9.02.2015

The Story on Sailor Storia Pigmented Inks (Review)

Sailor (Japan) is known by many as the manufacturer of high quality, gold nib fountain pens, hand-tuned and inspected by masters of their craft. It is not a common fact that Sailor also has an entire division dedicated to brewing specialty fountain pen inks. Building upon the popularity of their Jentle line of fountain pen inks available in the US, Sailor has introduced the pigmented Storia line of 8 new colors just last month.


The Concept of Storia

Sailor Storia inks are inspired by the bright and cheery colors of the circus. Each color has a circus-themed name. Presented in frosted glass ink bottles with a 30mL capacity. The effect is reminiscent of little paint bottles. The built-in reservoir common to all Sailor inks allow the user to easily fill their fountain pen and extract every last drop of colorful ink into their pen.

What is this Pigmented Ink You're Trying to Feed My Pen?

Pigmented ink is crafted with tiny particles of pigment instead of dye to color the ink formula. In the case of the Sailor Storia inks, the benefit is a quick dry time, water resistance and lightfastness. Pigment particles sit on top of the paper instead of being absorbed into the paper fibers like dye ink. Use the ink with a acid-free paper and you've got a combination that can be preserved for 200-300 years. Imagine writing about the 2015 VMA's and trying to explain Miley Cyrus to the human race of the 24th Century. They way things are going, they will probably have someone that will make Miley look like a Puritan spinster.

The drawback of pigmented ink is the cleaning aspect, which needs to be approached with more frequency and care. Give Sailor some faith in creating an ink that is safe for fountain pens, considering how much care they put into crafting a quality writing instrument. That being said, I would still err on the side of caution when using these inks in your pens.

Follow these tips to properly use pigmented inks in your fountain pen :

  • Up your cleaning schedule to less than 5 days after initially filling the pen with pigmented ink.
  • To create a more frequent cleaning schedule, only fill the pen to partial capacity so it will deplete quicker.
  • Soak the nib with a bit of windex cleaner (containing ammonia) to help with any stubborn ink that won't clean out.

Sampling the Storia Inks

Being that there are only 8 inks in this collection, I decided to write dangerously and fill 8 pens, one with each color. The pens vary in nib size, manufacturer and year produced.


Favorites :
Lion Light Brown, Magic Purple and Clown Yellow-Green

Not-so-Favorites :
Fire Red and Spotlight Yellow

Performance-wise, a majority of the inks had great flow, with exception to the Fire Red that was in my TWSBI with the 1.5mm stub nib, but I've had similar flow issues with different inks in that pen, including Rouge Hematite. There's a beautiful shading on the Lion and the Clown colors. Fire Red really falls short of what I would consider "Fire" and is very close to the hue of the Dancer Pink.

I tested the set of inks on Rhodia 80gsm plain notepad paper and applied water droplets to each of the swatches. After letting the water drops sit on the page for a minute, I wiped off the water while trying to smear the page as much as possible to see if the ink gets lifted from the page.

Sailor Storia Water droplet test results
Don't get the shading confused with the water resistance, this ink does a great job holding up against a spill. The Dancer Pink seemed to be most effected by the water, lifting up some of the color saturation. Balloon Green and Lion also seemed to be lift a bit from the page, but ever-so-slightly. The other colors look as though there was no change. Smearing can be seen on Fire Red and Night Blue, but only a touch. All in all, these are a solid set of water resistant inks.

The Spotlight Yellow is completely unreadable on white paper. Now, why in the world would anyone want an ink like that? Well, that brings me to my next topic where we mix things up!

Mixing Sailor Storia Inks

Besides being colorful right out of the bottle, these Storia inks can also be mixed with each other to create new color combinations. It is strongly advised that these inks are not to be diluted or mixed with any other inks outside of the Storia line. I haven't had the chance to mix up a few colors, but the Spotlight Yellow seems like a good candidate to add to another color to achieve a golden halo in the new creation.

Writing Samples

Each pen and ink combination was recorded using an InkJournal notebook to provide a comparison of the writing samples between inks. It has to be noted that the Lion Light Brown was slightly tinted green to start with due to the last ink that was in the pen I used. Same deal with the Spotlight Yellow. I tried my darnedest to clean out all the Emerald of Chivor from my Nemosine pen before filling it with Spotlight, but the slightest bit of any other saturated color will contaminate this pure yellow ink.

Sailor Storia Pink Dancer w/ Parker Vacumatic

Sailor Storia Red Fire w/ TWSBI Diamond 530 1.5mm Stub

Sailor Storia Lion Light Brown w/ Waterman 352 Stalwart Flex Nib

Sailor Storia Spotlight Yellow with Nemosine 0.6mm Stub

Sailor Storia Clown Yellow-Green w/ Visconti Van Gogh (F)

Sailor Storia Balloon Green w/ Edison Herald (F)

Sailor Storia Blue Night w/ Kaweco AL-Sport (EF)

Sailor Storia Magic Purple w/ OMAS New Bologna (M)
We'd love to read your thoughts on the new Sailor Storia line. Have you tried any of these inks already? Any issues with keeping your pens clean after using these inks? Any mix recipes that you care to share?

8.31.2015

6 Best Mechanical Pencils that Rock

A solid mechanical pencil is an essential part of any productive person's arsenal of tools. They aren't just for artists, illustrators and architects. Any profession that involves intense brainwork and creativity needs a reliable pencil to draft ideas.


Why a mechanical pencil?

  • Pencil lead isn't permanent. While you're spitballing ideas and brainstorming, it helps to have a medium that is instantly erasable when you need to change direction or tighten up your sketches. 
  • Most common, an HB or F lead are great for general purpose and are easy to erase without leaving a shadow on the paper. With a light hand, you can layout designs to be inked later. 
  • Lead writes on almost any surface. Unlike fountain pens or gel pens, pencil lead makes a mark on pretty much anything, which is convenient in case you need to write a million dollar business plan on the back of a napkin.

Drafting Pencils

These pencils are designed with precise control and durability in mind for those who use pencils as their primary tool for hours each day. With a knurled grip and a brass, hexagonal body, the rOtring mechanical pencil is top-of-the-class.


The rOtring 600's knurled grip and extended lead sleeve gives the user exceptional control over laying down lines using rulers and guides. The section under the push button rotates to display the lead size that is installed in the pencil. This is particularly useful if you have multiple pencils, or varying leads and need to know which softness/hardness of lead you have installed in the pencil. An eraser is hidden under the push button.


The rOtring 800 has all the aforementioned features of the 600, except for the rotating sleeve that indicates the lead hardness. The 800's highlight is the retractable brass sleeve that conveniently hides away with a twist of the push-button. This helps save your shirt pockets from being stabbed by the point. The eraser that is included under the button's cap has an attached clean-out rod that helps remove any lead jams in the mechanism.

Uni Ball Kuru Toga courtesy of Office Supply Geek

The revolutionary, Japanese-made Uniball Kuru Toga may seem like a light-weight when compared to the high-grade rOtring drafting pencils, but the Kuru Toga can hold its own with a unique turning mechanism that rotates the lead while your write, keeping the point sharp and preventing breakage. While the quality of the plastic barrel construction is more "office supply" grade, this is one of the "sharpest" tools you can use.


Everyday Carry Pencils

These general purpose writing instruments are for the causal creator. Flesh out a business plan for a online mystery box company, menu for a dinner party, picks for fantasy football, or layout your backyard garden with these handy tools. Their affordability is a nice perk, as it allows you for room in your pen budget for expensive fountain pens. :-)


Caran d'Ache is known around the world as a premium brand for artists. Used by the likes of Andy Warhol, CdA has a long history of inspiring creatives to harness their materials to bring their visions to reality. The Swiss-made Metal Collection mechanical pencil has a brass body with lacquer coating. The hexagonal sides and tapered tip will feel right at home with anyone transitioning from a wood pencil. An eraser can be found under the push button. 0.7mm lead thickness only.


The Kaweco Sport is the most portable of our selection of best mechanical pencils. This octagonal-sided pencil does not come with a clip, but one can be purchased separately. The faceted sides prevent it from rolling off your desk or drafting table. The lightweight, plastic body is rugged and easy to hold with a thick girth. 0.7mm lead only, no eraser.

Luxury Class Pencils

For more discerning tastes, this class of mechanical pencils are furthest removed from the no. 2 Ticonderoga and represent a status item as well as a utility. The focus in the design of the luxury pencil is less on the function and more on the form.



Faber-Castell is the German analogue of Caran d'Ache in the respect that they are highly regarded within the artistic community for their specialized creative tools. Faber offers an exceptional line of professional grade colored pencils in the Polychromos collection. The FC Ambition represents one of their high-end collections that has a heft, size and attention to fine detail that is superior to most other mechanical pencils in this price range. The simple, yet elegant statement of the chrome top is matched with a precious black resin barrel engraved with a guilloche design. The 0.7mm pencil lead mechanism is completely removable for easy replacement, in the event of defect. The advancing mechanism operates with a 1-directional twist of the chrome top. The big "con" of a pencil of this price range is that it doesn't have a built-in eraser.

We'd love to hear from artists, draftsmen, architects and others who use a pencil on a daily basis. What are your favorite characteristics you look for in a pencil? Do you have a favorite brand? Agree with our selections? Disagree? Leave a comment below and discuss.

8.28.2015

Diamine Shimmering Fountain Pen Inks Coming Soon

If you thought the shimmer hype train ended with the first wave of J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink, you're in for a sparkly surprise!

Diamine, one of the UK's most prominent ink manufacturers, have been working fastidiously for two years on a shimmering ink formula of their own, and has finally developed  product that is ready for fountain pen consumption. Dubbed the Diamine Shimmering Fountain Pen Inks, this set of 10 colors is due to hit American shores in early October.


These are the scans that were sent to dealers without any photo retouching. Yes, we notice that Brandy Dazzle does show up twice, but that is how the information was sent to us. If you want to see the other color, "Red Lustre," check out Goulet's post with the retouched versions of these swabs.

Instantly, one has to compare these inks with the current line of J. Herbin 1670 inks. "Sparkling Shadows" must be an analog of "Stormy Grey."  "Brandy Dazzle" is comparable to "Rouge Hematite." The nautical-themed "Shimmering Seas" is dangerously close in name and color to the "Bleu Ocean." (J. Herbin may want to have the lawyers on retainer for that one.)

What will be exciting to see will be the other variant colors, like the purple with gold sparkle, the turquoise with silver flecks and the "golden sands" color. Since all the J. Herbin inks have gold flecks, it will be interesting to see how silver flecks will look on these Diamine colors.

Diamine is still working on finalizing a price for each bottle. I won't pin down a price, because I know someone out there will try to hold me to it, but it will probably be as expensive, if not more expensive, than a bottle of the 1670 ink.

Have a shimmery weekend!


8.19.2015

Noodler's Ink Bottle Changing from Glass to Plastic

Today, Nathan Tardiff, the Willy Wonka of our niche fountain pen ink market, has announced a drastic change within the Noodler's Ink lineup of bottled inks. The iconic 3oz glass bottle may be no more.


As Nathan talks about in his You Tube video, changes within the glass bottle vendors he used to source the Noodler's bottles have forced his hand to make a decision : either switch to a smaller glass bottle that would up the cost of Noodler's Ink across the board, or make a change to plastic bottles.

Declining to take the approach that so many pen manufacturers have done over the years, the President of Noodler's Ink opted to keep prices the same, while offering better value with the new 3oz plastic bottles.

As he demonstrates in the video, the additional head space toward the top of the bottle actually allows for more ink to be included in the new plastic bottle than in the original glass container. The new plastic Noodler's ink bottles are also lighter and will have less issues with breakage when being shipped. The opaque bottle also blocks UV light from damaging the color of the ink in the bottle.


We had just received our first shipment of Noodler's Bulletproof Black in the new plastic ink bottles and were quite surprised as to how much more can fit in a typical case package. In the past, when we order a case of Noodler's 3oz ink, we would get 144 glass bottles per case. Now, one case constituted 320 ink bottles, over double the amount of ink for the same package.

Considering how much Noodler's we ship on a daily basis, the savings in shipping costs will be a welcome change in the overall scheme of things.

Although Nathan states that the change is temporary and glass bottles may make a comeback by the end of 2015 or beginning of 2016, the tone of his message made it seem like this can be a permanent solution and that the glass bottles of old will be considered "vintage" Noodler's Ink.

What do you think about the change to the plastic bottles? Drop us a line and comment below to tell us whether you think it's a good change or otherwise.

8.18.2015

Pilot Vanishing Point 2015 Twilight Limited Edition Fountain Pen - Sneak Peak


You can imagine how our faces lit up when we received a special package from Pilot with the new 2015 limited edition Twilight Vanishing Point inside. We shared some images from Pilot a couple weeks back when news first broke about this ombre color fountain pen. We think its a real stunner and, as far as we've seen from the reaction online, a lot of you think so as well.


Most of you who are lusting after this pen may already have a Vanishing Point, so I won't go into talking about how the pen fills up, writes or feels in-hand. You already know that. What makes the Twilight special is the finish. Besides being a limited production with the edition number engraved on the center band, the metallic barrel is distinctively designed with a gradient that runs from an icy blue to a royal purple toward the nib end. The metallic quality of the color is similar to that of the Vanishing Point Metallics that were released in 2014.


The Pilot VP Twilight's color feels like you're standing at the edge of a glacier with your breath steaming in front of your face. Nightfall is coming and the only thing on your mind is getting a shelter up before the brutal cold sets in.

It will still be a while until we expect the limited edition to be released in the United States. Some retailers are listing this pen on their websites, but we are not going to be listing it until we know the pens are due to arrive on a specific date. If you would like to place a pre-order, we are guaranteed a very limited amount of these pens, so please give us a call during business hours and we'll take care of you if we still can. Reference part number P60403. Price : $240 USD.


The packaging is gleaming white, with an accent panel at the front that is colored with the same gradient that matches the pen. The Pilot Logo is stamped on the top lid in an icy blue color.

The Vanishing Point Twilight comes with a medium point, 18kt gold nib with rhodium plating (to match the silver trims and clip) as a standard configuration. It can accept any of the replacement Pilot Vanishing Point fountain pen nibs. If you have a specific request for a particular nib size, we can accommodate you with an extra-fine, fine, broad or 1.0mm stub nib.


Also available soon will be the small, sample bottle sizes of the Pilot Iroshizuku inks. Each of these inks will be included in a three pack of 15mL bottles, which is a great gift for the writing aficionado.