TWSBI

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series

My writing implements of choice

My writing implements of choice

Lately I have been wondering how I would feel if I could only using one writing implement for a prolonged period of time, say a week. Would I like them as much as I think I do if I could only use them exclusively? I have numerous fountain pens inked up at a given time and what I have found is that I don’t use any of them enough. I rotate through the different pens and inks but don’t fully appreciate what I am using because it doesn’t get used enough. Similarly with the pencils that I have to hand, they rarely get a proper look in as the fountain pen usually wins.

With this in mind I have decided to spend dedicated time with one writing implement. I will use one pen or pencil for a week. This should give me enough time to use the pen or pencil in different notebooks and scenarios allowing me figure out how much I really like them and how practical they are.

I have chosen a selection of writing implements that I believe I enjoy using from a range of fountain pens, pencils and gel ink pens.

The final list includes:

  • Kaweco AL Sport F nib with J. Herbin Bleu Nuit
  • Staedtler Mars Lumograph F grade pencil
  • Lamy Safari EF nib with Lamy Dark Lilac ink
  • Karas Customs Retrakt with Pilot G2 refill in black
  • TWSBI 580RB B nib with KWZ Honey ink
  • Blackwing 24 pencil
  • Tactile Turn Gist F nib with Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai ink

Each week after I have finished using the writing implement I will share my thoughts here on the blog. I will generally be looking at how I have found using that one writing implement for the week and what I have liked and disliked about it. Using one writing tool for a week long period will I’m sure throw up lots of issues and honestly I don’t think I am a one pen kinda girl.

This mini experiment will help me to decide how I feel about each of the different writing tools selected. But overall this experiment is supposed to be a little bit of fun.

So first up…the Kaweco AL Sport with a fine nib and J. Herbin’s Bleu Nuit.

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.

TWSBI Diamond 580RB - EF Nib

Today marks the fourth annual Fountain Pen Day and to celebrate I will be reviewing one of my favourite and most used fountain pens - the wonderful, the reliable, the pretty...TWSBI Diamond 580RB

A beautifully designed fountain pen. 

The TWSBI Diamond range of fountain pens are full sized with a piston filling mechanism that enables the pen to hold more ink than a standard convertor or cartridge. 

The 580RB is a special edition member of the Diamond family with the addition of a red, semi-translucent cap and grip section and a blue piston knob. The main barrel section remains clear allowing you to see your ink colour sloshing about - a design feature I love. Before the pen is inked up it kind of reminds me of the French flag. At the end of the pen cap the 580RB has a white Taiwanese sun emblem which replaces the usual TWSBI logo. The decoration of the nib includes their logo and some fine detailing.

The perfect mid-level fountain pen

The TWSBI 580RB can be snapped up for around the £45 mark. For this price you get some additional features above an entry level fountain pens and all for a very reasonable price. The upgrade brings with it the piston filling mechanism, lovely chrome detailing especially on the pen cap and a well tuned nib. 

A strong and sturdy nib. 

The reason my TWSBI has been in constant use and why I reach for it over others is the nib. It writes consistently well and I have never had any ink flow issues or skipping problems. This is a pen I can rely on and know it will just work. I have an EF nib as I prefer a nice fine line however there are several options available including stub nibs. I really enjoy writing with the 580RB. It's a good weight and the nib glides smoothly over the page making it really easy to write with.  

A handwritten review using the TWSBI 580RB

A handwritten review using the TWSBI 580RB

It's adaptable. 

TWSBI fountain pens allow you to swap out the nibs. I could completely change how I use this pen by replacing my existing nib with a stub or broad nib as an example. This means that the TWSBI range of fountain pens are adaptable to your needs. You have the option to create several pens in one with the small upgrade addition of a replacement nib.  

A cap-less TWSBI 580RB

A cap-less TWSBI 580RB

In Summary

I love this fountain pen. In my opinion it's the best fountain pen in the market at around the £50 mark. The TWSBI 580 Diamond series of fountain pen receives praise from numerous other bloggers and fountain pen enthusiasts and I can see why. 

If the TWSBI 580RB is not for you there are several design options including a Diamond mini as well as some special edition colours, the most recent a lovely blue. There is something for everyone. 

September Loadout

Moving into September my loudout is changing again, particularly with regards to my paper tools. 

The Notebooks

Passport Size Midori Travelers Notebook (MTN) - I have had this for a long time. I bought it on a whim around a year ago hoping to use it as a Field Notes cover, but it doesn't completely fit. I couldn't get my head around the Travelers Notebook set-up so it has been sat in a drawer gathering dust ever since. However in August I decided to give it another go. I bought new refills, (002 Grid notebook, 005 Plain notebook, 010 Kraft Pocket and 011 Elastic bands) which will allow me to use the passport MTN for notes on the go throughout September. This is replacing my Field Notes carry, which for the first time in years I won't be using. I also have the plastic pocket in the Passport size MTN which at the moment is only holding some stamps, washi tape and a small paper bag. 

Regular Size Midori Travelers Notebook - this is completely The Journal Shops fault. I had been immersed in YouTube videos on how people use their MTN. This lead to reading some blogs, particularly Seaweed Kisses, which I love. And then right on cue a 15% off offer from The Journal Shop landed in my inbox. Obviously I took advantage buying the regular MTN as well as the 001 Ruled notebook, 012 Sketchbook, 020 Kraft Pocket and 021 Rubber Bands. At the moment I am using this for writing, ink notes and trying my hand at some sketching. 

I have included a couple of YouTube video links on the MTN below. A lot of the content on YouTube are from very crafty people who use their MTN as a kind of scrapbook. For a beginner I found this daunting however the two videos below look at a more general uses of the MTN that I found very helpful. 

Stuff and Things  

Seaweed Kisses

Regular Midori Travelers Notebook on the left, Passport on the right

Regular Midori Travelers Notebook on the left, Passport on the right

The Pens

Pilot Metropolian, F nib and Diamine Prussian Blue - this is my on the move fountain pen that I will probably use most with the Passport MTN. I love this ink colour and the fine nib of the Pilot Metropolitan gives me a very fine line.  

Karas Kustoms Ink, F nib and Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki - I decided to change out the Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai for a try of Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-Peki. The fine Schmidt nib on the Ink has a wider line than a Japanese fine which means I get to enjoy the gorgeous shading that Kon-Peki has to offer. 

Lamy AL Star, F nib and Lamy black ink - This is a new purchase that I picked up from a brick and mortar shop. I have the special edition Copper Orange that I am using with the Lamy T-10 black ink cartridges. 

TWSBI 580 RB, EF nib and Diamine Orange - I love the Diamine Orange ink. It's such a lovely colour and really brightens up any boring task. In the demonstrator TWSBI you really get to appreciate the ink colour which is an added bonus. Plus the TWSBI nib and Diamine inks are a firm favourite of mine. 

My writing implements 

My writing implements 

The Pencils

Caran d'Ache Mechanical Pencil - as you will notice from a recent review of this pencil I am a big fan and really enjoy using this mechanical pencil. It writes really well in my MTN too.  

Staedtler Mars Lumograph grade F - for the times when I need a woodcase pencil I enjoy using this option. The firm graphite is perfect for writing with and I love the barrel colour too.  

Staedtler Mars Lumograph, Caran d'Ache Mechanical Pencil, Karas Kustoms Ink, Lamy AL Star, Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI 580 RB

Staedtler Mars Lumograph, Caran d'Ache Mechanical Pencil, Karas Kustoms Ink, Lamy AL Star, Pilot Metropolitan, TWSBI 580 RB

Extras

Carta Pura eraser - I think this eraser is probably my favourite. It does its job really well and there is minimal mess. 

Hobonichi Techo - I have written a couple of reviews of this in the past. I still use this every day and as the weeks go on I love the used look it takes on. If you're interested in the Hobonichi Techo, the 2016 planners go on sale from the 1st September. For 2016 I am planning to buy the larger sized cousin

Midori MD A5 Notebook - this continues to be another form of journaling that allows me to waffle on if I feel the urge, however I am not committed to writing in this notebook each day. A full review of this notebook will be live within the coming weeks.

Hershel Supply Medium Pouch - This is where things get thrown when I am on the move, kind of like an oversized pencil case.  

The Midori Travelers Notebooks are the main change for September. I will travelling this month so having a system that is set up to carry multiple notebooks and collect any ephemera is appealing. Also the fountain pen friendly paper is another big selling point for me. Look out for Octobers Loadout to see if I have managed to stick with the MTN system.