Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – July 28, 2016

Currently Inked - July 2016

Look familiar? All the pens I started the month with are still inked up.

It’s been a slow month as far as fountain pen usage goes. All the pens I started the month with still have ink. Only the Visconti was written dry and that was immediately refilled. A couple pens are close to empty but they’ll probably survive the month.

The Washington DC Pen Show is next week and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been three years since I attended the show.

Non-Negotiable: Eleven Days of Morning Pages | From the Pen Cup

I gave this a try earlier this month and I could see immediate benefits. Despite this I just didn’t stick with it and only lasted about a week. I’m not a morning person so it didn’t take much of a speed bump to break the habit. I did enjoy it and I used my pens a lot.

I’ll probably try to get going again, although not as a daily habit. I find that a “daily goal” like this can become mechanical and I just go through the motions the reach the physical goal. Rather than enjoying the writing I was concentrating on getting to three pages on the last couple of days.

One Book July 2016 — The Purl Bug and One Book July: Halfway Point – The Well-Appointed Desk

I realize that this is a thing, just not for me.

KWZ Inks: A New Favorite — The Gentleman Stationer

It seems like there’s always a hard to get boutique fountain pen ink that’s the latest rage in the FP community. KWZ Ink, from Poland, is the latest of these. I have more than enough ink and I tend to avoid these inks during the initial feeding frenzy but may pick up a bottle as the fad fades. I did pick up a bottle of KWZ IG Blue-Black which I like. My motivation was mainly that it was an iron gall ink and a blue-black. KWZ does have non-IG inks and a wide range of colors. Joe makes a good case as to why he likes them. I tell myself I have enough ink but I expect I’ll buy a bottle from Vanness pens at the DC show next week.

A Shinobi creeps in – And All Other Tasks

A favorite vintage nib found a new home in a modern pen. I love that Shawn Newton does this. Others do it too, but since I have a pen on order with Shawn I’ve noticed his work more.

Ink Review: Waterproof, Permanent Inks – The Well-Appointed Desk

I’ve had a heightened interest in iron gall and other waterproof inks most of this year. Although the appeal of IG extends beyond its waterproof properties it did lead me to look at other waterproof inks. Among Ana’s recommendations is the Platinum Carbon Desk Pen with Platinum Carbon ink. This combination has been on my desk since February. I use it when water resistance is my primary goal bit it’s also good for general use.

A Good Pen Matters – crane reaction

That One Pen is now Crane Reaction. Well, both exist, but only Crane Reaction will get new content from Todd. He’ll still write about pens, just not exclusively.

From Parker to Montblanc: the appeal of the fountain pen | The Week Portfolio

A bit of a puff piece, but its nice to see a fountain pen article in a non-stationery setting.

Zen and the Art of Fountain Pen Maintenance — The Pen Addict

Good info. I like that no fountain pens are disassembled simply to make cleaning easier. Especially since it’s not necessary.

My Personal Fountain Pen Collection | Hey there! SBREBrown

Stephen Brown shares his pen collection.

Aurora, Cross and Omas ink tests | FOUNTAIN PEN INKS & BLEACH

This sites new to me but it’s been around a few years. Interesting stuff worth checking out.

The Value of a Pen — Pen Economics

Some interesting thoughts in this post. The Blue Hour Skeleton isn’t for my aesthetic tastes and I immediately move on when seeing this price. But it’s interesting to read about the thought process from a fountain pen user. I always consider pens of this price to be more jewelry purchase rather than a writing instrument purchase so it’s nice to see it considered as a writing instrument.

Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – June 29, 2016

Visconti Dreamtouch 3 pen case full with SheaffersThe Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log is a replacement of sorts for my Sunday Notes and Links. I’m hoping to make it a regular feature although I’m not willing to commit to a publication frequency.

The month of June was mostly standard fountain pen usage for me. I used the pens to take notes at work, draft my posts, and for other miscellaneous writing. As I mention below, I rarely use a non-fountain pen. It’s main competition is the computer or iPad. I did write several pens dry during the month but the ones that remain still hold a lot of ink.

I did give in and ink up my Sheaffer Balance IIs and have been using them a lot now that they have a case to protect them.

I could brag that I continue to use my Hobonichi every day. But the truth is it’s usually just a short entry in the morning. The current weather and how well I slept are standard fare.

I have been better about writing in my Seven Seas Writer most evenings although I did miss a few entries this month. For awhile I wrote at least a page a night but in the last week I’m down to about half a page. I’ve been trying to maintain the habit of writing nightly and not get too concerned about quantity. (I was never concerned about quality.)

Thought Provoking Links

The Handwritten Draft // Pete Denison

Pete Denison recently wrote about how his posts start off as handwritten drafts. This is something I’ve been doing since I started this blog as it gave me a reason to use my pens. Happily, I’ve found I like writing this way and much of my other writing also starts as a handwritten draft. Although to be honest I have to admit that I’m most consistent with this blog, I use this process for many of the reasons Pete mentions.

I generally draft all my posts in the same notebook until it’s full. It’s not dedicated to posts but this way I always know where to find them. My current notebook is a Maruman Septcouleur. I may have more than one post going at a time. I don’t leave blank pages. If a post isn’t done, I simply continue on at the next blank page if I pick it up again. Sometimes an incomplete post just fades into oblivion.

I don’t do a lot of editing when writing the draft. I may use an arrow to show a paragraph makes more sense in a different spot, but that’s about it. If I need to look something up I’m more likely to make a note about it rather than stopping and looking it up.

Once the written draft is done I transcribe it into ByWord for this blog or Ulysses for some of my other writing. I do edit and rewrite sections during this process and look up anything I made a note of. Sometimes this editing will be very extensive.

Once it’s transcribed I like to let it sit overnight but have to admit I often move right on to the next step which is reading it aloud. I find reading it aloud lets me catch more errors and I’m even more likely to catch them if I waited until the next day. This way I read the actual words rather than what my brain remembers me writing.

If I’m really conscientious I use text to speech as a final review to have the words read to me. But I admit I often skip this step in the interest of time.

This process doesn’t apply to my Sunday Notes and Links or Currently Inked posts, but every other post on this site started this way. I may hand write any blurbs or comments for the Sunday Links or Currently Inked posts but since they are so link or copy/paste heavy I rarely do.

On the surface this seems to be doubling the work but I’m not convinced that’s true since this seems to be a nice streamlined flow from start to finish. Even if it is true, I get to enjoy using my pens.

Namisu Nexus Minimal fine nib writing sample

A written draft

Fad or Function? Using what you enjoy…and makes sense // The Clicky Post

In this post Mike Dudek makes two main points. First, use what you enjoy which I agree with wholeheartedly. Second, fountain pens may not be ideal for many situation to which I say balderdash! If a fountain pen can’t be used then it’s not worth writing!

OK, a little extreme I know. I do think his first point trumps all others. If you don’t enjoy the pen, no matter what the type or what the community says, then don’t use it. If you enjoy rollerballs then use them.

In my case, my attempts to use non-fountain pens have left me wanting more. I like Retro 51 rollerballs, mainly for their look. They do write nice, thanks to the refill and I always have one with me. But it gets used more by other people (can I borrow your pen?) than by myself. I also like the idea of mechanical pencils and carried one for about a month but never used it. Likewise I still have some nice wood cased pencils sitting unused in my desk drawer.

I’m lucky in that my nib of choice is thin and I like well behaved inks. This lets me use a wide range of papers without too much trouble. Unlike Mike, I wouldn’t say “you need to use the right paper or they usually suck”. I don’t mind the Field Notes paper or even cheap copy paper. Sure, I prefer nice paper but I rarely come across paper that completely sucks.

I also admit I’m used to compromise. I’ve had a long career in technology, usually other people providing the keyboards or requiring me to switch keyboards a lot. I have my preference but other keyboards don’t make me nuts and I adjust. Likewise, I like my AeroPress coffee but office coffee has always been free and right at hand, so I dealt with it, at least as much as possible (tough at times). The same goes for inks and paper, show-through doesn’t bother me if I’m just doing notes or even the first draft of an article. With my thin nibs it’s rarely a problem for me. I’d rather use a fountain pen and live with it’s foibles than use something else. Let’s face it, it’s not like my handwriting is so good that a little show-through or feathering ruins what is otherwise perfect.

But it gets back to his first point, use what you enjoy. For me that means using a fountain pen 99% of the time.

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age with Montblanc Ink Bottle

A pen and ink I really enjoy.

Top 7 Pens to Take on a Summer Outing // Anderson Pens Podcast #195

I’m way behind on my podcast listening. A few weeks ago Brian and Lisa Anderson selected their choices for summer pens. The definition of “outing” was a bit murky and could probably apply to winter outings too. I can’t argue with their choices but if I was to pick from the pens I own these are the ones I’d pick.

  1. Kaweco Brass Sport – a little pricy if I was concerned about losing it but I already carry it everyday as it is.
  2. KarasKustoms Ink – a tank of a pen. The red one would be easy to find if dropped. It’s a little heavy for a shirt pocket and the stiff clip may not hold the pen securely since summer shirts are usually thin.
  3. Lamy Safari or AL-Star – inexpensive and durable.
  4. Pilot Vanishing Point with XXXF nib There was a bit of a chuckle when Lisa picked the Vanishing Point and she showed the Cherry Bamboo. It’s more expensive than the metal bodies and more likely to be damaged since it’s wood. But it’s my favorite and would be my choice unless I was extra concerned about loss or damage.
  5. Retro 51 or KarasKustoms Ink Rollerball – for when my non-pen companions want to borrow one.

Pen Show Frictions, Part 1: retail shoppers vs traders // Vintage Pen News
Pen Show Frictions, Part 2: the Generation Gap // Vintage Pen News

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about various factions at pen shows. I especially enjoyed part 1 which approached this in a way I hadn’t seen discussed before, but immediately recognized. Without thinking to much about it at the time, I did see the two different types at pen shows. Personally, I prefer the retailer. I tended to just avoid those without prices marked (the traders). The exception being if I know a bit about the pen.

Other Links

Visconti Homo Sapiens – Florentine Hills // Calligraphy Nut

I’m having a hard time resisting this pen. I love my Bronze Age and this is gorgeous. I’m saving my pen money for the DC show which has helped me resist. I’ve also read that each of these pens is slightly different so I’d want to see it.

Art Supply Posse

Ana, from the Well-Appointed Desk, along with Heather Rivard have started a podcast about art supplies. I admit that I haven’t listened to it – I’m behind on my podcasts and this isn’t a topic I get excited about. But I suspect many others will enjoy it.

Montblanc Inks // United Inkdom

It’s from May, but it’s my favorite ink brand so here it is.

Pen Shows

The Miami Pen Show will be July 15–17.

The Washington DC Pen Show is August 4–7.

Triangle Pen Show 2016 // Inkdependence – The Triangle Pen Show has been over nearly a month, but here’s a photo heavy recap to get you in the pen show mood.

Favorite 5: Modern Fountain Pens

It’s been six months since my Favorite 5 Modern Fountain Pens list was updated. I consider a modern pen to be one that was manufactured after I was born, it doesn’t mean they are currently manufactured. The other rule is that I have to have used to pen since I last updated the list, so since November 2015. These are my personal favorites which is completely subjective.

My “must have used” rule means the Sheaffer Balance Aspen was dropped from the list, which surprised me. And now I’m itching to ink it up again so expect it to return on the next update.

1. Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age

Visconti Homo Sapien Bronze Age EF with Pelikan Blue-Black bottleThis has been my favorite since I got it in December. That new pen glow has faded and I still love the pen. It’s one of the few pens I have that I pick up to use simply for the pleasure of using it, even if I don’t need to write anything. It hasn’t been constantly inked because I want to give other pens a chance. And I do miss it when it’s not inked. I’m still enjoying using a different ink each time I ink it up.

2. Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LEThis was number 5 on my list in November. I like it a little more each time I use it and now it has a solid hold on the number 2 spot. The extra fine nib is one of my thinnest nibs and I love it. The looks of the pen only enhance the experience.

3. Pilot Custom 823

Pilot Custom 823 fine nib with Pilot Blue-Black InkThis is far from my favorite looking pen but it’s a great writer and perfect for my hand and holds a what seems like a bottle of ink. Between the comfort, the nib, and the ink quantity it seems like I could write forever with it.

4. Pilot Vanishing Point (Cherry Bamboo) with Left Oblique Nib

Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo with medium left oblique nib and Pilot Blue ink (cartridge, not the bottle shown)This is the only pen on my list that doesn’t have a factory nib. It’s a factory medium that’s been ground to a left oblique. It sits on the paper perfectly when the pen is in my hand. Because it does require proper (or at least consistent) form to use it I don’t often use it for notes or as a daily carry if I’m mobile. But it does get used for longer writing sessions.

I like the wooden Vanishing Points much more than the metal ones and find them much more comfortable to hold and use. The Cherry Bamboo finish (that’s not actually bamboo) is my favorite.

5. Pelikan M805 Stresemann

Pelikan Souverän M805 Stresemann extra fine nib with Montblanc Bordeaux writing sampleThe number 5 slot was hard to pick as there are several pens I could put here. I picked the Pelikan M805 Stresemann because of all the pens not currently inked up this is the one I miss the most.

The nib does bother me a bit, which I’ve mentioned. I’m getting more used to it so it bothers me less and less each time I use it. It in fact may have helped the pen make the list since it’s not just another extra fine nib, it does provide a different writing experience.

Wrapping Up

I also started using a Lamy Safari again. While I wouldn’t trade it for one of the top 5, I really do enjoy using the pen. It once held the spot as the most recommended pen for new fountain pen users, although has a lot of competition these days. But it’s still my favorite budget pen. While the grip may bother some I find it very comfortable.

There were a lot or runners up (or contenders for the number 5 spot). The Franklin-Christoph Model 66 and Edison Huron Grande are past list members, but I haven’t been in the mood for large desk pens recently. The Franklin-Christoph Model 02 with a stub nib and Model 02 with a needlepoint nib were also contenders but I want to ink the M805 more than either of these.

Favorite 5: Inks

It’s been nearly a year since I last updated my Favorite 5 Inks list making it time for an update. The first two are slam dunk picks for the list and will probably be there until I run out. Neither is made anymore. The other three are new to the list. This newness, and the shiny glow that goes with it, helped get them on the list.

1. Montblanc Bordeaux

Edison Huron Grande with extra fine and Montblanc Bordeaux bottleMy perennial number one ink and it will be until I eventually run out. There’s no point in having the ink unless I use it, so even though supplies are limited it’s always in a pen. Ink Notes

2. Rohrer & Klingner Blau-Schwarz LE

Sailor Pro Gear Regency Stripe extra fine with R&K Blau-Schwarz LEA blue-black ink that’s another perennial favorite. This was the first blue-black ink I truly liked, rather than tolerated. It made me more open to trying other blue-black inks, although none can compare. This one was a limited edition and I was smart enough (that’s my claim at least) to buy two bottles. Like the Bordeaux the supply is limited but there’s no point having it if I don’t use it and it’s nearly always in a pen. Ink Notes

3. Athena Sepia

Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Vintage Green with a broad stub nib and Athena Sepia Ink bottleThis replaces Montblanc Toffee Brown on my Fav 5 list. It’s a nice dark brown ink with just a touch of line variation in most nibs. Athena is a store brand for Maruzen so while it’s not technically a limited edition it is hard to find.

4. Pilot Blue-Black

Pilot Custom 823 fine nib with Pilot Blue-Black InkFinally, an ink that’s easy to get and relatively inexpensive. This is my choice as an everyday workhorse ink.

5. Sheaffer Peacock Blue

Sheaffer Balance II (Crimson Glow) with Sheaffer Peacock Blue bottleI don’t like turquoise inks, except when I do. This is the rare exception and a turquoise I like. It flows great and has nice line variation with even my preferred thin nibs. It’s not made anymore so it’s another with a limited lifetime although I’ll give the current Sheaffer Turquoise a try when it does run out.

Long Island Pen Show

Saturday brought a quick visit to the Long Island Pen Show. It was more crowded and congested than I remember from other years. The layout was the same as I remember so they didn’t seem to be squeezing in extra tables, meaning the congestion was from attendees which is a good things. I’m terrible at estimating and the table setup didn’t make it easy to count (no count one row and multiply) so I won’t try to estimate either the number of vendors or people. There seemed to be more nib workers there than in past shows, even though Richard Binder skipped this show.

There were more vendors selling new pens than in past years (based on my possibly faulty memory) but there were certainly more vintage dealers than new pen dealers. Although between Anderson Pens, Fountain Pen Hospital and Kenro Industries there was certainly a wide variety of new pen brands even before considering the smaller dealers.

I did see a Visconti Homo Sapien Dark Age. While a very nice pen I like my Bronze Age better and the tenuous hold the Dark Age had in my want list was lost. There was a time I would have preferred the all black design but these days I like either a very conservative all black without shading and little or no trim, or a pen with some contrast to it. Other window shopping was mainly vintage pens. A lot of interesting stuff, even if most were unfamiliar to me.

I did pick up some inks. They were a pre-order so this may not count as a pen show purchase, but here they are:

Three Long Island Pen Show Inks and their first pens,

The three pen show inks and the first pens I selected for them.

With Omas winding down I picked up Omas Green. This has been on my want list for awhile since I like green. I have Omas Black and Turquoise inks and while I’m not a fan of turquoise as a color I like the Omas Black and the turquoise performs well. My first impression of the Omas Green – very nice color, I like it. I haven’t used it enough to judge performance but if it’s anything like the other Omas inks I may have to buy a second bottle before it vanishes.

I also picked up another green ink, this one P.W. Akkerman #28 Hofkwartier Groen. This is my third Akkerman ink. These inks were all the rage a couple years ago but I skipped them at that time. I’ve since picked up a couple, after they changed to the smaller bottles. The inks are fine but they aren’t close to being favorites for either of the colors that I’ve tried. I haven’t used this one enough to form an opinion. I can’t complain about the color since I knew what I was getting. It’s different than my other greens (more a yellow-green) which is why I got it, but there’s a reason it’s taken me awhile to add this shade of green. So it will probably be used less-frequently than other greens. They have the nicest ink bottle out there and the only built-in filling system that work flawlessly with all my pens.

Lastly, Noodler’s Berning Red. It’s a fast drying ink intended for lefties, which I’m not. I often use red to mark up documents so quick drying will help me avoid the occasional smudge. My concern here was bleed-through, since the fast drying is due to fast absorption. My initial test on Staples (cheap) copy paper is that it is fine (although close in spots of heavy ink), even with a medium nib. I don’t follow Noodler’s ink all that much, but this seems to be one of Nathan Tardiff’s more blatant (some may say extreme) political inks. The target is a current candidate so probably not surprising. If you watch the video it will take about 20 minutes to get to the ink (and even then there’s discussion about the pen he’s using, just no more politics).

Fountain Pen Hospital was one of the show sponsors so they were offering a $10 gift card at the door. They also offered their parts bags. The gift card required a $50 purchase and the parts pens were $50 per bag. So naturally I had to pick one up. I selected a bag of Parkers. All are missing nibs (well, one has a mangled nib) but this seems to be a good selection for learning how they are but together. I can tackle learning vacumatic repair with these and not worry about ruining a usable or even repairable pen.

Parker parts from the Long Island Pen Show

Overall, a good show that was worth the trip, even if most of it was window shopping.

InCoWriMo Recap

It’s the end of February which means InCoWriMo (International Correspondence Writing Month) is over. This was my first attempt and from my point of view it was a success, in no small part because I made my own rules. I do think I kept to the spirit of the event.

My main goal was to respond to each of the remaining entries that I received during my Fountain Pen Day giveaway at the end of last year. I had replied to some, but February began with a month’s worth waiting for a reply. I dropped a postcard in the mailbox earlier today which completed this goal.

I sent out 31 postcards during the month so I also met the InCoWriMo goal of one per day, at least on average. I didn’t write one every day. I generally dislike one a day challenges because for me they often become nothing more than an item on a checklist that I rush to get done, often at the end of the day when I’m tired. Because I wanted to avoid writing simply to check a box, I only wrote postcards 19 of the 29 days. Usually more than one at a time and often during lunch. Most of the missed days, 6 of them, occurred during the last 10 days of February when I was also feeling a little under the weather.

It wasn’t a complete success, even with my own modified rules. I had intended to write a real letter every Sunday. I didn’t write any. I do still owe some letters in response to those I received. I’m confident that since I’m now in the habit of writing I’ll get those done in the near future (which I define as sometime before March ends). I want to continue to correspond regularly.

Will I participate again next year? Sure. It’ll be tougher to fit in because I’ll want to do letters, not postcards. Hopefully by then letters will be more of a habit and I’ll be able to write them faster and more importantly, respond to ones I receive in a more timely manner.

Subscription Madness

I was browsing the Write Notepads website tonight when I noticed they had a new pocket notebook subscription service (they call it memberships). Do we really need another subscription service, especially one for pocket notebooks where Field Notes dominates?

I’ve never used their pocket notebooks although there are those who like and use them. Plus, assuming you use everything included it does seem like a good value. So, I’ve got no complaints about the product, but I still have to ask – why?

I actually do like and use their larger wire bound notebooks. It’s why I was visiting the site, it’s almost time to replenish my stock. I think this is why this subscription, I mean membership, annoys me. They missed an opportunity to add some variety and skip the “me too” pocket notebook subscription and build it around their other notebooks. They know their sales better than I do (duh!) so maybe they know there’s not enough of a market there. I can’t say I would subscribe to a subscription based on their wire bound notebooks, but I would certainly consider it since I use them regularly.

I’ve been extra cynical and grumpy these days (I blame all the politics in the news) so I’ll continue on but you’ve been warned. I do see this as a “me too” to Field Notes so calling it a “membership” annoys the hell out of me. Yes, there are other promised perks but they are all opportunities to give them more money.

It only gets worse after “membership”. Calling it an “amazing opportunity” opportunity adds to the annoyance. That’s a term a marketing department uses, even if they’ve never seen the product. Yes, there may be a discount, but you take the product whether you like it or not. I wouldn’t argue that this isn’t a good deal if you want the notebooks, but I fail to see the “amazing opportunity.” A free trip on the space shuttle is an amazing opportunity, a discount on products is not.

Finally, they call us friends which further irritates me. I’m sure they have friends and are nice folks. But a business calling their customers friends simply because they’ve given them money is insincere and insulting.

They are asking for money in exchange for a product. This is just too much marketing speak for me and if I wasn’t already a happy user of their notebooks I’d be moving on. No, I don’t think they’re evil and we should stop doing business with them, but marketing would be better with pictures of the products, not empty superlatives that every marketing department uses. I’ll keep right on buying the spiral notebooks, but they need to dial it down a bit.

I’m note sure any of these subscriptions are really a good deal, whether it’s pencils, notebooks or a mix of stationery supplies. I’ve subscribed to Field Notes in the past but received notebooks I didn’t like, so I gave them away. Plus I have dozens of 3-packs waiting for their turn. So I’ve spent more money with the subscription than without.

I hope their subscription is successful. If you want and like the notebooks (and will use them) it seems like a good deal so go for it, although I’d recommend waiting for the first release to get a better idea about what to expect. But, if you are interested check them out here. Shipments start March 31st.