Posts Tagged ‘Lamy Safari’


Too Many Inked Fountain Pens


December is far and away the busiest month and this year has been the worst ever. A thirteen pen rotation is quite excessive under the circumstances. So here it is before half of them get a bath and go into storage for several weeks at least.

Fountain Pens and Written Samples

At least two are certain to remain on my desk: the red Lamy Safari with Diamine Emerald because it amuses me this time of year and the Platinum #3773MU because it makes writing a pleasure. The Pelikan pens will remain in use for now along with at least one Namiki Falcon and a Levenger True Writer. Well, at least that’s the plan. Six pens seems like a lot, but inadequate in terms of inks. Being an inkophile is hard work!

Ink Comparison


When Matchy-Matchy Looks Fantastic


“Fantastic” isn’t one of my usual adjectives though the ninth Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston, made it sound perfect for anything that ought to be fun/exciting/challenging/dangerous. When he said it with that enormous grin, no telling what would happen next.

What does that have to do with matchy-matchy? Faustine Vaughn (@FaustineK on Twitter) posted images that show how perfect Black n’ Red notebooks look with a red Lami Safari. Those red spiral rings are just the thing to pair with the colorful barrel and that neutral white paper has yet to meet a fountain pen ink it didn’t like.

In a word? Fantastic!


2012 And Some Really Good Pen Stuff


2012 was a very lean year with few items to review and no ink or pen purchases. So there is little new to recommend. Still there are some favorites worth mentioning along with a few new products on my list of

Really Good Stuff

  • Best new tool that came my way was the InkJournal.
  • Best new paper product was any Stillman & Birn Sketchbook.
  • Martha Stewart cahier – The batch I bought was fountain pen friendly and very attractive.
  • Canson Art Book cahier – Surprisingly good performance for both pens and watercolors.
  • Daycraft Gold Slab journal may not be perfect or easy to source but it sure is gorgeous.
  • Rhodia pads got the most action. The orange covers make them a standout in my messy office.
  • My regular ink rotation expanded with the inclusion of Noodler’s Ottoman Azure and Black Swan in Australian Roses. No new ink colors came my way but Karen at Exaclair sent three reformulated J. Herbin inks for comparison to what I had on hand that were produced prior to EU meddling. I still enjoy all three, Vert Empire, Lie de Thé, and Poussière de Lune, but they are a bit different.
  • Current model pens with stock nibs that were consistently in my rotation included the Lamy Safari with an EF or 1.1mm italic and the Vista 1.1mm italic as well as the Levenger True Writer fine nib. Most of my other pens are no longer in production or have been modified. The greatest difference in my rotation this year was that fewer fine nibs like Pilots and Sailors got used while the Montblanc 220 OB never fell out of favor.
  • Custom nibs can be heavenly or not. Nearly all of mine were crafted by different people and in some cases I don’t even know who did the work. However, one Masuyama stub and one Binder cursive italic rose to the top. The former was a dream from the first fill though Iroshizuku ku-jaku is its current best friend. If ever there was a fickle pen this one is it for it will mate with darned near any ink. The Binder sat unused for years until on a whim got paired with Ottoman Azure. Now that Pelikan M-215 Rings is a delight to use. Some nibs are finicky and the right ink can make a huge improvement in performance. Admittedly, a little inspiration helps or that Pel and Ottoman Azure would never have met. So don’t discount what you think might work. Just try it and see what happens.
  • The pen that resided in my handbag was the Kaweco Classic Sport. If it accommodated a converter, the Kaweco would get more use and take up residence on my desk.
  • Best new (to me) non-fountain pen writing instrument was a tie between the Sanford Uniball Gel Grip medium (utilitarian) and the Pentel Libretto (attractive). The Autopoint remained my favorite mechanical pencil in large part due to its 0.9mm HB lead. The Levenger True Writer Rollerball sporting a felt tip refill continued as my first choice when a fountain pen or mechanical pencil wouldn’t do.

That wraps up 2012. My wish list for 2013 is simple. Buy or trade for another stub or italic nib and acquire a few new inks, mostly Noodler’s or perhaps a Diamine or two. A bottle of Iroshizuku kon-peki might be nice but on that I can wait.

Did you get some “really good stuff” this year? What’s on your list for 2013?

2012 Favorite Pen, Ink, and Paper Products

2012 Favorite Pen, Ink, and Paper Products

Noodler’s Ottoman Azure and Black Swan in Australian Roses, J. Herbin Poussière de Lune, InkJournal, Stillman & Birn Sketchbook for Pen & Ink, Levenger True Writer, Autopoint Mechanical Pencil, Rhodia pad, Pelikan Tradition M-215 Black Rings fountain pen.


Faced with a possible disaster, what would you grab?


Few of us will ever have to grab just a couple of favorites and run for the door. But if you did what would you take in an emergency?

I live in earthquake country. There is no warning that we are in danger. It just strikes. Keeping my selection to what could quickly be snatched and easily carried, that amounts to three pens. The Montblanc 220 OB, a Levenger Kyoto True Writer with a Masuyama Stub nib, and a Pelikan M-215 with a custom italic nib would fill a pocket and are always front and center on my desk. The Lamy Safari with a custom italic nib is a terrific writer but its odd size makes it an awkward fit in a small space. That one would come along only if I had extra room. A pen case to protect the lot would be nice but not essential.

Bottles of ink are more cumbersome but if I thought my inventory was going up in smoke, two discontinued favorites, Montblanc Racing Green and Parker Penman Ruby, would top my list. Just because I love the color and it would make me a little happier despite my losses, Iroshizuku ku-jaku would be number three.

If I had plenty of room, a pad of Rhodia paper would provide space to vent frustration, doodle for relaxation, or enjoy the elation of surviving a disaster.

If you had to grab your pens and run for the hills, which ones would you choose?


Does It Hurt To Write? Get a Fountain Pen!


If you experience hand or wrist pain, a fountain pen could make your life easier. There is no need to press down even slightly when the pen, ink, paper combination is in harmony. That reduces stress and drag making it possible to write longer and more enjoyably. But which products will produce this writing experience?

Inks that flow well or do a good job at lubricating the nib can make a huge difference. Even so there is a need to match the ink to the nib to keep lines neat. Does that sound complex? Tackle the pen first. That may be all you need to improve your writing experience. Find one that glides smoothly but not so much that it gets away from you. If possible, test a pen before you purchase it. Pen shows offer a huge variety with knowledgeable vendors to guide you. Many pen shops are accommodating but make sure the salesperson understands what you want. If you wind up with a stinker that cannot be returned, work with a professional to get the nib adjusted. If all else fails, sell or trade for a more suitable pen. What doesn’t work for you might well be the perfect pen for someone else.

If you want to experiment, an economical option would be to buy a single Lamy Safari and try a variety of their replacement nibs. The wide range from EF to 1.9mm  is fun to explore and eventually you will find a sweet spot. For me it’s the 1.1mm though it did require some practice to become a favorite. Be sure to purchase a converter so you can easily try any ink. Cartridges can be used but need a syringe to fill them. The Kaweco Classic works only with carts but they do offer many nib sizes. It has a more traditional grip than the Safari that will suit some of you better.

Once you have a pen that makes writing enjoyable, experiment with a variety of inks. Over the summer my rotation was quite limited and revealed some standouts that improve nib performance including Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Ottoman Azure, and Eel Blue, Diamine Mediterranean Blue and Violet, and Iroshizuku ku-jaku. Many inks improve nib performance like Private Reserve Tanzanite so don’t feel limited.

Paper is the last thing I choose since most of what I have on hand is fountain pen friendly. Reducing drag is helpful so I go for very smooth paper preferably lined. Most anything from Clairefontaine and Rhodia will do. Much of what comes from Japan is good and my Staples Brazilian filler paper is working out nicely as well. Note that very smooth paper may slow drying time with some inks. Again, it will take experimentation to find the perfect match.

Of course, there is an exception. My daily journal is an Apica 6A10 that isn’t super smooth but rather a tad absorbent. It has a “soft” surface that cushions the nib and for me that works extremely well. It isn’t for everyone and the occasional sheet of paper will resist certain pens and inks. I can live with that in my journal since the writing rarely gets read. The size and form factor suit me perfectly so I’ll stick with the Apica but with reservations for anyone else.

Good quality paper helps but is less essential. Besides sometimes you just have to write on junk paper and grin and bear it. That’s a whole lot easier when the pen in your hand already makes you happy.

Wide Nib Fountain Pen Samples

Wide Nib Fountain Pen Samples


Lamy Pens Beat The Summer Heat


Never noticed such a difference during previous hot spells but my Lamy Safari and Vista 1.1mm italic pens are drying out less quickly than the other pens on my desk. They start up without skipping or converter priming and that really improves the writing experience.

Another factor is ink. The two black Safaris are loaded with Noodler’s Black and the turquoise colored Sailor Yaki-Akari. The Vistas are loaded with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses and Diamine Mediterranean Blue. All provide good performance and easily enough color variety for the dog days of summer.

Until the weather cools in October, the four Lamy pens will keep my rotation simple and satisfying but I am  open to additions. Do you have any pen and ink combinations that work particularly well in hot weather?

Summer Inks in Three Colors

Summer Inks in Three Colors

Note that swabs do not show the dark color that results from writing with a fountain pen but they are good for comparison.


J. Herbin Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution


J. Herbin is one of the premiere makers of fountain pen ink so it seems a natural to offer an ink cleaning product called simply Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution. Mon ami, Jean Elie from Paperandco, kindly sent a bottle as a gift and this review is my way of sharing my good fortune.

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution

After a bit of trial and error, I discovered that it speeds the cleaning of nibs that do not contain dried ink and to a lesser extent reduces the time to clean a nib with dried ink. It seems to contain a surfactant as lots of tiny bubbles appeared in the clear converters used in my side to side tests. Consequently, I rinsed the nibs and converters well before filling with new ink as I prefer my ink straight up. A smidge of surfactant won’t do damage but it might alter ink performance – not ideal when testing inks.

Since JH Cleaning Solution worked better at removing moist ink than junk dried in a nib, a great use might be as a traveling companion. Whether it is to change ink colors or just to keep a nib flowing well with a refill of the same ink, a quick cleaning will be even faster with this product.

The directions are simple. I had already emptied the pens and rinsed them with cool water before I realized the two on my desk would make good test subjects. Neither the Levenger True Writer with the dried ink nor the Lamy Safari that still wrote were clean, but the worst of the ink had gone down the drain. Both continued to drip color so that made a good starting point.

After some drying with a paper towel, I loaded the nibs and feeds with JH Cleaning Solution and let them sit for the recommended five minutes. The directions say to “rinse well with cold water” which is when I saw the bubbles. So I kept rinsing until there were no more bubbles in the converters. Then I tested to see how much ink remained. The Safari that was still able to write before the cleaning, was indeed ink-free enough for a new fill. The True Writer with the dried ink was not. Back to my old regimen for that one.

This is why JH Cleaning Solution makes sense for travel. Dried out pens are unlikely on the road but refilling or changing ink colors are common tasks. The Lamy was ready to fill with a new color in less than tens minutes and that’s with five minutes of soaking in the Solution. How easy!

What I cannot declare with certainty is that JH Cleaning Solution made a difference in reducing the time it took to clean the True Writer. It is just not something I can quantify. But using the product should make using the same pen to test multiple inks faster and easier. Besides I doubt these pens have ever been so clean.


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