This is one of my favorite things about using fountain pens—considering all of the possible pen and ink and nib combinations. So many permutations. “What am I in the mood for?” I ask myself. What combinations buoy me up? This is the fun part…or ONE OF the fun parts.

Three classics: Sailor Jentle Epinard, Grenade, and Apricot.

This Week #22 ink bundle is a great trio to break me out of my blue ink habit—a deep green, a sheening red, and a cheerful orange. I do love my blues (ALL of the blues!), but have been craving a change of pace and these Sailor Jentle classics are perfect inks for the warm and sunny season we’re in now.

So let’s pick some pens.

I did not belabor this! How un-Marylike! My picks include a (discontinued) mossy green Edison Hudson for the Epinard, orange-ringed Diplomat Elox for the Apricot, and a crazy-colored Karas Kustoms Vertex for the Grenade. There’s a mix of nibs in there, too—extra fine on the Hudson, medium on the Elox, and broad on the Vertex.

Soon to be inked

This is a satisfying little exercise—putting together a combination of pen and ink that makes you want to fill up the pages of your journal or write a long letter to a friend. A little puzzle. A craving. A joy.

I so enjoy that zingy little thrill of anticipation before I’ve even written a word.

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.]


Flashback: Sailor’s Reddish Brown Ink in the A.S. Manhattaner’s “Kitty In the City” Fountain Pen

A.S. Manhattaner w/ Sailor Reddish-Brown ink
Sailor’s Reddish Brown ink in the A.S. Manhattaner pen

Flashback #1: I’ve reviewed this pen before, and in that review, recounted how I’d ALMOST sold this pen because I couldn’t get it to write consistently. But I mucked through, and gave the pen one more chance. It must’ve heard my threat, because it’s been fine ever since. It’s fine in that it writes a very fine line, and fine in that it writes when I need it to. So why review again? Well, I had a bit of an ink issue…black ink splooched into the cap for no apparent reason (maybe it went on an airplane without me??)…so I gave the pen a good clean-out. After letting it dry, I decided to pop in one of Sailor’s Reddish Brown cartridges that I have on hand but have never used.

Sailor Clear Candy Reddish Brown ink

LOVE the color, which really IS reddish brown…or maybe orangeish brown. It reminds me of J. Herbin’s 1670 Rouge Hematite, but without the sediment. Because I’m using it in a pen with a very fine nib, the shading isn’t as apparent as it may be otherwise, but it is there nonetheless, and I really like the look. I’m enjoying it enough to break out of my usual black ink rut and have been using this pen and ink to write my incessant lists (groceries, to-dos, Christmas stuff…) and find that my lists as least LOOK a lot more fun.

Flashback #2: I read a review somewhere, maybe on JetPens, where the reviewer noted that the ink color reminded them of the Mercurochrome that their mother used to draw on their little kid scrapes and cuts. WOAH…Mercurochrome! Hadn’t thought about that for years! My mom used it to draw kitties on our constantly skinned knees. So it’s fitting that I’m using this “Mercurochrome” colored ink in a pen with a kitty on it.

Kitty In the City
Kitty In the City

A quick Google search revealed that Mercurochrome was, of course, made with MERCURY. Eek. I’m trying not to think about the fact that I had 20,000 skinned knees by the time I was eight. Ah, well— I walked to kindergarten by myself (“Be careful crossing that busy road!!”), rode my bike without a helmet (sometimes “no-handed”), and spent road trips on the ledge under the back window of the family sedan (what seat belts?!). I’m sure I’ll survive.

Unfortunately, the A.S. Manhattaner “kitty” pens are no longer available (there were a number of different motifs, all featuring a cat), but Sailor’s Clear Candy pens appear to be virtually the same. The nib is certainly no-frills, but I can vouch for the very crisp line that it lays down. Its reasonable price and range of fun colors makes Sailor’s Clear Candy a good “starter pen” candidate, especially for kids, or for anyone looking to add a little color to their fountain pen collection without breaking the bank.

F-2 Nib
Who needs a fancy nib?

The Clear Candy model features a star on the end of the cap while my pen features…

Kitty cap
Meow. Of course.

A.S. Manhattaner Kitty pen

Though I was already having fun with this pen, I’m enjoying it a little more with the new ink color. And the reddish brown ink brought back a flood of childhood memories.

There’s no telling where a pen and ink can take you.