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!