Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Faber-Castell Basic Fountain Pen in Carbon Fibre

Fountain pens by Faber-Castell always gives me a sense of aloofness.  For one, it is owned by a count who did quite a bit of live demonstration to attest the quality of his products.  Two, the presentation of Faber-Castell fountain pens is always exquisite in pen shops I have visited. When I first saw Faber-Castell Basic, though I can still feel the finesse from the presentation and the craftsmanship of the pen, the overall design is younger at heart.

Here are some details on Basic:

  • Length (capped):  19.05 cm; 7.5 inch
  • Length (uncapped):  14 cm; 5.51 inch
  • Weight: 28g; 1 oz.
  • Filling System:  International standard cartridge (included) or converter (sold separately)
  • Nib Material:  Stainless steel
  • Nib Sizes:  B, M, F
  • Finish available:  Carbon Fibre, mother of pearl, and leather

First Impression
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The packaging is clean and simple.  The small leatherette handle adds finesse to the overall presentation, so it is ready to be gifted for any occasions.  Of course, if you are like me who hang on every single next box that comes by, you will definitely have trouble letting this one go.


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When I first opened the box, I see this interesting tag attached to the pen clip, indicating the nib size, as it was not marked on the outer box.  It is sort of handy and easy to reaffirm that you are receiving what you are getting.

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The matte rubber cap bears the Faber-Castell mark along with its logo.  The matte texture helps with uncapping, so one's grip will not slip.  Though I do not have the habit of using the pen clip, this particular clip has a pretty good grip that exceeds the mere cosmetic aspect of the pen.

The Carbon Fibre finish appears very masculine to me; in fact, it reminds me of a sports car for carbon fibre is a pretty common material.  This model also comes in pearl of mother finish, which has more of a feminine appeal.

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This pen is also lengthier and heavier than most other fountain pens I have.  Usually I prefer to post the cap, but in this case, I would leave the cap off; otherwise, one would wind up with a Harry Potter wand, with the risk of jabbing one's own chin.  Moreover, the pen feels unbalanced when capped.

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The stainless steel nib reminds me of the ventilation part of a helm.  Very befitting for Faber-Castell's emblem of two jousting knights.

Performance

A fountain pen is pretty, but its beauty will fade quickly if its performance does not match up.  Good thing about Faber-Castell Basic is that it writes like butter.  As an European fine, it is expected to be thicker than Japanese fine, but the fluidity and smoothness is unparalleled.  The writing experience reminded me of the first time I inked my Pelikan M205Duo.  Even though it only has a stainless steel nib, the smoothness would make one believe that it has a gold nib.  Basic also writes wet, which enhances the overly smoothness of the writing experience.  The ribbed grip section is made with the same matte rubber as the cap, and is comfortable to hold.  Anything I do not like about this pen?  It might be a heavier pen overall, though the body itself is very balance.  I was hoping a converter would be included, but it is sold separately.  Most websites indicated that a Faber-Castell converter is meant for its Design and Ambition line, but according to Faber-Castell, it fits Basic as well.

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I believe that one of the indications of a good pen company is that quality is consistent throughout its product lines, regardless of economy or luxury class.  Faber-Castell Basic fountain pen might come with a humble stainless steel nib, but it writes heavenly.  The body material and finish feel substantial compare to pens within the same price range.  It is ideal for people who are looking for more than beginner fountain pen and admiring simple design.

The MSRP for this pen is $38 and you can find it at Pen Boutique, as well as other fine writing instrument retailers.

This Faber-Castell Basic Fountain Pen in Carbon Fibre is provided by Pen Boutique for review purpose.  Pen Boutique is a Maryland-based vendor who also carry fine writing instrument, stationery, and accessories.  Besides the generous sample, I did not receive additional monetary compensation for writing this review.  All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Monk Paper Giveaway Winner

According to the nifty random number generator, the winner for this giveaway is....


Jeff, please e-mail me with your postal address by October 8th, so I can send this notebook your way!

Thank you, everyone, for participating!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Monk Paper Pocket Lokta Notepad Giveaway (Closed)



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Pen Boutique not only sent me the Monk Paper Sketchbook that I have reviewed here, but also this pocket size Lokta notepad, which I will give away to a lucky reader to try!  

This notepad contains 48 pages of plushy yet lightweight Lokta paper and measures 3.14 inch in width and 4.72 inch in length (7.98 cm x 11.99 cm).  It has a bamboo closure where one slides a thin piece of bamboo through two pre-made holes to fasten the notebook.  This will be a great chance for one to try out Lokta paper, in a convenient and portable size no less.  

Here is how you can enter this giveaway and some dainty rules:
1.  Leave a comment on this post on how you would use this notepad.  One comment per person please.
2.  Each comment will be numbered in the order it is entered.
3.  This giveaway is open internationally, as long as USPS delivers to your country.
4.  The giveaway will end on September 30th, 2014 at 11:59PM PST.
5.  The winner will be announced on October 1, 2014 on a separate post on this blog and will have a week to e-mail me a valid mailing address.  If I did not hear from the winner during the given time, a new one will be drawn from the existing pool.  

For those of you who cannot wait to get your hand on some Lokta paper, here is a good news.  Contact Trista at PenBoutique at (800) 263-2736, ext. 202 and mention this blog, you will receive 10% off on any Lokta products that are currently in stock.  

Good luck everyone!




Monk Paper A4 Soft Cover Sketchbook

Lokta paper is a handmade artisan paper indigenous to Nepal that is made from the fibrous inner barks of two types of Laurel, locally known as Lokta.  Similar to harvesting of sugar cane, Lokta was cut close to the base for paper making, and the tree could regenerate to full maturity in 4 to 5 years; thus Lokta paper is environmentally sustainable.  Because of Lokta paper's durability, resistance to humidity, insect and mildew, it is the paper of choice for sacred texts and government document.

Due to recent heightened sense of ecological awareness, Lokta paper begins to gain popularity.  It is popular among artists and crafters who take advantage in the paper's light weight and durable features and use it for bookbinding, gift wrapping, or sketching.  The paper also has gained a spotlight in the writer's circle.  Monk Paper A4 Soft Cover Sketchbook is one of the choices in the market.  Despite its hefty appearance, the notebook is almost feather weight and filled with 48 thick, luscious Lokta paper.  By touch, the paper has a tough and toothy surface; on certain pages, Lokta fiber can be spotted.

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Lokta paper

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See the fiber and texture?
I was reminded before hand that Lokta paper does not take fountain pen or fountain pen ink well, partly due to the textured surface and high absorbency, but for the sake of experimenting, I have tested the sketchbook with fountain pens I have inked.  There is definitely feathering and bleedthrough, but the writing is still legible.  One thing I have noticed is that the nibs will pick up some of the paper fibers as one writes, and this is particularly evidence in finer nibs (the finest I have used for the testing purpose are Sailor Clear Candy and Pilot VP).  Finer tipped gel pens, too, can potentially disturb the fiber as well (gel pens such as Hi-Tec-C and other needle points).  Ball point and felt tipped pens perform much better, as well as craft pens with rounder tips.  Surprisingly, an old gel pen that I used to like, Pentel Hybrid Gel Roller, performs exceptionally with the Lokta paper and I speculated that the rounder tip might have something to do with it.

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Not horrible feathering, but might be too toothy for fountain pens


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Bleedthrough is obvious

Because of how absorbent the paper is, most of the ink "sink" to the surface.  Take Sakura Souffle gel pens for example, instead of risen slightly from the paper surface (hence the name Souffle), there is not visual difference to set apart Souffle from other gel pens I have tried.

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Craft pen testing.  No feathering but has obvious bleedthrough

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The paper can withstand repetitive stroke without being disturb.  This is done with a Uni-Ball JetStream

Wooden pencils face the least resistance out of all writing utensils, probably because I did not sharpen it razor sharp.  Erasing is entirely another issue, since erasing will cause abrasion and disturb the fiber of the paper, as seen below.

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Takes sketch in graphite, but erasing will take off a layer of the paper
Because it is a sketchbook, I tested watercolor on it to fulfill my curiosity.  In the photo below, the flower on the left is drawn with Windsor and Newton Cotman watercolor and the blue sphere is drawn with Derwent metallic watercolor pencils.  The Lokta paper can take dryer media far better than the wet in terms of feathering; however, the feathering itself creates yet another effect.

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To most fountain pen users, feathering and bleedthrough would be an issue, so this sketchbook might not be ideal for that purpose; however, I can see it being suitable for scrapbooking or general craft because of its texture and rustic appearance.  It can easily be a journal for those who use gel, ballpoint pens, and pencils.  I like the touch of this paper as well as the toothiness because of the rustic feeling the paper conveys.  It would be a unique gift for those who are looking for an ecological alternative.

You may find the item in review at Pen Boutique, as well as other Lokta paper products in other formats.

This Monk Paper A4 Soft Cover Sketchbook is furnished by Pen Boutique,  a Maryland-based vendor who also carry fine writing instrument, stationery, and accessories, for review purpose free of charge.  All opinions expressed in this post are entirely mine.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hobonichi 2015

Hey Hobonichi lovers out there!  Have you seen the 2015 line-up?  Besides all the dazzling new covers, Hobonichi is also trying something new this year.  In addition to an one-volume agenda for the year, there is a 2-volume options now, aptly named "Avec".  Two separate volumes will benefit those who use the planner as a scrapbook because one can definitely put more items on the pages, without the fear that the thickness will get in the way of writing in the later months.  Each volume weighs lighter than the original, and of course, still made with Tomoe River paper.  The only downside is Avec is only available for Japanese.  Perhaps if this year's set-up is a success, Hobonichi will implement it to the English edition?

The English store will be up August 31st at 7PM PST.  The covers and planner will be available for purchase on September 1.

UPDATE (8/28/2014)
Hobonichi now makes a mock store available for consumers to peruse and become orientated in the layout of the store before official launch date on September 1.  Pop in and see which one to start your new year!

Are you looking forward to it?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Traveling and stationery

Thanks to my fellowship, I more chances now to travel than before, though most of the time, I do not have choice of where I am going.  This past June, I attended my very first library conference in Las Vegas.  It is probably the last place I would associate with libraries in general, but it turned out to be better than my original assumption, mostly due to good company and dreamy dessert.

The traveling kit for this trip was different from the past, mainly because I had anticipated that I would be ambulating between hotel and convention center, as well as within convention center, I must make sure that the load was comfortable enough to carry out in my messenger bag.  Given the main focus of this trip was the conference itself, I packed based on the assumption that I would not have much time playing with stationery in general, but I should have all the essentials for note-taking and possible calligraphy practice.  Based on the above consideration, I had selected the following:


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Yes, an old-fashioned planner despite the fact that ALA (American Library Association, the organization that hosted the conference) had an app for every platform.  I used it to plot out obligatory events as well as the ones that attracted my attention.
  • Midori Traveler's Notebook
I have attended several panels and anticipated some degree of note-taking.  Instead of carrying a traditional notebook for note-taking purpose, I chose Traveler's Notebook.  Given how thick it is, it provided a sturdier writing surface than conventional one.  One unexpected use of the notebook was for people I have met to put down their contact information to keep in touch.
  • Rhodia Rhodiarama in Iris
Call me a dreamer, but I had planned for down times toward the end of my day, distilling thoughts and wrapping my day up by practicing calligraphy.  Rhodiarama's portable size and high quality paper made it a great candidate for this task.  You wonder whether I actually did practice, yes, I did!
Instead of bring a quill and a portable inkwell, I defaulted to Pilot Falcon for its flex nib.  Plus, in case panels were extremely dry, it would be able entertain myself without dousing off.
  • Pilot Vanishing Point
This is one of the two fountain pens I had brought with me.  It was chosen because it was retractable. Instead of unscrewing the cap, I could simply click on the knocker and write.  No chance for me to lose a cap.

  • Uni-Ball Signo DX
Though fountain pens are preferred, I always bring a gel pen for "just-in-case" situation.  Especially when you were in a hurry (i.e. using express check out at the hotel), gel pens can be the unsung heroes.  

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Besides picking out a working travel kit, I also had an unexpected stationery gain while at the conference.  My friend and I discovered a booth for Library Fair and Forum hosted in Yokohama, Japan.  While she was chatting with the representative, my sight meandered and settled on one of the take-away goodies:  a letter pad with flower motif from the scroll of The Tale of Genji.  The other representative had noticed that my sight was fixated to notepad and asked whether I have any questions.  I asked whether the notepad was fashioned after the flower motif from the famed novel.  The representative first looked at me puzzled, then exclaimed, "you know about The Tale of Genji?  Then you should really take a notepad with you."  At that moment I felt for once nerdiness worked to my advantage.  :)

The letter pad turned out to be a sheer pleasure to use.  The paper is on a thicker and toothier side, but it takes all media that I have tested, including a metallic silver Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pen.  Even De Atramentis Magenta Purple plays well with the paper.

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Design wise, the paper is simple yet exquisite.  There are 4 varieties:  maple leaves, morning glory,
bellflowers, and cherry blossom.  The ethos and name very much coincided with Pilot Iroshizuku's naming convention.

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Have you ever find nice stationery at unexpected places?  

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Small Announcement

I hope everyone had a great weekend and is enjoying the exciting matches the World Cup has to offer.  To everyone who habitually writes to me, I am moving at the beginning of July to a slightly bigger apartment (definitely a cross the city blocks move, not a cross-continental one!).  Please e-mail me for my updated snail mail address.  If you already have a letter en route, fear not, I have submitted a change of address form so your letter will reach me during the transition.

Hopefully I can gather some time to write proper posts while packing for a short business trip and boxing the apartment!

Have a great week!