Monday, January 2, 2023

Fountain Pen Review: Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age


It's the New Year and Rants of The Archer welcomes 2023 with a brand new fountain pen review! To start the year here's another "fountain pen first" for me and this blog, an Urushi fountain pen from Japan's Wancher Inc., the Oita-based company led by Taizo Okagaki and his team. Last year, I collaborated with Wancher in my first-ever review of their flagship fountain pen model, the Dream Pen in True Ebonite. Following the success of the first review, Wancher sent two beautiful fountain pens from their Sekai Collection, together with a leather pen case and a discount code for everyone who buys a Sekai fountain pen! (Details at the end of this review.)

I've been using fountain pens for almost 15 years now, and I've seen many pens from other fountain pen collectors. But the pens from Wancher are so unique that using them becomes an unforgettable experience. The fountain pen in this review is a Sekai Tsugaru Urushi in Midori-Age finish. I'm not a fan of green pens or inks, but this green and red Urushi fountain pen is beautiful, it's exquisite, and it's like no other pen I've seen or used before! 

Wancher's packaging of their fountain pens is in traditional Japanese presentation boxes.

I love this traditional Japanese wooden box that Wancher sends their pens in. A monoprint of a fountain pen and sakura are printed on the cover, together with Japanese Kanji that says "special writing instrument." Inside the box, the Sekai fountain pen is safely tucked inside a pen kimono, together with a pack of ink cartridges, a guarantee certificate, an instruction manual, and a certificate of authenticity of the Sekai fountain pen. These traditional Japanese wooden boxes remind me of the wooden box that my father made for my class project when I was a young school kid, which I later filled with stationery, bookmarks, stickers, clippings, and other ephemera. 

The Wancher traditional wooden presentation box includes the Sekai fountain pen in the pen kimono, a pack of ink cartridges, a guarantee certificate, an instruction manual, and a certificate of authenticity.

The Sekai fountain pen collection embraces the idea of connecting the world with the arts, inspired by the World Tree in many mythologies. Sekai fountain pens are made from precious woods such as ebony and sandalwood, and then crafted with Urushi, Maki-e, or simply decorated with a high-quality Japanese Sterling Silver clip. I am new to Urushi and how it's done, but Wancher provides an excellent description of the process. According to Wancher, Tsugaru Urushi refers to lacquerware made in the city of Tsugaru in Aomori Prefecture, Japan. Known as one of the most skill-intensive Urushi techniques, Tsugaru-nuri is sophisticated yet stunningly beautiful with its unusual finish.

Sekai Tsugaru fountain pens are crafted with Kara-nuri, a high-quality Tsugaru-nuri technique that shows distinctive speckled patterns created by four to six different Urushi color lacquers. With this technique, many layers of different Urushi are applied to wooden or ebonite surfaces using a spatula-like tool, called a shikake-bera. Urushi lacquer is then allowed to dry for three to four months, after which artisans will start polishing to even the surface. The final finish becomes smooth and glossy, showing mottled patterns. It's amazing to know that the whole process takes several months and is totally done by hand.

Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age

I had a hard time choosing pens from Sekai Collection because all the pens are beautiful! I chose Midori-Age for its unique green and red colors, and I am happy with my pen choice. It is a medium-sized pen, measuring 5.52 inches while capped and 5.02 inches uncapped, weighs 23g, is well-balanced, and is comfortable to use for writing. 

This green and red fountain pen is a perfect starter for the year!

This Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age pen has the following specifications:
  • Length, capped: 5.52 in | 14 cm
  • Length, uncapped (nib tip to barrel's end): 5.02 in | 12.7 cm
  • Full pen weight: 23 g | 0.81 oz
  • Body material: Base materials are natural precious woods such as ebony and sandalwood. 
  • Trim: None
  • Cap: Ebonite, screw-on, can be posted
  • Clip: None, but Wancher offers a selection of roll stoppers
  • Nib: No. 6 Jowo stainless steel in Fine, also available in Extra Fine, Medium, Broad, Stub 1.1, or Stub 1.5. Wancher also offers other nibs, including a Jowo gold-plated stainless steel, Wancher 18k rhodium-plated, and Wancher 18k solid gold.
  • Filling mechanism: Cartridge or converter, both supplied with each pen
  • Color: Green, with visible streaks of red, black, and gold; also available in Karashi-Age, Ro-Age, Kuru-Age, Aka-Age, and Ao-age

Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen can be filled with ink using a converter or standard international ink cartridges, both are included in the box.  

Wancher notes that this Urushi fountain pen is made using the Kara-nuri technique, where many different lacquers were applied using the shikake-bera, a spatula-like tool. Some traces of this tool can be seen on the pen's surface. These are not defects but a unique charm and artistic trait of the pen itself. 

Midori-Age up close. The Urushi on this pen is bright and vivid.
The Urushi lacquer is so smooth and glossy that I could not get this image without the fabric's pattern's reflection on the pen's cap and barrel ends.

I'm glad that Wancher sent this fountain pen with a Fine nib. The stainless steel Jowo nib bears the Wancher logo and the nib width (F). It is wet and writes smoothly the first time I inked it. It wrote so well out of the box without any modification or priming prior to use. This nib is one of the smoothest Fine nibs that I have ever tried.

Wancher also offers other nibs for their fountain pens, including stainless steel (SS) and SS gold-plated Jowo (Extra Fine, Fine, Medium, Broad, 1.1, and 1.5), Wancher SS and gold-plated SS nibs, rhodium-plated 18k gold (Medium or Broad), and 18k solid gold (Medium or Broad). They are even offering Christmas nibs in Extra Fine and Medium with bells and snowman designs.


This western Fine nib is wet and smooth! One of the smoothest Fine nibs I've ever tried.
Here is the Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen with the Dream Pen True Ebonite.

The Sekai Midori-Age is a medium-sized fountain pen, and it has almost the same length as a Leonardo Furore. It is shorter than the Tibaldi Bononia, Wancher Dream Pen, and Esterbrook Estie Oversize. The section (grip) is also more slender than most of the pens in this line-up, but it is very comfortable to hold when writing.

From the top: Leonardo Officina Italiana Furore Arancio, Tibaldi Bononia Seashell Mist, Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age, Wancher Dream Pen True Ebonite Sand Red, and Esterbrook Estie Rocky Top OS.
These pens all have No. 6 nibs.

To test how the Fine nib in Midori-Age writes, I filled it with matching green ink, Robert Oster Mistletoe, a Truphae exclusive. It was my first time using this green ink, and RO Signature Mistletoe looked so good in Midori-Age's wet Fine nib. I chose a quote from one of my favorite books written by a Japanese author, The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa. 

I'm pleased that the stainless steel Fine nib wrote smoothly out of the box, without the need for any adjustments or tuning. I did not experience any hard starts or skipping. The pen wrote smoothly, and I had a fuss-free writing experience with a well-balanced fountain pen.

A combination of firsts — first time to use this green ink in this green pen, writing my first page of book quotes in this Apica notebook. A perfect triple match!
Wancher provides each pen with its own pen kimono. The thick kimono protects the Sekai Midori-Age fountain pen.

I know I said this in my Dream Pen review last year, but in experience as a fountain pen collector and reviewer, I did not imagine being able to try an Urushi pen from Japan. I have seen Urushi pens in other people's collections and they are truly beautiful. The Midori-Age is a wonderful and amazing pen and sometimes I spend minutes just looking at it, enjoying its beauty and thinking of how long it took for this pen to get this beautiful. I am very happy and pleased with the Wancher Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age fountain pen, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore the brand and its fountain pens. Wancher has been making unique fountain pens since 2011, with the commitment to use the finest materials and craftsmanship in their products. So what are you waiting for? Get a Wancher Sekai fountain pen in your collection! 

Yes, you want to get one! Our friends at Wancher have kindly offered a discount code for everyone who reads and follows Rants of The Archer! Use the code ARCHER10 at checkout and get 10% off on any Sekai fountain pens that you will purchase! That's an amazing discount for you! Go get a Sekai now!


Rants of The Archer thanks Taizo Okagaki and Wancher Inc. for providing the Sekai Tsugaru Urushi Midori-Age in this review. This pen is available at Wancher starting at US$450. 

To learn more about Wancher Inc. and its offerings, visit its website at https://www.wancherpen.com/. For updates, promos, and giveaways, follow Wancher on social:

Monday, December 19, 2022

Fountain Pen Review: 2022 Lamy Safari Special Edition Strawberry and Cream

2022 Lamy Safari Special Edition Strawberry and Cream

The year 2022 is about to end, and we will soon welcome a new year. In my part of the world, this time of the year is full of festive gatherings and celebrations with family and friends, filled with food, more food, music, and colorful decorations. What better pen color to end my 2022 reviews than a vivid, bright, and super happy red? It fits the season, it brings so much energy and a happy vibe to my blog and social media pages, and to everyone who sees my review photos.

Lamy is about to announce the 2023 Safari colors, and I have not published my review of the 2022 Safaris — I'm delayed by so many things going on around me. But here's my review, and here are the two delicious 2022 Special Edition Safari colors, Strawberry and Cream.

Strawberry Safari is not the first red Safari, but it's the first Safari that has a matching red body (cap + barrel), barrel ring, clip, and finial. It's totally bursting with energy and happiness! The Cream Safari, on the other hand, looks so neat with a matching cream body, barrel ring, clip, and finial. This Safari reminds me so much of pastillas de leche, sweet milk candies made from water buffalo milk and served for snacks or dessert here in the Philippines.

Lamy Safari Strawberry in its special edition box in the same red color.
Lamy Safari Cream in its special edition box. Each of the two pens comes with a Z28 ink converter and a T10 cartridge.

Lamy released the Special Edition Safari pair in packaging similar to that of Dark Lilac (2016), Petrol (2017), All Black (2018), Pastel (2019), Candy (2020), and Origin (2021). Instead of the old, bulky plastic pen box, or the regular gray board box, Lamy used laminated cardboard boxes with the year's color theme for their special edition pens. The laminated pen box is enclosed in a plain white sleeve.


The Lamy Safari Strawberry and Cream pens are available as fountain pens, rollerball pens, and ballpoint pens. They have the following measurements and specifications:
  • Colors: Strawberry (red) and Cream (cream/beige)
  • 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
  • Full pen weight: 15 g | 0.53 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

The Strawberry and Cream fountain pens have a textured matte finish similar to Petrol, Dark Lilac, All Black, the 2020 pens Violet, Aquamarine, and Mango, and last year's Savannah Green and Terra Red.

The Lamy Safari is a student pen, and many people refer to it as a 'starter pen' or a 'newbie fountain pen.' The Strawberry and Cream Safari fountain pens have the same matte finish as the special edition pens from 2020 (Violet, Aquamarine, and Mango) and 2021 (Terra Red and Savannah Green) made from sturdy ABS plastic – the same material used in Lego blocks, keyboard keycaps, refrigerator walls, and the filament commonly used in 3D printers. Introduced in the 1980 Frankfurt exhibition (read more in Lamy's Company History), Lamy Safaris have been in regular production since then. Despite some fountain pen enthusiasts' low regard for this plastic pen, many fans around the world collect the Safari and its aluminum cousin, Lamy AL-star.

The Strawberry and Cream Safaris have a textured matte finish for both barrel and cap, colored spring-loaded oversized clip, and stainless steel nibs. The Strawberry Safari has a red clip, finial, and barrel ring, while the Cream pen has a cream/beige clip, finial, and barrel ring. These workhorse pens are reliable, sturdy, and durable. They have ergonomically shaped sections (grip area) to help users write comfortably for long periods of time. The unique ink window of the Lamy Safari shows how much ink is left in the cartridge or converter.

The clips of the Strawberry and Cream Safari fountain pens match their bodies' colors.
The 2022 SE Lamy Safaris have the same-color finials as the pens' bodies. 

The Lamy Safari fountain pens have a triangular section that is ergonomically designed to make writing easier — it helps users 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. While some fountain pen users find the triangular grip uncomfortable, I do not find that 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 with the Safari and 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. 

Lamy Safari fountain pens are filled with ink using a converter or a T10 ink cartridge. The proprietary piston-operated Z28 converters are used to fill Lamy fountain pens with ink from a bottle and are included in each pen purchase.

The Strawberry pen has a Medium nib, while a Fine nib is installed in the Cream pen. The Medium nib wrote well, with moderate wetness from the Robert Oster Fire Engine Red ink. I have not inked the Cream pen yet, I want to look for a light brown ink that will fit its color.
The Lamy Safari Strawberry's vivid and bright red color gives off a happy vibe. It's bright, it's red, and it's a Lamy Safari! What a happy fountain pen to have!
I will always think of sweet and creamy pastillas whenever I see or use my Lamy Safari Cream. It's like holding a big bar of white chocolate or a big, fat stick of sweet pastillas de leche!

In my search for text to use as a writing sample for the 2022 Safari pair, I looked up recipes for strawberries and cream. I was surprised to see so many! Then I saw a short article about the history of the famous dessert. I was even more surprised to know that it is rooted and associated with a sport — tennis! My search for a short text to write became a three-hour fascinating read about strawberries, clotted cream, and Wimbledon. 

I tried so hard to match the ink to the Strawberry Safari's vivid red color. I wanted Diamine Poppy Red, but I have long used up my bottle of this ink. I found a close one — Robert Oster Signature Fire Engine Red. I loved writing with the Medium Lamy nib which is moderately wet with a bit of feedback. I don't ink my Lamy fountain pens often, and the Medium nib in my Strawberry Safari is a new addition to my 'happy writing' nibs.

I didn't know that strawberries and cream are Wimbledon staples! But it's useful to know these things and I wouldn't have found out if I didn't write this review of Lamy Safari Strawberry and Cream.

The Safari Strawberry and Cream fountain pens are a pair of bright and happy pens and I love using this pair, especially the Strawberry. I feel happy holding and using a beautiful red fountain pen, it feels like I'm writing with all the happiness in the world! It's comfortable to use because it is made from lightweight material. It's sturdy and durable, and will surely withstand the rough and tumble of long use. 

The Strawberry and Cream pens are a special edition pair for 2022, and when stocks run out, it's likely that Lamy will not produce them again. But these pens are still widely available in most pen stores, so you can still get them for your collection! 


Rants of the Archer thanks Lamy Philippines and Times Trading for providing the Lamy Safari Strawberry and Cream fountain pens for review purposes. Lamy Safari pens are widely available from 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. While some stores may still have restrictions due to COVID-19, Times Trading accepts online orders. Email them at customerservice@lamyphillipines.com or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lamyph.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Fountain Pen Review: BlueDew Writer Lapis


I have always loved the color blue. From the light ones — azure, cyan, turquoise — to darker shades — navy, cobalt, midnight — but even more the bright and happy blues of ultramarine, sapphire, and lapis. I always have a blue fountain pen in my daily carry, and my five can't-live-without fountain pen inks are all blue, including the vibrant and intense but notorious Baystate Blue. When I read that BlueDew Pens' latest Writer series has a bright blue pen called Lapis, I knew it will be a must-have for every fountain pen collector. 

To most of us fountain pen users, collectors, and enthusiasts, our pens can be more than just writing tools. Sometimes we use our fountain pens as accessories, just like we pair our clothes with watches, shoes, bags, and jewelry. BlueDew's Writer series are not only excellent fountain pens, but they are also fine accessories with a unique feature — each Writer fountain pen's clip is adorned with a genuine sapphire!

BlueDew Writer Lapis was sent in this functional protective pen case. A BlueDew flex replacement nib for the Writer series is also included in the package.

Last year I had the chance to do a review of one of BlueDew's new Flex pens. It was a unique experience trying the BlueDew flex nib because it's one I'm not scared to use because they are meant for comfortable flex writing. These flex nibs are proprietary stainless steel, rust-resistant, and most of all, they have a line variation of Japanese Extra Fine to western double broad! 

The Writer fountain pens are designed with a vintage feel in mind, but they also have the most classic fountain pen design, the cigar-shaped body. They have straight bodies including caps and barrels, and their ends are rounded. The Writer has gold trims, and it looks perfect with the bright blue Lapis. Classy, stylish, and elegant. The Writer fountain pen has the following measurements:
  • Length, capped: 5.7in
  • Length, uncapped: 4.9in
  • Length, cap posted: 6.4in
  • Full pen weight: 28g
  • Material: Resin
  • Colors: Onyx, Lapis, Rose Quartz, Emerald, and Demonstrator
  • Trims: Gold
  • Clip: Gold-plated metal adorned with a dew-shaped sapphire
  • Cap: Threaded, screw-cap
  • Nib: Stainless steel F nib or BlueDew flex nib (sold separately)
  • Filling mechanism: Vacuum pump filler

The cigar-shaped Writer fountain pen has a vintage feel, and the gold trims look perfect with the bright blue Lapis color of the pen's body.
The Writer's cap is designed to be fully airtight to ensure that the nib does not dry and it is wet and ready to write every time. 
Writer fountain pens have a vacuum filler system. It works well, and the pen fills with ink perfectly.
The cap has three bands, with a dew-shaped sapphire in the clip.
A closer look at the sapphire. BlueDew proudly states that while other brands use plastic as gemstones, those they use in the Writer fountain pens are genuine sapphire stones.
The Lapis has a glossy finish and the barrel is almost translucent. 

I am happy that BlueDew offers a regular, non-flex nib for the Writer series. The new gold-plated stainless steel Fine nib has a heart-shaped breather hole, designed to be slightly soft for a forgiving writing experience. This nib is available in F as of writing, but BlueDew promises that new nibs for the Writer series will be available soon. The Writer fountain pens can also be fitted with replacement BlueDew flex nibs for the Writer series pens. 

BlueDew now offers non-flex nibs. The stainless steel Fine nib (right) has a vintage-inspired heart-shaped breather hole. The BlueDew flex nib (left) for the Writer series is not tipped, so it can write finer lines. Both nibs sport the big "B" which is sometimes mistaken to indicate a B (broad) nib.

The BlueDew Writer Lapis is a full-length fountain pen that shares almost the same length with other cigar-shaped fountain pens — Leonardo Officina Italiana Furore and Esterbrook Estie. It's also about the same length as a TWSBI ECO or Lamy Al-star. Uncapped, though, it's shorter than these four pens.

From top: TWSBI ECO Cerulean Blue, Leonardo Furore Aquapetra Rose Gold, BlueDew Writer Lapis, Esterbrook Estie Gold Rush Frontier Green, and Lamy Al-star Ocean Blue.
Uncapped, the Writer Lapis is shorter than the four pens in this line-up. This does not affect this pen's performance and writing comfort.

The Writer Lapis was sent to me with a replacement BlueDew flex nib. Again, I am not a fan of flex nibs, but I enjoyed using it this time. I was so scared of using it and writing ugly cursive, so I thought I'd do my own style. I love it! I love that I can use this ultra-flex nib to write in my thin stick font style. 

I tested this pen using a wet and matching bright blue ink, J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir. The Lapis wrote nicely, and the flex nib did not disappoint. It did not skip or railroad, and I did not get any feathering or bleeding despite the wet J. Herbin ink. I enjoyed writing with the BlueDew flex nib.

The BlueDew flex nib writes thin like a Japanese Extra Fine and can go wide as a western BB.

I wanted to doodle using the non-flex Fine nib, and I tried it on this 90gsm Canson sketchpad paper. The Fine nib wrote well, even wetter than most of my Fine nibs. I'm so happy with this pen and ink combination, they look so perfect together!

I did a blue doodle! Using the same J. Herbin ink, I swapped the flex nib with the stainless Fine nib. It wrote smooth and not scratchy like other Fine nibs.

This new series from BlueDew is truly a must-have! The Lapis, as well as the Onyx, Rose Quartz, Emerald, and Demonstrator has a beautiful body and wonderful nibs to try. The new non-flex nib gives people the chance to use BlueDew pens using a regular nib. It's smooth and writes well. The BlueDew flex nib is well-designed for flex writing, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to try flex nibs or calligraphy. It's meant for long use and does not wear out quickly. If you want to try a fountain pen with a vintage feel, that fits flex and non-flex nibs, and fills through a vacuum mechanism, then go for a BlueDew Writer! Get one (or two) for your collection!


Rants of The Archer thanks BlueDew Pens for providing the Writer Lapis for review purposes. The Writer fountain pens are available from BlueDew Pens starting at US$145 each. The BlueDew flex replacement nibs specific to the Writer series pens are available for $35.00 a pair. For inquiries, send an email to bluedewpens@gmail.com. To learn more about BlueDew Pens, visit their website or follow them on social media: