Writing

A new favorite budget pen - The TWSBI ECO

Some time ago I wrote that Kaweco Sport was my favorite beginners fountain pen, but now I think I have a new favorite, at least if design isn’t high on the list. The new favorite is the Twsbi ECO.

This pen is actually one of my overall favorite pens, even compared to my pens that are worth hundreds of dollars or even as much as a thousand dollars. The one thing that the Kaweco has on this is the classic, old school design and portability. Those things would still make me say that pen is perfect for those who favor a pen that really has a personality and makes people look. With that said, it’s not that the Twsbi has a bad design, in fact I like it as well. The design is however more modern and almost childish, the Kaweco Sport design is more refined and has more "class".

So what makes the Twsbi so great then?

First of all it has a decent size that probably is quite good for most people, small hands or big hands. Secondly it has an amazing smooth nib that writes like a dream, even if you go for a finer nib size (which I do as I love writing small). It is not very wet which means the line width actually stays quite fine and it is possible to use the pen on paper that isn’t super good. The one thing at least I would have loved was if the nib had some softness to it so you could get some flare and line variation when pressing a bit harder. That is however more of a personal taste thing and as a firm nib, it is amazing.

The other things that I love about the pen is that it is a piston filler. That means that you can’t use cartridges and need to fill the pen from a bottle and of course there are pros and cons for this. Cartridges can be a perfect way to start out using fountain pens as you just change cartridge when you run out of ink, but in the long run it’s expensive and you don’t have as many different colors to choose from. A piston filler is a pen with its own filling system where all you do is put the nib in a bottle of ink and turn the knob at the back of the pen to fill the pen. This means that you need to learn how to fill a pen from a bottle, which can be a bit messy until you get the hang of it. You do however get a pen that hold much more ink and compared to using a small converter (a sort of cartridge you can fill from bottles) it is much easier to clean and use. At least that is true for the Twsbi ECO as you can disassemble the pen quite easy and flush every part. As the ECO also is a so called demonstrator pen (a clear body that lets you see the inner workings of the pen) it’s also very easy to see what ink you have in it and when it is time to refill the pen.

Last but not least, the pen is very cheap at around 35€ and you can get it in many different colors. If you like it, why not buy three in different colors and match the ink in them?

The search continues

The tools

Last week I wrote about making my own notebook cover so that I could use “ugly” notebooks and loose paper. The reason was because I couldn’t find a notebook I actually liked. The cover is nice and all, but I still miss a nice insert so I decided that I should try and make my own.

I bought some Tomoe River paper as it is the absolute best paper I have ever tried and if you haven’t tried it, you definitely should! After the paper arrived, I turned to the best school I know, Youtube, to try and learn how to do book binding. I found a couple of videos and also read some blog posts about it and got to work. What you see in the pictures is my first attempt and I will not say that it came out great, but at least it works!

Of course this notebook immediately went into my leather cover and yes, it is the best notebook I have. I also like that I can use it together with a couple of other notebooks in the cover. Right now for example I also have a sketchbook and a lines Rhodia notebook for writing blog posts.

The big problem though? I will probably not have the time and energy to bind my own books in the future, even if it was a fun experiment. So the search continues.

The hunt for the perfect notebook

I have been in the hunt for a great notebook for quite some time, without any luck. In the end I got tired of looking and instead “made” my own.

As a fountain pen user the paper quality becomes super important, and most notebooks with “normal” just won’t do it. The reason is that fountain pens write a bit wetter than normal pens and often bleed through or feather a lot on bad paper. Good paper also helps you get the most out of your cool inks.

So with the majority of notebooks out of contention there aren’t many left andthe only two that are readily available here in Sweden are Rhodia and Leuchtturm. I do like the Leuchtturm notebooks overall, but the paper is a bit too absorbent to really let the ink shine. Rhodia is better when it comes to showing of the inks properties, but their notebooks are just too ugly. So what should I do?

I decided to solve this “problem” by making my own notebook cover in which I could put any A5 notebook or even just loose papers. It is essentially just a piece of leather with some carefully placed holes where I can thread some rubber strings through. This book can actually hold three different small notebooks so that I can have different types of paper or both lined, dotted and blank paper.

The main plan was to use loose sheets of paper, but in the beginning I used cheap staple bound Rhodia notebooks and it worked great. I have however also made my own notebook with what I think is the best available fountain pen paper there is, Tomoe River. But more on that another time!

Ps. The hunt for the perfect notebook still continues and I still buy way to many of them.

My favorite pen right now! The Pilot Custom 823

Some time ago I wrote about what I thought was one of the best beginner fountain pens, so I thought it was time to write about one of my absolute favorite pens. This is the pen you buy if you want to skip the beginner pens and just buy a super good pen straight away, or if you already have a couple of pens and want to upgrade.

This is the Pilot Custom 823, one of Pilots top of the line pens and only vacuum filler pen. The pen comes in three different colors, a clear one, an amber one and the one that I have, smoke. All of them are translucent so that you can see how much ink is left in the pen, but the Smoke one is almost so dark as it looks black, and I like black. It does however change color in strong light depending on what ink you use. I use Iroshizuku Shin-kai in it right now and then the pen gets a beautiful blue shine.

One problem is that all the colors aren’t available in all parts of the world, hey, Pilot doesn’t even sell the pen AT ALL in Europe. Therefore, I needed to get mine directly from Japan via an eBay seller, something I don’t like to do as fountain pens can be a bit finicky, but I had no choice. For those interested in buying it on eBay I can tell you that it was about 210€ and as I live in Sweden I got to pay around 50€ more in VAT. Price wise I would say the pen is worth every cent and more, If you only are getting one pen (and don’t want a flex nib), this is the one.

One thing to note is that this pen has a built in filling system instead of the more common converter (in which pens you can also use cartridges). That means that this pen can contain more ink, but it’s also harder to clean. The special filling system also need you to unscrew the back of the pen a few millimeters if you are going to write more than a few notes. That can probably be annoying for some people but I don’t really care. One thing I like about the pen is the weight and size. I would call this the perfect size for both small and large hands and I can write for hours with it.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the nib as that is what actually does the writing and probably is the most important part of the pen. I’m not going to get too “geeky” but let’s start with a couple of words about nibs for you beginners out there. A nib is often described as being smooth or writing with a bit of feedback. A smooth nib is one that you almost can’t feel when you write with it, it just glides over the paper. The writing feel of a nib that has a lot of feedback could more be described as the feel of when you write with a wooden pencil.

This pen has a nib that I would call the golden mix of the two, it is super  smooth but with some feedback so you actually can feel that you are writing. Another thing I like about the nib is that it’s pretty big so it flexes a bit for some line variation and a great feel. The shape is also quite long and slender so you get a perfect view of what you are writing, perfect for sketching.

There you have it, that is why I love this pen.

My favorite beginner fountain pen

This is the Kaweco Sport and it may be my number one tip for anyone who wants to buy their first cheap fountain pen. It is cheap, it has a great 30's design, it writes well and it comes in a bunch of different colors so there should be one that matches your style. If you like it you can even get a couple of pens in different colors to match your different outfits.

Sure, it's not a super classy pen, but for a first fountain pen I would say it's perfect because of the reasons mentioned above. Another great thing about the pen is that it's made of durable plastic and has a secure cap so you just can throw it in your bag without thinking to much about it.

My Kaweco Sport on the pictures has a nib in the size fine which is perfect for taking notes in small notebooks or if you generally write small. I would however say that for most people a medium sized nib would probably be better as it writes more like most "normal" pens. A broader nib also shows of your ink of choice way better so if you like showing of all your cool ink that is also a better choice.

But now to the "bad" part. As the pen is so small it is made for using cartridges of ink and not ink from bottles. The boring thing about that is that cartridges really limits what ink you can use. You can buy what is called a converter to the pen, which lets you use ink from bottles, but the converter is so small so you will need to refill the pen quite often. But for a first pen I would recommend cartridges anyway as they are easier to use. Even if I really would like to recommend bottled ink just because of the pretty bottles you can put on your desk.

Las but not least, the pen also comes in a very cool looking retro tin box.

My first vintage pen

A while after I started to get into fountain pens I turned to the Swedish version of eBay, Tradera, to see what could be found there. I found a bunch of cheap pens from brands I hadn't heard about, and brands I had heard about, so I started to bid. I really wanted to try out some cheap old pens to try different filling systems and learn more about how the pens functioned so I could fix them if I needed to. I also wanted more pens to be able to try out more inks.

The first pen that I got in the mail after a winning bid of about 17$ was this blue Esterbrook J and after I got a some more vintage pens I quickly realised that this pen stood out from the crowd. The pen is from around 1950 and except from some scratches on the nib it is in almost unused condition.

The most interesting thing about the pen isn't how beautiful it is though, it is that it writes amazingly! It is actually one of my absolute favorite pens and it is actually much better than many modern pens I have, and have tried. 

It is a small pocket pen and after some research I learned that it has a nib that can easily be swapped out. There are apparently a huge number of different nibs to choose from and mine (with the number 9550) is one of the extra fine nibs for small notes. I think that is perfect because of the pens size and it happens that I take this pen with me as a note taking pen instead of my Pilot E95S (a 140$ pen) because it is at least as good. 

Of course I also matched the color of the pen with the ink (Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-kai) because why not? 

Why I started using fountain pens

I have loved nice looking pens for many years, and I also love the look and feel of handwriting in a nice notebook. Therefore, I have tried over and over again to start to write and take notes with pen and paper. Sadly, I have not succeeded even though (or maybe because?) I work with writing. I have tried buying nice pens, cooler and smarter notebooks, bullet journaling and more. But nothing has worked and the notebook has always eded up in a drawer. Until now, that is!

The perfect rollerball

During a hunt for the perfect rollerball pen for my girlfriend I "found out" about fountain pens and thought I should give it a try. Even if it didn't get me hooked on handwriting a good looking fountain pen at least could be a stylish accessory. So I bought a Lamy Safari as it seemed to be the pen that everyone starts with (even though I think it looks quite ugly). The plan was to just try it out for a while even though I didn't have high hopes. I thought fountain pens demanded some learning, that they were completely different from "normal" pens and to be fair, just a hassle. But oh how wrong I was! 

PS. The perfect Rollerball was a Waterman Hemisphere because if it's slender stylish look and the ability to use Pilot G2 refills.

I will never go back to ballpoints

It didn't even take a week until I was completely sold and actually started to hav a hard time using other pens at all. That is just how big a difference there is between even rollerball pens and fountain pens. you write like normal but without any pressure and effort at all. The pen just glides over the page in a way that is hard to describe. It really was an amazing feeling and I never want to write with anything else ever again, even if that sounds a bit snobby. 

And the thing is that it doesn't stop there. The feature of being able to choose between hundreds, if not thousands, of inks to find the perfect color for me is amazing. Also I must admit that I love the feeling and style of pulling out a fountain pen from my inner pocket. The main thing is of course how it writes, but the style part should not be ignored. 

That also meant that my Lamy Safari wasn't enough, I needed I stylish classic pen. the choice fell on a Waterman Hemisphere with a glossy black finish and chrome trims. I won't do a review about the pen here but I will say that I thought 80€ was a lot of money for a pen when I bought it and that I do not think so now. With that said, you won't regret trying out a fountain pen, but your wallet might.

Feel > style

As I wrote in the beginning of this post, I have always have wanted to write and take notes with pen and paper but never have succeeded in that. The thing is that now I do, and I thank fountain pens for it. The style part was important in the beginning, but even without that part I would only use fountain pens from now on. The feeling of writing with this type of pen is just unmatched and makes me want to write more and more and more.

So many years, with so many different attempts I at last found what could make me a bit more analog. And as I work as a tech expert and writer that is huge. Therefore I can't recommend you enough to try out a fountain pen. Not only for the style points you will get, but because of how it writes.

Last but not least, there are so many beautiful ink bottles to buy and put on your desk! that is definitely a big plus.