Lamy Pico vs Fisher Bullet Space Pen

I should say before starting this review that I do own a Lamy Pico and therefore I could well be biased. The interesting thing about doing these reviews though is that they can make you look at a product differently so….

Both these pens are compact ballpoints, both approximately the same length though the Pico is a good deal thicker. The Fisher Space Pen is a pretty iconic writing instrument, having been developed for Nasa’s space program (though not this compact version) and taken on the Apollo missions. It was even used to fix a damaged switch on the Apollo 11 lunar module, enabling Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to get back to Earth (see the full story here http://fisherspacepen.com/pages/apollo-11) Against that, the Lamy Pico is a relatively unknown pen and not a huge seller here at Bureau, though the recent limited edition laser orange did sell out very quickly. Both are fairly premium writing instruments though so what is it about them that makes them worth the £20-£30 price tag?

pico_space_closed_800

Style

Both are smart looking pens and would attract attention when whipped out of your pocket. The Lamy Pico comes in mostly muted colours (with the exception of the now sold out Laser orange) so might suit someone who likes a subtler look. The imperial blue is very pretty and the red is the brightest but you can also have it in white, black or bright shiny chrome. The Fisher Bullet Space Pen comes in nine different colours including a rainbow effect, metallic lime, purple, red, blue and pink as well as matt black and shiny chrome so lots of choice and the colours are really striking. The Space Pen is ironically the more traditional looking of the two pens with a separate cap whereas the Pico is a more unusual design with a retracting mechanism which deploys the writing tip and lengthens the pen.

Pico 7/10, Space Pen 8/10

Features

The Space Pen really needs the cap to be posted on the end to make it long enough to use, especially for a man. There is an etched grip area at the front to make it easier to use but the USP of this pen is really the refill design. Designed for space, it can write in zero gravity and therefore upside down, unlike most ballpens which depend on gravity to keep the ink flowing. This is due to the thixotropic ink which is pressurised with nitrogen. It will also work in an impressively wide range of temperatures – from -30 C to 120C, though quite how you would come to be writing in temperatures that hot is not clear to me. More usefully the ink is waterproof and it can write underwater, a feature that could be helpful on rainy walks to mark maps since it writes on most surfaces.

The Lamy Pico doesn’t have any special ink properties and its small refill will not last as long as the Fisher refill. However, it is the more interesting design and its clever retraction mechanism is fun to play with and makes it pretty dinky when closed. It doesn’t actually look like a pen when closed which I quite like. Both pens are gift boxed so make nice presents but the Space Pen is the more impressive gift, not least because the packaging looks more exciting with its astronaut on the front and its statement that it is the most advanced writing instrument in the world!

Pico 7/10, Space Pen 10/10

Stats Corner

Length when closed

Pico 92mm, Space Pen 97mm

Length when open

Pico 124mm, Space Pen 136mm

Girth

Pico 12mm, Space Pen 9mm

Weight

Pico 22g, Space Pen 19g

Colour choice

Pico 6 colours, Space Pen 9 colours

 pico_open_800

Usability

Both are pretty good in this department. The Space Pen requires the cap to be removed and posted whereas the Pico is just a click to open. Both are light and compact though so good for pockets and carrying around, perhaps for bullet journaling on the go? Both come with black medium refills which is the most popular choice of ink and what I would choose.

Pico 8/10, Space Pen 8/10

 

Value for Money

Both pens have different finishes which affect the price. The Space Pen starts at £24.95 for the matt black and chrome versions and goes up to £29.95 for the colours but costs £49.95 for the rainbow and titanium finishes. The Pico is £29 for all the models except the pearl chrome (a matt silver finish) which costs £33.50. Setting aside the rainbow and titanium versions, the pens are more or less the same price so you pays your money…  With regard to refills, theM22 for the Pico costs £2.50 whereas the Space Pen refills are a lot more at £5.35. Having said that, the Space Pen refills are said to last three times as long as a standard refill and the Pico is quite a small refill so in the long run the Space Pen would be more economical ink-wise.

Pico 8/10, Space Pen 9/10

 

Verdict

Hmm, I think in the end that the best buy would have to be the Space Pen since it has the features and the colours to make it stand out whereas the Pico, despite its neat mechanism, doesn’t really grab you with its muted colours. Having said that, I do love my Pico because I have the laser orange version (did I mention it was sold out?) which is quite electrifying visually. The Pico is a smart ballpoint and if you prefer your writing instruments to follow the less is more principle then it’s a nice little pen. If you want a bit of a back story and the ability to write notes in a kiln though, the Space Pen is the pen for you.

Final score Pico 30, Space Pen 35

pico_case_main_800

space_case_800

 

To see the full range of Space Pens, click here.

To see the full range of Lamy Picos available, click here.

Bullet Journal Hack

Bullet Journal – My Hack

Bullet Journal Hack

Or…how I found a way to make bullet journals work for me

Introduction

I have previously introduced the subject of Bullet Journals and how I personally found the system both appealing as a solution to becoming organised, but also how I found it too much work to actually do in any practical or useful way. Having found a way that works for me, here is a summary of what I do and I present this in the hope that it might inspire people to give it a go, and fine their own solution.

 

Key Points

  • A Bullet Journal is a system for making and managing lists of what needs doing (click here to find out more);
  • I adapted it to make a more streamlined way of listing what I need to do and keeping on top of it;
  • I made it work for me because I know what I am like, and so what I am likely to actually follow and keep using.

 

Why I use a Bullet Journal system

Put simply, I found myself overwhelmed with too much to do and a list that never seemed to get any shorter. Important long-term aims would be lost in the chaos of daily tasks that built up. I wanted a way to:

  • Have an overall plan of where I wanted to be (or in my case where I wanted the business to be);
  • Keep track of what I needed to do to achieve this;
  • Be able to prioritise and ultimately get rid of unwanted tasks, or delay them until another day.

 

The Tools

A pen, a notebook, a pen loop and some highlighters. Job done. In fact what I use is:

See the notes at the end for more on these choices. You can also buy a BuJo Starter Kit here.

Bullet Journal kit
My Bullet Journal kit of choice

 

Overall structure

I set out my plans, from long-term to short-term so that I know what the overall aim is and what I need to do to achieve it. So I started with a list of what I felt we needed to achieve this year, anytime in the year. Big aims. About 20 of them currently. Things like ‘launch new website’. Which we are about to do.

Bullet Journal Year List
Bullet Journal My Year-To-Do List

I then set out a monthly to-do list – what I wanted or had to get done in that month. It can be a mix of big and small jobs, but it needs to be realistic. No point shoving everything into the list as it will crowd out what you need to get done. Some of the ‘year’ tasks were added to this list.

You might already be thinking it sounds like too much work, but it’s not hard really, and a bit of effort into the planning now pays off over the year. I am focused on what needs to be done.

After that, I start a new page each day and list what I need to get done, whilst adding new items that crop up.

Monthly Routine

Bullet Journal Monthly List
Bullet Journal – My Monthly To Do List

Each month I do the same – I set out a new to-do list by reviewing the previous month’s list and seeing what I managed to do, or didn’t. I then check the ‘year’ to-do list for any items that I need to start work on, and add them to the monthly list.

I then scan through the daily pages and pick out all incomplete tasks, and either add them to the list (because they still need doing) or tick them off as being no longer needed or important. If it still needs doing but just not for the foreseeable future, just add it to the ‘year’ list.

Daily Routine

Bullet Journal Daily To Do
Bullet Journal Daily To Do List

I start each day and take maybe 2 minutes to plan out what I will do. A quick referral back to the previous list, sort out what still needs to be done, highlight it (see below on this), and then I make a 1-2-3 list. This is something I came across on a blog somewhere and it flicked a switch in my mind. Think of it in terms of saying ‘if I get nothing else done, what are the three most important things I must get done today?’. Of course some days you struggle to get to three, some days it’s impossible to limit it to three but the basic idea works for me. So my daily routine is:

  • Check previous day and highlight any incomplete tasks
  • Start a new page, date it at the top
  • List 1-2-3 and set out the most important tasks to do today
  • Build a list of to-do items below with tick boxes
  • Add any useful information such as a great idea and mark this accordingly
  • That’s it – below I explain the process for how I mark up items to keep on top of it all
Bullet Journal Key
The key I use

 

The Process

Using the tools I set out earlier, I keep this to a minimal process. Each to-do item on any list has a simple square tick box. When the item is done, I tick it. Simple. If it’s not done, it’s not ticked.

Bullet Journal Year To Do List
Bullet Journal Yearly To Do List

If I have a great idea (yes, it does happen) then I note it down in the list and highlight it in green. Any useful information is marked with the orange highlighter. Which leads on to…

 

Highlighting.

I use my trusty pack of Faber Castell highlighters and make good use of all four colours. This is how I can keep on top of everything very easily and I don’t know it would work for me without them.

  • Each day I look back at the previous day and highlight any incomplete item in yellow
  • Any completed item that was marked in yellow I go over in pink
  • Any idea I have (and there are a few!) gets marked in green
  • Any useful information or data I have noted down gets marked in orange

This means at a glance that I can see which items are still to do, and also scan through ideas I have had over the past few months for inspiration. I also mark off each day in pink at the top when it is fully ticked off, again so I can see what’s done.

Bullet Journal Highlighting
A happy sight – all items marked as done

 

So Why Is This Different To Bullet Journaling?

To be honest it probably isn’t that different – I use a system of lists of things that need to be done, day by day and month by month, review them, carry forward the ones I want and lose the rest. The difference as I see it is that a Bullet Journal in its truest form is quite a detailed process that involves marking out pages, using an index, carrying page numbers back and forth, using a detailed language to mark off items at different stages of progress, and more. This may work for you. It doesn’t for me. If you take out the monthly element of what I do you could create a truly streamlined to-do system although the monthly routine does help put regular checks in place. Without that I would drift from day to day and nine months would sail by.

 

Finishing comment…

If you, like me, are wishing you could find a way to stay organised and on top of everything you have to do then I would recommend giving this a go and finding a way that suits your personality – avoiding using a way of working that you know you will quit after a few weeks of well-meant endeavour! That’s why I dropped the idea of adding too much in like weather symbols and more which I know would give up on and it might have stopped the whole process.

 

– * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – * – *

Extras

Dot Paper

For me, whatever the book it had to have dot-grid paper. It gives enough structure on the page to let you use it for lines or grids, for writing or for tables. It also allows enough ‘white paper’ to let you draw when the time comes. Most importantly it means I can keep myself to one notebook and not have several on the go for different purposes. All my important notes are in one book.

Notebook Size

I did use a Leuchtturm A4 Master Book – gorgeous and serious, but it stayed at work as it was too heavy to carry. I then had a Leuchhtturm A5 medium-size version which I loved, but the new extra-large Rhodiarama books give just that bit more space, which I missed with an A5 book. I should point out that I only recently stopped using the Leuchtturm A5 book and I am still deciding whether I like the Rhodiarama book more or less. Look out for a head-to-head review before the month is out.

Pen Loops

The pen loop means no fumbling for a pen when you need it. Sounds obvious until you need a pen. That said, you do need to put your pen back in the loop each time…

Faber Castell Highlighters

These are the glue that binds my system together. Any ones will do, but Faber Castell make really good ones (award winning!) and there is a pack of 4 meaning enough colours for my needs.

New Pages

I would highly recommend using a new page for each day as it helps stay more organised. I also mark each day as completed so it is easy to see which days are done. It may use up the book faster but I prefer it.

Projects and Other Subjects

If I am working on a specific project or theme then I use a page for that purpose as it really helps to keep all the to-do’s related to it in one place.

Page Numbers and Indexes

The one big advantage of the Leuchtturm notebooks is that they come with an index and page numbers. So if I have made notes on a project I can note the page number in the index and then one day when I am thinking ‘where were those notes on such and such?’ I can find them easily. You could make your own page numbers and index in any notebook, but this is where I get a bit bored with the time the whole process can take.

Archiving

Another reason to use Leuchtturm books is that they come with stickers for the cover and spine so that you can archive it away, marking up the dates and that way it’s easy to find again.

Washi Tape

This little marvel can be useful too. Just use it to mark page edges to act as a permanent page marker – maybe for the start of each month, or ideas or important notes. A huge range covers everything from plain to patterns to designs.

The Lamy 2000 fountain pen

Lamy 2000: Holy Grail Fountain Pen

Lamy 2000

 

Find out more about the iconic Lamy 2000 pen

Hi folks,

you know that I love talking about fountain pens, so when Dominic announced this month’s theme I jumped at the chance to talk about THAT ONE PEN 🙂

When got into this fountain pen hobby I started with Lamy Safari pens, Al-stars and few Jinhaos. My collection grew exponentially in first couple of months 🙂 New pens are my favourite pens, so naturally I was always looking out for the next pen.

Lamy 2000 was my first ‘serious’ pen. First pen over £100 with gold nib – it was a birthday present from my parents. As soon as I started doing the research about the pen I wanted one 🙂 What’s so special about it?

Youtube, Fountain Pen Network and reviews mention words like: iconic, flagship, Holy Grail pen, etc…

Flagship pen is the most recognizable, the significant one. Iconic means that it stands the test of time, remains popular and is still trending.

Can you believe that this pen (design) will be 50 years old this year?! To celebrate the big 5-0 Lamy have announced that there will be a special edition 2000 in September. We don’t have any details on colour or finish, so my guess is as good as yours. Perhaps a golden one? Or see through? How about Laser Orange? Purple? Another Green ??? 😀

BTW there is a Stainless steel version of the pen – I had a chance to handle the pen (perks of the job). It felt substantial, very well balanced in hand and not as heavy as I thought.

My Lamy 2000 is now 2 years old and it has lived up to all the hype. I have it in handmade faux-leather sleeve and it has been inked the entire time. Kate dropped it once (I know, right?!), but luckily there are no marks on it 🙂 Piston turns smoothly and it holds good amount of ink. Stormy Grey (grey+gold) ink has been married to this pen for a good year. Recently I swapped for Diamine Night Sky because it has silver particles and matches the pen 100%.

Long story short, I love using this pen – it is one of my all time favourites. Going back to Youtube and reviews game me an idea for this blog post. This pen is what people love talking about, so I reached out to our friends who have Lamy 2000 and asked them what is it about the pen that makes it special. Here are their thoughts…

Enjoy!

Mishka (^_~)

“The Lamy 2000 fountain pen is a timeless design icon. Whether you like it or not, a pen that has remained largely unchanged over fifty years is pretty solid. Not only that, it packs a punch – a range of gold nib options, a piston-filler, and a pretty comfortable writer that can easily stand up to being a daily user, all at a relatively affordable price – that’s hard to beat.”
Gourmet Pens + SBRE Brown

“Love the era of Bauhaus and Braun design from where this pen comes from. Because of it’s ageless design it still feels fresh after 50 years”
Attila from Hungary

“I just wanted a ‘next level’ pen, and the 2000 with it’s iconic design and high praise made me want it”
Victor from Norway

“I’m finding the 2000 all I hoped it would be. The build quality is – well – German! I find it a wet writer and very smooth.”
John from France

“I consider the 2000 to be a design classic, this bought me to select the pen initially. However, beyond its elegant Bauhaus lines, what cannot be known until it is in hand, is the subtle texture of the barrel, the polished patina it acquires after years of use,  the smooth writing nib, and the little smile it brings with every use.”
Chris from United Kingdom

“I bought my Lamy 2000 in order to encourage myself to write more (I am attending a writing course). I thought if I have a beautiful pen I will enjoy the physicality of actually putting ink on the page, not just the cerebral, thinking part of writing. 

The Lamy 2000 is just wonderful to write with. It is so smooth it’s delicious, and the nib is just lovely, very nicely shaped. I went for the medium nib and it writes really well. I wondered if I would find it too big but its brilliant, quite wet but very controllable with a lovely ink flow. My other Lamy pens are also fantastic (two Safaris and a stainless steel Studio) but the 2000 is the best. It is beautiful to hold and to look at – absolutely superb design. I love the fact that it has been in production for so long yet changed very little. To me that is the mark of good, classic design (just like the old red telephone boxes, London buses and VW Beetles!!) 

The black makrolon is very striking next to the silver hood and the pen feels very nice in your fingers – one review that I read online described it as being like the smoothness of a pebble – and that is exactly how it feels. I also read that, over time, it will gradually gain a smoother patina through being used, and I like this very much, since it gains its own character. When I bought it (from Bureau Direct) Mishka said it was the kind of pen that would become an heirloom. I can quite understand why. It is one of my very favourite possessions and I feel very lucky to have it and I use it everyday.”
Haidee from United Kingdom

Neil Gaiman didn’t get back to me…but he did tweet that “Lamy 2000 is a glorious pen.” 🙂

Click here to see the Lamy 2000 fountain pen

london stationery show - pencils

London Stationery Show 2016

 london stationery show at the business design centre The team visit to #LSS16

Trade fairs form a regular part of our routine, with annual pilgramages to all sorts of exotic places from Olympia here in London to the NEC in Birmingham and the Messe in Frankfurt. In recent years though the dominant show for stationery buyers (like us) has been the London Stationery Show. Here in London, handily, as the name would suggest. It has certainly put the other UK shows in the shade, and we have been invited to be judges on the show’s stationery awards panel for three of the past five years. Last year we sent Mishka there for a day to soak up the stationery-love (read her write up here) and this year we thought we would go nuclear and send the team. The irony here is that I didn’t go – too much happening back at Stationery HQ – but Jo went with Isaac on the Tuesday and then Mishka went with Pawel and Faisal on World Stationery Day. Read on to see what they have to say about the show.

 

Highlights

Our highlights of the show were:

  • Kaweco – their stand included a machine to let you customise and make your own fountain pen. This one had everyone talking!
  • Lamy – long-time favourites of ours but always good to meet them and of course the new dark lilac Safari was the highlight of their stand.
  • Castelli – they went with a sleek, minimal stand to showcase their new black-and-gold range.
  • Palomino and Midori – some of the more exotic stationery and which we are always happy to see.
  • Lots of new suppliers, some of which we are not at liberty to divulge…trade secrets. Mum’s the word!

 

london stationery show - pencils
coloured pencils at the london stationery show

Jo

The Stationery Show is always an good visit and this year was no exception with a couple of tempting new suppliers. Increasingly we find nothing to interest us at Spring/Autumn Fair, the two big UK trade shows in Birmingham and this year, for the first time, I didn’t even go. Most of our key suppliers are at the London Stationery Show so we get the chance to say hello and have a look at anything new. Kaweco had a fantastic stand with the option to make your own Ice Sport pen, which we all did. Very interesting to see how the pen is constructed. Hopefully we will be able to take on a few new items from the show but just for now they will have to remain under wraps…

kaweco at the london stationery show
Make your own Kaweco pen at the show

Mishka

This was my second visit to stationery show, so I knew what to expect.
Lovely stationery everywhere you looked and meeting people that we deal with every day – suppliers, distributors, reps…
This time I kept finding Faisal’s signature on paper pads everywhere 🙂 It was great to go and enjoy the day out with the rest of the team (expect their thorough reviews on our Stationery Wednesday blog).

Make your own postcard at the london stationery show
‘Make your own bird’ at the show

Faisal

For me, my first experience of the show was through my pen crazy colleague Mishka who attended last year. Leaving my phone with inundated with messages and photos of the weird and wonderful. That excitement trickled down and stuck with me so I was delighted this year I was given the chance to visit. And who better to go with than with the stationery guru herself (and Pawel!).
Walking through the iconic doors at the Business Design Centre and being handed my neck strap was more thrilling than it should have been. Holding our badges up proudly, we wandered down the rabbit hole and popped out into a swarm of cheery pink booths. It was overwhelming at first the sheer number of places to visit. Buzzing with excitement, the only thing you can do is just pick an aisle and see where it takes you.
Now to be honest, there are quite a few stands aimed at the supermarket and bargain bin consumers or the pretty-on-the-outside-nothing-of-substance-inside but you’ll find a handful of diamonds in the rough. When you do, it’s brilliant. There’s nothing quite like using fantastic paper from the far east or feeling the smooth precision of a German pen and then getting to talk about it with similarly passionate people behind them.
Going to the show isn’t all about new suppliers and products or prices (for me anyway!), it’s about having a little fun peek behind the curtains and hopefully finding something inspiring to share with the world.

pens at the london stationery show
A selection of Mark’s pens at the show

Isaac

The Stationery Show was a great chance to see what’s been happening in the world of stationery recently, and from what I saw, that seems to be primarily colouring books. Aside from that though we were given the opportunity to forge our own Kaweco pens, although forge might be the wrong word there were two rather ingenious machines that simply required that you place each part in and pull the lever in order to seal them together. Having made my first red Kaweco with a clear barrel I also decided it would be the perfect pen to turn into a red eyedropper when I got back to the office, which turned out pretty brilliantly!

show_stationery_isaac-pen
Isaac’s Kaweco pen turned into an eye-dropper

Also on another fun stationery note one of my favourite stands at the show contained seemingly thousands of collectible rubbers in the shapes of animals, food and other brightly coloured things. The whole place looked just like a sweet shop, and even I couldn’t resist taking a free hedgehog to keep on my desk, very adorable.

Fun erasers at the Make your own postcard at the london stationery show
Pick’n’mix erasers!

Pawel

As one of the newer members to the team, this was my first chance to visit the show, and I’m glad I did! It was great to be able to see some brand new stationery, and I’ve definitely noticed a black and gold trend at this year’s show. Many of the products that caught my eye also caught the attention of Jo and Mishka, so hopefully we’ll have lots of tantalising new items to offer. The Kaweco stand was especially fun, as they brought along their pen assembly machines and anyone who wanted to could walk away with their own “handmade” pen.

However, I have to say that the aspect that stuck with me most was being able to finally meet all of the great people that make up our suppliers, and that I pester every day with my emails. It can be easy to forget that you’re dealing with other people in today’s online world, so having the opportunity to put a face to a name was invaluable, and it was fun to geek out a bit about stationery new and old!

And as a final personal note, as a budding artist it was quite the “kid in a candy store” experience to see so many different art supplies – I don’t think I’ve seen so many Copic, Faber-Castell, Pentel, and Caran d’Ache pens and pencils in one place!

 

Quill pens at the Make your own postcard at the london stationery show
Quill pens

Summary

It was nice that we were able to send so many of them team this year. We talked about it after #LSS15 and agreed that when #LSS16 came around we would send anyone in the team who wanted to take it all in. They certainly seemed happy to see it all, especially since it removes any lingering doubt about how un-exotic trade fairs really are, and this was one of the nice ones! Wait till we pack them off to the NEC for the day… Of course it is a bit odd that yours truly didn’t make it, again. Too much on, same old story. I am sorry I missed the Kaweco machine in particular but such is life. I’m not sure I need another fountain pen just yet.

So here’s looking forward to #LSS17, World Stationery Day 2017 and more stationery enjoyment in the spring sunshine in North London.

Sian (Age 6) Reviews the Lamy ABC and Pelikan Griffix Fountain Pens

Fountain Pens For Kids

A lot of people find that writing with a fountain pen helps to improve their handwriting, and getting children started early can help a lot. A number of schools still require the use of fountain pens after a certain age, and although at first it might force kids to write a little slower, as they become more proficient they can develop the skills to write quickly and more tidily with a fountain pen than they could with a pencil or ballpoint.

The Pelikan Griffix and the Lamy ABC fountain pens were both designed specifically for children of primary school age (although we know a number of adults that use them) and so we gave one of each pen to Sian (age 6), who is the daughter of our newest member of the Bureau team: Monica.

Here’s what she had to say about each pen:

griffix_fp_rh_pink_openlamy_abc_fp_blue

Sian’s Review

“I would pick the Pelikan Griffix 4 Fountain Pen first because I like the colours of the handprints on the ink cartridge and I like the smiley faces. The pen is also my favourite colour.

The Lamy ABC Fountain Pen is the best to write with because it feels nicer to hold and I like how it writes. But I also like that the Pelikan Griffix Fountain Pen tells you where to put your fingers.”

Sian thoroughly tests the Griffix
Sian thoroughly tests the Griffix

The Parent

“As a parent I would have agreed with Sian’s first choice based upon looks as it’s appearance is definitely more eye-catching than the Lamy ABC Fountain Pen. Although I liked the idea of the ergonomic grip zone on the Pelikan Griffix 4 Fountain Pen to enable her to learn how to correctly hold the pen, Sian felt the Lamy ABC Fountain Pen was nicer and more comfortable to hold, though she did keep holding it incorrectly! I also agree with her choice of pen based on use as the pen feels smoother than the Pelikan Griffix 4 Fountain Pen when writing. Both pens are great value for money and it is worth paying the extra on the Pelikan Griffix 4 Fountain Pen solely for the purpose of the ergonomic grip zone.”

If you would like to introduce your child to the wonderful world of fountain pens:

Click here for the Pelikan Griffix

Click here for the Lamy ABC

 

A red Lamy Safari

A Boy and his Pen

A red Lamy Safari

How does stationery help?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget what stationery is really there for. For some it’s just a tool get things done, but for a lot of us at Bureau it’s more than that; a means of expression, a way of helping us improve our lives and just a way to brighten our daily work.

After hearing from one of our customers that her son, who is dyslexic, found that fountain pens helped him to feel more comfortable when writing as opposed to other pens, we asked him to describe why this was.

Cameron has kindly contributed the piece below together with a piece by his mum to better explain why a fountain pen works for him. Whilst everybody is an individual and one solution can’t fit all, it is always useful to see how other people have tackled any obstacles they may face. We offered Cameron a pen to say thanks and he chose a red Safari with a fine nib and black ink. It certainly brightened our day so check it out:

 

From Cameron:

“Fountain pens make it easier to write as it slides over the paper. It is much easier than using a normal pen like a ball point. They help me write better a lot of the time because I can write more fluently.  I like the Lamy pens as they have a good grip to write with and it stops my fingers getting covered in ink. I like the different coloured pens and the see though one looks just amazing. I like to write with black ink but I like the different coloured inks too. Fountain pens are sick as they look much better than normal pens.”
By Cameron aged 11 ½, a dyslexic”

 

Cameron’s Mum:

‘Cameron has autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) and is very dyslexic with his writing and reading, however his comprehension and understanding is above his peer group.  He cannot get his ideas and words onto paper; this means he gets frustrated easily when writing anything.  Cameron has tried many pens since starting senior school as he only felt happy using a pencil previously. He has found fountain pens to be the one thing that helps his writing to be more legible and he wants to write using one.

He believes that ballpoints are difficult to use and add to the frustrations of writing. He finds fountain pens easy to use, it’s the way it moves over the page he does not have to press hard to get the ink out like he feels with other pens. It allows him to think about the formation of the letters rather than what the pen is doing. I did think it was a phase but he really does find writing easier with a fountain pen. He also likes the grip on the Lamy pens, they help steady the pen in his hand and in turn helps him write.

I have used a Lamy fountain pen for years and when he wanted one I already knew they came in many different colours and that the nibs can be changed. This comes in handy if he drops it and damages the nib it can be replaced without replacing the pen. This is important if they have become attached to the pen.  With the choice of the colour of the nibs and widths he gets to design his pen.  It is typical for dyslexics and those with ASD to have low self-esteem and find it hard to control things so to be able to design their own pen is a great opportunity.

Adele, Cameron’s Mum.’

 

We sent Cameron his choice pen and we hope he loves it just as much as we do.

So let us know if fountain pens have helped you at all.

Isaac.

The Office Pen

Staying Power

One of the nice things about working with stationery is all the new products that appear. For most people, a stationery delivery means a chance to stock up on some new pens or staplers or whatever but here we get all sorts of desirable items constantly turning up. This can encourage a rather fickle attitude with must-have items quickly being replaced with the next new thing. What this means though is that any item that endures against all the stiff competition must be pretty special, especially pens because we have so many to choose from. So when 50% of the office is using the same pen, as their personal choice, from all the pens we offer – it must be good.

The pen in question is the Lamy Vista – the clear barrelled version of the classic Lamy Safari with all its working parts proudly on display. For me, I choose this pen partly because it looks a bit technical but also because it changes colour depending on the ink you use so lending it a bit of extra personality. I asked the other Vista-Owners in the office to give me a brief reason why they chose it, and they said; because it’s see-through (Faisal), because it’s cool (Isaac) and because it reminds me of a transparent Game Boy I used to have (Pawel).

A look at everyone's Vistas.
From left to right, Pawel, Isaac, Jo, Mishka’s Vistas.

Customisation

The thing is though that we are not alone. Vista sales have been increasing and the pen is fast becoming one of our best-sellers. We have also noticed a lot of interest in spare parts, notably the barrel, which leads us to thinking that lots of people out there are customising their pens. Essentially, by swapping the fountain pen barrel to a rollerball barrel and then sealing up the holes at the bottom, you can turn your pen into an eye dropper – where the ink flows freely in the barrel rather than inside a cartridge or converter. Now whilst this looks very pretty it is not without risk as leaks can and do occur. Still, life is no fun without risk and in the scheme of things, this is quite a low risk activity.

Once you go down this road there are all sorts of options for customization, all equally fraught with risk. I have written about my Vista Snow before, a sort of snow globe version of the pen with glitter floating around the barrel. It looks very beautiful but to date I haven’t managed to stop it oozing unpleasantly out of some as yet unidentified section. I am working on it, slowly. Faisal experimented with putting coloured water in the barrel around the converter but again, it leaked and proved bothersome. We haven’t lost hope though and further experiments are inevitable.

Lamy Vista fountain pen snow dome

The Clear Choice

Ultimately the reason this pen is so popular though is because of the opportunity to show off the brilliant colours of all the inks we stock, especially the metallic shimmer inks. With the metallic inks especially, the gold or silver particles sink to the bottom and with the Vista you can see them in the converter and the feed when you leave it on its side for a while. I have been using the Herbin Anniversary Emerald ink for quite a while now but with a new colour due out late summer, the fickle part of my nature will surely kick in and I will have to have the latest version. The pen stays though, no matter what comes through the door.

Jo.

vista_solo_1

 

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen vs J. Herbin Fountain Pen

Lamy Safari vs J. Herbin Fountain Pen

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen vs J. Herbin Fountain Pen

Head to head review

Introduction

The Safari fountain pen has been a staple of the Lamy brand since the 80s, and while we at Bureau might not have stocked it for quite as many decades, we’ve definitely welcomed it as a permanent addition to our stock. The J. Herbin fountain pen is a relative new comer, having started stocking it towards the tail end of 2014 – but it’s proven a popular seller, especially when paired with a J. Herbin ink tin. As a newcomer to Bureau myself, I thought it’d be interesting to compare the two from the point of view of someone not quite as well versed in the world of fountain pens as other members of our team.

Style

Style is always a touchy subject, so full disclosure – you might very well disagree with my views on this. If you’ve read some of my staff reviews you’ll know I’m quite the fan of industrial, minimalist, and functional design – most of which the Safari pen covers. Every line on the pen has clearly been carefully considered, from the flat edges of the barrel that curve around the ink level window and flow into the sculpted grip section, to the chamfered edge of the cap – it all suggests an excellent grasp of design that doesn’t compromise functionality for the sake of looking good. For such a relatively inexpensive fountain pen, it is an absolute pleasure to look at.

On the other side is the J. Herbin fountain pen, and next to the Safari it’s quite boring – disappointing even. While the design is simple it’s not really that interesting. Almost the entire body of the pen is a clear plastic, with some chromed plastic accents finishing off the cap, clip, and barrel ring. It’s a very safe and standard design, even down to the flourish on the nib. I found it quite difficult to write about the style of the pen, simply because it is so inoffensive – other than the scuff prone chrome orb on the top of the lid which I personally think detracts from the pen more than help it. Having said all that, seeing the ink in the feed of the pen is a very redeeming feature, as it pools nicely just below the nib as you write.

Both pens feature the respective company branding, and both work well to be subtle and refined – the Herbin pen does this with slim, silver lettering on the side of the cap while the Lamy has a cleverly debossed lettering at the end of the barrel.

Scores: Lamy – 9/10. Herbin – 6/10

Lamy Safari fountain pen
Features

The standout feature of the J. Herbin pen is the completely clear barrel design, turning the entire pen into an ink level window – you’d be hard pressed to unknowingly run out of ink with this pen. The J. Herbin pen is quite a bit shorter (2.5cm capped, 3cm uncapped to be exact) than the Lamy pen, ideal for slipping into a pocket and has a no-frills clip on the cap. The pen uses the international standard cartridge type, so finding cartridges that fit the pen beyond J. Herbin’s own shouldn’t be a problem. Be wary of putting this pen down with the cap off, it’s an extremely adept roller – it’s found its way under my desk a fair few times during this review.

The Lamy pen also features the ability to view the ink level, however it does this with an understated oblong cut-out along towards the grip end of the barrel. The Lamy features its iconic (and very strong) clip on the cap, but it’s what is underneath that cap that is the Safari’s standout feature in my eyes – the swappable nib. Lamy provides a variety of nibs from extra fine to broad and everything in between, and swapping out your nib is a simple tug away. You’ll find the Lamy less likely to roll away from you on the desk, due to the barrel not being a perfect cylinder – it’s been flattened along two sides that helps prevent it from rolling (although once it gets started it’s just as spritely as the Herbin).

Scores. Lamy – 9/10. Herbin – 7/10

Usability

Personally I always prefer a larger or longer pen, as I find them far more comfortable to hold. In this regard, the Lamy Safari is one of the more pleasant to hold pens that I’ve used so far – the triangular moulded grip provides an ergonomic and comfortable position to hold the pen, while the long barrel rests snugly in the crook of the thumb and forefinger. If you go for the Charcoal or (now likely sold out Dark Lilac) the pen is even better to hold due to the matt, texturized finish. Whether you post your pen or not is of course a personal preference, however I find that doing so causes the Safari to become a little top heavy, and the lip of the cap can scratch against my hand while writing.

The overall writing experience with the Safari is very pleasant, with the fine nib gliding smoothly across the page, and with good ink flow. I’ve found the Lamy nibs to be quite forgiving when it comes to finding the “sweet spot” of where the nib writes best.

The J. Herbin pen, unfortunately, is a different experience. I have to knock some points off for the size of the pen, as I mentioned earlier the smaller pens just don’t sit as comfortably in my hand as I’d like. Luckily, posting the cap doesn’t drastically affect the balance, as the pen is very light – nor does the lip of the pen cap get in the way due to the shorter barrel letting the cap sit lower overall. The grip section of the Herbin pen is a simple tapered cylinder, and isn’t outstanding, I find it a little bit slippery and find myself having to hold it a little tighter than the Lamy.

The nib on the Herbin is much finer than that of the Lamy, comparable to their Extra Fine nib. Unfortunately this means the pen is a bit more temperamental with regards to the position of the nib on the paper – angle the pen out of the sweet spot and the writing experience becomes scratchy and unpleasant. However, I did find myself adjusting to it fairly quickly and once you find that angle the writing is much smoother, albeit not quite as smooth as the Lamy fine nib.

Scores. Lamy Safari – 9/10. Herbin – 7.5/10

J. Herbin fountain pen

Value

With the Lamy and Herbin pens costing £13.95 and £8.95 respectively, neither of these will break the bank. Taking into account the features presented by both pens, I find that despite the higher price you’re getting about the same value for money out of both pens, with a slight edge towards the Lamy. For an extra £5, you get a better build quality and the bonus of easily swapped nibs with the Lamy, although the possible downside of being dependent on Lamy’s proprietary cartridges (though we do stock Monteverde Lamy-compatible cartridges, which provide more colours than Lamy’s standard offering, the odd special edition ink excluded). Of course you can always add in a Z24/Z28 convertor for £3.75 and use any ink you could imagine. Meanwhile the J. Herbin pen may not be as nicely built, nonetheless it does have the benefit of using the international standard cartridge type, therefore being compatible with a wider range of manufacturers. It’s worth noting that the Herbin cartridges have a capacity of about 0.8 – 0.9ml, about a third less than Lamy, although how noticeable that’d be in daily use is up in the air.

Scores. Lamy – 8/10. Herbin – 8/10

Verdict

Going in to this review I knew I’d be quite biased towards the Lamy, as the design and size of the pen immediately appealed more to me than the Herbin. While I can’t quite look past some of the Herbin pens personal faults (the slipperiness being the worst offender), I’m not quite as put off by it after a week as I thought. I’ll likely always pick a longer pen given the choice, but I don’t think I’ll turn up my nose if I’m passed a shorter pocket pen – once I found the sweet spot of the J. Herbin nib it became a very pleasant and capable writer. For the price, I feel like the J. Herbin pen would be a very nice choice for people looking for a pocket-sized pen, especially with the multitude of fantastic ink colours that J. Herbin provide.

Total scores: Lamy – 35/40. Herbin – 28.5/40

Click here to see the Lamy Safari fountain pen

Click here to see the J.Herbin fountain pen

NB: All details correct at time of publishing

Please also note that Pawel has customised his Safari pen to be a ‘Stormtrooper’ pen, so that’s with an Al-Star front piece and a black clip. Possibly a side line for us one day…

Ink Infusion – not your ordinary ink review

all Lamy inks - photo by Mateusz clumsypenman.com

Hi folks,

Today I have something very special for you! Something that has been in works for a while. If you follow us on Twitter this is probably not a big news for you.

We have been secretly working with some very talented people, supplied them with our beloved stationery and now are ready to show you the results 🙂

This is the first one – Inky collaboration with our friend Mateusz 🙂 who in my opinion makes the best ink reviews. His pictures are stunning! Colour representation is always spot on and his knowledge…has to be shared.

So we have joined forces and bring you the first set of ink reviews.

I’d like to thank Mateusz for his amazing work and also to share my deep gratitude that he agreed to work with those less ‘exotic’ inks like Lamy, Monteverde and J Herbin first.

We can go on about ink all day long, so how about I’ll link you up 😉

Complete lineup of 8  currently available Lamy inks is here: http://www.clumsypenman.com/lamy-inks/

You are in for a treat…Enjoy!

Mishka  (^_~)

Field Notes Snowblind Edition arrives in the mountains

Made for the mountains

Field Notes Snowblind Edition

Field Notes release four limited edition notebooks each year, usually timed to meet with the seasons. The latest limited edition notebook – the Snowblind Edition – therefore had a winter theme. They also like to innovate which is always a good thing as far as we are concerned, and this edition was no exception. The unique feature this time around is that the cover is UV light sensitive and so changes colour depending on where you are. The beautiful white notebook that you have in your hand inside becomes a more practical shade of blue when you venture outside. Especially useful when heading off into the mountains. Now, if only someone we knew was heading off into the snowy wilderness…

Handily Mishka was taking a few days off to head into the Slovakian mountains and so she decided to road test the Snowblind edition. After all, testing it out in the car park here in North West London really didn’t have as much impact. And here are the results.

First up is a before shot taken on the train heading up into the mountains demonstrating the stark white notebook that you first see when you open a pack.

field notes snowblind edition
Field Notes Snowblind Edition inside

Looking pretty white there. So what happens when it ventures out into the sunlight?

field notes snowblind edition outside
Field Notes Snowblind Edition outside

Pretty conclusive. No danger of dropping your book in the snow and losing it. Now it’s just a case of dealing with mountain-envy as we sit here in wet London whilst Mishka drinks mulled wine and gets to look at gorgeous snowy mountains. If you are wondering about the pen, Mishka looks like she teamed her Snowblind up with a rather nice lime green Fisher Space Pen. An appropriate choice as this can handle all conditions.

MB_snowblind_trains
Field Notes Snowblind Edition on location

Click here to view more on the Field Notes Snowblind Edition