Some Link & Resource Page Updates

I wrote this post over a month ago but then forgot to publish it. So you may already have noticed these changes.

Let’s start with a few links…

A reader submitted a link to a nice list of calligraphy resources at Beaucoup. Calligraphy is one of those things I say I want to learn, but then I realize I don’t really want to since I’d never commit to the time necessary to learn it.

The Pen Show Page has been updated with some more 2017 dates. Noticeably absent is the Washington D.C. pen show. The word is that there will be a new venue this year but it hasn’t been finalized. They say it will be in the northern Va. area during the first or second week of August. I wasn’t planning to attend this year, but if I was then the lack of a firm date at this late point would make me reconsider. I wonder how many attendees and vendors will pass on the show this year? I missed the LI show too, hopefully I can make the Boston Pen show so I’ll get to at least one show this year.

I’ve also updated the links page. There are so many pen blogs now that I split them into two sections. The first is “Enthusiastic Users” which are the folks who talk about their pen & stationery use. They generally don’t accept a lot of pens and ink for free or at a discount in exchange for a review. Doing that’s OK, but I prefer reading about what people use because they like the item (or think they will) and are spending their own time and money. Unfortunately I think that as pens and stationery become more popular some bloggers may experience events such as The Purl Bug which tends to take the fun out of it.

Of course, “ enthusiast” is open to interpretation. I have no doubt that someone who reviews a pen every week is enthusiastic. So I decided to limit the list to 24 sites and I’ll adjust it at times, and maybe reduce the number. As for my definition of an enthusiast site, as Justice Potter Stewart (any many others) said, “I’ll know it when I see it”. In short, I figure they are sites that readers of this site will also like, focused on stationery items & pens the writer buys and uses.

If you have site that’s not on the links page please let me know. Also let me know if you write about fountain pens (or any stationery) as part of a general, personal site and I’ll add it to the list.

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Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Brunelleschi (M) with Visconti Brown

Visconti Brunelleschi Limited Edition pen and inkI’m way behind on posts to this site so I haven’t written much about the Visconti Brunelleschi. I hope to have my This Jus In post for it up later this week, so I’ll skip my initial impressions about the fountain pen for now. The Brunelleschi arrived the second week of March and I immediately inked it up with the included Visconti Brown ink. At least that’s what I think the ink is. The Visconti packaging and marketing literature doesn’t get specific about the ink and never mentions a color. It’s a brown ink and if it was a special formulation I’m sure Visconti would have promoted that fact. So I assume it’s the standard Visconti Brown, which I’ve never used.

The Visconti Brunelleschi is similar to my Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze age. The size and weights are nearly identical. The Brunelleschi has a faceted barrel (8 sides) while the Homo Sapien is round. The nibs are also the same 23 kt Palladium Dreamtouch nib, although my Brunelleschi is a medium while my Homo Sapien is a extra fine. The only obvious difference is the material (and the color of the materials).

I wrote the pen dry in early May, so the fill lasted about two months. My overall fountain pen usage was way down overall. Plus, I don’t usually pick a medium nib for general note taking. I wasn’t passing over this fountain pen in favor of others. I used it whenever a medium nib was appropriate, unfortunately that wasn’t often enough. There was never any hard starts, even after the pen sat unused for a week or more. There also weren’t any indications that ink was evaporating from the pen.

The ink and nib provided a consistent and ideal flow, never a trace of hesitation, hard starts or skipping.

I liked the Visconti Brown ink, although I didn’t love it. I like Montblanc Toffee Brown better. The Visconti Brown dried fast enough to avoid accidental smudges, even with the medium nib. It was well behaved, no feathering or bleeding. The ink is nice enough and I’ll occasionally use the ink I have, but I won’t be buying another bottle. This is especially true since Visconti ink is on the expensive side of the price spectrum.

Visconti Power Fillers are always tedious to clean (as are all vac fillers). So with that caveat I’ll say Visconti Brown was easy to flush from the pen.

I will be refilling the Visconti Brunelleschi soon, I’m just waiting for my fountain pen usage to return to normal and I begin writing more pens dry. I’ll probably fill it with one of my newer terra cotta themed inks.

Visconti Brunelleschi with Visconti Brown writing sample

Additional Reading

A review of Visconti Brown ink from Alt. Haven

Currently Inked – May 2017

Currently Inked - May 2017I’m late getting this post out, with the month being half over. But not much has changed since the first. My fountain pen usage is at the lowest point in memory. Not because I don’t like them or make them my first choice when reaching for a pen, but my daily writing is at a low point. The truth is the draft of this post is the first time I’ve written more than a page in one sitting.

You’ll notice a couple rollerballs in the list. Sacrilege, I know. But with my fountain pen usage way down the Retro 51’s hold a larger percentage of use. Especially since most of my writing has been notes on the go which is where the Retro 51’s fit in.

I haven’t inked up any new pens since the April post and one was written dry. I’ve been hesitant to ink up anything new since my usage is so low.

Fodderstack XL Carry

NockCo FodderstackXLThe Fodderstack XL spends a lot of time traveling around with me, mostly in my shirt pocket. It’s easy to grab and go, and I’m sure I have a notebook, a rollerball I can use in any situation, and a fountain pen with me. It showing some scuffs and stains from use but it’s all just cosmetic, it’s still as solid as the day I got it over two years ago.

The Retro 51 Terabyte Tornado (Anderson Pens LE) and the Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe live in the Nock Co. Fodderstack XL, which travels in my shirt pocket. I’ve given into the convenience of the Retro 51 and use it for notes while I’m moving about which is a step up from carrying it as the pen I can lend to others. I typically swap the refill with a fine point Schmidt P8126 refill but this pen still has the original Retro 51 refill. I’ve been trying to waste less and throwing out the original refill would be wasteful. I haven’t hated the stock refill although I’d probably swap it if I used the pen for anything more than quick notes.

The Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe only gets occasional use these days. If I’m going to sit down and write some notes I may use it. The Fodderstack is usually on my desk if I’m home so the Regency Stripe is more likely to get used at my desk than when I traveling about, but even then it’s just short writing sessions.

A Nock Co. Dot Dash pocket notebook also travels in the Fodderstack. The notebook is bound at the top which is my preference for a notebook I carry for quick notes.

I’ve given in to the Retro 51 being easier to use in a rush. I can pull it from the Fodderstack and get it ready to use with just one hand, unlike the Sailor. I could swap the Sailor for a Vanishing Point, and I may once the Sailor goes dry.

Other Pens

The Newton Eastman has been inked up a long time. It holds a lot of ink, (5 ml) so it takes a long time to run dry. I’ve gotten used to the ink splatter in the cap and no longer obsessively clean it out. The pen has begun to burp on a regular basis now that there’s all that air in the mostly empty barrel. I remove the cap and wrap my hand around the barrel to warm it up a bit before I use it. This does help a little and I can usually see the ink glistening before it drops so I can dab it off. But it still catches me at times. This makes me use the pen less than I would like since it’s high maintenance. I also haven’t been swapping the nib as much as I expected. Actually, I’ve only swapped the nib once. Part of it is because I really like the Esterbrook #2442 Falcon Stub but the other part is simply that I’m lazy.

The Franklin-Christoph Model 66 is eye dropper filled with Akkerman Dutch Masters 09 “Red Stone” and the performance of the ink is much improved over the Aurora Optima where it was annoying.

The rest of the pens got intermittent use since I didn’t do much writing.

Currently Inked May 2017 writing sample

Written Dry

The Visconti Brunelleschi was written dry after two months. I haven’t written anything about the pen yet, but I do like it. I’ve yet to clean it out but I do plan to re-ink it relatively soon.

Ink & Pen Notes: Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Monteverde Burgundy

Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age with Monteverde BurgundyI filled one of my favorite fountain pens, the Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with an extra fine nib, with Monteverde Burgundy back on February 12th and wrote it dry on April 5th. I’m a little slow getting these notes out even though there’s not much to say.

The ink & pen both performed nicely. This is Monteverde’s older Burgundy ink, now replaced by Napa Burgundy. I like the color of Napa Burgundy a little better, but the performance is similar. The flow was good and problem free. Dry time was on the long side of normal for most inks, meaning it was a little slow for my taste and I did have a few accidental smudges. But it wasn’t a bad experience and I wouldn’t avoid using this ink in the future, although not in a wide or free-flowing nib. The color is a little muted, which I sometimes like, and sometimes don’t.

The inked cleaned as well as any other ink from this Visconti. It’s a tedious process. Plus, ink has a tendency to collect where the feed meets the section. Normal flushing doesn’t clear this ink and I admit to letting it build up a bit and only dealing with in every two or three cleanings. It was time. This process has me hold the nib/section in the ultrasonic cleaner. Then fill the pen with water, wrap the nib in tissue and put it in a tall shot glass to wick the ink out overnight. This time around I repeated the process a couple more times. I can’t clam complete success since there’s was still ink on the tissue even after the third time. But I decided it was enough since the water was clear when it came out of the pen and I use safe, pen friendly inks in this pen. The Visconti Homo Sapien material likes to soak in the ink.

Normally the Visconti Homo Sapien would already be back in the rotation, but I want to write a couple more pens dry. While I won’t avoid the Monteverde Burgundy in the future, nothing about the ink makes me eager to pick it over other inks.

Visconti Homo Sapient Bronze Age with Monteverde Burgundy writing sample

Additional Read

Reviewed on Fountain Pen Network

Vintage Heartbreak

Broken Sheaffer Balance Oversize

It’s been a bad few weeks for me and my vintage Sheaffer Balance Oversize fountain pens. First my pearl grey Oversize wouldn’t fill, probably a pinhole in the sac. At least that’s within my ability to fix, as long as I don’t crack the pen removing the sac. But then things went downhill fast at the end of March. I inked up my Marine Green Balance Oversize and had been using is sporadically during the month. While nice, the big stub isn’t suited to my writing style so I just used it when I wanted a little variation. Plus it’s a gorgeous pen. Unfortunately when I went to pick it up the other day the cap came off and the pen stayed behind. I soon saw it wasn’t because the cap was simply loose, but it had sheared off above the cap band.

I can’t say I know how it happened. Because the pen isn’t suited to me it doesn’t travel out of the house. There isn’t any point since it’s extremely unlikely I’d use it. It lived in my Visconti 3-Pen Case most of the time where it’s well protected, or occasionally in a Dudek Modern Goods pen stand where it’s stored cap up, and the cap is completely above the stand.

I suppose I could have hit the pen and not noticed, but this seems unlikely. What I have noticed is that when I pick up a pen to use and twist the cap off (or on) I usually twist it from the top. I imagine this puts some stress on the cap as I twist it. So I’ll be changing my habit and start twisting the cap from down at it’s base by the cap band.

This damage is well beyond my ability to fix, and I may eventually see if I can send it off to be repaired. I’m conflicted about that decision. The pen is gorgeous, one of my favorites based strictly on looks. Yet, the nib just isn’t well suited to my writing style so I don’t use the pen very much.

The Sheaffer Balance Oversize was inked with Diamine 150th Anniversary Terracotta. I liked the ink and the wide stub nib provided some subtle shading.

Kickstarter: Tomoe River Hippo

Krys has been writing the Squishy-Ink blog since last year. While not exclusively ink reviews there’s a constant flow of them along with great, colorful photography. I’ve linked to it’s posts more than once and if you’ve never visited the site head on over there now.

She recently launched a Kickstarter for a hardcover notebook with 68GSM Tomoe River paper. It’s worth noting that 68GSM is slightly thicker than the more common 52GSM paper. I do have a notebook with 68GSM paper and it is still thin paper, just not as thin as the paper in my Seven Seas Writer, Crossfield or Hobonichi Techo. I’ve yet to actually use the 68GSM paper so I can’t speak to its properties. This will make the it thicker than the 480 pages in the Seven Seas Notebooks. I suspect the difference will be noticeable. (It’s described as 500 pages, this could mean 250 double-sided sheets but from the photos I’m guessing it’s 500 sheets.)

The notebook is called pocket A5 sized because it is a little shorter than A5 sized. There’s also a exclusive Robert Oster ink (after all, it’s from Squishy Ink) available as a reward called Hippo Purple.

The project has already burst through it’s goal, so it will happen. They’ve also reached all four stretch goals. There’s still a few days left to get early bird reward pricing and the campaign closes April 23rd.

I did back the project (notebook & ink), but it is Kickstarter so I feel compelled to mention there’s a risk especially since it’s her first project. In this case I’d guess the ship date (July 2017) is a bit too aggressive and I won’t see the rewards until after that. That said, I’ve no doubt they notebook and ink will be delivered soon after that and be of good quality.

Visit the Kickstarter page for all the details.

Currently Inked – April 2017

It’s been a hectic month so I won’t be writing much about the pens I used but I did want to post my currently inked pens. The Visconti Brunelleschi is a new pen and I’m liking it a lot so far, although it’s still on its first fill. I hope to have a first impressions post up soon.

As usual, the photos are in the same order as the writing samples.

Currently Inked capped - April 2017

Currently Inked uncapped - April 2017

Currently Inked writing sample - April 2017