Friday, September 17, 2021

Holiday pencils

Holiday carry mechanical pencil camera wallet gshock

I just came back from a short but nice vacation, with good weather and great views. On this vacation, I took with me a fairly small notebook where I had info and sites worth seeing, planning notes and stuff.
I had all the information on my phone but I wanted to have a bit of redundancy in case I ran out of battery.  It wasn't the case but it's still nice to have it and maybe take some notes or make quick jots.
For this trip I took the Koh I Noor Notebook mechanical pencil because it is very small, travel safe as you can retract the writing lead completely, it has a built-in sharpener in the lead advance button, it has a body made out of metal and it looks really cool and retro.

I really like the size of the mechanical pencil for travel and everyday carry, not so much for proper writing due to it being too thin to have a comfortable grip. the looks are just a bonus.
You can take a look at the blog post about this pencil I have posted in 2019.

I enjoy traveling and I like walking up and down the streets of a city, getting in touch with the city atmosphere, enjoying the architecture, and all the stuff that is happening all around, and occasionally if the time permits I really enjoy time spent in museums.
This was a trip rather close to my home town, but it had a lot of surprises. On the first night out in the city enjoying site-seeing good food and beer, I stumble upon an open-air Jose Carreras concert. In the following days, I spent the time between beers, sightseeing, aquapark, and two museums.
Kooh-I-Noor 2 mm pencil in museum
The first museum visited (on the second day) was an art and science museum. In the science part of the museum between artifacts, skeletons, and all kinds of interesting relics, I found a section where the sketches, a notebook, and a pencil of a local historian were added to the gallery, showing his work and contribution to the exhibit.
Interestingly enough the pencil used was as a red Koh I Noor, 2 mm clutch mechanical pencil. I found it to be very cool, as I was traveling with a Koh I Noor.

Koh I Noor pencil

Koh I Noor sketches museum
The next day I visited a second museum which was a more eclectic collection of exhibits. Its main point focused on the history of the local fortress, the life of the nobles in medieval times, world war, graphic, photo, and art exhibitions, history of the church in the area, life under communism, and a few more.
The museum mostly made use of the beautiful fortress buildings to attract crowds and used all sorts of recreations to depict life from the past. It was a bummer for me, and  I would say its audience would be families with small children which probably would enjoy the pictures, figurines, armors, and so on.
The most interesting parts for me were the ruins of old buildings and tombs which were under the fortress, dug up, preserved, and presented very nicely, and a poster gallery. I really enjoy old posters and these ones are mostly collections of communist period work safety posters. I was fascinated to find out that the painter Toulouse-Lautrec is the father of the poster.
In continuation of the communist posters, there was a room representing the communist period in Romania, with pictures of the leader, common household objects and between them, there were a few stationary objects for students.
So if you wonder what would a student's bag includes, here are a few samples.
You can see in the image a wooden pencil box, a few hooded nib fountain pens and some sharpeners, the "Student" ink, below that is another hooded nib fountain pen and a dip pen and in the left a used bottle of permanent ink.
student ink, vintage communist school supplies

If you are curious about communist household objects used in Romania click on the images below.






Related articles:
If you would like to see more about Koh I Noor click you can use the following links or the Koh I Noor label in the right panel:
or about my old Chinese fountain pen that I used in the primary school

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Fake Wingsung 3008 fountain pen

I have seen a lot of talk about the cheap and very nice Wingsung 3008, and I decided to give it a try. Being my first piston filler fountain pen I was very intrigued by it. I ordered it along with other pens from Aliexpress and waited... and waited

One eternity later ... (to be fair the local postal service is not the fastest, so this contributed to the wait as well)

The fountain pens arrived in the mail. The fountain pen was in this orange cardboard small box. I took it out and after a short inspection, I realized it is a fake Wingsung 3008. I went back on Aliexpress and indeed the pictures presented by the seller were correct only the description was misleading.

aliexpress piston filler fountain pen

Right from the start, I could see the quality of the fountain pen was sub-par even for a Chinese fountain pen.

I will start with the exterior and the feel. The barrel is made out of clear plastic which has molding lines on the side. If you pay attention you can see and feel them. The cap is made out of nice to the touch black opaque plastic and has a chromed trim at the tip and a nice and secure clip.

The cap is screw fit and comes off after 1 and a half tuns. Inside the cap, there is some sort of white plastic lining. I do not like the feeling when you screw it back on, there is no clear point at which the two sections are perfectly screwed, it always feels that you can twist it a little bit more. After you take the nib off you are presented with a clear nib section and feed, a very nice look. The grip has three flat sections for a "better" grip. one at 6 o'clock and the other two in the mirror at 10 and 2.

From this point forward things look a little iffy. The nib is plane and has no decoration on it whatsoever. It sits very far from the section, it is like it is missing something or it is a size smaller than the feed. Because of its position, I feel that I am writing with a wand. And it has a weird look  The metal in it is very thin, and after I pushed it a little bit it bent, not a good sign... Out of the box, the nib was ok-ish but had a squicking sound on paper. After a little bit of tweaking and writing with it stopped. Now it is writing fine, it is smooth and has a low to medium ink flow.

The piston filling mechanism offers a lot of ink capacity. I think the piston can't be disassembled for cleaning. To actuate it you turn the nob on the top of the pen. It doesn't have a locking system, there is a little bit of play in it when it is fully closed. Inside the barrel is a dimple over which the piston has to travel. You can feel that bump, as it requires more pressure to go over it, so I can consider it a "locking" mechanism. I do not know how other pens do it but I don't think this is the best system. I am not worried that the ink will come out accidentally but because the gasket has to travel over that hump over and over make me think it's more of a disposable pen. 

The fountain pen is comfortable in hand and it can be used for long writing sessions. The size is good and it can be used without posting it. The cap posts shallow but really well and secure, without the risk of activating the piston.

So far I hadn't had problems with burps from the fountain pen, but at the same time, the fountain pen was never with me on a plane or on a desk where the sun is shining all day. But just from holding it in the hand and writing for moderate periods of time.

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Beautiful fountain pens in Dark series season 3 (origins, nuclear plant)

 The German Dark series on Netflix has showcased very beautiful fountain pens over its run. I have managed to see all the episodes and I came across a very interesting looking one. I can't manage to find who is the manufacturer. If you have suggestions the comments are just below :)

The first fountain pen that I have spotted in Dark season 3 is the following one. A very interesting long and probably gold nib

The second fountain pen I have spotted is arguably an even nicer fountain pen, with a unique look. It has a very classic shape, black color, with gold trim. Especially the gold circles on the cap/barrel are quite unique and nice looking.

Tha same fountain pen is featured later being used to write in a journal.





Saturday, May 29, 2021

Jinhao 51A black-white acrylic

jinhao 51a fountain pen parker stile
I wanted to get a new hooded nib fountain pen, and after some window shopping, I picked the Jinhao 51A. It is pretty clear, from where the pen takes its inspiration.

The pen took some time to arrive as I ordered it from Aliexpress. The pen made the long journey among friends, so I will share another two pens in the short future after I spend more time with them.

parker style jinhao 51 acryl marble

The Jinhao 51A comes with a small price and a big look. I paid around $5 for the acrylic version. You can buy the fountain pen with a more classical plastic body, translucent body, wood, or acrylic. Also, you can pick it up with the hooded nib or with a more traditional* nib.  There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to aesthetics, but the hooded nibs are only available in Fine. I found the white black acrylic to be the most interesting looking so I ordered it. It is interesting looking and "classy" at the same time.

* I always thought that the traditional style nib is the hooded one. I consider them traditional because when I was growing up this style of fountain pens was very common, I would say they were the standard.

jinhao 51a grip nib marble barrel black white acryl

The grip section of the fountain pen is made out of black plastic for all the models, only the barrel differs. The grip is comfortable. It is thick enough and due to the fact it is smooth, you can hold the fountain pen however you like. If I write for longer periods of time, the section can become a bit greasy offering less grip. The nib is hooded but a bit bigger than I expected it to be.

jinhao fountain pen converter 51a

Between the grip section and the barrel, there is a metal ring that gives the fountain pen a nicer look, a bit more elegance. The interior thread of the grip section is metal while the barrel has the thread done in acryl. From time to time, fine pieces of acryl end up on the metal thread of the grip section. I am not saying it will not hold up for many years though.

jinhao metal thread

It would be nice to have the barrel coated with a metal liner, but for the money I paid, I will place this minus in the category good enough.

The look of the barrel is the highlight of the pen. It is made from a very nice acryl, for not a lot of money. This model black white has in some parts amberish hue. To me, the colors look like marble. 
brushed cap jinhao 51a

Compared with the pen from which it draws its inspiration the Jinhao 51A has a very similar size and diameter. 

jinhao disasambled
The cap is made out of brushed metal and has an interesting pocket clip. The look of the clip is not a copy of the Parker giving the pen its own character. The cap is very secure on the body giving a click-like feel when pushed in all the way. If you pay a bit of attention you will see that the finial and clip are a lot shinier compared to the rest of the cap. While the cap has a brushed look to it. The finial is connected to the cap with a screw on the inside. I do not know how well the screw will cope with the ink and humidity.

hooded nib jinhao
The fountain pen writes well. The nib doesn't scratch it feels ok on the paper. The tines were not perfectly aligned and because the nib is so small it is stiff and hard to tune. It puts down a rather dry line. I guess it makes sense as these pens are designed as everyday writers, on general purpose paper, where a wet and broad line would not do too well. The sweet spot of the nib is rather small.

jinhao converter

The fountain pen comes with a converter of ok quality. I appreciate this small detail which is not overlooked by the Chinese fountain pen companies. Even though I am very satisfied using cartridges there are a lot of people who prefer convertors. The pen is compatible with international size cartridges.

I have tested it extensively for about two months, and  I enjoyed using it. The look made me go back to it very often. The writing experience was not perfect though.
It had some ink starvation problems, especially putting down fast lines the ink would stop coming out. I tried spreading the nib and aligning it a little better. I changed the converter because I believe it also has to do with the pour flow. 
When I replaced the converter with a long international ink cartridge and spread the tines a bit, I had issues with too much ink coming out and burps.
One thing that I appreciate it the cap creates a good seal, and the ink doesn't dry. I had it sitting for 2 weeks and it wrote from the first attempt after.

I took it a few days at the office, and standing on the table in the sun it burped ink in the cap. It happened to me with other fountain pens but this felt a bit more dramatic. This happened while it had a large international cartridge that was half empty. My Loom has the tendency to burp when paired with large international cartridges.
I tested it with a standard international cartridge and it works a lot better. But testing it with the nib in up position and holding the barrel in my fist small air bubbles come out. I believe that the materials used are conducting the heat from the hand too well.

After all, I am happy with the fountain pen and how it writes, I will stick to international short cartridges in the future. Even if it is not a perfect writer I would recommend it, especially if you like the style. You can choose from a variety of materials and colors.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Bic Matic Mechanical Pencil

A very iconic mechanical pencil, the Bic Matic.
I had several of these as a kid, I see them all over, in movies or as promotionals. This Bic Matic has a clear hexagonal barrel and a green clip. I like you can get the pencil in a multitude of colors, transparent barrel and colored trims or colored opaque barrels. 
The tip of the pencil is completely made out of plastic and has no metal sleeve. It is a thin and long pencil. In its thickest point, right where the black front sections meats with the barrel the pencil is 8.2 mm thick. From tip to eraser it has 15.1 mm in length. Comparing it with a Tikky which is 9.4 mm wide and 4.3 mm long.
The clip is a nice lime green. It has the Bic logo on it, the model name and size, and very weird it also has HB #2. I know that the pencil is intended for children, school supplies but labeling the hardness on a mechanical pencil seems to be strange at least.
You can get the Bic Matic in size 0.5, 0.7, and 0.9, but the first two sizes are more readily available while 0.9 is harder to find

There is a model which has a rubber grip, named Bic Matic grip. On the package, it states that it is for extra comfort.
Bic's are disposable products, but I am sure you will get enough of use out of these pencils. Even though it is disconcerting when you see in shops boxes of 40 pieces or you see that 1 Bic pencil last as much as 2 and a half would pencils :)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Baoke pen


This is not a known name, but you will find here and there reviews mostly of fountain pens over the internet. It is a Chinese brand, usually found on eBay but I found this pen in a local shop. It intrigued me as it was rather cheap and it seemed like a nice pen at the same time. The Baoke B33 1.0 (I guess 1.0 is the thickness of the refill) 

The pen is inspired by Parker Jotter, I wouldn't call it a copy but the design definitely has some Jotter vibes.

The body is a very nice plastic that has a soft feeling, giving it a more premium feel and look. The plastic didn't deteriorate over time, as I have this pencil for a couple of years. I do not use it very often, it stays at the office most of the time and I use it to take notes, sign stuff if I don't have other pens on me, or lend it to colleagues.

The barrel is on the thinner side, but it is a nice size for short sessions. 

The upper section has a metal sleeve to give a more sturdy and premium look, underneath if you force it off you will find plastic.

The clip is strong and secure, as well as the mechanism which has a good feel.

The refill is Parker style, and it writes ok, no complaints here. The color of the ink is a nice blue. And I would rate the writing experience above average from what you would expect from a Chinese pen cheap ballpoint pen.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Faber Castell Shark mechanical pencil

shark mechanical pencil

 Shark week presents Faber Castell mechanical pencil :)

Quite an interesting and fun design for a mechanical pencil, and not as scary as you would think based on the title of the post. The pencil caught my eye and I had to take it home with me.
It is completely made out of plastic, the barrel and the front section are made out of translucent grey plastic, which are contrasted by the over the top rubber grip in a nice light blue color.
shark mechanical pencil
The plastic used in the pencil is a bit on the flimsy side. So even though the pencil has a retracting metal sleeve, I would not carry it in a pocket.
The grip feels nice in the hand. The grooves give you a good grip. The front end flares a bit out, and the top end of the grip ends with an original fish eye, mouth, and teeth. In general, these kinds of grips do not cope well with the passing of time. But in this case, I don't know which will outlive which, the body of the pencil or the grip. 
The clip doesn't offer the impression of security or durability.
To refill the pencil you can take out the eraser like you would on most of the mechanical pencils out there or you can remove the plastic endcap entirely and get access to the lead reservoir.
The printing on the pencil is minimal. It is an off-white Faber Castell and the logo and beneath the name "Shark Pencil" and the size.
Overall this is a nice pencil, not necessarily because of the quality of the build but because of the intriguing design. I like the unique style, the balance of the colors, and the aerodynamic or hydrodynamic look.

Inspired I guess by the pencil I have watched a lot of shark movies, from classics like Jaws to newer releases like The Reef, Open Water series, Bait 3d, and a few others.

Friday, March 19, 2021

PVC in erasers, Faber Castell Erasers comparison

Recently I have spent more time reading about Radon, VOC, and products that contain harmful ingredients. If you try to eat more eco-product also take a look at the stuff that surrounds you. Inside our homes many if not all the surfaces release compounds in the air that are not necessarily good for our health. The first step would be to limit the toxic materials or use them as sparingly as possible and if the space allows for a mechanical ventilation system I would suggest you look into it, as it is a very good way of reducing the concentrations of pollutants to low levels.
If what you eat matters this should matter as well. 
Most if not all of the products that are made out of plastic and have a rubbery/soft texture contain harmful chemicals that enter our bodys. The easiest method for these substances to enter our body is licking/chewing (sounds funny but many children chew on erasers/pencil etc), but there are other ways and a lot more products that we use daily.

Moving on to the stationary... I have come across an article, China Testing School Erasers
You can read more in the article. Long story short, they have tested for products meeting the toxic materials present in the erasers and the concentrations.

The brands that were part of the test wee:

The complete report is in Chinese, so I can't understand more than the pictures tell me.
Tombow Mono Plastic Eraser, Muji Plastic Eraser, Uni Plastic, Pilot Foam, Radar, Pentel Hi-Polymer,  Faber Castell Dust Free plus many more use PVC in their composition. Some have really high values, but I will not try to interpret those. The highest numbers are beside UNI, Pilot, Radar, MONO.
The article recommends using PVC free.

So here I am, testing three Faber Castell erasers, not for toxic materials but on their performance in doing their job. Two of them are PVC Free Erasers (the top row erasers from the first picture) and the third is the Faber Castell Dust Free eraser. 
The Dust Free 18 71 21 is a very good eraser, praised by a lot of people and widely used. It erases ok, and leaves very little residue behind. This makes it a favorite. Also, the black color helps to hide the dirt accumulated on it. This will be the control, representing the PVC erasers.

The white PVC Free eraser came with a protective paper cover while the green PVC Free eraser came in a very basic plastic wrap. The white PVC Free has all the writing on the paper cover, while the green has the information printed directly on it. 
I have tested to see how the erasers do, with classic lead and with polymer lead. All of the erasers did very well erasing the pencil marks completely without any effort.
Even though the results are similar, the feel is very different.
The Dust Free is grippy in a nice way, not wrinkles in the paper grippy, and it flexes a lot, leaving little to no residue behind.
The white eraser leaves a little more residue compared with the Dust Free, but still, small quantities compared with other erasers. The residue tends to clump together but there are definitely a lot of small particles.
The Pvc Free green eraser seems to be a bit stiffer than the white Pvc Free. You can feel it in hand and when you use it. It has a plastic feel, sliding over the paper more. It leaves more residue but the residue tends to stick to the eraser (or not break off).

In conclusion, I would say get a PVC Free eraser. It won't be a huge difference in erasing performance. 
I am sure that PVC erasers will not cause that much harm, compared to other pollutants we encounter daily but it is good to limit as much as possible your exposure to them.