J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche

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I’ve had this ink for a long time and just got around to writing a review now. I saw that J. Herbin was selling tiny bottles of ink for very affordable prices and couldn’t resist getting some. When it comes to reviewing, one thing I have to worry about is the cost of the inks. I have to constantly decide whether a whole bottle of ink is worth it and if I’ll even be able to use all of it. I really like using the ink for at least a minimum of 2 weeks mainly for writing notes. With the amount of notes I write, an ink sample is not enough at all to experience and then review.  That’s mainly why the tiny bottles of J. Herbin were perfect to get a good amount of writing done and not break the bank.

That being said, it is a little inconvenient to fill up a pen with a bottle this tiny. The opening is barely enough for the Lamy 2000 and only smaller pens would be more easy to fill up. The TWSBI Eco was pretty easy to fill, but I’m predicting it won’t be as easy once the level of ink goes below a certain point. Then it will be an interesting experiment to find an efficient way to fill up my pens without creating a mess.

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One thing that really appealed to me right off the bat was the vibrancy of the color. When filled up inside a demonstrator pen like the Eco, the ink looks much darker and its a surprise when the nib touches the paper and a bright blue is all you see. I used this ink in multiple pens from the TWSBI Vac Mini, Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Custom 823 and it was well-behaved in all of them, as I’ve come to expect from J. Herbin inks in general. The ink is decently lubricated and flowed well out of all the pens I tested it in. When writing with some different nibs, I noticed that there was good shading from an EF to M nib and while it may not be apparent from the photo, the sheen on the ink is slightly red in places where it pools. It might be my eyes playing tricks, but I also see hints of green too. It’s a pretty looking ink that any lover of light blue inks would like.

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While Bleu Pervenche has all those great characteristics, it also has some drawbacks. The one I experienced the most frequently was feathering. This ink is very finicky on the type of paper you use it with and the only type that worked perfectly for me was Rhodia. Even the Maruman Mnemosyne notebooks which I absolutely love and are tanks when it comes to inks, showed signs of feathering when I wrote notes. This was most prevalent when I adjusted the amount of ink due to some skipping with the TWSBI. With that, the dry times I experienced were north of 15 seconds on Maruman paper, which became a huge hassle as I had to wait for the ink to dry before turning the page to continue taking notes. I had made the mistake of not waiting a couple of times in a rush and the back of the notebook got stained and the letters got obscured.

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Overall, Bleu Pervenche is a very well-behaved light blue ink that has decent lubrication and great shading. It works really well with Rhodia paper, but if you don’t mind some feathering, most other notebook brands like Maruman and Kokuyo will work fine. Depending on the nib you use, your dry time may differ, but I would recommend for those using M nibs and above be aware of the slightly longer dry times and compensate for them accordingly. Other than that, I recommend picking up a small bottle of J. Herbin’s Bleu Pervenche to try out.

TWSBI Eco – M nib

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TWSBI is always known for pushing the buck on affordable fountain pens. From their Vac Mini line to their Mini model. They’ve constantly surprised the pen community with just how affordable they can make such great pens. That’s why I was really excited to try the Eco, their cheapest pen to date and one that can be anyone’s first fountain pen. After some time of using it nearly every day for notes, I was pleasantly surprised.

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For $30USD, this pen really delivers on the TWSBI experience. I was a little hesitant due to the all plastic build, but decided to trust TWSBI with their quality, something that I will no longer hesitate to do. The plastic they used is solid and reliable. The one problem of this, is that there is no texturing around the grip area. I constantly found myself adjusting my grip because no matter how hard I tried it slipped after a couple of minutes. One of the biggest drawbacks to this pen for me, is how insecure the grip feels. However, due to the quality of the plastic, it can survive being dropped multiple times. I feel that they could improve on this by just adding some texture to the grip area, nothing fancy just a couple of line to ease up the grip pressure and not stress the hand out as much.

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For the rest of the pen, I don’t particularly mind the use of plastic as nowadays the quality of plastic is relatively high and helps keep such a great pen affordable. I know some have complained a bit about the flimsy nature of the piston, but I feel that it’s merely a tactile difference in operation form the standard metal knob that is present in all of TWSBI’s other models. To me, it doesn’t feel flimsy and was very smooth in operation. I wasn’t worried about any accidental turns leading to spills.

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The best part of this pen has got to be the nib. While I was expecting the standard TWSBI experience of smooth nibs to be there, it wasn’t until I actually tested it and affirmed my suspicions that I realized what it meant. When it comes to fountain pens, you usually tend to get what you pay for, especially in the price range of $15-$30. The fact that they managed to keep the amazing quality of the nib in this pen is something to be commended. I honestly have never tried another pen in this price range that had such a smooth nib out of the box. It lays down a nice line consistently and hasn’t failed me even once. Kudos to TWSBI for managing to do this. However, I found that there was often a small amount of leaking occasionally and feel that the clear direct feed design makes it much easier to occur. While it’s cool to see the ink run through the feed and look at the color right underneath your fingers, it also diminished my confidence in keeping it in my pocket. I found numerous ink stains on my fingers sometimes without knowing exactly how I got them while writing. I think it might have to do with my grip position alongside the way the feed was designed.

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Finally, the branding is very subtle and tastefully done. It’s not festooned around the pen and it really accentuates the glossiness of the black plastic that I opted for. TWSBI also has a lime green and clear version with the same nib range (EF – 1.1 Stub).

All in all, an a great and affordable first fountain pen that can definitely turn people into pen addicts. I would highly recommend this as a starter pen for anyone who wants to get start writing with fountain pens, or as a way to get others into the hobby. The first pen is a very important milestone that can make or break an individuals perception on fountain pens, so it’s important to have something beginner friendly and high quality that can give a great writing experience. The TWSBI Eco checks all those boxes for me, so don’t hesitate to try it out.

 

TWSBI Vac Mini Review

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Here it is. Finally after using it everyday for the last week, I’m psyched to review the new TWSBI Vac Mini. This was my first foray into TWSBI’s mini series of pens. I’ve checked them out time and time again, yet just couldn’t get on board when I already had my 580Al. This purchase came from the me wanting a small, affordable fountain pen that could fit in my pocket as an EDC pen. I was making do all these days with my Pilot VP, but I decided that I needed a separate pen, as it was little too bulky. Enter the Vac Mini. Now in all honesty, I really haven’t kept up with TWSBI’s product announcements, and the Vac Mini came out of the blue for me. I saw the Goulet Pens newsletter advertising their fresh stock and decided to give it a whirl. Best decision I’ve made in 2016 as of now.

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Very minimal branding. The company name and the model name is in grey around the cap. The demonstrator body allows a view of the ink sloshing around in the barrel. Super fun but also super distracting in class :P. The ink capacity is very good compared to most of my other pens. Nearly 2 mL. The filling system was fun to use and works well. Initially, I was stuck with only 2/3 of the barrel full until I found Brian Goulet’s tutorial on how to get a nice fill with the Vac 700. Seeing as the filling system is the same, it worked out very well.

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As seen in the photo above, the tipping for the medium is very generous, resulting in a bold line that is slightly bigger than the standard Lamy medium. I personally love it, as I’m partial to slightly larger nib sizes. Straight out of the box it was buttery smooth with amazing consistency to boot. I feel that it’s the perfect balance when I have nearly 2 mL of ink to go through. It’s not too wet, but it’s not skimping either. I anticipate many weeks until a refill is needed.

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One thing that really bothers me, although it may be minor, is the dots of ink perpetually lining the slit. Now I get really OCD about that and no matter how I tried, it never truly went away. Minimizing it to what you see above is the most I could do.

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The collar used to secure the nib and feed is metal. This is the new standard, as the plastic collars of past models had a tendency to crack. It definitely feels secure when I twist it to change the nib.

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One of my favorite features on the Vac Mini. The threading on the back allows for a really secure post. It’s like recapping the pen on the back, ensuring that it won’t slip no matter what happens. In addition, the length after twisting the small amount of the cap, is perfect for someone with big hands, like me.

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Despite all the good things I have to say about this pen, it has one flaw that I just couldn’t deal with. When capped, if jostled with a little bit of force, ink tends to leak out of the pen and into the cap. I found out when I twisted off the cap and was greeted by an inky mess spilling onto my fingers and the page of my notebook. The grip was thoroughly covered in ink, resulting in a frustrating situation where I had to go to the bathroom to clean up. This happened a total of 3 times over the past week. If TWSBI could develop their version of Platinum’s slip seal and add it to this pen, it would be pretty much perfect in my book.

Overall, I would recommend the TWSBI Vac Mini to anyone who wants a portable, affordable and comfortable pen. I’m going to be using this as my EDC pen, so it’s home is going to be my pants pocket for hours on end. Don’t underestimate it’s size though, it’ll perform just as well as any of it’s bigger cousins. It’s a must add to any fountain pen collection.

UPDATE:

Hello everyone. After my review 3 days ago, I faced a problem I had yet to discover. For some reason, the flow is being disrupted occasionally. I was writing down notes in history class yesterday, about to start on my 3rd page when all of a sudden… POOF! No ink flow at whatsoever. Confused as to why, I attempted to resurrect the nib by light tapping it down on the paper. Those light taps escalated into slightly frustrated stronger ones. After about 3 minutes of trying, I gave up, retrieved my backup form the case and resumed my note taking. After a couple of hours I had to attend another class, in between, I had a lot of time to ascertain what exactly was happening. In my numerous attempts at resurrection, I managed to spray a decent amount of ink onto my fingers. I managed to get it working again after nearly an hour of trying. Needless to say this did not leave me happy. I don’t know whether it was a problem with the ink, feed, or the nib. All I know is, I was not happy for a long time afterwards. Is this a problem others are facing? Comment below if this has happened to you.

Pendleton’s Pens “Lumi” Review

INTRODUCTION:

The TWSBI Diamond 580 series. Not much can be said about the diamond series pens that hasn’t already been said. The current version I am reviewing is the 580AL. The difference between this and the older 580 is the material used. Instead of the traditional plastic we saw used for the grip and piston rod all the way from the 530, TWSBI has opted to reconstruct them with aluminum. How did I know it was aluminum? The chemical symbol of aluminum is Al (•_•) / ( •_•)>⌐■-■ / (⌐■_■) (*YEEEEEAAAAAHHHH) I’ve definitely learnt something from chemistry class.

This change gives the pen a nice heft, making it feel very solid and sturdy in my hands. The weight of the pen is also directed towards the front, which helps me write with less overall pressure. I purchased this pen from Pendleton’s Pens, and was extremely satisfied with the professionalism demonstrated by Mr. Brown, as well as the fast shipping.

*drools*

*drools*

APPEARANCE & PACKAGING:

The TWSBI 580AL has a very simple yet elegant appearance. The chrome pieces and aluminum grip section provide a subtle, satisfying twinkle when it hits the lights at the perfect angle. When capped, I noticed that there was a stark contrast between the plain cap and the multifaceted diamond pattern found on the body. When uncapped, this pattern helps the pen not roll off the table (almost happened to me, I completely freaked out >.<).

Finally Here!

Finally Here!

Simple, appropriate for price range

Simple, appropriate for price range

NIB & PERFORMANCE:

I had mentioned in my teaser post that there was something special about this pen. Well here it is! The nib on this pen is absolutely mind-blowing. I was dubious whether a stub nib was what I needed, but now I can say with certainty that they are perfect for notes. Now being a college, I am expected to write a LOT of notes. On average I write almost 11-12 pages per subject everyday. I was thoroughly confused about the nib size that was ideal for me, so I sent an email to Mr. Pendleton Brown detailing my quandary. I wanted a nib that had decent line variation for my calligraphic pursuits, but did not consume copious amounts of ink. Smooth as butter, but crisp enough for intricate details. Fine, but not too fine.

In all honesty, I didn’t know whether what I was asking for was possible, or even realistic. However, within 24 hours, Mr. Brown emailed me with his recommendation. He was prompt, concise, and professional with his recommendation. The nib size he recommended for me was not something that was shown on his website, a “Fat Fine”. His description of it was “fatter than a fine, thinner than a medium”, which turned out to be 0.5mm width. Putting my faith in his expertise, I pulled the trigger. 3 days and $110.00 later, I find myself in nib nirvana. He really knows how to identify what a customer is looking for! Kudos, Mr. Brown 🙂

Nib Close-up

That nib looks so beautiful up close!

I have very limited experience with stub nibs, so at first I found the nib to be really scratchy, and I was disappointed as I was expecting something buttery. Then after 20 minutes of experimentation, I realized it was because I was a total noob, that it was even doing that. I took a few deep breaths, relaxed my grip, brought the nib to a light hover on the paper and moved my whole arm when writing. Instantly the nib glided across the paper with almost no effort. I got a sense of pure joy and elation as I wrote out my first comprehensive handwritten review for this pen.

Handwritten Review

Handwritten Review

Cursive and Line Variation Tests

Cursive and Line Variation Tests

OVERALL:

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Juicy, and springy nib
  • Interchangeable with standard TWSBI nibs
  • Great ink capacity
  • Comes with silicone grease and wrench for disassembling

Cons:

  • More expensive than a standard TWSBI 580AL
  • Doesn’t post well

CONCLUSION:

I would recommend anyone to get a custom Pendleton Point BLS Italic nib. They are juicy, springy, and smooth. I couldn’t be more happier with my purchase. This pen has earned a permanent spot on my EDC list. I look forward to trying out a few new scripts with this pen, which I will hopefully be able to show you guys later on.

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way affiliated with Mr. Pendleton Brown, and was not compensated in any way for this review. I am just another happy customer. 🙂