Category: Pen Reviews

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.

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)