice that limited edition didn’t mean I was missing out on a unique feature.

I am not writing off the limited edition and nor am I saying I won't buy a limited edition item in the future. What I am concluding is that I will not be buying these items without fully considering them first. In the past I have fallen for the lure of the limited edition without considering if I would actually use the products I was buying and I have found that my enjoyment of stationery items comes in the use, not in the acquisition.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on limited edition stationery products and if you agree with my views expressed in this post.

Fountain Pens for Beginners

Fountain pens can be a daunting prospect and requires some sort of research before buying in order to figure out what you are looking for and which fountain pen will work best for you.

In this post I will look at the pros and cons of some of the best beginner fountain pens on the market. For me a beginner fountain pen should have a low entry price, be easy to acquire, pleasant to use and perhaps also look a little bit nice. Beginner fountain pens are usually the gateway drug, the pens that open us up to the world of fountain pens and get us interested in taking that next step.

The Lamy Safari, Kaweco Skyline Sport in Mint Green, Pilot MR, Pilot Kakuno and TWSBI 580 RB

The Lamy Safari, Kaweco Skyline Sport in Mint Green, Pilot MR, Pilot Kakuno and TWSBI 580 RB

Option 1 - The Lamy Safari / AL Star

Lamy is a German brand of fountain pens. They have a European nib which generally means they are a little wider than their Japanese counterparts.

I have grouped these two fountain pens together as there are a few minor differences and the prices are not too dissimilar. One has a plastic barrel, the Safari, the other an aluminium barrel, the AL Star.

Pros

  • Lots of different colour barrel options
  • Swappable nibs that are easy and affordable to replace. These also come in a huge range of sizes from EF all the way through to a 1.9mm stub nib
  • Left handed nib option available
  • Full length fountain pen
  • Easy to find both online and in stores
  • A good sized cartridge convertor meaning bottled ink use is possible

Cons

  • Moulded grip section (this may not be a con for everyone but it is a restriction hence it ends up on this side of the list)

The Lamy fountain pens have a great entry level price, the Safari costing less than £15 and the AL Star less than £25.

Option 2 - Kaweco Classic / Skyline Sport

The Kaweco Classic or Skyline Sport fountain pens are another German brand fountain pen. They are pocket fountain pens meaning they are quite a bit smaller than the other fountain pen options included in this post.

Pros

  • Pocket size means this is a great fountain pen to use if you’re on the move
  • A range of different barrel colour options
  • Nib sizes range from EF all the way up to a B nib
  • Posted this pen turns into an almost full length fountain pen

Cons

  • Changing the nibs on the Classic and Skyline Kaweco fountain pens is a bit more complicated. For the Classic Sport range you can buy a new nib and grip section for most colours. For the Skyline range not everywhere stocks the replacement parts. Therefore if you want to try a different nib size you may need to buy a whole new pen.
  • Cartridge convertor options on the Kaweco line are poor. Cartridges are the best route with the Kaweco range.

A Kaweco Classic or Skyline Sport will set you back around £20. You can easily get hold of these fountain pens from a number of different online retailers.

Option 3 - Pilot MR

The Pilot MR is a great entry level fountain pen. These fountain pens come with an aluminium barrel and as they are a Japanese brand of fountain pen, they have finer nibs. This is something to bear in mind when choosing your nib size. A fine Japanese nib will be finer than a fine German nib. On the MR I have found the M nibs are the easiest to come by, but with some digging you may be able to find a F nib.

Pros

  • A great entry into the wonderful world of Pilot fountain pens
  • Cartridge convertors are available with this pen which means that you can use cartridges or bottled ink
  • Aluminium barrel
  • Lots of different barrel options available, some simple and classic and some of the colours are a bit more fun

Cons

  • Not a wide range of nib sizes available on this fountain pen

A Pilot MR costs less than £25. For this additional outlay you are getting some higher quality materials.

Option 4 - Pilot Kakuno

The Pilot Kakuno was, I believe, intended to be a fountain pen for a real beginner, i.e. children learning to use their first fountain pen.

Pros

  • It’s fun
  • It has a smiley or winking face on the nib
  • F or M nib options available
  • It can use a convertor as well as ink cartridges
  • Very lightweight

Cons

  • It’s plastic and could be prone to breaking
  • Some of the nicer, prettier colour options are not available in Europe. I got my white barrel and yellow lid option when in the US.

For the Pilot Kakuno you will have to part with around £10 which is a fantastic price for a fountain pen.

Writing samples using each of the above fountain pens  

Writing samples using each of the above fountain pens  

Option 5 - TWSBI 580

This option is a bit more adventurous. It was the first fountain pen I bought around 4 years ago when I was getting back into stationery. I am including this in here as it’s a great fountain pen and not too pricey, but it is edging towards the next step fountain pen. There is now the TWSBI Eco fountain pen which is much more affordable, however I have not tried this pen out and wouldn’t be comfortable recommending it fully.

Pros

  • A demonstrator fountain pen means you get to see all the inner workings which is really cool
  • It’s a piston filled fountain pen which means bottled ink only, no cartridges here. With the piston filling mechanism you are getting a good amount of ink in the barrel
  • Chrome detailing
  • There is a mini version available too if you want that smaller fountain pen for on the move

Cons

  • It could be a bit of a jump for a first fountain pen and some people may find the piston filling mechanism a bit daunting.
  • A higher price in comparison to other fountain pens on this list

My TWSBI 580 cost £40, however the TWSBI Eco can be bought for less than £30.

Final thoughts

This post has become quite lengthy but hopefully it is a useful reference. I wanted to give a fairly good overview of the entry level fountain pens in the market. I love using fountain pens and use a lot of those listed here on a daily basis.

If I were to recommend one fountain pen on this list it would be the Pilot MR. I love my MR and I think it is the best starting off point. There is no moulded grip section, it’s full size, it’s a lovely Japanese Pilot nib and it’s aluminium. You get a lot of pen for your money with this fountain pen.