Zenzoi Bamboo Fountain Pen Review

I love when I hear about a new pen company that is coming on to the scene or has been established and I just learned about them. The pens come with no perceived opinion like “I know what model A is like so I bet model B will be similar and I can expect this or that”. A new brand to me has produced a nice surprise. Zenzoi recently contacted me about trying out one of their fountain pens. My visit to Zenzoi.com had my opinion positioning them as more of a gift company than a pen focused company but I tried not to pre-judge what was coming in the mail.

Mail call was in a few days. I have had an affinity to wood pens lately so I really liked the bamboo wood construction of my review sample. Here is the link to the pen on their site. The bamboo was finished nicely and the wood grain accented the overall look of the pen well. Some wood pens are over finished with shellac and varnish almost giving a slick feel. Zenzoi lets the feel and beauty of the wood come through. The gold trim had some black accents and the section was black plastic. It is an attractive pen. The other design touch I really liked were the rounded ends of the pen made out of the same bamboo wood. Usually this are plastics or metal finials.

  • Material: Bamboo Wood
  • Nib: Two Tone Genius Iridium Germany
  • Length Capped: 5 ¾”
  • Cap Length: 2 5/8”
  • Length Uncapped: 4 7/8”
  • Length Posted: 6 5/8”
  • Cap Diameter: 33/64”
  • Body Diameter: 15/32”
  • Weight: 25.9g
  • Street Price: $40

I would consider the Zenzoi on the small side of sizing. That’s really a personal preference on what one prefers but it had no bearing on the writing performance. With some plastic parts like the section this gives the pen a very light feel and at under 26g it is light. If the length and diameter suit you this could easily be an all-day writer.

Packaging

Zenzoi chose a matching bamboo wood clam shell box for the pen. The box is a great choice for a gift giving experience but other than that it adds nothing to the writing experience. Your opinion may differ as to whether it’s worth whatever amount it adds to the cost of the pen.

Cap

The cap is a snap on style with a definitive click. The clip is a tight stamped style and serves its purpose without fuss or attention needed.

Filling System

The Bamboo came with a converter similar to those I have used in other pens. It doesn’t hold a lot of ink but it does the job, is easy to clean and doesn’t leak.

Nib

The nib is a two tone affair stamped with Genius Iridium Germany. I’ll assume that means made in Germany. Quality out of the box was impressive. The out of the box writing experience was as good as any pen I have purchased. Smoothness and flow were excellent and I had no hard starts at all. I intentionally laid the pen down uncapped for a few minutes and it started right back up with no hesitation. It could easily be a daily workhorse pen.

Conclusion

This pen delivered more than I expected. At $40 you will probably have to really like the uniqueness of the Bamboo and/or the investment Zenzoi has put in the very nice packaging as a gift purchase. The nib wrote very well, it comes with a converter and I’m sure any new fountain pen user would get a positive first experience with the Bamboo as a gift.

Thanks to Zenzoi for sending this one over and when you get time go give them a look at www.zenzoi.com

Remember: Write something nice……

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Are You Going To The Atlanta Pen Show

Atlanta Pen Show Apr 21-23, 2017Is it too early to start planning for the Atlanta Pen Show ? I think not. I keep telling myself I want to make it to DC and Atlanta this year but so far Atlanta is the only sure bet. I’m getting a little better at the whole pen show social aspect after 2 years. That hesitation is totally on me, everyone at the show has always been super nice and friendly.

Atlanta Pen Show

April 21-23, 2017
Wyndham Atlanta Galleria
www.atlantapenshow.com

I have not done a lot of research so far but a growing list of what I want to see has emerged:

Ink

I’ll end up with one of these shimmering, shading, flakes of gold ink at the show. Not sure which one but my interest is up:

  • Diamine Shimmering Red Lustre – I like variations of red and Diamine has always performed well for me as a brand.
  • Robert Oster Fire & Ice – I will be surprised if I find any of this available. I think it’s been very popular
  • A new brown ink – this will be my first attempt at shopping by swatch as I have no brand allegiance or ideas.
  • J Herbin Emerald of Chivor – I know I’m months and months late to the game on this one but if it’s still available it may be this one or the Robert Oster
  • Akermann #28 Green – I have a green I really like but it seems like I hear about this one every week on the Pen Addict podcast so I’m going to give it a try.

Pens

  • Anything in real wood – Since making my first fountain pen out of a pen kit and some old barn wood I just love the feel of the wood in my hand. I also have a Faber Castell Ondoro in real wood and it’s equally soothing in hand. I’m gunning for your table Ryan Krusac.
  • Aurora Optima – I don’t own an Aurora and I’ve heard good things about them. This will definitely be a try before I buy as I have only seen them in print.
  • Sailor Pro Gear – See Akermann #28 above
  • Pilot Namiki Stella 90 – This has been on my list for a long time and honestly I don’t remember why. Maybe if I actually find one and see it in person I will remember why.
  • Kanilea Pen Company – I’m on the fence on this one. Beautiful pieces but it’s on the high side of my price point so it will really have to speak loud to me in person.
  • Scriptorium – I love working with small makers and support them when I can. I have seen some of their work and it’s very nice.
  • Faber-Castell Special Edition Pure Black e-Motion – I love everything I have of Faber-Castell. Plus every one of them have been perfect writers right out of the box. Their styles can be unconventional but their quality always rings my bell.

The links above are for reference only. I have purchased from the dealers referenced and will purchase from them again but there is no affiliation other than that. Pricing should not be assumed the lowest available.

So there I have it, If I get one of each I will come home broke and probably on a bus so the hunting and deciding should be fun.

Would love to hear any recommendations you have for me on the above or what your plans are for The Atlanta Pen Show or other shows this year?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Michael’s Pens FAT BOY Pen Review

A pen is a pretty straightforward design, a long slender tube, a stick if you will. Some are prettier than others with companies being creative by using variations on round, varying the thickness, accoutrements and of course what raw material they use. Sometimes those variations can move a pen closer to a piece of art or depending on your tastes and perspective they could venture into a novelty. Hopefully any execution of art or novelty does not impair the practicality of a pen as a writing instrument. Recently I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with a maker’s pens that jump out a little farther with the design aesthetics than what you typically see on this blog. I’ve had fun with these.

Michael Hochstetler of Michael’s Pens is a creative type when it comes to writing instruments. Since 2003 he has been building quite a design collection of his signature Fat Boy pen right here in the US. Impressive longevity when the industry of small production custom pen manufacturing is still relatively young.

Over the years, he has innovated using the basic design of a robust aircraft billet aluminum pen body, Parker size refills and German Schmidt internals. All quality parts and when you see the pen you will see the name fits, and it’s not just a pretty moniker, they are fat for a reason and I found that trait pleasant for me over my time with three models:

Red Wire High Voltage Tesla Coil

By far my favorite is the black body with 2 strands of red wire tightly wound around the body attached with stainless steel screws. The effect looks like the windings of an electric motor. The black clip is hinged where it attaches to the pen body. This is a numbered special edition model that sells for $219

Red Comet

The Comet starts with the red billet aluminum body then Michael diamond cuts four streaking comets into the barrel. The comets retain the raw aluminum look for a striking contrast. Clip is a stamped steel version that pressure clamps across the top of the pen. The Comet series comes in 4 different colors and sells for $85

Red Chopper

Laser engraved flames set the Chopper Collection collection apart and against the red I think I even feel tougher writing with it. Clip is a stamped steel version that pressure clamps across the top of the pen. The Chopper series comes in 4 different colors and sells for $85.

All of the Fat Boy pens are available in a Pencil with Eraser configuration as well.

The major outlet to find the most versions of Michael’s Fat Boy is at Fountain Pen Hospital where search results on the Fat Boy returns 84 pages! Names like Archangelo, New York, Civil War Cannons, it’s fun to browse through how many unique variations Michael has designed over the years. The Fat Boy could easily be a collector model like some people collect say Lamy Safaris or Kaweco Sports.

Michael also sent over a really cool pen stand made from a ring of ball bearings specifically for the Fat Boy. If you’re considering the Fat Boy for a gift, or your desk pen, this stand would put it over the top. These sell for $45 with 6 variations to choose from Fountain Pen Hospital.

The Pen

Material: Aircraft Grade Billet Aluminum

  • Refills: Parker Style (Comes with a Monteverde Soft Roll P15
  • Length: 5 1/8”
  • Body Diameter: 5/8″
  • Weight: 1.94 oz. (Comet Model)
  • Street Price: From $85

Packaging

Michael does a nice job on the packaging from a shipping protection standpoint and also to support his major retail outlet Fountain Pen Hospital. The shiny black box and protective outer box depicts the quality that resides inside whether being opened up across a sales counter or a customer receiving it as a shipped package.  Michael has also taken the time to design some short documentation on the pen which may not affect the writing but accurately portrays that thought and details were not spared in his design.

Overall Appearance

The Fat Boy is a big fat pen. It’s like a 300 pound linebacker vs a more conventional pen as a 300 pound 7 foot tall NBA center. The proportions are different. Not bad or unattractive, quite the opposite for my tastes. At just over 5” I would not call this a pocket pen but it’s a good length for every day writing. The big rubber treads where you grip the pen also give a big beefy look. At the tip and tail there is a large turn down in the diameter to mate up with the tip cone and the knock. A unique look.

Construction Fit & Finish

The red finish that I tried out were striking with a smooth finish and no machine marks or assembly scratches anywhere. Threads were smooth and it includes an o-ring in the tip to help with squeaks, rattles and keeping the tip tight. The wire wrapping on the Tesla Coil edition is wrapped perfectly. I catch myself starring at it wondering how he did that so precise. A well put together pen with attention to detail obvious in the design and construction

Ergonomics

Did I mention the Fat Boy is a big fat pen?. The aluminum makes it a comfortable weight for me and I happen to like big fat pens. At 5/8″ diameter It fills your hand. You feel the extra hardware on the Tesla Coil edition but there were no harsh edges that really bothered me. The weight differences between it, the Comet and the Chopper didn’t make any difference to me. The knock works splendid like most Schmidts do and the three rubber rings at the gripping section work wonderfully for a grip. I would almost call them tires more than rubber rings.

Clip

All of the clips worked well. The stamped steel wrap around clamped version of the Chopper and Comet has good tension and performs it’s intended role just fine. Here again the Tesla Coil is my favorite with the hinged and tapered clip definitely being a step up. It’s emblazoned with M I C H A E L S and the hinge adds a little bit more mechanical panache to the pen.

Refill

Great choice by Michael on the Parker style refill. He includes a Monteverde branded refill with every pen which is a really good writer but it’s simple to unscrew the writing tip end and slip in your favorite Easy Flow, 9000M or whatever you fancy. On the Tesla Coil edition he throws in an extra refill, nice touch.

Conclusion

A Fat Boy will get noticed in a room full of more ordinary pens. The aesthetic style may not be for everyone but I loved them. The large diameter and the grip was a joy to write with and the build quality was top notch so it’s a winning combination for me.

Thanks again to Michael for sending these over to try out.

You can find Michael’s pens at michaelspens.com and Fountain Pen Hospital.

Remember: Write something nice……

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