- Posted by Ed Sizemore on January 23, 2012 at 2:35 pm
- Category: Meta
Review by Ed Sizemore
Like any good geek, I’ve got more interests than I have time or money for. One lifelong passion I’ve had is writing instruments. Over the years, my taste has evolved from ballpoint pens to fountain pens and most recently to brush pens. So when JetPens asked if I’d be interested in reviewing some products for them, it was like a dream come true.
I’ve been ordering from JetPens for about four years or so. I can’t remember what obsession first led me to their website, but they quickly because one of my favorite pen stores. They constantly add new products, so I visit frequently to find new toys to play with. I have to exercise a lot of self-control when ordering, so I don’t max out my credit cards. Thankfully, they have a wish list feature to help me keep track of what I’d like to try or reorder in the future.
Let’s start with my biggest surprise. Brad from JetPens sent me a Pocket Clutch Lead Holder by E+M. I didn’t think I would like it because it was so small. I was wrong. It’s just the right length to fit into my hand. Also, the short body makes it easy to change your grip for different uses. For example, I like having my pointing finger resting on the top of the holder when shading. This was the perfect size to let me cup the holder in my palm. It’s got a nice thick body to keep you from getting cramps if you’re drawing for a long time. The only disadvantage is the short body means the standard size 5.5mm leads are too long to fit the holder, so you will have to either buy E+M leads or break other brand leads to fit. A minor inconvenience at worst.
Pilot’s Hi-Tec-C pens already have a devoted following. This was my first time trying one. I was sent a .4 mm point with brown ink. Usually, when you get tips this small, the pen feels scratchy against the paper. I was really impressed with how smoothly the pen wrote and its nice rich color. I can see why artists like this pen; it has a great ink flow and a thin line perfect for those detailed drawings or for crosshatching. This will be going on my wish list.
The Pilot Double-Sided Brush Pen was fun to play with. One side has black ink, the other side has grey. It’s listed as a brush pen, but it’s a felt tip that simulates a brush line. The tip on this is very stiff, making it a good beginner’s pen. The black is nice and dark. The grey is the same shade as your standard No. 2 pencil, so you can do your outlines with one side and your shading with the other. I could see artists using this as a sketch pen at conventions. I know Johanna liked it, too.
Brad sent one of my favorite disposable brush pens, a Pilot Pocket Brush Pen with hard tip. This is the perfect starter pen for people who want to explore drawing/writing with a brush pen. It has a felt tip with some play to allow for line variation. Because it’s a disposable pen, you can really experiment without worry of ruining a pen you had hoped to be a permanent part of your collection. This has been my convention note-taking pen for a couple of years now. I love the feel as it writes and how smoothly the ink flows. A great pen no matter what you use it for.
If you try the Pilot Pocket Brush pen and want to get more serious about using brush pens, then the next step is the Kuretake No. 13 Brush Pen. This is a pen with a real brush tip. The bristles are nylon. It’s a soft pen, but not as soft as natural hair. This is a pen I’m still trying to master. Andy Runton, creator of Owly, is one of the few people I’ve seen in person who has mastered using a brush pen. He gave me some great advice about maintaining steady pressure. The pen has amazing line variation from hair thin to a nice thick medium. The ink flow is marvelous. It’s like working with a constantly wet brush. This pen is a real pride of my collection.
For people who are looking for a good calligraphy pen, let me suggest the Pilot Parallel Pens. These pens put the old standard Sheaffer calligraphy pens to shame. They are much easier to use and have a smoother feel. The nibs are more forgiving of how you place them on the paper for good ink flow and nice line variation. I use the 1.5 mm nib because it’s the ideal size for addressing envelopes and writing notes. Given the compliments I’ve received for my Christmas envelopes, this pen was money well spent.
If you use wood pencils, then you must get the Stad One-Push Pencil Holder. Finally, someone designed a pencil holder/extender with actual writers and artists in mind. It’s easy to use, comfortable to hold, and actually looks great too. A co-worker saw me with one of these and begged me to get one for her and one for her daughter. All three of us still use and love these. I really can’t praise them high enough.
Finally, this is also for pencil users. The Stad T’Gaal Pencil Sharpener is simply an amazing pencil sharpener. It allows you to choose one of five tip styles for sharpening your pencil. You can go from a long thin point used for writing to a short point commonly used on coloring pencils. Most sharpeners that adjust point length do it by having a fixed blade with a stop. This means for any setting other than the longest, the pencil doesn’t have a real point. T’Gaal actually adjust the blade angle, so no matter the setting, your pencil has a nice sharp point. It’s amazing to get that level of engineering at such a low price. For wooden pencil users, this is a must have.
JetPens really is a wonderland for those of us that love writing instruments and novelty office products. I’ve had nothing but great service from them. They answer all your questions and are willing to do special orders for Japanese products that you’ve seen but that they don’t carry. I highly recommend you check out their website. You won’t be disappointed.