Tag Archives: TWSBI

Clairefontaine Graf It Pad 90g

9 Sep

This is going to be a handwritten review of the 90g Clairefontaine Graf It Pad. This is one of my favorite papers for writing down quick notes, lists, etc. As you can tell by the cover and the name, this pad is intended for sketching, but I find it works very well as paper for fountain pens. I am not an artist, so you won’t see any sketches here, but I hope you find this review useful nonetheless.

The Details:

  • Pad is staple bound at the top.
  • Cover is made of card stock. Front is flexible and the back is stiffened by a piece of backer board.
  • Sheets are perforated for ease of tearing.
  • Pad opens flat, but it can be difficult to write on the back of the sheet.
  • Graf It paper is 90g and slightly off white.
  • Unlike other CF papers this has a light texture to it.
  • Takes fountain pen ink well with no feathering or bleeding.


(click to enlarge and sharpen the images)

I apologize for the ink color in these scans. I could not get the colors to show up any more accurately than this. The Levenger True Teal was a vibrancy to it that the scan has completely flattened.

I won this notepad in a Goulet Pens giveaway many months ago. I am not affiliated with them or Clairefontaine.


My Writing Arsenal *Updated*

9 Dec

In February I put up a blog post about my arsenal. That is the list of the items in my accumulation that I could not live without. Needless to say, my opinions have changed with my collection. In addition, as I get deeper and deeper into my school work, my needs have changed tremendously. So, it’s time for a bit of an update (OK, more than a bit of an update. This is a long post. You’ve been forewarned!)

Pens:  Pilot VP, Pilot Custom 823, Pilot Prera, TWSBI Diamond 530, Edison Glenmont

Until I started this posted I had not realized just how much I use and rely on my Pilot pens. I would have never described myself as a Pilot fan, but I guess this makes me one doesn’t it?

The VP remains the perfect note-taking pen. The click/retractable nib mechanism makes it perfectly suited for jotting down quick notes in a meeting or when on the go.

I purchased the 823 (review forthcoming) specifically for use in drafting my long papers, articles, and chapters. It is really perfect for that task. It holds over 2ml of ink when I use my Visconti Inkpot (review forthcoming) to fill it. The Broad nib is juicy and smooth which makes writing fun while also forcing me to slow down.

My little Brown Prera (review forthcoming) is my editing, grading, and marginalia pen. It’s super fine and smooth nib makes it perfectly fit for that purpose. It’s also a comfortable little pen.

The TWSBI was also purchased with long writing sessions in mind. Boy is it a winner! I love that thing. I use it most everyday.

My Glenmont remains a favorite especially for letter writing, but then I designed it myself, so why wouldn’t it be?

The Stipula Vedo and Levenger Plumpster have fallen off the list. I still like them quite a bit, but as my workload has changed so have my writing instrument needs. The Vedo’s nib is a bit too sharp for long writing sessions and the Plumpster lacks the ink capacity I need for lots and lots of writing.

Inks: Noodler’s Navy, Noodler’s #41 Brown, J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune

Noodler’s Navy has become my workhorse ink. It’s near-bulletproof, so I don’t have to fear for my writing’s longevity. It’s an unassuming and relatively nondescript dark blue, so it’s not at all distracting. It’s extremely well-behaved no matter what I throw at it. To me, this is the definition of workhorse. I’m seriously considering ordering a 16 ounce bottle of the stuff… maybe I should make that 32 ounces just to be on the safe side?

Noodler’s #41 Brown is a great dark brown. It’s very well-behaved and bulletproof to boot. I’m entering a phase in my writing where I need to know that it will survive the odd spill (I’ve got a story behind this, but that is for another time).#41 accomplished this goal while still being nice to look at.

I love purple inks, so it’s only right that one be on this list. Poussiere de Lune is just the ticket. I have a lot of purple inks, but this is one of my favorites. It also has a good measure of water resistance. That is a must.

Visconti Blue has fallen off the list, but I still believe it belongs in every ink collection. It is the perfect medium dark blue to me. It is exceedingly well-behaved, and it is vibrant enough to set you part from the crowd while still maintaining its professional air. The only problem for me is that it offers absolutely no water resistance. It this point, water resistance is non-negotiable.

MB Violet has fallen off this list as well. I still love it and it still holds all the sentimental value it did before, but I just don’t use it as much as I used to.

Journals: I still haven’t found “the one.” I do still use and quite like my Exacompta Basics sketchbook, but I’m not sure it is the one. I’ve tried and loved the Rhodia Webnotebook, but I haven’t had it and used it long enough to know if it is really “the one.” After I finish the Exacompta, the Webbie is going to become my dedicated journal. We’ll see what happens.

Stationery: American Stationery Business Monarch and Crane’s 90gsm Pearl White

I still use the Business Monarch as much as I did.  I’ve also developed a fondness for the Crane’s paper. Lately, I’ve been using it almost exclusively. My pens and inks love both these papers, and the papers certainly look the part.

Paper for everyday use: HP LaserJet 24lbs.

I simply cannot say enough good things about this paper. All of my pens and inks love it. It is smooth and it resists feathering and bleed through. At $9.99 per ream of 500 sheets it is quite affordable. The local big box office supply stores often run 2 for 1 specials on it, so that’s 1000 sheets for $10. That’s some of the better rates I’ve seen for good quality consistent paper. I go through a lot of this paper, and it does not break the bank. This is always a good thing when it comes to the student budget.

Staple’s Bagasse has fallen off the list. It has become a bit inconsistent, and I’m no longer a fan of its thin crispy feel and lined rule. It also bleeds like crazy.

Planner: This category is presently in flux. I had been using and loving a Quo Vadis Septanote, but I thought I’d do better with a pocket planner. This academic year I’ve switched to the Quo Vadis University. It is quite similar to the Septanote, but it’s pocket-sized. So far so good, but I still need a desk planner I love. I’m trying out the Quo Vadis Principal, but I’m not sure I like it.

Misc.: Circa Desk Punch, Rollabind discs, Large Staples Rolla Notebook

When I made my first arsenal post I speculated that the Circa punch would become a staple. Well, it has in a big big way. I was able to get one of the older versions for $30 from the Levenger Ebay Outlet. That plus Rollabind discs also from Ebay had me all set to punch and organize. Covers were and are, to some extent, an issue. Levenger covers are expensive, so I went on a search for cheap cover options.

While at Staples I noticed a Rolla Notebook. It is, of course, disc bound with a stiff yet padded black faux leather cover. It fits 8.5×11 paper, so it seemed perfect. I got it home, and I tried it out. The paper sucks SUCKS, so I recycled it and refilled the Notebook with my beloved HP LaserJet paper. PERFECTION!!!


So there you have it. These are the writing products I cannot live without. How about you? What are you using and loving these days?

TWSBI Diamond 530, The Full Review

6 Oct

No doubt many of you have seen my TWSBI Mini Review. I’d promised a full review after I’d had a chance to live with the pen for a while. Well, this is it! Yes, I know that was in July and now its October. No need to remind me that this took 3 months! It was for good reason though. One of my complaints was with the leaky piston. I finally got the replacement piston seal a few weeks ago. I wanted to wait until the pen was functioning at 100% before I put up the review.

First Impressions

I loved the very idea of this pen, so when I was finally able to get my grubby little paws on one I was ecstatic.

I was impressed my everything about this pen from the packaging to the pen itself.

I’m not the biggest fan of demonstrator pens, but the TWSBI changed that for me.

Everything about this pen was well thought out from the design to the writing experience. Speedy and all those involved with TWSBI did a fabulous job on this pen. Two thumbs way way up here!


This pen is gorgeous. From the clear PC to the facets in the barrel to the red TWSBI emblem on the cap end.

I can certainly see why this pen won a design award. This is one of the best looking modern fountain pen designs that was recently come on the market so far as I’m concerned.


For anyone familiar with the Fountain Pen Network (FPN) you know that this pen was designed with input from the writing community. With every stage of designing this pen Speedy kept us up to date, asked for our opinions, and made changes accordingly (well as much as he could anyway). As you might also know from spending any amount of time at FPN we are in love with this pen. Then again, how could we not be? We helped design it. It’s kind of like getting a custom pen, except it’s a fraction of the price!

TWSBI and gang are still making some changes to the design. Version 1.5 of the piston seal is now out. In the coming months we should expect the 530 to be available in many other colors. There should also be a solid black 530 down the line.

Another fun aspect of this design is that it can be completely disassembled and reassembled by the user. The pen is shipped with a piston tool and a bottle of silicone grease. I can tell you from experience that it is very easy to take apart. But be forewarned, if you completely break the pen down you may have some problems getting it back together. Speedy has posted a YouTube video to help us with the reassembly. Study the video carefully. You’ll save yourself a lot of time.

(Note the mood music! LOL)

The Diamond 530 is a big pen. It is about the same size as the Pelikan m800. Really, it is. Even the dimensions are nearly identical. Also, the piston tool that comes with your TWSBI is said to be able to fit the m800 (I can’t confirm this).

This pen feels substantial in the hand. It is 5 5/8” capped, 5 1/8” uncapped, and 6 7/8” posted. Yes, the cap does post securely, but be forewarned, it posts on to the piston knob. If you twist the cap as you are trying to pull it off the end of the pen you will actuate the piston. This may very well lead to an inky disaster. I personally, wouldn’t post this pen, but it’s up to you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

I don’t post any of my pens unless they are too short to use without the cap on the other end. The cap on the Diamond 530 is pretty heavy. In my opinion, it throws the balance off if you post it. You be the judge. Some folks like their pens a little back-heavy. By the way, the Diamond 530 weights in at 27 grams inked.


These pens, like almost every modern fountain pen on the market today, uses nibs and feeds sourced from Germany. There are only a few nib companies, and TWSBI has used Schmidt nib assemblies here.

The 530 ships with a rather stiff stainless steel nib that comes in either XF, F, or M. There is a little spring in the nib if you try for it. It makes for a pleasant writing experience. There are other nib sizes in the works including gold nibs, titanium nibs, stubs, italics, and flexible nibs! I personally can’t wait to see what they put out.

I chose a M nib for my pen, and I can’t be happier. When I first got it the nib was a little scratchy. These nibs do require a writing in period. My nib adjusted itself after I wrote out the first fill. It’s been perfect ever since.

Filling System

The main feature for this pen is its piston filling system. This pen takes bottled ink only.

The first run had a bit of an issue with the pistons leaking. This was something that slipped past the quality control tests. Speedy sent out a statement about the problem and offered a solution for it before we even had a chance to complain. He also took responsibility for missing the issue and promised to fix it as quickly as he could.

Thought it took a bit of time. The replacement piston seals are now out. They are referred to as version 1.5. Anyone who bought a first run TWSBI should have received one automatically. If you did not, you should contact TWSBI.

Let me just say here that this is customer service at its finest. Normally you’d have to complain before a company even admitting that the problem was theirs not yours. TWSBI is a class outfit, and they’ve certainly earned my trust!

Any TWSBI Diamond 530 you purchase from the ebay outlet or TWSBI direct will be shipped with a replacement 1.5 piston seal. I’ve installed my 1.5 and I can tell you that I haven’t had any leaking issues since.

The piston on this pen functions flawlessly and smoothly. It’s every bit as smooth as Pelikans or Mont Blancs I’ve tried. And again, the TWSBI is a fraction of the price.

Cost and Value

The TWSBI is $39.99 plus shipping. Now, let’s be clear here. For $40 you get a m800 sized piston filling demonstrator fountain pen with a decent nib. For $40 you get a pen you can completely disassemble on your own. For $40 you get a gorgeous pen from a company that stands behind its products.

I honestly, don’t know how you get a better value on a brand new pen.

Conclusion (9.9/10, A/A+)

I’ve used this pen almost everyday since I got it back in early July. I can say without a doubt that I LOVE this pen. I most definitely plan to get one of the other colors with some sort of fun nib.

There’s a vacuum filler (plunger filler) on the horizon. I plan on getting that one too.

Two thumps up for TWSBI. Keep up the great work.

No Affil.

TWSBI Diamond 530, A Mini Review

7 Jul

[tweetmeme source=”dizzypen” only_single=false https://dizzypen.wordpress.com%5D

twsbi capped 2

ETA: To read the Full Review click here! 10-6-10

I don’t normally do this, but I’ve had several requests for my preliminary thoughts on this pen. These are my initial impressions. A more thorough review is a few weeks out. I generally like to live with a pen for a good while before drawing my conclusions. I will say that I am impressed by the TWSBI Diamond 530 in spite of a couple issues. NOTE: TWSBI has informed the pen owners of an issue with the piston seal. If your TWSBI is leaking at the piston seal please email Speedy about getting a replacement part. For more information click here.

For some reason I wrote Mont Blanc 149. I meant to write Mont Blanc 146. The 149 is HUGE. The TWSBI is not nearly as big. Sorry.

twisbi mini review

No Affil.


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