The TWSBI GO
Who doesn't love a good demonstrator? Left to right: TWSBI GO (Smoke), Lamy Vista, Pilot Custom 92 Clear, Sailor Highlighter
TWSBI often releases special edition colours of their pens, their ECOs in pink or lime or blue, their 580 AL in different metallic shades, but their newest pen, the TWSBI GO, is a completely new pen, and I love it. My first love in fountain pens were actually inexpensive pens - pens that maybe weren't super reliable or gorgeous or with super smooth nibs - and I loved this notion of cheap workhorses that could take a beating and be filled and refilled with ink and carry stories and dreams and a young teacher's glorious feedback! It was all very romantic. However, it's often true in life that you get what you pay for, and sometimes the very inexpensive pens can leak, or blob, or spill ink everywhere. Since those early days of using pens that worked maybe 75% of the time, fountain pen technology has, to my delight, come a long way.* TWSBI is one of my favourite brands: their benchmark piston-fillers have huge capacity, a clean aesthetic, and reliable nibs - their 580 + ECO lines are staff and customer favourites, and I never hesitate to recommend them to customers, if they're willing to take on bottled ink. What makes these pens especially great is that they're are such terrific value - TWSBI is constantly innovating and creating new models, especially in the lower range. And the TWSBI GO continues to innovate in this entry-level space - the filling mechanism is a spring-loaded piston, essentially a spring-loaded syringe. It's a bit chunkier in the hand, which some people might give or take. I personally like it: having it a bit bigger in your hand is a bit more comfortable for longer writing periods, which is convenient since it holds quite a bit of ink. It also has a snap cap, unlike the rest of TWSBI's pens, which twist off. It's currently available in a Smoke and a Blue, both translucent, but I think they might be releasing other colours as special editions over time.
On the top is the TWSBI 580 AL Turquoise (now discontinued) and the TWSBI GO on the bottom. To fill the pen, you twist off the back barrel and fully submerge the nib into a bottle of ink. You press down on the end, and when you release, the ink is drawn up into the barrel. In some ways, I think the cleaning will actually be easier on this, because you can squeeze down and release much easier than the twisting and twisting that comes with cleaning a piston filler.
I love how both the ink tank and the feed look like they're suspended in the ether.
And, just for fun, here's a close-up of one of my all-time favourite inks, Sailor 4B. This is one of my desert island inks for sure.
***In other news, despite some pretty impressive neglect on my part, my plants continue to grow. Many of my plants are at the main shop, getting adjusted to new light and watering schedules, but several have been surviving mostly on haphazard leftover ice cubes from drinks and the whims of a capricious and easily distracted three year old. This spring, we skipped our yearly repotting and adjustment of plants because of the move to the main shop, a move in line with an overall lack of attention over the last busy year. This cutting below, from a vibrant and full ZZ plant that's now in the main shop, I had all but given up on, and was, in fact, leaving in its pot on a high shelf to keep it out of the way of Real Life rather than tossing it into the compost as perhaps a more responsible adult might. It had been months and months since I put it into soil, and while I know that ZZ cuttings do often take months to root and sprout, that its main stem appeared dusty and lifeless seemed more a sign of general decline than lurking new growth. And then one day! A meadow green young pup. I'm sure this is probably a metaphor or a life lesson for something important, but I'm a bit too foggy to grab it at the moment. Or else maybe I just need to pay more attention to my plants.
*I've also come a long way, as since then I opened up a shop that sells fountain pens.