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Too Many Inks

09/17/2021

Anyone else challenged by the number of inks on the market? So many brands. So many colors. A few have piqued my interest including several offered by Colorverse and Robert Oster, but I cannot begin to follow all of the Sailor inks and so many others now available. A few days ago, I was looking for an ink for a 1970’s Pilot pen and found myself wishing there was another color in the spectrum. Absent that, I decided to revisit inks that have been around for decades.

Reliable inks from Herbin, Iroshizuku, Diamine, a few Noodler’s and older Sailor colors beckoned. There isn’t an ink in the bunch that I haven’t known for at least ten years, and some are on their second or third bottles, a testament to their properties and characteristics. One of those old inks might be just the right mate for a newer pen.

Iroshizuku syo-ro has been a constant on my shelf since it was introduced. Despite having a number of partners over the years, no pen had proven to be its ideal mate. A few months ago, a Delike fude joined the crew and despite dancing with a variety of partners, the pen with syo-ro has proven to be a terrific match that invites writing in a daily journal, an activity that had fallen out of my routine quite some time ago. Now I look forward to it and the fude is on its fourth fill of syo-ro. Isn’t that the best evidence of a perfect pairing?

Other inks that have new pen mates are J Herbin Larmes des Cassis, Violette Pensee and Rouille D’Ancre. Diamine Raw Sienna continues to look for a companion. Perhaps a mink (brown) True Writer will take to it or a Japanese fine nib or even a Platinum Century. More experimentation is in order along with a bit of restraint or the number of pens on my desk will get crazy.

Are you willing to give some of your earliest inks a chance to play again? I bet none of them will turn you down.

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Ideas For Pairing Pens And Inks

09/07/2021

Deciding which pens and inks to put together can be anything from a pleasant endeavor to a time-consuming frustration. Do you have rules for matching pens and inks? I don’t after more than twenty years of using fountain pens. However, I have developed a few observations that help narrow my choices when either a pen or an ink is begging for a workout. More often than not, the pen comes first and then the ink. These guidelines help refine my search.

  • Dark green and red inks work best with narrow nibs.
  • Blue, brown and black work with all nibs.
  • Orange and purple suit medium and wide nibs.
  • Turquoise and burgundy go well with medium nibs.
  • Pastel and pale inks are best paired with wide nibs.
  • Blue, teal and brown inks are good with fine to medium fude nibs.
  • Wide fude nibs bring out the best qualities of gray inks.
  • For the palest pink inks, only the Platinum #3776 Music Nib will do.
  • Sailor Peach Pink, Sailor Sakura Mori, Iroshizuku Kosumosu, Herbin Bouquet D’Antan are pretty with any wide nib.
  • Characteristics like sheening, outlining and shading are best revealed with stub and italic writing.
  • Often I will forget which ink is loaded in which pen, so I keep a scorecard nearby.
  • I track how pens and inks perform together by writing a few words in a dedicated pen and ink notebook.
  • If there is an outstanding combination, like Diamine Violet with a TWSBI 580 1.1mm stub, that gets noted, too.
  • I can be guilty of matching inks to pen colors though on occasion to shake things up, I will put together complementary ones. Red pen with green ink as an example.

Perhaps too many guidelines, but they suit my needs. Most came from analyzing how I put things together without giving my actions any prior thought. They help me narrow my search, and with the size of my collection, they are essential. Your list will be different, but creating one can be a helpful action if choosing pen and ink mates is challenging, frustrating or even too time-consuming. Or you might just do it for fun.


Van Gogh Palette

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Do Your Pens Make You Want To Write?

08/31/2021

Do your pens encourage you to write? In the past few months, old favorites as well as a few pens that never received much love got together and invaded my rotation. The final group is a bit different from my usual selection and I am now using several pens that were set aside long ago.

For years stubs and italics with a few exceptions were all I used. No fine or extra-fine nibs suited either my grip or my letter forms. That wasn’t a problem since my writing looked fine and the range of inks I was drawn to were lovely with those pens.

Then I decided to write notes for projects as well as personal musings in a journal, but which one to use?

A Traveler’s Notebook #013 with unlined Tomoe River Paper looked like a suitable size for my needs. So I popped the wrapper off of one, grabbed a 1.1mm stub with vivid ink, wrote a page and was affronted by the result. The journal size and the paper quality were fine but the writing overwhelmed them. It was simply too large and too dark. At the end of the day when I want to capture thoughts on the day’s accomplishments and make notes for future endeavors, something calming and relaxing is in order. In addition, I wanted to use both sides of the paper with a lined guide tucked beneath to keep my writing on the straight and narrow. To do this would require a finer nib and less intense ink. To the pen drawer I went.

Pens from my early days have very fine Japanese nibs, especially Pilot pocket pens and various 1970’s Platinum pens. The more recently acquired Pilot Metropolitans are also fairly narrow. In the western fine nib category, several Levenger True Writers were promising. A Delike New Moon fine fude received a test run as well.

Inks that were certain to be appropriate included several from Herbin, Iroshizuku and Sailor. Diamine had a lock on the brown range with Dark Brown and Raw Sienna. Lots of trial and error and attendant pen cleaning produced a pleasing rotation even if the pens are unusually narrow for me. What counts the most is whether they encourage writing and these are doing just that.

Do you think my wide nibs are jealous from having to cede part of my rotation to their skinny brethren? In truth, there are more inked pens on my desk than in recent memory. So much for my vow to maintain a minimalist rotation. The pens are winning. Who am I to disagree?

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Fountain Pens For The Weekend

08/14/2021

It’s going to be a hot weekend which makes it a good time to take it easy and update the fountain pens on my desk. In the past few months, a Traveler’s Notebook has become my journal for a major project as well as some personal notes. The paper is Tomoe River 52 gsm in a #013 blank refill with 128 pages. A lined template with 5mm spacing keeps my writing on the straight and narrow. The more I can fit on a page the better. Wide nibs are not suited to the task, so I have put some narrow ones to use along with inks that aren’t dark but allow the lines of the template to show through.

  • Pilot Custom 1970’s Black Stripe F with Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun
  • Levenger True Writer Black Marble F with Herbin Violette Pensee
  • Delike New Moon Ice Blue Fude with Sailor Sky High
  • Delike New Moon Green Fude with Diamine Raw Sienna
  • Levenger True Writer Tangerine F with Herbin Rouille D’Ancre

The green Delike had Iroshizuku syo-ro in it for months and that was a very good combination which I expect to return to soon. Or perhaps I will purchase another New Moon but an extra-fine this time for the syo-ro. A review of this model is in the works. Suffice to say the two that I currently own are getting consistent use and that does speak well of them.

Which pens and inks are in your current rotation? Do they make you want to write or do they fight your best efforts?

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Neglected Pens And A Waterman Carene

08/05/2021

Once in a while conversations trigger good ideas for posts and this is one of those occasions. In the past week, two pen friends mentioned the Waterman Carene which enticed me to give mine a new chance at life. In the past, it needed too much effort to use whether from a poor choice of inks or underwhelming flow. Regardless, everyone deserves a second chance and in this case, it proved to be a good decision.

My pen is a Waterman Carene Deluxe with a factory stub nib that came my way almost twelve years ago. Since Waterman no longer offers a stub for the Carene, this is an uncommon pen. It’s a little heavy but well balanced. The nib is very stiff and solid, but smooth, and with the right ink, a pleasure to use.

A second chance is what a lot of pens deserve. So many in my collection have had little use and too few opportunities to find a best ink and paper combination. Has that happened to you? With a hundred pens and hundreds of inks, there is no way every one of them could receive the attention it deserves. So I am going to slowly work my way through the most promising prospects starting with stubs and italics. The Carene is just the beginning.

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On My Desk – July 2021

07/31/2021

Five fountain pens were my tools of choice for July. It was a stub and fude month with a varied assortment of inks. Iroshizuku and Herbin contributed two each with a Diamine ink for the fifth. The Delike New Moon fude got the most love and a review should be finished in a couple of days.

Not pictured is the pink Tombow MONOgraph 0.5mm mechanical pencil with Uni Nano Dia HB lead. Its companion is a MUJI hard type, black plastic eraser.

In the category of non-writing tools are a Metro Stylus, a Silver Black Velvet 3/4″ flat brush, and a Princeton Neptune 1/2″ square wash brush. A cinnamon oatmeal cookie scented candle, an e.l.f. cooling under eye refresh rollerball plus four rolls of washi tape round things out. Oh, and lots of photos so I am never alone.

What’s on your desk?

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Review: BENU Scepter Fountain Pens

07/22/2021

The BENU Scepter has received a lot of attention and interest, and rightfully so. If you like colorful pens, these can’t be topped and sporting Schmidt nibs, they write well, too.

Fountain Pen Quest has an in depth review including measurements and a performance comparison between the Scepter II and the Grand Scepter X. I would concur except for the nibs.

The Scepter has a #5 medium nib that writes a bit wider than expected with significant flow. The Scepter Grand has a #6 fine nib that is perhaps slightly wide for a fine with just the right amount of flow to make it a pleasure to use. I usually like wider nibs, but in this case, the fine beat the medium for my purposes.

These pens are surprisingly lightweight. The only real differences between them are the patterns and the nib size. The Scepter I is red, blue and gold and the Grand Scepter IX is blue and pink. In my hand, the Grand was a little over-balanced due to the angle required to use the large nib. It is comparable in size to the nibs on the Platinum Century pens that I use daily, so the larger nib doesn’t deter me. It’s that I had to adjust to the balance between the nib and barrel for the best writing experience. The smaller nib on the Scepter just fit my hand from the first mark on the paper. It is such a personal thing that other writers might never even notice. Both nibs had a touch of feedback, but were still quite smooth.

The pens wrote well with Iroshizuku ink, but Noodler’s Eel Blue was a little too free-flowing for the Grand’s medium nib. So like all pens, it’s trial and error to find the best ink, but isn’t that part of the fun?

Given the brilliant colors of BENU pens, it was challenging to find inks that suited them without detracting from the stunning barrels. Colorverse Glistening Stars and Stripes worked well in the Scepter. The Grand eventually got filled with Iroshizuku yama-budo and the Scepter was complemented nicely by asa-gao. Both are deep colors without sheen or other special characteristics. Too little inventory here to find matches of that sort beyond the Colorverse ink.

As for the pen, it is eye-candy of the highest order. There are a number of color combinations available making it easy to find a BENU that is just right for you.

Note that the wide barrel end makes the cap too narrow for posting and that might make the pen a bit short for really large hands. The section is average sized, but I hold pens quite far from the nib so the threads fell under my fingers. With a light grip, this was not a deterrent for short writing sessions. There is no clip, but the hexagonal shape prevents rolling. On my cluttered desk, that is a definite advantage.

The BENU Scepter is an eye-catching pen that writes well and could make a worthy addition to your collection. Or do you already have one? If so, what do you think of it?

Thank you Luxury Brands USA for sending the Scepters and Colorverse ink. I am now firmly spoiled for any other colorful pen. In other words, none need apply.

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