As regular readers of Being Mrs C will know, I am delighted to be part of a team of six bloggers that are currently working with Bureau Direct – retails of some of the most gorgeous stationery products I’ve ever seen.
But to me stationery isn’t just about things that look good, whilst that is still important. It’s about functionality. This has to be the case when it comes to pens in particular. There’s no point in having a pen that looks good if it’s horrible to write with.
This month my choice of review items from Bureau Direct was very much on the functional side of things. After my love of the Herbin Rollerball last month I selected a universal fountain pen convertor so that I can put ink in my Herbin, instead of cartridges. Obviously this then necessitated me choosing a Herbin ink bottle too – actually a tricky choice when I discovered my favourite shade of green as out of stock! There will be a separate review of this just as soon as Mr C and I have been at home at the same time so I can get him to video me filling the pen up with ink – I’ve just not enough hands to do it on my own!
The thing I was most excited about though this month was the Lamy Vista fountain pen. Now I received my first Lamy fountain pen as a present from my Dad when I was at school and when I first used it I absolutely hated it. I found it incredibly difficult to hold without my fingers hurting and I found the shape of it meant that I didn’t actually know where to put my fingers.
With a child in school currently learning how to write I look back at my own experiences and find it hard to understand how it took until I first tried to write with a Lamy to realise that I didn’t actually know how to hold a pen correctly. My late Gran always used to joke that I was “keggy handed” and it became a bit of a family joke, but it seems that she was actually talking sense. Rather than using the tripod grip that all children are supposedly taught at school, and that most people do without thinking I was somehow screwing my fingers up weirdly and doing something very strange when I tried to hold a pen. Once corrected it took a bit of time to get used to how to write with the Lamy properly, but once I’d done so it became second nature and Lamy pens just feel perfect to write with.
I’ve not used a fountain pen for a few years now but when I saw the huge range of Lamy pens that Bureau Direct sell I just knew that I wanted to try one again and I’m so glad I did. I chose the Lamy Vista which retails for just £13.95 as I felt that this was the sort of price that I would be more than happy to pay for an everyday fountain pen that will most likely live in my handbag. It’s clear design means that you can see exactly what is going on inside and the geek in me rather likes that. Prior Lamy writing experience meant that I chose a medium nib, but fine, broad and left-handed nibs are also available.
The Lamy Vista comes with a blue ink cartridge, but I also chose a box of 5 green ink cartridges to help satisfy my current green ink obsession. Also, when clearing out my late father’s desk my mum had come across several boxes of blue and black cartridges which she had passed on to me. This brings me on to a quick note about the Lamy cartridges themselves. Firstly – the box. A classic in itself with a design that has remained the same since my childhood. Then again, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it. It’s a functional little cardboard box and easy to recycle too – so no messing about with plastic packaging – although admittedly it’s not as cute as the Herbin cartridge tins!
The cartridge shape is also a little bit different in that you have an extra “secret chamber” of ink at the end of it, meaning that if you’ve run out of ink you can often just give the cartridge a sharp tap (I find just pinging it with my finger tip works) and hey presto enough ink to keep you going until you get home.
So, the pen itself. I found the Vista worked beautifully just as soon as you put a cartridge in it and the ink started to flow through to the nib. It writes really smoothly, especially when using the good quality paper in the notebooks that I reviewed last month. Despite being made of plastic (with a metal clip on the lid) the pen has a real quality feel to it. I also think it has a good weight too it. Not too light, but substantial in the hand. It’s worth noting that the metal in the lid makes that heavier than the pen itself, so if you’re someone who likes to put the lid on the end of the pen when writing it can make it feel a bit strange in the hand due to the weight distribution away from the nib.
What I’m going to say next may sound very stupid, but please bear with me. If anything the green ink seems a bit wet. Whether this is because it’s a slightly different liquid consistence to black or blue ink I’m not sure, but after couple of days of using the pen I had to go and buy some blotting paper (something I’ve not used since school!) because I needed to go back and blot some of what I had written before closing a notebook or else it would smudge as still wet. I’ve not seen this with the black ink, although I admit that in this trial I have mostly been using green, but it was the only downside that I’ve seen of this pen / ink combination and a slightly strange one at that.
The last few weeks of testing out this pen have actually been quite busy ones in terms of note taking (three school governor training courses in three weeks!) so I definitely feel that I’ve been giving the Lamy Vista a really thorough test. I’ve definitely fallen back in love with writing with a fountain pen and now find myself using this as a pen of choice even for little things like writing a shopping list, or signing my daughter’s school reading record. The wet ink (don’t laugh) is a bit of an issue as I’ve ended up having to keep a bit of blotting paper in my handbag as well, so I’d definitely be interested to hear if anyone else has had similar problems with green ink in particular. I really like the clear look of the pen and at the moment, with a green cartridge nearly finished in it I think it gives the pen quite a funky look.
I’m really impressed with the Lamy Vista – a good quality pen for a very fair price. If you’re looking to buy a teenager or student a pen as a gift for Christmas then I actually think this would make a good one. It’s not too expensive, yet is a quality product. There’s a funky yet classic look to it, and most importantly it writes really well. It seems my Dad was spot on buying me one all those years ago!
Disclaimer: I was sent the Lamy Vista to review for Bureau Direct, along with some other stationery goodies that I will cover soon. All views and opinions are completely my own.