Monday, November 30, 2020

Review: Shibui Traveler's Notebook Cover


In August, the creative team and developers behind the world-class products at Shibui PH sent me a prototype of their latest product, a zippered traveler's notebook cover, to evaluate and review. The prototype for the Shibui TN cover is very impressive, it looked perfect to me then, and after several discussions with the team, they were able to produce their very own TN covers and Shibui PH is launching them today! (Read towards the end of this review and check the special launch discount that Shibui PH is giving  away.)

The Shibui Traveler's Notebook Cover is made from high-quality leather and shows excellent craftsmanship. It's classy, elegant, well-made, and I'm so proud that this product is made by talented and skilled Filipino leatherworkers. This TN cover has all the features that a traveler and TN user could ask for: high-quality leather cover, pockets for cards and all kinds of paper bits, Shibui's Pull-Tag™ for any pen size, sturdy built-in elastic, and a zipper to keep everything together.

Shibui's leather products are presented in large white boxes with the Shibui logo. Inside the box are the TN cover, a small flyer with leather care instructions, and a postcard. The inside bottom of the box contains the Shibui brand philosophy, contact details, and their social media accounts.

The Shibui Traveler's Notebook Cover inside the Shibui's simple and neat white box. 

I've been using a traveler's notebook for several years, and I love keeping several inserts in the TN together with my diaries and a lot of ephemera and paper bits. Now that I have the Shibui TN Cover, I will transfer some of my inserts to the zippered cover to tidy them and keep my ephemera and paper bits together. I also think that this will be very useful for when I can travel again because it can fit so much paper stuff inside. I can have a notebook, pen, passport, tickets, IDs, and other cards in one zippered sturdy leather cover! It's very useful and so handy for travelers.

Shibui's own Traveler's Notebook Cover in regular size.

The Shibui TN Cover is available in both regular and passport sizes and in several colors including Ocean Blue, Olive Green, and Saddle Brown, which is the one in this review. It measures 23cm x 12cm x 2cm and fits regular sized Traveler's Notebook refills/inserts.

This TN Cover is definitely a dream come true for TN users. Aside from the elastic to keep a regular insert, it has so many pockets and slots for cards, an extra insert, a pen, and other stuff. I was able to fit my passport in the pocket behind the card slots.

The prototype that I received in August did not have a built-in elastic and I found it was a bit of a challenge to put it in the cover's spine. I also thought that sourcing it may be a challenge to some users, so I suggested to the team to include an elastic band to the TN cover so that each product is ready to use as purchased. 

The Shibui TN Cover has a built-in elastic for a notebook insert/refill with each purchase so it's ready to use.

It's very thoughtful of Shibui to include the Pull-Tag™ in their TN Cover. The Pull-Tag™ is a unique feature of Shibui's pen cases. It's an adjustable soft leather band that holds pens securely in their slots inside pen cases. The Pull-Tag™ allows pens in any size and thickness to fit securely in their slots without any risk of pen damage due to tight elastic bands. A pen inside the Shibui TN Cover is held securely in place by the Pull-Tag™.

Card slots, pockets, Pull-Tag™ in the Shibui TN Cover.
The back cover has three slots/pockets that can fit an extra regular-sized notebook insert/refill, a passport, and some extra bits of paper.
Shibui PH now has its own metal zipper tag. I love this branding!

Shibui has definitely made some design changes to the TN Cover prototype. I noticed that they reduced the height by maybe a centimeter, which gives the contents, especially the inserts a tighter fit inside the Cover. They are basically the same, but I like the extra space in the prototype because I get more room for my stuff.

On top is the final product, the prototype is at the bottom. The final product is 1cm less in height, but both have the same thickness.
It seems that they also reduced the TN Cover's width by a centimeter.

Again, the Shibui PH TN Cover is an excellent product and a useful travel companion. Like their pen cases, the TN Covers have their own characteristics — no two pieces are alike and each carries its own look and personality. The passport size is interesting, too! Get both for your travels and memory keeping!

My Shibui TN fits two notebook inserts (one in the built-in elastic and another in the back cover), my passport, a standardized fountain pen, and several bits of paper.

Shibui PH products are designed and crafted by Filipinos whose vision has always been to create a brand that will promote Filipino leather craftsmanship to the world. Shibui's creators are firm believers of local craftsmanship and their goal is to enrich local industries and compete with other brands on a global stage. They envisioned a brand that will have a strong local and international following because they believe that providing jobs to Filipino leatherworkers means that more families can stay together and will no longer need to look for work overseas. This way, fathers can stay with their children, train them, and pass on the legacy of leather crafting to the next generation, a skill that is slowly fading as next-generation leather workers become interested in other endeavors.


Shibui also offers 3- and 5-pen cases, an 8-vial case, Hobo Weeks Cover, A5 or A6 Notebook/Journal Covers, A5 or A6 Life Organizers, Travel Wallet, and Travel Organizer. To see (and buy) these amazing Filipino products, visit the Shibui PH website (https://www.shibuiph.com/).

In the Philippines, Shibui pen cases and other leather products are also available in the following stores: Scribe.ph (SM Aura, Glorietta 4, and Eastwood branches), Analog, Noteworthy (Podium, Rockwell, BGC, and Alabang Town Center branches) and Everything Calligraphy.

And did you know? Shibui PH has now reached the global stage! Overseas, Shibui leather pen cases are available in Malaysia (Pen Gallery), Singapore (Cityluxe), Hong Kong (Pierre Cardin), and the United States (Endless Pens). 

The Shibui Traveler's Notebook in this review is provided by Shibui PH where it retails for PhP2,895 for the regular TN Cover and PhP2,350 for the passport cover. If you buy one now, Shibui PH is offering a 10% discounted price at PhP2,605.50 and PhP2,115, respectively. The promo runs until December 12, 2020. For more details on buying Shibui PH products, visit their website at https://www.shibuiph.com/.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Fountain Pen Review: 2020 Special Edition Lamy Safari Candy


They say a fountain pen collection is incomplete without a Lamy Safari in it, and I know many users, enthusiasts, and collectors whose first fountain pen is a Safari. I first saw Lamy Safari fountain pens during my first pen meet in December 2008 and it was love at first sight. I fell in love with their bright colors, simple design, durability, and functionality. Two years later, I got my first Lamy fountain pen, and the rest, as they say, is history. I became one of the world's many collectors of Lamy fountain pens and I look forward to their yearly special edition pens.   

In 2019, Lamy launched three pens as the year's Special Editon Safari. This year—2020—Lamy did it again! The year's Special Edition Safari is not one but three beautiful pens in a happy, bright, and colorful matte finish. The 2020 Special Edition Lamy Safari Candy has three colors—Violet, Aquamarine, and Mango, reminiscent of pop art, fruit sorbet, and sugar icing. The Lamy  Safari Candy trio brings as much joy as a bag of colorful sweet candies without the sugar rush.


The Safari Candy pens are available as fountain pens, rollerball pens, and ballpoint pens. 

The Lamy Safari Candy trio has the following measurements and specifications:
  • Colors: Tone-in-tone Violet, Aquamarine, and Mango
  • Material: ABS plastic
  • Length, capped: 5.5 in | 14.6 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5 in | 13.2 cm
  • Length, cap posted: 6.5 in | 16.5 cm
  • Length, barrel only: 3 in | 9.1 cm
  • Length, section to nib: 2.2 in | 4 cm
  • Length, cap: 2.6 inches | 6.35 cm 65
  • Full pen weight: 17 g | 0.9 oz
  • Pen uncapped weight: 10 g
  • Barrel only weight: 7 g | 0.65 oz
  • Cap weight: 8 g | 0.2 oz
  • Cap: Snap-on, postable
  • Clip material: Stainless steel 
  • Nib: Interchangeable stainless steel in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or italics (1.1, 1.5, or 1.9mm)
  • Filling mechanism: Lamy T10 Giant ink cartridge or Lamy Z27 or Z28 converter

These three pens have a matte finish and the special tone-in-tone concept that Lamy used for the first time. In this concept, all the details and trims including clip, spacer ring, and finial are matched to the pens' body colors.
In the past, Lamy has matched the finial color with the pens' body, but this year's Special Edition pens have matching finials, clips, and spacer rings. 

The Safari's triangular section is ergonomically designed to make writing easier — it helps users to get a firm and secure grip on their pen. An anti-slipping brake near the end of the section prevents a user’s fingers from slipping into the nib while writing. I do not find the triangular grip uncomfortable at all. I actually do not notice it when I'm using my Lamy fountain pens.

Lamy Safari fountain pens are fitted with sturdy, long-lasting stainless nibs. These nibs are interchangeable for the Safari and for other Lamy fountain pens, which is very useful. A Safari fountain pen has the same feed and nib as those on the Vista, Al-Star, Joy, Nexx, and Studio. For my Safari Candy trio, I swapped their default medium nibs with 1.1 italics, my favorite Lamy nib width.


LAMY Safari Candy VIOLET

Violet is one of the three special edition Lamy Safari Candy pens for 2020. This pen has a matte finish and matching purple body, finial, clip, and spacer ring. Violet has a lighter purple color than the 2016 Special Edition Dark Lilac but is just perfect with the 2016 matching ink.

The 2016 Lamy Dark Lilac ink is a perfect match to the 2020 Safari Candy Violet.

LAMY Safari Candy AQUAMARINE

Aquamarine is one of the three pens in the Safari Candy trio. It has a matte finish and matching aquamarine body, finial, clip, and spacer ring. The Candy Aquamarine has a deeper color than the 2011 limited edition Safari Aquamarine. It's closer in color to the 2020 Lamy Al-Star Turmaline and its matching ink.

The 2020 Lamy Turmaline is the perfect ink match to the Safari Candy Aquamarine.

LAMY Safari MANGO

Mango is one of the three special edition Lamy Safari Candy pens for 2020. This pen has a matte finish and matching yellow body, finial, clip, and spacer ring. The Candy Mango has a deeper yellow color than the regular yellow Safari and is the only pen in the trio with a matching Mango ink.

Perfect combination in yellow—Safari Candy Mango and limited edition Lamy Mango ink.

I changed the nibs on all three Safari fountain pens with 1.1 stubs and did some ink art with their matching Lamy inks. I enjoyed doing this ink art with the bright and rich Lamy ink colors, and the stub nibs wrote wet and smoothly. 



The Safari Candy fountain pens are bright, happy, colorful pens and this trio is one of the best ones from Lamy's recent Safari colors, especially the Candy Mango. The release of the Safari Candy pens was a bit delayed by the restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so these pens are still widely available in most pen stores. Get them for your collection!

Rants of the Archer thanks Lamy Philippines and Times Trading for providing the Lamy Safari Candy fountain pens for review purposes. Lamy Safari pens are widely available in reputable pen sellers worldwide. For a global search of Lamy sellers worldwide, follow this link. In the Philippines, Lamy pens are available from Times Trading Company, through the Lamy Concept Store in Makati and kiosks at National Bookstore outlets around the country. Some of these stores may have lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, but Times Trading accepts online orders. Email them at customerservice@lamyphillipines.com or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lamyph.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Fountain Pen Review: Leonardo Officina Italiana Furore Arancio

This month, my blog features a selection of local brands, some of my favorites, and a new, exciting name that has been a pen chart-topper for quite some time. Here is the Furore fountain pen in the Arancio finish from Leonardo Officina Italiana, one of the most talked-about pen brands these days. My research about Leonardo Officina Italiana brought me to the scenic UNESCO World Heritage Site of Amalfi Coast, to the mesmerizing fjord and churches of Furore town, and the 45-year history of this family-run father-to-son pen brand.

Did you know that Leonardo's Furore collection is inspired by a magical place? And that these pens are all made by hand? The Furore derives its inspiration from a corner of the Amalfi Coast, a magical place where land, sea, and Leonardo's origins meet. The Furore and all the pens from Leonardo's collections are passionately hand-turned by expert craftsmen using old loading systems, giving their unique pens soul and warmth.

The outer box of the Furore is designed like colorful traditional Italian tiles. It also says "Fatto a mano in Italia nelle Officine Italiane Leonardo" which translates to "Handmade in Italy in Leonardo's Italian Workshops."

The Furore is Leonardo's second pen model launched in 2018 after the famous and outstanding Momento Zero line. Inspired by the form and design of vintage Italian pens, the Furore's rounded ends bring to mind the looks of the old classics. Leonardo Officina Italiana derived the Furore's incredible colors from the beautiful Amalfi Coast landscapes such as the reflections of the sea, the bright colors of the Ceramics that characterize the decorations of the coast, the intense red of berries, the bright sand, and the white sharp salt. 

The Furore Arancio in its presentation box. A certificate of authenticity and warranty card is included as Leonardo's product guarantee for life against any manufacturing defect.

The Furore Arancio has a beautiful vivid color that comes from a mix of iridescent shades of orange that reminds me of cat's eye gemstone. It is a full-sized fountain pen that was hand-turned from a single solid bar of high-quality resin with a vintage shape and tapered grip section designed for comfortable writing. A well-balanced fountain pen, it can be used for comfortable writing whether posted or unposted. 

The Furore is not a limited Leonardo production, but it is an open numbered series, with each pen number engraved on the barrel together with the Leonardo name. My Arancio is pen N°2837 and I feel it's a very unique pen with its own identification.

Leonardo Furore Arancio N°2837

The Furore lineup is available in these bright, beautiful colors: Blue Emerald (turquoise), Blue Galaxy (dark blue), Arancio (orange, featured in this review), Yellow Sun (yellow), Bronze (brown), Vulcano (gray), Red Passion (red), Deep Purple (purple), and White Salt (white).

The Leonardo Furore fountain pen has the following measurements and specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5.75 in | 14.6 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5.2 in | 13.2 cm
  • Length, cap posted: 6.5 in | 16.5 cm
  • Length, barrel only: 3.6 in | 9.1 cm
  • Length, section to nib: 1.6 in | 4 cm
  • Length, cap: 2.5 inches | 6.35 cm 65
  • Diameter: 0.6 in | 1.52 cm
  • Full pen weight: 25 g | 0.9 oz
  • Barrel only weight: 18.6 g | 0.65 oz
  • Cap weight: 6.4 g | 0.2 oz
  • Body material: Resin
  • Trim: Rhodium or gold plated
  • Cap: Screw on, postable
  • Clip material: Stainless steel 
  • Nib: Bock steel or gold  in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or Stub (1.5mm)
  • Filling mechanism: Cartridge or screw-on Leonardo converter (supplied with purchase)

Polished chrome and orange look so perfect together. The chrome trims in the Arancio complement the pen's orange color so well. The two slim cap rings are smooth and highly polished, as well as the two rings on the pen's barrel.

Leonardo Furore fountain pens can be filled with ink using international standard cartridges or the supplied customized screw-on Leonardo converter with a metal knob. Unlike most converters, Leonardo's converters screw to the pen's section for a secure fit and avoid ink spills. The screw-on converter also allows for a piston-like filling mechanism by removing the cap at the end of the barrel.

The Furore's three sections: barrel, section + converter, and cap. 
Removing the cap in Furore's barrel end allows piston-like ink filling. This is possible as the converter is screwed on to the section.
The Furore shares the same clip with the Momento Zero. It's a shiny polished chrome clip with a tiny roller at the end so it can be easily posted to a shirt pocket or pen loop.
Leonardo's screw-on ink converter ensures a tight fit to the section.
Leonardo's ink converter is very impressive. It is sturdy and well made, and the Leonardo logo engraved on the knob is a nice touch. 
The Furore barrel is engraved with "Leonardo Officina Italiana" and the pen's number. 

When I received the two pens from Leonardo, I marveled at their beautiful material and polished steel nibs. The Furore is available with either steel or 14k gold #6 nibs in Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, or Stub (1.5mm) widths. My Arancio is fitted with a steel Bock nib engraved with the Leonardo logo and it looks elegant. It also wrote perfectly. I have been writing with fountain pens for the last thirteen years, and I have tried pens with excellent nibs, but the Furore Arancio's medium nib is one of a kind. It's one of the smoothest nibs that I have ever tried, and writing with it is a wonderful experience. 

The Furore's medium nib is one of the smoothest nibs that I've tried. Writing with it is an exceptional experience.

The Momento Zero is Leonardo's first pen series, shortly followed by the Furore. The two pens are so alike in their length, shape, and trims, although the Momento Zero has flat ends and the Furore has pointed ones, more like the classic cigar-shape. 

Be still my heart. Leonardo Momento Zero Positano Blue and Furore Arancio.

The Furore, a full-sized fountain pen, shares approximately the same length with a Tibaldi N°60 and TWSBI Diamond 540. The Bexley Intrepid and Edison Collier are longer pens when they are capped. Without their caps, the Furore is the same length as the N°60, Collier, and Diamond 540. 

The Furore is postable, but I love writing with it unposted. Posting makes this pen long and affects my writing speed and comfort. However, posting provides balance in writing to some people, so it helps that the Furore is a postable pen.

In good company. The Furore shares approximately the same length as the Tibaldi and TWSBI fountain pens while capped.
When they are uncapped, the Furore is now the same length as the Tibaldi, TWSBI, and Edison pens.

I like matching pens with inks, so I chose this bright red-orange Robert Oster ink for the Arancio. I ink my pens by filling the converter first before putting it back onto the section feed. Doing this, I noticed that ink flow to the feed was very fast and the medium nib wrote smoothly and very wet out of the box. The steel nib is springy and it performed so well without the need for any adjustments or tuning. It also matched Robert Oster Orange Zest ink so perfectly. 

Orange on orange. This pen's medium nib writes so smoothly.
The beautiful Arancio can do wonderful ink art, too! The medium nib is just perfect for intricate strokes and fine lines.

The Furore Arancio is an exceptional and eye-catching pen. It's my end-of-the-day-happiness pen, my make-me-smile pen. This orange pen is a delight to look at and even more wonderful to use. Get one for your collection!


These days, Leonardo Officina Italiana is one of the most active and talked about pen brands. Anyone into pens who is on Instagram knows this. Leonardo also has the fastest workshops with their current pen line up getting new additions almost every quarter. From the initial series of Momento Zero and Furore, they now have the Cuspide, Speranza, Messenger, and a number of limited edition pens in various materials in between. The Momento Zero and Furore have also gotten an upgrade: they now have their "Grande" versions with piston filling mechanism and ebonite feed. I'm really excited to see new pens coming from the Leonardo workshop.

Rants of The Archer thanks Leonardo Officina Italiana for providing the Furore Arancio fountain pen for review purposes. To learn more about these beautiful, colorful, well-crafted pens, follow Leonardo Officina Italiana on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/leonardopenss/) and Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/leonardo_pens/).

In Europe, Leonardo pens are widely available from retailers such as Fontoplumo, Appelboom, and Fontanna Penna.

In the United States, Leonardo pens are available from Goldspot Pens, Truphae, and Pen Chalet.

In the Philippines, Leonardo pens are available exclusively at Pengrafik (https://www.facebook.com/PenGrafik).