Review: Noodler’s Dumas Tulipe Noire

I am trying out photographing my written review instead of scanning them. Let me know in the comments if you have any preference either way.

Noodler’s Dumas Tulipe Noire is one of Fountain Pen Network’s exclusive ink. This is a purple ink that has a strong red / wine tone. It is a wet ink when paired with my Pelikan Twist. It was almost unusable. Noodler’s Dumas Tulipe Noire shades well from a matte wine stain colour to a dark brown-purple colour. It is an interesting colour that I don’t see often.

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Posted on June 28, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter A5

Roterfaden is a German company that specialises in notebook folio / cover made of leather or an intriguing material called dancefloor. (It’s actually just a synthetic material designed for ballet dance floor.) They create their own line of notebooks as well as accessories that work well with their notebook folio as known as Taschenbegleiter. The Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter, loosely translated as pocket companion, comes in A4, A5 and A6. They also handle custom sizes if required.

WARNING: TURN BACK NOW IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY!

There, don’t say I never warned you. the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter comes in pre-selected configuration or you could totally custom one. You have a wide variety of exterior and interior materials to choose from, as well as the different pocket combination for your Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter and the colour of the elastic. More importantly, you can choose how many clips your Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter comes with. As an add on you can even have your name embroidered. Click here to configure your own, if you dare…

Mud suede and 3 clips

I opted to custom my own Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. I picked an A5 sized one, with the brown leather exterior and the mud suede interior. It comes with 3 clips, pocket combination 1 and is paired with the red elastic. I was waiting anxiously the moment I paid. It took about 3 weeks for my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter to arrive and it was beautiful.

After using my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter for about 3 months, I can say there are pros and cons to the system. The star of the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter system is the hinged clips that holds the notebooks inside the cover. It is strong enough to hold my A5 Hobonichi Techo with just one clip. The clips are that strong. What’s best is the clips can be removed if you do not require that many. The clips makes it easy to add and remove notebooks as you require. The exterior and interior materials that I’ve goes well together. However the edges of the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter isn’t buffed like more leather cover I’ve used. This leaves it with a little more rustic looking. The two ends of the cover are stitched together with a black elastic spine. This black elastic can stretch a little to accommodate thicker notebooks like the Hobonichi. Finally there is a red elastic that holds the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter close and a red pen loop stitched to the back cover.

Old setup of Hobonichi

My old setup of Hobonichi and Leuchtturm

The Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is a very well made notebook cover. My main complaint is the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is very thick and bulky even without any notebook loaded inside. This is compounded when I have a Hobonichi and other notebooks loaded in. Personally I would prefer if it was half the bulk. It might be due to the materials I picked or the Hobonichi is just too thick. I had initially wanted to have my A5 Rhodia Dot Pad live in one of the pockets but the backing cardboard is too wide to fit into the pocket. I’ve also picked up one of Roterfaden chapbooks to slip into its back pocket, that also didn’t fit. That made much less sense, I’d assume they would expect people to try to fit the chapbooks into their Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter right?c Finally, the pen loop is stitched on the outside of the cover so there is no protection for your pen. That’s really not much of an issue as long as you have the right pen in the loop.

After 3 months of use, the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter is holding up well and currently I am using it in rotation with another leather notebook cover. The flaws by themselves are not deal breakers especially when taking the clip system in account. Plus, it doesn’t require you buy and use only their house brand notebooks, this is a major plus in my opinion. It even takes some hard cover notebook like my Leuchtturm Bullet Journal. The Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter has its own set of pros and cons as with all other notebook cover. It is also not the cheapest option available too but it is one of the most versatile notebook holder I’ve seen out there.

My current setup is the A5 Hobonichi Techo on the first clip, a Muji line A5 notebook on the second clip and a Rhodia Dot Pad not attached to any clip or pocket. Finally I have a Pilot Vanishing Point on the pen loop. It’s a rather bulky setup but once I am done with my Hobonichi, it should slim the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter by a lot.

Update:
I’ve written this review 1 month ago. Since then I have switched to the Traveler’s Notebook system because I found myself hating the bulk of the Hobonichi as well as the Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. Though I have sold mine, it isn’t a knock against Roterfaden. I have my own quirks and hang-ups in the way I use my notebooks so what doesn’t work for me might be the perfect thing for you.

Pros:

  • Fits hardcover and softcover
  • Fits true A5 notebooks
  • Clips easy to use
  • Versatile

Cons:

  • Bulky even when empty
  • Not affordable
Posted on June 24, 2016 and filed under review, Stationary.

Review: Diamine Blue Lightning

This is my second Shimmertastic ink. Blue Lightning is a light blue - turquoise ink with silver dust. It shades well. It goes from a caribbean blue to a light turquoise. The silver dust isn’t very obvious. This is a nice ink even without the silver dust. Unlike Diamine Blue Pearl I didn’t think the silver dust enhanced the ink much. Do note that I had a hard time getting the TWSBI Mini 1.1 stub nib to write consistently with the nib.

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Posted on June 21, 2016 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Jinhao 599

The Numbers:
Weight: 17.8g
Length (capped): 137mm
Length (uncapped): 129mm
Price: $2 from Straits Pen
Body Material: Plastic
Nib Material: Stainless steel
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge and converter
Colours: Various

Intro:
I have purchased the Jinhao 599 on a whim when I visited one of Singapore’s local pen shop, Straits Pen. It was only SGD$2, why not? The Jinhao 599 is a Lamy Safari knock off made by Jinhao, a China pen manufacturer. The Jinhao 599 isn’t a complete copy of the Lamy Safari but the differences are way too minor to claim that it was merely inspired by the Lamy Safari.

Performance:
My Jinhao 599 is the clear amber version. At a quick glance, it might not ressemble a Safari because of the colour. However, it was quickly evident once you have a chance to examine it. The Jinhao 599 comes with a relatively tight silver clip that is attached to the cap. The cap pops off easily but at times it takes a very hard deliberate push to cap it.

The grip section has Lamy’s traditional triangular grip. Whatever problems you might have with Lamy’s moulded grip, you will still face the same with the Jinhao 599’s. The barrel sports the same ink window that the Lamy Safari has. This is where I feel Jinhao should have simply skipped the ink window so that users can eyedropper the pen instead. It is a clear pen after all. The barrel is flat on two sides but rounded on the other two. The brand “Jinhao” is embossed at the end of the barrel

The Jinhao 599 that costs a whooping whole $2 and it even came with a converter. The converter is even styled to look like the Lamy Z26 converter. One thing to note about the convertor. It might look like a standard international converter but the diameter of the opening of the converter is just ever so slightly different from the standard international converter. I’ve tried fitting a standard international converter into the pen but it wouldn’t take.

The Jinhao 599 comes with a tiny stainless steel nib that wrote surprisingly well. I’ve opted for a F nib, it isn’t a wet writer like the Jinhao X750 I reviewed previously. I throughly enjoyed the writing experience.

In general, the fit and finish of the Jinhao 599 cannot be compared to the Lamy Safari’s. The plastic feels cheap and thin in some areas. Plus, the body picks up micro scratches very easily and they are very visible. There are loose plastic that should have been removed during the manufacturing process. However, those are just very minor flaws. The overall construction of the Jinhao 599 is pretty decent with no sharp edges to affect the writing experience.

Conclusion:
As I have mentioned before, almost everyone would forgive a lot if the pen is cheap. For all the little flaws that the Jinhao 599 has, it stands up where it counts. The nib is smooth and great to write with. And for SGD$2 you get a converter and the pen, pens with price tags 100 times more might not even get you the converter along with the pen.

So in a bid to spread the love, I am giving away this pen. All you have to do is to tell me what do you enjoy other than fountain pens in the comments below. This giveaway is open to local and international readers. The giveaway will close in 23rd June.

Pros:

  • Super affordable
  • Great writing experience

Cons:

  • Feels cheap
  • Inferior fit and finish
Posted on June 17, 2016 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.