One of my greatest pleasures writing this blog is to introduce you to independent makers that might not be on your radar. Leonard Slattery, Rockster, Applied Pens, John Garnham, Eureka, Kasama… I’m building up quite a list.
Every one of these makers does things their own way, showing their personality and their vision for what makes a great pen. I’m always struck by just how different it’s possible to make a pen, given that they’re all essentially sticks with a nib on the end.
And today I’d like to introduce you to another maker with a unique vision, Loft Pens. Loft is Sam, based in London, a turner who only started making pens at the start of 2020. Sam decided to jump in with both feet, and not only turns and sells pens to your specification, but pours his own resins, too. Each pen includes a nib grind, and a spare nib, and a converter and set of cartridges in different colours, and a pen pouch. This is truly a custom pen and a total package.
And you get that for £99.99, which is a very keen price to say the least.
So when Sam offered to send me a pen, I was keen to try it out. I picked the colour scheme I liked, gave a little steer on the design, and sat back to wait. I didn’t have to wait long: it turned up in a week.
The pen I received shows a lot of promise — and bear in mind that this is a new maker offering a custom pen for a low price — but for me it has some frustrating flaws.
What’s good? The resin, for a start. I picked something a little like a nebula: swirling blues, pinks, purples and just a shot of black. It’s very pretty, and feels nice under the fingertips. There’s no trim or clip to obscure the view.
The polish isn’t perfect, but it is good.
The walls of the barrel and cap are thick, and the pen feels really sturdy.
Choosing a custom resin can be bewildering, especially when you can choose four or five colours, and there’s a risk of making a rod that’s pretty ugly. I’ve advised Loft that a menu of options might be a good idea to help buyers make a sensible decision.
The overall design and ergonomics of Loft’s pens are very distinctive. The barrel is long, the cap short, and the section curves down towards the nib. That design DNA carries across most of the pens you’ll see on Loft’s Instagram feed.
Personally I’m more of a fan of shorter barrels and longer caps, but that’s down to my individual preferences.
In terms of comfort, the pen is good. The section is long and wide and spacious, the slightly sharp barrel step is well out of the way.
The barrel may be long, but it’s light, so the writing experience is free of fatigue.
Post it, and LOL.
What’s not so good? The threads are my main complaint. I found them stiff and actively hard to turn when the cap was nearly closed, and even worse, the cap takes a full 4.5 turns to remove.
Watch this video and turn the volume up and you’ll hear what I mean about stiff. And sorry to subject you to my unkempt mug. I won’t make a habit of it.
As you can tell from my expression, that’s way past my personal tolerance. And the uncapping is not much better.
When I tried to get to the converter to fill the pen, I discovered that it takes FOURTEEN turns to remove the barrel.
Loft says it’s to reduce unsightly transparency around the section and barrel where the converter meets, but it’s hugely tiresome nonetheless.
Now, about the nib… I confess I did not get on with the architect grind Sam did for me.
I found it dry and scratchy, and even after a bit of tuning I wasn’t having much fun with it. To get any kind of flow I had to push hard on the page, and when I did that the sharp tip dug in to the paper. See the video below.
So I quickly swapped it over for an old Nettuno nib I had lying around, which gave me a much wetter, smoother experience, and for me had the benefit of avoiding the gold trim of the stock nib. With these colours — blues and purples — I wanted silver all the way.
Note that Loft uses neither Bock nor JoWo — the feeds are the same as Nettuno and Narwhal use.
So. This is not a perfect pen. The tiresome threads are my main complaint, and to me they’re a dealbreaker for daily use. But returning to where I started: Loft is a very young company that’s offering you the opportunity to create a truly unique pen exactly as it appears in your mind’s eye, with all the trimmings, for £100, made right here in the UK. If this is where Sam has got to after nine months of turning pens, I am sure Loft has a bright future.
Looking at the latest pens on his feed, like this:
I already see shorter threads and a longer cap. I have high hopes!
Loft provided this pen for free for review. You can get yours here.