Pen Review: Dryden Designs Modern Classic

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic

I got a fun email last month — Donna Padua, working for Dryden Designs, a pen company that was new to me, said she’d like to send me one of their fountain pens if I’d agree to write a fair and honest review.

I said sure, if they’d be okay with me doing something different: I’d bring it to my next pen club meetup, and pass it around, and see what everyone else thought, too. My fellow pen clubbers tend to be much more “on it” when it comes to all the newer brands and newer pen models.

A few days later, the Modern Classic in metallic silver arrived on my doorstep, sent by Dryden Designs through Amazon.

I like the Amazon idea. I tend to buy new pens mostly from pen retailers, but Amazon does reach a lot more people in the US, and it has good return policies. With the price of the Modern Classic starting at $25.95, it will qualify for Amazon’s free shipping, too. Basically, Dryden Designs is making it as easy as possible to buy this pen.

But what did I (and my pen club) think of the Modern Classic?

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Pen Review: Platinum Plaisir

Platinum Plaisir Bali Citrus

Last month I bought a Platinum Plaisir in Bali Citrus, because I love the color, and the pen cost less than $15.

I’ve shied away from the Plaisir because it’s based upon the Platinum Preppy, the Yugo of fountain pens. But sometimes you just say, “what the heck.”

Actually, I say a different thing. But it’s close.

I’ve been using my Plaisir for over a month now. Did it squirm its chartreuse self into my heart? Not exactly. But into my pen cup. I think it’s a good starter fountain pen.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

New Pen Day: Urushi Charleston from Jonathan Brooks of Carolina Pen Company

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

This is the first pen I bought this year at the Chicago Pen Show. It’s from Jonathon Brooks, it is urushi with gold flakes, and it is something.

Jonathon makes gorgeous resins for penmakers like Kanilea Pen Co. and Franklin-Christoph, but he also makes his own pens, from various materials, through his Carolina Pen Company. This is the Charleston model, which he finished in tamenuri urushi with gold flake.

I really like the pen design. Barrel and cap are tapered, and a little curvy, with pointed ends. The Charleston’s shape calls to mind the Nakaya Piccolo and the Edison Pearl, though unlike those pens, the Charleston cap is slightly wider than the pen body.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

And there are the gold flakes.

I just like looking at the finish.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

It’s so nice-looking.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The gold flakes are subtle, with colors ranging from reddish to yellow.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

But, we can also talk about practicality. Because as nice as this pen looks, it actually is just as comfortable to use. It’s lightweight, with a relatively long pen body, and a long section, and a nice girth. Because the cap is a little wider, there is only a tiny step down to the threads and section. And the long section is easy to hold.

In fact, the pen’s size and weight is one reason I picked this one instead of a urushi pen one from bigger, better-known brand. Another reason is the personal touch. I like that Jonathon makes his pens on a smaller scale. He only had four urushi pens on his table, all different. And as much as I like traditional urushi, raden and makie pens, it’s also nice to see innovation. This pen isn’t exactly traditional. And I like that about it.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The nib is a #6  Jowo 14k gold nib, marked with the Carolina Pen Company logo. Mine is a fine, but you can swap in any other #6 Jowo nib, even those made by Franklin-Christoph or Edison or after-market sellers of interesting nibs.

The Jowo fine gold nib is a standard Jowo fine, slightly on the finer side, which is exactly how I like it. It writes well. Jonathon filled mine with Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue, which I’d never used before, and really like.

The pen came with a pen rest and a pen sleeve; I picked pink for the sleeve.

DSC_6675

It’s a cartridge-converter pen and uses international cartridges, which is an easy-to-clean filling system allowing a lot of flexibility.

And, again, the pen’s size really works for me. Here’s a comparison to other well-known pens — from left to right, a Montblanc LeGrand (146), a Lamy Vista, the Charleston, an Aurora Optima and a Pelikan 400.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

Here are the pens uncapped. Notice the Charleston’s nice long section.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

I find the pen perfectly comfortable to use unposted. Though I have smaller hands it seems large enough for people with larger hands, too.

Despite the gold flakes, the pen isn’t really blingy. It catches your eye, and invites you to look closely to discover why.

DSC_6683

It’s a lovely pen. It’s another pen I just love to look at, even when I’m not writing with it.

I really have nothing that isn’t positive to say. The craftsmanship is flawless. The finish looks beautiful and the cap screws on well. I like writing with it. I like seeing it. And I like having a pen by Jonathon Brooks: he’s a first-rate pen and materials maker, but he seems like an even better person. And I feel very lucky to have this beautiful pen.

DSC_6712

New Pen Day: Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Here’s one of the pens I bought at the Chicago Pen Show, in fact the last pen I bought at the pen show. It’s the Kanilea Hanauma Bay.

I really tried not to buy this pen. I tried to be sensible. But it was like going to a puppy adoption event, casually. You just want to “see the puppies.” You start playing with the little guys. Of course. Puppies are cute. Next thing you know, you’ve got little Bernard in the back seat, and you’re wondering if your husband will actually divorce you for this.

Except a fountain pen will not chew the baseboards and shred the curtains. So this was a comparatively sensible decision. Plus, it was my birthday, so the rules do not apply.

However, if you want to avoid succumbing to temptation, at least now I can help you. I can point out exactly where I went wrong: I picked it up. And then I really looked at it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I kept looking. And then, it was too late. It was my puppy now.

The Hanauma Bay resin is a mixture of swirly bits and sparkly bits and even translucent bits, in blues, blue-greens, white and oranges. From every angle, in every way, it’s beautiful, and interesting.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The Kanilea Pen Company makes fountain pens designed around custom-made resins by Jonathon Brooks. The family behind Kanilea are Hugh and Karol Scher and Matt Baldwin, and they work with Jonathon to come up with resins that reflect elements from their travels in Hawaii. Together they’ve created eleven Kanilea fountain pen materials. This is the latest, named after Hanauma Bay in Hawaii.

There are all kinds of ways to customize a Kanilea pen, since they make five different body styles, and you can get it with a clip or clipless. Mine turns out to be the classic flush design, with a medallion in gold-plated sterling silver.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Even within a particular material, the resins, and thus the pens, are slightly different. This is mine.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I like pens in one of two categories: minimalist and modern, or colorful and fun. The pen body may be minimalist, but the material is very colorful. And very beautiful. In some spots, it makes me think of Van Gogh.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The material has depth. It repays your attention. You see something new every time, and on every part as you rotate it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

And no matter how it looks in photos, it looks much better in real life. I’d seen the pens before, in Kanilea’s wonderful product shots. That didn’t prepare me for how great they look in person.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

It’s not surprising for a pen made in small numbers, with this care and attention, and with custom-designed material, but these are expensive. Mine was $395 with a steel nib. It’s a cartridge-converter pen, and you have a choice of steel nibs from extra-fine to stub. Or you could upcharge to a gold nib if you wanted. Hugh adjusts the nib to your liking. Mine has the steel stub.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

A pen in this price range isn’t an impulse buy, or at least it wasn’t for me. But I had sold some pens and could buy this. And I haven’t had any second thoughts — in fact, the opposite. I feel pretty lucky to have it.

The nib writes well after Hugh’s ministrations, and the pen body is lightweight and a good size, with a comfortable section. I enjoy writing with it. But the bottom line is, it’s just gorgeous. And very time I pick it up, I’m delighted.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

—————

Artwork by Mary Jo Ernst, sketched at the 2018 Chicago Pen Show. Mary Jo can be found on Instagram under @mysteriousmannequin.

Pen Review: Pilot Custom 74

Pilot Custom 74 Orange

I was lucky enough recently to borrow an orange Pilot Custom 74 with fine nib.

I’ve had my eye on the Custom 74 for years; and every once in a while I think, “Should I?” The lure is the nib: I think the Pilot fine nib is perfection. But I haven’t yet found the perfect Pilot fountain pen. Could the Custom 74 be the answer?

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Pen Review: Lamy Dialog 3

Lamy Dialog 3 Piano White

I bought a Lamy Dialog 3 in Piano White with fine nib recently, after I saw it on sale at a great price. I’d always wanted this pen, because it looks so cool, but I worried it would be too heavy for me. Well, it is heavy, but it’s still awesome. I love the Lamy Dialog 3.

(click Page 2 below to continue)