Review: Graf von Faber-Castell Intuition Platino Wood Grendilla

The Numbers:
Weight: 52g
Length (capped): 132mm
Length (uncapped): 123mm
Body Material: Wood and metal
Nib Material: 18k gold
Filling Mechanism: Cartridge / converter
Colours: Brown or black wood

Intro:
My thanks to Louisa for lending me this pen. I’ve been eyeing this particular pen ever since I had a chance to try it out a long while back when Louisa first got the pen. Leave it to Graf von Faber-Castell to work so well with wood as a material. They are one company that consistently incorporate wood as a material in their standard pen line up. Remember the Ondoro I reviewed a long time ago?

Packaging: Graf von Faber-Castell is a premium fountain pen brand and it shows in their packaging. The wooden box looks deceptively simple. The logo of Graf von Faber-Castell is printed in a silver tastefully small size on the top of the lid. Lifting the lid, you will see a white bed with space enough for 3 pens. It’s elegant and classy. The box can easily fit onto anyone’s table and double up as a small 3 pen box. Weirdly, the pen doesn’t come in the wooden box. It comes in a cardboard box separate from the packaging itself. Regardless, I really love the way the wooden box looks and feels. This is one of the best packaging out there.

Performance:
The Graf von Faber-Castell Intuition Platino Wood (from here onwards referred to the Intuition Platino) comes in 3 colours namely the Grendilla, Ebony and Pernambuco. The first two are still available from retailer but the last will be way harder to find brand new pieces.

The Intuition Platino has a long shiny silver cap, a finger print magnet for sure. The clip is prominent and has a spring hinge for easily clipping. The top of the cap features the Graf von Faber-Castell logo. The words “Graf von Faber-Castell and Handmade in Germany” are etched at the other end of the cap. The cap can be posted to the end of the pen but it will cause the pen to be back heavy.

The snap on cap pops off easily and closes with a satisfying click. More on the cap later. There is no centre band on the pen because the barrel is a seamless single piece of fluted wood. At the end of the barrel is a ridged silver twisting mechanism that released the converter and nib unit from the barrel.

The wood barrel feels very nice to the touch. There is the additional nice touch of a tapering of the barrel towards the nib then it flares slightly before the nib. It forms a natural grip section for your fingers to rest on. I really appreciate this part of the design. The 18k bi-colour nib is nice and large and it compliments with the size of the pen. The scroll work on the nib is one of the prettiest I’ve seen in a while.

Now the special thing about the pen is the twisting mechanism at the end of the barrel. Twist that knob, the nib section with converter rises from the barrel. Once the entire section is freed from the barrel you can pull it free to wash or refill the ink as required. Once you have completed your task, re-insert the converter and nib unit back into the barrel and turn in the opposite direction. The nib will move back to its original position. This is certainly one smart way to prevent ink from staining the wood barrel by totally moving the operation away from the barrel itself.

Now the writing experience itself is a total joy. I love the EF nib a lot, really a lot. Can you tell there is a big fat but coming? BUT the ink is constantly drying up in the nib even though the cap is capped on properly. Sometimes it hard starts, other times it dries up so much that it causes feathering on ink and paper combination that has never has this problem before. This is one serious flaw.

Personally, I think the buyer has the right to be picky, more so for a pen of this price. It is retailing for £695 on Cult Pens. This isn’t a cheap pen, yes it writes flawlessly. Actually one of the best EF writing experience I’ve ever tried but this one flaw is a real deal breaker for me.

One other flaw that Louisa has encountered is the twisting mechanism sticking. Through her own experiments she has concluded the mechanism is highly sensitive to temperature. It takes about a week in standard non-air conditioned Singapore weather for the mechanism to get stuck. Sometimes she has to “cool” down the mechanism just so that she can twist it.

Conclusion:
I started my journey with this pen as one that is on my to buy list. I ended it with disappointment, utter disappointment. This is supposed to be a premium fountain pen and it looks for all the world to be one. It writes like one as well. However, the hard starts and ink drying up is a big no go for me. Add the sticking mechanism makes this pen out of the question for me. My wallet is definitely thanking me though.

Pros:

  • Wonderful writing experience
  • That wooden box!
  • Beautiful wood barrel
  • Interesting mechanism

Cons:

  • Hard starts
  • Drying ink though capped properly
Posted on October 20, 2017 and filed under Fountain Pen, review.

Review: Baron Fig Archer Pencils (Prismatic)

My thanks to Baron Fig for sending me the limited edition Prismatic Archer Pencils for review.

Baron Fig is mostly known to me for their paper products but they had launched a whole slew of non-paper products since. Among them are the Baron Fig Archer pencils. I was sent the Prismatic, they are the limited edition set of Archer pencils.

I love the packaging of the Prismatic pencils. It comes in a tube of 12 pencils with a mix of red, blue and yellow pencils. The lead grade is the same for all the pencils, it’s just a difference of exterior colours. The traditional smell of a wood cased pencil brings back memories of my school days. I’ll be the first to admit I am absolutely a novice when it comes to pencils. My experience with pencils are only limited to the my primary school years before I was allowed to use the dreaded ballpoint pen and later the occasional art lessons in my secondary school. In Singapore the common grade of pencil kids use is the 2B. Comparing my experience of the standard 2B pencils, the Prismatic feels harder and crisper. I think the lead grade is probably on the H spectrum of things.

Here’s link to find out more about the different grades of pencil leads.

I’ve accidentally done a drop test on my entire tube of Baron Fig Prismatic pencils by scattering the entire box onto the floor upon opening it. Totally my fault but I feared the lead would have break inside the wood case. However so far, I’ve sharpened and sharpened my pencils I’ve yet to encounter a single break in the lead. This is definitely a vastly superior pencil compared to the old 2B pencils I’ve used back in school.

The pencil is light, well comparing it with any fountain pen or regular gel ink pen, it will always be light. It provides a very tactile writing experience that can be missing in some fountain pens. The tell tale scratching of a pencil across the page can be really pleasant to the ears. I’ve been using the pencil for all my writing needs for an entire week and it performed very well. The pencil marks hardly smudge even running my finger through it, that’s important for a lefty. Using a regular Pental eraser, the marks can be remove cleanly and without much fuss.

I won’t say Baron Fig Prismatic pencils have made a pencil lover out of me but it has definitely open my eyes to the world of pencils. Baron Fig pencils are not just simply pencils but pencils made with intent and a guiding design philosophy. Aesthetically, they stand out with the bright colours on the pencils and packaging. These pencils are available on the Baron Fig site at USD$15 for a dozen pencils. Definitely on the pricey end of things, when you factor in international shipping but these are quality goods.

Posted on October 13, 2017 and filed under review, Stationary.

Review: Nock Co A5 Notebook

Nock Co A5 notebooks were launched as part of Nock Co’s Lanier Briefcase Kickstarter’s stretch goal. I didn’t back the Kickstarter for the briefcase but I did jump on the chance when the option was open for the notebooks only. It took a while but I got the notebooks in my hands since late May this year. Then I got bogged down with reviews for other products, it was only recently I broke one out for a test drive. My idea of a test drive is usually a trip with it with friends at a mini pen meet. There, any notebook will be put through its paces via juicy, broad nibs and wet inks.

Normally, Nock Co paper products are usually top bound or loose. The Nock Co A5 notebook is the first that breaks this mould. The notebook comes in a pack of 3 and retails at USD$15. It is A5 sized and triple side stapled bound. The exterior is a 100# French Paper Co. Chipboard Kraft with the Nock Co logo embossed on the bottom. I like that branding is so subtle and unobtrusive. Inside is 48 pages of 90 gsm 60# white paper with the Nock Co’s DotDash format in brown.

Nock Co’s DotDash is something unique to them as far as I know. It’s a hybrid between the dot grid that I love and the standard grid format I prefer for my to do lists. Somehow it provides the illusion of having lines to write on but breaks it enough to allow me to ignore them at the same time. It’s really hard to describe. The A5 size is a tried and true format. Personally, as a lefty I like the Traveler’s Notebook regular size because of its narrowness but the A5 is my next favourite format. The notebook is great as an everyday carry beater notebook. It’s not something you might want to baby like say a Baron Fig Confidant. It’s something for daily use in the rough tumble of life.

The paper is certainly fountain pen friendly. I’ve tried it with a friend’s Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal in B. Visconti nibs by themselves are pretty wet writers, having it in B is really overkill for me. Then it’s inked with KWZ Turquoise, which if I am not wrong is a lubricated ink. Imagine my surprise when the paper stood up to the juicy B nib just fine. No feathering, no bleed through just some ghosting visible from the other side of the page. The ghosting can be a little hard to see past if that’s something that irks you. One of the pen and ink combination that had a little trouble with bleed through was my Montblanc Heritage 1912 EF with Robert Oster Signature Blue Water Ice. I suspect the sharpness of the EF nib was the culprit than anything else.

Overall, USD$15 for a pack of 3 can be a little pricey for non-US buyers especially once you factor in international shipping costs. However, if you buy one, I am sure the notebook will stand up to the test.

Posted on October 6, 2017 and filed under paper, review.

Review: De Atramentis Myrrh (Scented)

My thanks to Glenn for the ink sample.

De Atramentis Myrrh is a bright turquoise blue ink that’s scented to smell like the Myrrh plant. Hence, the name. I love the brightness of the ink. It’s a happy colour that pops off the page. It’s a decent shading ink as well, going from a deep royal blue to a bright turquoise. I think this ink rivals Pilot Iroshizuku Kon Peki. I must say I’ve been overlooking De Atramentis inks on the whole. Now I plan to rectify that.

Similar Inks:

Posted on September 29, 2017 and filed under Ink, review.

Review: Baron Fig Confidant - Flagship (Metamorphosis)

My thanks to Baron Fig for sending me the Confidant Flagship Metamorphosis for review.

I’ve reviewed the Baron Fig Confidant in the Pocket size a few weeks ago. I had basically praised their paper quality but found issues with their choice of having a fabric exterior.

The main difference between the Pocket and the Flagship is the size. The Flagship is basically the A5 size, though slightly smaller. The Metamorphosis is one of Baron Fig’s limited edition Flagship model. Thus, it has a radically different exterior and bookmark colour. The peach fabric exterior is a nice soft colour that’s not too girly. Personally I never enjoy the pastel pink sort of colour but that’s my personal preference. The bright blue bookmark stands out well against the peach exterior. It comes in a box with a similar colour scheme. The colour scheme continues on the inside with a custom graphic art.

I love the colour combination Baron Fig had picked for this particular release. It’s different and it definitely stands out from the crowd. However, my complain about the fabric cover still stands. I took it out for one pen meet and it came home stained. The peach exterior makes stains stand out more than the regular grey ones. The paper quality is similar to the ones I’ve tested in the Pocket size and the Mastermind.

The Metamorphosis comes in only one size with 192 pages of fountain pen friendly paper. It’s available either via Baron Fig’s website or via their subscription. However Baron Fig have terminated their subscription services a while back. It seems that this particular limited edition Flagship is still available on Baron Fig. Retailing at USD$20, I think it is a pretty good deal but do factor in shipping costs if you are not residing in the US.

Posted on September 22, 2017 and filed under paper, review.

Review: Baron Fig Nomad

My thanks to Baron Fig for sending me the Nomad for review.

Post-It notes is something that is very common in offices all over the world. However, from my experience, the ubiquitous yellow sticky paper do not work all that great with our beloved fountain pens. That’s where the Baron Fig Nomad shines! The Nomad is a sticky note pad made specifically to be fountain pen friendly.

It comes in a pack of 3. Each 3” by 3” (7.62cm by 7.62cm) pad has 70 sheets. It is neither yellow nor plain. It’s the same off white dot grid paper that can be found in the Baron Fig paper products. Though visually the paper used is exactly the same as the one used in other Baron Fig paper products, I found it performs slightly poorer than in the Confidant, Vanguard and Mastermind. It is more likely to suffer from bleed through. In terms of feathering, it is on par with the 3 other Baron Fig products that I’ve reviewed so far. Personally, I don’t think the bleed through is a major issue. I do not use the back side of any regular sticky note and these notes are meant to be disposable anyway. A little bleed through in my sticky note is hardly a major issue.

It functions exactly like a regular sticky note. The stickiness of the paper is just right to hold on to surfaces and not leave a mark after being removed. However, I found the note prefers glass like surfaces over laminated wood. It adheres to another surface easily enough when I re-arrange my sticky notes.

A pack of 3 pads comes in at USD$8, personally I found it a little pricey. Maybe that’s because I do not use any sticky notes on a regular basis and this isn’t something I have been needing in my day to day life. I dare say if you are someone who depends a lot on sticky notes, the Nomad will be a better investment for you. For me, I will be sticking (pun unintended.) to my random scraps of paper.

Posted on September 15, 2017 and filed under paper, review.