Switching to Summer Mode


Every year as summer approaches, my rotation needs an overhaul. It isn’t easy but the unwieldy “winter at my desk” lot needs taming to an easy “on the go” crew. Minimal upkeep is key but a satisfying splash of summer color for my correspondence and journal is essential, too.

My criteria for summer pens are simple: light in weight and easily replaced. No worries if one gets left behind or slips out of my bag. Three to five of them should be plenty. My pens that fit the bill best are

  • Lamy Vista with the transparent barrel so I can see the ink
  • Lamy Al-Star because the aluminum barrel and icy colors are cooling on a hot summer day
  • Esterbrook (J, SJ, or LJ) for nib variety

Inks that suit sultry summer nights and blistering summer days are those colors you’d find at the beach or in a garden. Some of my favorites along with the images they conjure are

  • Caran d’Ache Caribbean Sea – seaside holiday
  • Diamine China Blue – soft cotton linens
  • Diamine Kelly Green – freshly watered grass
  • Diamine Light Green – new plant growth
  • Diamine Maroon – deep pink roses
  • Diamine Royal Blue – clear skies
  • Diamine Sepia – flowers, pebbles and beaches
  • Iroshizuku Syo-Ro – ocean surface
  • Iroshizuku Yu-Yake – sunrise
  • J. Herbin Bleu Azur –  sun bleached pool
  • J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche – cotton cloth and seaside jewelry
  • J. Herbin Bouquet D’Antan – pale pink hydrangeas
  • J. Herbin Gris Nuage – rain clouds
  • J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune – lavender flowers
  • J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre – daylily and Gerbera daisies
  • J. Herbin Vert Olive – pale green ornamental grass
  • Private Reserve Purple Haze – gauze clothing, lavender and shadows
  • Private Reserve Shell Pink – lipstick and flowers
  • Private Reserve Shoreline Gold – nasturtiums and marigolds
  • Rohrer and Klingner Morinda – Hawaiian shirts
  • Sailor Gray – sea squall, stormy ocean at the horizon

Same list of inks but by color


  • Caran d’Ache Caribbean Sea
  • Diamine China Blue
  • Diamine Royal Blue
  • Iroshizuku Syo-Ro
  • J. Herbin Bleu Azur
  • J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche


  • Diamine Maroon
  • J. Herbin Bouquet D’Antan
  • Private Reserve Shell Pink
  • Rohrer and Klingner Morinda


  • J. Herbin Gris Nuage
  • Sailor Gray


  • Diamine Sepia
  • Iroshizuku Yu-Yake
  • J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre
  • Private Reserve Shoreline Gold


  • Diamine Kelly Green
  • Diamine Light Green
  • J. Herbin Vert Olive


  • J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune
  • Private Reserve Purple Haze

No, I don’t own all of those inks! But I have seen written samples or scored a small vial of each except Caribbean Sea. One of these days…

Do you pare things down for summer?  If so, what’s on your list?

Update: Summer Ink Palette No 1, Summer Ink Palette No 2, Summer Ink Palette No 3, Summer Ink Palette No 4

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One comment

  1. […] living in them—and I love Margana’s idea of using the change of seasons as an excuse to rotate the shades—and use my glass pen to experiment with crazier hues. I guess that’s why a lot of seasoned […]


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