Pen Review: Scriptorium Custom Cigar Pen
- Material: Mineral Sea Lava Explosion Alumilite
- Nib: M Steel
- Appointments: Silver
- Filling System: Standard International Cartridge/Converter
- Length (Capped): 147mm
- Length (Uncapped): 129.4mm
- Length (Posted): 178mm
- Section Diameter: 12.5mm
- Barrel Max Diameter: 17.1mm
- Cap Max Diameter: 17.1mm
- Weight, Capped (with ink and/or converter): 30g
- Weight, Uncapped (with ink and/or converter): 20g
Okay, let’s get this out of the way right up front. HOLY. COW. THIS. MATERIAL. JUST. SLAYS. ME.
Now, on to the review.
One of my online pen friends, Rob, is regularly kind enough to have new pen purchases sent directly to me first so I can review them, then ship them off to him. This, of course, displays a level of patience that I’m not entirely sure I could ever achieve myself. I’m extremely grateful for Rob’s willingness to delay his own gratification on my (and your) behalf. Recently, Rob sent me an email asking me if I’d be interested in reviewing a custom pen that he had had ordered from Scriptorium Pens. I am aware that there are a few bespoke pen makers out there, but I had never investigated them too thoroughly. Frankly, after my less-than-stellar experience with my first few handmade wood pens from the Market Penmaker in Pike Place Market, I had a rather negative association with “artisanal” pens. Most custom pen makers, I thought, used horrible quality pen kits with crappy nibs, cheap and uncomfortable sections, and ugly hardware.
There are, however, a group of master craftspeople out there who make amazing pens, use good nibs, design their own hardware, and even make their own sections. Renée Meeks, the artisan behind Scriptorium Pens, is one of this group. When Rob sent me information on his soon-to-be-delivered pen, I spent hours and hours on the Scriptorium website, browsing models, materials, and options. Even before I had received Rob’s custom-ordered pen, I had placed an order for a custom pen of my own.
One of the neat things about custom-made pens is that you can often get access to materials you don’t see on standard, production-line pens. Such is the case with this custom cigar-shaped pen from Scriptorium. The pen is made from a material called Alumilite, which is a two-part liquid casting resin. (You can see examples of all kinds of pen blanks made from Alumilite here and here.) The material Rob chose for his custom pen is called Lava Explosion #3 (also known as Mineral Sea Lava Explosion.) The material, besides being absolutely stunning, with incredible depth and chatoyance, holds a beautiful polish, and has a warm feel in the hand–somewhere in between resin and ebonite. It is quite spectacular.
Rob’s order included some special instructions: He wanted the pen to be about 145mm in length, he wanted it slightly wider than normal, he ordered two caps–one with a clip and one without, and a pen rest made of the same material. The also requested the standard Jowo steel nib unit that comes with Renee’s pens by default in a medium. This is another one of the benefits of having a custom pen made: you can get exactly what you want! As you can see from the pictures below, Renee really delivered!
The quality of construction on the pen is pretty spectacular. It is nicely shaped and beautifully polished. The threads are smooth and tight. The seam between the finial and the rest of the cap is perfectly flush. Even the transition between the cap and the barrel is smooth and level. It is an exceptionally well-made pen.
The pen is very comfortable to hold. The section has a nice contour, albeit one just a bit wide for my personal preferences. Overall, though, the increased width of the pen is more of a positive than a negative. The extra material gives the pen just a touch of heft that helps to balance it out a bit. I like lightweight pens, but sometimes pens are so light they almost “skitter” across the page when writing. The extra bulk of this particular design helps to keep the nib a bit more “grounded.”
The design of the pen doesn’t really allow for posting, which is fine. The lip of the cap on this particular pen design is fairly thin, and there is no cap band. I would be afraid that posting the pen might result in cracks in the lip of the cap over time.
As mentioned above, the pen comes with a fairly standard #6 steel Jowo nib unit, custom engraved with the Scriptorium Pens logo. This is the same kind of nib that you would get from Franklin-Christoph, TWSBI, Edison, or the Goulet Pen Company. It is my understanding that Renée tunes each of these nibs before sending them out (which would make sense.) I have to say that this is perhaps one of the best-tuned steel Jowo nibs I’ve ever used. It’s not the wettest nib, but in my usage it had 100% consistent ink flow, and was quite smooth. It made for a very enjoyable writing experience.
In the end, getting Rob’s pen in my hand only heightened my excitement for receiving my own custom pen. (I think mine is due to get started sometime in the coming week!) I ordered a different model of pen (the Chronicler), but ordered it from the same material. I am also having Renée build the pen to use an Pelikan M800 nib that I had lying around, so I get the joys of a nice 18k Pelikan nib in my custom pen.
I really enjoyed my time with Rob’s pen. It was a wonderful writer, made out of one of the most gorgeous resins I’ve ever seen. I could really get used to this whole custom pen thing. It is an insane amount of fun to pour over materials and models, determine the customizations, and wait on tenterhooks to see your pen blanks show up in the @scriptorium_pens Instagram feed. (Seriously. Go follow her. It’s good times to watch these pens being made.)