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Faber-Castell Loom Review

Faber-Castell Loom Review

The Faber-Castell Loom is frequently hailed as a fourth option to the Safari/Eco/Metropolitan triumvirate of budget fountain pens. Though many are quick to praise the LAMY, TWSBI, and Pilot offerings, Faber-Castell seems to attract less attention. Should that be the case? Or does the Loom have what it takes to earn its own place among the budget fountain pen elite?

The Pen

Materials & Construction

Faber-Castell makes use of a pleasing combination of materials in the Loom. Let’s start with the cap: it’s plastic, but finished in a way that makes it appear almost metallic. It’s a neat trick that gives off a premium aesthetic, and the trompe l’oeil effect is certainly achieved on me. Extending from the cap's finial is a chunky hinged clip that has a wide range of motion. 

The barrel is made of actual metal and feels quite robust, further adding to the upscale vibe of this pen. The barrel is cool to the touch, and feels like it has better structural integrity than many other pens that compete in the Loom's price range. 

According to Matt Armstrong’s review on The Pen Habit, the section is plastic but, like the cap, is finished with a metallic appearance. When I run my finger along the two components, I do sense a tactile difference, but visually the section and barrel are essentially indistinguishable. Faber-Castell deserves credit for achieving such pleasing congruity among the Loom's component parts. 

Build quality on the Loom is impressive. The cap has a satisfying click and seals firmly, though it does require slightly more force to remove than either the Metropolitan or Safari. The firm seal does prevent the nib from drying out, though, and the Loom has never given me a hard start with any ink I’ve tested. If I have to name one complaint about the Loom’s build quality, it’s that the clip does feel a bit flimsy. By design it moves slightly upward when flexed outward, which evokes from me this sinking feeling that eventually I’m going to snap it off if I’m not careful. 

An ink cartridge is included, but Faber-Castell omits a converter. The fact that a converter is not included is a shame, particularly when the Metropolitan includes one (though not a very good one), and the Eco doesn’t need one. Fortunately, the Loom does take standard international converters, which are inexpensive if you don’t already have extras around. 

Design

When I first received the Loom, I was caught off guard by its color. Personally, I think “gunmetal” is a bit of a misnomer for this version of the pen. In my mind, “gunmetal” connotes some shade between dark gray and black, and the barrel of the Loom is distinctively brown. It’s not unattractive, per se, but it is unexpected. 

The gentle curvature of the Loom’s cap adds just enough visual flair to keep the pen from being boring. Faber-Castell offers other versions of the Loom with caps of varying colors and barrels in both matte and glossy finishes, which combine to add another layer of personality to this pen. The Faber-Castell logo, wordmark, and “since 1761” are engraved on the side of the cap, but are discreet enough not to be gaudy. 

The clip is integrated into the cap in an interesting way: it juts out dramatically from the finial, and its sharp, angular design contrasts nicely with the bulbous cap. The Faber-Castell jousting horseman logo is repeated on the finial, but is definitely less precise than the logo that appears on the side of the cap (one look at the legs on the horses should confirm this). 

The uniform cylindrical design of the barrel is attractive, but does mean that the Loom is prone to rolling when uncapped. The end of the barrel has a concave domed shape, and I often find myself resting a thumb there or gently running my finger along it when I’m feeling fidgety. 

The section tapers toward the nib and features a series of embossed rings that add some welcome texture and grip. The rings are shallow enough so as not to be distracting or uncomfortable, but nevertheless I can understand how some may not enjoy them. 

In the Hand

Despite the partial use of metal components, the Loom remains lightweight and comfortable in the hand. At 23g capped/posted, the Loom compares similarly to the TWSBI Eco (21g) or LAMY Al-Star (22g). Uncapped, the Loom rings in at a svelte 16g, making it a great candidate for extended writing sessions. I’ve used the Loom for copious note-taking sessions and never felt even a hint of fatigue. As for shorter writing sessions, the Loom's snap cap makes it an excellent candidate. 

One unfortunate reality I’ve noticed is that the Loom does seem to get more slippery than other pens I use. If my hands are anything short of completely dry, grip can be an issue, and I sometimes find myself inadvertently rolling the pen as I try to write with it. 

The Nib

Faber-Castell offers the Loom with extra fine, fine, medium, and broad nibs. The Loom featured in this review has a fine nib. 

Material & Design

The stainless steel nib included on the Loom has a unique design. It's adorned with a pattern of dimpled dots that's quite fetching. The nib size designation and Faber-Castell logo also make an appearance. Look closely and you’ll notice the nib does not have a breather hole, but I haven’t found that to affect performance. Speaking of which...

Performance 

In my opinion, Faber-Castell’s stainless steel nibs are some of the best in the business, and the Loom is no exception. Out of the box it writes smooth, with a moderate level of ink flow. Part of me expected the pen to write a bit on the drier side (perhaps due to the lack of a breather hole), but I have not found that to be the case. 

The nib itself is quite rigid and doesn't offer much in the way of line variation. There's only a whisper of feedback, and no noticeable "sweet spot." The fine nib on my pen generally writes true to a Western fine, and a bit broader than a Japanese fine, as is to be expected. 

Writing with this nib consistently delights. Regardless of paper, regardless of ink, the nib glides gracefully and writes without issue. During my testing period—mostly using the Faber-Castell converter—I did not experience any hard starts, ink flow issues, or any other hiccups. 

Value

As of the time of this writing, pricing on the Loom varies depending on the finish. Originally, the Loom was available in two different finishes: a matte silver version and a polished silver version that retailed for $40 and $45, respectively. 

In 2017 Faber-Castell released two gunmetal editions: a polished version, and the matte version covered in this review. Unfortunately, the gunmetal versions came with a slightly higher price point of $55. The price creep is unfortunate, as the Loom offers good value at $40, but paying $10-$15 more just for a slightly different finish doesn’t feel justified. Unless you are particularly drawn to the gunmetal version, the silver versions offer better value, and I suspect many will opt to spare the additional expense.

Faber-Castell is currently in the process of launching refreshed colors for the Loom, including olive green, light blue, and gray. It's nice to see that they appear to be retaining the $40 price point for those versions. 

Writing Sample

Final Thoughts & Score

What's Hot

  • quality materials and considered design make the pen feel more upscale than its price would lead one to believe
  • Faber-Castell’s stainless steel nibs are attractive and perform admirably
  • consistent, reliable writing performance out of the box

What's Not

  • misleading “gunmetal” color designation
  • converter not included
  • price creep on gunmetal version 

Score

8/10

March 2018 Giveaway

March 2018 Giveaway

Ink Showcase: Waterman Mysterious Blue

Ink Showcase: Waterman Mysterious Blue