Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Study in Blues

I hate blue.

Let me rephrase: I, who should know better than to deal in generalizations, hate blue.

I have always said I dislike blue ink. That, in fact, I'm not overly fond of the color blue at all.

While rooting through the cabinet which holds all of our inks, I realized that we have a goodly number of inks that arguably fall within the spectrum of "blue." Given the supply of blue ink in the house, I thought it would behoove me to become further acquainted with blue ink.

So, I gathered them all up, booted up the PC, and put together a quick list of each color. I spaced the ink names to allow for swabbing and printed it on our usual printer paper - HP 32 lb bright white.

I then grabbed a handful of cotton swabs and commenced swabbing.

And I was quickly fascinated by the variation that was almost immediately apparent in our blue inks.

I thought briefly of rearranging swabs in color order, but I like having them alphabetical by manufacturer and then color name. In fact I'm finding this so useful I will probably do the same for the other basic colorways we have - reds, oranges, browns, greys and blacks.

I've done some work with color in fiber arts, notably spinning, weaving and knitting; I've never really translated that knowledge and experience into viewing inks before though. This was an interesting eye-opener for me.

Here are a couple of color-corrected shots of the various blues. First, a photograph:

Then, a scan:

I've done my best to represent colors accurately, but of course Your Monitor May Vary. If you've got your heart set on a particular color, I highly recommend you purchase a sample from a dealer before investing in an entire bottle to avoid possible disappointment.

This was a great exercise for me; it made me acknowledge what I should already know: "blue" isn't just blue, there are myriad shades involved, each of which carries its own appeal. Even Waterman Florida Blue - an ink that I always use for testing, not for its color but because of its performance properties - draws the eye nicely.

And in conclusion, let me just show you this photograph:

Kindly note the color of the coffee cup.

Not to mention the wall.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Help Me Decide Which Pen to Buy!

Hello all -

Here's the scoop: I have a few dollars' credit in my PayPal account. In keeping with my ongoing pursuit of reviewing inexpensive pens, I'd like to review either a Jinhao or  Baoer, since I've never dealt with one of either maker. I went through eBay and selected a couple that I like the looks of. They are here: the Jinhao, and the Baoer.

I thought I'd try something a little different, and ask you to help me choose which pen to buy and review.

The poll is in the upper-right-hand corner of the blog. Please take a moment to vote for your favorite! (Or at least the one you'd prefer of the two!)

Voting will go through January 31, 2012, and I'll then purchase the pen and share the fun! (Hopefully it will be fun!)

And, a bonus: if the pen is something I'd call worth writing with, I'll have a giveaway for it too! I don't want to promise, in case the pen doesn't work well or something; I don't want to give you something that's not worth having! Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Sunday Post: January 15, 2012

Having two grandchildren, and seeing friends become grandparents recently, has led me to reflect a bit on my life, and life in general.

My mother had a chronic illness throughout most of her life, which led ultimately to her death when I was a teenager. The family rallied around her and my father to provide support, and part of that support was lending a hand in childcare. So, in a way, raising me was a group project.

My grandmother was instrumental in providing that care. A strong-willed woman, she was fierce in her love for me. She taught me a lot - probably as much as anyone else in the family project raising of me.

Now that I am a grandmother, a fact which sometimes is difficult to absorb, I find myself thinking back on some of the lessons she taught me. And I wonder whether I will have the talent to impart similar lessons to my grandchildren, and to be heard.

My granddaughter is three. My grandson is less than a year old. Statistically speaking, I am fairly certain of seeing them grow into nominal adulthood, but I rather doubt I'll see them into middle age.

This causes me fear. Not fear of dying, though I've no wish to leave anytime soon; fear that there are things I could do to help and to guide, and yet I won't be here to do it. I didn't have this same fear with the boys, I think partially because I was younger.

Life has its limits. And it's a fearsome thing, helping launch a human being into the world. Especially when you hear the clock ticking, albeit in the distance.

Your Author at...hmm....what age was this again?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pen Review: The Little Gems - my little gold writing implements

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I tend to like things that are a little - um, blingy. Sparkly things tend to make me say something like, "Ooooh, Shiiiiiiny!" before I quickly snatch them up. My husband, Joe, jokes that I don't have a jewelry box, I have a jewelry "garage" - one of those floor-standing armoire things.

Here are a few of my blingier pens, at least in terms of gold content.

As always, all photos are clickable
The first is a Waterman 0552 1/2 V 14k gold filled fountain pen. Its intended purpose was as a vest pocket pen for a gentleman. The pattern is known as "pansy panel," as it has machine-etched pansies. (Apparently a floral-based design wasn't considered unmanly at the time - probably about 1920.) This pen was a gift from my husband for Christmas last year. The nib is rather flexy, and without much pressure writes spidery fine.

The other two items I'm featuring today are a matched set of Wahl-Eversharps in a Greek key pattern. These are kind of fun little items; I found them in their box in an antique mall in a nearby town one day while browsing. The box, which had been heavily taped with masking tape along the hinge, has written on the bottom the words "Seattle, Washington. December 12, 1922. From Joe Johnson." The pencil was in pristine shape (as they often seem to be), and the pen although obviously used was in pretty good shape, though I sent it off for resacking just in case. (It had been stored with blue ink in it, long dried. Why are these pens always stored with ink in them? And why is it always blue? See hint below!) As even the box was kept, and from the wear to the box and the obvious use of the pen, they must have been a treasured gift. So, who were you, Joe Johnson? And who was the recipient that loved these (and perhaps you!) so well?

Half the fun of these old pens is trying to imagine their history.

Both pens are lever fillers, as was common when they were made. And both have rather fine, flexible nibs.

Waterman nib

Wahl Eversharp nib

And one perhaps doesn't realize how different in color these pens are until they are side by side. Here is a shot of the two pens, along with my engagement ring (see, blingy again), which is 14k yellow gold, for color comparison. (The ladies in the audience may well be able to determine by the style of the ring that I have been married for A Long Time. It's quite out of fashion now.) The Waterman is gold-filled, as can be told by the wear through pattern on the end of the pen, though I don't find markings indicating it. The Wahls are gold filled as well, and I believe they are rose gold.

And here is a writing sample; I only wish my writing skills could do justice to the flexible nibs!

These little pens are fun to use, and a time capsule from a time when ladies wore elegant couturier and gentlemen used blue ink. Time traveling can be fun!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: Levenger Stanley Journal

Ed. note: I'm pleased to offer the following review from guest blogger Joe in Seattle. (Though I wonder if it counts as a "guest" blogger if he lives in the same household...?) Here is his take on this classic journal. Enjoy!

Many years ago Levenger was among the very first to offer a leather cover refillable with either journal or calendar inserts. This was their original Stanley cover, and was offered in desk size and pocket-sized versions. I bought, or was given, a desk size in British tan with my initials embossed in the corner of the front cover.

As usual, all photos are clickable

When I noticed that Levenger was discontinuing these inserts (again, quite a few years back) I stocked up on a dozen or more because I liked the size of the journal and appreciated how it lay flat to write in, but not because I was enamoured of the qualities of the paper.

Over time I’ve acquired an Inkleaf cover for Rhodia Webnotebooks, and a Renaissance Art Cover for Moleskines, but the Stanley journal remained in limited service for an occasional scripture study with my dwindling supply of the original inserts.

This past year when Levenger began restocking the journal and calendar inserts in the Stanley size I wondered how they compared to the original paper and even posted on FPN asking if anyone had experienced them. As time passed without a review of this new/old product I decided to invest $22 of my very own for a pair of the inserts to do the research for the overall good of the fountain pen community.

Here are my findings: