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My Experience With Shawn Newton


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After emailing with Shawn for a bit, I ordered on July 30,2012 a Custom Pen -


I requested:

- black/green cotton micarta barrel, cap

- steel #6 Jowo nib ground to 0.7mm smooth italic

- button filler mechanism

- large size, bulging barrel, rounded ends, pinched section

- silvered, rounded rolling ball clip


Quoted cost for my choices were $362 shipped (would have been $262 if just cartridge/converter)


I received updates during the manufacture of the denim/cotton material to the finished pen, at least once a week, usually 2-3x/week, with pictures.






He sent me pics of the pen being turned, and even let me know when things didn’t go well & he had to start over with new material. I really appreciated the photos he’d email me, just to reassure me that he’s working it.




When he showed me his final photos, I knew I’d be receiving it any day now.



I received my pen today, 9/1/12 - took Shawn just under a month.




Barrel/Cap - Cotton Micarta manufactured with denim/resin, drilled/sculpted by Shawn Newton

Nib - Jowo of Germany, stainless steel w/iridium tip, ground to smooth italic 0.7mm by Shawn Newton

user replace-able with other Jowo nibs (like Brian Gray’s or any other #6)

Filling Mechanism - button-filler - made by Shawn Newton, ?rubber sac powder w/talc

The section: ebonite, also hand-turned by Shawn Newton - for durability, non-staining properties.


pen weight dry - 40.6g (1.43oz)

pen weight full - 41.8g (1.47oz)

ink capacity - 1.2ml (about 25 drops)

Nib - 8.6mmx27mm (0.315”x1.06”) - #6

pen without cap - 13.5cm (5-1/3”)

pen posted - 18.6cm (7-1/3”)

pen at section below threads - 15mmx21.8mm (0.59”x0.86”)

pen barrel at widest bulge - 19.3mm (0.76”)

pen barrel tapers to 12mm near blind cap

cap - 19.3mmx73mm (0.76”x2.87”)

cap weight - 27g (0.95oz)




Overall Impression on opening the pen: What a massive bulging pen. Meaty.

In hand: amazingly ergonomic contours - form-fitting, melts into your hand.

The Material (Micarta):

warm, woody feel, heat/temperature/water resistant.

(see my TWSBI review for more details about Micarta).

Compared to the Micarta material on the twsbi, Shawn’s micarta is smooth also but with

many pits & imperfections on the surface. At 10x loupe level, you can see the fibers of

green & black layered & interwoven. Since the material is sealed in resin, this shouldn’t

cause problems in contact with water when cleaning. Prolonged soaking of micarta is

not recommended. I think these pits and slight imperfections lend character to the

pen that you’d expect and want in a custom pen like this. Anybody can pick up this pen

and see that it is a totally custom pen, not an off-the-shelf piece.

The rolling-ball clip allows smooth/low-friction glide on/off from shirt pocket.

The fitting of the clip grabs shirt tight & secure (important for the pen of this weight)

The threading: at the cap it takes 5 turns to uncap (compare: vintage Waterman 56 is 1 turn, Brian Gray’s custom Huron is 2 turns, Speedy’s TWSBI Micarta is 4 turns). At the blind cap, the threading is 3 turns to take off.




Writing experience:

The barrel feel is extraordinary. This meaty thick barrel focuses your mind on your writing experience - it makes you hyper-acutely aware of your writing experience. The weight is pleasant and also contributes to this autonomous sensory meridan response. The pen is too long posted, but still shorter by a little than the Edison Huron posted. Extended writing will lead to fatigue due to weight if posted, so uncapped writing is recommended. The posting is by friction only, and therefore the cap can slip off. This large pen clips onto standard shirt pockets with slight bulging. The weight doesn’t make the pocket sag too much, but does a little bit. The roller-head clip is awesome - easily glides off/on one-handed. I worry how durable the contacts to the roller pins are, but I think if it ever goes bad, I might be able to get another one. Clip-less carry is a good option also using for instance the Franklin-Christoph leather pen-holder necklace.


The filling-mechanism:

My only other button-filler is the circa 1920s Parker Duofold which fills beautifully and is one of my larger capacity pens at >2mls. Shawn’s Micarta button-filler pen has a good capacity at 1.2mls, but it could be much larger given the size of the pen. A secondary filling method could be employed with care: unscrew the feed from the barrel, dip the nib above the section in ink, squeeze the sac directly (like a bulb-filler). This did not give me any greater ink filling than the button mechanism, so this button-filling method works very well! The filling-mechanism and easy and fool-proof. Down-sides? You can’t gauge how much ink is left in your pen except by weighing it. But this would be true for any sac-pen.


The Nib Grind:

Shawn says he is a totally self-taught nib-meister. His nib smooth, wet in a perfect-way without loss of control. At 10x magnification, the tines are perfectly lined up, the edges are smoothed in an oval. The centering to the iridum is about 60%/40%. Overall the glide, feel, as well as bite and italic nib character on paper is perfection. His background as an artist I think serves him well when it comes to things like this.

Conclusion: Great experience, Great Pen. Great Nib. I will use this pen as a display-piece, as a show-piece on my desk. I will carry to work tomorrow and try it out. I’ve already written several pages with it as I haven’t been able to put it down. With the service, dedication, and design artistry here, Shawn could totally take Brian Gray’s lunch, so he’d better watch out! Actually Shawn emailed me how he loves Brian G. Two great guys to buy pens from, and both from the heartland of the U.S.A. At $362 what a great value. I’ve spent that amount for plastic mass-manufactured pens like the Pelikan Souverans, the Aurora Optimas, and Omas Milords. This pen absolutely annhilates those pens in the field of battle (IMO). If anybody tries to show you their Montblanc 149 bling-piece, one could easily counter with this much more impressive Herculean Handspike Hewn in the Hydrolysates of HotSprings, Arkansas. I was not paid nor induced in any way to review this pen by Shawn, nor did I receive any fringe benefits for doing it, in fact I never knew him until I simply checked out his website & youtube vids, where he posts under snnewton, and at FPN forums as watch_art -, but do try out his custom pens - I don’t think he’ll keep his prices this low for long: shawn@newtonpens.com, or www.newtonpens.com


- pelahale, September 1, 2012




Edited by pelahale
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I feel that Shawn is one of the better nib meisters out there. He's done some amazing things on waaaaay more than one of my pens. I wonder why he doesn't advertise this more. I need to get a pen sold. I really want one of these denim pens in a bad way. Congratulations.

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Excellent review of a very unique pen!




I've been working with Shawn lately on a custom pen too.....think it won't be much longer now.....


Can't wait to see it!


Like you, it's been a great pleasure working with Shawn....great guy to deal with, really wants to make sure you are very pleased with pen....



FP Addict & Pretty Nice Guy




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Congratulations! This pen looks great - I love the green and black in that Micarta. :thumbup:

Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

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Wow what an awesome review! Thank you so much!


The clip - if it ever goes bad I'll send you another - no problem, no charge.


I want to make button fillers with larger capacity, but would have to increase length of pen quite a bit. Not sure how I'd like that. Maybe I'd make the section shorter to compensate.


I'm also SO VERY pleased you like the nib. I certainly do try to get everything lined up just right.

Thanks for the kind words on my nib work, Brian. ;) I remember that poor Pilot Capless you sent me. Dropped twice! :P


I'm also glad you think that my prices are so good. I must worry over my prices more than the whole process of making these things. ;P


Thanks again.

You've warmed my heart.

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You're so talented, Shawn! I'm still enjoying the raccoon you made for me, and now I see you branching into making pens, too. Amazing! You do wonderful work!

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.


"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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I am the proud owner of one of Shawn's last Kickstarter pens. I second everything the OP said about dealing with Shawn and the quality of his work. Superb craftsmanship, attention to detail, and a lot of artistic common sense. This is one case where you definitely get what you pay for.

Dave Campbell
Retired Science Teacher and Active Pen Addict
Every day is a chance to reduce my level of ignorance.


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And having fondled an early Shawn pen at a meet up...that cap is NEVER getting lost with all the threads holding it on. :roflmho: Pretty materials, pretty pens and more threading than a Montegrappa. What's not to adore?! :notworthy1:

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Increase your IQ, use Linux AND a Fountain pen!!http://i276.photobucket.com/albums/kk11/79spitfire/Neko_animated.gif

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I am astounded not only by the speed of Shawn's pen-making abilities but just by his curiosity and follow-through in general. His students have an excellent role model. Lucky them!


etherX in To Miasto

Fleekair <--French accent.

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hi Shawn,


I added my YT vid to the bottom of my review above - I hope that's legal here? I didn't put any ads on it nor monetize it in any way, so I'm not profiting on it. Just trying to show-off what a great pen-maker you are.

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another have to have pen... :puddle:

The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

- Mark Twain in a Letter to George Bainton, 10/15/1888

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 years later...

Wonderful review. Simply amazing. I communicated with Shawn last night on a pen and the possibilities are endless. (That is good and bad.)


I must thank you for taking the time to do your review as it is extremely helpful and provided wonderful insight into both the pen maker as well as the pen user.


GREAT stuff.





Edited by Bklyn

Anyone like Ray Bradbury? Please read "The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair" if you have about 12 minutes.


You will not forget this wonderful gem that is largely obscure and sadly, forgotten. http://bit.ly/1DZtL4g

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It looks pretty nice if you like really meaty pens, for the price I'd like to have a gold nib though..but to each his own :)

Fountain pens are like weapons. They just make your pocket bleed so much.

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