We’ve recently been experiencing a patch of rain, here in Durénnmørk … It’s a nice change of grey, when compared to the usual black, black. Black. I generally like the overcast, rainy weather – “It’s good study weather”, I always tell myself. And yet, I consistently find it hard to actually study when it’s so gloomy. More often than not, I end up depressed and contemplating the point of it all. My trusty Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen certainly helps (review coming soon!) make day-to-day note taking more bearable. And, like many fountain pen users, I always end up buying more ink than I’ll ever use. So many brands, so many colours. I have, over the past year, purchased a number of other fountain pens, and inks, but I pretty much always default to my Metro and Diamine Onyx Black Ink (with the occasional shade of blue – courtesy of Pilot’s Iroshizuku range). Yet, despite this, I’m still always drawn in by the promise of new, better writing instruments and ever more exotic varieties of coloured water.
A few months ago, whilst mindlessly perusing the catalogue of Durénnmørk’s first online pen store (“Så Stiften Vielt, Så Lite Plaz”*), I happened upon a brand that I had never heard of before [Editor’s Note: Nice rymin’ – Adrian] – ‘Ferris Wheel Press’. The name instantly caught my attention. For those who don’t know, Durénnmørk is, what locals call, a “Carnival Town”. A place which has had a long history of holding annual fairs in the fall, with a fully-fledged circus. The thing is – it’s barely progressed since the 1800s; freaks, oddities and general unease included. Most residents don’t exactly ‘approve’ of the festivities any more, but it has become the town’s biggest tourist attraction and a large source of income.
I’ve always had a rather strange fascination with the circus… I do not really like them and have a mild case of coulrophobia, but at the same time there’s something darkly appealing about the whole thing, the whole aesthetic. The odd sights and sounds. The bizarre and often tragic stories that come with it… I both love and hate ‘the carnival’ at the same time, but I remain ever drawn in. You can hopefully understand, at least partially, why I was attracted to the ‘FWP’ label.
Ferris Wheel Press is a Canadian stationary company known primarily for their ‘Brush’ fountain pen, vibrant coloured inks in round, ornamental bottles and their overall retro-industrial design. It is supposedly a “stationary lifestyle brand where the whimsical sights, sounds and nostalgia of the carnival dances with the rat-tat-tat of a traditional print shop”. There seems to be a strong focus on storytelling and personality with their line of products, which I really appreciate. I have to say, that I also rather like the look of their (divisive) fountain pen and the little touches imbued, like the etchings on the grip, the Canadian maple leaf and rival Toronto Area Codes on the nib. However, the price is quite high (about $138 USD, $98 Schrute Bucks, or 330 Durénnmørk Kronos, plus shipping). Upon checking out reviews, it seems that the pen is certainly not bad, but at the same time, may not be an exceptional writer, especially when compared to other well regarded pens from companies like Lamy and Pilot, at a similar price point. The fact that ‘the Brush’ is manufactured in Shanghai doesn’t necessarily bother me as it does others†, but I did feel like I was more attracted to the overall look, aesthetic and branding than anything else. I simply could not justify buying one, when I’m still a “broke, struggling student” ha ha. Lorenzo doesn’t pay me enough [Editor’s note: Hey! I pay you plenty! – Lorenzo]! Just so you know, the “Brush” fountain pen merely resembles a brush – it does not actually have any other brush-like properties, nor is it what would normally be referred to as a “brush pen”.
Jump forward to this week – I’ve now taken on a few more online tutoring gigs since the coronavirus lockdowns commenced and I find myself with a bit more disposable income. Coincidentally, Ferris Wheel Press just launched their latest Kickstarter Campaign, funding a new range of bright, “uplifting” inks in smaller 38mL “pocket-watch-style” bottles. Along with the ink, you can also nab some of their fountain pens and notebooks. Any sane, responsible student would save their money, but not me… well, I am saving, but I do afford myself the occasional splurge, especially during dark days, such as these.
A pen-ink combo is available for significantly cheaper ($145 CAD early-bird, or $155 CAD regular), with cheaper shipping (at least for me), than if I was to buy online from any retailer, including FWP’s own site. Effectively, you’re getting the pen for around $30-40 CAD cheaper than normal, with a free 38mL bottle of ink.
I felt like this would probably be the best time to take a chance on the Canadian company and so, I backed the project. Naturally, I will be reviewing the items when they finally arrive in another few months.
If you’re interested in Ferris Wheel Press’ products, you can check out their website to see the full range, or the new Kickstarter, if you’re interested in pledging. Do yourself a favour – make an informed decision. We’re in a good position with this campaign, in that the FWP products are already out there and available. There’s really nothing new on offer here (beyond alternative colours and a different sized/shaped bottle), so you can get a good idea on whether it’s worth backing. Check out some reviews, ask some friends or post a query in your go-to fountain pen forum (if you’ve read this far, I think it’s probably safe to assume that you already own at least one fountain pen, or are at least rather interested – you know the drill).
For those of you who have never actually used a good quality fountain pen before, I’d probably not recommend starting with the Ferris Wheel Press offerings. There are much cheaper options, which still offer a great writing experience and will give you a good idea if it’s a hobby you’d like to pursue. The two ‘beginner pens’ that most would probably recommend would be the Pilot Metropolitan (my personal favourite), and the Lamy Safari. Then again, if you’re particularly enamoured with the ‘Brush’ design and are willing to pay the price, I think you could do a lot worse. I suppose at a certain point, many fountain pens are as much about the look, design and aesthetic as they are the writing quality itself.
One final point – I really think that Ferris Wheel Press have missed a great opportunity in not using carnival or vaudevillian-style music in all of their promotional videos. Come on! Who doesn’t want to hear someone wax poetic about expensive pens and ink, as the first minute and a half of Jean-Michael Jarre’s Equinoxe Pt. 8 plays in the background?
Are you interested in the Ferris Wheel Press ‘Brush’ Pen, or its large line of dreamy inks? Perhaps their two types of notebook are more your thing? Let us know in the comments below!
* Roughly translated as “So Many Pens, So Little Space”
† You can get quite decent Chinese fountain pens for a fraction of the cost and for that price, there are many other, more well established and high quality pens available