What Not To Do

You know those blog posts that make you want to burn down your house—and your life—because everything the writer owns/carries/does is excruciatingly perfect, with not even a molecule out of place? Yeah, this isn’t one of those posts.

It is yet another cautionary tale. [The first cautionary tale is here.]

One of the pens I purchased at the 2016 DC Pen Show was a Franklin-Christoph Model 45 XLV made from a Jonathon Brooks material. (Whoa! Who knew this was a thing?!). The pen’s body is a wonderful mix of purple and green and white with a subtle shimmer that suddenly wows you when the light is just right. In that vast, vast sea of pens that is the DC Pen Show, this is one of the two pens that called my name.

Add a little sunlight, and this…

Franklin-Christoph Model 45

becomes this. (Photos really don’t do this pen justice. But trust me, it’s a pocket-sized beauty.)

Franklin-Christoph Model 45

Jim Rouse, of Franklin-Christoph, outfitted it with a 1.1 mm steel nib, and filled the pen with Franklin-Christoph’s Midnight Emerald ink, at my request. After the tiniest of adjustments by Jim, the nib performed wonderfully—smooth, with just the right amount of wetness—and quickly became one of my favorite pens for doing my morning pages. I love the 1.1 mm stub because of the interest it adds to my handwriting, and it’s not a nib that I own many of. (Good choice, Mary!)

Writing sample

Here’s the scene. Last Sunday night, 10:45 pm. Husband and dogs are fast asleep, and have been for some time. I’ve ironed my clothes, made my lunch, and printed the week’s to-do lists. The weekend’s been a good one. I’m rested(ish) and ready to face Monday. But first, I need to lay out my morning pages journal and pick out a pen. That’s my nightly ritual.

Journal is taken from the desk drawer and I think, hmmmmmmm, which pen? After mentally cycling through all of the ones I have inked (too many), I decide to use the F-C Model 45. Lovely material, excellent nib, pretty ink. Perfect.

I should have gone to bed RIGHT THEN. But I didn’t. Nope.

Instead, I had a thought. A thought that quietly whispered, “There might not be enough ink left in that pen. You’d better check.”

So I checked. By opening the pen. At my desk. Over the carpet.

AS I WAS DOING IT, my brain clicked on, and screamed, “THIS PEN WAS EYEDROPPERED!!!” A hemorrhage of ink flowed from the body of the pen, onto my desk chair and the carpet. Midnight Emerald ink onto a light rose/taupe carpet. My, god!!

I stood frozen and horrified. This was not something you want to do five minutes before going to bed. Or ever, really.

I yelled for Fred—both for the need to confess my awful mistake and to have some help cleaning up the mess. He continued to sleep, blissfully unaware. I briefly considered running away.

(I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take pictures of the ink pooled on my desk chair and splattered from here to kingdom come, but all I could think of was, I’ve got to clean this up. Like, right now! So there’s no photographic evidence, but trust me, it was bad.)

Using paper towels, I made short work of the puddle on my desk chair. The chair is cherry wood so the ink cleaned right off. Phew.

In my rush to sop up the spatters on the carpet, I unknowingly leaned into some of the stains with my knee and wound up adding still more ink to the carpet every time I knelt down to blot at the spillage. GAH!

After I blotted up all that I could, I remembered that I had a small bottle of Amodex in the hall closet. Amodex- an ink and stain remover! Yay!


I applied the magic solution, waited, blotted, and scrubbed. The stains lightened. But there were, it turns out, more stains than there was Amodex. I needed an industrial size bottle, not 30 mLs.

By now Fred was up. My yelling had finally penetrated his dreams and he bolted into the living room thinking I’d hurt myself badly enough to require an ambulance. When he saw the real problem, he was relieved that there was just a damaged carpet and not a damaged Mary. “Who cares?” he said, as I pointed to the drips and drabs and splotches.

Truth be told, the carpet has seen better days. Changing it out is on the to-do list. The dogs have not been kind to this decades old carpeting, so some ink spatters are probably the least of its worries. But still I dabbed and scrubbed, now using carpet cleaner and a toothbrush. The spots faded a little more but it quickly became clear that they would always remain to some degree. They would tell visitors that I’m into fountain pens. And that I’m an idiot.


“Go to bed,” Fred said, and so I did, the adrenalin still coursing though my body.

In the morning I decided that I sort of like them—the Jackson Pollackesque drops and dribbles. It’s only ink. The carpeting’s old. There are bigger problems. (New rule, though: ALL pens are opened over a sink.)

I decided, after a good night’s rest, that I’d share this cautionary tale. This tale of what not to do.

My stain. Your gain.









22 thoughts on “What Not To Do

  1. Ugh! New rule: good! 🙂

    Today, I flushed out an empty cartridge with a syringe … over the sink. Remember, I’m new to all this … but I was thinking about what a mess I could have made if I’d done it here, at the desk 🙂

  2. This is why I am so glad to finally have an apartment with all hardwood floors. I’ve spilled a lot of coffee in the past few years and while it looks like a similar color to industrial beige carpet, I can assure you that it is not.

    • Tearing out the carpets and putting in something more cleanable is now being considered, for obvious reasons. I vote for concrete! 🙂

      • Eek! But think of what concrete could do to a dropped nib! I’m going to vote for a small area rug that would look good with ink splashes on it…and you could roll it away into a closet for company that wouldn’t appreciate the aesthetic. 🙂

  3. There are, all in all, worse things than ruined old carpets, but I can understand your panicking. 😉

    The rule here is: Only transparent pens are eyedroppered. Because. (Not that I ever spilled ink, nooooo. *cough*)

  4. Mary,
    Clorox Anywhere spray should take out those stains. Similar issue happened on my dress shirt, amodex smeared the stain. Clorox anywhere spray saved the day. The sodium hypochlorite in it is dilute enough to not bleach most carpets or fabrics. Worth a try!

  5. Just to add to your cautionary tale, one should also be careful when attempting to fix a pen at the office. When I got to work this morning, my Noodler’s Konrad Flex refused to flow (it’s been a week or so since I’ve used it). In attempting to get the flow going, I now have ink on 6 of my ten fingers and I keep checking my shirt to see if I have purple ink on my blue/green checked dress shirt. From now on, pen repair takes place at home.

    • Ugh! I kept checking my shorts and shirt to see if the mess had spread to them, and was was relieved to see that it hadn’t…or so I thought. The next day I noticed a decent sized spray of ink on the inner hems of my shorts. BUT, it washed out! Hope your shirt is truly unscathed!

  6. I feel your pain!

    Every fountain pen user must have one of these, right? A few years ago, I stopped at Private Reserve to pick up a new bottle of ink, and of course I was tempted by a pen there at Avalon Pen, as well. So I bought both, and stopped at the nearby Starbucks to meet a friend for coffee. While waiting for her, I opened the bottle and inked my pen, then closed the bottle again.

    Not tight enough.

    Let’s just say my gorgeous reddish-brown leather Stanley messenger bag has a VERY purple bottom now. >.<

  7. Haha this made me chuckle. I have had that rule about opening pens over the sink for years now after I ruined one of my Mum’s rugs as a teen! She was very quick to put a ban in place around the maintenance of pens in non-washable areas! To be honest, I suspect she’d have liked a ban on using fountain pens anywhere in the house if she’d been able to enforce it!

  8. OMG, I feel your pain. Lucky that it was an old carpet, right? I have that rule, plus another one: never walk ANYWHERE with an open pen. I’ve dropped more than one pen onto the floor, ruining a couple of nibs. The pain of trying to write with those pens is enough to cross my mind every time I’m tempted to just cross the room with an open pen. “It’s only a few feet….” Yeah, well, we know how that goes, right? Thanks for sharing your story!

  9. Pingback: Sunday Notes and Links – September 04, 2016 | Fountain Pen Quest

  10. I was trying to introduce my teen boys to fountain pens (and hopefully better handwriting) this summer. Whipped out the new Metropolitan I’d bought for them, and tried to write with it. When the ink didn’t immediately flow, I took unscrewed it and .. spilled ink all over the desk. At the local public library. And myself, so I was marked like one of the bank robbing brothers in Raising Arizona.

    So, the boys think fountain pens are pretty funny, at least.

  11. Pingback: Ink Is Everywhere | From the Pen Cup

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