Franklin Christoph Antique Glass Model 66 and Robert Oster River of Fire Review

Every once in a while Franklin Christoph comes out with a batch of their pens in “Antique Glass”, a clear acrylic with a bit of a green tint to it that makes it look like an old coke bottle. The material is both minimalist and beautiful. It allows you to show off the ink that you’re using while still having a pen that has more character than a run-of-the-mill demonstrator. Franklin Christoph’s pens and the nibs that they use are excellent and very well priced. The result is that these limited runs having a waiting list (from which a 100 names are drawn), and there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to even get on that. I had to wait for two years until I was able to purchase mine.

The wait is worth it though.

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The Franklin Christoph Model 66 is a long and sleek pen that can’t be posted. The pen is light but still substantial, because of the extra acrylic in the finial. I was worried at first that it would be top heavy, but the Model 66 is perfectly balanced, and one of my favourite pens for long writing sessions.

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The Model 66 is a demonstrator pen that is built to be eye-droppered. Yes, you can use the supplied converter or cartridges, but what’s the point of having a pen that looks like this if not to eye dropper it? Franklin Christoph even supply the requisite o-rings and silicone grease, making it super easy to transform it into an eye dropper.

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The pen body is made of smooth acrylic on the outside, but is pebble textured on the inside. The result shows off the ink colour and the pen colour even more, but it also means that staining inks have even more surface area to stain. I decided early on to use only turquoise, teal, blue and green inks in this pen, as even if they stained the pen it would work well with its “natural hue”.

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You can see the greenish “antique glass” tint best in the cap.

In terms of design, this is a desk pen and is designed as one, so it has one flat side which keeps it from rolling off the table even though it’s a clipless pen.

There’s a wide variety of Jowo nibs that you can order with your pen, and I decided to pay a little extra for a Mike Masuyama medium italic nib. The nib is buttery smooth, and the feed keeps up with flow. This italic isn’t super sharp, which is a plus for me, and together with the large ink capacity that an eye-dropper pen offers, it’s writing heaven.

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The Franklin Christoph Model 66 Antique Glass with a Mike Masuyama medium italic (what a mouthful) is build to show off interesting inks. Although I would never use shimmering inks in it, it’s great for inks that shade or sheen. And Robert Oster is the king of sheening inks.

The River of Fire is a dark teal ink that has significant red sheen and a good amount of shading.

I felt like drawing a D&D map here, I don’t know why.

As usual with inks of this kind, the paper and nib affect how much sheen or shading you see. This nib is perfect for that, and the paper I used here is Tomoe River Paper, which brings out the best in every ink.

You can see a bit of the properties of the ink here, particularly the shading, but this ink really does have a lot of sheen. It’s just difficult to photograph, so you can only see a bit of the golden red that happens where the ink pools.

This is such a pretty ink. Look how much variation and interest it offers:

So, if you can get on one of the Franklin Christoph antique glass waiting lists, I highly recommend it. As for the Robert Oster River of Fire, I think that it’s a gorgeous ink, but it’s not unique enough in Robert Oster’s large ink offering. If you have something in the turquoise or teal shade in their lineup, then there’s probably no need to buy the River of Fire. If yo don’t then I recommend this ink since it’s wild and yet dark enough to “pass” in an office setting.

 

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Franklin Christoph Antique Glass Model 66 and Robert Oster River of Fire Review

Lamy Studio Terracotta Fountain Pen Review

I’ve been eyeing the Lamy Studio for years now, but until now I haven’t purchased one because I found the available colours kind of boring and drab. Then they came out with the Terracotta limited edition, and I decided to give it a go.

The Lamy Studio Terracotta is a full metal bodied pen, and so it has some heft to it, although it’s nothing close to the weight of a Karas Kustoms Ink. Even if you have a small hand, the weight of this pen shouldn’t be an issue.

The colour of the pen is vibrant, and the matt finish on the pen practically glows in the light.

This fountain pen is famous for its propeller-like clip design, and it’s nice and functional but not something you notice after a little while. The Lamy 2000 and the Lamy Safari have much more striking designs.

The Lamy Studio uses the same nib units that the Lamy Safari uses, and the same converters too. The pen arrives in a beautiful, super sized box that makes for great gift packaging, complete with an ink cartridge and a converter.

The main issue with this pen is its grip. As you can see from the photos, it’s a shiny, slippery metal grip. That’s a problem, especially if you tend to sweat, or if you use hand cream. It’s not that the pen slipped when I wrote with it, but as my fingers had no real purchase on the grip, the pen felt insecure in my hand. Like it was going to fly out of my grip at any moment. That doesn’t make for an enjoyable writing experience.

As I was taking photos to try and get the colour of this pen, it rolled away (uncapped) and fell to the floor. The nib got slightly dinged, but I straightened it pretty easily. Even if it would have been badly damaged it would have been no big deal as I have plenty of Lamy Safari nibs to choose from to replace this one. That’s a big plus for this pen, since if you’ve invested in a few Safari or AL-Star or Vista Lamy fountain pens, you can swap the nibs around very easily.

I filled the Lamy Studio Terracotta with the Diamine Terracotta 150th Anniversary ink, and they go fabulously together. The Diamine Terracotta (and the Diamine Safari) are my favourites of the Diamine 150th anniversary inks, as it’s such a unique colour, with some nice shading, but it isn’t super saturated. This means that it can be used safely with vintage fountain pens, and that it can add a little va-va-voom to your office work without drawing too much attention to itself. It almost looks like a boring brown, but it very much isn’t. I love that in an ink.

A close up on the shading, that goes from a lighter reddish brown to a darker reddish brown on the ends of downstrokes even in a fine nib pen.

So, what’s the verdict? If the Lamy Studio had a different grip then it would be a five star pen. As it is, I don’t recommend it. The Diamine Terracotta though is an ink worth having, especially if you’re just starting out with exploring brown ink, or if you want an interesting ink to use in vintage fountain pens.

Lamy Studio Terracotta Fountain Pen Review

Mark One and Ohto Flash Dry Review

After waiting for over two months, my Mark One (purchased post Kickstarter) finally arrived. The pen, by Studio Neat, is made of aluminium and features a ceramic finish and a custom click mechanism. It also comes with a Schmidt P8126 rollerball refill (the same kind that Retro51 uses in their pens), which is absolutely horrible, so I switched it with an OhtoFlash Dry 0.5 gel ink refill instead.

 

The pen comes in a cork box that is very pretty, but not really functional. If you have tons of spare room on your desk you can reuse it as a pen tray for the Mark One, but as I don’t the box will just go to recycling. I would have preferred a simpler box, of the kind that TWSBI or Lamy uses, but this is a great box if you plan to give someone the Mark One as a gift.

The Mark One box is held closed by a piece of cardboard that doubles as an instruction sheet for the pen. That’s a nice idea, and the sheet is well designed and clear.

The box without the sheet doesn’t have a sealing mechanism (it’s just two pieces of cork), so it’s not really built to be a pen case, just a pen tray.

I chose the white and copper Mark One, which is very popular based on the waiting times on the Studio Neat website.

The pen is very comfortable to hold and use for long periods of time. It looks heavy but is super light, and the ceramic finish makes it very grippy. The wide barrel helps ensure that you don’t slip into “death grip” mode even if you have a tendency to.

The click mechanism is excellent and very solid and satisfying to use. It’s also very far from silent. The pen tip doesn’t rattle, and the pen looks as gorgeous as the pictures make it appear.

The Ohto Flash Dry 0.5 gel ink refill (PG-105NP)  is a needle point, parker refill that dries in a flash. It’s very dark and produces a line that is slightly wider than the Uniball 0.5 gel ink refills, but it somehow doesn’t smudge. Even on Moleskine, Rhodia and Tomoe River paper the OHTO Flash Dry dries almost instantaneously. It’s a left hand writer’s dream, and an excellent gel ink refill in and of itself. I have no idea why this refill hasn’t gotten more reviews, since there are so few parker style gel ink refills to begin with, not to mention good ones or ones that dry in a second or less. Maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s the kind of refill that’s widely available. It is, however, totally worth the price and effort.

Here’s a sample from my journal (which is a Moleskine). New Moleskines don’t have the spidering problem that they used to have, and there is no spreading or smudging with this pen/ink combo. The show through is a more significant than with a Uniball UMR-85 refill (the Signo 207), but the line is also wider and a good deal darker.

Here’s a writing sample on a Field Notes, where the first line (“Mark One”) was written with the original refill, and the rest with the Ohto Flash Dry.

Here’s the refill, which is available at JetPens and CultPens (I am not an affiliate of either):

I highly recommend the Mark One, as it’s a beautiful pen that’s just a joy to use. I would recommend switching the Schmidt refill out for the Ohto Flash Dry 0.5, or just using the Flash Dry in any parker compatible pen that you’ve got. It’s one of the best refills out there, especially if you’re left handed or tend to smudge your writing.

Mark One and Ohto Flash Dry Review

Ti2 Techliner Review

Ever since I first saw a review of the Ti2 Techliner on The Pen Addict I have wanted this pen. At the time it was on Kickstarter, and I wasn’t comfortable with paying that much for a pen that I wasn’t sure that I would get.

Later on it was for sale on the Ti2design website, but that site looked dodgy enough for me to hesitate giving them my money. This is an expensive pen, especially considering that it’s not a fountain pen, and I was unsure if I wanted to spend the money on it. It didn’t help that Ti2design noted that it was no longer using the Uniball Signo 207 refills (which are my absolute favourites), but have switched to Uniball Jetstream refills (which I’m not a fan of). As the FAQ at the Ti2design site said, the two were not interchangeable, due to different nose cone designs on the refill, each requiring a different combination of magnets, spacers and o-rings.

That turned out to be wrong, but more about that later.

When JetPens got the Ti2 Techliners, I decided to take the risk and buy the fallout titanium edition, hoping that I could hack a Uniball Signo 207 refill into it. It arrived super fast in the ugliest, cheapest looking packaging I have ever seen. It was just a plastic tube with a bit of paper stuck on it, not even in a clean and professional way. I don’t care about packaging, but if I would have bought this as a gift for someone I would be hugely embarrassed if it arrived like that. It’s a $92 pen — they couldn’t even splurge for a nicely designed cardboard tube? The TWSBI GO costs a third and comes with much, much nicer packaging.

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The pen itself is gorgeous in my opinion. It’s obviously got a design that not everyone will like, but you can see that every detail has been considered and designed. The fallout finish is stunning, with a blue hue over the tumbled titanium finish giving it a purplish glow, especially at the raised edges of the pen (the top of the cap, the grip knurls, etc.).

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The cap closes magnetically, which is very satisfying, and it posts magnetically too. Those magnets close with a satisfying click (what a great fidget toy), and they are STRONG. That means that the pen will attract various metal knickknacks lying around, and you need to be careful where you place it.

I photographed it both in natural light and warm light, just to try and bring out the colour a bit more, but neither photo does it justice.

The knurling on the grip is pretty comfortable to use, but if you have a death grip and you use it for long periods of time, it will start digging into your fingers. This is also a long pen, both capped and uncapped, at 14.1 cm uncapped, 14.7 capped and 15.5 posted. It is well balanced though, so even with my tiny hands it didn’t feel unwieldy.

The knurling is tumbled so that it won’t cut into your hands, and it looks great with the fallout finish. It’s one of the most comfortable machined pen grips that I’ve used so far, and the only reason that it may encourage a bit of “death grip” is that the pen is long and it may feel like you need to. You don’t.

You can see the purply-copper finish a bit here, on the capped end, and see the clip too. JetPens only sells the Ti2 Techliner with the clip, but if you go to Ti2design’s site they’ll sell you one without one. The clip looks nice and does a decent job.

The uncapped end of the pen also has knurling on it, and looks cool.

I like the truncated nose cone design, and it shows off the magnet that holds the refill in place and allows the cap to snap on. There may be those that don’t like it, but I really think that it works on this pen, especially since it’s repeated on the end of the pen.

The end of the pen is also truncated, and you can see the magnet that allows posting here too.

This brings us to the insides of the pen and some things worth knowing before you buy this pen. The pen comes with two magnets, two spacers and an o-ring, and a Uniball Jetstream SXR 0.7 ballpoint refill. That’s a great refill if you like ballpoint pens, but otherwise and unlike what the Ti2design FAQ says, you can totally use other refills in this pen. Jetpens has a list of compatible refills here, and the Uniball UMR gel refills (the Signo 207 refills) totally fit. You could have 0.38 mm gel refill in this pen!

Before unscrewing the pen and changing the refill, do take a moment to:

  1. Go to the Ti2 Techliner FAQ page, just to understand which parts go where. The magnets are directional, so if you put them back the wrong way in your pen won’t cap or post. Just take it apart again and flip the magnets. You can’t get the front and back end magnets or spacers confused, as the front ones have a hole in them for the refill, and the back ones are solid.
  2. PUT THE CAP FAR, FAR AWAY BEFORE STARTING!!!! The cap has a magnet inside it, and if you’re not careful you front magnet (which is tiny and light) will get sucked into it, and you’ll need a pair of tweezers and some effort to get it out. Save yourself the hassle and put the cap away first before you disassemble the pen.

I love the Ti2 Techliner and I’m happy with my purchase. Do I recommend it? If you like the aesthetic and aren’t shocked by the price, then yes. I wouldn’t give it as a gift (not until the packaging is sorted out), and I’d recommend the Ti Arto over it because it’s much more versatile, but in my opinion this is still a very well designed, beautiful pen.

Just beware of the magnets…

Ti2 Techliner Review

Kaweco Liliput Brass Fountain Pen Review

A certain famous young actress, whose work I love, was recently photographed while pensively holding the copper version of this fountain pen, and this summarises this pen perfectly: it’s very, very photogenic.

I got this pen at a close out sale in a local art supply store, and the only reason I was tempted to buy it was because it was so shiny and pretty and at bargain price. Even so, I should have left it to languish unloved at that store’s counter. This is not a good pen. It’s not even a usable pen. It’s a lovely prop.

As its name suggests, this pen is tiny. You can’t use it unposted, and even posted it’s far from comfortable to use. I have tiny hands and even for me the Kaweco Liliput, posted, is just a hair breadth above the Steinbeck stage.

How does the pen write? Fine, as long as it writes. This is a fine nibbed pen and it writes like a Japanese fine nib (despite being made in Germany), if the Japanese fine nib that you have in mind has serious flow issues. The nib constantly dries up. I used a Diamine blue black cartridge in it (there’s no really viable converter option for this pen), a good, middle of the road ink, and the Liliput behaved as if I was using the driest ink ever and had left it uncapped for at least 10 minutes before I started writing. I wouldn’t even call it a writing experience, as so little writing went on. Start, stop, shake. Start, stop, shake. Nothing but shaking would get it writing again for another letter or two.

The pen is already starting to show some patina, which is excellent (you buy a brass pen for the patina potential after all). This means that it will only look better with time. If you’re a petite actress trying to look pensive and sophisticated for a photo op, this is wonderful news for you — the Kaweco Liliput Brad’s is the perfect pen for you. Everyone else: spend your money elsewhere.

Kaweco Liliput Brass Fountain Pen Review

Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook Review

Back in the (not so good) old days, Tomoe River Paper was an exotic kind of paper available only in bulk order from Japan, or through various indie creators that advertised mostly on the Fountain Pen Network. The magical paper that made all your inks shine (not literally, this was in the pre-sparkle days of ink, when shading is all we dared dream of in an ink) was very hard to obtain, and very expensive.

It was at that time, in 2013, when I was looking for reasonable priced Tomoe River Paper notebooks that could be shipped to Tel Aviv, that I ran into Paper For Fountain Pens, through the Fountain Pen Network. Since I just received my latest three-pack of notebooks from Jay at PaperForFountainPens.com, I decided that now would be as good a time as any for a review.

The notebooks that I ordered are the larger, 374 pages (187 sheets), ones, which are available only around this time of year. The regular notebooks have 320 pages, but are otherwise identical. Jay uses 52 gsm Tomoe River Paper for the notebooks, which are 4 3/4 x 8 3/8 inch page size; 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 inch cover size.

The notebooks used to be shipped with a paper cover, now they arrived vacuum packed as well, to protect them from the elements, and in a heavy duty box that prevents them from getting damaged by the postal services of the world.

Vacuumed packaging.
Paper wrapper.

Tomoe River Paper is much easier to find now and these notebooks aren’t cheap, as you are paying for the binding. The covers are very durable, made from a material that (with the binding) makes the whole notebook look and feel like a vintage hardcover book. It has that solid, over-engineered feel to it, and is very pleasant to use and hold.

The notebook isn’t inconveniently thick, even with the larger page count.

There are no frills to this notebook, just blank end papers, no elastic closure or bookmark, nothing but the paper and the covers. The pages lie flat, and the binding is extremely durable (I page a lot, a lot in my Paper for Fountain Pens notebook and not a page has wavered in my years of using it).

The front endpaper 

I’ve used the slimmer version of this notebook as a research notebook for my novel and it has held up well through years of use. I do, however, only keep it on my desk. Travelling with such fragile paper in a notebook with no elastic closure is a recipe for disaster, so if you do intent to use one of these beauties as your everyday carry notebook or journal, I highly recommend placing it in some kind of protective cover that you can zip up.

The back endpaper

This notebook is slightly thicker than the Baron Fig Confidant and Moleskine large notebook, is about as wide as the Moleskine, but a tad taller.

Paper for Fountain Pens above a Moleskine Large notebook and a Baron Fig Confidant

You can see the difference in sizes with the notebooks stacked up. The Paper for Fountain Pens notebooks have thicker and heavier covers than the Moleskine and Baron Fig ones, but the lightweight paper in them keeps them from being overly heavy to carry around.

Paper for Fountain Pens above a Moleskine Large notebook and a Baron Fig Confidant

All in all I recommend these notebooks, with one caveat: they may intimidate you to a point where you won’t use them. There’s something about their book-like format that makes you feel that you can only write the next Booker prize winning novel in them. Notebooks should be used and not stacked and stared at, so if this one will scare you off, pick a more humble notebook instead. Otherwise, buy a three-pack of these — it’ll come out cheaper (particularly with shipping), and there’s an excellent chance that they’ll become your new favourite.

Paper for Fountain Pens Notebook Review

Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen Review

I planned to review the Sharpie brush pen, after spending the best part of a week with it, but as it turns out, I forgot it at the office. I’ve been using the Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen instead, so here’s a review of this boring little brush pen instead.

Today’s journal comic/review, drawn on a Moleskine Star Wars crawl text blank notebook. This paper is smooth, although not Rhodia smooth, but the pen still really dragged on it. It was worse on any sort of paper with even the slightest tooth, making it super not fun to use.

The brush pen tip is pretty firm, which means that you get a medium amount of line variation, but that it’s very easy to control. If you’re starting out in the wild world of brush pens, either for drawing or lettering, this tip grade is probably the best for you.

The black ink is black, and not greyish or brownish, and completely not waterproof, which can be a good thing (if you want to “stretch” it or use it for shading, as wet it produces a good 50% cool grey), or a terrible thing (if you want to combine it with watercolours).

A closeup of a D&D character group drawing that I did with the Pentel Fude Brush Sign Pen. 

The pen body itself looks and feels cheap and plasticy, which isn’t too unusual in the disposable brush pen market. Why do all these companies have a thing for a dark pen body with pronounced gold lettered marketing splashed all over it? Pentel’s also put sparkles in its, body, just for some extra garish fun.

 

The pen is torpedo shaped with facets along the body that somewhat help keep the pen from rolling. It’s borderline too thin to use for long periods of time without cramping, but  otherwise it’s comfortable to hold and use.

The Pentel Fude Brush Sign Pen would be a good beginners’ brush pen if there wasn’t so much competition at the same price. As it is, buy a Zebra brush pen, which allows for greater line variation, or a Kuretake brush pen, which is also waterproof, or add a little more and get the experience of two brush pens in one with the Pilot Futayaku. As it is, this Pentel pen lacks enough line variation to make it fun and interesting to use, and it isn’t cheap enough to justify buying it over the competition.

Pentel Fude Touch Brush Sign Pen Review