Monday, March 27, 2023

Fountain Pen Review: f-inks F1 SS316 Fountain Pen

It's been a week since the 2023 Manila Pen Show. Fountain pen enthusiasts are still raving about the show, getting their "grails," and "posting their "hauls." But hey guys, you're in for a new and happy surprise in the coming weeks! Did you know? A new brand of really good fountain pens is launching in the Philippines! The new and upcoming series of fountain pens from f-inks made of titanium, aluminum, and stainless steel is coming very soon, and Rants of The Archer is honored to publish the first-ever full review of the F1 SS316 fountain pen from f-inks! It's another "fountain pen first" for this blog!

In early February, I came across fountain pens made of titanium in our local pen group. After some discussion with the creator and developer behind f-inks, I checked the pens and agreed to do a full fountain pen review of their stainless steel pen. I only have a few metal fountain pens, and the ones that I have are either made of aluminum or brass. When I received f-inks' F1 SS316 fountain pen, I used a fountain pen that is made from solid stainless steel for the first time. The SS316 surprised me; it was love at first sight and more love at first write!

f-inks fountain pens are presented in a wooden box with etched art and the stylized "F" and ink drop logo. I like this box because it's sturdy and ensures the safety of the pen inside. It can also be repurposed as a pen box for several pens. 
Here's the F1 SS316 fountain pen inside the presentation box.

I have reviewed many fountain pens and am amazed at the creativity of people who produce extraordinary pens. Francesco, the man behind f-inks, is one of them. He thinks out of the box, and his pens are unique and designed well. In one of our conversations, Francesco said that his fountain pen design is a synthesis of some of the elements of his favorite pens. He calls this design the "F" pen, derived from his name and the words he strives for in his products: friendly, fine, flawless, fantastic, fabulous, and fair. He should add functional, fascinating, fearless, and futuristic to the list!

f-inks F1 SS316 fountain pen, a sturdy, solid, and firm pen made of pure stainless steel. This pen is very smooth and glossy in person. The "markings" that you will see in some of the photos in this review are my reflection and some machine marks.

Francesco describes the F pen's design as a minimalistic female shape. It's a beautiful shape that is also comfortable to hold as you write. The gap between the cap and the barrel is meant to lessen the friction between the two pen parts and avoid scratches or markings from repeated movements when capping/uncapping the pen. 

The F pen is also available in a titanium version, and he is working on an aluminum pen and combination models of stainless steel + aluminum and titanium + aluminum. It's exciting to see these pen models in the coming months.

The F1 SS316 has a minimalistic female shape, a shape that is comfortable to hold while writing.

I'm sure you all want to know how long and heavy this stainless steel pen is. The F1 SS316 is a full-sized fountain pen, measuring 5.62 inches while capped. It weighs 128 grams, and while that weight is heavy for a pen, it's not uncomfortable nor does it make writing difficult. Here are some useful measurements and specifications of the F1 SS316:
  • Length, capped: 5.62 in | 14.27 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5.3 in | 13.5 cm
  • Weight, whole pen: 128 g | 325 oz
  • Weight, pen uncapped: 91 g | 3.21 oz
  • Weight, cap: 37 g | 1.30 oz
  • Body material: Stainless steel
  • Cap: Stainless steel, screw on, does not post
  • Clip material: No clip
  • Nib: #6 JoWo available in F, M, B, or elastic EF or F
  • Filling mechanism: Standard international converter 

While the F1 SS316 weighs much more than the average fountain pen, other elements help make it comfortable to use. The length of its barrel provides balance while writing. If this pen's barrel were shorter, that would cause discomfort. The section's design and shape also contribute to an enjoyable writing experience. Notice that the section has no threads for the cap on the area where it joins the barrel. The threads for the cap are on the section's lips near the nib. 

The F1 SS316 fills with ink through a standard international converter. 
Engraved on the cap's top is f-inks logo of ink drop and stylized "F"
These are threading on the pen's section and barrel. Notice the thick stainless steel used on this pen. That means sturdy, solid, and (almost) unbreakable.
Francesco uses #6 JoWo nibs on his pens at the moment, but he is open to using other compatible brands in the future, including using flex and ultraflex nibs. I got an elastic EF nib in my pen.

The F1 SS316 fountain pen is a full-sized pen. Capped or uncapped, it shares almost the same length as a Lamy Al-star and TWSBI ECO. Uncapped, however, it's longer than a Laban 325. The SS316 fountain pen's size provides balance and helps in a comfortable writing experience.

From top: TWSI ECO Rosegold, Laban 325 Snow, F1 SS316, Sailor Pro Gear Slim, and Lamy Al-star. While the F1 SS316 shares almost the same length as the Al-star and ECO, it is shorter than the 325.
Uncapped, the F1 SS316 is longer than the 325.

To test how the F1 SS316 fountain pen writes, I filled it with one of my favorite wet blue inks, J. Herbin Éclat de Saphir. The elastic EF nib wrote smoothly, and I had no problem writing this piece. I was very careful with the elastic nib because this is my first elastic nib, but it wrote very well, with the light spring adding to the lovely writing experience. The pen is heavy, but I did not notice the weight while I wrote. I'm happy that I can use this pen for regular writing and maybe for ink art, too! The F1 SS316 is such a unique and remarkable pen. 

The elastic EF nib wrote so smoothly! Instead of a simple one-sentence quote, I chose a longer text for this writing sample to check if I will have any discomfort. I'm glad to report that there was none, and it was an enjoyable writing experience.
The F1 SS316 can also transform! You can swap the pen's nib with a pencil tip and voila! You now have a stainless steel pencil! These pencil tips are inexpensive and are easily available in stationery shops.

I am happy (and still giddy) with the F1 SS316 fountain pen! I'm still amazed at how this pen was designed and made. Every day, I spend time just holding it and writing with it. It's a well-designed pen that's sturdy and not sensitive to compounds that are usually harmful to our pens, including rubbing alcohol. These pens are meant for long-term use and I definitely recommend them to anyone who wants to explore and know this brand. I'm excited to try the titanium F1 pen and see Francesco's new designs in the coming months! Get one for your collection!

Rants of The Archer thanks Francesco for providing the F1 SS316 fountain pen for review purposes. F1 SS316 and F1 Ti gr.5 fountain pens are available for purchase from Kailash Ramchandani's PenGrafik.

To learn more about these beautiful and well-crafted pens, follow f-inks on Instagram (

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

The Manila Pen Show is Here!

And here are 6 people with seriously swoon-worthy handwriting! 

Catch them at the Manila Pen Show at the Holiday Inn and Suites, Makati City, on March 18-29, 2023. 

Everyone’s most formative memories have to do with learning to write in script. The satisfaction of looking at your immaculate, handwritten notes is something everyone can relate to even today, with the advent of technology that has taken us away from the simple act of writing with pen and paper.

Even if you can’t write that well, the sight of other people’s neatly spaced writing can still take your breath away. Here are some people whose handwriting can inspire you to pick up the pen and practice your way to becoming the scribe of your dreams.

Aside from being an award-winning advertising creative, Leigh Reyes is an avid pen collector. "The thrill of acquisition does fade, and in its place the joy of discovering newness in what one already owns glows more brightly," she writes on her website (

On Leigh's Instagram (@leighpod), you can see her handwriting prowess in her photos of handwritten notes. She also gamely answers questions about all things pens and writing.

On Saturday, March 18, 2023, Leigh will give a workshop at 2:00 PM, titled “Mad Scientist.” She will also moderate the panel discussion featuring fountain pen collectors on Sunday, March 19 at 3:45 PM.

2. Imma Frias

Imma Frias started her calligrapher journey in 2013. She has been a calligraphy instructor since 2014, and penmanship in 2016. "Calligraphy is something that is therapeutic… once you get the hang of it, it’s actually soothing," she told The Lasallian a few years back.

Visit Imma's Instagram (@dyosaimma) to see her deeply satisfying works of handwritten art. At the Manila Pen Show's Saturday opening, Imma will lead a Handwriting Hangout at 10:30 AM. She will host Modern Calligraphy with Flex Pens on Sunday, March 19.

3. Lorraine Castañeda 

On Lorraine Castaneda’s Instagram (@calligraphyspot), she calls herself a “Purveyor of calligraphy appreciation, teacher of beautiful writing, and a stay-at-home time traveler.” All those things are true: her beautiful handwriting would not look any different from a passionate love letter written in the 1800s. 

On March 18, 3:00 PM Castaneda will be heading a talk on Fountain Pens for Kids of AllAges, proving it is never too early to start enjoying the art of handwriting.

If you thought fountain pens could only be used by those who write in elaborate script, you haven’t seen Clement Dionglay’s Instagram (@clemdionglay). Clement's occasional italic calligraphy and neatly written words in her stick-font style, along with her impressive collection of Lamy and TWSBI fountain pens are on Instagram. She also shares her fountain pen and ink reviews on Instagram.

5. Pao Alfonso

Pao is also a fountain pen enthusiast who likes to write in print, Her Instagram account (@the.serial.doodler) showcases her thoughts on the world of pens. “Nib preferences really do change over time. I started out preferring fine nibs, then fell in love with medium and stub nibs. Now I’ve come full circle and prefer fine nibs again.” Pao's drawings, accompanied by her writing, work as mini food reviews of places she's enjoyed.

6. Toni Santos

Toni Santos’ Instagram feed (@toniscalligraphy) features her calligraphy, with thoughtful handwritten quotes and song lyrics that offer inspiration and occasionally humor. Other than being a pen collector, she also collects notebooks. On March 19, she will be heading a talk about Fountain Pens for Kids 7-12.

This article was distributed by MullenLowe MARC for the 2023 Manila Pen Show which is happening at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Makati City (5th Floor) on March 18-19, 2023, from 8:00AM to 6:00PM. A portion of the Manila Pen Show's proceeds will go to Save the Children Philippines and their Life-Changer for Children program. For a full list of exhibitors and speakers, schedules, and general updates, please check @manilapenshow and #manilapenshow2023.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Fountain Pen Review: BENU Euphoria Forest Pond

In my other job, I write science articles on biotechnology. I write about breakthroughs and research results, mostly on major food and feed crops. When news about Russia's invasion of Ukraine broke out, we saw a lot of news about wheat, an important staple food feeding millions around the world. A Twitter influencer said the war is hitting plates directly across the globe as Ukraine is a major grain producer. My thought went further than my plate and out to my friends at BENU in Moscow which is one of the world's producers of unique and beautiful fountain pens. It's been a year since, and BENU has found a new home in Armenia, producing writing instruments and accessories in Yerevan.

My last BENU fountain pen review was in 2021, the Talisman Foxglove. BENU has produced many beautifully-designed fountain pens since then, including some wonderful hand-painted ones in their signature Euphoria and Minima collections. These hand-painted pens are one-of-a-kind BENU online store exclusives, and some of them are numbered. This review is already my sixth BENU fountain pen review, but it's a special one because this hand-painted pen called Forest Pond from the Euphoria series is from the Yerevan workshop and an online store exclusive.

BENU Euphoria Forest Pond fountain pen, an online store exclusive.

BENU launched the Euphoria series on October 15, 2020. It is a collection of fountain pens devoted to different sources of pleasure such as a beautiful flower, sea and travel, exotic places, poetry, music, a favorite cocktail, and delicacies. Each pen in the series is inspired by things that bring joy and add color to life. Aside from Forest Pond, the hand-painted Euphoria fountain pens are White Christmas, Northern Light, Dream, Summer Meadow, Midsummer Night, October Fall, Beam Me Up, and Early Bird.

The Euphoria is a faceted pen with a section designed for comfortable writing. It's a long pen at almost six inches capped, but it's not a heavy one. Capped, this pen weighs 26 grams, and approximately 15 grams when uncapped, which is just right in the hand. The screw-on cap can be easily posted, as the barrel end is slightly tapered for this, but I prefer to write with my fountain pens unposted. 

The Forest Pond fountain pen features hand-painted goldfish and white water lilies.

The Forest Pond fountain pen features hand-painted goldfish and white water lilies on a pearly aqua-blue background (see details of these hand-painted items below). Blue and green glitter foil added to the pen's material creates an illusion of the play of light in the depths of a forest pond, adding vibrancy and vividness. A true piece of art, this unique pen has been lovingly handmade and hand-painted with a series of multicolored layers. This process takes up to five days to complete and results in the pen's impressive depth of colors and unique glare.

BENU Euphoria fountain pens can be filled with ink using cartridges or converters.

BENU Euphoria Forest Pond fountain pen has the following measurements and specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5.86 in | 14.9 cm
  • Length, uncapped: 5.4 in | 13.7 cm
  • Length, cap posted: 7.1 in | 18 cm
  • Weight: 26 g | 0.9 oz
  • Body material: High-quality resin
  • Cap: Screw on, postable
  • Clip material: Stainless steel
  • Nib: #6 Schmidt, stainless steel in F, M, or B
  • Filling mechanism: Standard large international size converter or ink cartridge 

BENU has kept their pens' clip design consistent from the Supreme model to the Tattoo, Tessera, and Euphoria. Their standard clip is stainless steel, which adds gloss and shine to the pens. Stainless steel is also durable, and the clip's top can be pressed so it can be easily posted to a shirt pocket or pen loop.

Euphoria fountain pens have the standard BENU stainless steel clip which adds gloss and shine to the pen. Note that the BENU logo in the hand-painted Euphoria pens is painted white. Logos in regular Euphoria pens are not painted. 
These are the hand-painted goldfish and white water lilies in the Forest Pond's barrel. The depth and color in these hand-painted details are amazing!

BENU fountain pens are fitted with stainless steel Schmidt nibs that are manufactured by JoWo and then hand-assembled at the Schmidt factory in St. Georgen, Germany. Hand assembling ensures every unit gets special attention, resulting in a truly superb nib quality. These nibs are smooth, wet, and juicy.

BENU Euphoria fountain pens' long sections help a lot in writing comfortably.
BENU has continuously used Schmidt nibs on their pens. I love that they are consistently smooth, wet, and trouble-free. They write so well out the box! For a while now, I have shifted to using Medium and Fine nibs from Broad and stubs. BENU's Fine nibs are smooth writers!

My first BENU fountain pen was the Classic Ghost White Silver, a short, clipless pocket pen. They are now called the Minima. Through the years, BENU has released several pens, and I am very fortunate to have some of these pens that are crafted well by their design team led by the Chief Designer and BENU Co-Founder Alex Semanin. These pens are truly work of art.

Some of my BENU fountain pens. From top: Tattoo, Tessera, Euphoria, and Talisman.
I'm a proud owner of three BENU Euphoria fountain pens. From top: Forest Pond, Scent of Irises (now sold out), and the 2021 Limited Edition Halloween Orange.

The Euphoria, a full-length fountain pen, shares almost the same length as my pen from On A Whim Woodworks (second from bottom), but it has a thicker middle section. Capped, it is longer than a Lamy Safari, TWSBI ECO, and Leonardo Momento Zero. Uncapped, it's still the longest pen in this group. Despite its length and thicker middle section, this pen is well-balanced and comfortable to use. BENU designed the section and grip of this pen to be ergonomically correct for long periods of writing.

From the top: TWSBI ECO-T Blue, Leonardo Momento Zero Positano Blue, BENU Euphoria Forest Pond, On A Whim Woodworks Peacock Springs, and Lamy Safari Blue.
Uncapped, Euphoria is still the longest pen in this group. Note this pen's long section.

I took a long time choosing the ink for this pen. I wanted to fill it with orange ink to match the goldfish but changed my mind. I also wanted to try green and red but decided to finally use Robert Oster Signature True Blue. The Fine Schmidt nib wrote smoothly out of the box. I did not experience hard starts, skipping, or uneven ink flow. The Schmidt nib wrote very well. The Euphoria is an enjoyable fun pen, and its long section helps in writing comfortably.

The Fine Schmidt nib wrote smooth and wet out of the box. This pen is going to my pen case of daily writers!

I am very happy and proud of the BENU Euphoria Forest Pond and I am recommending it to anyone who wants to know the brand and explore its unique designs. This is a beautiful pen and I'm glad to have it in my collection. BENU is an excellent pen maker who uses only the best materials and takes great care in manufacturing their pens. Get one for your collection.

In the last five years, BENU has created pens for different series depicting bold, unique, and eye-catching designs. Aside from the Euphoria Collection, BENU currently has eight other pen collections, and I'm including their descriptions below:
  • Skull & Roses, fountain and rollerball pens inspired by one of the most popular motifs that represent the eternal struggle of good vs evil. 
  • Hexagon, features the pattern of nature’s most perfect six-sided polygon shapes. True inspirations for those who prefer edgy geometry design!
  • Briolette, pens with a striking faceted contour. Long briolette-like cuts prevent the pens from rolling and enable the true color and brilliance of the material to emerge.
  • Minima, portable pens with compact, streamlined faceted bodies. Their small size conveniently fits into pockets and bags. 
  • Ambrosia, 5 unique pens named after a colorful and flamboyant flower, to honor the nectar that was drunk by the Greek gods to preserve longevity and immortality.
  • Talisman, pens that allow you to step into the hypnotizing realm of folklore. Inspired by myths and legends, the collection fuses elements believed to bring luck, protection, money, or love.
  • Euphoria, pens devoted to different sources of simple, hedonistic pleasures, such as favorite music, a beautiful scene, an exquisite cocktail, or a delicacy.
  • Scepter, inspired by a century-old symbol of power, this collection of pens offers a glimpse of a majestic staff as depicted in the history of civilizations, ancient legends, and modern fantasy stories.

Rants of The Archer thanks BENU for providing the Forest Pond fountain pen in this review. The Euphoria series is available in BENU's online shop. The Forest Pond, an online store exclusive, retails for US$280. BENU pens are also available in international retailers in the US, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. See the retailers list here

To learn more about BENU, where to buy their pens, and for other details on purchasing BENU pens, visit their website at or follow them on social media: