Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

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J. Herbin Stormy Grey, A Simple Review

06/17/2015

Any questions?

Oh, bottle courtesy of Karen Doherty at Exaclair, who thankfully insists on feeding my ink and paper addiction.

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Inks That Cause Problems Including Negative Opinions

05/01/2015

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.
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Diamine Bilberry Ink

02/11/2015

Recently, Jet Pens sent Diamine Bilberry for review. It’s a very dark purple-blue ink that needs good lighting to show off its highly saturated color. In low light, it looks black. Does that make it a chameleon?

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Grid Format and Why Didn’t I Try This Before?

01/31/2015

It’s only a month into this journal so my opinion might change in future, but for now, the grid format is working very well. That’s something I never thought would happen.

Ruled notebooks are designed for writing. Like the yellow brick road, just follow the path. I’ve used them for years and doodled in the margins, but with a few exceptions like when Gene Kelly danced across a page, seldom added anything else.

Blank journals have no limits, but do invite filling the empty space creatively. However, I miss the lines that keep my writing level and so use blank journals mostly for water media rather than words.

As my daughter pointed out, the pale grid format is like a background pattern. The horizontal lines can be followed for writing or I can ignore them and doodle in any direction. Turning the book sideways, allows for long sentences and a fresh perspective.

Line spacing on Miquelrius paper is 4mm so skipping a line when I write full-sized looks fine or I can use a fine nib and write on every line. For my journal use, this grid is just the right size. For comparison, the Moleskine and Rhodia grids are 5mm so there isn’t much difference.

Glad I didn’t spring for a dated planner since the freedom of decorating pages my own way is liberating. Plus I don’t write in my journal every day and some days I write more than a page. Despite the useful design and appeal of a Hobonichi or Midori, I need room to roam.

Things like Washi tape, paper cut outs, stamps will enliven pages, but not add significant bulk. Watercolor squiggles applied with a dry brush is another option. Filling in some of the squares to make various designs is relaxing and can add more details. No talent necessary for any of these embellishments.

Trying something different has paid off this time and added an element of adventure to keeping a journal. Predictable can get ever so boring. Where’s the fun in that?

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The Conklin Duragraph Fountain Pen

01/18/2015

My Conklin Duragraph has been the focus of several conversations the past few days so instead of writing a full review, here are a few comments and some images that say all there is to say about this well-priced, attractive and sweet-writing pen.

  • Attractive and well constructed especially at the price point.
  • Nicely balanced and long enough to not need posting.
  • Diameter at the section is very comfortable.
  • Cartridge or converter for easy maintenance.
  • Silver-colored steel stub nib is 1.1mm and smooth with good flow.
  • Good value for money at under $45 from several retailers.

Reviews From The Pen Cup and The Well-Appointed Desk sold me on the Duragraph and I’m so glad they did.

Caveat: I am still working to improve the photos taken with my phone. The colors are off in places and the clarity imperfect, but you can get the general idea regardless.

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Inexpensive Paper That Loves Fountain Pens

01/15/2015

Need an inexpensive paper that can handle ink flow from wide nibs? This letter sized TOPS pad (20490 V2) came from Staples last week and it loves fountain pens and fountain pen ink.

The surface is very smooth and while there is mild ghosting, only one ink showed a few dots of bleed through. The 6mm line spacing will work for most anyone. The lines are crisply rendered, but pale enough to provide no conflict with your written words. It is a light weight paper more like Tomoe River than Rhodia or Clairefontaine which explains the ghosting. But at $1.49 a pad, this paper is a steal. Permission granted to be a guilt-free thief.

Caveat: Please read the comments. This review is about a specific batch that works well with fountain pen ink. Other batches may not perform as well as one reader discovered.

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Miquelrius Ink And Watercolor Tests

01/10/2015

Much to my surprise, the Miquelrius journal paper handles watercolor from a waterbrush better than ink from a wide fountain pen nib. Admittedly the brush was on the dry side, but still there is a lot of doodling that can be done this way. Note that there was no bleed through. The show through is on par with the weight of the paper and similar to Tomoe River.

As for my continuing pen and ink experiments, a Lamy Safari EF with Noodler’s Black has proven the best match so far. Noodler’s General of the Armies works well, too. Some inks feather while others bleed through enough to make the back of the paper useless. However, at the price point of around $10 and for the amount of paper, these journals could be used up and trashed without regret which makes them perfect for having a little fun with ink, paint, stamps and some other doodads. And fun is what it’s all about.

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