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

Vintage Value: The Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen (Cracked Ice)

Many thanks to Ron, at Pen Chalet, for sending along this Conklin Duragraph fountain pen. I was not compensated for my review, and this post reflects my experiences with the pen. There are no affiliate links in this post.

Conklin Duragraph
The Conklin box is a little coffinesque, but it holds a very nice pen.

The Conklin Duragraph originally launched in 1923. I won’t pretend to know much (or anything, really) about the history of the Duragraph line, but I was intrigued by the appearance of this recently released updated version. The look is distinctly vintage, with rich-looking resins and a flat-top cap. Branding is quite simple. The center band sports the words “Conklin” and “Duragraph,” bracketed by two sets of three tiny crescents. The flat-top is imprinted with “Conklin Est. 1898.”

Conklin Duragraph

I own a few Conklin fountain pens— all crescent fillers— and while I enjoy them, cleaning them is something of a chore. It takes A LOT of filling and flushing to clean the internal “bladder” of those pens. The Duragraph is cartridge/converter pen which means that it’s simple to fill and to clean. The pen ships with two cartridges AND the converter. (I love when the converter is included.)

Conklin Duragraph

I filled my Cracked Ice version with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo, and set pen to paper. The stub nib on this Conklin Duragraph is smooth and plenty juicy, but not overly so. My other Conklin pens have equally smooth nibs (that’s 4 for 4), so I’ve either been lucky or nib QC is quite good. Flow is perfect— neither too dry or too wet.

Conklin Duragraph

Available in Amber, Cracked Ice, and Forest Green versions, I was initially drawn to the Amber version (fall colors are kind of my “thing”), but decided to branch out a bit and chose the Cracked Ice resin. I haven’t seen the other finishes in person, and I’m sure they’re great looking, but, to me, the Cracked Ice resin accentuates the vintage roots of the pen. It looks like a pen my grandfather would’ve used— sort of understated, but still interesting— like a pen made from crushed sea shells.

Conklin Duragraph

The stainless steel nib is available in fine, medium, and this 1.1 mm stub. Though not really suitable for me as a daily writer, the stub gives my handwriting more flair than it normally has, even though I’m not particularly proficient with it. I’ve never experienced a hard start or any skipping. I’m really pleased with the flow and the feel of the writing experience. It’s silky smooth.

Conklin Duragraph

This is a pen that’s meant to be used unposted. Though it’s possible to post the cap, it doesn’t post securely at all (the cap could/would definitely wiggle off), AND extends the pen to an unwieldy feeling 6.9″ (175 mm). Capped, the pen measures 5.9″ (140 mm). Unposted, it measures 4.9″ (124 mm), which feels fine in my hand, but might be a bit short if your hands are very large. The concave grip gives my fingers the perfect resting place for writing and doodling. The capped pen weighs 26 grams— sort of a nice “middle-ground” weight. I have NO complaints with anything about the look or the feel of this pen.

Conklin Duragraph

This newly released Conklin Duragraph stays true to its vintage roots without the price tag that can come with a vintage pen. Listing for $55, and available from Pen Chalet for only $44, this is a pen that’s hard to resist. I really can’t get over the price. I suspect that the Amber one is in my future, maybe with a medium nib.

Conklin Duragraph

The Conklin Duragraph is a pen that’s easy to fall for. The cartridge/converter set-up means that it’s easy to maintain, the resins are gorgeous, and the nibs smooth. And that price? What’s not to love?!

Conklin Duragraph

Check out the Conklin Duragraph line at Pen Chalet HERE. You really can’t go wrong.