My Security Blanket: Traveling With Too Many Pens

I love the thought of going away. Seeing friends, having new experiences, taking in fresh scenery, enjoying a break from home and work routines. Finally a chance to exhale.

But travel itself, especially when flying, is fun and draining at the same time. The packing. The security rigamorole. Timing airplane bathroom breaks appropriately. Not losing any of your stuff. There’s always some point along the way where I kind of wish I was home. Just an inkling of homesickness creeps in along the way.

I miss my things–my husband (if he’s not with me, as on this current trip), our crazy pups, my own just-so pillows, a well-stocked refrigerator, ice on demand. 

I swear, I have an easier time deciding what clothes to pack than picking out which pens to bring. I always miss the ones that aren’t with me. I stock my Nock Co. Brasstown with more pens than a sane person needs, then typically swap things in and out until zero hour. There’s so much mental chatter in my head about my pen selections that it makes me feel like I must be going off the deep end. But what a deep end it is!

Part of me wishes that I could embrace minimalism–pick ONE pen and use ONLY it for the entire trip. Maybe someday. Right now that thought gives me what is technically called the heebie jeebies.

  
So here I am in California, oh so far from home, with new and old pen favorites. For this trip (a conference), I brought along:

 
Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger fountain pen. Nice fine point for note taking. Replaceable should the unthinkable occur. 

 
Karas Kustoms Two-Tone Retrakt outfitted with Pilot G2 0.5 mm black refill. Great pen in my favorite color.

  

Ti2 Techliner Red Alert and Orange Crush. The Red Alert is outfitted with a uni-ball Jetstream  0.7 mm black ballpoint refill while the Orange Crush holds a uni-ball Signo DX 0.7 mm gel refill…both excellent options.

 
Amy Grigg’s Apex Kickstarter pen with a Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Great on the Levenger Circa Vivacious paper in my notebook. Smooth. Dark. Gorgeous wood.

 
Bigidesign’s Ti Post Raw Pen + Stylus
, also with the Schneider Topball 850 rollerball refill. Do I need to carry two pens with the same refill? Nope. I never said any of this was reasonable.

 

Retro 1951 Lift-Off with a Schimdt P8126 refill. It’s my newest Retro so why shouldn’t it travel with me to California?

I also have my Lamy Scribble tucked into the Hightower, should I need to do pencily things. I have not tired of this mechanical pencil. It’s a gem.

There’s no need to carry this many pens across the country. Technically I could survive with a few of the Bic Stic Queen Mary pens the hotel provides. But these pens and pencil (and pen case) make me feel secure. They’re unique, well-made, and reliable–comfortable to hold and top-notch performers. They remind me of the connections I have with the folks who make and sell them. We’ve exchanged everything from brief messages to emails to long letters. Pens aren’t just pens. They’re the people behind the pens.

And that feels like home.

—–

This post was composed and photographed entirely with my iPhone, so excuse the lack of links (too cumbersome) and any formatting and lighting oddities. Fun fact– the photos were taken on the desk President Eisenhower used while aboard the Queen Mary. I’m sharing his suite with a friend. Pretty cool.

 

My Waterman Harmonie: A Closer Look

I had a little fun with last week’s post that featured three of my newest (all used or new old stock) Waterman pens. This isn’t a brand that was on my radar until I picked up my first used Waterman, a Phileas, from The Gentleman Stationer. I’ve since acquired five more (two more Phileases, two Hemispheres, and one Harmonie) and they’re some of my favorite pens. Their looks don’t knock me out, but their nibs do. I haven’t met a bad one yet.

Waterman Harmonie

This particular one, the Harmonie, might be my favorite of the bunch. It’s a little unfair to review this pen because it’s been discontinued (a shame), as has the ink I’ve filled it with— Sailor Jentle Grenade (a shame x 1000), but I still feel the need to tell the tale of this pen. It’s one I write with every day, even if it’s just to jot down a few notes.

This Waterman Harmonie popped up on SBREBrown’s “For Sale” page awhile back, and though he noted that the nib wasn’t perfect— a bit of the plating had peeled away— I was interested. Great price. Discontinued pen. Cool looking lacquered finish. Those Waterman nibs. We had a brief and cordial email exchange, and the deal was sealed.

Waterman Harmonie

This was Stephen’s first university pen, and that also upped my interest in acquiring it. I’m a big fan of Stephen (AND Azizah) so owning a Doc Brown souvenir was the proverbial icing on the cake…or the tipping on the nib, I should say. Stephen and Azizah put a tremendous amount of work, heart, and passion into their pen review videos, blog posts, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts. I’ve learned so much from both of them, and consider them friends, though we’ve never met. Plainly put, I admire them which makes me admire this pen just a little bit more.

Waterman Harmonie

As I said, the nib is not cosmetically perfect but that doesn’t affect its performance in the least. There’s just something about this pen— the way it fits my hand, the quality of this wonderful medium nib— that improves my handwriting. Very little pressure is needed to lay down a solid, wet line. It’s just perfect in terms of flow and smoothness. Who cares if the plating isn’t perfect? Not me.

Waterman Harmonie branding

I do like the subtle checkered pattern on this lacquered pen. Branding is quiet and tasteful. The open clip, a Waterman trademark, and looks great on this pen. Even though I keep saying that I’m not wowed by the looks of my Waterman pens, I think this one is unique and quite attractive.

The section is narrow, which, I’m guessing is one of the reasons why Stephen was looking to sell off this pen, even though it held some fond memories for him. For my considerably smaller hand, it feels just fine.

Waterman Harmonie

Maybe Waterman isn’t one of the first pen brands to pop into your head when you think of affordable, great writing pens. (Of course there are expensive Watermans, but I haven’t found the need to explore that tier as yet.) Though many models have been discontinued, they’re worth a look if you stumble onto one for sale online from a trusted seller or vendor, or in person at a pen show.

Consider yourself warned—while at the DC Pen Show, I call dibs!

——–

Here’s a link to Stephen’s video review of this very same pen—> Waterman Harmonie video

The Watermen and the Sailors: A Love Story

Waterman Hemispheres & Harmonie
Waterman Hemisphere Stardust Gold, Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres, Waterman Harmonie

Once upon a time, there were three Waterman pens— two Hemispheres and one Harmonie— the Watermen. Despite having good looks, they felt empty and lackluster.

Until they met a trio of Sailor inks.

Sailor inks & Waterman pens
Sailor Jentle Apricot, Jentle Grenade, Yama Dori

That’s when things got interesting. And hot. They couldn’t stay away from each other.

Waterman pens & Sailor inks

The uniquely lacquered body of the Waterman Harmonie made a perfect match for the magnificent color and sheen of Sailor’s Jentle Grenade. What a couple.

Waterman Harmonie

The Waterman Hemisphere, in Stardust Gold, and Sailor’s Yama Dori made a striking pair. The Hemisphere’s medium nib laid down a generously wet line of that deep, rich blue-green-sheeny ink.

Waterman Hemisphere Gold Stardust

And the Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres, with its distinctively patterned body, was totally smitten with the drop dead gorgeous Jentle Apricot.

Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres

The well-matched couples traveled snuggly in their pen cases, venturing out to cafés and to work and to relaxing times on the patio. They never bickered, never wished for other partners. They were cozy and content, spending hours together writing letters and filling journal pages.

Sailor inks

The Watermen were very, very happy with their Sailors. ARE very happy with their Sailors.

If only their love could last forever. But soon, there will be no more Jentle Apricot, no more Jentle Grenade. All they’ll be able to do is remember the good times, and try to go on. Which they will, but it won’t be the same.

Waterman pens

At least for now, they have each other.

————

Having a little fun with these favorite pen and ink pairings tonight. I’ll do individual reviews of these wonderful Waterman pens in the future. They’re all excellent writers, super smooth, really superb. And these Sailor inks are AMAZING. I mourn the day that my stash of Jentle Apricot and Jentle Grenade is depleted. But for now, I’m appreciating every single precious drop. Which sounds like a life lesson, doesn’t it?!

Customized Wooden Pens, a Kickstarter Project by Amy Grigg

The Outlier I have a couple of students working with me for the summer, and this morning, one ambled up to my desk, then stopped in his tracks and said, “WHOA!! What IS that?!” It’s not entirely obvious that it’s a pen, what with all of its steampunk accoutrements and all. But it is, it’s a pen. A big, heavy, outrageous pen. The Outlier I backed and reviewed Amy Grigg’s first Kickstarter project, and since then, we’ve stayed in touch. Even though we’ve never met, I consider her a friend. She’s got that dry, spot-on sense of humor that makes her emails, letters, and Kickstarter updates a blast to read. I think she gets me, and I get her, so there was no way that I wasn’t going to back her second project. Apex and Outlier This time I backed two pens—the Outlier 2, a ballpoint/gel pen, and the Apex fountain pen—both made with curly maple. After I pledged, Amy sent me an email warning me about the size of the Outlier. (For the record, it’s 6″ long and weighs 72 grams. That’s big. That’s heavy.) She’s not a person to take your money and run. She wants you to be 100% happy with her work and your pens. She’s something of a Kickstarter anomaly in this regard. Steampunk bolt action I assured her that I appreciated the heads-up, but that I had to go for it. This year has been a ridiculous one— what with the death of two pets, my ongoing medical journey, the assorted calamities of our elderly parents, etc.—so I wanted a ridiculous pen to mark the fact that we’re still standing (so far). The Outlier and refill options The Outlier 2 is just that pen. Its steampunk style stands out from the crowd in a big way. It’s dramatic and fantastic. Need to distract someone during a meeting? Use this pen. Need to defend yourself? I daresay that the Outlier could do that, too.

It takes, and ships with, both a Parker style ballpoint refill and a gel refill, so you can customize the pen for your favorite writing style. I love the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 ballpoint refill so that’s what I’ve installed in my Outlier. The line on that refill is as bold as the style of this pen. The refill deploys via a bolt action lever that’s works flawlessly and can be deployed easily with just your thumb. The Apex The Apex, available as a rollerball or fountain pen, is a much more practical pen. I backed the rollerball version the first time around, in dark cocobalo wood, so I decided to switch things up and opted for the fountain pen version in this fantastic curly maple wood. Amy raves about the curly maple on her project’s main page, and she’s right. It’s prettier in real life than I can capture with my camera, with interesting grain and depth. Amy’s woodworking skills and attention to detail transform raw wood into finished products—the pens here, but also bowls, boxes, and spoons—that are a joy to look at and hold. The Apex fountain pen With gunmetal hardware, and a magnetic cap, this is a pen that’s as easy to use as it is to look at. The nib is generic, but wrote immediately upon inking, and lays down a smooth medium line. The pen ships with one international short cartridge and a converter. Mine is loaded with Sailor’s Yama Dori—a great looking ink for a cool looking pen. Amy Grigg's pens When you back a Kickstarter project, you’re backing a person as as much as you’re backing a product. There are very few people I’d back without hesitation, but Amy falls into this select group. Her updates are regular, honest, and entertaining. When an issue popped up with one of the woods in her last project, she got out in front of that and IMMEDIATELY laid out a series of options for the small group of affected backers. Even this issue was addressed with good humor and zero drama. Apex and Outlier Amy is authentic and the real deal—a woodworker committed to her craft and to your satisfaction. If you like what you see here, check out the full line of pens on her Kickstarter page. The project closes on July 16th so move quickly if you’re interested. There’s a little something there for everyone— from practical to deluxe offerings. All made with care, all made with 100% Amyness.

Note: I backed Amy’s project with my own funds. My rewards were shipped to me early, but I was not required to review them, nor was I compensated in any way.

Dear Everyone

Dear Everyone,

As I was getting out of the car after work on Friday, Fred said, “There’s a package from Brad for you on the kitchen counter.” Really? Cool.

As I started cutting it open, I figured that maybe he’d sent along some of the new Nock Co. notebooks. The box seemed a little big for notebooks, but what else could it be? Then there was another box inside that box, and yet another inside that one. All the while I was unpacking the contents I was saying out loud, “What the…?!”

As I reached the inner box, my “What the…??” mantra got louder and faster. This was not computing.

As I caught my first glimpse of the inner wooden box, I stopped breathing. And things got a little buzzy around the edges.

WHAT?! A Nakaya?!

Surely there was some sort of shipping error. I even messaged Brad to say, “Is this mine?!”

Then I saw Brad’s handwritten note—in his perfect printing—that let me know this WAS for me. From all of you.

Brad's note

Tears. Smiles. Lack of breathing. I felt ALL THE FEELS. I’m STILL feeling all the feels.

Nakaya Blue Rose Raden

The pen is a work of art—gorgeously understated, with inlaid raden in the shape of a blue rose with gently falling petals. (I’ll do a better job of photographing and reviewing the pen another time. I swear.) The medium nib writes like a dream. I filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo and write with it every day. Doodling, letters, journal entries, notes. This is a pen that will always be inked, always be used, always be cherished.

Nakaya medium nib

For everyone who made this happen, I thank you. I thank you ad infinitum. (How inadequate those words sound.) Thank you, too, to everyone who has thought good thoughts, posted thoughtful blog comments, sent cards and letters, texted encouraging texts, listened to me vent, walked with me, hugged me, sent their own precious gifts, offered up encouragement and commiseration. All of that is as precious to me as this pen.

Nakaya Naka-ai Blue Rose Raden

Though the strange sensations in my legs have been turned up a notch or two this week, my smile and my grateful heart are off the charts.

I’m stunned. I’m speechless. I’m completely blown away.

I love you.

Mary

Another Hole In My Head: The Lamy Scribble 0.7 mm Pencil

Lamy Scribble Pencil

Did I need another pencil? In a word, no. Ever since I started listening to the Erasable podcast, their brainwashing suggestions have led to more and more woodcased pencils finding their way to my house. I remain enamored with the Palomino Blackwing Pearl, the Musgrave Test Scoring 100, and the Jumbo pencil by Write Notepads & Co. and have plenty of those around the house. I also have a couple of subscriptions (CWPencil Pencil-of-the-Month and Blackwing Volumes) bringing periodic pencil surprises to my mailbox. So, no, there was no need.

Lamy Scribble

But being well-stocked in a particular stationery product has never stopped me before. (See my stash of the Levenger Vivacious paper as evidence.) So when Goldspot Pens offered up the Lamy Scribble Pencil as a special of the week, I caved. It should be noted that I didn’t pounce immediately, but read and watched reviews which did nothing to deter me, and everything to nudge me toward the purchase.

Lamy Scribble

The Lamy Scribble pencil is sold in two versions to accommodate two lead sizes— 0.7 mm for writing and 3.15 mm for drawing. Though the look of the big fat 3.15 mm lead was intriguing, I knew I couldn’t do that pencil justice, and so opted for the 0.7 mm version. The Lamy Scribble is short (12 cm/4.7″), with a stubby chubby shape that could put you off. But don’t let it do that. Weighing a solid 24 g, this is one of the most comfortable writing instruments I’ve ever held. It’s fat where it should be fat, and slimmer where it should be a little less thick. It simply belongs in your hand. 100% comfortable.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble

With a matte black plastic body and palladium trim, this is a good-looking pencil. There is the faintest hint of a seam in the body, one that I didn’t really notice until I looked at some of my photos. The look is classic Lamy— understated and classy while also being eye-catching.

Pushing the pencil’s knock one time deploys a tiny lead-protecting sleeve, while a second push extends the 0.7 mm lead. A common complaint with mechanical pencils is that the lead snaps off easily but I haven’t had that happen at all— maybe because of the protective sleeve or maybe because I chose to substitute my favorite non-Lamy lead.

Lamy Scribble and Pentel 2B lead

Because I’m a delicate flower, and need to have my pencil lead write JUST SO, I swapped out the perfectly fine Lamy lead for Pentel’s Ain Stein 0.7mm 2B lead. Talk about perfection. This lead is tough and smooth and dark— a killer trifecta of pencil lead qualities.

Lamy Scribble's clip

The aluminum clip is thin and shaped to slide in and out of a pen (or pencil) case without issue. The Lamy literature notes that the clip is removable so if you’re anti-clip, Lamy’s got you covered. I like the look of the metal clip against the black body, and am not bothered by it in hand, so the clip remains on my Scribble.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble eraser

There’s a small eraser and lead-clearing “probe” tucked under the pencil’s knock/end cap. I haven’t used the eraser more than a couple of times as I prefer to use a separate eraser rather than going to the bother of removing the cap to access the small thing. When I did use the Scribble’s built-in eraser, it worked perfectly fine for rubbing out tiny errors. This is not an eraser for an industrial size mistake.

Lamy Scribble Pencil

So though I needed another pencil like I needed another hole in my head, I have no regrets about picking up the Lamy Scribble Pencil. And now that I’ve picked it up, I never want to put it down.

——————

Medical update: Not much to report as I’m still waiting for my MRI and spinal tap appointments. I rattled the cage of my doctor’s office earlier this week and should hear something by the end of the week. My symptoms have ramped back up just a little bit…still mild, but slightly more annoying…so I’m very anxious to make some diagnostic progress.

Updated update: Cervical spine MRI has been scheduled for June 30th. At first I thought that was really far away, then realized that, um, no, it’s next week. Where did June go?? 

Edison Pearl…Rollerball? Heck, ya!

Edison Pearl in Antique Marble
My Edison Pearl in Antique Marble (Photo Credit: Edison Pen Co.)

One day, back in the winter, I was battling extreme cabin fever by browsing around on the Edison Pen Co. site, as you do. As I clicked around, I noticed a section I hadn’t paid attention to before—a section about rollerball pens. Hmmmmm. Here, Brian explained that you can get every Edison Pen model as a rollerball, if fountains pens don’t do it for you. OR, if you’re like me, and keep a foot in both the fountain pen and rollerball worlds, there’s the very cool option of getting one pen body with two sections—a fountain pen section AND a rollerball section for an additional $50. When I read about this option, bells of joy chimed in my head (they did!) because as much as I love and use fountain pens, I also heavily use, and appreciate, rollerballs.

Edison Pearl Rollerball

Brian Gray and I exchanged a few emails to discuss this “two-fer” option, then came the tough choice of picking a model and material for my new RB/FP pen. I have handful of Edison pens, but no Pearl as yet, so the model decision was settled quite quickly. To choose a material, I clicked through hundreds of photos on the Edison Pens gallery and took note (quite literally) of which materials gave me a little zing. From this subset, I did some focused browsing, and ultimately decided on the Antique Marble acrylic. It’s everything I love— autumnal colors, amazing depth, liquidy swirls, some translucency, and a good dose of chatoyancy. Pretty stunning to my eye.

Edison Pearl RB & FP in Antique Marble
Edison Pearl body with both a fountain pen and a rollerball section

Brian estimated an 11-12 week wait for my custom order, and he hit that timeline perfectly. The pen arrived last week and it’s absolutely everything I hoped for. The acrylic looks like it’s ON FIRE…so hot. With the added versatility of the two sections, this is a pen that will be very hard to take out of rotation.

Edison Pearl Rollerball in Antique Marble

Brian included both a black and blue Schmidt 5888 rollerball refill (medium), along with two springs. The spring is seated onto the back of the refill to hold it in place inside the pen body so that it fits snuggly and perfectly. The Schmidt 5888 is smooth and kind of luscious—like the rollerball equivalent of fountain pen ink. The Schmidt 888 and Schneider Topball 850 refills are also compatible.

Edison Pearl fountain pen

For the fountain pen, I chose a medium nib, as I’m finding that western mediums suit me best lately—fine enough for my small handwriting, yet wide enough to see some ink shading and/or sheen. I will admit that I haven’t inked up this pen as yet, so I can’t speak to the smoothness of the nib right now. (I cleaned a significant number of pens this weekend and feel SO MUCH better getting the number of inked pens back under control. I’m proceeding with extreme care.)

Medium nib

My photos just don’t do this material justice. Much like the Persimmon Swirl acrylic of my Edison Collier, it puts me in a pen-staring trance with its mesmerizing jumble of swirled colors, depth, and translucency.

Chatoyancy
Swirls and chatoyancy

Pen cap
I like that little clear section in the middle of the cap.

Translucent threads
Catching a glimpse of the threads

When you buy an Edison pen, you get guaranteed satisfaction. In the letter that came with my pen, Brian wrote, “Our services go beyond the sale. If you ever have any issues, let us know. If you ever get a scratch, we’ll be happy to buff the pen free of charge.” It’s great knowing that I won’t have to jump through hoops should an issue ever pop up.

Edison Pen Pearl rollerball

While the Edison Pen Co. is famous for their gorgeous fountain pens, they probably aren’t who you immediately think of when you’re shopping for a rollerball. Maybe that’s about to change.

I purchased this pen with my own funds. I was not compensated in any way, nor was I asked to provide a review. But, really, how could I not?!