Sunday, 12 May 2013

Review of Sheaffer Calligraphy pen and Diamine Steel Blue ink

Ah... Stationery, stationery. Second only to running as a passion for me. And since I have been ill and unable to run for what feels like forever (but in reality is about 2 weeks), stationery has been the #1 recently.

As you'll all know, I have put in a lot of few orders recently and I am way, way behind on reviews. Anyway, today it is the turn of a Sheaffer Calligraphy fountain pen filled with what is rapidly becoming a huge favourite – Diamine's steel blue ink.

I think that I bought the Sheaffer from Amazon when I decided I wanted to learn how to write calligraphy (a while ago now!). As I recall, it wasn't at all expensive (and a quick check online has shown me that you can get them from between £4 and £8 roughly). I (sadly) have barely found the time to practise calligraphy, but the pen seems beautiful for the task (at least as far as my hand is concerned). My problem is that I get a bit too impatient, and start writing at my normal speed (which is not at all what is involved in calligraphy!) and then the nib skips. You certainly have to write fairly slowly and carefully with this nib.
The Diamine Steel Blue ink came from The Journal Shop in the last stationery haul.

The Sheaffer Calligraphy Pen (M nib - 1.3mm):
This has a plastic barrel and cap, with a rubberised grip which is extremely comfortable to hold. The barrel has a cut-out so that you can see how much (or little) ink there is remaining in the cartridge. Sheaffer have their own style of cartridge. That said, I usually refill most cartridges from bottled ink using a syringe and needle, so the fact the cartridges are different is no major issue. [If I didn't refill cartridges, then the fact that this pen differs from most of my others would probably bug me enough to buy a piston converter.]
The cap attaches with a very satisfying and firm click. As you might expect, the 1.3mm nib lays down a significant amount of ink, so this couldn't be used on flimsy papers (but why would you be doing calligraphy on flimsy papers?). The balance of weight in the pen (unposted) is perfect for me. With the cap posted the weight is too far back in my hand. Unposted and about half-full of ink, the pen weighs 10g (14g with the cap posted).

Pen capped
Pen uncapped. The blue next to the nib indicates that it is the M nib

I had to write slowly and carefully with this pen, otherwise the line broke up and there were missing parts to the letter. If I was using it for calligraphy, this wouldn't be a problem as I would be writing slowly and carefully! For an everyday pen this would drive me insane. That, along with the fact that my writing is twice its normal size as a consequence of the breadth of the nib.
However, fishing this pen out to fill and review has made me want to find the time to practise calligraphy more, it's so lovely to write with. I couldn't use it for everyday writing but I would happily consider trying a fine nibbed one for that as the pen is so light and comfortable to hold (I vastly prefer my handwriting when using an italic/calligraphy nib!).

The Diamine Steel Blue ink:
The ink is shown in a variety of hues on different websites, with some showing it as more blue and others more green. It's certainly a tricky beast to describe and photograph! I would call the colour  turquoise, but a dense, darkish shade, to my eyes fairly evenly balanced between blue and green. It was a nightmare to photograph.  Below are a selection of pictures to try and show the colour of the ink and the shading seen with the calligraphy nib. It is an absolutely gorgeous colour and has almost instantly become the ink of choice for me. The paper written on is standard printer paper, 80gsm. I have used the ink (in a different pen) in a Clairefontaine Age Bag A4 notebook and it is the same colour and shading.

[All of the pictures are showing as more blue than the original ink; the last picture is possibly the closest]

Overall – the calligraphy pen is great for calligraphy but would not suit me for everyday writing (but then, it's just doing what it says on the tin!). The Diamine steel blue ink is drop dead gorgeous. Treat yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, very nice! That ink looks great - thanks for the review.