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Today's Tools - 7/28/15

Fr. Kyle Sanders


It is often the case that I'm using different tools for different projects or for different tasks. So I thought occasionally I would share them with you.  

I'm working on a retreat this weekend and also preparing for some things for the altar servers for this next school year. So my space today has been at my offic desk, which admittedly isn't the cleanest. 

As is mostly the case, I have my Bullet Journal out to remind me to stay on task and to remind me what else I need to get done for the day. I have repurposed a Christian Art Publishers 2015 Executive Planner that I got for Christmas from my parents who had my name embossed on the leatherette cover. I'm pretty much ignoring the format and using it as a regular notebook. 

I have a Paperstax pocket notebook in my One Star Leather cover. I've been using the notebook to, well, take various notes, map some stuff out, and draft an email to the altar servers. I used my new bamboo Pilot Vanishing Point which has a Hebrew/Architect grind courtesy of Shawn Newton via Vanness Pens. The VP is inked with that loud Liberty's Elysium.  

I had to some calendar things and check a PDF so I had my iPad 2 out.  

Lastly I have my brand new Betabook, which was a Kickstarter project turning a white marker board into a portable book-like format. I am loving it so far. It's perfect for brainstorming or quickly working out problems and ideas. It's also very easy to photograph so I can connect the pictures to Evernote for reference later. I'm using the blue and black markers it came with, which were made by German company Neuland. You'll also notice a Nock Co. Lookout which holds the Neuland markers. 

 What have you used today?

Maruman Mnemosyne Imagination 180 Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I was going to give a talk to the youth group a year or so ago and found that the easy way to flip pages would be a top bound ring tablet. I wished there was a larger size of the Doane Paper large flap jotter. That would've been perfect, but alas an initial search proved fruitless. I emailed Brad Dowdy over at the Pen Addict asking if he had any recommendations. He recommended this Maruman tablet. I was a little wary because the flip was landscape and was looking for portrait, but I purchased it anyway. It would eventually get used. 


Maruman's Imagination series covers the full gamut of sizes, from small to large. I chose the A4 size, which is roughly the equivalents to the size of regular printer paper. This landscape style also comes in the A5 size.

It comes in two different ruling, blank and 5mm² graph paper. I'm not yet ready to jump into notebooks at this size without ruling so I chose the graph. The graph is aesthetically pleasing. The squared look gives it an enjoyable order, and the grey ink used keeps the pattern subtle. It doesn't jump off the page like the light blue of cheap looseleaf. 

The paper itself is off white. It does render the 'glare' of Clairefontaine a con, lending to the paper's subtlety. The paper was designed to foster writing by not getting in the way.

The only factor the separates itself as different is the heading block at the top of the page. It gives a space for the writer to title the page. At the opposite end, it gives the opportunity to date or number the page. 

Closed, this notebook looks like it can take some abuse, especially in a bag. The front cover is hard plastic that still retain pliability. It is stamped in gold emboss with the type of notebook. I enjoy the mismatch of fonts from the branding to the labeling. The back cover is hard cardboard.


This hard cardboard gives the writer a solid surface to write on, allowing this notebooks to be taken and used just about anywhere. You do not need a desk: a lap works just fine. At the same time, the 'backboard' retains some pliability, so it can be bent without breaking.

I had chosen this pad in hopes I could switch pages of notes for a talk quickly without having loose pages to fall and get mixed up. My earlier suspicion was confirmed, though. The landscape wouldn't work. I stowed it away amongst my other A4 pads for later use. I pulled it out to use it in a few blog posts (here and here), wherein it held up well with both pen and pencil. It's main use became the pad I would write out my homilies to deliver them. I use broad or stub nibs for that task so I needed both large rile and paper that could handle wet nibs. This pad fit the bill. The rule was perfect for my large print handwriting and the paper responds well to fountain pen ink. It showed shading and only slightly feathered with wetter inks or pens. If I were to writer like I do on a normal basis, though, the ruling would be too wide for my tastes. 

As for the landscape, for homilies, I ignored it. The title space became a margin, and I would write from top to bottom, instead of side to side (as I am right now). I prefer the top to bottom because I feel like I could use more of the notebook in double spacing.

Another great feature is that all 70 pages are perforated. This allowed me to tear out the pages I would use for my homilies. As I went through the notebook, there was this satisfaction that is was slowly getting smaller and thinner. The perforation itself is very clean and easy to tear. There are no 'jagged edges,' only clean lines, keeping with the pad's aesthetic.

The wire binding is solid. I have nightmare (only after inhaling too much Noodler's ink) of the wire binding of the old Mead notebooks, from high school. The wire would bunch up at the bottom compacting the notebook. It would cut holes in my backpack. The Maruman (which sounds eerily like the Christopher Lee character in Lord of the Rings, God rest his soul) binding is doubled and can handle extra abuse. I found only slight bending at the far left, or 'bottom,' of the wire. This could be the ultimate commuter's pad.

The last thing I would mention before looking at how pens faired would be that the grid is only on one side of the paper. If I was using it as a regular 'prose' notebook like I do with my journal notebooks this would be a problem because I use front and back. The paper can handle ink on both side so I don't understand the design move. The way I end up using it the blank side didn't matter. So take the thought or leave it. 

The paper handles pencils real well. It's not off-white to the degree that lead looses its readability. In fact, if I was a regular pencil user, I would really enjoy this paper, but, then again, I would want ruling on both sides. It handles ballpoint and gel pen inks well (I prefer smaller line widths in those so the cross-section is slightly skewed). It handled the two brush pens really well. I really like how the Kuretake looks when opened up on the paper. It handled my fountain pens and inks as well. There was no bleedthrough on any except one, and that exception, Noodler's Blue Nosed Bear in a semi-flex nib, is a 'paper killer.' No paper has withstood its flow, yet. There was feathering from the aformentioned giving my character fur, but there was also slight feathering from the Ina-Ho. The ghosting occurred in the calligraphy pen and the fountain pens, but since I only used one side it didn't matter to me. 


Despite the aforementioned commuter readiness, personally I found it difficult to use only because 1) I have a small lap 2) I have small hands 3) I have small handwriting. I couldn't walk around writing in this. It's the perfect size for a desk or a table though. 

The key to the pad lies in its writing experience. It doesn't have the synthetic glossiness of Clairefontine paper, but it's still very smooth, even with fine nibbed Japanese pens, which usually have a bit of scratchiness. It doesn't have a tooth either. It's a pleasure to write on this paper, especially with wide nibbed pens. I feel like I set the bar real high with my first paper review.


I purchased this pad at Jet Pens for $17.50, which is on the lower end of the price range of A4 notebooks at that retailer. On the whole, I consider it a good value. 

Is the Writing Reverenced?

Despite the fact that the notebook didn't fill the niche for which I purchased it, its quality far surpassed my initial expectations. I didn't feel bound (pun unintended) to the landscape. The feel of the paper and the subtlety of the graph have become the standard by which I judge. 


Pen: Pilot Fude-Makase Color Brush Pen - Extra Fine - Black

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.


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. 


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.


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.


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

Twist Bullet Pencil Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Pencils were never fun to me. The bright colors and the crazy erasers were only temporary salves to my general dislike. Being part of the Field Nuts group on Facebook, I would often see guys and gals post vintage bullet pencils with their Field Notes. I found that an interesting piece of history but had no desire to seek one out. I began to see posts on Instagram of a modern bullet pencil made from machined and anodized aluminum that was Kickstarted by MetalshopCT and Huckleberry Woodchuck (which, by the way, is the coolest name for an American small business). 

When I determined to take up pencils as a Lenten sacrifice, I was worried about my Every Day Carry (EDC). I didn't want to carry this clip-less 2 foot long piece of wood in my breast pocket (that's what it felt like). So I decided this bullet pencil thing was a good idea. I didn't care enough about pencils to purchase a vintage bullet pencil. I'd kindly left those to the peeps that enjoy and collect them. So I turned to the modern made one. It attracted me for multiple reasons. It has a sturdy aluminum body. They graciously (or having good business sense) provide a cut down version of a pencil already input in the casing, which does well for me, who owns no circular saw or fix-blade saw to cut down a pencil I already own. This was the first time I was genuinely excited a pencil product


What gets me excited is the actual design of a bullet pencil. I didn't really comprehend them in those Facebook photos, but once I got it in my hands I realized how cool the engineering was. As a child, I constantly broke points off my pencils. When I was a regular golfer, I would break the points off the provided golf pencils. To engineer something by which you can carry a woodcased pencil and not endanger the point is brilliant.

Here's how it works. 1) You get a pencil nub about the general size of a golf pencil. 2) You fit it into the tip (sharpening the blunt end just  slightly helps) by screwing it in. 3) The tip screws into the metal casing (which looks like a bullet casing). Your pencil point is now protected in your pocket, in a backpack, in a pencil case, on the farm, on the job, on a rollercoaster, possibly in the washing machine (a test I haven't performed at present). 

MetalshopCT offers five different barrel colors: green, red, aluminum, black, and blue. They also offer two different tip types: rounded and pointed. You can also choose to get the tip in aluminum or brass. There are prototypes I've seen on IG of a brass body as well. I choose the green anodized aluminum body with the aluminum pointed tip because I have really been enjoying the CW show Arrow and that visually reminded me of the superhero. It is topped by a larger version of a traditional flesh colored eraser. They also offer an add-on of a clip, which I jumped on. I knew I'd be keeping the pencil in my breast pocket.


Imaged here with a full Blackwing 602, a Dixon Ticonderoga Black Soft, Palomino Prospector

The clip works very well. It fits on a pocket (breast and pants) very well. It is also easy to pull off the pocket. It's simplicity of design adds to the sleek aesthetic of the product. 

I also like the size of the eraser. It assures me I won't use it up for a while. The rubber has great density. It doesn't shed like a molting bird, but it's soft enough to not immediately knock someone out. It erases pretty well. It's not any better or worse than the eraser that comes with a Palomino Blackwing 602. 

The tip remains firmly screwed into the body. I don't want to have to dig into my pocket for the pencil body that's  supposed to protected. I don't have to worry about that. 


Coming from primarily using fountain pens to using woodcased pencils, I found a great disparity in weight. The Twist Bullet Pencil relieves that disparity by giving the pencil therein greater weight and, for me, comfortability. The extra bulk of the casing fits well in the thenar space (the webbing in between the index finger and thumb) of my hand. It gives my hand a little bit more bulk to hold. This improves as the pencil gets smaller and the casing gains a lower center of gravity. The writing experience depends on the pencil you choose to put in it. 


What I will pay for fun? This bullet pencil comes in at $37.50, which includes two pencils and two erasers in addition to the pencil and eraser already in the casing. This is certainly more expensive than a box of Blackwing 602's, but compared to other anodized aluminum products it has a pretty good price tag sitting above Retro 51's metalsmith series and below Karas Kustoms products. Add to that the clip which was $13, this product isn't a no-brainer. Its price requires intentional buying.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

The bullet pencil made writing with a pencil enjoyable, for the first time. I looked forward to taking it out of my pocket and using it, even though there was a pencil inside. I probably wouldn't have bought it if I hadn't given up fountain pens for Lent. However, now having it in my possession, I will end up using this pencil more, just so I can use it.


Pencil: Palomino Blackwing 602
Notebook: Doane Paper Flap Jotter Large

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)

Atlanta Pen Show Prep

Fr. Kyle Sanders


I wasn't planning on going to the Atlanta Pen Show. The Saturday of the show, I'm celebrating the weddng of a girl who is ostensibly my younger sister. It promises to be a great celebration for my family and for hers. I was going to miss the majority of the show so I ruled it out. Then, Myke Hurley and Brad Dowdy decided to make it a party. Anna Reinert, from the Well Appointed Desk, Dan Bishop, from Karas Kustoms, and Mike Dudek, from the Clicky Post, all signed on, and surprisingly but awesomely (that phrase grinds on my English sensibilities but fandom is ultimately coming through) Leigh Reyes, the Southeast Asian collector extradordinairess, will be there, with her Nakaya collection. Plus all the usual pen show suspects will be in attendance: Mike Masuyama, Lisa Vanness, Shawn Newton, and the Anderson's. When I saw how much of the Pen Addict community would be there, I decided to do something foolish, for the sake of celebrating with this awesome group of people. 

I decided I would leave the wedding reception a little early (New Orleans wedding receptions go into the wee hours of the morning) and drive to Mobile to stay with a friend. I would, then, wake up early the next morning and arrive in Atlanta right at 10 am as the doors open on the final day of epic penness. I realize I will be arriving after the party. I realize some the of the peeps I wished to meet will be gone before I arrive. I also know that I will be that guy who shows up after the Thanksgiving meal ready to eat, when most of the hosts and guests are in tripophanic coma (only instead of turkey it's pens.) I'm okay with being that guy. The experience will still prove to be worth it, and as Anna said, when all others have blown their budgets I can get the deals as sellers don't want to return home with as much merchandise. 

I am no longer a rookie at this pen show thing so I think the overwhelming aspect of the show will be easier to handle (at least I hope). Much of my focus will be on the people. To be able to hang out with these people whom I know through the interwebs will be a delight. I'm looking forward to expectations being broken as I move from avatar to person. I know this won't be a get-to-know-you camping trip (we will be surrounded by 1,000's of cylindrical distractions), but I look forward to those conversation which I can't really have with many people. I'm looking forward to noticing the quirks about those people who online seemed so polished in their writing/typing. 

1) Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby 2) Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal 3) Parker Vacumatic 4) Parker Duofold 5) Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiaroscuro 6) Noodler's Neponset 7) Montblanc 146 8) Moore Lever-Filler w/ Flex nib 9) Pilot Metal Falcon 10) Aurora TU 11) Montegrappa Parolo 12) Visconti Rembrant

1) Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby 2) Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal 3) Parker Vacumatic 4) Parker Duofold 5) Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiaroscuro 6) Noodler's Neponset 7) Montblanc 146 8) Moore Lever-Filler w/ Flex nib 9) Pilot Metal Falcon 10) Aurora TU 11) Montegrappa Parolo 12) Visconti Rembrant

I'm also looking forward to sharing some pens, to allow people to enjoy or try out a pen they've never seen or used before. I must say my collection, on the whole, is pretty average. There are a few pieces that I would consider extraordinary. One would be my Giuliano Mazzuoli Moka Chiarrascuro, which is a unique pocket pen that most people haven't seen. I will certainly bring my Shawn Newton Orange Oil Slick Gibby along with my newly acquired Noodler's Neponset. I'll probably bring my Montblanc so someone can at least experience it since. On the whole, most the guys and gals don't see the price point. I'll also bring my currently inked pens. I'll probably bring my Parker Duofold and Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal. I haven't decided how many I'll bring but it'll either be twelve or thirty-six, due to my case options. I'm looking forward to that inking party. 


I have a few pens that need some nib work. Two have misaligned tines and another seems to have baby's bottom. I'm hoping I can get them ironed out. There might be a fourth or a fifth that need work that I'll bring as well (but they are less pressing). 

The pen show comes at the best and worst possible time in the year. I just got back my rather generous tax return. Having all of this extra, unplanned money going into the show presents danger to my temperance, and prudence for that matter, and fortitude as well. Okay, so my virtues will either grow considerably this weekend, or I will set back my pursuance of human excellence through the virtuous life.

I've already talked to Lisa Vanness. She's holding two bottles of ink for me. I'll let them be a surprise for the post-show post. I will certainly make a stop by Franklin-Christoph, first to play with all the different nibs but also to contemplate the purchasing of a Model 29 Bellus. I really did fall in love with that pen only to give it away. I'm also actively looking for a solid Sheaffer Snorkel; it's a pen I definitely want to add to my collection. I'm hoping to try out some of the peeps' Nakayas to see what I like. I'll give the Delta Dolce Vita another chance (I'm a priest. I'm always giving second chances). After that, I'm going to browse and hopefully find a deal or two.

If you don't already, follow me on Instagram at @colonel4God. I will hopefully be flooding my feed with photos and videos. 

Palomino Blackwing 602

Fr. Kyle Sanders

This is my first pencil review. With that I should add the caveat: I am not a regular pencil user. This review will come more from the perspective of a pencil newbie. It won't have the wisdom of comparing to other models, but it also lacks the bias of having a favorite pencil or brand.

My familiarity with the Palomino Blackwing 602 comes from arriving inside the MetalshopCT/Huckleberry Woodchuck collaboration of the machined bullet pencil. The bullet pencil became my pocket carry and was my most used pencil during my fountain pen fasting this past Lent. I had heard of Palomino pencils but had never purchased one because, well, I wasn't a fan of pencils. I had heard nothing but good things about the Palomino brand. So, I was looking forward to see how the pencil would perform. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.


Coming from two experiences of pencils, either yellow and faceted or brightly colored and cylindrica, the 602 is a pleasant surprise. It has gunmetal painting over the woodcasing. This keeps the pencil classy and understated. The bold lettering of the branding sits in nice comparison to the gunmetal color. It gives the look of a banker’s pencil (if bankers use pencil). It says, “I fool with gold but I’ll kill you if you touch it.” I guess it fits just as well in the hands of a thief.

What sticks out is the ferule (the metal piece at the end that holds the eraser) and eraser. Most pencils have the cylindrical ferule moving to a cylindrical eraser, but the Palomino Blackwing series turns that cylinder into a soft lined box that holds a rectangular eraser. I don’t know if there’s any practical reason for the design, but even so, it looks sweet. It allows the pencil to separate itself from the crowd. I also prefer the black eraser so that when wiping away the eraser particulates, if they fall on my clothing, they don’t immediately become unsightly on my black clothing.

On the ’back side’ of the pencil is embossed the phrase “HALF THE PRESSURE, TWICE THE SPEED.” I like the slogan. It is reminiscent of a bygone time when slogans weren’t merely in commercials or ridiculously bright signs, but on the products themselves. It shows the manufacturer takes pride in their product enough to spend time on a slogan for it. That gives me a greater indication I might be holding a quality product.


Because I am relatively unfamiliar with a wide variety of pencils, I can neither corroborate of deny the slogan. I can say that it requires minimal pressure to get lead down. The line does darken as you add more pressure. In that I do find a wonderful similarity to fountain pens. It was one of those welcome surprises during Lent. I definitely enjoy the fact, that like a fountain pen, I don’t have to use much pressure to write. That’s one of the things I really disliked about pencils.

The 602 doesn't put down the darkest line compared to other pencils I've seen, especially when I don't exert much pressure. That being said, it is still a good solid color, almost a matte version of the finish on the pencil. 

Speaking of the finish, although it has a semi-metallic look to it, it sin't as slippery as metal is when gripping. It maintains decent gripability. The facets of the pencil help out with that. A gripe I have with all woodcased pencils I've used is that they are too skinny, even for my small hands. I would prefer something a bit wider. It being thin leads to quicker fatigue of my natural death grip.

The shape of the eraser gives the intimation that you can erase entire words in one motion. That is partly the case. You can erase something with a simple back and forth motion without having to rotate to get the whole word (that is unless you have large handwriting). The rubber is not terribly dense (although overly dense is another probelm), and I could find myself quickly going through the eraser. They do sell replacement eraser packs, but the slope of the ferule also disallows you from putting on a 3rd party eraser, say like the totally ineffective smiley face eraser we all purchased at school book fairs. 

I don't know or understand pencil physics and exactly how lead is erasable, but I do know this. The lead/eraser combination of the Blackwing 602 does not remove all semblance of what was written. It does a decent job, but the eraser doesn't compare to Arnold Scwarzenegger (but then I might be setting my standards too high).


The paint on the outside of the woodcasing is soft. It isn't harsh or slippery. Compared to many fountain pens and the bullet pencil, it's super light. The writing is smooth with the slightest bit of feedback (which I would expect in a pencil). It's a bit longer than your normal no.2, but that really doesn't mean much unless you're a child. Well, the pencil is about the length of my forearm, so it might psychologically bother someone. The length, though, doens't effect the performance.


I feel a bit of a hypocrite at this point, but this isn't a cheap pencil at $21.95 for a box of twelve. They would be considered a premium pencil and so cost as much as 2 72 packs of Papermate woodcased pencils (in all honesty though I don't know enough or own enough to even compare the two). Here's where the hypocrisy comes in. I don't think I would buy them again. I don't think it's worth the price. I say that as someone who is not a pencil lover. At this time, my use doesn't justify the cost.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

To date, this is one of the finest pencils I have ever used. With that statement, I still don't like pencils. So I'm torn. Would I recommend this to others? Definitely. Do I consider it reverenced? No. I would still choose a fountain pen, any rollerball, and some ballpoints before picking this up. I don't apologize for my preference and you can tell me why I'm wrong below. All in all, this was still a penance. (the papermate pencil would have probably been moreso though). 

Paper: maruman Mnemosyne 180 5mm squared

Diamine Matador Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Being that this is my first ink review. My review style and how I look at things might change. I am assuming, though, that with experience comes wisdom.


This isn't your normal red. It doesn't jump out on the page like the red ink of English term paper. It's much more subtle and reminiscent of red brick. It has a definite dusty feel to it. The color sits better I think for those who aren't fans of red inks. It has the slightest of orange hues which aid the subdued nature of the ink. I think,though, that Diamine misnamed the ink. When I think of a matador (considering I've never attended a bull fight) I think a deeper brighter red like that of my favorite boyhood car, the Ferrari. 

What this ink brings that some other reds don't is some good shading. Reds are often saturated to capture that vibrant color. Matador can shade from smokey pink tones to the darker red brick tones as well. I noticed when taking pictures that when it pools from wet nibs it leaves the slightest of sheens.


The Sheaffer was running out of ink and began to fuss. 

The ink is a little bit on the dry side. The first time I used it; it was in a dry pen, the Stipula Speed. Talk about a nightmare. It lacks a great flow in dry pens especially when the ink level is nearing its end, but it shines in we pens like this Retro 51. It doesn't have the lubrication of an Iroshizuku, but it isn't so dry as to be unusable. If you don't want to worry about flow, this is not the ink for you.


The ink is a no hassle clean though. It doesn't clog. It leaves not stain, and, come to think of it, would look great in the Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic.

Similar Inks

In the Field

It leaves barely any bleedthrough on the Field Notes Cold Horizon, which I have found to be very unkind to fountain pens. It feathers very little on the Cold Horizon paper and make Stipula's Medium nib look as thin as Pelikan's fine is. The Speed was that super dry pen, so take the previous comments with that in mind.  

You can see it looks great and rich in a medium italic nib on Leuchtturm1917 paper. It has a some ghosting, but it's slight and normal with that paper and just about any ink

Pens: Sheaffer Prelude Fine Nib, Retro 51 Tornado Medium Nib, Cleo Skribent Classic Broad Nib
Paper: Rhodia Dot Pad