June 13, 2014

PPF 54: Made in Taiwan

Happy PPF, friends! I'm not a big fan of plastic pens, but there's something about the TWSBI 580RB that grabs me. Its predecessor, the 540 ROC, was a celebration of Taiwan's 100th anniversary (ROC = Republic of China). As with the prior model, the color scheme and the symbol on the cap are from the Taiwanese flag.

It feels surprisingly substantial. It's large -- over 5.5" capped -- and features an integrated piston filler, an enormous ink capacity, and a big, smooth, shiny steel nib. TWSBI, pronounced "TWIZ-bee," had some trouble with the 540 cracking over time; I hope the enhancements made to the 580 are effective fixes. I'll be wicked sad if this one cracks.




TWSBI 580RB


June 6, 2014

PPF 53: Least Funky of the Funky Bunch


Happy PPF!  Folks, Italian designer PARAFERNALIA makes some funky looking pens.  The petite AL 115 is as close to mundane as they get, but it's no Bic Stic.  

It works well as a svelte pocket pen -- it's about the size of a long cigarette -- and it has a durable, anodized aluminum body.  It is a ballpoint, but it takes a Schmidt 700 refill; that's a nice, smooth, dark option as ballpoints go.  I wish they hadn't gone with the cheap plastic parts on the ends, but other than that I like this pen.  It's available in a rainbow of colors, but I went with gray because I'm prone to bad decisions.

PARAFERNALIA AL 115

May 30, 2014

PPF 52: Liberation Groove

Happy Pen Porn Friday! I regret my color choice (as I often do), but Tactile Turn's Mover is still my new favorite pocket pen. It works with 20+ different refills; I've used it to liberate a Pilot Juice that deserves better than the cheap plastic barrel in which it came.

Tactile Turn Mover - Desert Sand

May 16, 2014

PPF 50: Pencil of My Dreams Edition

Happy Pen(cil) Porn Friday!  Sometimes you need a pencil, but those need not be unpleasant experiences.  The Rotring 600 is a legend among drafting pencils, and a fine looking one at that. 

Rotring 600 (modern) 0.5 mm

November 14, 2013

PPF 48: Reward of Uniquity

Happy PPF! Turns out my Tornado costume eked out a narrow victory in the Retro 51 Halloween costume contest, so the good folks at Retro 51 let me pick a one-of-a-kind Tornado (best. prize. ever.)!  I picked the Wavy Orange Groove writer, and boy is it a looker. I thought it was going to be orange and white, but the white bits are actually a striated silver. I love it!

Retro 51 Wavy Orange Groove Writer

November 8, 2013

PPF 47: Discontinuation Blues

I don't remember where I first heard about the Pilot Explorer -- though my money's on either The Pen Addict or Good Pens -- but it was already too late.  It must have been ahead of its time: too out of step with the stick pens and questionable color pallets of the 80s and 90s.  It wasn't even that they had become so hard to find that they were going for $100 on eBay and I wouldn't do it -- they weren't on eBay.  I couldn't find one anywhere.

I pined for months before it showed up: one unopened 2-pack of Pilot Explorers.  They were in New Zealand and had to be purchased through a site I'd never heard of, but the retailer took Paypal and only wanted $7 for them -- totally worth the risk.  Eventually, they came!  I have them!  They go great with leaves.


For what were intended to be disposable office pens, these are kind of amazing.  They have fairly hefty, thick barrels and surprisingly comfortable molded grips reminiscent of the famed Lamy Safari.  Design aside, they seem to have been some of the first widely distributed fine-tipped modern pens, which earned them a permanent spot in the hearts of many.

The only thing I don't like about these is knowing there's little hope for replacing or refilling them.  As Patrick at A Pen A Day put it, "I like this one so much I don't want to use it."

November 1, 2013

PPF 46: Fountain Pen Day

Happy PPF and happy Fountain Pen Day!  The official Fountain Pen Day website describes the holiday as an occasion to "embrace, promote, and share fountain pens and the handwritten arts."  Pen Porn Friday is, I suppose, an occasion to enjoy gratuitous images of writing instruments for no higher purpose than personal enjoyment.  So, embrace your inner pen gawker!  Promote and share when you're ready.  This is a safe space.

Hey, look -- a pen!  It's the Muji Aluminum Fountain Pen, which is one a heck of a pleasant surprise at $15.50.  It looked to me like another great example of Muji's simple, beautiful, affordable designs, but it's a great writer, too.  The build quality is impressive; it feels solid overall, but certainly not heavy, and no rattly parts.  That little ridge on the bottom of the cap lets it post firmly on the end of the pen, which has a tiny round slot for it on the end of the barrel.  It uses international standard cartridges, which are easy to find.

It's a great buy if you're up for spending $15 on a pen (live a little!), but good luck getting off the Muji website without several other items jumping in your cart.

Muji Aluminum Fountain Pen

October 25, 2013

PPF 45: Campy Vacation Edition

Happy PPF!  Folks, when you tell people that you like pens, they tend to assume that you hate mediocre pens. This has always seemed curious to me since I just said that I like pens. 

Thankfully kids seem immune from whatever self-conscious impulse triggers that response. So when my nephew spotted this souvenir pen, he was excited to show it to me even through his nonchalant, "yo check this out" demeanor.  I happily purchased it despite the fact that it's a stick (heh) pen with no top. And they say kids are impressionable. 


Not an awful buy for $3.99; it's a fairly smooth ballpoint with some weight to it, BUT NO TOP. Seriously, wtf. 

Prior to this find, I'd selected another souvenir pen. This style is available roughly everywhere; the pens usually retail for $1.99 and they're awful, sub-Bic writers. This one happened to fit with the "pen porn" theme, though it might be a little too wacka-chicka for me.