A Collaboration of Talents: The Fisher of Pens Ares Fountain Pen

It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a pen and this one is long overdue. Life has been HAPPENING like crazy and I’m finding that my blog suffers when things get intense. How the weeks do fly by. I’ve had this pen—this Fisher of Pens fountain pen (Ares model)—on my “to be reviewed” list from the moment I purchased it at the DC Pen Show in August. Because it’s a gorgeous pen, but also because it demonstrates why pen shows are so spectacular.

FOP Ares model

We arrived to this year’s pen show early Thursday evening, just as the vendors were covering up their tables and heading out for dinner, so there was no shopping to be done that day. But Friday morning, as early as possible, we trotted down to the lobby to pick up our Weekend Trader passes so that we could get into the show as soon as it opened. Because I didn’t have much in the way of a wish list, I told myself that I’d “make the rounds” before making any purchases. I’d take my time, really scope things out, then circle back to buy the pen or pens that spoke to me. That was the plan.

FOP Ares model

We stopped at Carl Fisher’s table almost as soon as we entered the show as he was set up in the lobby, prior to being moved to the large ballroom for Saturday and Sunday. I’d seen Carl’s pens on Instagram, but had never met him, nor seen his pens, in person. Anyone who’s seen the contents of my pen cases, knows I have a thing for orangey autumnal colors, so my eyes (and my heart) were immediately drawn to this pen and its delightful swirl of oranges, golds, and blues, with a slight shimmer that is neither too much nor too little. The sun streaming down from the lobby’s skylight gave this pen the best treatment it could ever have. Illuminated by that sunlight, this pen was simply stunning, radiant, and LIT UP.

But I had that plan.

So I walked away.

My husband and I scoped out a few vendors in the large ballroom, but the whole time, my brain was fixated on that pen. So we circled back.

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Hi, Carl! Sorry I caught you with your mouth open.

I acted all casual, spent some time oogling Carl’s double-ended creation (sweet!), and was about to examine my heart’s desire a little closer when Mike Mattson of Inkdependence stopped at the table and OHMIGOD picked up “my” pen. My neck tensed. My heart stopped. My stomach turned over. Gulp. I conjured up all of my mental telepathy skills and beamed “DO NOT BUY THIS PEN! DO NOT BUY THIS PEN! DO NOT…” to him. I must have skillz, because eventually he put it down. HE PUT THE PEN DOWN. Phew.

And I bought it. Immediately. Plan be damned.

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In talking to Carl, I learned that the material for this pen was made by Jonathon Brooks, of the Carolina Pen Company, which explains why it’s so stunning. Jonathon’s materials and pens are out of this world. I purchased one of his Charleston pens in a Combustion Acrylic at last year’s show and it remains a perpetual favorite.

I should pause to add that both Carl and Jonathon are two of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—warm, authentic, and humble—while also being extremely talented pen makers. These two guys are my kind of people.

On that Friday, Jonathon’s table was just a few steps away from Carl’s, so I stopped over to see him and to show off my purchase.

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Mr. Nice Guy Jonathon Brooks and his just-as-nice wife, Shea

When I showed Jonathon the pen, he high-fived me and said how pleased he was that I liked it. He also kindly offered me a pen stand he’d made that matched my pen. For free. I accepted, and thanked him for his generosity. I always enjoy talking to Jonathon and his wife, Shea. They feel like friends, even though we’ve only spoken at pen shows.

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One thing on my wish list was to have a nib ground by Dan Smith, my favorite nibmeister. I’d picked out the Tiger Stripey pen I purchased from Ken Cavers a number of years ago as the one that I’d have Dan modify to an Architect grind. My name was on his list and I was hanging around his table waiting for my turn as soon as he finished up with his current customer. At the last moment I decided to have the nib on my newest purchase modified instead.

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Dan Smith, The Nibsmith

I’d had Carl install a two-tone medium steel nib (JoWo #6) on my pen, and Carl had tuned it to my liking. Smooth. Wet. It wrote just the way I like. But I’m somewhat addicted to Dan’s Architect grind and thought, why not just have him work on the nib while I’m at the show rather than sending it to him later. So that’s what I did. And now it’s fantastic.

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The Architect Grind

I’ve had Dan modify a couple of nibs to Architects and I love how they feel and look. This one is no exception. At the show, Carl had filled the pen with Montblanc Toffee Brown, one of my favorite browns. Once that ran out, I loaded it with the Akkerman #5 Shocking Blue I’d purchased from the Vanness Pens table, and the combination is a winner. The ink’s sheen shines through, and the color very nicely complements the blues swirling through Jonathon’s material.

Nib grinding fascinates me. The pros, like Dan, make it look easy. Even working in sub-optimum lighting, he modified the nib on my pen to perfection. I absolutely love writing with this pen, not just because it’s a stunner in looks, but also in performance.

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Carl describes the Ares model like this—Stepped cap pen with a taper on both the body and the cap. Typically finished with rounded finials, this design allows for posting of the cap to the back of the pen during writing. 

My particular pen weighs 18.6 grams (12.1 g body, 6.5 g cap). Capped, the pen measures  15.5 cm (6.1 inches). Uncapped, the body measures 14.0 cm (5.5 inches). I use the pen unposted as its posted length is 18 cm (7.1 inches), which feels a bit long to me. Unposted, it’s great in hand. The Ares model takes a cartridge or converter, and can also be eyedropper filled.

Those are the pen’s facts and figures. But facts and figures do not tell the story of this pen. Every part of this pen was touched by the skilled hands of a craftsman. And because it was purchased at the pen show, I was able to spend time with each of them, sharing laughs and handshakes and good feelings.

I was also able to use my extraordinary powers of concentration to wrench it away from the hands of a rival buyer. You, too, can experience the high drama of competitive pen purchasing by attending a pen show! More thrilling than a rollercoaster! Guaranteed to get your heart pumping and the blood flowing! WHEEEEEE.

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Every time I look at this pen I hear Alicia Keys singing, “This pen is on fire!” (IT. IS. HOT.) While I’m hearing that song, I can’t help but think about Carl and Jonathon and Dan, each one playing his part to make this pen perfect for me.

This is a Mary pen, if ever there was one—a pen that truly represents a collaboration of talents.

The pen and the nib grinding service were purchased with my own funds. I was not compensated in any way for this review, and there are no affiliate links. 
More information about the services of Carl, Jonathon, and Dan can be found at the following links:
Fisher of Pens (Carl Fisher)
Carolina Pen Company (Jonathon Brooks)
The Nibsmith (Dan Smith)

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There’s Nothing Like a Pen Show For…

Sea of Pens

seeing more pens in one place than you’ve ever seen before.

Franklin-Christoph

For visiting favorite vendors.

[Scott Franklin, of Franklin-Christoph]

Ink and notebooks

For adding to your already healthy stash of ink and pocket notebooks.

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For meeting the very nice guys who make those notebooks.

[Story Supply Co.’s Vito Grippi and Gabriel Dunmire]

Fisher of Pens pen

For finding the pen that calls your name…

Carl Fisher, Fisher of Pens

and meeting the man who made that pen…

[Carl Fisher, of Fisher of Pens]

Jonathon Brooks

AND the man who made the material for that pen.

[Jonathon Brooks, Carolina Pen Co., and his wonderful wife, Elizabeth]

The Nibsmith

For having a little nib work done.

[Dan Smith, The Nibsmith]

Starter set for a friend

For helping a friend at home get started with this fountain pen obsession hobby.

A patient husband

For testing the patience of your “not really into pens” husband.

(In all honesty, he did very well. Better than I do at car shows, where I’m “over it” after an hour or two. When we got home Sunday night, he did say, “Well…I think I’ve seen enough pens to last me a few years.” Fair enough.)

Ana and Brad

For saying a few words of thanks to the people who inspire you.

[Ana Reinert, The Well-Appointed Desk and Brad Dowdy, The Pen Addict]

But mostly…

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it’s about spending time with friends.

[Michelle, me (looking goofy), Karen, Phil, Tracy, Ashley, and Ira. So many more not pictured.]

Paul Joynes

[Paul Joynes, Gorgeous.Ink]

Joe Lebo

 [My pen show buddy, Joe Lebo]

Pen show swag

The pens, paper, notebooks, and ink are all great, but there’s so much more.

There’s sharing and hugs and laughter. There’s friendship. There’s love.

There really is nothing like a pen show.

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.

High Praise: An Architect Grind by Dan Smith

Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA

I bought this Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA (Limited Edition Acrylic), as part of an annual Edison Pen Co. group buy, with a broad nib, which was not my usual nib choice back then. But I had my reasons. Well, reason. I knew that, at some point, I’d probably like to have some sort of nib grind performed and figured that starting with a broad nib would give the nibmeister a good sized chunk of real estate to work with. Obviously I didn’t rush into the nib work as it’s been nearly two years since I bought the pen, yet I only recently took the nib-grinding dive.

Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA (Wine Acrylic)

The Wine Acrylic on this Glenmont is stunning and almost looks like it’s lit from within. The chatoyancy mesmerizes me. And while the broad nib on this pen was very nice—smooth and wet—I felt that a pen this good looking could use a little something special. I’m trying to make 2016 the year of fewer acquisitions and more/deeper use, so it finally seemed like the perfect time to send this pen off to Dan Smith, The Nibsmith, for some nib magic.

Architect Grind

I couldn’t do anything with a nib—except ruin it—but Dan took my “clear as mud” directive and turned this perfectly acceptable broad nib into one with wonderful smoothness and character. My Edison Glenmont now sports a Dan Smith Architect grind.

Writing with broad Architect grind

Dan explains an Architect (aka Hebrew or Arabic) grind on his website, saying, “You can think of this nib as a stub rotated 90 degrees. It creates a thin vertical stroke and a thick horizontal stroke.” I test drove a few Architect grinds at the DC Pen Show but wasn’t quite ready to jump in then, mostly because I wasn’t completely sure which pen/nib I wanted modified. I tend to be a ponderer—so I pondered.

Edison Glenmont with Architect Grind

In the end, I came back to my original idea and sent off the Glenmont, and man, am I glad I did. This thing is crazy good. I filled the pen with a sample of Bungbox Sapphire and the combination of this ink with this broad Architect grind is sublime. It’s smooth and expressive and just plain fun. Capital F fun.

Architect Grind

Even without a macro lens, you can see the Architect grind. Impressive work, Dan.

What’s cool about having this Edison nib modified is that I can easily swap it into my other Edison pens should I want to change things up.

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I like looking at writing from strange angles. Rather than focusing on the words, you can focus on the ink properties and expressiveness of the nib. It’s a little quirk of mine.

I couldn’t be happier with this pen or with Dan’s work.

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Just one little bone to pick—I have this wonderful Architect grind but it hasn’t helped my architect skills one iota. I still can’t design a house to save my life.

Okay, that “joke” probably made you groan, but I can assure, this nib will make you sing.

Songs of high praise, that is.

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I paid for the pen and nib modification with my own funds, and I was not (nor will I be) compensated in any way for this review. The Bungbox Sapphire ink sample was graciously provided by my pen pal, Phil Olin (@SgtStretch). 

Check out all of Dan’s nib services at nibsmith.com. The Architect grind shown here costs $55 at the time of this review. Prices for other nib services and grinds can be found on Dan’s website.

 

 

 

 

2014 Wrap-Up: The Feelings

Simple tree
Simple tree

I had planned to get a post up last week, but then I caught a cold (unexpected) and Christmas arrived (expected). One thing was fun, the other not so much. Slowly coming out of my sinus miseries and low-key Christmas celebrations to think about getting things back to normal. Well, normalish.

Baking cookies
Baking molasses cookies. Or as I call them, mole asses cookies.

I’m off from work for most of the week— just have to pop in on Friday for a little while— so every day feels like Saturday lately. Which is what I imagine heaven feels like.

Christmas colored Retro 51s
My festive Retro 51s

A couple of feelings routinely kick in this time of year, as one year ends and the other begins. The first is gratitude. Thanks for all of the good stuff and good people that I’ve encountered in the last year, much of it related to pens (and paper and ink and pencils) and the pen/pencil communities. These are the places where I feel most comfortable, where my introverted tendencies vanish, where I have a blast.

The Retrakt
Karas Kustoms Retrakt

Though not a complete list by any means, these are just some of the people and places who made 2014 a memorable year:

Podcasts/Videocasts
The Pen Addict with Brad and Myke (responsible for oh so many pen purchases and for an always entertaining commute)
The Erasable Podcast with Andy, Johnny, and Tim (Who would’ve thought I’d listen to a show about pencils? I do, and I love it.)
Anderson Pens (Oh, that chat! It’s like meeting with friends every time I tune in.)
SBREBrown & Gourmet Pens & the “I won’t be ignored” kitty (Great information with great humor. You guys rock.)

Pen, pencil, ink, notebook, and storage vendors
Anderson Pens
Dudek Modern Goods
Edison Pen Co.
Field Notes
Fontoplumo
The Goulet Pen Co.
JetPens
Karas Kustoms
Levenger
Nock Co.
Pen Chalet
The Pen Company
Retro 1951
Write Notepads & Co.

Thanks to some for supplying review items, to others for great customer service, and to all for great products and that extra-special personal touch.

My nib guy
Dan Smith @fpgeeks

Thanks for making less than stellar pens remarkable, quickly and affordably. Great work!

Penpals
Tracy Lee
Michelle

Thank you for understanding when I TAKE SO LONG TO REPLY. Your letters and cool envelopes are a source of delight in my mailbox. So glad we’re getting to know each other better while using our pens and inks.

Bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers
I won’t name names because I’ll leave someone out then feel bad, but you all entertain and educate me, amuse and enlighten. This is the BEST community.

Best hotel
The Sheraton at Tysons Corner for returning my “left behind” Akkerman ink after the DC Pen Show. Amazing customer service. So grateful.

Pencils at the ready
Pencil line-up

The other feeling that kicks in this time of year is “fresh start.” Old year out, new year in. Time to purge, reorganize, and start with a blank(ish) slate. Fred and I regularly purge and straighten out our pantry during our break between Christmas and New Year’s. Annual ritual. Afterwards, we vow to use what we have on hand before adding more stuff to the cupboards.

Conklin Stylograph
Conklin Stylograph (to be reviewed)

In that same vein, I plan to make 2015 a year where I buckle down and USE my pens, pencils, papers, and inks— switching my focus from acquisition to using. When you have a Staples Printer Paper box full of empty notebooks, it might be time to stop buying notebooks and start writing in them. Like every day. Don’t get me wrong, I use my stuff but I need to REALLY use my stuff. There’s plenty here to be written in and written with, plenty to be reviewed, plenty to have fun with. Plenty.

Machined goodness
Machined favorites

So I’m closing out 2014 and starting 2015 feeling grateful and blessed. And you— all of you— are the reason.

Peace and good health to you all.

Write Notepads & Co.
Write Notepads & Co. loot

Nib 9-1-1: Nib Tuning by Dan Smith

Sailor 1911 Profit fountain pen

I bought this Sailor 1911 Profit (Ivory White Body, Iridium Gold Plated Medium-Fine nib) from Engeika (Japan), having dealt with them in the past without issue even though we are continents apart. I’m not sure I buy the bit about this being a “rare pen,” but I was curious about Sailor pens and nibs and this seemed like a good, and reasonably priced, starting point.

The transaction went very smoothly, with good communication along the way.

A couple of days after the pen arrived, I inked it up and sat poised over the paper, ready to scribble away. (I typically write my name, or the name of the pen and the ink, or my dogs’ names, a million times.) This is always the high point of pen suspense— how will this newly purchased pen write?!?!

As it turns out, not so hot. Well, #&@%.

I have theory, borne out in this case, that the further a pen has traveled— the more difficult it is to return— the more likely it is to act up. This nib was dry and skippy. Really dry. Really skippy. Sad Mary.

The next day I tried the few things I have in my “if a fountain pen doesn’t work” arsenal:

  • Emptied the converter and flushed the pen;
  • Flossed the tines with a brass sheet;
  • Re-inked pen;
  • Crossed fingers. Prayed to pen gods.

The pen gods were obviously tending to more pressing matters because there wasn’t even a hint of improvement. (It would’ve been cool if I had had the presence of mind to photograph the lousy nib performance for blogging purposes, but I didn’t. Trust me, though, it wasn’t a stellar writing experience.) With my meager skills depleted, I had two choices. Shove the pen back in the box and into a drawer, OR send it off for a tune-up. (Normally I’ll contact the vendor if I have a significant nib issue, but in this case, with the vendor in Japan and me in the US, I decided to scratch that option.)

"Fountain Pen Geek" Dan Smith

Though I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t overly distressed either. I immediately knew who could help me out— Dan Smith, Fountain Pen Geek and my go-to nibmeister. I’ve purchased a couple of used pens from Dan— some of my vintage favorites— and found him to be wonderful to deal with. Satisfaction is priority #1, so purchasing a sight unseen pen from him is completely stress-free.

I had him tune a dryish nib some time ago, and immediately knew that he could work wonders on this problem child.

I contacted Dan, packed up the pen (along with a writing sample) after getting the go-ahead from him, and mailed it off. Dan’s good about keeping you posted— emailing when he receives the pen and again when the work is completed, which in this case, was only a couple of days from receipt.

Sailor Profit 1911

The newly tuned pen arrived a few days later— coincidentally on Fountain Pen Day. And it is awesome— smooth with spot on perfect flow. I couldn’t be happier.

Sailor 1911 Profit

The whole process took about a week and the pen writes as I hoped it would when I ordered it. No more frustration. No more #@%&. Well worth the $20 (+ shipping to and from).

Dan does stellar work, at very reasonable prices, with excellent turn-around times (though, of course, that depends on what he has in the queue). He’s who I think of when a nib needs work OR when I want one modified. I purchased the Edison Glenmont 2014 LEA pen with a broad nib so that, down the road, I can have Dan do a custom grind on it. I’m thinking about a medium stub. Or Architect/Hebrew. Still pondering.

100% thrilled

Dan guarantees satisfaction. He wants you to be thrilled. 100% thrilled.

Sailor 1911 Profit

And I am. Thrilled. 100%.

Check out Dan’s services, current turnaround time and prices HERE.

[There are no affiliate links in this post and I purchased both the pen and Dan’s nib-tuning services. I’m just a very pleased, and repeat, customer. The nib issue was probably just a fluke and hasn’t put me off  the Sailor brand or the vendor, Engeika.]