To Screw Or Not To Screw | How to get a fountain pen cap off

I have one trouser leg rolled up.
Just tell me the secret!
Have you recently taken delivery of a pen - or even been handed a friend's pen - and you have that horrendous moment of not knowing whether this is a screw-on cap or a pop-off cap?

And you half-heartedly pull at it and twist at the same time because you don't know what to do for the best?

You don't want to damage the barrel by twisting and potentially scraping the finish and simultaneously, you don't want to pull too hard in case you damage the threads?

Just me?

Divine Design Eye-Dropper Fountain Pen

I am a big fan of demonstrator type fountain pens (mostly because when you change your ink, it's like having a brand new pen) and most of mine are very inexpensive Chinese offerings - cheap and cheerful.

The pen that arrived at the end of last week is the Divine Design Eye-Dropper pen.  This retails for about 33 Euros and its unique selling point is that it comes with three filling options.

Surely it can take a cartridge *crosses self* if you really have to, but it also comes with a convertor and, wait for it, it can be used as an eye-dropper fountain pen (syringe included with the pen too - which is great).

I guess the clue was in the name, Divine Design Eye Dropper Fountain Pen, ammi right?

Anyway, the barrel is capacious (4ml) and I reckon that if you filled it with ink you could get through all your thesis writing for the year on one barrel alone.

I like to switch it up a bit, so I just filled the convertor - I get bored with inks and like to have a few different shades on the go at the same time.  Here I've filled it with Beaufort Ink's Zodiac Blue.

I am still not David Bailey, despite my best efforts.

I'm also a bit wary of putting ink straight into a pen barrel.  I am terrified of ink-related wardrobe malfunctions or, worse, getting it all over a carpet or bit of furniture.  And with my luck it would be someone's antique Persian heirloom or hugely valuable chair that my leaky eyedropper would choose to expire upon.

That fear aside, it does feel as if the barrel screws securely to the section, but I'd probably want to run a wee bit of silicon around the inside just to keep the ink where it ought to be.

So, what do you get?

A black presentation box that includes the pen, the convertor and the syringe, all nice and snug.  There is also an instruction sheet.  Although the instructions are not in English, you can work out what's what with the pen, no trouble.

The pen itself has a clear resin barrel upon which the words Divine Design are printed in white

The cap is black with chrome trim - including a clip.  Inside the cap there is a spring that provides pleasant resistance when you are screwing the cap on and lets the cap pop off when you are unscrewing.

The cap doesn't REALLY post onto the pen. Not securely at any rate. And I like my pen caps to post.  Otherwise it's just something else to have to keep tabs on.

The 33 Euro price of the pen on the site is WITHOUT a nib.  They have a huge variety of nibs to choose from and this particular one was fitted with a suitably divine No 6 Jowo medium nib in purple lacquer which makes for a smoooooooth and li'l bit wet writing experience - which I found very soothing.   This nib would add about 18 Euros to the pen price, so bear that in mind.

Check out for their full range of lacquered nib - gorgeous colours!
Weird photo with lots of white space.  Lacquered nibs!

I like this pen - with this nib.  Would I like it with a Divine Design iridium standard nib? I don't know.  But with this nib, it's a great writing experience with a large capacity pen that offers multiple ink options.

If this is all to spendy for you, there is a similar pen (the 'Polo') available in a variety of brightly coloured trim finishes (without the converters etc) if you fancy something more funky that costs hardly any shekels at all.

Try the DD for yourself!

Moonman Fountain Pen

Saw this on the Fountain Pens UK group on Facebook and had to have it.  It's a demonstrator and I am somewhat addicted to seeing the ink in my fountain pens at the moment.

I am exactly the same with the Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Hubby says that if he had known how fascinated I would be watching the dog hair filling up the dust compartment, he would have bought one years ago. 

I still don't do much hoovering, but when I do, I'm utterly engrossed.

Back to the pen.

Spotted it, as I say, on facebook and immediately tootled over to ebay to purchase one for myself - $14.49 including shipping. From China. You cannot beat that.

It arrived really quite quickly (within 2 weeks) and it is love at first sight.

First up - the box - white, sturdy, classy looking. Bit like m'self.

Inside the box - teeny weeny little fountain pen, a dropper and a box of ink cartridges.

The pen itself is plastic.  No getting away from it.  Plastic.  But the joy of the demonstrator is that you can change the ink to suit your mood and thus change the colour of the pen body at a whim.

Here it is, next to my Cross Botanica - teeny, right?
And with the cap posted?  Still pretty tiny - but look at the INK!

I wasn't going to bother with ink cartridges, this pen takes a mahooosive amount of ink if you just dropper it straight into the barrel.

Look at the blue black Beaufort ink - tis a thing of beauty!

It's got a fine nib with nil bounce - but I don't really expect something marvellously springy for $15.00 

How it writes - perfectly acceptably
It was filled with Beaufort's lovely Blue Black ink and despite writing pages and pages of waffle in my journal, the barrel is still almost full.

It's quite chunky to hold, so if you've got small hands (looking at you, President 45) this might be a bit tiring.  But as a fun pen to sling into your bag - it's bang on the money.

Italix fountain pen | Mr Pen

Do you remember those adverts where people exclaimed 'I can't believe it's not butter' as they tucked into delicious buttery goodness that wasn't? This is exactly how I felt when I discovered that this pen retails for under fifteen quid.

The Deacon's Doodle from Mr Pens feels like a pen that costs at least twice the price, honestly.

But before we look at the pen itself, a li'l bit about Mr Pens.  This is a UK-based and family owned company that was set up in 1989, originally as a marketing consultancy to the office products industry.  Since then their business has grown to include many non-pen products, but their largest site is for the pens.  Mr Pens pride themselves on customer service and their website says that they post the same working day that an item is ordered.

Sounds great, doesn't it? But that's not all they are chirpy about - they actually have a range of fountain pens that are made exclusively for Mr Pens!

This is their ITALIX range and it's an Italix pen that I am waxing lyrical about today.

I give you ... the Deacon's Doodle and box

Let's start with the box. The pen arrives in a serviceable little black cardboard box with the Mr Pen branding in gold on the top.  Inside we find the Deacon's Doodle, complete with standard converter.

I am pleased that the converter is included because too often you find yourself buying a pen and then having to pay another couple of quid for a convertor. 

The cigar-shaped pen is stainless steel and feels a lot more expensive than £15.00 in the hand.  Not HEAVY, but pleasantly THERE.

Black end cap and 'ITALIX' engraved on clip
I really am no David Bailey....
The pop-on cap is ever so slightly flared to accommodate the shape of the pen when posting and has a clip with ITALIX engraved on it.  Also, I must add that you can get additional engraving in a choice of styles for between £3.60 and £6.00.  The end piece for the cap is black and the overall look of the pen is classic.

The barrel and cap are in a brushed finish with the section in smooth, shiny stainless steel which then echos forward into the nib. This nib is Italic and my writing sample doesn't do it justice as it's the first italic nib that I've tried to write with and as a left-hander, it can take a bit of getting used to flourishing with a fountain pen!  I did get a nice flourish with it so your signature can certainly be amped up with this pen and the nib is quite wet, which was fun.

When ordering Mr Pens has a range of options that you can select from and one of them is a left-handed nib, so thumbs up from me for having the foresight to include that particular option.

How does it write? Wet, smooth, reliable with no hard starts and no unpleasantness at all as far as I can see.  And it's £15.00!

Who would love this pen? If you are looking for an exclusive yet  inexpensive pen that can be personalised with engraving and a choice of nibs, then this consider the Deacon's Doodle.  Someone going off to uni or college that you want to make a special present for that doesn't cost the earth? This is the pen you're after.

Scrikss Pens | Noble 35 Titanium

OK, so it sounds like the sort of noise a dolphin might make, but actually it's from the Catalan word 'Scribir' which means 'to write'.  Why is a Turkish company named after a Catalan word? Well, that's because the company originated in Spain and in the 1950s, the brand name was sold onwards to a Swiss company and then on again to its current home in Turkey.

Enough of the history lesson, let's take a look at the pen!

I'll be honest and say that I am attracted to fancy things - Tom Hardy, Tom Hiddleston and Cillian Murphy to name but three.  So, when I clicked open the Scrikss presentation box and saw this slender gun-metal pen, I was a bit ... flat.

However, I've been using it in earnest for all sorts of things - taking Minutes, jotting down notes, carting it around in my handbag - and do you know what, it's a delight to use.

So, let me start with that presentation box - The pen is delivered inside a cardboard sleeve, but the box itself is branded on the outside top and inside lining with the company name and your pen nestles into a faux suede bed.  No complaints from me about the box.  It looks very nice.

In the box you get the pen, the converter, three cartridges and a 99 year warranty. That's right NINETY NINE YEARS! That doesn't cover any damage covered by you, the owner, inflict on the beast,  but 99 years is pretty damned good - these guys have CONFIDENCE in their products.

On to the pen itself.  This is the Scrikss Noble 35 fountain pen in 'titanium' and you can see its full spec here on the English version of the Scrikss site.  They have loads of pen styles available, all very classic looking (and other things that are not fountain pens too!) and this one retails for about £35.00 in the UK note: you'll need to buy it outside of the UK - can't find it in online shops here!)

The lid is removed with a satisfying pop and can be posted - but doesn't pop when posting and actually feels like it could come off if you weren't careful.

Scrikss | Noble 35 in Titanium 

The nib on this pen is branded Scrikss and is steel with an iridium tip in Medium.  I simply couldn't get the camera to focus on the nib properly, I'm sorry, this is the best that I could do. You can see it better on the Scrikss website!


Better shot of the nib?

Another arty shot.  Lets you see the converter

So, the $6million question - how does it write?

Really nicely as a matter of fact! The nib has a little bit of flex in it, so not rock hard, which I like.  No matter what situation I whisked it out in - supermarket list writing, scribbling in the pub, scribbling in the office, it wrote like a dream at the first time, every time.  That's pretty good in my book!

Here's a little writing sample - look at the shimmer in that ink (kindly supplied by Gillian Dick)!!!!  It's Organics Studio 'Walden Pond' if you fancy it!

In summary then, what do I think? For £35.00 you get a deceptively nice pen in a quality presentation box - It's smooth and sleek, comfortable to hold, a nice and reliable writer, includes the converter and some ink to get you started AND a 99 year warranty.  For £35.00!!!!

Would make a great present for someone - maybe a 21st birthday or 'going off to uni' type of present.  Or maybe just keep it for yourself ....

Beaufort Ink | Scotland

Arty AF, me

Beaufort Ink are a new name to me, but they are based in Scotland and so they are most definitely worth a punt.

Let me tell you a li'l bit about them.  They are purveyors of a variety of quality pen paraphernalia - nibs (including a Bock left-handed nib - I needs to get m'self one of THOSE!), all manner of things needed for upgrades and pen-making and now a set of fountain pen inks.  And rather delicious they are too.

There are six colours in the range:

  • Blue Black
  • Obsidian Black
  • Peacock
  • Scots Pine
  • Roasted Red
  • Zodiac Blue 

These are available as individual bottles of 45ml for £8.35 or trial packs of 4 x10ml bottles for £8.35.  So that's four different inks totalling 40ml for the same price as you could procure on single, full-sized bottle.  The trial packs are a great way to find out what you love - and also can be broken up into individual bottles to give as li'l gifties for fountain pen addict friends.

Not confident about filling your pen with a syringe and prefer cartridges? No problemo - all he inks are available as cartridges in self-coloured boxes of six for a whisker under £2.00 (standard cartridges).

Anyway, enough of me blabbering on ... let's look at the inky goodness:

Well, this turned out as far too dark to show off the inks properly and I'll need to nip out and take some more photos.

But you can see that the Roasted Red has smoky pimento look to it and it was the first one that my eye was drawn to - well, red, innit? But a USEFUL and classy red.

I don't have very many greens, and the Scots Pine looked really smart.  But see that Peacock just above it? That's a really pretty ink to use and to look at - reminiscent of the Blue Black ... a sort of bluey-green-black and it's definitely in my favourites from the Beaufort range.

Scots Pine - definitely a black green, yes? 

It looks black here, but I promise you, it's GREEN! 

The Zodiac Blue is a very nice blue.  I must be honest and say that I am not hugely excited by black or blue ink because it reminds me of school and I am irresistibly drawn to bright and sparkly coloured inks as surely as I am to Tom Hiddleston.  But as you can see here, it's a lovely blue with quite a variety of shading available.

Don't worry about the feathering - that's down to my paper and my excruciatingly executed calligraphy.

Now THIS is my absolute favourite.  The Blue Black is very eye-catching and gives some really nice shading if you have nibs that are thicker than most of mine.  This is it in the Namisu Ixion.

I know that there isn't much in the way of the Roasted Red here, but I'm writing up a separate review for that next because I'm terribly partial to red ink, it would seem.

So let me consider these en famille:  All the inks flow really nicely, there is some decent shading and at £8.35 a bottle, I don't think that you can go wrong with any of these.  However, I would absolutely recommend getting a taster set so that you can play around with them ... maybe even mix up your very own favourite shade.  The taster set of four lots of 10ml actually gives you a good few refills of each colour - you can't lose.

And don't forget to check Beaufort out for your pen repair and upgrade requirements.  Now, I'm off to buy that Bock left-handed nib!

Berlin Notebook | 100% Recycled Paper

When a package arrives addressed to 'The Wonderful Alison Cross' you can't help wondering whether someone has mixed up this curmudgeonly Scot with, perhaps, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Ontario SPCA. I bet you she IS wonderful Or maybe the witch of a Scottish folk song.  Well, she's NOT wonderful now that I've checked out the lyrics. Honestly, I should really stop googling myself. 

Anyway, I decided that it WAS in fact for wonderful me and ripped into the package to find this:

A little packet from Pocket Notebooks.
Wrapped in purple tissue paper.  Isn't that sweet? 

Inside was a Berlin Notebook.  Now, the Berlin isn't just any old notebook, no sirree.  It says that it is made in Germany and from 100% recycled materials.  Very commendable. But would it work with a fountain pen?

Berlin and Namisu
Sounds like a new crime-busting duo on the TV.

So, here we go - a little page of hand-lettering - looks nice, no feathering to speak of.  But what's happening over the page? 

The bleed through was absolutely tiny - a couple of weeny spots.  Probably with a different pen wielded by someone who didn't press quite so hard there would be none at all.  Certainly not anything that would prevent you from writing on that page.

The Berlin Notebook is a winner because it's environmentally friendly and GREAT for fountain pen use!

Pocket Notebooks are now Nero's Notes (my dog's called Nero and the logo is now a black pupper, suits me)  But the same domain name reaches them so don't panic - you'll still find them!