Pen Review: IWI Safari

The last of the IWI pens that I tried is the Safari which is nothing like the other famous Safari pen. 🙂 If the Essential and Handscript are all about being minimalist, having clean and straight lines and an industrial feel to them, the Safari is all about smooth curves.

It has a smooth, lacquered finish and a zebra print for the trim above the section. It’s not blingy or outrageously designed, but it is somewhat flashier than its more low-key siblings.

The body is also metal, but it tapers at the end and the cap. It has a solid feel to it, the weight is pleasant in the hand. Like the Essential and Handscript, though, it tends to feel top heavy when you post the cap while writing. The section is smooth metal, but also has a comfortable length for holding while writing. Since it’s smooth, people whose hands tend to be sweaty might find it a bit slippery.The nib is also a steel Bock, XF, but this is colored gold.

The photo below shows a writing sample of the nib. I wrote both pages in one sitting and the nib wrote consistently, without drying or thinning out towards the end. It also uses a short international sized cartridge, like the other IWI pen models. The ink I used below is Noodler’s Liberty’s Elysium, which flows moderate to wet, depending on the pen. I haven’t tried using another ink on it yet.

This may be the flashier sibling of the Handscript and Essential but it’s still a simple design that works well. The snap-on cap is pretty secure, this time without o-rings at the end of the barrel. Like the other IWI pens, the steel nib also writes pretty decently. It’s not hard as a nail, it has a very slight bounce to it, and not an unpleasant feedback.

Check it out at Everything Calligraphy.


Pen Review: IWI Essential

The next pen that I tried from the brand IWI is called Essential. It immediately struck me as being very similar in form factor as the Handscript, except that the rubberized wrap is more of an accent rather than a barrel design. Like the Handscript, it has a Bock steel EF nib and they write practically the same.

I like the minimalist design of the pen. It’s just a long cylinder with thinner strips of rubberized material for accent. I personally think this is more eyecatching than the Handscript. I liked the faux wood design of these pens,  but I opted for the carbon fiber print instead because I find it easier to pick an ink when the pen is black.

Like the Handscript, the Essential has a comfortably long section with a little rounded bump at the end for the snap on cap.

It also has those two rubber o-rings at the end which grips against the cap when you post the pen. I’ve pulled the pens in and out of my leather slip and so far the o-rings haven’t come loose yet.

The carbon fiber accent feels smooth and isn’t too shiny. It makes the pen look very simple and understated. I love that the clip is a simple square-ish design, unlike the Handscript which has a curved end as you can see in the photo below. The clip slips through easier, though, than the Handscript’s clip. The grip is secure but not overly tight.

The pen comes with an international standard converter and a short cartridge. The converter, as you can see is pretty short and it’s plunger-type, not the type that you turn like a screw. It’s also pretty small. I tried it on a Kaweco Sport and it fits, though I didn’t try to ink it.

The page below is an example of a whole page written with the pen inked with Cross Black ink. The ink flows dry so the writing looks very thin, but it was consistent in flow throughout the page. It didn’t dry out towards the end.

I inked the pen with Platinum Carbon Black and it wrote very close to a Fine nib because the ink flows wetter. I used it to make a simple sketch of Count Olaf below:

When the nib is reversed, the lines are very fine but still quite consistent in flow. I think it will do nicely for sketching on smooth paper. Not sure how it will do with textured paper, though. Here is a size comparison between the Essential and Handscript.

The Essential is a little over 13.5 cms long when capped and 12 cms long uncapped. Here is a size comparison with a Kaweco Sport for reference:

Like the Handscript, this writes pretty well, especially for a steel XF nib. I enjoyed using it both for writing and for sketching. Here’s a video of a writing sample:

Overall, I really like the simple, clean, design of this pen. It’s thin, which makes up for the heaviness of the steel barrel. Using it posted makes it a bit top heavy for me, but since the body is sufficiently long, it’s really easy to use it unposted. This is a great pen entry-level pen, very affordable. Check out Everything Calligraphy for more details.

Pen Review: IWI Handscript

I was able to try out a few IWI Handscript pens through the lovely people from Everything Calligraphy recently. I had a tough time picking which color I wanted to purchase because, look at them, they’re all cute. I’ve actually never heard of the brand IWI before, but I got curious because the colors are happy and eye catching. I really wish I can buy all of the colors because they look so cute all together, but I settled on buying one Handscript and one Essential (review of that pen to come soon). These all have XF nibs, and I intended to use them more for sketching.

These pens have a wrap around the barrel that feels like textured rubber and they have two different kinds of textures: one feels like wood and the other is like a matte surface. Here’s an example of the two kinds of textures:

I really like the faux wood texture, it feels more grippy than the other one. The pen is a bit on the short side, about a half inch longer than a Kaweco Sport. Capped, it’s 12 cm long and 10.5 cm uncapped.

I find it comfortable to hold whether posted or unposted, but putting the cap on makes it a bit top heavy. The cap and barrel are both made of steel. I’m sensitive to the weight of pens I find that it’s not uncomfortably heavy to use.

For a small pen, it does have a long section of satin-textured steel. It’s comfortable enough on the fingers and the little thread at the end of the section is rounded and barely noticeable while you’re using it. The other end of the barrel where the cap is posted has two rubber o-rings to make the cap grip the end more securely. I’m not sure I like that there are removable parts on the pen, but I guess I can live with it. The pen is small but not overly light, I like the compact design, I like the long section. The cap and clip have a minimalist design, not gaudy like many entry level pens can be.

I think it’s a nice-looking pen that you can use for school, stuff in a bag and not worry too much about. You can put it in your pocket and not worry about the keys scratching them up. They’re cute and they work, and they won’t break the bank. The pen uses a small, plunger-type converter which holds a little amount of ink. It also comes with a small international standard converter which I would recommend if you want a bit more ink capacity.

The pens use XF Bock nibs. I think it’s my first time to try out a steel Bock nib. Surprisingly enjoyable.

Here is an example of a page that I wrote with the pen. The ink I used here is Montblanc Toffee Brown. The pen wrote consistently on the entire page without drying out. I compared it with the Lamy XF nib (the only other XF nib that I have) and this looks pretty much the same.

I tried a different ink, Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Guri and that flowed a lot wetter than Montblanc Toffee Brown. Here’s a video of the writing sample using that ink:

I think with this ink, it writes more like an F than an XF. It’s a fairly decent steel nib, not bad at all for an entry level pen. If you want it to write wetter, I would suggest that you floss it or use a wetter ink, but so far the ones I tried wrote pretty well and they’re great to use for drawing.

Here’s the color of the pen that I bought for myself. I think it’s adorbs. 🙂

Overall, I think it’s a nice affordable pen. It’s good for people who want a less expensive option, or as a gift for people you want to introduce to the joy of writing with fountain pens. I must say, I love it when affordable pens have good nibs. It encourages people to look at fountain pens as a possible alternative to disposable pens because fountain pens need not be crazy expensive. Of course, I cannot guarantee that you’ll stop at just one fountain pen once you try it. 😉

(Available at Everything Calligraphy)

A Series of Unfortunate Events

“At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad. All you have to do is look hard enough. and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey.”
Lemony Snicket

I’ve only recently started watching season 2 of the Netflix show “A Series of Unfortunate Events”. I read the books again and, yes, they’re still my favorite children’s books. I think the stories are quite profound and the author managed to make the book readable for people of all ages. Like Hope for the Flowers, it has hidden layers you would appreciate and uncover at different points of your life.

I think the book is an ode to childhood in that it highlights how children can be quite wise in their simple, pure way, and that adults can be pretty foolish. My favorite book in the series (and also in the Netflix series) is The Ersatz Elevator. It shows how misplaced the priority of adults can sometimes be, and how the need to measure up and be perceived as successful through whatever changing standards are of a very fickle society can be very oppressive. It highlights the propensity of adults to miss the point of living, and of being blinded and impressed by all the wrong things.

The books also approaches the very sensitive subject of bereavement, of being orphaned, in a very interesting way. I  believe that the message resonates not just with actual orphans but also with children who are lonely. Those who feel alienated, who feel like they are not accepted by others, like they don’t fit in. Those who see the world as cold and friendless. It’s a series of books that approaches the topic in an honest and intelligent way. Not everybody will like you, or listen to you, or understand you and be compassionate towards you, but if you’re brave enough to continue to venture out, you can discover that the world does contain good people too.

The Baudelaires do have advocates, they just take a long time to come around. Count Olaf (brilliantly portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris in the series) is such a formidable foe. He inspires fear and frustration because he’s resourceful, devious, (somewhat) charming in his own repulsive way, and he has a posse blindly devoted to him. He’s even more formidable because he’s aided by the indifference and incompetence of adults around the orphans.

I also love how the book encourages readers to continue reading books. I love how new words are taught and how readers are encouraged to expand their vocabulary. I love that the writer highlights how informed, educated, curious people stand out from the crowd of followers. They are tolerant, kind, and they have open, beautiful minds. They are the kindred spirits of the Baudelaires, and they are not easily fooled or influenced by Count Olaf.

If you haven’t read the books yet, I highly recommend them.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Published: July 29, 2008
Set in post-war London, 1946, writer Juliet Ashton is looking for inspiration for the next  book that she plans to write. She finds this inspiration when a native of Guernsey happens to find one of her old Charles Lamb books and starts a correspondence with her. In the course of exchanging letters, Juliet discovers the endearing book club called The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

I have always loved epistolary novels. It feels like your imagination is working harder, piecing together the story in your mind as you read letters from different peoples' perspectives. Epistolary novels has its limitations and challenges, but when done right, it can have add a singularly beautiful touch in the story. Reading this story reminded me of my favorite epistolary novel, Daddy-Long-Legs. The book just radiates warmth and love.

The story is set in a time when London was picking itself up from the rubble of the war. This is the dark thread that weaves itself through the story, this very recently concluded World War II which left very deep scars in the national psyche. The story does not make light of the events of war. In fact, it's very touching how the details were woven in, such as how people had to make do with rationing of food and clothes, the maddening threat of being bombed, the blackout curtains, the rubble, the separated families... The characters in the book are so endearing that you tend to feel deeply the loss they grappled with in their own private spaces.

I wish that the letters were more descriptive of Guernsey, but it was sufficient to paint an idyllic setting in my mind. The characters were memorable and colorful, and their personal stories about the war were heartrending. Because of the book, I read and learned more about the Island of Guernsey and the 5-year period of Nazi occupation. I learned about how many of their children were evacuated to London, and how some of them were not able to come home after the war.

I loved the story of how the book club started, and I am reminded that no matter how different people are, they can find kindred spirits if they find themselves among fellow readers. I find it heartwarming how the members of the society found comfort and solace in each other and, though not all of them started out as readers, they all discovered the joy of books and sharing ideas. I like that the book shows how much more tolerant people can be when their minds are open and willing to learn and listen.

I enjoyed the love story as well, but I appreciated that it's not the focal point of the novel. I feel that I would be very much at home with the society, if it had been real.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It had me laughing and crying by turns. The wholesome, lighthearted humor interspersed with the very tender recollections of war was unforgettable. The story is a celebration of the human spirit, a reminder that even if there are many dark chapters in the story of the world, there are also good people that shine in such darkness, and that love and friendship can spring up in the most unexpected ways.