Friday, October 10, 2014

Ink Review: First Impressions with J. Herbin Stormy Grey 1670 Anniversary Ink

I was one of the lucky people who got their order in at Goulet Pens during the (reported) three hours they had it in stock, and the new J. Herbin Anniversary ink, Stormy Grey, arrived today.

First impression, in a word: Wow.

The grey tint is much darker than I had been led to expect. This isn't a bad thing, just an observation. For this ink, it's actually a good thing, because it allows the gold flecking to show off even more distinctly.

And show off it does. It is almost holographic in nature, in fact, on the Rhodia paper I tested it on.

Note the stern warning on the shrink wrap.

(Click on photos to embiggen.)

A few quick shots of the bottle. Note the gold flecks sedimented on the bottom. I shook the bottle briskly before opening and inking.

For my initial test, I grabbed my trusty TWSBI with the Pendleton Point and loaded it up. I chose this pen for a couple of reasons: firstly, it disassembles pretty completely, so if I had clogging issues given the gold flecking, I could field strip the pen and clean it well. Secondly, that Pendleton Point regrind shows off inks just beautifully. 

And make no mistake - this is a beautiful ink. I was surprised at just how sparkly it could appear. It's not in your face with it, but it is very definitely noticeable. 

What do I think? LOVE it. I would exercise caution and, for example, not put it in a vintage or antique pen due to the saturation factor, but it definitely will have a place in the rotation for me. 

Here are a couple of quick closeup shots to give you an idea of the sheen. 

And lastly, two photos, one in strong light to pick up the sheen, and one in a more ambient room light, to show you how it might look in use.

I am going to be brave (or is that foolhardy?) and leave the ink in the pen for a few days and put it in normal rotation, to see how it behaves, and I'll report back with an update. For now, I have a new favorite ink, but we'll see how long that lasts!

Update October 22, 2014:

The TWSBI ended up sitting, unused and largely undisturbed, for about a week. This morning I picked it up, shook it slightly to distribute the lovely sparkles, and tried to write with it. It started up after the fourth attempt at a downstroke to make a capital T, and wrote flawlessly thereafter. Needless to say, I am very pleased! YMMV of course, and this TWSBI has always been a great writer for me, but I am really encouraged with how well it took to sitting around. I will update again if something more occurs to me!

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Just a quick note to say WOO HOO, I BROKE 100,000 PAGEVIEWS!!!

Thanks so much for following along at home with the fountain pen game! More fun coming up soon! I appreciate each and every one of you!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I Didn't Need It - But Then I Did

Ed. note: Joe was so excited about his new journal, he hijacked the blog!

I didn't  have a use for it, but when I saw this journal offered for sale by GatzBcn on the Fountain Pen Network (note: must be a FPN member and logged in to view) I couldn't resist. After all, a handmade journal with Oxford blue leather, 90 gram French art paper, hand-tied signatures and a hubbed spine for $38? Really! Even the postage from Europe struck me as ridiculously reasonable.

MB 146 for scale

(click on photos to embiggen)
I’m a reader and a writer. I've been a lover of leather-bound books with gilt titles for over 50 years. I've been a journaler for as many. I've never had such a beautiful object to write my thoughts in.

When I received the exceedingly-well-packed parcel from Spain I also received 3 cards, a hand-written note, and a business card from Anna. 

I contacted Anna by PM and asked if she’d mind if I reviewed her product since I hadn't seen any other customers’ feedback on the forum. She said, “by all means, I’d like to know what you think of it.” (No commercial considerations, etc. though I thought that I’d let her know privately if I didn't like the journal and post a review if I did.)

This journal is very nice. I like everything about it. Oxford blue is a favorite color for me. I love hubbed spines. I like marbled paper (hand-done by Anna). The paper is French Chanson of 90 gram weight and does not bleed or show through and barely feathers (only to the extent that a cotton content “laid” paper would normally do so).

Lastly, possession led to purpose for me. I've had a private writing project in mind for several weeks. Owning this journal, I now have a place befitting the work I intend to do and the impetus to proceed – and isn't that what buying nifty paper is all about?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Search and Rescue: Sheaffer Desk Pen

The other day I was over at my parents' home, helping my mother with computer stuff. She was making a few notes, using the ballpoint from a service-award desk set she'd gotten from her employer some 20 years ago (she's now retired). I happened to glance at it while she was writing, and saw a telltale White Dot on a black pen. Hmm.

When I said something profound like,"Hey! That's a Sheaffer White Dot pen!" she pulled out the matching fountain pen and handed it to me. It was the typical 90's Sheaffer inlaid steel nib, encrusted with ink - very much so in fact. There was so much dried ink and schmutz I was afraid I'd find corrosion on the nib when I got it cleaned off. There was an empty black Skrip cartridge in the pen, which I presume was the one and only cartridge that came with the desk set, and it was put in to check it out and then left.

This is after cleaning...

I don't blame my mother for this - most people do things like that. Otherwise, how could you account for all the vintage and antique pens we all find that are full of dried ink? They get put in a drawer and forgotten about. Such is life.

I told her I'd take the pen home and clean it up a bit for her.

We put the nib and section to soak in plain water when I got home, and between Joe and me we changed the water out about six times by mid-morning the next day - a lot of ink came out! Half a dozen passes through with an ear syringe, and then I grabbed a Sheaffer squeeze converter and we washed it with Goulet's pen flush, then a lot more water, and then let it dry out. No residual issues that I can see; whew! I did a quick polish with a Sunshine cloth for microscratches, and then filled it with Waterman Blue, my standard test ink.

Frankly, I'm a bit impressed. The nib is smooth, firm but springy; it's labeled M but is finer than most contemporary Western medium nibs. On reflection, this is true of most Sheaffers of the time; I recall thinking the school pen I picked up for nostalgia's sake that's roughly the same vintage (probably a bit older) was also finer than I anticipated it would be. And the fine Sheaffer Balance Aspen I have (again, about the same vintage) is really fine.

It's interesting to compare nib feel between this and the 1996 Sheaffer Christmas pen I have, which has a very similar nib, only gold-plated; the Christmas pen is a much firmer one. Both pens' feeds bear style similarities to the feed in my No Nonsense pen as well, also a Sheaffer product of roughly the same vintage.

It's interesting to note I had a bit of a time finding any new desk pen sets available; Cross offers a set with the only option being a ballpoint and matching pencil, most others I found were designed to match a suite of desk accessories to give the desk that "executive" look - black leather desk blotter, etc. Of the few sets I found available, none offered a fountain pen any more.

Suddenly I'm feeling a bit outdated.

At least I got my Mom's pen cleaned, up and running before I got so old so fast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Well-Travelled Pen

The Saga of a Pen as It - but Not Its Owner - Travels the World

So here's the deal.

In 2011, the Fountain Pen Network put together a group buy for various limited-edition Stipula pens. There were three different models offered, in different configurations (materials, nib sizes, trim material, etc.).

As is so typical of me, I saw the Photoshop mockup of the Most Expensive One and said (everyone repeat after me), "Ooooh....Shiiiiiiny....." I then convinced myself I could afford it, had to have it, and ordered it. With an extra nib in a different size, in fact - Stipula pens have nibs that swap! Look! It's really an economical move - two pens for the price of - well, two or three - or four. Or even more, depending on price point.

So I shipped my money off and waited.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pens for Aid: Help the Philippines and Buy a Pen!

Leigh Reyes, the lovely and talented woman behind My Life as a Verb, is hosting a small pen auction to raise funds to assist our neighbors in the Philippines. Please drop by and bid lavishly! All proceeds go directly to the Philippine Red Cross, as outlined on Leigh's website.

Besides, we've contributed this lovely thing - bid it up for me, won't you?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

FPD 2013 Giveaway Winners!

What a fun experience this has been for me!

When I gave away a Jinhao X750 in February 2012, I had 20 entries. For this giveaway I've had more than eight times that many, with 162 entries from 17 different countries, including multiple entries from Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, the Philippines, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, as well as so many from my native United States! Thank you all so much for your interest in my blog and the giveaway!

And now for the news you've all been waiting for:

Tim from Huntington Beach, CA - Gold pen with the following ink samples: Noodler's Army Green • J. Herbin Lie de Thé • Pilot Namiki Blue • Noodler's North African Violet • Noodler's Nikita

Doug from Oakland, CA - Matte Black pen with Caran d'Ache Grand Canyon • Montegrappa Bordeaux • DeAtramentis Cucumber • Diamine Aqua Lagoon • DeAtramentis Elderberry

David from Waltham, MA - Holographic Black pen with Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher • Diamine Meadow • Diamine Ruby • Monteverde Purple • Waterman Havana Brown

Francesco from Pisa, Italy - Gold and Black check pen with Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia • Aurora Blue • Private Reserve Ebony Green • Noodler's Rattler Red Eel • Noodler's Purple Heart 

Amy from Los Angeles, CA - White pen with Diamine Soft Mint • DeAtramentis Rose • Sheaffer Brown • Waterman Red • Sheaffer Turquoise

Curious what those ink colors look like? I'd suggest you hop over to Goulet Pens' The Swab Shop and take a peek.

Many thanks go to the bloggers who gave me a mention (particularly Sandra, Azizah, and Julie), the many people who favorited and retweeted the entry link, and to all the entrants for their enthusiasm and the kind notes so many of you wrote. You made my week!

(Just for fun, the countries represented in the entries are: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, the UK, and the US.)

Happy Fountain Pen Day indeed!

Congratulations to the winners! I'll be in touch via email within the next day about the details!