Parker IM Premium Metal Chiseled 5th Mode - Pen Review

A few years back the Parker Ingenuity line came out and I've been meaning to try one since and Goldspot was kind enough to send me one of the Parker IM Premium pens in the shiny chrome metal chiseled edition for review. Special thanks to them!

What is the Ingenuity pen? The Ingenuity line uses a proprietary technology called the Parker 5th, a special refill that is a plastic tipped, marker style refill, kind of like a fineliner.

The pen comes packaged in a simple, but tasteful gold and black Parker box.

This particular model is an all-metal, completely chromed edition that has a series of decorative textured lines and squares across the barrel. With the barrel being all chrome it tends to be a bit of a fingerprint magnet, but looks great; classy.

The textures give it a very "Parker" look which usually resonates with me as an homage to the Art Deco styling that graced so many of their earlier models. Over the last couple of years it seems that Parker has sought to "modernize" and revise their brand by updating the aesthetics, but I feel this pen is a nice blend of both worlds. 

The pen is weighty, but not overly heavy and quite comfortable. The cap is attached to the barrel via a pressure "snap" system held inside, which also posts securely on the barrel. Surprisingly, posting doesn't make writing uncomfortable or create an overly unbalanced feel.

Also true to Parker branding is the arrow clip made from pressed steel that is also a polished chrome finish. The clip is quite sturdy, but with a good tug or snag I could see it bending out a bit.

The only part of the pen that isn't a polished chrome is the section which has a bit of a bead blasted finish to add texture and interest. I'm actually glad Parker opted to do this as polished sections tend to be overly slick which this is not.

The tip of the pen is probably the most interesting piece in the Ingenuity line as it has a faux appearance of being a fountain pen nib, split tines and all, but this is merely a metal shroud (referred to as the hood by Parker) that covers the refill as it protrudes from the grip and barrel. The underside of the "nib" is open to expose the textured tip of the refill that is also designed to look like a feed you'd find on a fountain pen. 

I'm sure this aesthetic choice has many people puzzled in the fountain pen community. Why would you make a pen look like a fountain pen, but not actually be a fountain pen?

Personally, I actually appreciate the design choice here and think I understand Parker's rationale. They aren't proposing that this IS a fountain pen, but they are merely paying tribute to history and the art of writing, and the style of a fountain pen in general. I think of it like companies making those old-timey Edison style bulbs, but with LEDs instead of filaments. Modern tech with vintage style and appeal.

As mentioned above, the Parker 5th refills are a porous, fibre tipped pen that write similar to a fineliner which provides some expressive handwriting possibilities.

In comparison to other fibre, felt, or plastic tipped pens, I find it to be a bit on the stiff side, similar to that of a Sakura Pigma Micron or Sharpie Pen. While a Papermate Flair and Schmidt fineliner are not soft like a brush pen, I feel they are softer while writing than the Parker 5th which is my personal preference. If you enjoy the Micron or Sharpie Pen, this may definitely be a way to class up your barrel for sure.

The refills for the pen aren't cheap running around $8 apiece, but for a more "upscale" refill this is comparable to the Montblanc fineliners that run about the same price.   

This particular pen normally retails at around $85, but Goldspot currently has them on sale for $49.95. They also have a variety of other Parker Ingenuity pens to choose from that can go all the way up to the $250 range depending on materials, but definitely keep this one in mind if wanting to pick one up for a great price.

Special thanks again to Goldspot for sponsoring the post! 

Aluminum Pen1 by BaughbLabs (Robert Isaac) - A Review

Obviously, being a pen blogger, I enjoy pens... a lot. Dozens of pens come to my desk throughout a given year, and always enjoy trying new things.

Some pens excite me and some fall a bit flat, but the ones that seem to inspire me the most are those that are dreamed up and made by individuals out of a passion for designing something they want to use themselves.

On Instagram I follow a lot of pen folks, but I also seem to gravitate towards artists, designers, and craftspeople. One such person I stumbled upon a couple months ago is Robert Isaac (@baughblabs) and saw that he had designed (and made) his own minimalist aluminum pen.

I knew that I needed to get one... 

Actually, seeing Robert's pen made me think way back to the first time I heard from Chris Williams of Ateleia Craft + Design (at that point it didn't have a name!) back in 2013 when he talked to me about "a pen he was making" and how excited I got. It wasn't corporate or overproduced/marketed; just a dude that was passionate about making an awesome pen that shelled out his own cash to make a small first batch (20 in total I think) just to see how it went. 

I visited Robert's website and saw where to purchase, so I placed my order. The pen was $49.95 which included domestic shipping (which I find an immense deal), and within a couple of weeks my pen arrived in the mailbox.

Now, I said "weeks" as each pen is handmade by Robert in small batches on his lathe. I think I caught him right about when a batch was wrapping up, so the wait wasn't too long. This didn't dissuade me as I can relate with my Dudek Modern Goods brand and how I generally take a couple of weeks as all of my stands are made to order.

The pen arrived nicely stowed in a simple, brown paper envelope with Robert's "b" logo stamped on it. No frilly packaging which was totally ok.

I love how simple this pen is. A straight, stick-like aluminum barrel that is pure function, but that simplicity is what makes it great. I've used other "stick" pens that didn't quite get the proportions and design right as they added rings, grips, or other textures that distracted from the sleek minimalism.

The pen is thin being machined from 3/8" aluminum rods, a smidge larger in diameter than your average wood cased pencil for reference. Being aluminum, it is also light weighing in at around 0.7 oz, but a very comfortable heft for it's size.

To extend the Parker style refill, you simply screw in the threaded end cap until it creates a near seamless barrel. To retract, unscrew it until the tip is safely stowed inside.

I find this to be extremely clever, even if to some this may seem overly simplistic.  

The design doesn't lend itself to lighting quick deployment (about 4 or 5 turns), but also prevents the pen from inadvertently being "clicked". I don't mind the exposed threads, but have thought in my mind how Robert could potentially machine away the top two threads to create a more stair step look. This would make the inset appear drastically deeper, but might act as a good guide for when the pen is extended and prevent the threads from possible damage.

The tip of the pen has a sharp, conical design which functionally allows you to see the tip while writing, but also adds just enough "shape" to the pen.

The workmanship on the pen is excellent, considering that Robert hand machines and finishes each of them. The pen is high quality, but does have some subtle, human-made elements that, to me, increases my appreciation for it. A person hand made and shipped this product to me which adds to it's story. Every time I use it I can connect it back to this.

Overall, extremely happy with my purchase from BaughbLabs and I'm looking forward to years of use from this pen. Take a minute to check out Robert's site, and here is hoping to more designs from him!   

Mr. Lentz Leather Notebook/Passport Covers - A Review

Whenever I learn of a new (well, new to me) leather maker I always get excited. Something that pairs nicely for daily, ongoing use in our world of stationery or every day carry items is leather. It is durable (when well made), ages in unique ways as it is used, and protects things we care about from being damaged.

A company I was unfamiliar with called Mr. Lentz reached out to me and asked if I'd like to take a look at some of their leather passport/notebook wallets and, of course, I can never refuse to see someone's handwork.

Mr. Lentz products are created by a real guy, Mr. Evan Lentz, who has been making and selling his wares for several years also being featured in several publications as well as being a featured Etsy seller. Needless to say, he seems to have garnered a reputation for care and quality in his work from a wide range of audiences.

The Mr. Lentz brand and products have a very pronounced cowboy and country theme (although Evan does say he loves 90's dance music in his bio...which is awesome) that admittedly is a bit outside of my own personal aesthetic, but doesn't dissuade me in the least from appreciating and enjoying what he has created. Practical, attractive, and well-made goods are always appealing.

On his site he even says:

A smart cowboy once said ‘Buy nice, or buy twice.’

Couldn't agree more partner!

Evan was kind enough to actually send me two different passport/notebook covers to review. Should we do a giveaway for one soon?... I think we just might.

For his work Evan uses full-grain vegetable tanned leather purchased through one of the oldest US tanneries, and the leather is made from some of the toughest parts of the cow's hide making it highly durable. The leather the covers are made of isn't abrasive in any way (but also not soft/supple), but they are stiff and tough before their first use, waiting to be broken in.

I requested the Western Brown dyed leather which is a nice chestnut color, but they can also be made in an un-dyed natural or dyed black.  

The color is uniform on the pieces themselves, but when comparing the two the colors are slightly different, one being darker than the other. I'm not a leather maker so can't attest to whether this is due to different dye batches, the original leather having a starting color, curing time?... Either way, this is not offensive to me as they aren't designed to be a set. 

Each of the covers also has multiple slots for debit/credit cards, ID's, or business cards. The double passport sleeve is designed to really be an all in one carry solution when traveling.

Included with each cover is a small chrome ballpoint pen (really, really small) by a company called Derringer (maybe like the small gun?) that is tucked into two punched holes at the spine of the cover. For quick notes I could see this being a good solution, but I know one of the first things I'd do is stretch the holes out a bit more to fit a CH4 Space Pen (also know as the Shuttle Series), the slimmer cousin of the original AG-7 Space Pen flown on the Apollo missions. A little more expensive of a pen, but may be a longer term investment.

Also included is a small passport sized lined notebook that would work great to get someone started with the cover. I love the fact that he takes the time to include these items.

With every piece, Evan also sends along a small tin of his leather care balm, which is a really nice consideration.

When thinking about the stationery community in general, only one concern with the notebook situation came up: size. Many of the pocket notebook brands (Field Notes, Doane Paper, Story Supply Co...) make a 5.5" tall book, while the covers are designed for a 5" book which means they stick out slightly during use.

I didn't see availability for buying additional books through Evan, although, another notebook producer here in the US, Scout Books, has always used the 5" size so they are a perfect fit and would be my recommendation for refills.

In the notebook only cover, the book can either be tucked into its little pocket and removed during use, or, the back cover can be slipped into the same "pocket" to allow it to be used in the cover. The double passport/notebook cover would likely require the removal of the book from the cover due to there being card sleeves on both sides. Still, keeping everything tidy during transport.

Something unique to Evan's leather covers is them being fastened together with brass rivets rather than sewing the edges. This gives a completely different look to the pieces and does add some of the Western flair for sure.

Again, not being a leather maker myself, I can't say whether stitching or rivets will last longer, but I suppose it depends on execution. A poor stitch job will unravel just like a poor rivet job will pop through. Regardless, I like that he has gone this route for his brand and his work is tight and of high quality.

A special thanks to Mr. Lentz for sending these my way for review! Outside of notebook covers, Evan carries a wide range of other leather wallets, bags, and other accessories at reasonable prices. Definitely give his wares a look.