Here it goes...
Choosing the pen.
First and foremost, Brian deserves every word of praise for his service. A bit bemused by the options on his website and Flickr site, I picked up the phone and gave him a call; he dutifully spent nearly an hour walking me through what was possible, what was not, and where to look for inspiration. I knew I wanted an ebonite pen in his bulb filling Pearl design, so Brian dutifully pointed me towards the American Art Plastic website, and after alot of umming and ahhing, I finally settled on a yellow and black mottled rubber. I knew I wanted something young and unusual, so the pictures on the website seemed a perfect fit. Brian, however, was not quite as enthusiastic: he warned me that the material had a habit of changing on the lathe and that unless I was especially brave (or reckless), I may wish to look elsewhere. Well...
A pen is worthless without a good nib and although I was tempted to try steel (after all, Brian will replace any nib at any point for the exchange cost), Israel and Brian's workshop are quite far from each other, so I decided to order the gold nib from the start - a rhodium Extra Fine to match the trim (my exact words were "Japanese Fine"), but wetter than average.
So... after a month of waiting... what arrived?
Impressions: Design and Build
As soon as the pen was off the lathe, Brian sent me some photos. As he had cautioned, the pen in the pics looked nothing like the pen in my head. The photos were dull and olive: much closer in colour to the old olive/yellow vintage Watermans than the bright, shocking yellow I had expected. Happily, the actual pen is slightly lighter than the photos originally implied - a warm, restrained honey-yellow, very in keeping with the tactile nature of the ebonite. And what a material the ebonite is! Glossy and warm to the touch, with that gorgeous sulphuric smell when raised to your nose. Divine.
I asked for a clear ink window in the mid-section, the words: "Edison Pen Co. Pearl" clearly visible even without ink being filled.
The pen itself is about the same size as a Sailor Realo, but it does not particularly like being posted (the cap does not fit particularly happily or securely on the back), and is quite short for long hands. For me this is not a problem, but Brian also offers the Pearl in a larger size for larger hands. It is quite heavy, but well weighted in the hand.
Fit and finish is good if not great: the slightly odd-fitting cap is a disappointment and the ink window could have done with a slight clean before being sent out.
Overall, though, it is a lovely pen and very much in line with what I was expecting, and these minor imperfections can't dull its appeal.
2. Filling Mechanism
This is my first bulb filler and, whilst not my favourite filling system (I like Crescent fillers and Pistons), my god is it efficient. Dipping it in Sailor Jentle green, a few squeezes of the bulb and the ink was pouring in. The pen has such a vast capacity that I only filled it half-way - I couldn't bare to see the Sailor's level dropping so abruptly! I'm not sure how easy it will be to empty and clean: I guess that is something only time and experience will tell.
As stated earlier, I asked Brian for a wet "Japanese Fine" - a European Extra-Fine. Like all his pens, the Pearl was supplied with a writing sample, the ink type and details of the order. Brian must have a very light touch as my writing seems to be a bit thicker than his with the pen! I would say it is in reality mid-way between a "Japanese Fine" and a "Japanese Medium", slightly broader that I would have liked, but with a lovely flow, and a nice amount of feedback. I'm very happy with it, and can see it becoming one of my go-to pens.
4. Final Thoughts
So, this is not the pen I thought I was buying, but that does not make me any less enthusiastic. It is not cheap (after adding the gold nib, ink window, bulb filler and special-order ebonite, it came to nearly the same price as the Nakaya Piccolo I'm still waiting for), but for a handmade pen to my own specifications, I do not think it is overly expensive. If ordering again, with the knowledge I now have (above all to listen to Brian!) I still think I would ask for the same pen. Mistakes can be pleasant surprises, and so it is with the Pearl. Thank you Brian, she's a peach!
Edited by mongrelnomad, 04 June 2010 - 20:04.