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Filtering by Category: Pen

Waterford Eclipse Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

During one of the special Pen Addict sales on Pen Chalet, I picked up the Eclipse as an add on with the on-sale Sailor Pro Gear. That was right before the 2014 Dallas Pen Show, so it came during the great pen purchasing fall of 2014, where somewhere around 12 pens entered my arsenal in a four month period. I quite enjoyed my time with this pen, but now it is time to part as it has been given away to Joe Kardia. Before it left my hands, I wanted to share with you my thoughts. 

To be honest, Waterford isn't a company most associate with fountain pens. The mother with the Waterford crystal in her China cabinet was always the envy of her neighbors. (To brag) that was my mother, and due, in no small part, to me. At the age of 16, I joined a student ambassador program called People to People, which gave high school students international experience to broaden their perception of the world, which for teenagers prior to social media was quite small. People to People has programs all around the world. It took me to the British Isles: England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Our first night in Ireland was spent in Waterford. We took a tour through the crystal factory and ended in the 'gift shop,' i.e. how much can you spend in one purchase without breaking the bank. I was on a mission to get some crystal for my parents, so my mom could be the envy of the neighborhood (my estimation at 16, not her express intent). I searched around the entire show floor for various possibilities that would fit the budget. I settled on a while wine glass for her and a martini glass for my dad.

At the time my pen collecting was merely in advertisement pens from businesses and hotels. Fountain pens existed merely in cartoonish form to me. As I return to that memory of searching for the best gift for my parents, I do remember seeing a case with pens in them. I know I would have only glanced over them after seeing their prices, which were around $100 and higher. I might have, channeling my father, asked, "Who would pay so much for a pen?"

Things are different now that I'm a pen addict. Had I the full Waterford offering before me now, I'm not sure which pen I would have chosen. Nonetheless, I'm glad this one came before my desk, reminding me of a great and memorable trip. 

Form

In the pen community, I have perceived a small bias against black pens, with the exception of the Lamy 2000. Black pens are seen as overly simple and don't hold the popularity of the dazzling acrylics you find in many pens today. The black pen subconsciously reveals that the user is unfamiliar with the best of what fountain pens can offer in pen body materials. The 2k is the exception, in part, due to its macrolon body. Many people will overlook a black bodied pen because they assume it's marketed toward the executive rather than the aficionado (I grant some people like shiny things). Black is simple, elegant, and professional. I don't say all ths because I wear black most days. I think most would overlook this pen simply because it's black. If you have this bias ( I have my own biases) I ask you to suspend it and take this pen for what it is. 

What it is not, is cheap looking. It would easily look comfortable in the hand of business executive, if Montblanc hadn't cornered that status symbol market. It is a classy looking pen using the simple color scheme of chrome and black, reminiscent of the silver cufflinks and black suit of a smartly dressed man, or the silver necklace, bracelet, and earrings paired with an elegant black dress of the chic woman. If only Bond were Irish! It's classy yet simple. It desires no ostentation.

The barrel is black lacquered brass, polished to a shine. The butt of the pen a has chrome cap, which looks like it could be a piston mechanism, but alas it isn't. I don't mind this little deception because it fits in well, giving some symmetry with the cap.

The cap is the most interesting part of the pen. I know Waterford isn't foreign to engraving design as I remember seeing on some of their crystal fourteen years ago. None of my pens have this kind of design work on them, making this a unique pen. I would call the design metallic plaid (after further research I found that it's called guilloche but metallic plaid sounds more manly). The pattern is set into the chrome giving the cap an interesting tactile experience. The clip looks like an elongated shield with a concave indentation in the upper half. 

"Waterford" is engraved on the bottom band of the cap. It would have been nice to also have a pen model engraved as well. On the finial is something reminiscent of Montblanc, a star. It seems this pen will live in the shadow of its French rival. Deeply engraved is a sea star keeping with the aquatic theme of the company's branding. I bet it would look awesome with different color inks sitting in each of the reservoirs. 

When uncapped, you can see the chrome threads. It helps distinguish the grip section from the body. I've always loved the little flair at the end of the section. The Eclipse has a larger one than most, but it doesn't detract from the sleek look of the pen. 

I would have preferred an all silver colored nib as opposed to the two-tone. The injection of gold seems out of place. Engraved on the nib is the date Waterford was founded, 1783, under which is the Waterford seahorse logo. I like the seahorse. It reminds me of my short time in the crystal factory as well as the symbol of nurturing fatherhood. 

Function

The brass body gives the pen a subtle weight, not as heavy as a brass pen from Karas Kustoms though. It balances well in my hand when it isn't posted. When I post it, it become too top heavy. I'm okay with not posting. Even though my hands are small, I think it would fit unposted in larger hands as well. 

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The cap screws onto the body without any hiccup. In fact, it's a pleasure to cap this pen because it feels so smooth. After I showed it to a pen friend, he said it seemed to be triple threaded. I can neither corroborate or deny and only speak as the plebeian who enjoys capping and uncapping this pen. 

It is a cartridge/converter pen. The accompanied converter fits well without any leakage. If you like large ink capacities, this isn't your pen. Personally I don't mind converters. It means I can rotate through all of my pens quicker.

The clip isn't very springy, but I've never had a problem putting it in or taking it out of my breast pocket. It did have trouble clipping to thicker materials, though. 

Feel

Like I said earlier, it's weighted well when uncapped, and it feels great in my hand. It's never gotten uncomfortable or weighty with long writing sessions. I really like the grip lip as a place to rest my fingers; it's both my style and my practical preference.

The nib is smooth and wet. Even on rougher paper it retains its smoothness. The wetness is an opportunity to show off a more shaded ink (which after writing this whole review, I wished I'd used a more shaded ink). It breaks up the dark color my fine nibs put down. 

Finances

I purchased this pen at Pen Chalet for $97.20, but they no longer have it in stock. You can find it on Amazon for $95.99, sitting right below $100. It's certainly classier than your cheaper TWSBI's, and Waterford produces a finer materialed pen than the Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy AL-Star, or even the Conklin Duragraph. It sits below the price of cheap, gold nibbed pens. I think this is a great and more cost effective version of the style of Montblanc. Yes, it doesn't have the gold nib or the piston fill, but it fits in well with the executive look without breaking the bank. If someone wanted a Montblanc, but cheaper, I would send them towards the Eclipse. 

Is the Writing Reverenced?

I'm smitten with black pens. This is one is no different. I love to look at and run my fingers over the guilloche pattern on the cap (metallic plaid still sounds better). It's weighted well and writes wet and smooth. 

Reverenced

Paper: Nock Co. A4 Notebooks
Ink: De Atramentis Charles Dickens

Fisher Q-4 Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I am excited to announce a review partnership with The Pen Company, a small family run stationary retailer in the UK. I received the following product from them for review, however, this does not sway my view of the product.

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 In trying to chose a review item, I wanted to choose something 1) I've never owned or used 2) preferably something something I've never seen reviewed (because I'm prideful). These are both selfish  reasons I know. Hopefully the choice comes to bare to aid in your purchasing. 

For some reason, I was interested in trying a multi-pen. I don't use one often and when I do it's the Hi-Tec C Coleto Me. Their concept, however, intrigues me, a vertisble Swiss Army tool of writing instruments. In my search I stumbled upon a multi-pen produced by Fisher, to whom I connect the famous Bullet Space pen with its patented pressurized ink cartridge. I knew they made other pens, but I had not seen one, until now. It fit my parameters and The Pen Company's, and, two weeks later, the pen showed up in the mail from across the pond. 

I was excited about getting a new pen and starting this new aspect of the blog. It seems I caught my office manager, Steve, in an equally excitable mood. We opened the box together finding the pen in the Fisher 'space case.' I gave him the honors of trying it first, since it wasn't a fountain pen (he's more keen on rollerballs but I forgive him). He took it out of the box. We both looked at the gunmetal barrel and ribber grip, and the four functions printed on the top of the barrel right below the nock mechanism. He clicked the nock and out came the stylus. He clicked the release button, clicked the nock again, and out came the stylus. He repeated this one or two more times before I snatched it from him in impatience only to find the same results from my attempts. After 5-7 minutes of varied success getting different functions to come out, black ink, or red ink, or the stylus would come out, but never the pencil. There seemed no rhyme or reason by which to eject the desired function. As we were sitting out in the front part of the office, the parish secretary probably thought it was hilarious, us sitting there trying to figure out how the mechanism works properly. At her commensensical recommendation, we decided to look at the directions provided by Fisher (did I say pride earlier, add stubbornness), and they didn't disappoint. Once we 'figured it out' we were both completely fascinated by the pen. (I've got to leave some suspense. I'll tell you how it works later. I guess I'm a prideful, stubborn tease). Steve then went all around the office showing everyone how it works. For the next 30 minutes, every visitor to the office got a demonstration of the pen's operation. I think I effected the efficiency of the office that day.

I carried the pen in my shirt pocket for three months and have a good handle of it. Here, then, are my thoughts. 

 Form

Fisher prides itslef on creating writing instruments for the space age. That futuristic aesthetic is present in our current charge. The pen is sleek and unadorned. It says I'm here to take scientific measurements on the moon, in mulitiple colors. The pen is larger than the Pilot G-2, and its slender length gives the feeling of an apollo rocket. The body bulges slightly at the rubber grip section giving the whole pen pleasant lines. 

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The body has a gunmetal color to it. Although such a color lends itself to the thought of space age, as opposed to teal or pink or Irish green, it leaves the pen looking like a fancy advertisement pen. Instead of looking ready for the space age, it looks more comfortable at the doctor's office or with a law firm's name on it, leaving the pen looking cheap. The chrome accents at the tip, in the band above the grip section, in the click mechanism, and with the clip up the class just slightly.  

Even so, all of the colors of the pen balance well. The black of the grip section mixed with the chrome accents find a happy tonal medium in the gunmetal grey of the body. This monochromatic feel gives the pen a '50's futuristic aesthetic in line with what I would think Fisher was looking for, but it still looks cheap.

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The branding is simple with its white words sitting nicely within the greyscale. Above the grip section band, is says "Q-4 PEN by FISHER." Below the cap, written in the same font are the four functions of the pen: Red, Black, .7mm, and Stylus. Stamped in profile on the side of the clip is "Japan,"  which makes the pen look cheaper still. After spending three months in a breast pocket the printed branding is starting to be scratched off; eventually, after a few years of hard use, it will become impossible to know what function is being chosen. 

I do like the interplay between the dull black rubber of the grip with the polish of the body and accents. It settles the eye after all that reflection, a reflection which gives the greyscale a vibrance black and white film wished it could convey.  

Function

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This is where this pen shines. It has a unique mechanism to 'discharge' the desired function. It uses gravity to determine which function is ejected for writing. The names of the four functions around the top of the barrel are not just decorative reminders but are functional keystones (pun intended). The function whose name faces up when the pen is horizontal will be the function that is extended. This is where myself and the office manager ran into the random ejection experience. We held the pen vertical, like every other pen is held, when ejecting the refill. We hadn't operated the pen correctly, hence the headaches. We were telling it to do something it wasn't made to do. 

This fascinated me the first week of use because it was new and a rather ingenious way to solve the  multi-pen problem of multiple cartridges playing bed buddies in the same barrel. They have to play well together or there will be a serious problem. After the first week, however, it became more of a frustration. I still hadn't gotten the orientation of which function was where on the barrel for me to eject it, so I would end up spending a few seconds looking for my desired function. "Oh there's the red pen." This extra time seems counterintuitive to the click function of the pen. You have quick access, but wait, let me find the right passage way. 

The click function itself runs smoothly. There are no snags or hangups. It has a comfortable tension that doesn't make it feel too loose and shakey nor is it so thight as to require the strong thumbs of a video gamer or portrait texter. The release function is also smooth. Although it is a small button it doesn't get accidentally pushed causing me to look for the function again. It requires an intentional push. Each function fits well through the extension hole. No one of them feels skinny or misshapen, all fits seamlessly 

The pencil function, after being extended, requires another click to extend the lead. The nice thing is that I can leave the lead extended even if the pencil function isn't ejected. When I do find the pencil function to click I can get right to writing.

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I don't know when the pens were first produced, but the stylus is completely useless. It looks like an old Blackberry stylus. It is't capactive for the modern touch screen; it dosn't even work on credit card machines in the gorcery store. This basically makes the pen into a Q-3 + nothing.

There is also a hidden eraser in the nock push. It doesn't look any different than the eraser on a Rotring, but it doesn't function as well. The nock,when engaged, is rather springy making it difficult to erase, because, when you push down, the nock just goes farther down. It doesn't lock to allow you to erase. I had to hold the nock to erase anything. Again, ease of use is the issue.

Feel

 The pen has a good weight to it, definitely having more heft than the analogous advertisement pen. The weight is situated at the grip section preventing it from being top heavy and leaving it feeling very comfortable in the hand. 

I like the feel of the rubber grip. It feels like my fingers are sitting on a lazy boy. The rubber itself has some shiftiness to it. It isn't dense or immobile like tire rubber. For a while I thought the shiftiness lent to the  cheap feeling of the pen, but as I wrote with it I came to like the waterbed feel it gave.

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The Fisher space refill is one my favorite ballpoint refills. It's smooth. It has a consistent line. It can write anywhere, anytime. The black refill lacks some darkness of a good rollerball but the charcoal color is pleasant nonetheless. The red refill is just as enjoyable. It puts down a little bit thinner line that the black despite having the same tip size. These refills really help to make the pen something I'd use on a regular basis. They're enjoyable, pleasant, and useful.

The pencil takes a .7mm lead. I prefer .5mm, but I can tolerate the width. Because of the relatively light weight of the pen (a Rotring is heavier) along with the particular installed lead it doesn't put down a very dark line. I can always change out the lead to something more my liking.  

The stylus ... Well.  

Financials

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The Fisher Q-4 is $48.37 at The Pen Company. This is below the Lamy 2000 multipen, $57.66, and above the Lamy Logo multi-pen at $34.47. Although the price sits between these two pens, I don't think it would be as durable as those to Lamys. Consisering the advterisemnt pen-type body, the price seems high even at the $35 price range you find at discout retailers. The price might be attached to the unique nock system, which was probably some fun engineering R&D. I'm a little shocked, having experienced the build quality of the bullet space pen, and its simple beauty, Fisher couldn't have made something that looked nicer and warranted the higher price tag. This is especially the case when rival Uniball has its Jetstream multipen + pencil priced at $16.50 with a cheap plastic body.

I'm assuming the model is also no longer in production since one of the functions is obsolete.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

I love the uniqueness of the mechanism, and those Fisher refills are some of the best ballpoints on the market.  However, these two things don't redeem the chinky look, relative unease of the mechanism, and complete uselesness of the stylus. Not reverenced.

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Paper:  Clairefontaine Classic Top Wirebound Notepad A5

NANOWRIMO Materials, 2015

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Hey, everyone (if there's anyone left). It has been nearly five months since my last full post, which is way too long. I apologize. I don't do thee justice. Nevertheless, there is always time for renewal and starting afresh in this earthly life of ours. So I come to you again two days before the start of NANOWRIMO.

I have been participating in National Novel Writing Month three years running. My total number of words I wrote, over the three year period, didn't reach the coveted number of 50,000. I have tried short stories, a novel, and non-fiction. The intention of NANOWRIMO is to get us writers to write, to do away with our inner editor and just put down what's in our minds, as incoherent and ungrammatica asl it may be. It condenses a small novel (50k of words might be 3 chapters to George R.R. Martin) into a frantic period of writing, to stir creativity, since we have been trained by numerous teachers and college professors to produce our written work by a deadline. Deadlines direct and focus the writer, which is partly why you haven't read much from me as of late (shrug); I lost my writing rhythm and couldn't find the beat. So now I decide to step onto the empty dance floor to go all Kevin James in Hitch doing my thing without a care for what people think. 

Psychologically this is quite overwhelming. Fifty thousand words (putting numerals into words always helps) is quite a bit to write, especially when I'm used to writing in blog post and homily sized bits. Developing an idea or story over such a long span of writing seems insurmountable. I know it's not because I personally know people who have conquered it. But there are still lingering doubts. 

With all this in mind, I decided to slightly bend the traditional NANOWRIMO rules, which usually call you to write on one project. I chose to continue my current, or rather more comfortable, mode of writing, in short chunks. So I will switch between projects I'm working on, rotating through them. They are: this blog, my other blog, my homilies, and the non-fiction book I started last year on the theology of alcohol; 1,667 words per day on each subjext. Some days this might be more, other days it might be less. That length, however, isn't any longer than a long blog post. I think that is doable in my mind. I'm really excited about this and am looking forward to finally reaching that 50,00 word mark. 

Being that I am a stationary snob and certified pen addict (Brad Dowdy how is this not a thing). My long journey in words will take place on paper as opposed to screen. It starts with the instrument. I saw an add from Conklin a few weeks ago in the latest edition of Pen World about three new pens the company produced recalling models the company made in its heyday nearly a century ago. One of the pens in particular caught my eye. Although it is gimmicky, I fell for it, hook, line, and sinker. A piston-filler, modern Conklin's first, the Word-Counter is, to my knowledge, unique among currently produced pens. It has, etched on the misty-yellow demonstrator barrel, levels to show how many words the pen has written through measuring the level of ink. This gives the writer some semi-scientific indication to the length of his writing. It seemed perfect for the NANOWRIMO endeavor. It says it holds approximately 5,000 words worth of ink, which would mean I'd be inking up the pen at the alarming rate of every three days. That's quite a bit of inking. 

I figured I would mark every filling with a different ink. This way variety can aid in inspiration. In monotony, I find difficulty. I chose nine inks to handle this, the whole course moving from dark and dull to bright and vibrant. I start the first three days with Aurora Black, a solid base on which to stand. Moving slightly off color, I will then turn to Private Reserve Ebony Purple, a self explanatory color, really. This will be followed by Diamine's Cult Pens Deep Dark Blue. These first nine days will cover a solid base of writing and gives me confidence to continue on. 

The next nine days starts with Sailor Jentle Epinard, which, although being a dark greeen, gives some sheen in comparison to the three previous matte colors. I will then enter the most difficult time in the NANOWRIMO month. I have chosen an ink to mirror the start of the dulling of my perception and the small ways in which, after approximately twenty thousand words, reality starts to waver, delirium not yet set in, but certainly walking up the street like a self-righteous proselytizer who perceives my weakening mind and body, this being Montblanc Meisterstück 90th Anniversary Permanent Grey. After which, I will fill in the grey hole with a matte, bright color reminiscent of leaves falling elsewhere in the country, Organics Studio F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

The final three days will grow in brightness, joy, and vibrancy. It starts with one of my favorite inks, which I will need after such a somber mind-month. Lamy Turquoise will brighten up my paper and give my writing some nice shades. With Organics Studio Nitrogen jumping up the vibrancy of the blue, my words will pop off the page. Hopefully, it will help words pop forth from my slowly tiring brain as well. To give me energy like that last cup of coffee at three in the morning the dawn a paper is due, I have chosen the inimitable J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen. A pink that, hopefully, will bring me to the finish line. 

You might have noticed I only choose nine inks approximately leading to only 27 days of writing leaving three days unaccounted for. After my experience of pencils during Lent, earlier this year, I have incorporated them into my rotation declaring Fridays as pencil days, coloring them with graphite alone. Four of the thirty days will be ferruled by the pencil. The pencils used will vary from mechanical to woodcased, whichever is closest when writing. My tastes there are not yet sharpened. 

This year, I have done something I've never done in my previous three years, through the inspiration of Johnny Gamber, of Pencil Revolution. I sat down and mapped out a basic plan of the topics I would cover in the various projects, recording them in over 30 pages of a Field Notes Shenandoah, leaving 18 pages for notes and other things. This will be my companion through this scribal pilgrimage. It will be my map and my odometer. With it, I have three other notebooks, my Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, each already assigned a task and therefore ramping up their workload for the month. I will continue using the Zequenz 360º from last year to expound on alcohol in a theological manner. I have been using and will continue to use as my homily prep notebook the Nock Co. A5 notebook, which has been covered by stickers. Finally, to develop my thoughts for both blogs I've been using, since May, the burgundy soft-cover and lined Monsieur Notebook. 

With all these tools on hand and a plan somewhat sketched, I feel more ready than ever to mount the heights of the Zion of post-modern writing, a NANOWRIMO win. 

Are any of you embarking on this NANOWRIMO journey? Let me know in the comments, we certainly need mutual encouragement. If you are, are you going analog or digital? If analog, what tools are you using?

Conklin Duragraph Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

In total transparency, I decided to give this pen away on Instagram. Since I knew it would be leaving my possession I also decided to review it. The difficulties that arose, then, were not the deciding factor for me to give away the pen. 

I was visiting my local brick and mortar, Scriptura, to get some pens for couples I was preparing for marriage. I inevitably got into pen conversation with the proprietor, Dave. He'll show me the new pens that come in and some of the really expensive pens customers ask him to order. It was during one of these new inventory tours that he brought out the Duragraph. I had seen it before on some blogs and on Goulet Pens, and, although the acrylic looked interesting, I wasn't up to purchasing the pen. 

When Dave showed it to me, I had a better impression of its beauty, but this was around Christmas. I didn't have much money to spend. I was hesitant. Then, the exchange turned into a conversation at a pen show with a vendor. He gave me a price I couldn't refuse. 

I took it home, massive box and all. When I went to ink it, I tested the writing experience dry (I honestly bought it for the looks. I didn't even write with it in the store, I don't recommend that). The tines were misaligned. I was disappointed in Yafa's quality control because I've never had a problem like that with any of my Monteverde pens. I actually took it to the Atlanta Pen Show to get someone to fix it and make it buttery, but Masuyama's time was so precious I felt it was better used on a fancier pen. So when I got home, I realigned the nib myself. What follows is my experience of the 'worked on' pen.

Form

This pen is a modern restyling of a Conklin model from the early 1920's. They tried to give the pen an Art Deco feel with certain contemporary upgrades (no sack!). On all accounts but one, they were successful in bringing out that vintage look (you'll hear about the one soon enough). Looking at the old Duragraph, what stands out first, in both pens, is the flat top. I'm a big fan of this design choice. It gives the pen that classic look. It is unafraid to be blunt. I also don't mind the logo printed on the top. Some might find it kitsch. I find it vintage advertising strategy. 

The main material is what originally drew me to the pen. It comes in cracked ice and amber acrylics, but the forest green, to me, rounds out the Golden Age feel. It takes me back to the time I worked on the stock-exchange in the late 20's, buying and selling, and signing with my Conklin self-filler. It takes me back to when I worked in the only surviving bank in the neighborhood, and this pen was the only thing left of the good ole days. The greens pop out as you rotate the pen, something I often did under my banker's lamp, wishing I could actually loan someone some money for them to survive. I know it sounds depressing (pun unintended), but the pen symbolizes the roar of the twenties. 

At the butt and at the top of the cap is black acrylic, a subtle reminder of the rubber pens of the era. The black, also, seems to frame the green acrylic well. Against the black and green, the chrome accents well. It provides a rich transition from black top to forest, like the train tracks that made this country strong. Lightly engraved on the cap band, directly under the clip, is 'Conklin.' On the back side of the pen is lightly engraved 'Duragraph,' which is flanked on both sides by crescents. This is, no doubt, an homage to the Crescent, Conklin's flagship pen.

Once you uncap the pen, you notice the section, too, is black. It gives the impression that work is about to be done. Accounts will soon be balanced. Maybe, through shrewd banking, somebody can be helped.

And then there's the nib. I'm immediately brought back to the 21st Century by its blackness. It's a great looking nib, but it doesn't work, at all, with this pen. It takes me out of my banker's drama and into, into ... into nothing exciting or exhilarating (that is unless that banker is a ninja Robin Hood). I will give credit where credit is due (again, pun unintended). The crescent breather hole was part of the nib design of the original Duragraph, but it should be on a chrome or two-tone nib. Stealth doesn't fit here. 

Function

As already stated, the nib came shipped with misaligned tines. Being that this is an attractive pen for a newer user, that's not a good start (I'm really running with these puns). Smoothness aside, if the nib doesn't work properly, it incapacitates the pen, making it near worthless. At the price point, quality control should be better.

Enough of that. It is an easy pen to post. The cap remains stable and un-wobbly (very scientific word there).

When I decided to review the pen, before sending it off to the Instagram giveaway winner, it became my daily carry pen, sitting in my breast pocket. However, it was difficult to clip it to the thin piece of fabric of my clerical shirt. The tension is so tight it's not easily moveable, no spring. I can imagine it would be even more difficult to clip it to jeans. 

Speaking of carrying around, a day or two into my daily carry rotation, I noticed the pen had seemed to run out of ink, even though I hadn't written enough. I unscrewed the barrel to check the level in the converter, and there was ink everywhere. I made an inky mess at my favorite donut shop. The pen had lost capillary action because air was entering in the wrong place and ink was leaking out. I found that strange because Yafa designed the converter the same as the Monteverde pens, where the converter screws into the section in order to create a better seal. I cleaned everything up, and, when I returned home, I put some silicone grease around the threads of the converter. That solved the leaking problem. 

To be honest, these difficulties really turned me off to Conklin pens.

Feel

This is a light pen, and so succeeds in being reminiscent of American made pens in the Twenties. It's weighted well and doesn't have a 'heavier' part of the pen. Posting it doesn't effect the balance enough to complain about the cap. 

I love concave grip sections, and here my wishes are fulfilled. It is comfortable and hasn't left me weary while writing in 10 min + writing sessions. The cap threads are dull and shouldn't be a bother to larger hands/fingers. 

The nib is a solid writer and is ready to be a workhorse, putting in the long hours at the bank. It doesn't have excessive feedback and, on this Tomoe River paper, it isn't glassy either. As you can see, it has a nice medium line. It has above medium flow which caused some feathering in my Standard Memorandum notebook.

Financials

The Duragraph goes for $44 at most retailers. This is a great price range for people who are looking to step up from a Lamy Safari or a Pilot Metropolitan. However, due to the difficulties I had with the pen, I think that purchasing it might be a risk. I doubt what I experienced was typical, but two separate problems is not a good indicator

Is the Writing Reverenced?

NO. I think not. There are better pens with less problems at this price point. I love the looks, but you can't judge a pen by its acrylic. 

Ink: Organics Studio Laboratory Series #14
Paper: Tomoe River Paper

Atlanta Pen Show

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Here's a picture so you can mentally walk around with me from space to space. 

I planned on arriving at 10 AM, right at the beginning of the day, but as Myke Hurley, of the Pen Addict Podcast, and Jeff Bruckwicki, of Nock Co, found out, I'm not good at counting. I didn't factor in the time zone change, nor that there would be a traffic stopping accident on the interstate. So I arrived on the show floor just before noon. I missed some of the travelers who needed to get back for work the next morning. As my first interaction proved, this show was about the people, more than the pens. 

Obligatory selfie. 

Before I could even get to the show floor I ran into the Pen Addict himself, Brad Dowdy who was seated with his Nock Co. partner Jeff being interviewed by Pen World. I knew I was in the right place. They both gave me warm welcomes despite the obvious import of the interview for getting their little brand to the pen community that isn't on social media. I digress (it'll probably happen again). 

On finally arriving at the show, I see two people: my friend Andre, who lives in Atlanta and whom I helped ease into this hobby, and Myke, who was manning the table for Nock. After a few minutes conversation with Myke, Andre and I made our way over to Franklin-Christoph. As I said in the prep post, I was looking to replace my Model 29 Bellus that Erin now greatly enjoys. Come to find out, the model has been discontinued! What was a casual thought became a virtual necessity. When you are choosing from the end of stock of a discontinued pen, you don't have the luxury of options. All they had was the maroon body with the black clip-band. There was nothing more than for me to choose but the nib. I figured I shouldn't mess with what doesn't already work so I choose the same nib I gave away, a medium cursive italic ground by Mike Masuyama. The nib went over to Jim Rouse to be made sweet. I happened to get the final medium italic nib of the show (which came out of the tester pen.) While we were talking, we came upon the subject of pocket holy water dispensers. Parker, Esterbrook, and Sheaffer made models of holy water dispensers out of the popular pen models. Jim had found one at the Atlanta Pen show last year. I am currently on the lookout for any of those. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I got so caught up in conversations I didn't get a good scope of all the tables to see if one was there. Eventually, I will find one. 

Jim Rouse smoothing Andre's nib.

I went from there to introduce myself, in person, to Dan Bishop, the designer for Karas Kustoms. He had come to the show with his wife setting up a table with his machined wares. We joked around for a bit. (There was a Colonel Sanders look-a-like at the show.) I ended up completing my collection of his pens by picking up a Retrakt in two-tone, aluminum and grey.  

I quickly learned his table and the Nock table were the de facto meeting places for the Pen Addict community who had travelled to the show. I got to meet Jeff Abbot, Thomas Hall, and Leigh Reyes before they left to travel home. All three are people I wish I could've spent more time with, but it wasn't to be. I was struck that, in the 5 minutes we spent together how comfortable all three were despite having only online interaction. They greeted me as old friends. Although I was sad I missed the epic Nakaya party from the night before, their immediate hospitality assuaged me. It highlighted that this show was very different from Dallas. Dallas was about the pens. Atlanta was about the people. 

After saying hello/goodbye to them, I went into the second room to visit Lisa Vanness and her partner in crime, Wendy. Lisa has been busy most of the weekend because of her being the only American retailer that sells Sailor Bung Box and P.W. Akkerman inks. Lisa is an awesome woman. She has bubbly blonde curly hair and a warm personality that syncs well with her hair. What I like most is that she shoots things straight. If she likes something, she lets you know, if she doesn't, she lets you know that too. I find her honesty a delight in its somewhat incongruity with her bubbly personality. I guest I fear the falsity of bubbliness (Mean Girls). Okay, enough of Lisa's character study. It was great to see her.

 Like I said in the prep post I asked her to save two bottles of ink for me. They just started carrying two new-to-them lines of ink, the aforementioned Bung Box and an Italian brand named Califolio. I looked through their site and found two inks that I was ready purchase. For some reason I really like rusty inks and Califolio makes one called Itzamma. It comes in a triangular bottle like Diamine 150th Anniversary inks. The range of Bung Box is so vast that I had trouble settling on one (by choosing one I quelled the temptation to buy them all because that temptation is real). I ended up going with a green, Norwegian Wood. I like both the color and the Beatles reference. I am slowly amassing a collection of dark green so if you have any feel free to suggest. 

After Lisa and I caught up, she asked me about the Homo Sapiens Crystal I had purchased from her at the Dallas Pen Show. I had mentioned to her that the nib seemed scratchy, which wasn't what I remember from my experience of the Dreamtouch nib. I chalked it up (pun not intended) to the ink, but even with a new ink the pen didn't feel right. I brought it with me to the show hoping we could talk about it (I didn't tell her that ahead of time.) I wanted someone else to validate what I was experiencing, because I am still somewhat new to his (the blog is a prideful front of expertise). She wrote with it and agreed that is didn't feel right. So she decided to take it to the Visconti table. I watched over her table for a good 7-10 minutes. She arrived back with a brand new nib, and I subsequently turned into the wicked witch of the west when she lost her battle against water. Lisa had to do everything she could to keep me together so she didn't have to mop me up from the carpet. The nib now lives up to its name. I didn't think a writing experience could feel so good. I showed Brad the pen later on in the day, and he nearly got mad at me for adding another pen to his list. "Get this away from me,"  he said.

When I passed the Visconti table letter (at the behest of Lisa), I thanked them for the new nib. I found out there was a batch of nibs that had poor tipping. I was kind of disappointed at the slip in Visconti's quality control, but, on the same token, they didn't hide the mistake. They graciously replaced the nib (as a side note: I was also delighted to see the two Visconti reps, a guy and a girl, were around my age). 

 I also had to say hi to Ryan Krusac, the scrimshander and pen maker, and his partner in crime Brandon Lee, the Modern Choclatier. I got to briefly meet Ryan's wife at the end of the show. His children were playing around his table and his wife was complaing because one of them bought a few pens that were in need of restoration. It was great to hear the unbridled desire of a child to be like their father, and, on the other side, to see the parent look at the difficult reality of a very detail oriented hobby. I'm excited for the kid. The pens will be much more useful that a model airplane (admitted hobby bias). 

I moved on to the Cursive Logic table.  Linda had sent me an email asking to review her program before the Kickstarter ended, but I balked. I think a lot was going on, and I couldn't really do it justice. She showed me how the program works. It takes some of the concepts of calligraphy in letter creation and organization of strokes and applies them to regular handwriting. It focuses on four basic shapes, and from those shapes you can write the whole lowercase cursive alphabet. I got a book from her and hope to share it around with parents in my parish. 

 I walked around the room simply looking and staring at pens. I stopped a table filled with restored Parkers and Sheaffers. The guy behind the table, Nathaniel, asked me what I was looking for. I told him that truth: vintage pens scare me. I can't tell what is quality and what is not. He proceeded to give me a 20 minute lesson on different vintage pens and a few things to look for in seeing if there are cracks in the material or degradation of a filling system. I feel more confident now and will probably spend more time in vintage the next show I attend. (These thoughts will spurn a whole separate post because this thins is already long and if you're still reading thank you). 

I returned to the Karas table to watch Ana Reinert, of the Well Appointed Desk, and Kasey Kagawa (@punkey0 on Twitter) play with new inks. Ana is one cool cat (I'm pretty sure she's okay with me calling her that). Her interests aren't just in the stationary realm. We ended up talking soccer. I found out she's a part of US soccer history. I'll let her tell the story if you're interested. Kasey is one of those guys that knows not just a little bit about some things but a lot about a lot of things. He had information on far ranging topics from grooming, to beer, to food, to gamma ray saftey (maybe not so comic book-y but the science language was beyond me). I wish I would have had more time to spend with them just to hear them share their stories. 

One thing I must say, both Ana and Myke were left-handed. I had never seen a left hander use a fountain pen and know what to do. It was one of those things where I was both uncomfortable and fascinated in a brand new experience. Because of the nature of left-handedness, one can be scared at lending a fountain pen, but I had no qualms with either person. I would entrust all my pens to them before lending one to a newbie. It was little experiences like that that set this day and a half apart. 

As the show was packing up, I got some notebooks and a gift for a friend from Nock. My last purchase of the day though was of utmost importance. Since I had seen one on IG and then heard Myke talk about it on the podcast, I had to get the Retro 51 Swoosh which is a Tornado wrapped in basketball rubber with the pimples and black recessed lines. I've been a basketball fan for most of my life and to have a pen like that is pretty cool. It added to my growing collection of Retro 51's.  

I ended the show with some nib work by Mike Masuyama. There was a possibility because of my late arrival that I would not be able to get anything done, but due to Mike's incredible work rate I was able to get things in. Over the course of the year, I had found the nib that came on the Krusac pen I had gotten in Dallas had hard starts. I'm pretty sure it was baby's bottom. Mike smoothed it out and turned it into a much more enjoyable pen. It's now both good look at and nice to write with. Then, I asked him to grind the nib of my Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiarracsuro in a needlepoint. It's such a small pen and the nib was subpar to the beauty and was way to wide. It didn't feel right. So now the line fits the size of the pen. I couldn't be happier. 

That night we talked pens but most of all we just talked. I knew they would be somewhat tired after full pen enthusiasm for over 48 hours. I enjoyed getting to know everyone. Pens brought us together, but growing friendship kept us together. Pens were the gateway, but friendship was the end. 

Kevin and I. I'm short. 

The party continued the next day where Myke, Kasey, and myself joined Jeff at the Nock shop. The three of us were free labor for a day helping just gather inventory from what was left after the show. I'm surprised Jeff trusted me to count after listening to me count poorly the day before. If you ordered something from Nock only be subsequently informed they were out of stock don't blame Jeff. It's probably my fault. While we were there, I picked up Nock's collaboration with Ti2 Design a tri-camo Techliner. I love the sound of the click of the magnet. Kevin Penley, of the Gear Compass, joined us for lunch from Hankook, which had this awesome calamari taco. 

The tiredness I had next two days was worth the time I get to meet and spend with these awesome people. So much so I totally forgot to take pictures. I'm looking forward to a full weekend next year. 

The whole loot minus the Swoosh (he didn't get the photo shoot memo)

Franklin Christoph Model 29 Bellus Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I had gotten this pen specifically to give it away for Fountain Pen Day, but since I had it in my possession I figured I'd give it a proper review. I'm not a big fan of the color red in pens; I'm really not a big fan of red in general (although I do enjoy some good red ink). The pen, however ,came for a good deal from a friend so I couldn't pass it up.

Looks

Despite the fact that I don't like red, this pen has a vibrant color. It remind me of a Christmas tree ornament the way it reflects light. The proper name for the color is Radiant Red, which was a Limited Edition color that is no longer available from Franklin Christoph. It also comes in black and maroon. The black has four different colors for the clip band: maroon, white, olive grey, and orange. If I were to get the pen again I would probably go for the black and white (it sort of looks like a Roman collar) or the full maroon. 

Capped, the shiny red is accented by rhodium plating on the top of the cap and on the butt of the pen. The cap band is also rhodium plated with "Franklin Christoph" engraved on it. Overall, this makes the pen look elegant. This elegance is effected by the clip ring which I think is anodized aluminum. Whatever the material, it lacks the luster of the rest of the pen, and its dullness really sticks out. To me, it takes away from the class of the pen. (This really couldn't be captured in the photographs.)

The rhodium finial, on the top and bottom of the pen, has the gothic "F" of the Franklin Christoph branding. Under it is the signature four diamond pattern. Both of these have been etched into the metal, which also adds to the class of this pen. The four diamonds are etched vertically on the clip as well. Alone they remind me of playing cards and bring to mind late night poker games with friends. This pen could definitely be a last ditch bet for a hard up gambler, and would be desired by all.

There's a little surprise when you uncap the pen. The body is perfectly symmetrical. The design of the end cap is the same as the grip section (Yes, OCD people the cam rotation is different on the blind cap and the grip, ever so slightly. Believe me I tried.) This makes the pen more aesthetically pleasing. The only way for me to describe the design of the grip section is fancy knurling. The alternating lines are enjoyable to look at and have a great grip function as well.
The nib is the traditional Franklin Christoph nib with the flourishes and again the gothic "F" etched onto the nib.

On the whole, this is a very attractive pen. Many more people than normal noticed when I carried it in my breast pocket. It calls attention to itself.

Function

Now what the clip lacks in looks makes up for in function. It has a nice spring to it which allows it to both hold onto pockets and release from them. That is a great design element to this pen, and it is very important for me to have them in a pen. So often the clip has only one element: it hold on well or releases well. Even though I don't like the look of the band, I admire the function it provides. 

This is your standard cartridge/converter pen. It has no fancy filling system. The converter fits well and doesn't shake around when writing. I do find, though, the pen doesn't maintain flow after extended writing, and I have to push the ink along every once in awhile. This is a bit of nuisance, but it is by no means a deal breaker

The cap is one of the highlights of the pen, It doesn't screw on or merely clic into place, There are rare earth magnets in the cap and section. When capping, it makes this pleasant sound <chshhh click>. The section is designed with a cam, so the <chshhh click> is followed by a quarter turn which the locks the cap in place. this is the perfect thing for the twiddler (and the the bane of the easily annoyed). I could easily repeat that <chshhh click> over and over again as I ponder various philosophical ideas.

The secret of this pen is the blind cap. Yes, you heard right, a blind cap. This is for the person who cares not to see how well the converter is filled. To me it's a redundancy in the pen. The blind cap also has an earth magnet, for when you post the pen. Because of the weight of the magnet in the cap, I find the posted pen too heavy. It is more than large enough in my hand unposed.
Minus the redundancy of the blind cap, this is a well engineered  pen.

Feel

I'll start with the Masuyama medium italic nib. It takes some getting used to. It has a sweet spot, that when consistently hit, makes the nib a joy to write with. When you move off it, it gets scratchy. This is definitely a nib that gets better with use and can easily turn off the first time user. Persevere because the experience gets better with experience.

The nib makes a very pleasant line. It's not too large as to make normal writing difficult. In fact, I can write script in my normal small handwriting. The line differentiation is enough to really enjoy cursive and BLOCK LETTERS. I'm definitely thinking about getting one of those nibs or sending Masuyama one of my medium nibbed pens to have a regular writer with this line. 

When I first saw this pen, I thought the grip section would be uncomfortable. It was what first turned me off to the pen; it didn't look enjoyable to write with. Well, my first impression was wrong. This grip section is super-comfortable. It's semi-knurling (I'm still having trouble labeling it) isn't sharp. It receives the fingers very well and improves the fingers' natural grip. The width makes it just wide enough to be neither too wide or too thin. Normally, I am fan of concave grips, but this straight one has captured the joy of my fingers. They keep asking for more when I put the pen down.

Financials 

Where this pen shines is in its price. With a standard nib choice, EF-1.4 cursive italic steel nib, the pen comes in at right under a $100. For a classy looking pen, to that's a steel (pun intended). If you upgraded to a gold nib in the same range of nib types it would $179. That's a good price for a sold made gold-nibbed pen. If you wanted to go with a Mike Masuyama grind option the steel ones are $114 and the gold are $194. These are well worth the price.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

There are three things that detract from the pen: the redundancy of the blind cap, the blandness of the clip band, and the slight advancing issue. These however don't detract enough from all the great things about this pen. 

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway!

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I am so grateful to have, two years ago, become a part of this wonderful community. I was judging a local cookoff last week and with the cookoff was a car show. I got to talking to one of the guys who had this purple pearlescent 30's sportster. It was a loud thing, and he was a big personality to boot. His father had built and rebuilt cars, so he had been going to car shows for a long time. They have their own community. He told me that a lot of times his friends don't understand why he continues to compete and go to car shows. They though him strange, but amongst "the guys" he's a little loud (I mean a bright purple and punk car!). I told him, "Dude, I understand. I collect fountain pen. My office staff tolerates my packages and giddiness. My family things it's strange." 

This community started with, and I guess remains unified by out mutual love of FOUNTAIN PENS, but is made up a fantastic persons. Person who generally care for each other, who, although we may enable each other, are often very gracious and generous. In the continued spirit of that generosity, I am hosting my first giveaway.

I attempted to go on a fall theme jumping from the color of the pen, but here it is.

If you win you get:

a Franklin-Christoph Model 29 Bellus Special Edition Radiant Red with a Mike Masuyama ground Medium Italic Nib

Samples of:

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite

Noodler's Golden Brown

Noodler's Apache Sunset

Those three are probably my three favorite shading inks and together with the italic nib should be able to give the winner all of the colors of Autumn. 

Rules

This giveaway is going on both here and on my Instagram which is @colonel4God. So you have two possible chances to win. 

  1. Comment on the blog
  2. If you are on Instagram the rules will be explained there.
  3. This giveaway ends Sunday November 9 at 12 noon CST. After which I will choose someone at random using the Random Number Generator.
  4. I will post the winner here on the blog and on Instagram and he/she will have 1 week to respond before I choose another person at random.

GOOD LUCK. 

NANOWRIMO Materials

Fr. Kyle Sanders

For the past two years, I have taken part in a writing phenomenon called NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Started in San Francisco about 10 years ago, this event is intended to force the hand of the wanna-be novelist. The goal is to write 50,000 words during the span of the month of November. It is a whirlwind of creativity. That number, seemingly arbitrary, is about the length of a short novel. Although it might only be the prologue of a George R.R. Martin novel, writing that amount is quite a feat (one which I have failed at two years running).

Most take on this endeavor with word processor and keyboard, but, as a pen person, I can't pass up the opportunity to use my toys. The last two years I have dedicated a pen, pad, and ink to this particular end. My Lamy 2000 and TWSBI Vac 700, both in fine nibs, together wrote 30,000 words (mind you that's 70,000 short of what they should have written), 10k and 20k respectively. The two previous years I used large 8 1/2 x 11 notebooks from Moleskine and Leuchtturm 1917.

My lineup this year is heavy on my Dallas Pen Show purchases. As with the two previous pens, I wanted something with a large ink capacity and a small nib. My Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic with Masuyama Needlepoint fits the bill. I can fill it as an eye-dropper with Iroshizuku Kon-Peki, and it'll hopefully write for days without needing filling. It will be kept snug and safe in my Bas & Lokes "Reynolds" Leather pen case.

I decided to go with a smaller notebook this year because those large notebooks were too unwieldy for me and weren't a delight to write in. The Zequenz 360° lined notebook in A5 size is perfect. It can supposedly bend any which way, and it has 400 pages to take in all 50,000 words (hopefully). I've been using a pocket sized version of the notebook for the novel prep, and I've been enjoying the paper.

Now that I've gotten all my material you're probably wondering the topic of my novel. Well, I'm not writing a novel per se but a work of theology and philosophy of utmost seriousness. I hope to expound on the theology of alcohol. 

I do hope to incorporate my blog writing both here and elsewhere into the word count (a little bit of a cheater, but I'm still writing 50,000 words!), but my posting frequency might lessen some due to output elsewhere.