Piuma Minimal Fountain Pen by ensso
Matte Black Aluminum version w/ Schmidt K5 Standard Ink Converter and x5 standard ink cartridges
F black stainless steel bock nib
$79 USD (ensso) – originally bought on Kickstarter for $50 USD
Add-on: EF Titanium Spare nib (+40 USD)
Currently inked: Platinum Citrus Black – $30.25 CAD (wonder pens)
I have been quite excited to try this pen since backing it on kickstarter back in December of last year, and after a good long wait, I finally got mine! I would say my decision to pick this one up was a combination of intrigue to try something new and impulse to fuel my then growing passion for fountain pens. There were a couple kickstarters going on at around the same time, all featuring similar products — machine cnc metal body minimal fountain pens using the bock nib — so I’m not 100% sure why I went with this one, but I have to say I’m quite happy with my choice. I picked up the All Black Everything option, matte black aluminum w/ a black steel nib. And when the surveys came around for add-ons, I thought why not pick up a titanium nib to try out (the lower price was a plus!) Let’s take a look shall we.
Does this pen look super awesome? You bet.
This is one elegant looking streamline minimalist fountain pen. I have nicknamed mine “the bullet” because it’s just so sleek looking, and in my narrow understanding of gun lore, feels like it could shoot out of a gun — even though I know a real shell really does not look quite like the shape of this pen. In any case, the pen CNC machined out of a solid block of aluminum with a single gap between the twist pen cap and the main body. The opening between the nib/grip and the bottom part of the body is well hidden and secure, and thus completes essentially the three pieces that make up the pen. I actually love that the marketing uses a section and orthographic drawing to show the insides of the pen and just how simple the pieces are (and I’ve replicated it in my own doodle). The pen looks well made, classy and special. I especially love the matte black look as it gives it that class, and the additional minuscule friction makes it easier to hold. The one downside as expected really is that the pen tends to roll since it has no flat edge. The weight imbalance helps a little bit, so it will settle down at some point and stop rolling, but getting it to stay in place for photos was a little tough!
I’ll be honest, I really did not pay too much attention to things like size and weight when I initially bought the pen. So I was actually a little surprised that the pen was as long as some of my other regular pens (measuring only a tad shorter than the TWSBI). I definitely had some poor gauge of relative size, thinking this whole time till it arrived, that it was a pocket pen. Ridiculous really, since there are photos of hands holding the pen, plus plenty of comparisons to other popular pen models. In any case, it was a happy surprise, since I’m really happy with the size and happy that I can hold it in my hand comfortably.
The pen comes with an international converter as well as 6 standard black cartridges (just more to add to the pile! I probably have about 20 by now just from three pen purchases…) The nib that I picked to pair with my pen was a F size black anodized steel #6 Bock nib. Really cool looking, giant nib, and looks quite nice. To be honest I like the black steel lamy nib look a little more, but I also enjoy the matte finish on this one! The titanium add-on nib I picked was an EF size. It has more of a rustic unfinished look, which I am okay with, but doesn’t match the look of my all black aluminum pen that well. Since it is an add-on nib though, I may look into some other pens that could host it, so I’m not fixed on only using the Bock nib on my Piuma. The packaging is quite simple, a black paper box with a slide out cover and the pen sitting snugly in a foam insert inside. All the additional accessories (converter, cartridges, extra nib) were included outside the box.
So I mentioned when I first chose to back the project on kickstarter, I didn’t have too many thoughts about the pen. I really just wanted to try it out because it looked cool. But as time passed, and people were getting their pens much earlier than I was, and reviews started cropping up all over the interwebs of the pen world, I started getting more and more of an idea of what the pen would be like. This got me really excited but also a little desensitized to the excitement because I felt like I knew what I was going to get. Suffice to say, I was still pleasantly surprised, because one) I’ve never tried this #6 Bock nib, and two) I have never tried a fully metal pen like this one!
The pen is definitely on the weightier side, which gives it both heft for control, and also heft for fatigue. It took me a little bit of practice to get used to the weight. From my previous reviews, you can see most of the pens I’ve looked at are plastic and therefore much lighter. I like the weight though! It definitely makes me feel like I have some counter balance when I write or doodle, which somehow makes me feel like I have more control than with a feather light pen. But at the same time, the weight does slow me down, and over time, my hand does get tired. I tried writing journal entries with the pen and got tired after a page or two and had to switch back to my Lamy. (U_U) But for tiny doodles or quick notes, I have no issues at all. Not to mention just the satisfaction of opening and closing the twist cap.
There are minimal twines on the cap to body connection, making it a smooth and quick open for a twist cap pen. I like it. Often I default to quick doodles and notes with my Lamy, because it is the only snap cap I own at the moment (other than the preppy). But with this one, I feel like I’m not ‘losing’ so much time persay, with each open, because there’s at most about one and a half rotations and the cap is already off. Pretty nice engineering I must say.
A bit of a note on the nib experience(s). I tried the black coated steel nib first. Other than picking it purely to match my all black everything look, the black coated nib does perform pretty nicely. It’s not buttery smooth like a pilot nib or even the nemosine nib, and has a mild toothy resistance on the different kinds of papers I tried (from crappy printer paper to clairefontaine). My preference is more for a smoother writing experience, only because sometimes I write or draw for extended periods of time, and the more tooth (on top of the weight of the pen) turns out to be relatively tiring. As I wore in the coating on the nib, it did get better, and had slightly better ink flow though, so maybe it just takes a bit of breaking in time. As a German F nib, it’s closer to between F and M to me, but I have no problems with that. Drawing experience wise, it’s quite solid. I don’t have issues with ink flow or skipping, only that toothy resistance which interferes a bit with drawing longer strokes or lines. I drew a gun for this review doodle cause the pen reminds me of a bullet so much!
Next up, loaded the titanium nib into the pen. The design is simple and easy to twist the nibs in and out. It took a little bit of time for the ink to flow through, but once it did, I was immediately immensely happy I got this add-on. The nib is quite nice! It has a similar toothy resistance on the paper I was using, compared to the steel nib. I think this is partially just this type of nib, but also because the titanium nib I got was an EF size. It is indeed slightly thinner than the F steel nib, but because the material is made of titanium, which I have found out is a much softer metal than steel, the nib actually has some natural flex in it. It got me quite excited, because I don’t own a flex nib (yet), and it was quite fun to use!
I purchased this pen on kickstarter at a reduced price. My initial backing was $50, and probably some additional charge for shipping to Canada, so let’s say I got it for $60. The current price on ensso’s website is $79 dollars. This is a really nice pen for sure. But I will say that given my price range of what I can afford, I probably would not buy the pen at its retail price unless I really trying to treat myself. (And if I were really to treat myself, I’d likely aim even higher for my first gold nib) The titanium nib I added on was $40 at check-out, and $60 retail on the website. I don’t know enough about nibs and nib quality to really comment about the value of the nib, but I will say I am glad I got the add-on, because I certainly wouldn’t afford to get an extra nib post-crowd-fund phase. The nibs performed well; they have great and consistent ink flow, and they are comfortable on paper despite a little bit of toothy resistance. I also quite enjoy the little bit of flex in the titanium.
I had a bit of issue though, given the complications of tax and such in shipping to Canada, that I ended up paying additional tax on the pen and nib because the packaging quoted the retail value and not the price that I paid out of my pocket. Was mildly upset about this, but I don’t want to be overly petty about it.
Overall, I think if you’re on the lookout for something that is classy, unique and enchanting of a fountain pen, and have some disposable income to treat yourself (or to gift someone special), this would be a well-worth purchase. I can’t argue that it is worth all the money I paid for it, but I also can’t say I’m not happy with owning this special piece of work. (all the double negatives!)
- Really beautiful looking pen – simple minimalist design
- Classy and weighty
- Well made, high quality pen
- Decently smooth writing experience – a little toothy resistance
- Easy to assemble and disassemble
- 3/4 rotation in twist cap makes it easy to take on and off (corrected!)
- Rolls around on the table
- Can get a little tiring to write/draw for extended periods of time due to the weight
- a bit of tooth if one is more used to smooth buttery nibs
I’ll start by saying, this is by no means a sufficient review on this ink; there are quite a few out there now and I’d recommend looking into those if you’re really interested in what this ink does. I got this ink on a whim, having visited wonder pens for the second time ever, and was determined to leave with at least two bottles of ink. I asked one of the staff for some suggestions, and after mentioning that I really like yellow but found it too hard to read, he suggested I try the iron gall Platinum Citrus Black ink. I have a tendency to agree to try something before really knowing what I’m getting into, so I bought this ink without really understanding what he meant about how the ink changes. And from what I have read post-purchase, this colour in the Platinum iron gall line is the most colour changing of them all!
So the ink comes out in a barely legible bright yellow and almost immediately starts changing colour. It goes from that bright illegible yellow to an almost poopy dark black colour (hence the name, citrus black). You can sort of see the transition over time in the photos. It’s a pretty exciting experience, and really trippy when I first tried it out. The only downside really is that the initial yellow that comes out is quite difficult to see, so it’s not the easiest to know what’s coming out on paper as I draw. The other negative from other sources I have read, is that iron gall ink can damage the nib/converter if left in for too long, so I have had an urge to always use this pen as much as possible for fear of leaving the ink for too long and damaging my awesome pen.
Well that’s about it, glad to have finally got this one out! Things are getting busy on my end, career wise, but I will try to check in with some new purchases or mini-reviews. Definitely have much planned still to come!