TWSBI Mini AL Gold Demonstrator Fountain Pen

TWSBI is a well known fountain pen company offering advanced filling systems (Vacuum and Piston) at lower prices than most companies offering the same systems. The TWSBI Mini AL Gold Fountain pen is a wonderful little thing. At around $65, you can get it here at Jetpens or here at Amazon, but jump on the chance to get it if you like the sound of the pen, because it’s a limited edition!

The TWSBI Mini Al comes in a neat little clear plastic case, set into a nice holder behind an elevated step with the TWSBI name and symbol on it. If you take out the white part of the case with the step, there are two things inside underneath, a bottle of silicone grease and a TWSBI wrench. Both serve a purpose. TWSBI is of the mindset that you should learn to fix your own pen and take care of it, which is really interesting, and makes it that much more fun. The silicone grease is to lubricate the pen if it needs lubricating and is to be used much later in the pen life, not right away. The wrench is for twisting things off, primarily the piston mechanism. Both are a fun little collectible if you don’t end up using them, and useful if you do. To get the pen out of it’s case, you just remove the two clear arches that are holding it in from the white base, and lift the pen! A very interesting feature of this pen is that the trim rings actually fit into the holder in the case it comes in, so the trim rings actually serve a purpose.

 

The TWSBI Mini AL is a small fountain pen, as the name implies, and is great for pocket carry on an everyday basis. The cap screws on the front of the pen over the nib and screws on over the piston knob to post, which is convenient and reduces worry of the cap messing with the piston. The pen is a demonstrator, meaning the body is made primarily out of clear material, allowing the user to see all of the inner workings of the pen. The gold accents in the pen compliment the mostly transparent body, producing a clean and modern look. The gold accents include the grip and the piston. One feature of this pen might seem unnecessary at first, but it may grow on you. The barrel not circular like many other TWSBI models, but is made of long, narrow diamonds, rounded on the edges. This is barely noticeable at the outset but you may start to appreciate it as you use the pen more. The clip is a simple silver, nothing to talk about. After a little bit of wear and tear, though, the clip can come loose. On top of the cap there is a red and silver TWSBI symbol embedded in transparent plastic, which creates a really interesting and clean look. In terms of feel, the pen is not too slippery around the grip and it is light, but not overly lightweight. The ink capacity is fairly high because it is piston fill (as you can see below) but not a large as a full sized pen like a 540.

 

Now for the nib. The Mini, like all TWSBI pens, has a steel nib, which actually appears to have smaller shoulders than other TWSBI models like the Diamond 540. The nib comes in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or 1.1 mm stub. All are good choices, I am writing the first draft of this post with the EF, and it feels good. The nib is quite flexible for a non-flex, and if you really want it, you can get some line variation. I used Pelikan Purple Ink with this pen, and works well.

 

Pros:

-Looks Great

-Writes smoothly

-Great for pockets

-Good weight

-Good Ink Capacity

-Affordable

-Cap posts easily over the piston knob

Cons:

-Not the very smoothest writing experience (with EF nib)

-Clip comes loose easily

Overall, I give this pen 4.5 stars for being a quality pen and working well. I like the feel, the looks, and the way it writes. It also comes in a great case that you can use to store it. I recommend it to anyone looking for a nice fountain pen, better than a starter pen, that is great for everyday use and pocket carry, but also to impress people with it’s smooth looks. Great for anyone that does not want to spend a boatload of money on a pen but wants a good looking, well functioning fountain pen to write with.

 

TWSBI Eco 1.1 mm Stub Nib Demonstrator Fountain Pen

Attention Reader: A pros and cons and quick overview is at the bottom of the page for someone who doesn’t want to read the entire article.

TWSBI is a well know fountain pen company offering advanced filling systems (Vacuum and Piston) at lower prices than most companies offering the same systems. At $30, the TWSBI Eco is available here on Amazon and here on Jetpens, and is one of the highest quality pens you can get for under $50. The stub nib is a fun bonus that you can get with an Eco. Not many companies offer stub nib fountain pens anymore, so getting one for this price is a great deal. Stub nibs are fountain pen nibs that are ground flat on the end as opposed to round, so that writing horizontally will create thin lines, and writing vertically will create thicker lines. The writing tends to look like calligraphy, which is a very cool effect. Stubs are great if you are writing a special letter or writing something special in general, but are not as intended for everyday writing. Nonetheless, they can be used for everyday writing if the grind is to your liking.

The Eco also comes as a demonstrator, which is a clear fountain pen that displays the inner workings. A piston filler, you twist the back of the pen (where the cap would be posted) to extend the piston all of the way down in the pen, insert the entire nib into a bottle of ink, and retract the piston back up, drawing ink into the pen. This and a vacuum filler mechanism both grant a much higher ink capacity, and the Eco is no exception. You can see in the picture below that there is a huge amount of ink in there. Once your ink of choice is in the pen, you start writing. It is a smooth stub. You might see some shading, (color variation in ink) in the vertical lines as they are thicker, which is really interesting and satisfying. The pen feels very light in the hand (it depends on opinion whether this is a pro or con) and the grip is slightly slick. The cap does post onto the back of the pen, but you need to be careful that you don’t turn the piston mechanism, as ink will spurt out of the nib, causing pools and puddles on the paper. It posts with more of a click, not a twist, but it does not have a definite snap. It’s more of an unsure clunk onto the black, not a friction fit but not a click or magnet. The TWSBI symbol is on the back of the hexagonal cap in red.

Overall pros and cons:

Pros:

-Huge Ink Capacity

-Inexpensive ($30)

-Writes Well

-Comes with a stub nib

-Demonstrator lets you see the inner workings

Cons:

-Slick Grip

-Unsatisfying Cap Posting

-Need to take extra caution not to expel ink from the nib with the piston system

-Very lightweight (depends if this is a pro or con)

Rating: 4.5 Stars

I recommend it for people looking for a good pen to start their fountain pen experience or looking for a fun pen to play around with/demonstrator. it is also a good stub for beginners in calligraphy.

IMG_0147.jpg

6(.5) Fun Pencils To Play Around With

I have wanted to do a post about pencils that are simply fun for a while now, and I finally have the chance! Here are my five, not in any order, pencils that are just fun to use and easy to experiment with. I will also give short descriptions and tips on how to use them.

Viarco Soft Carbon Water Soluble Pencil

This pencil is not only for dark shading, but is also great for watercolor artists and people looking for a fun pencil! The carbon is so soft that it feels like crayon when you are writing with it, and the carbon core is unusually, and strangely satisfyingly thick. It is fun to draw with, and when you use your finger to spread a little bit of water on top, it turns to a delightful watery mess! (You can also use precision and spread water with a thin paintbrush.)

Koh-I-Noor Gold Magic Pencil

It is fairly obvious why this pencil is considered fun. The core is made up of many different colors meshed together into one stick, which provides very pleasing effects when scratched on paper! You do need to turn the pencil as you are writing in order to achieve full affect, as, if you keep the pencil still, it only picks up one color, but if you master this skill it is super fun to draw and write with. The line it creates is a gradient string of color that pleases the eye.

Onyx+Green Recycled Newspaper Pencil

This pencil writes much like a normal lead pencil, and at an HB hardness, it’s marks look pretty boring. I like to write with it, but it is nothing special when it comes to drawing or writing. Its looks, though, are another matter. The pencil is made of newspaper wrapped around the core again and again until it is the thickness of a normal pencil. When it is sharpened, the shavings are layers and layers of paper, some blue and yellow, some black and white. It also looks like this on the tip where the pencil has been shaved. Bonus: feels nice to sharpen it. Tip: Sharpen slowly to get the longest shaving!

Caran D’ache and CW Pencils “The Editor”

Editor pencils have been in existence for a while now, many teachers’ favorite writing utensil. It can also be used for fun, though! In case you didn’t know, an editor pencil has one black or blue side and one red side. You can blend the two sides, you can break it in half, tape the two sides together, and draw parallel lines, you can break it in half halfway, keep the two sides together with a small piece of wood and use it as a compass, or do something that comes to mind! Experiment!

Seven Color Rainbow Pencil

Another multicolor core pencil, this one has a black body and more defined colors in the core. Instead of a swirl of colors, this core has seven color sticks blended together into one. Writing or drawing with it while rotating it ever so slightly will create a fun rainbow of colors condensed into one line. This pencil looks better than the other one, (In my opinion), and creates a similar effect.

Combo: General’s Blending Tortillion and General’s Charcoal Pencil

A charcoal pencil can be fun on it’s own, but if you make some kind of mark, say a circle, with the charcoal, you can use the tortillion to blend the charcoal in or out, and it makes a very clean smudge! The picture above shows how you can use it for smooth shading, and how it can help add depth to a picture! The tortillion is a amazing alternative to a finger, as you will not be putting silver or black fingerprints all over, and it makes a smoother gradient. Try it out, and play around with it!

That’s it for fun pencils! You can get these at CW Pencil Enterprises and buy them individually or in bulk, except for Onyx+Green and General’s Charcoal and tortillion (this link is not for General’s), which I linked on Amazon. I hope you get some pencils and enjoy them.

Onyx+Green HB Recycled Newspaper

The Onyx+Green HB Recycled Newspaper pencil is my personal favorite. A 10 pack is available here on Amazon. At about $1, I don’t have much to say about this pencil. It is simple, with a glossy newspaper reminiscent round body printed in white with the words “Onyx+Green, HB” and their logo, a leaf. The ferrule is a simple silver, holding in a white eraser. It writes like a normal HB pencil, making slightly sharper lines than a Ticonderoga. The magic comes when you sharpen the pencil, though. It is made of recycled newspaper, as the name implies, wrapped again and again around the graphite core. This creates an effect when the pencil is fully sharpened where it appears that there are many lines of different colors, which looks, frankly, awesome. It also feels good to sharpen. Overall, I give this pencil five stars, for performing well and looking even better. I recommend it to anyone looking for a solid writing pencil, not too expensive, that looks really cool and is fun to show off.

Bonus: It also works well for shading.

Viarco Art Graf Soft Carbon Water Soluble Pencil

The Viarco Art Graf Soft Carbon Water Soluble pencil is one of my personal favorites for drawing and sketching. You can get it here at CW Pencil Enterprises. When writing or drawing with the Art Graf, you might notice that it feels more like a crayon than a pencil. A normal pencil is made with graphite, which is a type of carbon. The Art Graf is soft carbon, which is a material that feels like wax. The Art Graf makes a very dark but not incredibly sharp line that is great for touching up a drawing with very, very dark accents. The lead stick inside the pencil is very thick, as you can see in the upper right picture below, which looks very interesting and makes the pencil last longer. The body is round and black, embossed in gold writing. It is the width of a standard pencil. The Viarco Art Graf is labeled as “water soluble” for a reason, though. When a small amount of water is rubbed on top of the pencil marks on the paper, it spreads like a watercolor. Artists using watercolor could easily use this as a very dark black for dark shading, as black watercolor cannot easily be pure black – it usually turns grey when the water is added. There is no eraser or ferrule. Overall, I give this pencil five stars for having no cons and numerous pros. I highly recommend this pencil for watercolor artists and people looking for a dark alternative to charcoal, but also to anyone looking for a fun pencil that you can play around with.

Tombow Mono 100 HB

The Tombow Mono 100 HB pencil, available here on Amazon, and here on CW Pencils if you would like to purchase them single, is a pencil costing roughly $3, and is one of my favorites. With a black hexagonal body and beautiful writing abilities, I almost have no cons. First of all, this pencil writes impeccably. The lines are practically smudgeless, even though they are dark and smooth. They are also very fine, even if the pencil has not recently been sharpened. This pencil works for shading, drawing, and writing, but is primarily intended for drafting, as it is a drafting pencil. There is no eraser on the back of this pencil, but instead a cylindrical attachment to the hexagonal body with a white line running across it; a very pretty design. A gold line separates this from the body. The pencil is black, and slightly slippery when used during long periods of writing time, but that is true with most pencils, so that will not affect the rating at all. These pencils are relatively light, about the weight of a normal no. 2 Dixon pencil, which is my one problem. I prefer just slightly heavier pencils, so this is not the perfect weight. Everything else is great, though, and the smudgeless lines work well for lefties. (I am one, and this pencil works well for me.) Overall, I give the Tombow Mono 100 HB five stars, for writing beautifully and having almost no flaws. It is available at good prices, and a HIGH recommendation to my readers.

P.S. It also sharpens flawlessly.