Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens: 1.5 mm, 2.4 mm, 3.8 mm

At some point, I think every avid stationery fan looks at their handwriting and wonders, how can I improve this? For myself, I have been curious about and awestruck by calligraphy. Since there are many entry level calligraphy pens on the market (depending on your idea of entry level anyway), I really did not know what to pick. Fortunately I follow Gentian who is obviously a calligraphy master so I had a little chat with her about the pros and cons of various calligraphy pens. I was considering the following:
In the end, I selected the Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens!
Pilot Parallels
Stickers label the nib sizes. Don't lose them!
Pilot Parallel Nibs
Very cool nibs though.
Pilot Parallel Nibs
The packaging is very simple, not that you would expect much for $12.00 apiece. Along with the pen, you get two Pilot ink cartridges, a metal cartridge for flushing the pen (not for filling with ink - it may not produce a tight seal enough to prevent leakage!), a nib plate cleaner, and a little set of instructions and an introductory guide to calligraphy. In fact, for the price, this is a lot of stuff. The guide has proven to be more useful to me than many calligraphy books I have looked at! It's simple and straightforward, just what this beginner user needs.
Pilot Parallel Guides
The guide is great and simple!
Pilot Parallel Nib Cleaner
Nib plate cleaner.
Pilot Parallel
The rest of the parcel.
The Pilot Parallel pens are all kind of cheap/thin-feeling plastic, except for the metal plates that make up the nib. Again, for the price, I expected this and it does not make the pen write badly! Therefore, I overlooked this in my decision process. They are long pens that taper to a rounded point at the back, and have a threaded cap with a little wing on them. I'm not sure why they are so long, and it kind of annoys me when I'm trying to fit them into my pencil case, but it does not affect the pen's weight for writing. The cap cannot be posted, but the length of the pen compensates for that.
Pilot Parallel Tops
Very pretty pens! es. I have ink all over my fingers and somehow, on my hand.
Ink flow in these pens is good, consistent, and wet. It doesn't flow too much, and seems to be well adjusted for when the nib is in contact with paper. I love wet fountain pens! The ink flow of these is ideal for my tastes.
Pilot Parallel Tip
Close up of the detail. 
A very interesting feature of these pens, and something that helped convince me to pick these over the other choices, is that the ink can be blended from pen to pen to produce a very neat and unique gradient. Instructions to do this are on the pamphlet, but basically, you take two pens and touch the nibs together to transfer ink. The resulting gradient is really neat.
Pilot Parallel Lines
Check out the gradient! It's not very exciting with just red and black but you can get this awesome pack of mixable colors!
Another nice feature of these pens is that you can use the nib as per usual to achieve lines of 1.5 mm, 2.4 mm, or 3.8 mm. You can also turn the nib on its side and use the corners to draw very thin, delicate lines. To be able to have thick calligraphy lines and thin little lines from the same nib is really cool. This is another thing that convinced me to pick these pens over the others.
Pilot Parallel Side
Side view. 
Apparently the Pilot CON-20 and Pilot CON-50 converters will fit this pen. I do not have a Pilot CON-50 to test this out with, but I do have a Pilot CON-20, and it fits just like the cartridges.
Pilot Parallel Converter
A CON-20 converter will allow you to refill with any of your own inks!
To play around, I followed the guide that came with the pens. It's very easy to understand and straight forward - just what I needed. At first, I just messed around to get used to the pen, the ink flow, and the nib. Then I settled down and took me time and concentrated. Despite my best efforts, I still produced choppy letters that were uneven and not uniform. Practice makes perfect, I hope. It sure is fun to look at the page after and think, I did that?? Even if it's not perfect, it's still really cool.
Pilot Parallel Samples
Please don't laugh. I was trying. 
I have learned that good quality paper can improve the performance of these pens. They write okay on "normal" paper, although the ink feathers and bleeds because it's so wet. With smooth, ink tolerant paper, the lines are crisper and cleaner, and the overall look of the lettering is superior - in this case, I used my Rhodia Reverse Book.
Pilot Parallel Practice
Kinda pretty...
Pilot Parallel Practice
Wow. What a disaster. And a failure.
Pilot Parallel Practice
A wee bit better, right? I did some letters with the flat of the nib, and others with the side (hairline letters).
Pilot Parallel Practice
It looks cooler in person, I swear.
Pilot Parallel Practice
I had fun doing the last set of letters!
Pilot Parallel Gothic
I have to work on consistency and uniformity. And alignment.
Pilot Parallel Gothic
Yeah... still needs a lot of practice. 
Pilot Parallel Italic
Italic... pretty and fairly simple.
Pilot Parallel Gothic
Gothic was more difficult and more time consuming, and clearly needs the most work. 
Parallel Reviews (See what I did there? So clever.)
AltecGreen via FPN
Diana Trout

JetPens - $12.00

I am very happy with these calligraphy pens. I think they are so easy to use, easy to clean pens that produce lovely, clean lines. In my opinion, they are a good price for all the things you get in each package, and for what you can do with them. I highly recommend these to beginner calligraphers, although I suspect there are a lot of professional calligraphers who would recommend these as well, especially given their price point. I am going to pick up the 6.0mm Parallel pen as soon as possible.

**A portion of these pens were purchased using a generous sponsorship by JetPens, but all opinions are my own! (Even if I wasn't sponsored, I'd have bought them anyway!)

Whiskers & Paws: June 2012 Edition

Hiding on a cat tree.
Well don't you just blend in!
Eyeballing me from atop the cat tree. Where she is "safe" from my kisses.
Crazed Bengal...with walrus whiskers.
He loves when people are on the floor with him. Note the bits of catnip around him.
Who, me?
Peaches & Koa
Observing nothing in particular. 
Peaches & Koa
While Kevin was moving the bookshelf, Koa climbed from the cat tree on to the top shelf, then managed to get to the second shelf, and proceeded to try and climb onto the shutters. 
Big green eyes!
Ellie Catnipped
Not catnipped, just oblivious.
Obliviousness is stressful. Must relax. 
Ellie & Tyco
Snuggles. They can be found like this quite often. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Hamster Gym

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Shades of Tuesday

Miquel Rius Red Soft Bound Journal
A Miquel Rius red soft bound journal (300 page), Pentel EnerGel gel ink pen, Martha Stewart calligraphy pen (don't laugh), PaperMate InkJoy 300RT ballpoint pen, Pilot Parallel calligraphy pen in 1.5 mm, Pilot Hi-Tec-C, and a Pentel Slicci 0.7 mm

You can acquire a Pentel EnerGel of your very own here, which you SHOULD. Because this pen is fabulous, a Pilot Parallel calligraphy pen in a 1.5 mm nib here, an assortment of Pilot Hi-Tec-C colors here, and an assortment of Pentel Sliccis here. I love coordinating colors. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Giveaway at JetPens

What kind of pen aficionado are you? A collector? A researcher? Check out JetPens's new blog post to find out. I'm actually still trying to figure out what I am... is it possible that I'm a little bit of each? I think they call that an indecisive disaster. 

You can comment and let JetPens know what kind of aficionado you are, and be entered to win a $25 gift certificate!

Mailbox Goodies: Postcards, Pens & Drawings

This set of mailbox goodies is pretty exciting - it's quite a variety of things and it's all super stuff! Plus, this all arrived on the SAME DAY.
Nattosoup Postcard
Check out this awesome artistic postcard by Rebecca of Nattosoup! It's so cool and such a great idea to have your own postcard! If you haven't checked out Nattosoup and you like art, you definitely should check out her blog. Her art is super cute and makes me jealous because I can't draw. Thank you for the postcard Rebecca!
Mia's Postcard
This beautiful postcard is by Mia - once again, making me super jealous because I can't draw (or paint). But this pretty hummingbird at least makes me smile! I didn't even tell Mia this, but hummingbirds are one of my favorite creatures. Check out more of Mia's art on her blog! Thank you for the postcard Mia! 
Zebra Regal
Millicent noticed I was missing some orange pens in one of my Shades of Tuesday posts... I'd have to agree, I needed more orange. She kindly sent me these awesome Zebra Regal pens! I'm tinkering around with them for a review and they're really nice. Thank you Millicent!
Drawing Book
My sweet husband surprised me with this book after Shangching showed it to me a few days before. It was only $10 and it's the only way I can figure out how to draw things - by following guides (and even then, I am still terrible, but maybe with practice, I will improve). Isn't it super cute?
Drawing Book
The best panda ever.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

June 24. 2012 - Sunday Reads

My Ever Growing Wishlist...
Photography/Awesome Things
  • This Sensu brush for the iPad is super cool, and is a compelling reason to get an iPad. I suspect Kevin will disagree with me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Beginner Fountain Pens

The first fountain pen I bought was a Parker Latitude in stainless steel. It was actually pretty good as a beginner fountain pen although a little more expensive than I was expecting ($90 when I purchased it in Winnipeg).

I've had a few people ask what is a good beginner's fountain pen so I thought I would do a quick and easy round up of several suggested beginner fountain pens. In my opinion, it should be no more than $35, it should not require any tweaking to get it to work the first time, and it should be easy to find and work with! JetPens has a section for beginner fountain pens, where you can find all of these.

Which one you pick will depend on whether you want a disposable pen or not (although I'd personally recommend you get one that can be refilled with a converter - less waste!), what kind of nib you like, and whether you prefer a plastic or metal body. At this price range, the nibs are steel and the bodies are plastic. Nothing wrong with either of those - it's just about your taste and writing style. The best way to learn what you like is to try out pens in a store if you can, or better yet, at a pen show!

Pilot Varsity - Disposable - $3.00
Pentel Pulaman JM20 - Disposable - $3.30
Platinum Preppy - $3.30
Pilot Vpen - Disposable - $3.80
Pilot Plumix - Italic - $7.25
Pelikan P67A Pelikano - $11.50
Sailor Clear Candy - $16.50
Sailor HighAce Neo - $16.50
Pelikan P480M Pelikano - $18.40
Lamy Safari - $26.00
Lamy ABC - $23.00
Lamy Nexx - $23.00
Kaweco Classic Sport - $23.50 - $26.50
I haven't used all of the pens on this list. The ones I have used and are my personal favorites are the Lamy Safari, the Kaweco Classic Sport, and the Pilot Plumix.

I like the Lamy Safari because they come in a range of fun colors and different nib sizes. The nibs are easily interchangeable, and you can even get calligraphy nibs for it. They come with an ink cartridge and once you pop that into place, they write straight out of the box (with a cartridge or converter of course), and I've never had a problem with a Lamy pen to this day. The steel nib is hard and will give you uniform writing and reminds me very much of the Uni-ball Signo gel pens - ranging from a 0.38mm nib for the extra-fine fountain pen nib, all the way up to 0.7mm which mimics a broader fountain pen nib. The overall appearance of the Lamy Safari is fun and exciting and reminds me of candy, not unlike the colors of these Uni-ball Signos!

The Kaweco Classic Sport is great because it's a smaller, compact, and more portable pen than the Lamy Safari is. You can buy Kaweco nib units separately as well, including calligraphy nibs, so you can have one pen and several nibs for it. Kaweco nibs are great quality, and write very nicely straight from the box. There are also several fun colors available - while the design of the Kaweco Classic Sport is a little more reserved than the Safaris, the Ice Sport is saucier than the Classics! If you want to really splurge on a yummy Kaweco, check out the AC Sport Carbon fountain pen. This one is on my wishlist!

The Pilot Plumix is another one of my favorites because it has the most affordable italic nib fountain pen I have found. While the body is not outstanding in terms of appearance or comfort, the flat italic nib is great to write with and it adds some spice to one's penmanship! It's amazing how awesome an italic nib can make your writing look! The blue body is my favorite.

I really want to try the Sailor Clear Candy because it comes in such a delicious array of colors, and I hear Sailor makes great nibs!

Anyone out there who feels the same, or differently about any of these pens? What are your favorite "beginner" fountain pens?
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GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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