Review: Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder

Visconti Dreamtouch 3 pen case full with SheaffersI picked up the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder a few months ago and have been enjoying it ever since. Once a year or so I order from overseas. Usually for items that aren’t available in the US, such as Pelikan Blue-Black ink. Even though it’s available in the US I added this case to the order. I’d done some research and picked this case as my solution but was holding back because of the price. The exchange rate gave me a significant savings, plus it brought me above the free shipping threshold from Cult Pens.

Rather than buying it because it’s a nice case, which it is, I bought it because it’s the one pen case I found that met my current requirements. Cases for three pens are the sweet spot for me since I often carry three pens when I’m out and about. I had been using the Nockco Sinclair but it didn’t meet my current requirements, although I’ll certainly continue to use it.

I have three Sheaffer Balance IIs that I love using, despite their medium nibs. The pens have the reputation of being fragile (and feel it), especially around the clip. Mine are still crack free and I’d like them to remain that way as long as possible. They’ve been home-bound because I’ve been afraid to take them outside the house. I love using the pens and they give me a nice trilogy of pens and ink – a grey or brown in the Aspen, red in the Crimson Glow and green in the Jade Green model. They are too nice to ignore so I wanted a way to carry them in relative safety.

I wanted something that was more rigid although it didn’t have to be a fountain pen bunker. I wouldn’t expect it to survive me sitting on it, but I wanted it to survive in my iPad bag which is my typical carry these days. I didn’t want it to cause damage if the iPad ended up on top of the pen case. It also had to protect pens from bouncing notebooks or keys. I also wanted it to hold all three pens securely without using the fragile pen clips.

The Visconti 3 Pen Case is the one I found that met my requirements, plus it does look good. I just had to get past the price, which I obviously did.

The case has a rigid bottom which keeps it from bending. This was important to me because I’m more concerned about an indirect hit putting pressure on half the case that I am about it being crushed under a large object. The top panels are also rigid although there’s a hinge between them. The sides are rigid except for the zipper which has cloth along it’s length, which doesn’t provide any support. While it’s not a fountain pen bunker it does provide good protection without requiring that the pen be clipped in place. Overall, I think the case provides very good pen protection.

The pen slot dividers run the entire length of the case and are attached to the bottom along the entire length of the case. The don’t flop around and do feel like they are also attached to the bottom side of the case. The inner lining is soft and has a felt-like feel. It doesn’t appear as if it will scratch or wear the pens at all. Unless of course some sand or other grainy particles get caught inside it.

The zipper is exposed to the inside of the case. The zipper teeth are small and fairly smooth along the inside. The zipper is metal. The position of the zipper, high relative to the pens rather than along the middle, plus the small zipper size makes me confident that it won’t scratch my pens. That said, I can’t rule out a series of unfortunate events that could cause it to scratch a pen since it is exposed. Wrapping the pens in a protective cloth, or a protective sheet along the zipper side would eliminate my concerns, but that adds a complication I decided was more of a hassle than the low risk deserved.

I used the case for a couple of months with my regular carry pens to build my confidence that it will protect my more fragile fountain pens. Then a couple weeks ago I inked up my three Sheaffer Balance IIs and moved them into their new home. I don’t have any complaints about the case and it’s protected my pens well. The Sheaffers are the few pens I have that I consider fragile, requiring special handling. I’m not about to see how much abuse they can take inside the case, but I am confident they are safe in there during my normal travels. My only concern is to make sure I don’t run the pen over the zipper as I take it in and out of the case. The cover opens wide and the zipper is easily avoided, it’s my carelessness that I worry about.

“Dreamtouch” is the name Visconti gave to their leather processing. It tends to turn me off when manufacturers give a made-up name to their process, since it’s meaningless to me. I’m more concerned about the result and the name doesn’t help determine that. That said, the leather is smooth and soft and it does appear to do a good job of resisting abuse. Scuffs have been easy to work out so far. There is some creasing where the hinged top attaches, but no signs of cracking. Being black every spec of dust is highlighted in the photos. In real life it has a much cleaner, dust-free look.

Three months of normal use isn’t exactly an endurance test, but the case has held up well. The stitching seems solid and there isn’t any sign of it coming apart. Normally I like my cases to show they’ve been used. This case has had a few scuffs which really stand out on that black leather, which I don’t like. I’ve been able to work them out with just my fingers. The zipper is another potential failure point but it seems to be holding up well.

The case fits all except my largest pen, a Edison Huron Grande. My Franklin-Christoph Model 66 just fits in the center slot, although it doesn’t fit in the side slots. Both the case and pen have an official length of 6.3″. The Model 66 does press against the top end but not enough to affect the zipper operation. It’s a bit hard to remove since friction holds it in place. I haven’t tried all of my pens but I’m confident any others will fit fine. Because the pen clip won’t hold the pen in place smaller pens may rattle around a bit but that isn’t a concern for me.

I’m very happy with the Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 3 Pen Holder and it’s been used daily since I got it. Now that I’m confident in it’s protection, my 3 Sheaffer Balance II fountain pens have claimed it as their new mobile home. I’ve enjoyed having them with me which makes the case worth the money.

Additional Reading

My Pen Needs Ink – 3 pen case review

The Pencilcase Blog – 6 Pen Case review

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KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE Pen Stand

KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE pen stand underside with logoThe CU13BE (the 13 looks like a ‘B’) is a collaboration between KarasKustoms & Dudek Modern Goods. The 13 comes from the atomic number of the element aluminum. KarasKustoms now calls it the “CUBE” on their website and I find writing CU13E annoying, so I’m going to call it “CUBE” from now on. The all caps is less annoying. The CUBE is machined from a solid block of aluminum (well, except for the brass version) with holes for nine pens.

Despite KarasKustoms experience, this wasn’t the smoothest Kickstarter project and it was plagued by delays and other problems. Delivery was estimated for March so it was four months late, five if you want to get technical, but August is only a few days old. There were some comments that the rubber feet fell off in some cases, although mine seem solidly attached. A bigger problem, at least in my opinion, is that those who ordered the the silver anodized version received a raw aluminum version that wasn’t anodized because the anodizing ending up being dull, unlike the samples. Another commenter mentioned that their CUBE looked dinged up before the blue anodizing was applied. While this wasn’t mentioned on the Kickstarter, and the pictures look smooth and shiny, the KarasKustoms website does mention this should be expected as they are now calling them Stonewashed or mentioning that they are tumbled before anodizing.

I ordered the tumbled raw aluminum version which was’t affected by most of the problems since it wasn’t anodized and the finish is purposely rough. And very cool. The only impact was the delay since all the CUBEs were shipped at one time. I didn’t pick any of the anodized versions because I expected this to take some abuse and I thought even the slightest ding would stand out and ruin the look. Plus, I just plain have a preference for the look of raw metals.

Being solid aluminum, the CUBE is heavy, 1 lb. 14.5 oz. to be specific, with nine pen holes drilled into it.. The pens holes are 0.563“ (9/16”) in diameter and two inches deep. There are Delrin inserts in each pen hole to protect the pens from scratches. Delrin is a Dupont product which they describe as…

Delrin® acetal homopolymer combines lubricity and wear resistance with the stiffness and strength needed in parts designed to replace metal.
They feel like smooth plastic and are held firmly in place. They didn’t budge when I turned the CUBE over and shook it.

KarasKustoms + Dudek Modern Goods CUBE pen stand Delrin inserts

I have several Dudek Modern Goods pen stands and I like them a lot. All are made of wood. In general I like the wood better, but that’s just a personal preference. The aluminum is heavier, much heavier, which gives it more stability. It will take more than a nudge to push it off a table. This weight was the main reason I decided to buy it. I’ll use it on my workbench where the stability will come in handy.

The Delrin liner also provides protection for pens that are wider than the holes. While the wood is soft in the wooden versions and not likely to scratch a pen, I didn’t like it when a pen tapered enough so it didn’t reach the bottom of the hole and was held up by the edges of the hole. For example, my Franklin-Christoph Model 25 is too wide to reach the bottom of the hole but it is secure and I don’t feel like it will be scratches.

KarasKustoms is selling the CUBE on their website for $85, a bit more than the Kickstarter price. Brass ($350) and Stonewashed ($95) versions are also available. Eighty-five dollars is a lot for a pen holder but it is solid aluminum so the price does seem reasonable. I did really want the brass but I couldn’t even come close to justify the expense for me. I did internally debate the $75 Kickstarter price but decided to go ahead and get it. I am happy with the result and the Tumbled Raw Aluminum CUBE that I received.

Gallery

Additional Reading

If you’re interested in wooden pen stands I previously reviewed the Dudek Groove and the Dudek Display stands. While there are a few Cube reviews all the ones I found were pre-production units and considering there were manufacturing issues and changes I’d hesitate to trust those if you’re considering buying one. They are arriving in people’s hands at the moment so reviews of the various finishes may begin to appear.

The CUBE (or CU13E)

I didn’t plan it this way, but the companies behind the two products I reviewed this week (the Ink and the Display) have combined on a Kickstarter Project.

They’ve combined KarasKustoms love of machined aluminum and Dudek Modern Goods love of pen (or pencil) holders. The Kickstarter campaign is well beyond its goal, so it will be funded. The campaign ends in less than a week, on December 10th.

From the Kickstarter Project:

The name CUBE was born from a combination of two things. Mike Dudek’s (ClickyPost.com) original walnut, 9 hole pen holder is aptly named the “Cube” and the atomic number for the element aluminum is 13, so combine them and you get “CU13E” (the 13 looks like a letter B, get it?).

I haven’t decided which color I want. I’ve been trying to justify backing at the Three Amigos level but I couldn’t do it. The design just doesn’t fit in with my desk, not that I actually try to coordinate things. It will work on my workbench and I don’t have a pen holder there right now. So I’ll need to decide on a color for the one I’ll have coming.

Some prototypes were sent out for review:

Karas Kustoms x Dudek Goods – “CUBE” Pen Holder & Kickstarter Launch | edjelley.com

Gourmet Pens: Review: The CU13E Machined Pen Storage @ClickyPost @KarasKustoms

The CUBE By Karas Kustoms — The Pen Addict

Dudek “The Display” Pen Stand

While cleaning and reorganizing my desk recently, I decided that I needed yet more pen stands so my inked pens wouldn’t be hidden in cases or desk drawers. After considering various options the Dudek Modern GoodsThe Display” seemed like an ideal solution. I could put them along the edge of my desk so they wouldn’t take up much room on my desk. A cabinet next to my desk, but slightly higher, would prevent me from knocking the stands and pens onto the floor.

I considered getting custom ones made for the length that I wanted. But instead I decided to go with the piecemeal approach and start with two of them. This would give me flexibility if my desk setup changes. The only potential problem is that the stain could vary between stands, especially for future additions. I consider this a minor risk, even if I need to grow past 10 pens sometime in the future.

“The Display” pen stand is about 5 inches long and holds five pens. I ordered mine with the larger 5/8″ holes, while 1/2″ holes are an option. The clincher for me was the slot that can be used for notebooks or papers. The slot is 0.56″ (14.24 mm) deep. It can hold four pocket notebooks in a pinch and three comfortably.

My stands arrived Saturday, 20 days after I placed the order which beat the 3 to 5 week turnaround rule of thumb listed on the website. (Although it may now be too late for Christmas delivery according to the website.) When I opened the box the freshly stained smell let me know the stands were just made.

The pens stands are made by Mike Dudek who also writes The Clicky Post.

The stands are nice additions to my desk. They are both functional and attractively display my pens.

Review: The Rest of the Nockco Kickstarter Pen Cases

Nockco should be launching their store soon. (If they haven’t already launched – this post was written last weekend and scheduled for today.)  launched their store yesterday. They’ve already announced additional products so there should be plenty to choose from. Now seems to be a good time to review the rest of my Nockco cases.

I reviewed the Nockco Hightower (the cases are all named for mountain peaks in Georgia) back in May and it remains my most used Nockco pen case. My most used case overall, if I  only consider a case used when pens are put in and taken out. I pledged at the “All the Cases” level when they had their Kickstarter campaign and these are the rest of those cases. And as an aside, it’s nice to see a Kickstarter campaign used to launch a business, and a business that makes their own products, rather than just be a storefront.

The red-white-blue flecked Grand Huron is over 6.5″ long so doesn’t fit in most pen cases but is shown in some photos for reference. The Edison Collier, Lamy Safari, and Pilot Vanishing point are also used (and fit) as a reference for all the cases and should provide a good cross-section of know pens.

Most cases are orange because I picked that as the color for the cases I expected to carry in a bag. This was to make them easy to find. Plus, I like orange.

The Lookout

I expected this three pen holster to be the case I used most but a change in my daily carry bag changed that. Three pens are an ideal carry for me so it does get used.

Like all the cases it’s well made with even stitching and no loose threads. The lining is soft and won’t scratch my pens. I’d consider it a “normal” size case that can accommodate most pens. The material is heavy and protects the pens quit well. Like many cases the sides are open towards the top of the case. I feel more comfortable with my heavy leather Franklin-Christoph Penvelope case bouncing around in my bag if there are heavy objects sharing the space with it. It may be psychological but I feel the leather would provide better protection against being crushed. But as far as cloth bags go, the Lookout provides excellent protection. There is padding and I can’t foresee anything ripping through the material. This the only one of the cases that has the extra padding.

Some people have noticed a Field Notes book fits under the strap and carry one there but I haven’t tried it.

Large Chimney Top

I ended up using this for computer/phone cables, a wireless hotspot, batteries, headphones, thumb drives and more. Thanks to the hotspot and large(ish) brick battery it can be tight at times but a lot does fit in.

The case is unlined but the interior is still smooth. There’s no padding. Again, good construction with even stitching.

The case is about 7″ long so it doesn’t fit full size wood case pencils.

Nockco large chimney top

Small Chimney Top

This case is as long as the Large Chimney Top but narrower. I use this to hold my Vac 700 with its extra nibs. It’s my ink testing case.

Broken record here – good construction with even stitching. Like the large version there’s no lining and large, new wood case pencils just don’t fit.

Nockco small chimney top

The Maryapple

This is a bi-fold case with a notebook pocket on each side. Pens fit too, as long as you don’t mind that they touch. This one is lined. I’ve yet to find a regular use for this case. My particular case is the Steel exterior with Blue Jay interior.

Guess what? Quality construction with even stitching.

Nockco Maryapple

The Maryapple with a Field Notes 3 pack on each side

The Sassafras

This is the pen version of the Maryapple. It’s a bifold case with five pen slots, three on the left and two on the right. The slots on the right can easily hold multiple pens if you don’t mind touching.

Yet again, even stitching and solid construction.

I’ve used this on occasion but it hasn’t gotten a lot of use.

The Nockco Sassafras

The Brasstown

The Brasstown is the most ingenious design of all the cases. It’s a six pen roll that fits in a zippered case. It holds six (or more) pens in a six pen roll. More pens or other small items can fit loose in the case. That’s a lot in a small area.

I would have expected to use this case more but find I usually pick another. If I need less than six pens then it’s the Hightower. If it’s six pens then it’s the leather Penvelope. Because of this I’ve started to use it for my Retro 51 accumulation and spare refills.

The case is lined. New wood case pencils won’t fit in the roll out sleeves but they do fit loose in the case. My Edison Huron Grande won’t be completely wrapped in the roll out sleeve, but it does fit in the case.

And yes, even stitching and overall quality construction.