Ink and Nibs

Photo of today's delivery

I just received my latest shipment from Goulet Pens, ink and nibs. It may have been rash but I decided that the TWSBI Vac 700 would make a good pen for testing inks. Rash because I’m not sure how much its quirks will annoy me, although those quirks affect it more as a daily carry than a pen that stays home. Plus, I’m just curious on how it will write with different nibs. The pen is comfortable to write with and the nibs are easy to change. Add ease of cleaning to this and it does seem like a good pen for ink testing. So I ordered some nibs giving me the extra fine that came with the pen plus a fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm stub. The only one I ignored was the 1.5mm stub.

I also ordered a bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (Forest Green). I went through my sample and decided it was a green I wanted around, and in a pen, all the time.

Since I was ordering I picked a few more samples (why not?) – Sailor Jentle Epinard, Sailor Jentle Grenade and Pelikan Brown.

The first ink for review in the TWSBI Vac 700 won’t be one of the new ones, instead I’ll be doing J. Herbin Lie de The’. An ink I wrote notes on awhile back but I need to revisit since I I think it’s better than I made it out to be.

Time to clean out some nibs and get them ready for ink.

Ink Notes: Diamine Strauss

Diamine Strauss and the Music Collection

Diamine Strauss is one of the ten inks in the Diamine Music Collection of inks. The ink is sold  only in complete sets of all ten inks, each in a 30 ml bottle. Each set is numbered and I’ve read that owner’s can get replacements bottles. Although I haven’t seen any details on the Diamine or their retailers website on how to get them. I bought my set from the UK before it was released in the US. Even with the exchange rate and shipping it was slightly less than the current US proces, it just took longer for delivery.

The ink is pricey, about 33 cents/ml. That’s still cheaper than Pilot Iroshizuku ink at 56 cents/ml. Of course, regular Diamine is just over 6 cents/ml.

It’s a nice brownish red color that I enjoy. There’s not much line variation or shading with my thin extra fine nibs. There’s definitely more saturation and a little line variation with thicker nibs. It’s got some nice shading with a stub nib.

I didn’t experience any bleed through, show through or noticeable feathering on my typical Rhodia or Doane paper. There’s no bleed or show through with cheap copy paper although there was some noticeable feathering with thicker or wetter nibs. But my typical thin nibs are fine with this ink on any paper I’ve used.

The ink flows well in each of the pens I’ve used, although only two have been used more than one night of testing.I didn’t have any problems with the inks sitting in a pen for a few days without being used. The pens wrote immediately and there wasn’t any staining.

I haven’t had any problems cleaning this ink out of pens. Considering the reddish look of the ink I expected it to be a bit tougher to clean. But is flushed easily.

The dry time of the ink is a little slower than I’d like in a daily writer. It’s slow enough that I have to worry about smudges and turning the page too soon.

As the samples show, the ink has no water resistance, which may help explain the unexpected ease of cleaning.

Pens Used

TWSI Vac 700 (extra fine) – This was the first ink I ever used in this pen, so I don’t have anything to compare it with. The flow was good, no skipping, even with fast writing. It’s a thin line which doesn’t show off this ink to it’s best effect. It looked fine, until I did the samples and it was right next to a thicker fine nib, where the color popped. The pen was easy to flush from the pen, I didn’t have to take it apart.

Franklin-Christoph Model 29 Bellus (fine nib) – The ink is darker with this pen than with the Vac 700. the ink looks much better with the thicker, wetter line. I used this as my note taking pen for a couple of days. There were a couple accidental smudges during that time and one premature page turn. This pen was also easy to clean.

The remaining pens were all just used for testing the ink then immediately cleaned. None experienced any problems writing and were easy to clean. They were: Pilot Metropolitan (medium nib), TWSBI Diamond 540 (broad nib), TWSBI Diamond 540 (1.5 mm stub)

Writing Samples

Additional Reading

Review on FPN

Sunday Notes and Link

A few links that caught my attention this past week…

Ink Nouveau (Goulet Pens) has news that Caran d’Ache has discontinued their entier line of inks and will be replacing them with all new inks. Their new inks will be even higher priced than Pilot Iroshizuku inks.

Ink of me Fondly has a review of Noodler’s Tiananmen ink. It’s an ink on my list to try, although it’s moved way down the list after reading this review. (via PenAddict)

Gourmet Pens has a review of a Ken Carvers Green Swirl Acrylic fountain pen. It’s a beautiful pen, but as I was reading the review I was thinking “better in ebonite”. But she followed up with a strong argument for acrylic.


This Week’s Ink: February 23, 2013

Oops. I just noticed that last week’s picture was wrong. It’s fixed now. That’s what I get for not taking a new picture. It’s worth mentioning because the pens from this week are all carry overs from last week. The Vac 700 will get an ink change. For today I’m carrying it around with water to see if it will leak with the blind cap open for writing (not yet). I still haven’t decided what ink to put in it tomorrow.

The Liaison Cobra did go dry but I put the rest of the sample in the pen, then I ordered a bottle.

Despite the cost, I think Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun and Shin-ryoku will always be inked in one of my pens and I have bottles of both. (Note to literal net – that’s one pen each, not mixed). I really like the color and properties of these inks.

The Platinum Century 3776 gets little use, but true to Platinum’s claim, the nib stays wet, ready to write.

Here are the pens. As usual, links are to posts about the pen or ink.

Photo of pens inked for the week ahead

Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black (Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun //  Platinum 3776 Century Bourgogne (Fine) – Platinum Brown cartridge // Waterman Liaison Cobra (Fine) – Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-ryoku (Forest Green) //Gate City Pen Belmont – Diamine Mozart // Edison Huron Grande (Fine) – Diamine Chopin // Franklin-Christoph Model 66 Stabilis Desk Pen (Extra-Fine) – Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz // TWSBI Vac 700 – water (for today, unknown tomorrow)

Writing samples of this weeks ink

First Impressions: TWSBI Vac 700

TWSBI Vac700 capped
click photo for full size version

Earlier this week Mike left a comment asking what I thought ove the Vac 700. I hadn’t used it very much at the time but generally liked it. I’ve been using it as my primary work pen for the last couple of days. While I haven’t changed my generally favorable impression I now have more questions and concerns which made me realize that I won’t be able to do a complete review anytime soon. Too many questions.

My pen is the clear demonstrator model with a extra fine nib. The Vac 700 line has been sold with nibs from Bock and Jowo. My pen has a Jowo nib and based on what I read the switch to Jowo was complete before the Demonstrator was released so they all have Jowo nibs.

First the good – the pen is very comfortable to write with. It’s plastic but feels solidly built. There’s a slight taper to the pen which is nice. The extra fine nib is a smooth writer (more on this later). I haven’t had any false starts or skipping. My thumb and fingers do brush against the threads but they aren’t sharp and it doesn’t bother me,

The primary reason I bought the pen was the Vacuum filling system. I’m not a fan of cartridge/convertor demonstrator pens but I am a sucker for pens where I can watch the ink slosh around inside. None of my other pens are vacuum fillers. No regrets here.

Now for the questions and concerns.

I knowingly committed the sin of using a brand new ink (for me) in a brand new pen. While flow is consistant it is a dry writer. I’ve yet to try the ink in another extra fine nib, but the ink is consistently wetter in the fine and wider nibs I’ve used. Not an ink I’d call dry. My gut is that this is a dry nib but I’ll have to try another ink to know for sure.

The vacuum filling system is easy to use as far as filling the pen goes. It easily fills to about 1.5mm. Goulet Pens has a video on how to get a complete fill, about 2 ml. although getting a complete fill might be messy. The real complications arose when writing with the pen.

The pen has a shut off valve with the filling system. When closed the pen still has several pages of ink left in the feed, at least with the EF nib. I’ve gone about two and a half pages without a noticeable difference in the ink flow. For longer writing sessions the filler nob is turned to lift the plunger and open the seal. And that’s where my questions begin.

I left the seal open during the day of taking notes but would cap the pen. I did notice some ink drops inside the cap. I can’t really say if they appeared from carrying to and from work, with the seal closed, or while it was unsealed during the day. But I didn’t notice them until the end of the workday. I also wonder what would happen if I forget to seal it up and put it in my pocket or pen case. Will ink leak into the cap or out the now loose filler cap?

TWSBI Vac 700 capped
click photo for full size version

Call it careless, but one time when I was opening the seal I slipped and moved the plunger a little too much, forcing a large drop of ink onto my desk.

It’s an expensive ink, Diamine Strauss, in there now so I’ll be emptying most of what’s left back into the bottle. I’ll fill it with water a jostle it around a bit with the seal and filler cap open to see if any leaks out. Then I’ll fill it with a ink I already know. I usually end up with Waterman Florida Blue after committing the new ink/new pen sin, but I really want a nice red or green ink sloshing around in there.

Lastly, I like that TWSBI makes pens that anybody (meaning me) can take apart and service. They include some silicone grease, a couple extra o-rings and a wrench to help disassemble the pen. Although I’ve yet to take apart this pen.

There are replacement nibs available so if the extra fine nib is still too dry with other inks I can always swap it out if I like the pen. I’m just wondering if the vacuum filling system makes the pen too high maintenance for someone who’s likely to forget to seal it back up before putting it in my pocket or carelessly squirt ink on the desk. Eventually I’ll get answers to these questions and write a more complete review. But at this point I consider it well worth the $80. The real expense is getting to know the pen.