Category: Pen Reviews

Opus 88 Fantasia Review

The last of the Opus 88 pens that I tried is the Fantasia. Read my reviews on the Picnic and Koloro. Everything Calligraphy sent a fine nibbed pen for me to try but I really liked how this pen looked so I asked for a medium nib for this one. It was delivered the next day after I requested it.

Like the Koloro, the Fantasia is a combination of acrylic and ebonite. I love the way it looks, especially the color bands on the ebonite cap. The color on Everything Calligraphy’s site is “brick red”, but on other sites it’s called brown or terracotta. Whatever it’s called, I really love this color. It’s like espresso. 🙂 Of course I inked it with something that complements the color–Montblanc Toffee Brown. Dark brown in some areas, a bit of orange in lighter strokes.

It has a smaller knob for the piston that locks the shutoff valve, so the top of the cap has this little screwdriver-like line you can use to turn it. Not really necessary, though, because I find it easy enough to turn the knob without this. It does make a pretty cool finial.

The cap can be screwed to the end of the barrel if you want to post it. I think it’s a tad too short if unposted, as you can see below.

The length of the pen when posted is about 5.7 inches. When unposted, it’s about 4 inches. The section is smaller and less comfortable compared to Picnic and Koloro. It’s not that it’s uncomfortable to hold, but the sections of Picnic and Koloro are longer and would be more comfortable especially for people with bigger hands.

Like the Picnic and Koloro, this comes with a glass pipette-thingamajig, which I find less convenient to use than a syringe.

I like the clip on this model. It’s just square and short and stumpy. It also slips through the pen loop easily, like the clips on the Picnic and Koloro. The clip is attached to the cap with a thin chrome-colored band, I’m happy that’s the only chrome-colored material on the pen’s build.

The nib is the same as the other two models and it’s a very smooth medium, steel nib. I quite enjoy writing with it. It has a smidge of feedback and it’s firm, not too springy. I think that the medium nib is a lot more pleasant to use than the fine nib, but of course I’ve always enjoyed medium nibs more. Here is a writing sample. The ink color is a perfect match. <3

I picked this pen over the Picnic and Koloro because I think the size is so cute, and it looks different from all my other pens. The striped cap, the color accents, the combination of materials, these are unique to it. I don’t consider myself a pen collector by any stretch, but this one’s a great addition to my daily carry. It is a smooth writer and (being an eyedropper), it carries a lot of ink. Some people might not like the fact that you need to screw the cap to post it, but I don’t really mind at all. Would I recommend it? Definitely.

Opus 88 Koloro Review

Last week I tried three different kinds of Opus 88 pens. Here’s the review I wrote for the Opus 88 Picnic. Today I’m going to write a short review for the Koloro. The Koloro and the Fantasia both use acrylic and ebonite in their design. I understand that some people don’t like the combination, but I find the textural variation to be very pleasant. I like the way that it looks. Like the Picnic and Fantasia, the Koloro’s acrylic is pretty thick and nicely polished. It doesn’t feel too plasticky or thin.

I like the shape of the pen, it’s sort of flat at the ends, but has a little point or flair to it so that it’s not completely flat. The barrel and the cap has a slight swell to them. The length of the pen is about 5.5 inches capped and almost 5 inches uncapped. It has chrome trims, very simple and unassuming.

The clip is the same as the Picnic’s. It snaps right through and pulls off a pen loop without any problems. The translucent strip of acrylic on the cap shows a silhouette of the nib.

The section is long and has a bit of flair at the end, just like the Picnic. It’s so comfortable to hold. The weight is pleasant too, especially when inked. It’s not too light, considering the materials used for it.

I enjoyed trying out both the Picnic and Koloro because the section is so comfortable. If you have large hands, you probably won’t have a hard time holding it.

The Koloro also uses a shutoff valve that can be adjusted through a piston mechanism at the end of the barrel. It reduces the likelihood of leaking and burping while in transit.

The end of the barrel is made of ebonite. Just twist it a bit (about a turn and a half) to release the ink into the feed. Twist it back to depress the rubber gasket and seal off the feed again.

The nib of the unit that I tried is Fine, which feels like a European XF for me. It’s firm and smooth, with a little bit of feedback.

I would put the flow at a little bit dry to moderate. If you enjoy wet nibs like I do, I recommend either using a wet ink (like I did in this writing sample) or tune the nib to write a bit wetter. The pen writes well, though, the steel nib is reliable and pleasant to use.

Overall, it’s a nice pen. I like the design and the interesting textures of acrylic and ebonite. I like that it writes well and is pleasant and comfortable in the hand. Thanks to the wonderful people at Everything Calligraphy for letting me try it out.

Opus 88 Picnic Review

L-R: Opus 88 Picnic, Fantasia, Koloro

Last week I was able to try three different kinds of Opus 88 pens.These are all steel-nibbed pens, so the nibs write the same, more or less. They’re all eyedropper pens too, which means that you transfer ink into the barrel instead of through converter, piston, or cartridge. Since I have eyedroppered many pens before, I went right to eyedroppering it and testing the pen. After two pages, it stopped writing. Hence, the importance of reading instructions. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Opus 88 Picnic comes in a grey box with a white sleeve. The box is very minimalist. Not too many bells and whistles here.

Open the box and viola! A pipette-looking thing thing and the beautiful, translucent blue pen. There’s also that little piece of booklet that I should have read first before using the pen.

The first impression I had on the pen is that it’s shaped nicely, and the acrylic is pretty nice too. It doesn’t feel thin and cheap. I also wondered what that little mechanism you see through the acrylic could be, but since I didn’t read the little booklet, I just went ahead and disassembled the pen parts before I inked it.

The pen’s length when capped is about 5.6 inches capped and 5 inches uncapped. It has chrome-colored trims on both ends of the barrel and a chrome-colored clip.

The clip has little ridges around it, and it’s a bit curvy. It’s tight but it’s very usable. Slips right through my pen loops and pockets without a problem.

The section is long and comfortable to hold. I liked it right away, and for a person with a medium-sized hand, the girth makes it very comfortable to hold. The section has a slight flare towards the end, near the nib. You can post the pen if you like, but I’m not sure how the acrylic will hold up to that. I prefer to use my pens unposted.

Here’s the inside of the barrel and the section. If I had read the booklet first, I would have learned that the pen has a locking mechanism for the ink. This right here acts like a stopper that pushes itself into the section and locks the ink out. This is to prevent ink burping when you’re in transit. Eyedropper pens carry a larger amount of ink in the barrel, but they’re also a bit prone to burping (bless you), especially if you’re traveling by air.

I inked this one with Colorverse Strelka, because…blue.

I didn’t like the pipette much because it only sucks up about a bit of ink at a time, and some ink stays in it after you squeeze it out. I think a more economical and faster way to fill up an eyedropper is through a syringe. Lesser ink wastage, faster filling. No muss, no fuss. That being said, of course it’s nice of them to include this in the package, for people who don’t yet have syringes.

The steel nib actually wrote pretty well. It’s a fine nib but it feels more like an xf to me. There’s a bit of feedback, and the nib is firm, without much bounce. It wrote consistently, then after about two pages, it stopped writing. After a few minutes of shaking, trying to coax out the ink, I finally read the little booklet and lo and behold, I missed that important instruction of releasing a bit of the piston mechanism at the end of the barrel.

I twisted it just a smidge (not like the one in the photo below, lol). I just turned it about a turn and a half.

Ah, that did the trick. You can actually just leave the pen un-twisted if you prefer it that way, and just close it off when you’re going to be traveling. I thought it’s such a clever touch to add to an eyedropper pen. I also wonder if it’s going to prevent burping 100%, I’ll need to test it longer to find out.

Overall, I think the Opus 88 Picnic is a pretty pen, it writes well enough for a steel nib, and has an interesting take on an eyedropper system. It’s super comfortable to hold and light enough not to tire out the hand for long writing sessions.

All the Opus 88 pens I tried were from Everything Calligraphy.

Architect Grind

Last September I was able to try my friend JP’s pen with an Architect nib grind, something I asked him to look into making a few years ago. It was love at first write, when I tried out his TWSBI Vac with the architect nib. I remembered that I do have one pen with a broad nib, my Sailor Progear Mini Morita, so I sent it to him for a regrind. I got it back yesterday and I really love how it turned out.

If you’re wondering what an architect nib grind looks like compared to a stub or a cursive italic nib, here’s a comparison. That’s a left oblique cursive italic, since I like to hold the pen at an angle when using wide nibs.

Architect nibs are ideal for people who like to write with block letters, like I do. It produces different line variations when upright and slanted. It’s basically the opposite of a cursive italic nib, producing wide horizontal strokes and thin vertical strokes. Here’s are a few close ups of the writing sample of an architect nib.

The line variation is more pronounced when you write with upright characters. When slanted, it’s almost like you’re writing with a boxy nib.

By comparison, here’s a close up of a 1.1mm stub (Bexley Corona with a Goulet #6 stub). The line variation is virtually the opposite of an architect grind (narrow horizontal lines, wide vertical lines), though I hold my pen at an angle so it appears a bit slanted. The resulting edges are more rounded than the architect nib’s crisp edges.

Here’s a close up of the left oblique cursive italic nib (Cross Century II, medium, reground by JP). It’s a crisp cursive italic but customized for a right-handed writer who wants to use it at a tilted angle. Here’s a blog entry I wrote about my first left oblique cursive italic nib.

Here’s a photo of the nib’s profile. The architect nib is also called Hebrew and Arabic nib because the line variations produced is suitable for their characters. It’s actually also quite suitable for Baybayin. If you want your pen reground to an architect nib, it’s best to provide JP with a broad nib. Anything smaller wouldn’t show off the line variation as well as a broad nib would. This one’s a Japanese broad (so, more like a medium, really).

Overall, I love it because it gives my block letters a different look and feel from stubs and CIs. It has a very unique character to it, and it suits my handwriting very well. If you’re not fond of block letters and you like to write in script, you might find this kind of grind hard to use, though I would still recommend that you try it. I’m glad JP did such a good job on my pen. I’ll probably buy a TWSBI and get that reground to another architect nib. 🙂

If you’re in the Philippines and you’d like to have your fountain pen nibs reground or repaired, you may visit JP’s Facebook page at JP’s Pen Spa and Nibworks.

Tactile Turn Gist

I bought this pen at Everything Calligraphy’s Writ3C event last month. I’ve been curious about this pen for a while now, especially since it looks so minimalist and it has that industrial look that I like. There’s also a whole range of materials to mix and match. I got the one with the bronze finial and section. I really wanted the damascus finial and section but it was out of stock at the time.

The pen came in a very simple cardboard box with nothing much inside except the pen and the protective foam around it. The packaging is very sparse, I appreciate that it’s no-frills and uses very little packing materials. There’s not even any literature aside from the label on the lid of the  box.

The first thing you’ll notice on the pen is the texture of the material. If it feels familiar somehow, it’s because the body is polycarbonate markrolon. The material feels really sturdy. Here’s a close up of the barrel:

It has a continuous groove around it which gives it that tactile feel. At first it felt like the cap was difficult to twist out of the section, but after two or three times of capping and uncapping it, it stopped feeling so grippy and began to have just the right amount of tightness to make it feel snug. Here is a closeup photo of the bronze section. The grooves are just deep enough to give the section a uniform texture with the body. It’s not uncomfortable to hold at all. It actually helps make the pen a lot easier to grip while writing.

The nib is a medium steel Bock nib. I kinda wish it’s at least gold-plated to match the color of the section, but it’s alright. The performance of the nib is actually pretty awesome.

It writes consistently wet, and the nib is sufficiently smooth with just a hint of feedback. I think it’s my second favorite steel nib (next to Faber Castell nibs). So far I’ve inked the pen with 4 different kinds of inks from different brands and the pen wrote well with all of them.

Here’s a video of the writing sample.

The pen uses a standard international converter and it takes about 8 turns to remove the barrel from the section (about 3 turns to uncap). I like that the pen is light but the bronze section makes it heavy near the nib. So you feel some weight while writing without making the pen top heavy. It’s comfortable to use for long writing sessions, it didn’t tire out my hand at all.

The only issue I encountered with it was that the clip wiggled a teeny-tiny bit. It was just the slightest wiggle but it drove me nuts. I admit I didn’t inspect the item too well before I bought it, I just glanced at it briefly and didn’t even take it out of the box. I have no doubt Everything Calligraphy would have replaced it but it’s the last stock they had of that specific pen and I didn’t want to have to ship it back to them and wait for a new pen to be shipped to me. So I disassembled the pen’s cap and tightened the clip. It was a pretty simple fix and took less than 5 minutes to finish.

Overall, I think this is a great option if you want a simple, no-frills pen that is scratch-resistant and can take a beating. It writes really well too, I’m pretty happy with it.