Pen Review: Kaweco Ice Sport (Black)


Kaweco ICE Sport (Black) [M]
Rhodia 80gsm #16 blank (top staple)
Ink: Kaweco Sunrise Orange
Length Capped: 105mm
Length Posted: 132mm
Length Uncapped: 100mm
Section at Thinnest Point: 9mm
Section at Widest Point: 10mm
Weight w/quarter barrel of Ink & cap: 10.5g
Weight w/quarter barrel of Ink & no cap: 6.3g
Fast writing: Keeps up fairly well; couple of skips
Upside down writing: Pretty dry.
Wetness: Dry.
Pros: Can be eyedroppered, lightweight, lots of color options & nib sizes
Cons: Nibs can be finicky, may be too light for some, no really *good* converter options (see below)

Kaweco's ICE Sport is a demonstrator version of their flagship Kaweco Sport.  The pen has the classic octagonal cap design, with the finial sporting the 3-syllable Kaweco logo.  The body is a clear plastic with a section matching the color of the cap, which holds a standard a steel Bock nib.  The pen is pocked-sized, which nice for portability, and it posts to a comfortable size for regular writing.  This version is one of the new colors that Kaweco has introduced to this line, and is my personal favorite.  They also have some other really neat colors like a florescent yellow, florescent orange, red, pink and many others. 

What distinguishes the plastic Kaweco Sport pens from their aluminum and brass counterparts is the fact that they can be eyedroppered.  If you're unfamiliar with that term, converting a pen to an "eyedropper" allows you to fill the barrel with ink instead of installing a cartridge or a converter (after adding a little silicone grease to the threads).  Many people buy the Sports just for this reason, and with the ICE sport being clear, you get the added effect of being able to see your ink sloshing around in the barrel - which also lets you know how low your level is!  The Kaweco pens are too short for a standard international converter, and unfortunately most of the Kaweco squeeze or plunge-type converters have been less than desirable to the masses, so eyedroppering is really the best option in my opinion.  I've used the Templar Skinny Mini converter in my Brass and AL versions, but for the plastic I much prefer to eyedropper for both the ink capacity, and the look.  Some folks have reported having burping issues with eyedropper pens; I've been fortunate not to experience that.  I use my pens more for burst writing sessions instead of longer ones, and usually the cause is when the air in the pen is heated up by the hands.

Like a lot of Kaweco pens I've used, the nib suffered from a case of baby's bottom.  It's a medium nib, but much to my liking, it wrote on the finer side of the spectrum.  I don't care for super wide nibs anyways, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I've heard a lot of people say that even Kaweco's broad nibs write closer to a western medium.  I'm not sure if this is the case for all Bock nibs, or if Kaweco's are slightly different.  Either way, I had to do some tuning on this one, and I still don't think I quite have it where I want it yet.  Because this is a medium I think the issue is a little bit worse than it has been on some of my fine nibs.  I will say that once they're tuned, they're really a pleasure to write with, just don't be surprised if you have to work on them a little bit.

The pen itself is very comfortable to hold and use.  It is very light, though - between 6 and 10 grams depending on whether you use the cap, and slightly more if you have more ink in it.  It may be a little too light for some folks, but I find it very comfortable.  It's a little too short for me to use comfortably without posting, but it certainly can be done depending on your hand size.

So far, I've found the pen to be easy to clean, even when eyedroppered.  I've had this ink in here for quite a while and it washed out just fine; I recommend using a q-tip to dry the barrel once you're done rinsing it, and at worst you can fill the barrel with some pen flush and let it soak a bit to get a more stubborn ink out. 

I really enjoyed this pen, aside from the nib troubles.  It's a beautiful design, and I'm a sucker for demonstrators.  Kaweco have a great selection of colors with the ICE Sport, so you're likely to find something that'll suit almost anyone's taste.  If you're interested in eyedroppering your Sport, I recommend Goulet Pens' silicone grease, but you can use just about any 100% pure silicone grease.  The Kaweco ICE Sport sells at most US retailers for around $25; if you love a good demonstrator and want a good pocket/purse pen with a high ink capacity, you can't go wrong at that price!

(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

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Ink Review: Kaweco Smokey Grey

Kaweco Smokey Grey
Pen: Lamy Safari (M)
Paper: Rhodia 80gsm #16 Blank
Shading: high
Saturation: low to moderate
Flow: medium
Dry Time: 14s in Lamy M

If you've followed the blog for a while, you know how much I love a good grey ink.  Everytime a new one comes out, chances are I'll be trying it.  Smokey Grey covers a spectrum of grey that not many other grey inks match.  Kaweco is really doing a great thing with their ink line, and I think it's far superior to most any other pen brand's ink line.

Smokey Grey is a nice medium grey ink that varies quite a bit depending on what pen you use it in.  In a dryer writing pen it's a pale light grey like Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun, and in a heavier writing pen it puts down a nice dark charcoal grey line like Kiri-same or Faber-Castell Stone Grey.  Both "colors" have really nice shading, and the ink behaves really well on typical fountain pen paper.

Water drop - just for fun!  I see a hint of red in there..

Pen characteristics aside, the ink itself is about a medium on the wetness scale.  It flows nicely, with no hard starts; it doesn't dry too easily on the nib.  Dry time is moderate at around 14 seconds in medium nib Lamy Safari.

I really dig Kaweco's ink bottles.  The lid has a nice foam insert which keeps it from drying out in storage, and the ink bottle itself can lean on its side to assist with filling when the ink bottle gets low.  Just as I mentioned in the Kaweco Sunrise Orange review, the lid has a very satisfying "seal" when it closes, which I very much like.

As far as comparisons, this ink has a couple that it matches up with.  Depending on the pen you're using, it can be as light a Fuyu-syogun or J. Herbin Gris Nuage.  For most pens out there, however, it's going to be closer to Graf von Faber-Castell Stone Grey or Pilot Iroshizuku Kiri-same.

Chromatography is...anti-climactic to say the least; but still very interesting - an olive green and a little bit of blue.

I can safely say that I'll be adding Smokey Grey to my list of favorite grey inks.  It doesn't overtake the top spot for greys for me, but it definitely ranks up there.  It's a very well behaved ink with no frills - it just works and it works well.  I'm excited for Kaweco to release some new colors, as their latest have been fantastic.  Thank you so much to Kaweco in Germany for sending me this ink for review!

(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

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Ink Review: Diamine Terracotta


Diamine Terracotta
Pen: Lamy Safari (M)
Paper: Rhodia 80gsm #16 blank
Shading: high
Saturation: moderate
Flow: wet
Dry Time: 20s in Lamy M

Spoiler alert: I LOVE this ink.  I had been wanting to try my sample of Diamine Ancient Copper for a long time now, but then I saw Goulet Pens' swab of this ink and I had to try it first.  The colors are very similar, so I may do a shootout of these two at some point.  Diamine have been producing some of the most unique fountain pen inks on the market, and have been around since 1864.  They very recently celebrated their 150th anniversary.  To commemorate, they produced the 150th anniversary ink set, which Terracotta is a part of.  Other popular inks in the set include Silver Fox, Regency Blue and the much loved 1864 Blue Black.

My ink was from a sample, but if you've not seen the 150th Anniversary Diamine bottles, you should definitely take a look.  Each bottle is a triangular wedge, and when you own the entire set the bottles fit together to make a nice circle for your desk.  Terracotta is a warm reddish-brown with an intense amount of shading.  The color variation is wide, and ranges from a dark red-brown, to a lighter brownish-orange.  The ink flows wet and lends to a smooth writing experience.  The dry time in my medium Lamy Safari was about 20 seconds on Rhodia; so not terrible, but not fast either.

Chromatography was very neat looking; it goes from a orange-red and leads up to a medium brown.  For comparisons, honestly, there aren't a ton of inks out there that match this perfectly.  Diamine Burnt Sienna is the closest I could find. Diamine Ancient Copper and Diamine Autumn Oak are darker and lighter inks respectively that are both very nice as well.

I have to say, I'm not typically a fan of brown inks, especially reddish browns.  Terracotta really changed my mind on that.  The ink just has so much character and I have already put my email on the notification list for when this comes back in stock at Goulet Pens.  I highly recommend you give this one a try!  You can snag a 40mL bottle for $15.95 at most retailers.

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite brown ink is!
Thanks for reading!
- Lori

Pen Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen


Kaweco Special Dip Pen - Steel Leonardt 30 Pointed Nib
Length: 199mm
Section Width: 10mm
Weight: 17.2g
Pros: Nice sturdy nib holder, good flex, anodized aluminum body
Cons: Rusting issue (not specific to Kaweco's nib holder), frequent dipping depending on the ink you use, nibs wear out easily.

I am very new to dip pens in general, but I've been wanting to get my feet wet a little bit with them.  A while back I'd gotten an inexpensive dip pen set from John Neal Books because it included the Mitchel Witch Pen, which I wanted to try using for ink "passes" on my ink reviews - my ink reviews are ever-evolving as I figure out what best represents the ink and what I want my reviews to look like.  I really only bought the set for the Witch Pen, but I did mess around a bit with the dip nibs that it came with and my experience wasn't so great.  Noob Lori was using fountain pen inks with the pens, and without a reservoir, they dried up VERY quickly, railroaded a lot and required constant dipping.

Kaweco launched their Dip Pen from their Special line, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give a review from the perspective of both a dip pen novice, as well as a pen addict who knows a thing or two about a good pen in general.  I had a really good time reviewing the pen, and I do think that I'll continue to use it for specialty things such as lettering cards or art in the future.

The pen comes in come minimalistic packaging, which I can always get on board with.  When I received the tube from Kaweco, my first thought was, "How did that nib not get bent in shipping?!" Of course Kaweco certainly thought of this because the base/cap of the tube actually grips the end of the pen as you slide it into the tube and it's tight enough to prevent the pen from slamming its nib into the back end of the tube.  Pretty cool!

The nib holder itself is one of the best one's I've seen - it's black anodized aluminum with a faceted barrel.  Most nib holder's I've come across are either wood or cheap plastic.  This one is heavy and feels like it will last a lifetime.  I don't find it slick or uncomfortable to use, though not having your traditional tapered and flared section design was something I had to get used to.

Of course I mentioned earlier that I'd tried out some dip pens before with fountain pen ink and that was a fairly unimpressive experience.  I did my research online, and even checked out some dip pen pros like Azizah at Gourmet Pens (if you're not following her Instagram, you should be!).  I found that most folks use one of these few inks for their dip pens, Speedball or India ink, calligraphy inks, or fountain pen inks with gum arabic in them.  I went to my local hobby stores and I could not for the life of me find any gum arabic at either of them (probably would have had better luck at a food store), so I headed to the calligraphy aisle.  I'd read online that inks labeled "calligraphy ink" are runnier than some of the speedball or higgins brand inks.  My store carried both Higgins and Speedball brand and I read that acrylic inks are more viscous and don't railroad as much in flex pens (if you know more about these ink types, please enlighten me!), so I ended up choosing Speedball's Super Pigmented Acrylic ink.

I dipped the pen and played around with some flex writing and testing how long the ink would last with a single dip.  My experience with the acrylic ink was much more pleasant than with fountain pen inks, and the single dip lasted for quite a while.  The acrylic ink, especially when laid down thick from flexing, dries in almost a textured 3D form on the page.   I can't imagine you'd have an issue doing washes over this ink.

So as I mentioned, I am a complete dip pen noob.  I figured this out the hard way after I finished using the pen for the first time, took it into the bathroom and gave it a quick rinse under the sink.  I dried it with a paper towel, sat the pen down and didn't touch it for a few days.  The next time I pulled the pen out, I attempted to remove the nib, so that I could try out some other dip nibs in it, and I had a terrible time getting the nib out.  I soon discovered that my very brief rinse under the sink water was enough to start a very rapid rusting process of the nib.  I was a little shocked by this - I didn't realize how easily dip nibs rusted.  I did a little more research online and found others who'd had a similar problem, and many folks said to just wipe your nib clean after use instead of using any sort of water - or at least make sure that you're drying it absolutely completely.  Dip nibs are apparently not meant to last a lifetime and some people even mentioned that after a while, because there is no tipping, the tips would begin to wear out - which makes sense.  I checked the inside of the Kaweco nib holder and saw a bit of rust in there too - I can't really tell if it was contact rust that was transferred from the rusted nib, or if the inside of the nib holder also rusted from the water contact.  To further test the rusting issue, I did the same rinsing with the cheap plastic nib holder that I got from the John Neal Books dip nib set, and it rusted as well; so I feel comfortable stating that this is not specific to Kaweco's product.  I would definitely advise you not to rinse yours unless you absolutely have to, and if you do make certain it's completely dry.  Total noob move on my part!

Finally I wanted to try out various fountain pen inks with the dip pen, just to see how well the fared compared to the acrylic ink.  I tested some of my current favorites, as well as the two newest Kaweco inks and surprisingly there was quite a variation in the amount of dips needed to complete my writing with each one.  It certainly wasn't scientific, but I did try to keep the writing as consistent as possible and the amount of time & depth of the dips.  On average, I was dipping multiple times for the very small writing sample, and found that some inks were so runny that they would blob ink down after a fresh dip.  I was very pleased with how Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's El Lawrence fared - Scabiosa held up for my entire sentence and I even did some extra flexes before the ink ran out.  El Lawrence was on the higher viscosity side as well with just two dips.  Most others were at least 4 or 5 dips.  With the acrylic ink, I was able to write the entire upper half of the review (not the title - that was done with a folded nib), with some extreme flex, with only 6 dips.  Pretty impressive!

In all, I really enjoyed venturing outside my normal fountain pen regimen and trying out Kaweco's Dip Pen.  I have tried the Noodler's Ahab for flex, and this one was a lot more pleasant to use because railroading wasn't a factor with the right ink.  I could see myself using this for holiday cards, design work, or just for fun.  I do still want to try out some gum arabic mixed into fountain pen inks, so that I can have a wider color variety than most dip inks offer.  Kaweco's nib holder is sturdy, well balanced and very enjoyable to use.  It retails for around $36 at places like - I feel like that's a very fair price for an anodized aluminum nib holder.  You can also swap out different dip nibs for a whole different writing experience.  Have you tried any dip pens before? Let me know your experience!

Thanks for reading!
- Lori