I was up in Ballard recently to drop off copies of my new horror zine, SEARCH PARTY, at Push/Pull. Afterwards, I poked around the neighbourhood a little.

Market Street is aptly named as there are tons of nice little shops lined up along it and near to it, including various things of interest to me: an art supply store, an independent book store, an antiques and curiosities shop, and a few print and frame shops.

I was browsing Annie’s Art & Frame when I found a fountain pen I’d never seen or heard of before — Ooly’s Splendid pen. At a whole $6, I, of course, couldn’t resist.

Pen display at Annie’s Art & Frame.

The packaging for the Splendid pen is simple and modern. There’s a plastic tab at the top so you can free your new pen without tearing through impossibly sticky tape or breaking out the scissors. The cartridge instructions on the back of the box save it from having a paper insert. The pen comes with three ink cartridges in the same color as the pen.

There were six colors available, black, purple, pink, red, blue, and green. I went for green.

Packaging for Ooly Splendid pen.

Packaging for Ooly Splendid pen.

The pen is made of pretty cheap plastic and is very comparable to the Platinum Preppy — the one other extra cheap, cartridge fountain pen I’ve tried — in both length and weight. It’s light and doesn’t feel very durable, but that’s to be expected. The cap is threadless (my preferred), but there’s a nice rubber grip that ensures the cap always fits on snugly.

The pen has proprietary ink cartridges, or at least, didn’t have carts that matched any I already owned. I’m always a little annoyed by this, but I also wasn’t expecting much out of the pen…

Ooly Splendid pen initial impressions

Initial writing sample and first impressions.

But I popped a cartridge in and was very pleasantly surprised. I didn’t bother to shake the pen or anything after putting in the cartridge, but it still wrote immediately. The nib was shockingly smooth and the ink was the perfect viscosity — a little wet, but not excessively so.

My most used fountain pen is still the Daiso fountain pen, which has a little bit of scratchiness to the nib. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually used another pen that felt as smooth as this Ooly Splendid. It was just. Very, very nice!

Ooly Splendid pen bleed test

Minimal bleeding on relatively thin notebook paper compared to Waterman cartridge inks in a Daiso fountain pen.

Ink bleed on thin notebook paper is also surprisingly minimal, though the thinner nib size probably factors in here too. A tiny “F” on the nib designates it as a fine, which seems about right, as both the Daiso and my Pilot Metropolitan are a medium nib.

This is my first time with a fountain pen this fine, and I like it more than I thought I would. The lines are a smidgen thicker than the ones produced by my Uni Jetstream 0.38mm, which I use a lot to sketch and doodle with.

The green ink is very vibrant and matches pretty well with the pen body, which I actually think is a bit excessive in it’s one-colorness, but it gets the point across, I guess. The semi-transparent plastic allows you to see the cartridge and ink level easily.

Doodle sample with Ooly Splendid pen

Doodle sample.

For very long lines, the Ooly skips a little, but for the most part, it’s kind of perfect?

I don’t normally sketch or draw with fountain pens because sketching typically involves a lot of quick strokes and inconsistent pen angles. Most writing happens at a slower pace than sketching, so even for pens that have a pretty steady and even flow of ink might skip too much for me to sketch with. This is the case with the Daiso fountain pen, but it didn’t seem to be a problem for the Ooly.

Quick sketch with Ooly Splendid pen

Quick sketch with Ooly Splendid pen.

Dry time is another big issue in sketching with fountain pens, since most fountain pen inks take a good 5+ seconds to dry, which is more than enough time for me to accidentally swipe a hand over it or otherwise smudge it.

I wouldn’t say that the Ooly’s cartridge ink is of a quick-dry variety (look at that smudge under the eye up there), but it still dries on a faster end of average, and that’s pretty good.

The biggest surprise in ink properties is that it seems to be water-resistant though?

Ooly Splendid pen is water-resistant?

W-Waterproof? Not “proof,” perhaps, but at least a little resistant!

My first thought was that it was waterproof, but the ink does fade a fair bit when soaked, and the lines can bleed a little if you don’t wait sufficiently long for the ink to dry.

But in either case, you can still tell where the original line was, and this is way better than most fountain pen inks, which often disintegrate or straight up destroy everything when water shows up.

J. Herbin Noir Gris ink on top of Ooly Splendid's cartridge ink.

J. Herbin Noir Gris ink on top of Ooly Splendid’s cartridge ink.

I’m really impressed with the pen overall!

I never expect too much out of cheap impulse purchases, but honestly, it’s been about 50/50 for me. After all, the Daiso fountain pen is a whole $1.50, cheaper than many nice ballpoints, and four times cheaper than what I paid for the Ooly Splendid — though the Splendid is only $4.99 on Ooly’s website.

But the Splendid is a little more versatile since it comes in a variety of colors by default and I can actually use it to draw. As I said, it’s closest in category to the Platinum Preppy, which is a tad cheaper ($3-4 average) and is available in more sizes and colors, but my prior experience with the Preppy was disappointing — the nib is way, way too scratchy and inkflow inconsistent.

Doodle with Ooly Splendid pen

Doodle with Ooly Splendid pen.

Out of curiosity, I looked around for other reviews of the Ooly Splendid to see if my positive impressions were abnormal. This doesn’t seem to be the case, but the comments of this Fountain Pen Network review revealed that the Ooly Splendid seems to be a repackaged version of the Monami Olika fountain pen.

I don’t have a real opinion on the reskin, but the positive take from this is that the Monami Olika is available in more colors and sizes (an EF nib is available) than the Ooly Splendid and is confirmed compatible with Lamy refills and converters, which opens up a ton more possibilities for the Splendid.

I like this pen enough that I’ll probably buy another one (whether as another Ooly or a Monami, I’m not sure, ha!) in black so I can sketch in more neutral tones — or maybe brown? The Olika has a brown refill available, though it doesn’t come standard in brown… we’ll see!

Ooly Splendid Pen with green ink + Waterman Harmonious Green and brush

Ooly Splendid Pen with green ink + brush with Waterman Harmonious Green.