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!

IMG_2054

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.

IMG_2037

“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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yet Another Architect Grind

Levenger Element Guilloche

It’s déjà vu all over again. Yup–it’s another Architect Grind by Dan Smith (@nibsmith). When I sent him my Edison Glenmont (broad) for this grind, I also sent along this Levenger Element Guilloche (medium) for the same treatment. The original nib was perfectly acceptable—smooth and wet—but needed a little more pizzazz.

Levenger Element

Dan’s mad nib skillz took this nib from acceptable to WOW!

Levenger Element

Loaded from my new bottle of Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine—Edelstein’s 2016 Ink of the Year—this great looking pen, beautiful ink, and jazzed up nib make a great team. The ink behaves well and shades nicely—at least on the narrow range of papers I’ve used it on (Tomoe River, Life Bank Paper, this Levenger Vivacious Circa refill).

Architect Grind

Like the modified nib on my Edison Glenmont, this custom-ground Levenger nib can be easily swapped into my other Levenger True Writers, like the pretty, pretty Kyoto.

Guilloche

(Mmmmm…Guilloche. Sweet stuff.)

So now I have both a medium and a broad Architect grind, and feel sure that I’ll have the same done to a fine nib in the not-too-distant future. Dan does great work, at a fair price, with good turnaround times.

Hobonichi with Architect Grind

Architect again. Happy again.

All of Dan’s nib services can be found HERE. There’s no charge for the added happiness. That’s included with each and every modified and expertly tuned nib.

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Life just keeps happening. My dad had some unexpected surgery yesterday and is currently recovering. At 87, surgery and hospital stays are no joke, but he seems to be doing okay. First my mom, now him. I haven’t been able to write here as much as I want to lately, but I’ll be here when I can. Lots of cool things in the queue!

On a better note, I had an excellent appointment with my MS doctor last week, and he’s very pleased with how I’m doing. The appointment was a great incentive to keep at it in the gym with weights, cardio, and tai chi. Onward!

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All pens, ink, and nib services mentioned here were purchased with my own funds. There are no affiliate links in this post.

Perfect: SBRE Brown Ink

In college, I was bumped from a regular English class to one more focused on writing. A small group of us met a couple times a week to write, read, share, and discuss. I have little memory of what I wrote, but I remember this class as a bright spot in a schedule packed with challenging science and math courses that tested the limits of my 19 year old brain. I held my breath in those classes- petrified of getting called on to answer a question on material that was in grave danger of slipping right out of my head and onto the floor. In this writing class, I could exhale, play with words, and feel 65% less nervous.


The other thing I remember about this class was a girl named Victoria. While I had chipmunk cheeks and looked like I was fresh out of junior high, Victoria had dark eyes and perfect hair. She gave off a Kate Middleton kind of vibe- confident in the way that someone who’s stunningly good looking is confident. Perfect, while the only thing I’d perfected was my awkwardness.

I found her fascinating. My poetry was better than hers, but still.


But it wasn’t just her looks and confidence that fascinated me- it was the fact that she always wrote with brown ink. With a fountain pen and brown ink! I scribbled in notebooks with a lousy ballpoint from Woolworth’s, laying down erratic handwriting that tilted to the right for awhile then suddenly leaned back to the left. My script was as random as my outfits, while Victoria’s was as perfect as hers.

Maybe that class and that girl is why I tend to fall hard for brown ink. I associate it with something that seemed impossibly exotic to little ol’ ordinary me. Victoria and I existed in different orbits, as did our pens and inks. God, I wanted that brown ink. AND that handwriting.


Which brings me to this brown ink- SBRE Brown’s brown ink. I came dangerously close to missing out on this, as I stupidly dragged my feet, casually thinking that it’d be around forever. The day that I finally got around to placing my order was also the day that it went out of stock for good. That was a little too close for comfort.

Because- ohmigod- do I love this ink. Yes, I seem pre-disposed to fall for brown inks, but this one pushes all of my brown ink buttons like no other. It’s caramelly and rich, with great shading and flow- truly delicious in this Visconti Opera Elements Air, with its medium nib, on Tomoe River paper. I’m plowing through it by the converterful, and fretting about my supply like Scrooge worried over his gold coins.

This is the brown ink I’ve been looking for my whole life. Well…since 1978, anyway. My looks are still “eh,” and I still exhibit more than the recommended daily allowance of awkwardness, but who cares. My handwriting eventually came around and I have my brown ink. I have THE PERFECT brown ink.

Though his ink is no longer available, you can always keep tabs on what Stephen is up to at http://www.sbrebrown.com/.

The Verdict: TWSBI ECO with J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor

TWSBI ECO with Emerald of Chivor ink

The pre-release photos of J. Herbin’s Emerald of Chivor ink were so dramatic that I was drooling over the stuff well before it was available for purchase. The reviewers often used folded nibs which brought out the shine and sheen in very dramatic fashion. I don’t own a folded nib so I knew that my results would be more subdued, but I still pounced on the ink as soon as it was available. I picked up two bottles as fast as my “BUY NOW” finger could hit “Enter.”

TWSBI ECO

There was a lot of chatter about the suspended gold particles in the ink, and speculation as to whether or not the particles could/would clog a pen’s feed. So I after I ordered the ink I spent some time thinking about the pen that I’d use it in. I decided to steer away from pens that were pricey or very dear to me, and knew I’d want to go with something replaceable, should there be catastrophic cloggage. One of my many Lamy Safaris would’ve been a perfectly fine candidate, as they aren’t costly, and nibs, or even whole pens, are easily replaceable without breaking the bank.

TWSBI ECO

But instead of going the Lamy route, I caved and purchased a couple of TWSBI ECOs— a white one with a bold nib and a black one with a medium nib. I initially decided to forgo the ECO as I wasn’t sure I liked the look, and was content with my 540s, 580s, Vac 700, Micarta, and Minis. That seemed like plenty o’ TWSBIs for one person. But then I got it in my head that an ECO paired with the Emerald of Chivor ink would be the perfect match, and my “no more TWSBIs” resolution evaporated, as many of my pen-themed resolutions seem to do.

TWSBI ECO

So…was that a good move?

TWSBI ECO filled with Emerald of Chivor ink

Hell Heck, yeah!

TWSBI ECO

The TWSBI ECO is a very reasonably priced ($28.99) piston-filler fountain pen available with EF, F, M, B, or 1.1 Stub mm nibs. I find the 1.1 mm to be a little too wide for my handwriting, but wanted a good amount of ink on the page so I opted for both the bold and medium versions. At the time of this review, I’ve only inked the pen with the bold nib and am very happy with the nib’s smoothness and wetness. My small handwriting is still legible and some of the dramatic characteristics of the Emerald of Chivor ink pop on the page, though maybe not as much as would be seen with a wider stub. It’s a good compromise for me—a good amount of ink, some shine, some sheen, and legible writing.

TWSBI ECO

The clear barrel allows for an unobstructed view of the gold sparkles in the ink. I may be easily fascinated, but I have to admit that this sight continues to dazzle me. A quick shake of the pen and the gold particles are resuspended so that they flow onto the page.

On Rhodia paper

On Rhodia paper, I see a good amount of sparkle, but not much of the red sheen. Still, the color is killer and there’s enough pizazz here to make letter writing or journaling, or even to-do lists, fun.

On Tomoe River paper

On Tomoe River paper is where this ink really shines and sheens. It’s hard to capture with my so-so camera and lighting, but there’s a lot going on on this page—red and gold and teal and blue. It’s pretty marvelous.

Tomoe River paper

I have two bottles and expect that this pen will be continuously inked until I run out. I can’t speak to how hard or easy it is to clean a pen inked with Emerald of Chivor as I haven’t done that yet, and it may be awhile before I do so.

TWSBI ECO

Maybe this Emerald of Chivor seemed too good to be true, or over-hyped, but I’m in love with it. It mesmerizes me in the pen and on the page. Especially as the days turn darker and grayer, the surprising pops of color and shine in the words I write make me swoon in an inky kind of way. And for me, the TWSBI ECO is the perfect vehicle—sturdy, transparent, easy to fill (and probably to clean), with an easy-to-swallow price tag—to lay down a smooth rich line.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Like Nature: Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Green Ink

Many thanks to the fine folks at Pen Boutique for providing this bottle of Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Green ink for review. There are no affiliate links in this post and I was not, nor will I be, monetarily compensated. This review reflects my experience with, and observations of, the ink.

Montblanc Daniel Defoe ink

We tend to think of the grass as merely green. Same goes for the trees. During my walk yesterday I noticed just how many different shades of green there are in the fields and lawns and trees along my route. Pale fresh greens, darker mature greens, and just about every shade in between. Yellow greens in the grasses. Bluish greens in the pines. Too many greens to name or count. To call the trees and weeds and lawns and fields merely green would be selling nature short.

Green ink comparison

The same goes for Montblanc’s Daniel Defoe Palm Green ink. To call it simply green would be a mistake as this is an ink full of shading and surprises. To be honest, I’ve been fiddling with this review for a bit, and I finally figured out why. Reviewing ink is a tricky thing as accurately portraying an ink’s color is affected by so many variables— outdoor light and indoor lighting, nib size, particular pen characteristics with regard to flow, paper choice, camera settings and performance, computer display parameters, etc. I worried about “getting it right.” I think it’s been particularly tricky with this ink because it keeps looking different to me, which, of course, is something to celebrate, not fret about.

Writing samples

I wrote my first draft with my Visconti Opera Elements (medium nib), and really loved the way the natural looking green shades from a grassy light green to a deeper earthy olive shade. The ink is easy on the eyes— soothing but not boring. This is an organic green— very natural, very fresh.

Visconti Opera Elements on Tomoe River paper
On Tomoe River Paper using a Visconti Opera Elements with a medium nib

Wanting to test out the ink in a different pen with a different nib, I loaded up a Lamy AL-Star with a 1.1 mm stub and wrote another draft on a Rhodia dotPad.

writing sample with Lamy AL-Star 1.1 mm stub nib
On Rhodia dotPad using a Lamy AL-Star with 1.1 mm stub nib

Though it’s a perfectly nice looking green in a fine nibbed pen, the plucked-from-nature shading truly reveals itself in pens with broader nibs.

Dry time test
Dry time testing on Rhodia dotPad

The ink seems to have a little bit of a longer dry time than other inks I’ve used recently, so I ran a quick test, and my results seemed to bear out that impression. Again, dry time can be affected by so many things— paper, ink flow, humidity, etc.— so don’t take my results as gospel.

Ink swatch and writing sample

Montblanc’s Daniel Defoe Palm Green is aptly named as it calls to mind a tropical island with lush verdant foliage. The shading in this ink is equally lush and celebrates the range of greens seen on mountain trails, in seagrasses, on tropical palms, and in meadows. It’s complex and full of surprises— just like nature.

Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Green Ink

 

Pen Boutique is selling the Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Green ink for $19. Not a bad price for a mini-tropical vacation!

For another take on the same ink, check out Ana’s review HERE.

I [heart] you: Pelikan M205 and Levenger Shiraz Ink

(Click on any picture for a larger view.)

Pelikan M205
Rhodium trim, Steel nib

This pen purchase resulted from a recent episode of The Pen Addict podcast where both Brad and Myke sang the praises of their Pelikans. That same day, someone on Twitter mentioned a sale on the Pelikan M205 at Fountain Pen Hospital, so I called it a sign and ordered one. What can I say, my arm was twisted. By fate.

Right around the same time, I was ordering some refills from Levenger, and decided to add a bottle of their Shiraz ink to the order. Both orders arrived on the same day so the obvious choice was to fill one with the other.

Hoo boy, do I love this pair.

Just like peanut butter and chocolate (or chocolate and peanut butter), the Pelikan M205 and the Shiraz ink are two things that work perfectly together. I’m always looking for reasons to use this particular combination, even though I’m someone who leans heavily towards “traditional” ink colors— black, blue-black, blue, brown, and dusty green. The Shiraz looks exactly as I hoped it would— not pink, not red, not purple, but SHIRAZ. It’s not waterproof, for those who care. I love the way it pops on a page without being obnoxious. Simply gorgeous, with a bit of shading. This is an ink that’s kicked me out of my “conservative” rut.

Levenger Shiraz

M205 vs. Lamy 2000
An understated pair for size comparison: Lamy 2000 vs. Pelikan M205

The M205 is one of my smaller (5″ capped; 4-7/8″ uncapped; 6″ posted) and lighter (a mere 14 grams overall) pens, but is an absolute joy to hold and use. It’s a piston filler which makes filling and cleaning fast and easy. The medium steel nib (the only option on this sale pen) is smooth and juicy, but without any flex. This is a very classic looking pen— devoid of any real bling— but who needs bling when you perform this well?! It’s understated and unassuming— a real classic.

Pelikan M205 medium steel nib

Pelikan clip/beak
Pelikan clip/pelican beak

The “pelican’s beak” clip is iconic and suitably springy. The caps band simply states “PELIKAN” and “GERMANY.” I have the black body version, but there are others available— red, taupe, white. Since I’m prone to making sure the pen and ink color complement each other, black is probably the best choice for me, anyway. Everything goes with black. Well…yeah…and also with white. And taupe.

Pelikan M205 ink window

The smoke-colored ink window lets me know when my beloved Shiraz is “down a quart.” I enjoy watching the ink slosh around as the level changes.

This is, admittedly, an entry level Pelikan pen, and there are many prettier and more expensive models available, but for everyday use, the M205 suits me just fine, and it’s been a great way for me to dip my toe in the shallow end of the Pelikan pool.

Pelikan logo

I’m irrationally smitten by the Pelikan logo on the cap— a mama pelican with her chick. Such a sweet pair looking at each other with affection— exactly the way I look at my M205 filled with the Shiraz ink.

Pelikan M205

True love forever.

Shiraz heart

 

 

Embrace the Darkness: Pilot Iroshizuku take-sumi

Many thanks to the fine folks at JetPens for sending along this bottle of Iroshizuku ink. I was not otherwise compensated, and this review reflects my experiences and observations with the ink in my pen and on my paper. Your results and opinions may, of course, differ.

When a bottle of Iroshizuku take-sami (Bamboo Charcoal) showed up in my mailbox, courtesy of JetPens, I immediately knew which pen I’d fill. I recently outfitted my Matte Black Pilot Vanishing Point with a black-plated 18K nib/converter unit, so I all I needed to complete the stealthy trifecta was a superb black ink, and here it was.

Iroshizuku take-sumi

In my previous job of 14 years, I was required to write in black ink (ballpoint, but still) all day, every day. So you’d think that I’d run screaming for the hills now that I’m free of that SOP-dictated requirement. Funny thing is, I still like and use black ink, and am always on the lookout for a particularly good one.

Iroshizuku writing sample

I already have a few Iroshizuku inks (kon-peki and fuyu-gaki…both luscious colors) so I was pretty sure take-sumi would get high marks for good behavior. And it does. In this Vanishing Point with its fine nib (Japanese fine, so it’s like a western EF), take-sumi goes on wet, but dries quickly— easily within ten seconds, even on Rhodia paper. It’s smooth and consistent— a very solid black. Solid in performance AND in looks. It’s not a grey black, not a watered down black. Is it the blackest black ever? Probably not, though I haven’t jumped too far into the black ink pool. I’d consider it to be an excellent black— surely the best I own. (How many times can I say “black”? A lot, apparently.)

Smudge test

I don’t regularly expose my hand-written pages to liquid so waterproofness isn’t something I really care about, but in the name of science, I “spritzed” my page.

Spritzed Rhodia page

So, yeah, don’t do that.

"Get to work!"

I don’t have a big collection of inks (though the pull to acquire more is strong), and I’m admittedly drawn to colors that look like the a glass of fine wine or the sea or a freshly sliced persimmon, especially when I’m writing letters and have time to appreciate an ink’s shading and depth and freshness. But there are plenty of times when I just need need to get stuff done, and black ink has always been just the thing for flipping on the “get to work” switch in my brain.

Pilot Vanishing Point Black Matte

It’s easy to love ink colors that pop off the page, but loving a black ink takes a little more work. Packaged in that gorgeously iconic Iroshizuku bottle, take-sumi impresses with its lovely darkness. It’s like the night sky. Usually you take it for granted, but every now and then you look up and think “wow.”

Back of the bottle

I’m smitten.