TWSBI 580

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series: Week 3 Review

TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib 

TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib 

This week I have been using the TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib partnered with KWZ Honey ink. The TWSBI 580 RB is a standard fountain pen in my line-up. I always have this inked up, but normally it has an extra-fine nib. I recently swapped this out for a broad nib to play around with the pen and my inks a little more.

A week with the TWSBI 580 RB

I could easily use this fountain pen for long periods of time. I really like the design of the RB with the red and blue plastic sections. The clear barrel has always been a nice feature and I really enjoy seeing the ink slowly deplete. I like the fact that this pen holds a large amount of ink and the piston filling mechanism is something a little different. All of these small features combined makes this a personal favourite fountain pen of mine and I think I have had it inked ever since I bought it.

The TWSBI nibs are solid. They write really well and are sturdy working well in all scenarios. Using the new broad nib changed my experience of this pen completely. Broad nibs are not usually my first choice but actually its been nice to have a different nib on a fountain pen, rather than yet another extra-fine or fine. Paired with the KWZ Honey it was gorgeous.

However, having a broad nib and using this for all tasks does present some challenges. It can be difficult when using this pen and nib combination in different notebooks. A pocket notebook is not the best place for a broad nib fountain pen. You tear through paper quickly because your words take up more space on the page and you generally need more room. On the flip side the benefit has been writing in larger notebooks. I have really enjoyed using this in my A5 Clairefontaine notebook for my morning pages. The broad nib is less bothersome in a larger book and it has allowed me to appreciate my new ink a lot more. Playing with this fountain pen and having a really nice ink with some lovely shading has made this combination really enjoyable.

My Travelers Notebook with my TWSBI 580

My Travelers Notebook with my TWSBI 580

This weeks ink choice

I have enjoyed trying out a new brand of ink. It’s been a lovely ink to use especially in a broad nib making it a lovely change. I had high expectations for this ink brand due to the online buzz surrounding it and I have been a little disappointed. I don’t think this feeling will linger and over time I expect I will grow to love this ink more and more. It has great shading, it’s in the range of fountain pen ink colours that I really like using and writes really well.

Overall thoughts

I thought I would enjoy this fountain pen choice and I have done. I am not sure how practical a broad nib is on a day to day basis, but I have enough fountain pens that do fit into this category. Therefore I will be sticking with a broad nib on my TWSBI for some time and trying out some different inks.

In terms of the ink I do like it and I can see why it has had some good reviews online. It is the ideal ink for this time of year, but it doesn’t blow my socks off. Check back in the week to see a full blown review of KWZ Honey ink.

On to Week 4

On to Week 4

Week 4

I have debated what pen to turn to next and what will be the right choice for the next week. Part of me thinks this may be because I am not sure about the remaining inks and pens. But after some consideration I thought I should move away from a fountain pen and use the Karas Kustoms Retrakt and the black Pilot G2 refill. I want to see how I feel about a gel ink pen for a full week. Black is the most obvious choice and works in a whole range of different scenarios. To upgrade this and make it feel a little bit more special I decided to go for the machined aluminium pen. The Karas Kustoms Retrakt is a pen I have been in two minds about for some time. I really like the design and look of this pen but I find the barrel a little too fat. I could also do with an improved sight line on the pen which has bothered me and stops me using this pen more. But that's my thoughts today, at the end of this week I will write up a full review of how I have found this gel pen.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil Mini Series: Week 2 Review

The gorgeous Blackwing 211, natural finish with a brown eraser

The gorgeous Blackwing 211, natural finish with a brown eraser

Two weeks into my pen/pencil experiment and this week has been devoted to the Blackwing 211. I felt it was important to include some pencils in my mini series to really find out how much I enjoy using pencils.

The Blackwing 211 is one of my favourite Blackwing pencils. It has the firmest of the graphite cores borrowing from the Blackwing 602. I prefer a hard graphite core as I use pencils predominately for writing, not sketching. I have found using the 211 for a full week a mixed bag of feelings.

What works.

There is no doubt a pencil is probably one of the easiest writing implements to take on the move. It’s light, you’re not too concerned about damage, concerns about snapping the graphite can be solved with a pencil cap. They’re perfect for writing on the move, there is no fountain pen cap to unscrew, or a lid to keep track of. You just pull out the pencil and write. Easy.

I have really enjoyed admiring this pencil during the week. It’s such a simple classic design with a great natural colour palette. This isn’t your standard pencil, this is a special pencil.

What I haven’t enjoyed.

I have missed using a fountain pen this week. I found by day 4 I was wondering whether I should abandon the task at hand and just pull out a fountain pen to write my morning pages.

I have noticed that when I write with a pencil my handwriting looks pretty rubbish. There seems to be less places to hide with a pencil and the good and bad points of your handwriting are laid bare.

Sharpening has been a bit of a pain too. You just start finding your stride with what you’re writing down on the page and suddenly your pencil is blunt and you need to sharpen it. When sitting at my desk this hasn’t been so bad as my classroom friendly sharpener is to hand, but on the move it’s a bit more irritating. I had forgotten how good the classroom friendly sharpener is in comparison to the KUM long point sharpener. The long point you get varies dramatically between the two and the classroom friendly sharpener really gives you a smooth finish and the perfect long point.

Overall thoughts

After completing this week, with a pencil I really like, it’s probably safe to say I couldn’t use only a pencil all the time. I feel like my notes look more mundane and my weekly diary spread a little dull. I miss the fountain pen experience and the wide variety of inks that brighten up my pages. I guess I cannot really consider myself a pencil girl.

Week 3

For the coming week I will be using the TWSBI 580 RB with a broad nib and KWZ Honey ink. The broad nib is new on this fountain pen and not something I have used before. I have only ever used a broad nib on a Kaweco Skyline Sport and this wasn’t the best experience. I thought the trusty TWSBI nib would be more reliable and I am excited to see how I get on with a broad nib fountain pen for a full week.

The KWZ Honey ink is also new. This ink colour has been getting some praise online so I was keen to try it myself. The brown/gold colour inks are beautiful and coming into Autumn I think this ink colour could be perfect. I am really excited about this week and think it could possibly be a winner.

To read through this mini series from the beginning you can see the first post explaining what the mini series is about and my first week with the Kaweco AL Sport and J.Herbin Bleu Nuit.

Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro Ink Review

If you have been to my blog before you may have noticed that I use Pilot Iroshizuku inks a lot. It is the brand of ink I have reviewed the most, you could say I am a sucker for these inks.

This ink looks great in a demonstrator fountain pen

This ink looks great in a demonstrator fountain pen

The main reason I enjoy the Pilot Iroshizuku brand of inks is as a general rule they handle really well. They are nice and wet which means you get a good flow in your fountain pen and when using high quality paper you are usually treated to some gorgeous shading!

Today I am here to talk about one particular colour, the Syo-Ro. The english name for this ink is ‘dew on pine trees’. The colour does remind me of lush green forests similar to what you may find in the Scottish Highlands so I think the name rings true. I have found Syo-Ro similar to the Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku. Ku-Jaku is a bright teal coloured ink, but using these two inks in conjunction with one another the differences are very subtle. The Syo-Ro is a darker shade of green and has less shading when using on normal writing paper.

However to contradict myself to a point I have noticed with the Syo-Ro when using it in my Hobonichi Techo or on Midori paper in my Travelers Notebook, you do get some lovely shading. It’s not visible on other paper stock, but there are some definite red and blue undertones that gives this ink a lovely sheen.

The Syo-ro shown in my Techo. The light doesn't show the shading quite in the way I'd have liked it to.

The Syo-ro shown in my Techo. The light doesn't show the shading quite in the way I'd have liked it to.

I have really enjoyed using Syo-Ro. I received this ink as part of a 15ml Iroshizuku gift box. It was not an ink colour I sought out or had an expectations of. I have it inked up in one of my most used pens, the TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib and use it to write with most days. The demonstrator pen means I get to enjoy the ink sloshing about in the barrel and appreciate its lovely deep tones. With the TWSBI fountain pen I get a nice thin line for writing and the lovely dark green Syo-Ro is something a little bit different from the normal blue or black inks.

Written review of the Syo-ro in a Nock Co A5 notebook written with my TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib

Written review of the Syo-ro in a Nock Co A5 notebook written with my TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib

I would in most cases always recommend trying an Iroshizuku ink. They are quite expensive and if you’re in Europe more than likely you can only get your hands on the large 50ml bottle. In most cases though if you’re confident on a colour you should enjoy using this brand of ink. They are really fun to use, easy to clean out of fountain pens and write really well.

With this colour specifically it’s not my favourite within the Iroshizuku range but I think in the winter months this ink would fit very well into my wintery mood. At this time of year I enjoy using bright coloured inks that reflect the onset of Spring.

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.