Review: Kaweco Leather Traveler's Case

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Kaweco Leather Traveler's Case
Size: 5.75" x 4.5"
Capacity: 6 pens + a few accessories
Material: Tan leather (outside) & tan suede leather (inside)

Most of you that have followed me probably know that I have a loyalty to Nock Co. and their awesome pen cases.  It would really take quite a bit for another case to pull me away from those, unless it fit a pretty specific use-case that Nock doesn't cover.  Still, I was eager to give this Kaweco case a try, because I love the products that Kaweco produces.  Unfortunately, this case isn't going to be replacing anything in my rotation any time soon.  Let's talk specifics...

The Kaweco Leather Traveler's Case is nice and portable in it's 5.75" x 4.5" stature, and features a slightly toothy camel-colored outer leather cover.  It feels like there is sturdy cardboard or maybe even some sturdy plastic inner liner for stability.  On the inside it features a nice suede tan leather inner liner, as well as a protective flap of the same material and a net holder for accessories.  You'll only be able to fit small things in the net like ink cartridge boxes, converters, etc.  Not a ton of room there, but those are the typical things you'd probably be carrying in there anyways.

A tight fit.

This case isn't a terrible case at all.  On the contrary, it's fairly well built, and protects pens quite nicely.  I did, however, find the pen slots to be fairly narrow and tight, which made it a little bit frustrating to use.  There's something to be said for a balance between being snug enough to hold the pens securely, and being just loose enough to be able to move them in and out without much fuss; this case kinda fails in that way.  I used this case for about 2 months, and the elastic of the pen slots loosened only ever-so-slightly - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  If your pens fit perfectly, you really don't want them to loosen up, but I found it really difficult to get them in and out.  The slots are also pretty close together so once you get your pens in there, they're practically touching.  I can't help but think they intended this to be used with their line of pens only, which as you know are quite a bit smaller than most - Liliputs, Sports, etc. - even though the Sport even struggles to fit in there.

The flap lays off-center, to the left, even when pulled tight without pens in the case.

Another thing that bugged me a bit about the case was the protective flap on the inside.  It wasn't the flap itself, I actually find that to be a nice addition for extra protection.  The issue is that when the flap was sewn into to case, it was sewn just a tad off center.  So even when the case is empty, the flap lays off to the left slightly.  It may just be my OCD, but it does bug me.  With pens in the case, it can exaggerate the issue, and it can sometimes put the off-center flap in the way of the zipper.

Speaking of the zipper, the case does have a very nice leather pull on the zipper, making it easy to find when you're ready to zip/unzip the case.  I did find the zipper to be fairly stiff.  An (almost) square case like this doesn't lend to a very responsive or smooth zipper, because it tends to stop or "hang" at the corners; but I do think this one is especially stiff when compared to something like a YKK zipper that I've seen on other products.  This one doesn't have any markings on it, so unfortunately I don't what brand it is.

I hated giving this case a somewhat negative review, because when I first saw it I thought it was beautiful and I couldn't wait to try it out.  In use, it just didn't push my buttons like I thought it would.  The case wasn't a failure on the whole - it was just a number of small issues that bothered me enough that I just can't use this in my daily carry.  Along those lines, we should talk about the price.  This case retails for between $107 to $118 depending on where you purchase it.  I honestly do not believe for a second that this case is worth that kind of money.  As a rule, leather cases are quite a bit more expensive than most, but this case only holds 6 pens and has a couple fit and finish issues - I just don't see the value there.  If you like leather, you can pick up an Aston 10 pen case for $64 and an Aston 20 pen case for $90 from Goulet.  If you prefer no leather and some added color, go for a Nock Co. case - you can get the Lookout 3 pen case for $25, the Brasstown 6 pen case (plus extra storage) for $40, and others - all made in the US.  Both the Nock and Aston cases have more comfortably sized pen slots and are quite a bit less expensive.  I would really only recommend the Kaweco case if you love the look of it, and have some money to burn.  

(Kaweco has provided this product at a discounted cost 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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Pen Review: Kaweco Ice Sport (Black)

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Kaweco ICE Sport (Black) [M]
Paper:
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

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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