Sunday, August 9, 2020

Faber Castell Loom fountain pen review

My second fountain pen purchase after the hit Platinum Preppy was the Faber Castell Loom metallic gray. It is the first serious fountain pen that I own, and I like it a lot. There are some negative things about it, but nobody is perfect.

It has been some time now that I planned to write about the fountain pen and postponed it every time until now. It is weird to see how perception changes over time. When I purchased the Preppy I was not sure about writing with a fountain pen and thought the Faber Castell Loom is a very expensive writing instrument. Now I find it to be just the right price, if not a bargain.
This review is after using the fountain pen for more than a year, so the initial thoughts that I put down on paper when I purchased the fountain pen do not 100% coincide with my current opinions.

The fountain pen has an all-metal body construction, with a plastic cap. It is on the thick and heavy side of writing instruments but I have found out I really like the feel if it in hand. Initially, I thought it to be too thick and heavy, but now writing with it is more comfortable than with the Platinum Preppy. I think I rely on the weight of the fountain pen to apply pressure on the paper, and I have a looser grip on it, compared to the Preppy which I grip tighter and apply a lot more pressure. After a longer writing session, I feel less fatigue and cramping in the hand using the heavier Faber Castell Loom.

The fountain pen uses international cartridges (long or short). It does not come with a converter so if you want to use a converter instead of cartridges you have to pay extra.

Design & feel in hand:

The barrel is a cylindrical metal tube fitted with a pushed in end, the cap made from plastic and painted in different colors. I have mine a simple gray as the barrel but you can choose other colors like pink, blue, brown, green, black, red, white, purple. The grip and barrel joint is flush, which makes the pen look great and feel comfortable in the hand as there is no step up or down. The grip section tappers a bit, and has a series of raised circles that offer a good grip on the fountain pen. I never noticed a tendency for the hand to slip on the barrel even though is all metal.

The fountain pen comes in 3 barrel versions, the one that I own which is a mate gray, a second one which is polished metal and the third gunmetal which looks amazing. The polished version looks a bit cheesy and is a finger magnet at the same time.
The nib has a nice cut which makes it look beautiful and elegant at the same time. Even though it is not a big nig proportional to the pen I think it looks good and feels great. The nib does not have a breather hole just the central cut, ornated with dots and the symbol of Faber Castell, the two knights jousting.
Also on the nib, the size is marked. F in my case.

From what I saw online all the lower end fountain pens from Faber Castell share the same nib. The only difference being the materials and the finishes on the barrel.

The cap is plastic and snaps very securely on the body. You have to put some elbow grease to open it, but after some time it gets more normal. Or I just got used to the effort and developed hulk arms.
It can be used posted or unposted. I prefer to use it unposted as it is nib heavy this way.
It has an unusual look compared to other caps. It looks big and fat over the pen. I would not say ugly but definitely, it is a more unique style and I think it is not everyone's cup of tea.
On the side of the cap is embossed: Faber Castell since 1762 and the two knights jousting. On the top of the cap, there is only the two knights logo. It is a very nice touch which I like a lot.
The clip is plastic covered with chrome-like finish. On the very top, the knights are present as well.


Now the bad part regarding the cap, as you can see from the above image. The clip cracked and I had to glue it. I do not know if I was only the fountainpen's fault, as I may have forced it a bit too much. What I want to say is that it could have been better designed or out of better materials. I read on the internet opinions that the cap is plastic to reduce the weight of the pen. I think at least the clip should have been made out of metal or maybe it should have a hinge.
I secured it in place with some super glue plus baking soda. Not very pretty but if you don't know it's there (which I do) it is not very visible. (ok, it is visible but I do not care anymore :) )

Performance:

I chose the fine (F) nib because I use it on cheap paper all the time. It is a daily writing instrument and I usually take notes and make comments on copy paper, agendas and so on.
The nib feels smooth out of the box, and this seems to be the case with almost all Faber Castell nibs.
But I had a bit of trouble with it, partly Faber Castell fault, partly my fault. I wrote about what I went through with it, and you can read it if you are interested. click here.

Making a long story short, I had some troubles with the fit of the nib and feed in the pen plus I was trying to modify it a little to make it write thinner because I thought the problem is with the flow and did not suspect the problem came from how the nib and feed were not sitting properly. In short, I could not use large international cartridges because the pen would burp ink frequently plus the nib felt wobbly sometimes.
At some point in time, I thought of just scraping the fountain pen and buying a new one. At this point I made some drastic nib corrections because I didn't like the feel of it anymore and distorting the nib was not a concern anymore. The main problem was that the nib was drying when I was making faster movements on the paper, and skips occurred more often than I would have liked.
Be careful as you can make it worse, and believe me I did it at first. 
Now I can say the fountain pen writes very nice again, but it is a hint of luck that I didn't damage it beyond repair in the first attempts.

In conclusion, even though I had some problems with the fountain pen I would say is well worth buying the fountain pen. For 25 euros or $ 30 (this is what I paid for it), you get an all-metal barrel, and a great writing experience. Before buying the Loom I have tested in the shop a Pilot Metropolitan (I own one now, coming soon), Lamy Safari and Al-Star, Kaweco Sport. And I think it is the best between all of the above mentioned. Most comparable I would say it is the Al-Star, but I didn't like the grip and the design as much I like the Loom's.


Friday, July 24, 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020

Faber Castell TK-FINE 9719 1.0 mm

After a long wait, it came the time to write about my Faber Castell TK - Fine 9719 in size 1.0 mm. I own this mechanical pencil for more than 7 or 8 years. It was my first Faber Castell I have purchased. I chose at the time the TK Fine as it seemed a nice alternative to other more plain mechanical pencils.
tk fine mechanical pencil faber castell
It is not the cheapest but not that expensive after all, it has a few nice features that you see on more expensive pencils.
It is a technical mechanical pencil, and it comes with a fixed retractable tip, which makes it pocket safe. The tip has a little bit of a wobble to it, but it is present in most mechanical pencils that have this feature. It features a lead hardness indicator, a basic and simple way to keep track of the lead that is inside, you rotate the clip. The indicator has the following writings available -, 2B, B, HB, F, H, 2H, 3H, 4H. Although because it is such a simple and basic lead indicator, people who use it a lot might get the letters erased by constantly rotating the clip, which is held in place by friction.
The clip has on the side written Germany.
The cap is a very thin barrel which is closed with at one end with a plastic part with ISO coloring to indicate the lead thickness at a glance.
The body is made out of plastic in the classic Faber green. The grip is octagonal while the rest of the barrel is round.

faber castel tk fine 1.0 mm mechanical pencil
This pencil never clicked with me, even though I tried to make it happen.. The grip is slippery and a bit uncomfortable for longer writing sessions for me. This might not be the case for everybody so I will not focus on this too much. My other complaint is about the tolerances on the cap. It is way too lose on it, and there is a high chance of losing it. I have seen multiple TK-FINES around the office with missing cap ends. I bent my end cap at both ends to make it stay in place after I found it a couple of times on the bottom of the backpack.
Another thing that shows low quality in the materials used are the shiny surfaces. The tip, clip, and cap. Over time, even though the pencil sat in storage most of the time they have lost the shine and they look aged, weathered.
tk fine faber castel

Friday, June 12, 2020

Faber Castell color bar in local stationery shop

One of the local shops just got a makeover. It has more room for products and right in the center of it, there is a Color Bar from Faber Castell. I have to say it looks really cool.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Staedtler Mars Lumograph in the movie Click

Adam Sandler playing the role of an architect in the movie Click is using a Staedtler Mars Lumograph, one of the best looking pencils on the market.
The Mars Lumograph is available in blue and black. It comes in a very large spectrum of hardness from 10H to 12B.
I guess they could have added to the scene some Mars Matics technical drawing pen to make it more immersive.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Penac The Pencil

While visiting a new stationery shop close to my home I have spotted an interesting mechanical pencil. Actually, it was The Pencil!
The Pencil by Penac in a blue two-tone body and 0.9 mm lead.

The Pencil is made in Japan and it cost me around 1.5 eur, so it was very affordable.

product code SA2005-03 Made in Japan
The barrel of The Pencil has a triangular shape and it is thick enough that it is comfortable. The edges of the triangular barrel are a lighter shade of blue while the flat parts are a bit darker. The plastic is nice to touch, it has that soft plastic feel to it. The grip on it is great, there is no chance it will slip in the hand, and also it is a comfortable shape. It doesn't bother me at all writing with it for longer periods of time. I am a bit curious how will this soft plastic handle the test of time.
But again, I am talking about The Pencil, not any mechanical pencil, of course, it is comfortable and it caresses your hand every time you pick it up.
Penac The Pencil 0.9 Japan is printed on the barrel in a white silver font.
It has a clean design with no pocket clip, but you don't have to worry about it falling off the table because of its shape.
The front cone is made out of a different plastic, a more standard glossy type. It even features a retractable plastic tip which works just fine. The opposite end of the pencil is a bit extravagant. I say this because it has a cap like most mechanical pencils but this one has a hole in it and no eraser under. Actually, there is nothing under it, as I found out after pulling on it like an idiot. It is just the end piece connected to the interior tube that holds the leads by two clips, and it is non-removable. When I realized this I was a bit upset, because in my head this meant you can only have one lead in the pencil, and no reserves. But with a little bit of clever design on Penac side (once more doubting The Pencil), you can fit multiple leads inside without them spilling out when you turn the pencil upside down. Of course, if you overfill it they will fall eventually but with a few leads, there are no problems.
The end cap with a hole inside is not detachable and is inserted in the lead barrel about 1 cm. The inside of the end cap is a bit smaller compared to the lead barrel and connected with 2 clips, thus creating a little bit of space between the endcap and the lead barrel. If you turn the pencil upside down the leads will get stuck in this space instead of falling through the hole.
 

The design works very well and I really enjoy this "neat" feature as I never use the erasers that come with mechanical pencils.
|A small negative to The Pencil is as you can see all the internal parts are made out of plastic, so the durability of it is questionable.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Parker Jotter in movie Joker

parker jotter in the jocker 2019
 A movie that made a lot of fuss lately is The Joker with ‎Joaquin Phoenix. A disturbed person that becomes the infamous villain is going to therapy right at the beginning of the movie.
The therapist is evaluating him and taking notes about his situation. In a closeup, it is very clear that she is using a Parker Jotter with a red barrel.
I would add that the Parker Jotter is a great pen for taking some quick notes.
the joker therapist parker jotter

the joker therapist parker jotter notes

Friday, April 10, 2020

Koh-I-Noor limited edition ink



I have spotted on the Koh-I-Noor site that they have a new ink for sale.

It uses the same plastic 50 ml bottle as the standard one but it is about 5 times more expensive.

The name Koh I Noor is missing from the label, just Hardtmuth. I guess this is because it is a limited edition from the "HARDTMUTH collection".

Blue or black are the only available colors.
I didn't test it yet, I hope I will in the future, but I would like for Koh I Noor to make more colors at least for the "special collections". As their inks come in basic blue, black or red.


Saturday, March 28, 2020

Sunday Sudoku

Like many others, I found myself with a lot more time on my hands. I have a long list of stuff I would like to do like learn to ride a skateboard, make a bonsai, pick up the guitar again, read 3 books, exercise and others. But for this Sunday I wanted to enjoy the hobby that made me create the blog. As I do not know how to draw and I am not that much into journaling I thought Sudoku is a great way to use my beloved pencils and erasers, exercise the brain and kill some time. All with one stone.
I think I overstretched downloading some "moderate" Sudoku. The first took me about 2 hours and the second more than 3, as I found a mistake almost at the end, which set me back a lot. I tried a 3rd moderate Sudoku but abandoned it after an hour and 3 numbers discovered.
Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Mechanical pencil 0.7 HB
Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth eraser

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Rotring Artpen - the last Rotring fountain pen


Rotring has moved away from fountain pens over the years. The only fountain pen model that is still available is the Rotring Artpen, which was launched in 1984.
"...a calligraphic pen originally intended for artists. It's unparalleled ergonomics quickly make it a top seller" says Rotring
During this period the fountain pen was kept pretty much the same, but it over the years different variants were offered to the public.
It has an interesting design, made entirely out of plastic, with a wavy grip section. The fountain pen as the name indicates is addressed for those who are art oriented. The design of the fountain pen is reminiscent of a dip pen for me at least, with it's long and pointy barrel. You can easily change the nib, different sizes and grinds are available.
The fountain pen takes cartridges or a converter.


Some of the variations the fountain pen had over the years:

Rotring art pen white was introduced to the market in 1998 (Rotring catalog 1988)
white artpen newstock
In the same year, Rotring introduced the Artpen Graph which featured an Isograph tip instead of the fountain pen nib. (Rotring catalog 1988)

In the same catalog the Artpen is sold as a Sketch combi-set along with an Artpen 2 mm clutch pencil rotring artpen pencil fountainpen eraser set

A better photo for the Artpencil and Artpen Graph from the Rotring 1990 catalog


In 1994, 10 years after the launch of the Artpen, Rotring decided to bring to the market a limited edition called millennium. 
"The success of the ArtPen calls for an ArtPen Millennium range. From 1994 – 2000, a new ArtPen Millennium limited edition was brought out each year, as collector’s items, presented as both signs of the times and objects d’art." (Rotring heritage website)

From 1994 until 1997 special editions of the Rotring Artpen, presented as a countdown.

Left to right 1994, 1995, 19946, 1997. Rotring 1998 catalog
Millennium 6 (1994) - Limited edition of only 3500. Metal barrel turned out of bar stock, red and black multilayer lacquer finish. It has a two-tone gold nib
Millennium 5 (1995) - Limited edition of only 3500. Barrel out of galvanized metal hand polished, multicolored stripes. It has a two-tone gold nib 1.5 mm
Millennium 4 (1996) - Limited edition of only 6000. Barrell is made out of cherry wood, and the cap is metal with 8 coats of lacquer. It has a two-tone gold nib
Millennium 3 (1997) - Unique limited edition of only 6000 worldwide. Barrel of translucent multi-colored resin with gold plated bicolor nib. Engraved on cap plug. (marble-like barrel)

In 1998 Artpen gold was introduced
" Caligraphy is the art of beautiful writing. The Rotring ArtPen brings this artistry into daily life. It accentuates its owner's personal handwriting style and underlines the joy of beautiful writing with every word brought to paper. The ArtPen is the right choice for creative, emotional writing and for words written for special occasions.
The ArtPen Gold is the writing instrument for the most exclusive requirements and most expressive pieces of writing. Gold fittings accentuate its classic shape, and the high-gloss resin finish gives the slender barrel a special touch of sophistication"

In 1999 a more simple design is released (edition 1). The fountain pen is an anodized aluminum body and cap in deep blue color, that can look almost black. With a bicolor gold nib. 6000 pieces were produced

In 2000 the last fountain pen in the series was released. A very nice cap and barrel made out of solid brass. Both sections have been etched with a guilloche pattern, and silver-coated. It has a hand-polished, bicolor gold-plated nib 

Rotring Artpen 2000 millennium limited edition

All of the special edition Artpens came in a nice box with a certificate mentioning the pen number and the total number of pens produced in the series. All of the Artpens from the Millennium edition had the production number marked on the cap.

Another fountain pen that could be considered a variation of the Artpen is the Smartpen. Even though it is marked a bit differently, basically it is the same thing but in more vibrant colors marketed towards younger customers.


"The ArtPen brings a new enjoyment to personal artistic expression with the written word. Its calligraphic nib makes any piece of writing into a work of art to delight the writer and reader alike."
rOtring Writing Sensations 2001 / 2002

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I suggest taking a moment to go over the blogpost Rotring Art Pencil by unofficialrotring.