Archive for the ‘Miscellanea’ Category


New Acquisitions And Adventure


Have you become leery of taking risks? With all of the opinions to be read online, there seems to be limited willingness to make less than perfect purchases. Adventure has been diminished giving way to a need for protection against disappointments and mistakes. Where’s the fun in that?

Certainly, no one wants to waste money on bad products like pens that don’t write or ink that doesn’t flow. However, using reviews and online debate to make “safe” choices eliminates the surprise of discovering something that is a perfect fit for you if not for others.

Thanks to some very generous suppliers and friends, my ink collection grew significantly this past year. Even so, I purchased a few bottles including colors about which I knew nothing. With the exceptions of Stipula Calamo Saffron, and Diamine Meadow and Marine, none of my choices were exceptional. Not disappointing, but they just weren’t exciting. Of the eight pens I’ve purchased in the past year or so, only half will get regular use. However, in future one of them might get combined with just the right ink and paper and make it to my list of favorites. Ever the optimist, eh?

On the reverse, too often an ink or pen that got raves elsewhere did not earn accolades from me. In no way does that disparage the product or reviewer. It is simply that my experience, expectations and needs were different.

So here’s the deal. Be intrepid. Take some chances. If you want someone to pave the road ahead, new acquisitions can be rather bland. However, if you can become less risk averse and take a few chances with purchases, you might discover something special. True of inks and pens, but life as well. I love pen folk and would be delighted to learn about your great finds even more than my own.


Customer Service And The Booboo


Have you bought a stinker? Not a product that was vaguely disappointing, but one that was defective or at best poorly executed? Too often we just chuck the offender in a drawer rather than return it to the seller or manufacturer. That acquiescence begs for more abuse rather than contributing to the creation of better products.

When an item isn’t worth the effort and cost of return, it is still valuable to let the retailer or manufacturer know that you were dissatisfied and why. Some company representatives are sincerely interested in how they can make use of customer feedback. That might be just the thing to make me try their products again.

Others explain how great they are and that they couldn’t have done anything wrong.

Oh, yeah?

Just lost a customer since my experience was not as perfect as the rep insists it was. Few products are available from only one source, so the competition just earned my future business. Plus if the item gets reviewed, guess which retailer won’t get mentioned?

Which brings me to a related point. Whether your experience has been positive or negative with a product mentioned or reviewed, your comments will, with rare exception, get published here. Wanton bashing might get deleted, but otherwise, go for it. Your opinion is valuable and welcome.



Just One Luscious Link


Only one link this week, but it is sure to make you drool.


Pen World And An Inkophile


Recently, Pen World invited me to write an article for the August, 2015 issue. The topic of overlooked inks was proposed by the editor, Laura Chandler, and it proved to be a very good choice for an inkophile.

It didn’t take long to come up with the initial five, but that expanded to ten with no effort. Frankly, it could have been a lot more. Despite new colors, revamped lines and even the occasional new ink maker, all  news worthy of note, there are hundreds of inks already available that are amazing and delightful to use.

The next time boredom sets in or your rotation seems stale, go to the back of your shelf and look for an ink that hasn’t seen a pen in ages. You might be surprised by one that fell out of favor or worse, never got its due. Usually, my ink didn’t find a good mate though a more recent pen might suit it perfectly. Perhaps a new brand of paper brings out shading or makes the pen glide across the surface in a most satisfying way. I’ve resurrected some inks with little thought other than the color suited my fancy at the moment. Isn’t that simple?

Whatever the reason, giving an ink a second chance to make you love it is worth the effort. Aren’t “cheap” thrills the best?

Thank you, Laura, for asking me to write for Pen World. It was fun to collaborate on a project and I hope we can do it again.

A final thank you to Tessa Maurer who shot the photos. It certainly helps to have a talented photographer in the family.

Here is a PDF of the article for those who didn’t see it in Pen World. If you didn’t, consider a subscription. There is nothing quite like ogling gorgeous fountain pens depicted in four-color glory. If you are a pen nut, Pen World could be just the place for you.

Pen World Article 8-2015






Where Did It Go?


Has half the year gone by already? Sheesh. Where did the days go? At least some if them went into research and testing more inks than I can count. A few of those results have been posted, but there are more to come.

Most recently I experimented with Platinum Pigment Inks from Luxury Brands USA and the results have been eye-opening. Lisa Vanness assured me the line is safe for my pens so I loaded Blue and Rose Red into a couple of Platinum pens. Happily, the inks turned out to be undaunted by even the Moleskine challenge. The only drawback so far is that the Blue in a wet nib can be slow to dry on some brands of paper though the Rose Red less so. Pen-ink-paper matching applies.

An amber Conklin Duragraph 1.1 Stub joined the herd a couple of months ago. It won’t get a separate review since the cracked ice model got its due in January. Suffice to say it’s a smooth, wet writer with a hint of feedback. It isn’t for everyone, but will suit those of us who enjoy a wide nib with tons of flow. Oh, yeah!

Early in the year and after reading many posts and watching dozens of videos about the best planners and how to utilize them, I concluded that using plain grid paper would be something different and interesting for 2015. So I began collecting a few products in the pursuit of paper bliss. Thanks to Jet Pens, paper-oh, and Exaclair, things got off to a good start. But then friends donated a few more and notebooks are still arriving. So the comprehensive review has gone on the back burner until all of the paper arrives. The test pens have been loaded for months and keeping fifteen of them happy has been quite the challenge. A few have complained which I find quite cheeky. That got sorted with the miscreants by a thorough cleaning and a return to the pen drawer. Hrumph!

One of these days, when the lighting conditions are just right, there are at least eight pages of ink tests on Moleskine paper that will get photographed. Not sure any text will be needed for the post since the results will speak for themselves.

Old notebook covers have been pressed into service with new paper notebooks that are ink friendly. That made me rethink tossing even the most shabby ones. With the right paper, re-purposing is easy. This is one virtue that is a bargain.

Over the next few months, the plan is to mix things up with ink and grid journal reviews along with other subjects pen-related. However, there might be a sprinkling of notes about my rescue dog, Macy, should she sit still long enough for a photo. If you want more of one than the other, do let me know and I will try to oblige.

Note that Rose Red leans more orange than the image. Some colors just do not want to be photographed correctly and this red is one of them.




Inks That Cause Problems Including Negative Opinions


Recently a Tweet about ink caught my attention. In 140 characters, a pen blogger announced he was ending his use of a well-known brand of ink. Apparently a bad experience with one ink means all inks in the line are bad. He may have had other bad experiences, but only referenced one in the Tweet. Certainly, no one wants to damage a pen over the use of an ink. Unless mold-contaminated, nearly every ink has its place and pen mate. That should make it pretty darned hard to condemn an entire company over one ink.

Not to condemn any brand, but I’ve had problems of one sort or another with Diamine, J. Herbin, Private Reserve, DeAtramentis, Rohrer & Klingner, Parker Penman, Iroshizuku and Noodler’s. (Note that Diamine, J. Herbin, and Noodler’s are on my short list of favorite brands.) In most cases, the issue was with a particular color. A few inks degraded over time while others stained vintage pens. Some grew mold though that could have been contamination not attributable to the manufacturer.

R&K is a special case since the ink isn’t a problem, but the caps on my bottles don’t seal well. That has produced evaporation and messy leaks. I haven’t purchased a bottle in two years, so that issue may have been resolved.

Sure, some of my pens have been damaged by ink. Two Esterbrooks with green barrels sport stains acquired on my watch. Since that happened to two different models with the same type of plastic body and with two different brands of ink, the material might be the cause rather than the ink.

So here’s the deal. Highly saturated inks can cause pen staining and other forms of pen damage. Some inks have bad reputations for good reason. But if you use one of them, you “takes your chances.” Is it worth it? If you love an ink’s color or properties, then go for it, but in the right pen, please.

Reviews and opinions will vary, but it’s the lack of context and balance to those Twitter remarks with which I would take issue. If I have been remiss in this regard in the past, I apologize. There are rarely no positives. People who are sincerely trying to make pen, ink, and paper products that expand our choices deserve our support and sometimes a measure of constructive criticism – not condemnation or company death wishes.

Despite it all, I use every brand though not every color. If it makes me happy, the ink gets a mate and goes to work. And that is what enjoying fountain pens is all about.

Inkophile’s Guidelines for Ink Use

  • Pricey pens get low saturated inks.
  • Inks with dicey reputations go in cheap pens or a dip pen with a feed.
  • Saturated inks go in converter pens.
  • Vintage pens get low saturated inks especially Waterman and some J. Herbin colors.
  • Pens with sacs get low saturated inks and/or very frequent cleaning.

Diamine Bilberry Makes Trouble


The images tell the tale. Diamine Bilberry left its mark on my Sailor 1911 and the converter. Hrumph!



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