I’m back with another product review! This review has been a long time coming, so I feel like I’ve really gotten to know this product. This is the Penwell by Good Made Better, a relatively new shop on the stationery scene. Based in South Dakota, it’s owned and run by Dan Keller.
The concept behind the Penwell is the ability to turn any pen into a desk pen. Desk pens, like the Platinum Desk Pen or YStudio Desk Pen, are designed to be used with a stand. This allows you to simply grab the pen with one hand and start writing immediately– no unscrewing or unsnapping of caps needed! Dan has a short video that explains this very well.
A small package arrived shortly after. The packaging is very attractive– Dan did a great job on the branding and presentation of his product. It was a joy to unbox.
As someone with an interest in calligraphy and lettering, the modern-style script logo really spoke to me.
On the reverse, there are simple instructions for using your new Penwell.
Let’s take a closer look at the Penwell itself! I selected the Walnut model, which nicely matches my desk.
The Penwell itself is made of wood, with the logo engraved on the rim. Inside, there is a ring of very firm foam that is mean to cushion and protect your pen caps.
Underneath, you can see the inner mechanism. A metal clip keeps the foam in place, and an microsuction ring keeps the entire unit firmly attached to your desk.
At first, I thought it was adhesive– but after checking out the Penwell’s Use and Care page, I found out that microsuction is entirely different! Instead of using adhesives like glue, the ring is made up of microscopic suction cups. I imagine it’s something like the tiny little sucker feet on a starfish, but thousands of them.
The advantage of microsuction is that, unlike adhesives, it can be moved and re-stuck. It also won’t leave any sticky residue on your desk surface.
Sticking my new Penwell!
I don’t have many fountain pens, but I chose my trusty Lamy Safari. I figure it’s a pretty standard pen– many people own one, so hopefully this will give you an accurate idea of the Penwell’s size and function.
Stick the entire pen, capped, into the Penwell. As the cap is inserted further into the foam, it should feel very secure.
Now when I pull the pen body out, the cap stays firmly stuck inside the Penwell. I can use my pen, jot down something quick, and then stick it right back inside.
The Lamy Safari has a snap cap, and it worked just fine. According to other reviews, pens with twist caps work great as well.
Now I admit I don’t use fountain pens nearly as much as others in the stationery community. I simply do most of my job-related work with gel pens or pencils. When I do calligraphy or art, I use my calligraphy pens and watercolor supplies. This got me thinking… are there other uses for the Penwell?? Well it turns out…
One slight inconvenience I have experienced while doing calligraphy is not having a great solution for holding inked calligraphy pens. If I need to put my pen down briefly to take a phone call or something, I don’t want to just set the inked pen on my desk– it could roll around. Calligraphy nibs also don’t come with caps.
I’ve seen people use chopstick holders or small metal trays as pen rests.Usually I just end up resting the inked nib on an ink bottle lid, and this sometimes gets messy.
But, behold! :D
Since it’s designed to hold chubbier fountain pens, you can even fit two nib holders!
Or you can use it to hold paintbrushes* while you run off to answer the phone, get a snack, or keep your cat from destroying things!
*Note: do NOT let your brushes dry completely like this. This is only a temporary holder. Drying your brushes tip side up with result in water dripping into the metal part and rusting. Trust me on this one.
So there you have it. Two alternative uses for the Penwell. I’ve had mine for almost two months now, and I find that I go back and forth between uses.
It performs great at its intended use– an elegant way to display your fountain pen while also letting you use your pen with only one hand. But if you’re trying out other creative pursuits, you could also adapt it to different uses. If you find that you need it to hold thinner pens, Dan has a helpful video on that too!
You can find the Penwell at the Good Made Better Website. The Walnut model is $49.00. It’s not cheap, but the craftsmanship more than justifies the price, and I imagine any pen enthusiast would be thrilled to get one as a gift. Thanks to Dan for sending one over!
Bonus pic– the microsuction base also means that naughty kitties can’t knock it off my desk with a swipe of a paw.