Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Pen - Marlen Aleph

 The following is from the Marlen Pens website:

From the collaboration of Marlen and, there is the creation of Aleph, a Flat Top pen with piston filler and a nib in fine harmonic steel.

Aleph represents the reaching of an important landmark for the firm Marlen producing a pen specifically for the ones fascinating from this wonderful writing instrument.

A unique pen that wants to be the main focus for all the enthusiastic fountain pens’ passionate.

The body of the pen is made of mother-of-pearl resin in lava grey or black refined with a full stainless steel barrel fully inspired to the old flat tops, without any kind of ornaments (rings and more) to divide the line.

The pen is 143 mm of length; 111 mm for the body and 62 mm for the cap. The total weight is 30,9 grams (complete and refilled) of which 10,4 grams for the cap and 20,5 for the body. These characteristics lead to a balance allowing the pen to fit perfectly with the hand cavity.

The filler system used is a piston filler one, in which the barrel end has as main aim the protection of the mechanism from accidental or clunky actions.

The harmonic steel used for the nib guarantees a good flow for controlled flexion of 1,00 – 1,50 mm. To limit the necessary strength for the flexion of the nib, the pen presents two lateral cuts to accomplish a functional task without the overshadow of the aesthetic component.  
The Marlen Aleph is available from Bertam's Inkwell.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Featured Pen - Cavers Cigar Style - Dark Fire

2014 has been a very busy pen year (so far).

In addition to the Scriptorium Pens Bard that I featured a few weeks ago, I attended the DC Supershow and acquired 3 pens, some ink and a lovely refillable notebook (reviews will be coming). In addition, I received a pen that I had ordered over a year ago and picked up a black matte Lamy Safari from eBay for less than $8.

For this post I want to share an addition which was a little unexpected.

Some time ago I requested a pen from Ken Cavers, a wonderful pen maker (who is a physician in his spare time). The order got a little confused, in that by the time it came up neither of us could remember what I had requested AND we could not find the original email discussion. So new decisions needed to be made.

My first instinct was to inquire about a pen that he had just completed, Blue Nebula Cigar. Unfortunately that pen had already been claimed. So we began to discuss options. I decided on a cigar style pen like the Nebula and told him that I wanted something different for the material. This is the result.

This is a difficult pen to photo. It is basically a black pen shot though with stunning, glittery copper-red.

It is very difficult to see the beautiful opalescence of the material.

You can see Ken's photos of this pen, here.

It is topped with a lovely, smooth 1.1 stub nib.

This pen has quickly become a favorite, subtle but striking. Comfortable to write with and laying down a wonderful line.

Monday, September 1, 2014

ME Journal from Quo Vadis

The ME Journal from Quo Vadis is a joining of analog and digital journal keeping. I received this journal in one of the QV giveaways, on their blog.

These journals come in two sizes large (6 1/4 x 9 1/4") and pocket (4 x 6 3/8") and are available in three colors: black, red and raspberry. Hopefully, if they are popular they will add more colors.

The paper is Clairefontaine 85 g acid-free, pH neutral and archival quality, so if you are familiar with Quo Vadis products this one will provide the same high quality writing experience and if not, you should definitely be happy with it.

To add media to the page you simply scan the QR code on the page, which will take you to the app where you can upload your digital file: photo, music, audio file, etc.

At first I thought that this would make a great travel journal, but there is a limitation of only one attachment per page, so you would have to pick the best photo to represent the day your are documenting.

EDIT - you are able to add multiple photos to a page, but only through use on the app on your desktop, not the smartphone app. The website allows you to add multiple photos to create a slideshow, I only wish that the app would allow this also.

I am unhappy with the fact that the journal does not have a back pocket. I like back pockets to stash stuff, especially if I were to use it as a travel journal.

My second thought was as a collection journal, each page could be used to document the data of the items that you collect and then a picture could be linked to that page - say if you collected pens, for example.

Another thought was to document the life of a pet, from birth through old age.

I really could come up with endless ideas for using this journal, so even with the few shortcomings I think that this journal is a wonderful idea and will prove itself very useful.

As with all Quo Vadis products which I have used, the paper is a dream, with no feathering, bleed-through or show-through.

According to the Quo Vadis website, the ME Journal is available at:

Writers Bloc


Indy Pen Dance

Paper Bistro

The prices range from $14.97 for the pocket to $24.00 for the large. You will need to check with each vendor for the best prices and I'm sure that new sources will be available in the future.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Monologue Notebooks

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Monologue Notebooks, (their website is still under construction), with an inquiry asking if I would like to try out a few of their notebooks/sketchbooks. On Monday I received an email saying that they had been shipped and on Wednesday a large package arrived [that is really fast considering they were shipped from Singapore].

Imagine my amazement when I opened the package and found not one or two notebooks, but EIGHT (8) notebooks of various colors, sizes and formats.

Monologue is actually one of the brands of the Singaporean company, Grandluxe. Here is a little information about Grandluxe from their website:

     Our Story

A fine heritage & tradition in book binding spanning three generations has come to shape what Grandluxe is today. Growing from a family business that started out with hand stitched note books to having a strong presence in more than 30 countries, Grandluxe has many successful brand portfolios under its umbrella, including:

Monologue Logo Luxe Logo Paperluxe Logo
A series of lifestyle diaries, stationery and accessories
Exquisite diaries and leather collection
Chic, trendy stationery

Today, Grandluxe supplies to major wholesalers and retailers worldwide. It has production plants & facilities in Singapore, Malaysia and sales/marketing offices in the UK and USA, meeting the sophisticated customization needs of corporate clients all over the world.
However one thing remains the same as always – the use of good quality materials and quintessential craftsmanship, paying tribute to our rich heritage through this commitment.

  • Founded in 1945, 100% Singaporean owned
  • Creative design and graphic team with specialised software for diary data generating
  • World renowned printing & book binding machines such as Heidelberg, Solna Web, Kolbus, Sigloch, Muller Martini, Polar, Stahl, Hunkler & Ochsner.
  • Between 2007 to 2012, more than US$ 5 million were invested in plant and machinery with sophisticated, highly automated machines to enhance quality and productivity. 
  • FSC certified to produce paper products that promotes environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests
  • ISO9001 :2008 certified – Quality Management system 
  • Operations run on SAP Business Automation system

Monologue is what they call a "series of lifestyle diaries, stationery and accessories". I received three A5 notebooks: Ruled, Jotter and Platinum; three A5 notebooks: Ruled, Jotter and Platinum; one A7 Contrast Ruled; and one A8 Contrast Ruled.


All of the notebooks use 80 gsm/54 lb acid-free paper and the covers are PU, which is a poly synthetic leather used by many notebook manufacturers. The Platinum offers metallic covers and white paper; the Jotter cover has a suede finish, cream paper and pencil (the website says "mechanical" pencil, but it is not mechanical), the paper is lined for the first half of the notebook and blank with frames for the second half, because of the way the pencil holder is situated you sacrifice page width; the Ruled notebooks have cream paper and matching elastic band and ribbon; the Contrast Ruled notebooks have cream paper and an interesting contrasting horizontal elastic band and ribbon. All of the notebooks have ribbon markers and most (except the A8 size) have expandable pockets in the back. The Platinum and Ruled notebooks also have elastic pen holders.

These notebooks are really nice and are very well made, however, the true test for a fountain pen user is, of course, the paper.

As you can see, this paper is not the best medium for fountain pens. As nice as these notebooks are, I would recommend that other writing instruments be used.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Pen: Scriptorium Pens Bard

Somewhere in the neighborhood of four to five years ago, I made the online acquaintance (via Twitter) of Renee, aka @lady_tortoise aka @ScriptoriumPens. (You can follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Flickr) Back then Renee was wrapping up her first career and getting ready to retire. Our friendship was built upon a love of fountain pens and dogs. Below are some photos of her beautiful Australian Shepherds aka The Mud Puppies.

Fast forward to 2014, Renee and I lost touch. I am not on Twitter all that much anymore, but I do follow a number of blogs and I check into Twitter now and then.

I don't remember exactly where but I stumbled across Scriptorium Pens and began to explore the website. The more I read, the more I realized that this was my old friend, so I immediately got in touch and discovered that she has launched a second career as a pen maker.

One thing lead to another and the Bard featured here is the result. I simply loved the shape of this pen.

Scriptorium Pens offers twelve unique designs or you can work with her to create your own custom pen. You also have a wide range of materials to choose from. Renee will provide you the links to materials providers and you can go wild.

The material I chose is Maj'K Mists Color Shifting. I love the gorgeous iridescence of this material, however it makes this a difficult pen to photo.

I had this pen made as an eye dropper, although I can use a converter.

I chose a two-toned steel nib (gold is just outrageous right now) in Extra Fine.

Check that translucency.

So if you are looking for a custom pen, check out Renee's website, I don't think that you will be disappointed.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Featured Pen: Hakumin Urushi Negoro Kuro-Tamenuri

I have long been looking at the Negoro style fountain pens from Nakaya and debating the purchase of one of these beauties.

From Wikipedia: "Negoro lacquerwares were produced at the Negoro-ji temple complex in Izumi province. The red layers of lacquer on Negoro wares are intended to gradually wear away with use, revealing the black lacquer underneath. This effect has since been copied and emulated elsewhere."

The Negoro style is no longer limited to red over black, but used to describe a style which is also known as "Wabi-Sabi". From ""Wabi-Sabi" is the term used in Japanese for objects whose aesthetic value increases with use and wear. Taking this idea to its logical extreme, this pen honors the aging process even more by featuring "cracks" artfully engraved onto the surface of the cap, barrel, and gripping section. This process is particularly painstaking and time-consuming - production of these pens usually requires six months or more."

For me, the Nakaya presented two problems - first, the inner threads from the nib section to the barrel are metal which prevents filling the pen as an eyedropper and second, I am not crazy about the available colors: Negoro Shiro-tame, Negoro Nanohana-iro and Negoro Nuno kise Hon Kataji.

So, I contacted Ernest Shin of Hakumin Urushi to find out is he could make a Negoro in Kuro-Tamenuri. Kuro-Tamenuri is red under black where the red comes through. The base is (as with my other Hakumin Urushi pen) an Edison Pearl with an Edison 18kt italic nib. Just so you know this pen is comparably priced with the Nakaya and gave me exactly what I wished for in this style of pen. Thank you, Ernest! and thank you to Brian Grey for introducing the pen world to this wonderful artisan.


This was a very difficult pen to photograph and convey it's true beauty.