Sunday, October 11, 2020

Newest Acquisitions (Virtual "Show & Tell") ~ part 88

Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving! Today's featured newest acquisition is a beautiful handmade fountain pen I recently purchased from pen maker Ash Lawrence of Rockster Pens in Cardiff, Wales.

It's been a tough year for me and I'd been looking for a special pen to... well, salvage 2020, I guess. I'd seen Ash's Rockster Pens on Instagram and was instantly drawn to a fountain pen made of a remarkable material I'd never seen before...

(all photos by Maja ~ please click on images to enlarge) 

Introducing my Rockster "TroubleShooter 1313" fountain pen in "Doolittle" resin ... 


The "Doolittle" resin is one of Ash's own in-house castings and is named after the groundbreaking album (of the same name) by the legendary indie band Pixies. The colours used in the album's cover art (seen in the above photos) are reflected in the pen's swirly green, brown and white resin. "Doolittle" is one of Ash's favourites to listen to while making pens, and the resin's chaotic-looking-but-it-really-isn't mixture of dark (flat opaque), hazy (translucent) and brilliantly-shiny (metallic) components actually fits the album's tone, too :)


 The pen is incredibly well-polished (it's the very first thing I noticed about the pen when I got it) and the resin really "pops". Unfortunately, my photos don't do the material justice, but I think the shot above --when enlarged---is probably the best at showing its depth and complexity (Tip: if you left-click on the image to enlarge it, and then right-click, select "view image", and then left-click again, you'll see a super-zoomed-in image). 

The craftsmanship that went into making the pen is exceptional--from the shininess & smoothness of the pen's exterior to the carefully rounded inner cap lip and "flat-topped" threads which make for a very comfortable grip. You can feel, as well as see, the quality of its construction... 


About those section threads...As he explained to me in one of several emails we traded about the pen's design, Ash created what are called "triple lead threads" for this pen model. What does this mean? Well, for starters, it means that you only need about one-and-a-half turns to screw the cap on. Some pens need a couple of extra turns, which is fine for eyedropper-fillers (because you can never be /too/ careful with them) but for a cartridge/converter fountain pen like this one, that isn't necessary...and it's kind of annoying when you're trying to cap/uncap the pen quickly.    


 Much more interestingly, this threading feature also allows for three different end positions for the cap, which means that when you screw the cap on, you can get three different "looks" to the pen (depending on how the cap and barrel align). If you look at the two photos above, you'll see what I mean (I didn't take a shot of the third alignment, but, trust me, it exists ;)....


Initially, I was looking for a handcrafted fountain pen where the cap was flush with the barrel...but then I realized that the trade-off would be a "step" from the section to the rest of the pen's barrel. The latter is a deal-breaker for me, as pens with a big "step" are uncomfortable for me to hold (and I think the aesthetics look a bit "off"). I then decided to look for a pen that had a wide section with minimal-to-no-step, and a cap that wasn't markedly wider than the barrel....and I found it in the Rockster "TroubleShooter 1313"; it walks a perfect line between those two "wants" and fits my hand perfectly

So, what does the "1313" part of the model name mean? Well, it refers to the barrel thicknesses at its narrowest and widest parts. In this case, 13 mm is the barrel thickness at the section/cap threads and 13 mm at the widest point of the barrel (meaning there is no "step" between the section/cap threads and the rest of the barrel).


The subtly-flared section is beautifully turned and is made of the same material as the rest of the pen -- an absolute "must-have" in my search for a handcrafted pen. The pen is a good size (139mm capped, 134mm uncapped), but the material isn't heavy, so if you prefer to use the pen posted, it's still nicely balanced in the hand.   

My particular pen has a Jowo #6 gold plated steel nib with a matching yellow metal accent ring permanently attached to the end of the section (ie. so you can't lose it---another great design idea). Its broad nib writes very well, but other nib options (nib material and nib widths) are available, and if you have any questions, Ash is great at communicating and very easy to work with.  


My pen was shipped quickly & securely, and came with a lot of things (see above) that show just how much detail and thought Ash puts into his pen-making business: a Nib Dip Test card, a Certificate of Authenticity,  a nice hand-written note of thanks, a Rockster Pens sticker, a sturdy-yet-stylish shipping tube (with a message to "Please recycle or reuse me")...and even custom-printed Rockster Pens tissue paper! (Ash's pen company, incidentally, is named after the sweetest dog imaginable--his little Miniature Schnauzer, Rocky) 

Although my particular fountain pen wasn't custom-made for me (it was available in the Rockster Pens online store), it had all the features I wanted in a pen and I couldn't be happier with it. Most of Ash's pens are custom-made, so if you're interested in having one made for you, check out this page on his official website.

Many thanks to Ash for this wonderful fountain pen and his amazing customer service! When we resume in-person meetings (at some point in the future), I'll bring the pen to a meeting so our members can see just how beautiful it is :)

(Photos & review by Maja)

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