With the release of the newest model from TWSBI, the 580 ALR, I thought it might help to show a few of the differences between the AL and the ALR. If you're strapped for time: they're the same price, and basically very similar. The changes between the AL and the ALR are all aesthetic - they're functionally the same pen, with TWSBI's benchmark piston-filling mechanism, and take the same nibs. If you're looking for a comparison between the AL with TWSBI's other pens, between which are more substantive differences, take a look at this blog post here. Here, the top is the new ALR and the bottom is my personal TWSBI 580 AL Turquoise. I have a fine nib for my turquoise and now for the ALR. Despite their huge ink capacity, and where I normally might take a broader nib since it would use up the ink faster, allowing me to both change inks for fun and also making sure I don't leave ink in there for months, I use my TWSBIs for more on the go writing, notes at the shop, notes for projects, etc., and so I go through ink quickly enough while appreciating a finer nib for faster drying.
TWSBI ALR Toronto Canada
Probably for me, the most noticeable difference is that the grip section is now grippier. It makes a difference in the ease of holding it for sure, and the grooves are by no means sharp, they give a comfortable, grippy feeling.
TWSBI ALR Toronto Canada
Here are some close-ups of some of the aesthetic differences - the most noticeable one being that the trim is a matte sort of grey finish, rather than a shiny chrome silver.
TWSBI ALR Toronto Canada
And last, and sort of least because I'm not really sure if I'm just imagining this one, but the TWSBI logo on the cap of the ALR seems a bit bulgier. I think this may truly be one of those details that's neither here nor there, but I spent a long time trying to capture of picture of it. There's also some engraving around the cap finial.
TWSBI ALR Toronto Canada
So that's really about it, some subtle differences to make for an update to the pen. TWSBI is also launching the GO, a new entry-level pen with a spring-loaded piston, sometime in August. I always love seeing new stuff come out from TWSBI - they're a favourite in the shop, but I really just love that they're making completely affordable pens with piston fillers and vacuum fillers and constantly improving their standing line-up while also innovating new pens. Unless someone is a bit particular about using bottled ink (which happens more than you might think - people sometimes come in liking the writing experience of a fountain pen, but not wanting the hassle of the mess or spills), I love showing them a TWSBI because they're such a great all around pen. I haven't decided what ink to put in, yet. Sometimes these more open ended pens (demonstrators, pens without coloured barrels, etc.) are more difficult for me to decide on, and I end up just going with black. Or grey, if I'm feeling feisty.
TWSBI ALR Toronto Canada


In other news, the studio shop is finally seeing some action. Finally!* We are hoping to open mid-August. Jon has been in and out of the studio shop every day for the last couple of weeks, pushing through sets of plans and problem solving, and meeting with contractors and all the different people who are helping us get through this last stretch to get at least the shop open. There have been a few (ho ho ho) unexpected bumps along the road, but we are gearing up to launch the shop mid August, non-functioning, "antique" wall sconces still attached to the walls with dry wall dust pluming into the air or no. Actually perhaps the wall sconces will be down by then, but there will definitely still be some rough spots, literally and metaphorically. I love this city, but man, is it really not designed to help small businesses grow. You would think the city, in its charge forward to fund and support sustainable housing, would be all about helping small, independent businesses thrive and contribute to vibrant neighbourhoods and local economies, but the amount of red tape and fees is truly absurd. I completely understand the need to regulate and oversee building codes and ensure safety, but the redundancies in our specific situation, an admittedly unusual live/work situation, completely miss the point, and the excess costs to create separate units and firewalls and EXTRA BONUS EXCITEMENT WALLS is truly strangling to a small, family business like ours, and additionally, creating a space that in fact makes it difficult for our business and family and staff to use efficiently and effectively. These zoning officers and building inspectors should be looking to help, and in fact championing small businesses in finding a way to legally renovate buildings that make sense for both business and residential, which is what will help this city grow - supporting families and unique and independent shops that contribute directly back into our own communities. (Too naive, Liz? TOO NAIVE???) Don't put away your popcorn yet, though. Our saga is but onto its second chapter, as we still need to trek through some additional permits and changes over the next several months, and so while, alas, this exciting Russian roulette of "how much longer can you financially sustain a vacant building in the Toronto real estate market" is nearing its end, there is more to come. The plan is to soft open the shop in the next two weeks, and, over the new six months, we may be closing up the shop for a few days or a week at a time to plow through some additional changes. While I would like to continue this rant longer, the captain of our ship (Jon Chan) is aggressively hustling me out the door using some salty language he claimed he would stop using in front of the children. Stay tuned for more photos and announcements soon! Blog post in the works with a few more details of the renovation.
  *Envision me raising my arms up into the sky, weakly shaking my hands, eyes closed, tears streaming down my face, clouds parting, orchestral music, possible lion cub held above in the hands of a wise baboon.

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July 16, 2018 — wonderpens



FrankTor said:

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JB said:

I have an AL in plain metal and the grip is obnoxiously slippery. Is it possible to order a replacement for just the grip, rather than the whole section?


wonderpens said:

Thanks for the support! :)


Sara said:

Simple, to the point comparison- exactly what I was looking for- thank you! I’m thinking about Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun for this pen. Perhaps a bit more blue than the pen itself, but hey, I like blues! I would love to hear what grey inks you would pair with this!


wonderpens said:

Fuyu-syogun is a great ink, one of my personal favourites! Other good greys are Diamine Earl Grey (a darker but still grey grey), J. Herbin Stormy Grey (another darkish grey with gold sparkle), and another personal favourite is Sailor Chu-Shu, which also has a bit of the purple/blue to it. Hope you find just the right one :)


Peter said:

Liz, I can understand your “pain” it seem we have the same issues here in Calgary that affect small businesses. WonderPens does such a wonderful job with the web purchases I make that I often find myself ordering from WP when possible, especially if the same product is available in TO as opposed to bringing it in from the US


Paul said:

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having so much difficulty with getting the studio shop ready. The zoning officers and building inspectors can’t really help you though because they’re really just doing their jobs, which are to enforce the by-laws. I really encourage you to contact the city councillor for that area. The councillor or support staff may be able to help find solutions for you or make suggestions. Good luck.

Michael Simon

Michael Simon said:

Charge on??

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