Starting the New Year

Hello Everyone,

First off, I want to wish all of you a very Happy New Year. It’s been a while since I last updated and many things have happened. This post was initially slated for yesterday, but it took me a while to figure out how to not make it sound like a giant excuse. The hiatus that occurred from the end of July was something that I didn’t intend to happen, but it did anyway. The upcoming semester at the time was crucial for my academic career, so I decided to discard nearly every one of my hobbies including this blog, to try to perform well. I’m happy to report that I performed better than ever before and I broke through what I thought were my limits. In doing so, I have left you, my dear readers devoid of content and reviews and for that, I am truly apologetic. However, now that the previous semester is over, I can say with confidence that I will be able to go back to posting new reviews. I will be detailing the specifics in my next post which should drop the day after tomorrow. I want to thank each and every one of you for your patience and support. I started this blog as a hobby and never expected to get the kind of readership you all have given me. I am honored that there are people in the pen community who put stock into my reviews and enjoy my content. So I feel that the best way to start the new year would be to set expectations and stick to them no matter what. I can’t wait to start posting more content up and I hope we have a great year together.

Sincerely,

Anchit, The Passionate Penman

Pixelexia Blog

Hey Everyone,

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s triple release. It was a long time coming and I really wanted to reward your amazing patience and understanding. I wanted to quickly let you guys know that I have started a second blog. This one will be focused on photography and I will be using it to showcase my photography as well as any experimental shots. There will not be any stationary/pen photography on it as this is my designated spot for all that. However, if you’re interested in my both my life and photography, then please check it out as I will be really trying different styles and going out of my comfort zone. I hope to capture some amazing shots and show them to you all. Don’t worry, this blog will not affect my review posting schedule at all and will only be updated occasionally as I don’t plan to institute a set schedule. The photos I post will only be ones I feel best reflect my personal style. Come on over, drop a like or comment to let me know if you liked it. Here’s the link.

Sincerely,

Anchit, The Passionate Penman

October Update

Hey Everyone,

It’s definitely been a while since I posted a review and I do apologize for the long wait. I’ve been slowly getting more and more work assigned to me as we passed the halfway point of the semester and I’ve been doing my best to finish as much as possible over the weekends so I can spend my weekdays studying for whatever exams I have coming up. Today is one of those increasingly rare days where I’ve finished all of my work for the week in advance and have enough free time for a review, so I decided to make up for some missed weeks by publishing a total of 3 reviews today. Enjoy. 🙂

Sincerely,

Anchit

Stressing in Spring

Hey Everyone,

It’s been a while and I’m sorry for not updating you quicker. This is the week of my first set of midterms, therefore making it one of the most stressful weeks in the entire quarter not counting finals week. I’ve been doing nothing but studying for hours on end and couldn’t put out a review. Honestly, even if I could, I deemed that I hadn’t spent enough time using the pen to form my opinion. I want to be able to use a pen enough to ensure a fair and unbiased review based on actual usage and not first impressions. Please bear with me as the stress just escalates from here until the start of summer. I will do my best to try and put out reviews every week, but I want you guys to know that that may not be possible. Thank you for understanding and as always, write on, my friends.

Sincerely,

Anchit, The Passionate Penman

Witch Pens Review

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Now this is one calligraphy tool I’ve been dying to review. I was initially exposed to Witch pens through a review by Leigh Reyes. The concept behind them is so simple, yet so efficient. The name is also pretty awesome, Witch pen (a contraction of William Mitchell).

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The design of the pen is simplistic yet utilitarian. The metal bends backwards to create a reservoir right underneath the nib. This allows the user to transition between fountain pen inks and other more viscous inks such as iron gall or sumi.

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The nib is a folded piece of metal that allows for easy use on many different papers. While I used it on a smooth Rhodia paper, I’m certain that I can definitely use it on some more textured kinds of paper such as cold-press watercolor paper. The way the nib is designed, it will provide a smooth writing experience on many different surfaces.

The Witch pens are a great starter for all those interested in broad edge pen calligraphy. While fountain pen inks do run a little, I have had positive results with gouache, some thick watercolor paints, as well as sumi and McCaffrey’s ink. My only gripe is the cleaning process. It is a little difficult to clean these pens thoroughly, with the only method being immersing them in water and then drying them out on paper towels. It is a little time consuming, but well worth it for the fun I’ve had.

 

What a year!

I can’t believe it’s already been nearly a year and a half since I started this blog. I couldn’t have imagined that something I started just for fun turned into such a big part of my life and allowed me to meet so many great people. I would like to thank all my readers, for taking the time out of their busy schedules to sit down and read about my experiences with different products. You are the lifeblood of this blog, without you, I would’ve given up a long time ago. I feel no small amount of pride that my opinion is valued when there are so many other blogs and reviewers out there. At the end of the day, I can honestly say that I am happy my blog has come this far and I can’t wait to take it even further. There are many things I feel I can improve and I’ll be posting a list of New Year’s Resolutions all related to making it better. It will contain all the things I hope to do to further improve upon the formula I’ve been following so far. So that will be the final post of 2015. Have a Happy New Year, thanks again for all your support and as always, write on my friends.

Sincerely,

Anchit Rao, The Passionate Penman

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Uni Kuru-Toga Roullete Mechanical Pencil

1 year and 2 months. That’s how long I have been using this pencil. I purchased it a little while after my blog was started, and it’s been in review limbo since. I had written up a review almost 7 months ago, but I never clicked publish. After all this time, I feel this pencil should get justice for all the time it waited.

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So let me start off by saying this: This is hands-down the best mechanical pencil I have ever used. My assertion may seem premature, as I’ve not put up any mechanical pencil reviews till now. Allow me to assure you that going through middle and high school, I’ve extensively used a myriad of different mechanical pencils. From the cheap BIC pencils to the obscenely expensive thin alpha gels. After all this time, and swapping of writing instruments, I have finally found “the one”.

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What makes this the best pencil I’ve ever used? Simple. The lead rotation mechanism. It was the very first thing that caught my eye with this pencil. Now when I was extolling the virtues of this pencil to my friends, they had a rather doubtful look on their faces. Is that feature really necessary? It shouldn’t matter that much right? These are the questions I usually got from them. When you’re writing with a pencil, you are wearing down the lead by depositing it on the paper you’re writing on. A problem I faced with a lot of the pens I previously used, was I would keep favoring one side of the lead, resulting in a sharp peak on the opposite end. This problem could be solved one of two ways. Flip the pencil over and write with the opposite end, or break the tip and restart on a fresh section of the lead. Both of these methods tended to cause inconsistencies in my writing. By choosing the first way, the lead would sharp and unforgiving, degrade the lead faster and result in darker letters. The second way would cause my writing to falter when dealing with the circular part of the lead which had yet to be broken in. This pen fixes the problem as advertised, by rotating the lead and evening the surface out for consistent lettering.

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Now all of you know by now how much of a stickler I am for grips that perform well. I find a problem with the simplest of things and have very precise standards I measure by. The knurled grip section of the Kuru-Toga has just the right amount of sharpness to it. While not biting into the hand, it’s definitely noticeable. I feel it does a really good job, as my grip has never slipped when using this pencil.

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The eraser is about the size of a Tic-Tac, and it will definitely not last very long. I would recommend buying a separate eraser when purchasing this pencil. I restrict the usage of the eraser, and only use it in case I absolutely have to.

There are two versions of the Kuru Toga Roullete. The base model, and the expensive model. I personally opted for the expensive model, as I prefer pens with a little bit of heft. The more expensive version makes use of more metal components, that also add quality and longevity to the pencil. In my case, it’s seen heavy usage almost everyday for the past one year and two months. It has become my go-to pencil for use in any situation, be it note taking, test taking, general doodling, journaling etc. It has yet to present any problems, and I don’t see any in the near future. I have accidentally dropped it dozens of times on all sorts of surfaces, yet the finish looks the same as the day I pulled it out of the box. All in all, this is one tough pencil. I don’t see myself buying another pencil for a long time.

I’ll Be Back…

*I hope you read that with your best Schwarzenegger accent*

Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while. I’m currently in India right now visiting relatives. I forgot to mention it before I left due to the rush of all the things I needed to get done. I currently don’t have much to review as I couldn’t bring my stationary stuff along with me (my bag was already too heavy to carry). However, when I get back, I’ll have a lot of new items waiting to be reviewed. I’ll be going on a review spree the week before my fall quarter starts. I currently can’t decide how many reviews a day (maybe 2?) for the whole week, but the details can be worked out later. Anyway, I’ll be back before you know it, so please don’t forget about me.

Sincerely,

Anchit Rao, The Passionate Penman

Tachikawa Straight Nib Holder Review

Now this was one item that I was really excited to try out. I had purchased a pack of Nikko G nibs a while back, and had used them in another holder that I just couldn’t get used to. They stayed in my desk drawer in limbo, until I found this holder that was quite cheap, and had a lot of good reviews on JetPens. I tested it out the moment it arrived, and the performance was amazing to say the least.

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Out of box, it looked magnificent in all it’s shining glory. The wood glistened when the light shined on it, and the grains were noticeable, and added a natural look to the holder. The golden branding is not to flashy, and adds a nice contrast to the color of the wood. The pen feels really nice overall, the smoothness can be attributed to the glaze-like coat that adds to the wood’s luster.

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The installation of the nib is simple and user intuitive. Instead of the traditional rosette insert widely used in many dip pens nowadays, Tachikawa opted to fuse the rosette holder and pen into one piece. This makes it easy to swap out nibs without having to the clean the nib holder insert, and it also prevents the loss of the insert. I tried inserting nibs of varying sizes, and the pen accepted them all without any major fuss.

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This was an initial test of the nib, just some simple flourishing practice. The ink I used was Sailor Kiwa-Guro black, the paper was Rhodia Ice graph.

Overall, this is one of the best nib holders in its price range. It’s affordable, functional, durable, good-looking, and versatile. The fact that the integrated nib holder can adapt to nibs of many sizes is a huge plus for those who use multiple nibs for their work. The white grip, while a little bit of a dust magnet, does it’s job properly. I would recommend this to beginners and professionals alike, as it can handle whatever is thrown at it. Long story short, if you want a reliable straight holder, get this.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Review

“Gris nuage” – French for “cloudy grey”. A very fitting name for this ink color. For it really does remind me of grey clouds in the sky. So I thought when reviewing a French ink, the least I could do was write out my favorite French quote in a bold Gothic Blackletter variant. So here it is:

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What does it mean? “One for all, and all for one”!. I’m sure many of you recognize it by now. It is from a classic novel I read when I was a little boy, Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I once got my hands on an 1893 two-volume set, in an unassuming book store in Ashland, Oregon when I attended the Shakespeare festival in 2013. The owners were kind enough to let me read through both books for a song. What do I mean by that? Quite literally, I had to sing them a Beatles song, and then they let me read them. It was well worth it though, and the experience of turning the pages on those masterpieces was something I will cherish for a long time.

Now on to the review:

As you see in the picture, the ink honestly felt like water when writing. It had none of the properties I see in my other inks, and most noticeably, the color doesn’t immediately show when the nib goes along the paper. I noticed that on downstrokes, the pool of ink at the bottom of the letter spread upwards and sort of “filled in” the rest of the line. To get a good image of what I’m talking about imagine this. There is a line of water on a page. You touch it with the nib of an inked pen, and the color spreads upwards in varying shades. Just look at some popular calligraphy videos, and you will see this technique in action.

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One of the most annoying things about this ink is the shading. While it is a beautiful shade of grey, it doesn’t feel good for me when I write. Due to the unique shading tendency I mentioned above, while cool, it results in an uneven shade for every letter written. You can see in the scan above how volatile the shading is. On the cursive writing sample, only parts are darker than the rest, on the actual review, the shading varied every letter, which can be painful and confusing to the eyes.

Overall, one could technically use this on a daily basis. Only on Rhodia/equivalent paper, otherwise it’ll feather like crazy, regardless of nib size.One cool application I can think of would be a Gothic calligraphy video which uses the snake-like shading property of this ink as a unique effect on the letters. Otherwise, stick to another, dependable grey, of which there are many out there.