Awesome Grad Gifts for 2014

It’s time for all of the toil and hard work to finally pay off for the new group of 2014 graduates! If you’d like to wish them success in their future endeavors by giving them a graduation gift what should you give? We thought about a few of the student personalities we know and came up with some suggestions for you:

The 18 Going On 30

Rhodia Leatherette Pad Holder with Notepad, LAMY Safari Fountain Pen, Aston Leather Single Pen Case.

Got a future business tycoon on your hands? Let him/her look the part while they wait for their age to catch up! We love the all-black theme of this gift, but these items come in brighter colors as well.

The College Bound

The 5 Book, Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen.

Take some stress off your freshmen and help them get organized. The first year of college can be overwhelming and this book can be a helpful guide to setting life goals and making a long term plan. The classy, yet affordable, Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is the perfect tool for writing down thoughts and goals.

The Socialite

Bob’s Your Uncle 8 Days a Week Planner, Preppy Fountain Pen Set, Ple Ple Pen Wrap.

For the social butterfly, summer is the busiest time of the year! Your Grad will never have a dull moment this summer and will be able to plan their brunch dates, movie nights, and beach trips down to the hour. Color code activities with a set of Preppy pens and carry them in a fun and convenient Ple Ple pen wrap.

The Artist

Brause Calligraphy Gift Set and a Clairefontaine Calligraphy Art Pad.

Give your student a classic and hip way of expressing their creativity! Introducing your student to calligraphy can give them a skill that will stand the test of time.

The World Traveler

Rhodia Webnotepad, LAMY Pico Pen.

For the organized nomad, these pocket sized items are easy to travel with and great for note taking, list making, and sketching. A great place to jot down how to say “where is the restroom” in multiple languages for reference when in a pinch!

The Indecisive

Gift Certificate – For the impossible to shop for…and everyone loves a gift card!

What gift will you buy to congratulate the Grad in your life?

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How to Change the Nib on a LAMY Fountain Pen – Part 2

Quite some time ago we gave you a simple tutorial on how to change the nib on your LAMY fountain pen using plastic tape: http://reviews.shopwritersbloc.com/fountain-pens/how-to-replace-the-nib-on-a-lamy-fountain-pen.html

Why would you ever want to change the nib on your LAMY fountain pen? Perhaps you want to change the nib size of your pen. Or, if you’re clumsy like me, maybe you damaged your nib. Steel LAMY fountain pen nibs happen to come in a variety of sizes and are reasonably priced.

Using the tape method to change your nib works quite well if the nib is pretty dry, but what if the pen is inked and the nib is very wet? If this is the case, tape will not adhere to the nib very well making this method a bit difficult. There is another simple method we’d like to tell you about using a small piece of rubbery drawer/shelf liner, or super wide rubber band or something similar.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen and a piece of rubbery drawer liner

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen and a piece of rubbery drawer liner

Use the rubber drawer liner to grip the very end of the nib and gently pull it straight off the feed of your LAMY fountain pen. You might need the fold the rubber drawer liner in half to get a better grip. Sometimes the nib is quite tight so you’ll need a firm grip to remove it.

Grab the end of the nib firmly with the rubber drawer liner.

Grab the end of the nib firmly with the rubber drawer liner.

If you accidentally pull the feed out of the pen along with the nib no need to worry. Use your rubber drawer liner to grab the tip of the nib and another piece of the rubber drawer liner (or maybe even a paper towel or cloth) to grab the feed and then pull them apart. If you look carefully you’ll see that the LAMY Safari fountain pen has a small groove inside the barrel to help direct you to put the feed back in the pen in the correct direction. The flattest side of the feed where the nib fits faces “up” should point toward the top of the triangular ergonomic grip of the pen.

Gently pull the nib straight off of the feed.

Gently pull the nib straight off of the feed.

Once you get the nib off of the feed it is even easier to get a new nib back on. Be sure to line up the side edges of the steel nib with the grooves on the back of the feed that are designed to hold the nib in place. Push the new nib on gently to prevent any damage to the feed or the nib.

Voila! The nib has been removed from the pen

Voila! The nib has been removed from the pen

I took these pictures of a friend trying this for the very first time. She had a little trouble using the rubber liner to get a good grip on the tiny end of the nib, but other than that the whole procedure was quick and simple. How do you like to change the nibs on your LAMY fountain pens? Do you have any tips you’d like to share?

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Monteverde Cartridge Refill for LAMY Fountain Pens Review

(Monteverde Ink Cartridges for LAMY Fountain PensBurgundy)

Monteverde took it upon themselves to broaden the selection of ink cartridge refills available for LAMY fountain pens by creating their own version of a LAMY T10 ink cartridge.

The ink inside these cartridges features Monteverde’s Ink Treatment Formula that is described as offering the following benefits:

  • Drastically improves ink-flow quality
  • Extends cap-off time
  • Automatically cleans fountain pen feeders
  • Lubricates and protects the ink feeding system from corrosion and clogging
  • Improves ink drying time on paper

LAMY produces T10 ink cartridges in only seven colors including black, blue washable, blue-black, turquoise, red, violet, and green. Monteverde’s LAMY-compatible ink cartridge lineup includes eleven colors: black, blue, blue-black, turquoise, red, purple, green, brown, burgundy, fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow.

(LAMY Safari with a calligraphy nib)

Pick up a LAMY Safari with a calligraphy nib and some Monteverde fluorescent orange or yellow ink cartridges and you’ve got yourself a long-lasting highlighter pen. I personally really like Monteverde’s highlighting ink colors because in my opinion they are softer than some of the screaming bright highlighter inks out there.

(Monteverde Fluorescent Yellow Highlighting Ink Sample)

We noticed a very interesting feature of these Monteverde ink cartridges: one end of the cartridge fits into LAMY fountain pens and the other end fits into fountain pens that take standard international ink cartridges. These cartridges are longer than your usual standard international ink cartridge though, so due to their extra length they will not fit inside the barrel some fountain pens that use this type of cartridge.

Here is a photo of my blue Plumink fountain pen (left) and my lime green LAMY Safari fountain pen (right). They both are using the exact same Monteverde cartridge refills (which happen to be almost empty when I took this photo). If you look closely you can see that the exposed ends of these cartridges are different, depending on if the cartridge is installed in a standard international refill pen or a LAMY T10 refill pen. Dual purpose ink refills!

So far I’ve been very happy with this ink and it has been well behaved on the paper and in pens that I have used. Have you used Monteverde ink refills for LAMY fountain pens? If so, what do you think of them? Have you tried using them in fountain pens that use standard international refills?

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What is a Fountain Pen Converter?

(Aurora push-in style piston fountain pen converter)

Those of you that are new to using fountain pens or want to purchase your very first fountain pen may have heard of fountain pen converters but might not know what they are. Do you need one? Should you get one?

Fountain pen converters are designed to be used with fountain pens that are usually filled with ink cartridges. They “convert” these fountain pens from using ink cartridges to using bottled ink instead. The converter has a small reservoir that contains the ink.

The converter can be removed from the fountain pen, so you can still use ink cartridges if you choose. I personally feel that using bottled ink is advantageous because it is cheaper, comes in a wider variety of colors and is easier on the environment (as opposed to throwing away multiple plastic ink cartridges when they become empty). However, ink cartridges are definitely more convenient when you’re on the road.

Push-in style fountain pen converters are pushed on to the nib section of the pen, the same way an ink cartridge would be pushed on to the pen. Screw-in style converters screw on to the nib section of the pen. A previous blog post of ours How to Install a LAMY Converter provides photos and a description of how to attach a push-in style converter to a LAMY Safari fountain pen

(A standard or universal piston converter compared to LAMY and Platinum piston converters)

Many converters are brand-specific, in other words, they are specially made to fit a particular brand or model of fountain pen. Other converters are standard, or universal, and fit the many fountain pens with a standard or universal cartridge filling system. It is often easiest to figure out what kind of converter you need at the time you purchase your fountain pen.

Fountain pen converters have several different types of filling systems including piston, button, and squeeze (aerometric) fill. If you’re having trouble filling your converter with ink you may have to try filling it 2 or 3 times before you get the air bubbles out and get a good fill. How to Fill a Fountain Pen With a Piston Converter provides an example of how to fill a fountain pen using a piston style converter. If you prefer video, LAMY has a video demonstrating how to insert and refill a LAMY fountain pen converter.

Converters, as well as your fountain pen, do need to be cleaned occasionally especially when changing the ink color or brand. Usually cool water is sufficient, but if that doesn’t do the trick try this home-made fountain pen cleaning solution.

Not all fountain pens have ink cartridge filling systems, so not all fountain pens will require a converter. Fountain pens that do not require converters have a piston, aerometric, button or other filling system of their own. What kind of filling system do you like on your fountain pen?

(Pilot Prera fountain pen with a Pilot push-in style piston converter)

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Our Best Selling Fountain Pen Under $50.00

It probably comes as no surprise to many of our readers that the LAMY Safari is our best selling fountain pen under $50.00. Whether you are considering buying your very first fountain pen, or are looking for a good daily writer, this might be just the pen you are looking for. It’s the right combination of an inexpensive price combined with very good quality. What makes the LAMY Safari fountain pen so popular?

  • Quality stainless steel nib is available in extra-fine, fine, medium and broad
  • Nib is easy to exchange and can be purchased separately
  • Calligraphy nibs in 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm are also available for the Safari
  • A converter can be purchased separately that allows you to use bottled ink
  • The LAMY Safari comes in many colors ranging from bright & fun to conservative
  • Durable ABS plastic body
  • Ink window allows you to see when your ink level is running low
  • Specially designed ergonomic grip
  • Large clip allows you to attach this pen to many places
  • Extra parts are available from LAMY USA
  • MSRP is now $35.00, but it can be purchased for less at many stores including Writer’s Bloc

If you’re wondering what other writers think of the LAMY Safari, here are a few quotes from the plethora of online reviews:

Brian at Office Supply Geek says: “The thing that makes the Lamy Safari such a great beginner fountain pen in my opinion is not only that it offers quality and flexibility with a very smooth writing experience, but it is also a pen that you will want to use regardless of what other fountain pens you have around.”

John from Coffee-Stained Memos concludes: “I highly recommend the Lamy Safari to anyone wishing to take the plunge into fountain pen writing. In fact, I would recommend this pen to anyone who likes fountain pens.”

Brad at Miscellany & Cacophony discusses in detail the design of the LAMY Safari and concludes: “Now, if you don’t have a Lamy Safari, go get one! And if you already have one, get another! You won’t regret it.”

Do you own one or more LAMY Safaris? What do you think of this popular fountain pen? What is your favorite Safari color?

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Student Calligraphy and Fountain Pens

We were recently contacted by a schoolteacher who wanted to introduce her students to the “lost art” of calligraphy and writing with a fountain pen. She was looking for supplies that were both affordable and capable of withstanding the wear and tear of her students. Fortunately, Writer’s Bloc carries a wide selection of calligraphy supplies and fountain pens that are tailored to the needs of students. Our hope is that introducing students to calligraphy and fountain pens will bring about a newfound appreciation for writing. Here are some ideas for teachers and students who want to try their hand at calligraphy and using fountain pens.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen is a good choice for a first fountain pen. This fountain pen is of good quality for its price and is a great way to supply the classroom with affordable quality fountain pens. Students will be able to choose from an array of colors and find one that suits them best.

Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is great for our aspiring little writers since this pen is specially designed for children. The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is available in four different colors and is also available with a left-handed nib for all the left-handed writers.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

For older students, the LAMY Safari is a popular choice. This fountain pen is a favorite daily writer of both teachers and students around the world. The LAMY Safari fountain pen comes in several colors and different nib sizes including 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm calligraphy nibs.

Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pens

For those new to calligraphy the Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen is a nice starter pen. UPDATE: The Pelikan Script has been discontinued.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens

For students wishing to learn calligraphy, some other affordable calligraphy fountain pens choices are:
Pilot Plumix Calligraphy Fountain Pen in Blue, Black or Purple
Pilot Parallel Pen with a 1.5mm Nib, 2.4mm Nib, 3.8mm Nib, 6.0mm Nib, or a Set of All Four Pens

Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards

The Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards from Brause are a useful guide for practicing Calligraphy. Introduce your students to nine different lettering styles and let them teach each other!

French Rule Paper

Many teachers and students in the USA are unfamiliar with the French ruled paper commonly used by students in France and other countries. This paper is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to learn cursive writing, to improve their handwriting or to practice calligraphy. For more information about French rule paper you may wish read one of our previous blog posts: What is French Ruled Paper?

Do you love writing as much as we do? What tools do you personally find useful to help students and others to develop the art of calligraphy and handwriting?

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Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use – Part 3

Left-Handed Pelikan Pelikano

My continuing experimentation with fountain pens has recently included the Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pen with a medium nib and Noodler’s Ink, as well as the Pelikan Pelikano Left-Handed Fountain Pen with a medium nib and J. Herbin Ink. I found that both of these pens worked equally well for a Lefty and their qualities were very similar.

The first thing I wondered about was whether or not I would notice a difference using the specially designed nib on the left-handed Pelikano. This nib has a more rounded shape than a regular nib to accomodate the angle of left-handed writing. As an “overwriter” I, personally, only noticed a small difference in performance using this nib. It performed well, as did the Kaweco Sport, and both wrote in a medium line of similar width.

I appreciated the compact size of the Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen. With its cap safely screwed on it is only 4″ long and is great for carrying in a purse or pocket. I wasn’t worried that the cap would come off and stain the leather on my Fossil bag with ink!

Kaweco_Sport_group.gif

I did find that I preferred the grip of the Left-Handed Pelikano to the grip of the Kaweco. The grip on the Pelikano is rotated slightly for the left hand, and it worked well with my very strange pen grip. You Lefties out there know what I mean…. One strike against the Pelikano is that the first Pelikano Fountain Pen that I bought was defective and I had to exchange it. The second pen did work much better, and there were no problems with the Kaweco.

The Noodler’s Ink seemed to have a more generous flow than the J. Herbin Ink, but it could be because it was a custom ink mix that included Noodler’s Firefly. When added to other Noodler’s colors, this ink seems to produce a wetter flow. So if you tend to smear your ink while writing, perhaps it would be best to stay away from Noodler’s Firefly and use the J. Herbin instead.

I was satisfied with both the Kaweco Sport and the Left-Handed Pelikano, and felt that these were both practical and well functioning fountain pens for everyday use by a Lefty. However, I am in love with my LAMY Safari and it still tops of my list of favorite pens.

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Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use – Part 2

Lime Green LAMY.jpg

After my successful experiment with the Platinum Preppy, I was eagerly anticipating taking my new LAMY Safari Fountain Pen for a test drive and I wasn’t disappointed!

Armed with my LAMY Safari and Exacompta Club Leatherette Journal I travelled to a 3 day convention ready to take lots of notes. Many, many pages later there was not one ink smear and my hand felt less fatigued than it normally does thanks to the smooth action of the LAMY nib combined with the ultra-smooth Clairefontaine paper in my journal. This combination would be an asset to anyone who does a lot of writing!

For this experiment I used LAMY standard ink cartridges in turquoise. Since I tend to poke holes in paper when I use extra-fine nib pens, I choose the LAMY fine nib for my pen. The fine nib produced a consistent flow of ink in a medium to fine line. The benefit of the LAMY Safari’s ergonomic grip was lost on me because my left-handed grip is rather strange, but it was not a hindrance either. The Clairefontaine paper in the Exacompta Club Journal is 64 g, a lighter weight than the usual 90 g paper used in Clairefontaine notebooks. Even though there was a little bit of ink bleed-thru, I was still able to write on both sides of the page with a fountain pen.

This lime green LAMY Safari quickly became my favorite pen!

(Just a note: LAMY Studio, Safari, Vista, Joy and AL-Star Fountain Pens all use the same type of stainless steel nibs.)

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