The Watermen and the Sailors: A Love Story

Waterman Hemispheres & Harmonie
Waterman Hemisphere Stardust Gold, Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres, Waterman Harmonie

Once upon a time, there were three Waterman pens— two Hemispheres and one Harmonie— the Watermen. Despite having good looks, they felt empty and lackluster.

Until they met a trio of Sailor inks.

Sailor inks & Waterman pens
Sailor Jentle Apricot, Jentle Grenade, Yama Dori

That’s when things got interesting. And hot. They couldn’t stay away from each other.

Waterman pens & Sailor inks

The uniquely lacquered body of the Waterman Harmonie made a perfect match for the magnificent color and sheen of Sailor’s Jentle Grenade. What a couple.

Waterman Harmonie

The Waterman Hemisphere, in Stardust Gold, and Sailor’s Yama Dori made a striking pair. The Hemisphere’s medium nib laid down a generously wet line of that deep, rich blue-green-sheeny ink.

Waterman Hemisphere Gold Stardust

And the Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres, with its distinctively patterned body, was totally smitten with the drop dead gorgeous Jentle Apricot.

Waterman Hemisphere Ombres et Lumiéres

The well-matched couples traveled snuggly in their pen cases, venturing out to cafés and to work and to relaxing times on the patio. They never bickered, never wished for other partners. They were cozy and content, spending hours together writing letters and filling journal pages.

Sailor inks

The Watermen were very, very happy with their Sailors. ARE very happy with their Sailors.

If only their love could last forever. But soon, there will be no more Jentle Apricot, no more Jentle Grenade. All they’ll be able to do is remember the good times, and try to go on. Which they will, but it won’t be the same.

Waterman pens

At least for now, they have each other.

————

Having a little fun with these favorite pen and ink pairings tonight. I’ll do individual reviews of these wonderful Waterman pens in the future. They’re all excellent writers, super smooth, really superb. And these Sailor inks are AMAZING. I mourn the day that my stash of Jentle Apricot and Jentle Grenade is depleted. But for now, I’m appreciating every single precious drop. Which sounds like a life lesson, doesn’t it?!

Customized Wooden Pens, a Kickstarter Project by Amy Grigg

The Outlier I have a couple of students working with me for the summer, and this morning, one ambled up to my desk, then stopped in his tracks and said, “WHOA!! What IS that?!” It’s not entirely obvious that it’s a pen, what with all of its steampunk accoutrements and all. But it is, it’s a pen. A big, heavy, outrageous pen. The Outlier I backed and reviewed Amy Grigg’s first Kickstarter project, and since then, we’ve stayed in touch. Even though we’ve never met, I consider her a friend. She’s got that dry, spot-on sense of humor that makes her emails, letters, and Kickstarter updates a blast to read. I think she gets me, and I get her, so there was no way that I wasn’t going to back her second project. Apex and Outlier This time I backed two pens—the Outlier 2, a ballpoint/gel pen, and the Apex fountain pen—both made with curly maple. After I pledged, Amy sent me an email warning me about the size of the Outlier. (For the record, it’s 6″ long and weighs 72 grams. That’s big. That’s heavy.) She’s not a person to take your money and run. She wants you to be 100% happy with her work and your pens. She’s something of a Kickstarter anomaly in this regard. Steampunk bolt action I assured her that I appreciated the heads-up, but that I had to go for it. This year has been a ridiculous one— what with the death of two pets, my ongoing medical journey, the assorted calamities of our elderly parents, etc.—so I wanted a ridiculous pen to mark the fact that we’re still standing (so far). The Outlier and refill options The Outlier 2 is just that pen. Its steampunk style stands out from the crowd in a big way. It’s dramatic and fantastic. Need to distract someone during a meeting? Use this pen. Need to defend yourself? I daresay that the Outlier could do that, too.

It takes, and ships with, both a Parker style ballpoint refill and a gel refill, so you can customize the pen for your favorite writing style. I love the Schmidt EasyFlow 9000 ballpoint refill so that’s what I’ve installed in my Outlier. The line on that refill is as bold as the style of this pen. The refill deploys via a bolt action lever that’s works flawlessly and can be deployed easily with just your thumb. The Apex The Apex, available as a rollerball or fountain pen, is a much more practical pen. I backed the rollerball version the first time around, in dark cocobalo wood, so I decided to switch things up and opted for the fountain pen version in this fantastic curly maple wood. Amy raves about the curly maple on her project’s main page, and she’s right. It’s prettier in real life than I can capture with my camera, with interesting grain and depth. Amy’s woodworking skills and attention to detail transform raw wood into finished products—the pens here, but also bowls, boxes, and spoons—that are a joy to look at and hold. The Apex fountain pen With gunmetal hardware, and a magnetic cap, this is a pen that’s as easy to use as it is to look at. The nib is generic, but wrote immediately upon inking, and lays down a smooth medium line. The pen ships with one international short cartridge and a converter. Mine is loaded with Sailor’s Yama Dori—a great looking ink for a cool looking pen. Amy Grigg's pens When you back a Kickstarter project, you’re backing a person as as much as you’re backing a product. There are very few people I’d back without hesitation, but Amy falls into this select group. Her updates are regular, honest, and entertaining. When an issue popped up with one of the woods in her last project, she got out in front of that and IMMEDIATELY laid out a series of options for the small group of affected backers. Even this issue was addressed with good humor and zero drama. Apex and Outlier Amy is authentic and the real deal—a woodworker committed to her craft and to your satisfaction. If you like what you see here, check out the full line of pens on her Kickstarter page. The project closes on July 16th so move quickly if you’re interested. There’s a little something there for everyone— from practical to deluxe offerings. All made with care, all made with 100% Amyness.

Note: I backed Amy’s project with my own funds. My rewards were shipped to me early, but I was not required to review them, nor was I compensated in any way.

Dear Everyone

Dear Everyone,

As I was getting out of the car after work on Friday, Fred said, “There’s a package from Brad for you on the kitchen counter.” Really? Cool.

As I started cutting it open, I figured that maybe he’d sent along some of the new Nock Co. notebooks. The box seemed a little big for notebooks, but what else could it be? Then there was another box inside that box, and yet another inside that one. All the while I was unpacking the contents I was saying out loud, “What the…?!”

As I reached the inner box, my “What the…??” mantra got louder and faster. This was not computing.

As I caught my first glimpse of the inner wooden box, I stopped breathing. And things got a little buzzy around the edges.

WHAT?! A Nakaya?!

Surely there was some sort of shipping error. I even messaged Brad to say, “Is this mine?!”

Then I saw Brad’s handwritten note—in his perfect printing—that let me know this WAS for me. From all of you.

Brad's note

Tears. Smiles. Lack of breathing. I felt ALL THE FEELS. I’m STILL feeling all the feels.

Nakaya Blue Rose Raden

The pen is a work of art—gorgeously understated, with inlaid raden in the shape of a blue rose with gently falling petals. (I’ll do a better job of photographing and reviewing the pen another time. I swear.) The medium nib writes like a dream. I filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo and write with it every day. Doodling, letters, journal entries, notes. This is a pen that will always be inked, always be used, always be cherished.

Nakaya medium nib

For everyone who made this happen, I thank you. I thank you ad infinitum. (How inadequate those words sound.) Thank you, too, to everyone who has thought good thoughts, posted thoughtful blog comments, sent cards and letters, texted encouraging texts, listened to me vent, walked with me, hugged me, sent their own precious gifts, offered up encouragement and commiseration. All of that is as precious to me as this pen.

Nakaya Naka-ai Blue Rose Raden

Though the strange sensations in my legs have been turned up a notch or two this week, my smile and my grateful heart are off the charts.

I’m stunned. I’m speechless. I’m completely blown away.

I love you.

Mary

Another Hole In My Head: The Lamy Scribble 0.7 mm Pencil

Lamy Scribble Pencil

Did I need another pencil? In a word, no. Ever since I started listening to the Erasable podcast, their brainwashing suggestions have led to more and more woodcased pencils finding their way to my house. I remain enamored with the Palomino Blackwing Pearl, the Musgrave Test Scoring 100, and the Jumbo pencil by Write Notepads & Co. and have plenty of those around the house. I also have a couple of subscriptions (CWPencil Pencil-of-the-Month and Blackwing Volumes) bringing periodic pencil surprises to my mailbox. So, no, there was no need.

Lamy Scribble

But being well-stocked in a particular stationery product has never stopped me before. (See my stash of the Levenger Vivacious paper as evidence.) So when Goldspot Pens offered up the Lamy Scribble Pencil as a special of the week, I caved. It should be noted that I didn’t pounce immediately, but read and watched reviews which did nothing to deter me, and everything to nudge me toward the purchase.

Lamy Scribble

The Lamy Scribble pencil is sold in two versions to accommodate two lead sizes— 0.7 mm for writing and 3.15 mm for drawing. Though the look of the big fat 3.15 mm lead was intriguing, I knew I couldn’t do that pencil justice, and so opted for the 0.7 mm version. The Lamy Scribble is short (12 cm/4.7″), with a stubby chubby shape that could put you off. But don’t let it do that. Weighing a solid 24 g, this is one of the most comfortable writing instruments I’ve ever held. It’s fat where it should be fat, and slimmer where it should be a little less thick. It simply belongs in your hand. 100% comfortable.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble

With a matte black plastic body and palladium trim, this is a good-looking pencil. There is the faintest hint of a seam in the body, one that I didn’t really notice until I looked at some of my photos. The look is classic Lamy— understated and classy while also being eye-catching.

Pushing the pencil’s knock one time deploys a tiny lead-protecting sleeve, while a second push extends the 0.7 mm lead. A common complaint with mechanical pencils is that the lead snaps off easily but I haven’t had that happen at all— maybe because of the protective sleeve or maybe because I chose to substitute my favorite non-Lamy lead.

Lamy Scribble and Pentel 2B lead

Because I’m a delicate flower, and need to have my pencil lead write JUST SO, I swapped out the perfectly fine Lamy lead for Pentel’s Ain Stein 0.7mm 2B lead. Talk about perfection. This lead is tough and smooth and dark— a killer trifecta of pencil lead qualities.

Lamy Scribble's clip

The aluminum clip is thin and shaped to slide in and out of a pen (or pencil) case without issue. The Lamy literature notes that the clip is removable so if you’re anti-clip, Lamy’s got you covered. I like the look of the metal clip against the black body, and am not bothered by it in hand, so the clip remains on my Scribble.

Lamy Scribble

Lamy Scribble eraser

There’s a small eraser and lead-clearing “probe” tucked under the pencil’s knock/end cap. I haven’t used the eraser more than a couple of times as I prefer to use a separate eraser rather than going to the bother of removing the cap to access the small thing. When I did use the Scribble’s built-in eraser, it worked perfectly fine for rubbing out tiny errors. This is not an eraser for an industrial size mistake.

Lamy Scribble Pencil

So though I needed another pencil like I needed another hole in my head, I have no regrets about picking up the Lamy Scribble Pencil. And now that I’ve picked it up, I never want to put it down.

——————

Medical update: Not much to report as I’m still waiting for my MRI and spinal tap appointments. I rattled the cage of my doctor’s office earlier this week and should hear something by the end of the week. My symptoms have ramped back up just a little bit…still mild, but slightly more annoying…so I’m very anxious to make some diagnostic progress.

Updated update: Cervical spine MRI has been scheduled for June 30th. At first I thought that was really far away, then realized that, um, no, it’s next week. Where did June go?? 

Edison Pearl…Rollerball? Heck, ya!

Edison Pearl in Antique Marble
My Edison Pearl in Antique Marble (Photo Credit: Edison Pen Co.)

One day, back in the winter, I was battling extreme cabin fever by browsing around on the Edison Pen Co. site, as you do. As I clicked around, I noticed a section I hadn’t paid attention to before—a section about rollerball pens. Hmmmmm. Here, Brian explained that you can get every Edison Pen model as a rollerball, if fountains pens don’t do it for you. OR, if you’re like me, and keep a foot in both the fountain pen and rollerball worlds, there’s the very cool option of getting one pen body with two sections—a fountain pen section AND a rollerball section for an additional $50. When I read about this option, bells of joy chimed in my head (they did!) because as much as I love and use fountain pens, I also heavily use, and appreciate, rollerballs.

Edison Pearl Rollerball

Brian Gray and I exchanged a few emails to discuss this “two-fer” option, then came the tough choice of picking a model and material for my new RB/FP pen. I have handful of Edison pens, but no Pearl as yet, so the model decision was settled quite quickly. To choose a material, I clicked through hundreds of photos on the Edison Pens gallery and took note (quite literally) of which materials gave me a little zing. From this subset, I did some focused browsing, and ultimately decided on the Antique Marble acrylic. It’s everything I love— autumnal colors, amazing depth, liquidy swirls, some translucency, and a good dose of chatoyancy. Pretty stunning to my eye.

Edison Pearl RB & FP in Antique Marble
Edison Pearl body with both a fountain pen and a rollerball section

Brian estimated an 11-12 week wait for my custom order, and he hit that timeline perfectly. The pen arrived last week and it’s absolutely everything I hoped for. The acrylic looks like it’s ON FIRE…so hot. With the added versatility of the two sections, this is a pen that will be very hard to take out of rotation.

Edison Pearl Rollerball in Antique Marble

Brian included both a black and blue Schmidt 5888 rollerball refill (medium), along with two springs. The spring is seated onto the back of the refill to hold it in place inside the pen body so that it fits snuggly and perfectly. The Schmidt 5888 is smooth and kind of luscious—like the rollerball equivalent of fountain pen ink. The Schmidt 888 and Schneider Topball 850 refills are also compatible.

Edison Pearl fountain pen

For the fountain pen, I chose a medium nib, as I’m finding that western mediums suit me best lately—fine enough for my small handwriting, yet wide enough to see some ink shading and/or sheen. I will admit that I haven’t inked up this pen as yet, so I can’t speak to the smoothness of the nib right now. (I cleaned a significant number of pens this weekend and feel SO MUCH better getting the number of inked pens back under control. I’m proceeding with extreme care.)

Medium nib

My photos just don’t do this material justice. Much like the Persimmon Swirl acrylic of my Edison Collier, it puts me in a pen-staring trance with its mesmerizing jumble of swirled colors, depth, and translucency.

Chatoyancy
Swirls and chatoyancy

Pen cap
I like that little clear section in the middle of the cap.

Translucent threads
Catching a glimpse of the threads

When you buy an Edison pen, you get guaranteed satisfaction. In the letter that came with my pen, Brian wrote, “Our services go beyond the sale. If you ever have any issues, let us know. If you ever get a scratch, we’ll be happy to buff the pen free of charge.” It’s great knowing that I won’t have to jump through hoops should an issue ever pop up.

Edison Pen Pearl rollerball

While the Edison Pen Co. is famous for their gorgeous fountain pens, they probably aren’t who you immediately think of when you’re shopping for a rollerball. Maybe that’s about to change.

I purchased this pen with my own funds. I was not compensated in any way, nor was I asked to provide a review. But, really, how could I not?!

Hand-Me-Ups: ACME’s HATCH and OPTIKAL Rollerballs

As a kid, there were two things that made me go “UGH.” Leftovers and hand-me-downs. If I didn’t like tuna noodle casserole the first time around, I certainly didn’t look forward to having it warmed up for round two. Almost as unsavory, was getting a pair of slacks, a winter coat, or shoes second-hand from a sibling, friend, or cousin. The casserole and the clothes had both seen better days so they were accepted begrudgingly, and were not appreciated as they should have been. Kids want new dinners and new clothes. Anything already eaten or worn was seen as second-rate by my grade-school self.

ACME HATCH & OPTIKAL Rollerballs

Luckily, I’ve changed my ways, and now cook double-sized dinners on purpose just so we CAN have leftovers— cook once, eat twice! And I no longer turn my nose up at hand-me-downs. Many times there’s plenty of good left in the item, especially in the case of pens. (You knew I’d get to pens eventually, didn’t you?)

ACME OPTIKAL and HATCH rollerballs

Knowing that I’m a big ACME fan, Mike Dudek recently reached out to let me know that he was paring down his collection and that a couple of ACME rollerballs were up for grabs. I mulled over which one to purchase, then did what any sane person awash in pens would do— I bought both. Mike’s prices were more than fair and both pens are in pristine condition. Unlike the ungrateful child I once was, grown-up Mary is a very happy second owner.

ACME OPTIKAL Rollerball

The ACME OPTIKAL rollerball arrived with the standard ACME 888 Safety Ceramic Rollerball refill (Fine point) installed. It lays down an even, very dark line and runs about 0.6 to 0.7 mm— soooo smooth on my Levenger Vivacious free leaf notepad paper. This brass pen features an undulating etched design that’s filled with black lacquer for a unique look. The designer behind this pattern is Karim Rashid, and his signature is etched into the cap band.

Etched signature

The HATCH Rollerball, designed by Karl Zahn, features a series of “hatch” etchings and is sometimes called “the doctor’s pen” because of the unique antimicrobial properties of the brass. The ACME literature states that brass has “a remarkable ability to self-sterilize,” so the pen “lends itself perfectly to situations where hygiene is a priority.” (Isn’t that always?!)

HATCH design

It should be noted that the HATCH rollerball is actually coated with a thin layer of lacquer (for shininess), which will eventually wear away to expose the raw brass and its wonder powers.

I just think it’s a cool pen. I’ll still rely on hand washing to avoid germs.

ACME HATCH rollerball

This pen arrived from Mike with a Pilot G2 0.38 mm refill installed, and I was like, WHAT??!! Until then, I hadn’t realized that the Pilot G2 refills fit the capped ACME pens. Lightbulb moment!

ACME HATCH rollerball

These are hefty (about 42 g), great-looking pens that I’ve lovingly ogled as I leaf through every single edition of the Fahrney’s catalog. Brand new, they’re a quite a bit more than I was willing to pay, but Mike made me an offer that I couldn’t refuse.

ACME OPTIKAL rollerball

That, I guess, is my takeaway message— keep an eye out for deals on second-hand pens. You just might pick up a gem from someone looking to down-size their collection. To be sure, ask questions and buy from folks you know and trust. If you do your homework and proceed with care, you can score some first-rate pens at reasonable prices.

ACME OPTIKAL and HATCH rollerballs

Keep your eyes open and you might just be able to purchase a pen you’ve worshiped from afar. That’s not a hand-me-down—it’s absolutely a hand-me-up.

Mike’s gorgeously photographed full reviews of the ACME HATCH and OPTIKAL rollerballs can be found HERE and HERErespectively.

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Quick medical update: I saw the out-of-town MS Specialist on Tuesday and was very happy with him and his practice. He’s not, at this point, convinced that the MS diagnosis I received is correct, and has mapped out a prudent plan for getting to the bottom of my symptoms. There are lesions present, but they don’t necessarily mean I have MS. He’s scheduling more testing in the coming weeks—another MRI and a spinal-tap— to try to confirm or deny the original diagnosis. I came away impressed and cautiously hopeful. 

I remain incredibly appreciative of the good thoughts, letters (a bundle of which arrived today), and heartfelt sentiments that you’re sending my way. This is a physical and emotional roller coaster ride, but you’ve been amazing in lifting me up. I will, of course, keep you posted.

Slick: Lamy Studio (Palladium, 14k Medium Nib)

Lamy Studio Palladium finish

I’ll pounce on some pens in a millisecond, while others I’ll mull over for months. It’s not really a price thing (within comfortable limits), it’s more of a “what does this pen bring to the table?” type of pondering. I’ve looked at the Lamy Studio many, many times, but never felt won over enough to make a purchase. I can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve hesitated for so long, but some of it has to do with the polished chrome grip section that you see on most models. It looks like a fingerprint magnet and potentially slippery, and this, I think, is what’s been holding me back.

Lamy Studio Palladium model

A Lamy Studio recently popped up on MassDrop and happened to hit all the right notes— a Palladium finish (so there’s no highly polished grip), a 14k gold nib, and a price that wasn’t much higher than what I’d pay for a steel nib. That trifecta of factors pushed me from pondering to purchasing.

14k nib on the Lamy Studio

The 14k gold nib is a sweet one. To be honest, I’m unclear if the whole nib is gold, or just that piece down the center. In any case, there’s a softness and a bit of spring that you don’t get from a steel Lamy nib. I have some super smooth steel Lamy nibs that I enjoy using, but this is a different feel— a noticeable upgrade. The medium line hits a sweet spot for me— quite juicy, and yet still perfectly suited for my small(ish) handwriting. I could also easily swap this nib onto one of my Lamy Safaris, AL-Stars, or Vista, should I ever want to. (Probably won’t, but I could.)

Lamy Studio clip

Lamy Studio clip

The clip on the Lamy Studio certainly stands out from the crowd. Lamy calls it a “propeller-shaped clip” for the way it resembles…ummm…a propeller, and states that that the way it “turns in on itself is more reminiscent of a modern piece of sculpture than a conventional pen clip.” I see what they’re saying, as it IS sort of sculptural, but I’m a little undecided about the look. I like that it’s unique, but the higher profile makes it seem a little “bulky.” Well…not really bulky…but not as sleek as most clips. It functions perfectly fine for my purposes (clipped into a pen case), so no complaints there. The perpendicular profile might not suit those looking to clip the Studio in a shirt pocket since it doesn’t lay flat. So, yeah, I’m still a little bit on the fence as far as the clip goes.

Lamy Studio Palladium model

The palladium finish on this model means that the grip isn’t a fingerprint magnet, but it turns out that it’s still a little slippery—both in shape and in smoothness. There’s nothing, structurally, to keep your fingers from sliding down towards the nib, so I do find that I’m having to grip the pen a little more tightly. I’d hoped that the “brushed” palladium finish would add a bit of grip but I don’t think that it does. As a result, I sometimes notice more hand fatigue with this pen than with others. Kind of depends on the day and the temperature and the state of my hands—not an issue one day, then more so another day.

Disassembled Lamy Studio

The Studio arrived with two Z26 converters, but I’m quite sure that MassDrop threw in a spare. Sweet little bonus.

The snap-cap posts well, with a very satisfying “click” when pressed onto the end of the barrel. The pen has a nice weight (34 g overall, 24 g body, 10 g cap) and is very well-balanced whether posted or unposted.

Polished end cap

The Lamy Studio is a sharp looking pen—particularly in this champagne-colored finish. The 14k nib is noticeably springier and more fun than its steel counterpart. It’s a slick pen—with highly polished trim, minimal branding, and a uniquely styled clip. But it’s also slick to handle with a sloping, somewhat slippery grip. Though I sound iffy, I’m glad that I finally added a Lamy Studio to my collection, and think that, for me, the pluses outweigh the minuses.

Lamy Studio Palladium

The Lamy Studio—it’s one slick pen. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is up to you.

The pen was inked with Pilot Iroshizuku tsuki-yo. The rough draft of this review was written on Levenger’s Vivacious freeleaf note pad.