Ink Drop Soup: The Terror & Triumph of the Bent Nib

28 10 2014

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how it happened. Wednesday, my Pilot Vanishing Point M nib was completely normal. Friday, I clicked the plunger and the nib came out looking like this:

You will notice this more closely resembles some sort of exotic bird than it does a proper Vanishing Point nib

You will notice this more closely resembles some sort of exotic bird than it does a proper Vanishing Point nib

Nightmare. Disaster. Catastrophe. How is this reality? I text my pen store—pen emergency, what do I do? We arrange for a replacement. With a fix lined up, there’s really no reason not to try to right this wrong. The worst that happens is everything stays exactly the same: I have one useless nib, and a new one on the way.

WARNING—I DO NOT KNOW WHAT I AM DOING. I DO NOT RECOMMEND ATTEMPTING THE RECKLESS THINGS I AM COMPELLED TO ATTEMPT. IF YOU DISREGARD THIS WARNING AND RUIN YOUR PEN IT IS YOUR OWN FAULT. NOT MINE.

Like a genie slipper. Like a sled runner. Like a very small, pointy ski.

Like a genie slipper. Like a sled runner. Like a very small, pointy ski.

To start with, I emailed the head of my local pen club—I recalled seeing a toolbox full of pen repair oddments with him at meetings and I was pretty confident that he did repairs of some kind, and would not dissuade me from my mission. I presented my case, and asked for advice. Piece of cake, he says. Get the nib off the feed and bend it back in place using fingers, a desktop, etc.

I may have improvised some additional implements

I may have improvised some additional implements

I used my fingers, the desktop, metal parts of the Vanishing Point body, and finally, surfaces of my keychain knife to bend the nib back into shape. But did it work? I had to know, but I was at work, without spare ink, without a syringe. I was able to steal a few drops of blue ink from the Caran d’Ache I had with me, and used another empty Pilot twist converter to collect enough water to add to the ink so I’d have enough liquid to write with. It worked. Smooth as ever before, no hesitations and no qualifications.

Cue celestial choir, song bursting forth in joyful noise, with trumpets.

Cue celestial choir, song bursting forth in joyful noise, with trumpets.

Did I use the most appropriate tools? Probably not. Should I be trusted with other people’s pens? Definitely not. But did I fix this pen? Heck. yes.





!! 200th Review Giveaway !!

26 10 2014

To celebrate 200 reviews’ worth of you all putting up with the haphazardly scheduled posting of my office supply opinions, I’m doing a giveaway! I’ve been amassing this horde for several years, of the choicest goods I’ve ever found on clearance. Mostly from Target, but not all.

That Leuchtturm was an especially good find. Mine has served me well all year.

The goods include:

  • Ruled Leuchtturm 1917 Medium Notebook, Black
  • 2 Moleskine Extra Small Ruled Notebooks, Green and Purple
  • Some Random Turquoise Pocket Notebook from Staples
  • One 0.5mm Uni Kuru Toga with extra lead and extra erasers
  • One 0.7mm Uni Signo 207 Premier Black Gel Pen
  • Pentel Hybrid Technica Set (0.3mm, 0.4mm, 0.5mm, 0.6mm)
  • One Wonderland Paperchase Cartridge Fountain Pen, with cartridges
  • 4 Sharpie Pens, assorted colors
  • 3-pack of Pentel Hi-Polymer Erasers
  • Set of Assorted Scented Holiday Pencils

And I may throw in some other Pentel pens and/or pencils as strikes my fancy. Whoever wins, wins it all. THIS GIVEAWAY SHALL BE OPEN TO THE WHOLE WORLD! I may regret this come postage time, but I want to thank all of you, all over the place.

Tobi is not part of the giveaway, but she did keep trying to step on top of the goods while I was taking the picture

Tobi is not part of the giveaway, but she did keep trying to step on top of the goods while I was taking the picture

The rules:

  1. This giveaway is open to the entire world where mail is receivable! Just leave one comment on this post any time between now and Wednesday, December 24th 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time. You have two months to remember to enter! No excuses if you forget!
  2. One winner will be picked at random by Santa Claus from the comments section of this post. Only one comment per person! Comments in excess of one shall be deleted. The comments will be numbered in the order they are received, i.e. the first comment is #1, the second #2, and so on. I will hand-number the entries in Photoshop because apparently that’s how I roll. All the time. Every giveaway. The Random Integer Generator at random.org will be used to pick the number of the winner.
  3. I’ll post the contest winner on Thursday, December 25th. Winner will have one week to email me. There’s a link to my email at the top of the right sidebar.




Rohrer & Klingner – Scabiosa (iron gall) Ink

16 10 2014

I don’t typically review ink, but I’ve been compelled by the consistently impressive performance of this ink to give it its own review.

Behold the incredible mess of my desk

Behold the incredible mess of my desk

The color of the ink is a beautiful, dark, dusky purple with absolutely delicious shading. It has played well with every pen I’ve put it in so far—my broad and my medium-nibbed Vanishing Points, my Zait fountain pen, my Pelikan M150 and M250, my Sheaffer Connaisseur…every pen so far has been a heavenly match-up. If I have a pen that needs to be inked up, my first reaction now ends up being something to the tune of, “gosh, I bet Scabiosa would be great in this…but is it really appropriate to have 5 fountain pens inked with the same color at the same time?”

It is really, truly, totally appropriate

It is really, truly, totally appropriate

The Scabiosa always seems to have good, practical drying times when I actually write with it—I don’t have to stop to let the page dry to keep from smudging while I write, whether I’m using fine, medium, or broad nibs. But even more impressive is Scabiosa’s ability to overcome most any crappy paper. The Scabiosa consistently outperforms other fountain pen inks on subpar paper. This is what you want to see in a daily use ink. It will take some truly terrible paper to get Scabiosa to misbehave—it tends neither to bleed through, show through, fuzz, nor feather. Can ink have superpowers? Can ink be a super hero?

The most perfect color

The most perfect color

Scabiosa is a modern iron gall ink. It has archival properties (water resistant), but being a modern formulation this iron gall ink isn’t going to eat up everything the way old iron gall inks would. That said, I can’t speak to how finicky antique pens made with delicate or temperamental materials might respond—I don’t have any such pens to test it with. The Goulets and Rorher & Klingner recommend not leaving it in your pens for more than a week, as it may stain; I’ve had some in my Pelikan M150 for over a month—I cleaned the pen out, and there was nary a stain to be found.

 

Are there any downsides to this ink? I certainly haven’t found them yet.

Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa (iron gall) ink — available in 50ml bottles and 2ml samples at the Goulet Pen Company





Pelikan M205 Traditional Cremeweiss Body with Italic Nib

6 10 2014
I wish I could hand you this pen to write with, because if I did I guarantee the first thing you would say would be "WHOA"

I wish I could hand you this pen to write with, because if I did I guarantee the first thing you would say would be “WHOA”

Once you go crazy, it’s hard to go any other way. That’s the only explanation I have for why I bought this pen. I had no need for this pen. I simply decided that a Pelikan M205 would be an excellent idea and that an italic nib was exactly what I needed to have in it. These are not the thoughts of a rational actor.

I also wish I could hand you this pen so you could get an accurate idea of what color it is

I also wish I could hand you this pen so you could get an accurate idea of what color it is

This pen has everything I’m looking for aesthetically—the bare minimum of decoration, a dash of practicality, and a beautiful cream-white body.

On the whiteness of pens scale, it's sort of a warm off-white, with a hint of peach?

On the whiteness of pens scale, it’s sort of a warm off-white, with a hint of peach?

The cream-white is subtle, and blends beautifully with the pages of my Leuchtturm notebook. The size of the pen is satisfying—small, but not too small, long enough to write with posted (and the cap doesn’t hit my hand) or unposted. The pen is light, but well-balanced. If I needed to hand-write a novel, this wouldn’t be a bad choice.

It would use a heckuva lot of paper though, having to write so big.

It would use a heckuva lot of paper though, having to write so big.

The only thing I don’t like here is the newer Pelikan logo on the top of the cap. It’s printed-on sparkle, compared to the inlaid pattern on my 1988 M150. But I’m quibbling. As to the art deco-ness of the top of the cap, my feelings aren’t exactly sure how to feel. Intrigued. A little confused.

I feel like the most appropriate noise to accompany this picture is a blaring foghorn. Please imagine such as you view.

I feel like the most appropriate noise to accompany this picture is a blaring foghorn. Please imagine such as you view.

Now, let’s talk about this nib. Whoa. This is one wide italic. You say italic, I think crisp, calligraphy italic. This is not that sort of italic AT ALL. This baby is a broad, buttery italic. Not exactly practical for college ruled paper. But I love it, practicality be damned. It’s smooth and it shows off ink beautifully. And besides, these nibs are easy to swap out—the whole nib unit unscrews from the body. I’ve already bought a fine M205 nib for when I finally feel like being practical.

I have a feeling this logo will probably get worn off.

I have a feeling this logo will probably get worn off.

I got my Pelikan M205 from my local pen store, Office Supplies and More. They still don’t have an online website, but you can call in, ask for Alan, and work out an order (he might even still have one of this pen, this nib, this color). Or if you prefer to eschew all human interaction, the following online retailers all carry the basic M205 with various nibs, but I’ve only seen the italic nib available with the black body at Goldspot Pens.

Pelikan M205 at Goldspot Pens

Pelikan M205 at JetPens

Pelikan M205 at Pen Chalet (followers of the Pen Addict podcast will have heard of Pen Chalet before; if you don’t listen to the Pen Addict podcast get on it! And find out about the Pen Chalet discount for Pen Addict listeners)





Mini Review: Five Star Dry Erase Pocket

14 09 2014
Behold the majesty of the door of my work locker. The inside is a beauty of Tetris-like kitchen implement organization

Behold the majesty of the door of my work locker. The inside is a beauty of Tetris-like kitchen implement organization

At work, my half-size locker is packed full of various pots, pans, and assorted kitchen essentials so that I can fully utilize the breakroom stove/oven at lunch time. Because these half lockers are so small, and because a proper complement of kitchen cookware involves several items, it’s imperative that I organize my locker as efficiently as possible, while still having easy access to the things I need (thus the magnetic spice canisters above). Today, I want to give a shout out to that white oval thing in the middle, the Five Star Dry Erase Pocket. Previously I had one of those approximately rectangular mesh boxes holding my bacon tongs, serrated kitchen knife, straight edge kitchen knife, tiny whisk, pan scraper, vegetable peeler, and fork; it was a bit much for the two magnet strips on the back of the mesh basket. It frequently fell off the locker door, usually as loudly as possible, often taking down the green mesh tray below with it, sending my kitcheny goods everywhere. I saw the Five Star Dry Erase Pocket on sale for ~50% off at Target, and decided to give it a go. WOW. The entire back of the unit is a magnet. This thing is on the door and it isn’t going anywhere. I need to go back to Target and get another one for my fridge at home, because it’s that good.

 

Five Star Dry Erase Pocket (look around at the clearance sections of box stores and you might be able to find it cheaper, as I did at Target!)





Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen

6 09 2014
A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's Apache Sunset

A pen so fine deserves two of my most favorite inks, the Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler’s Apache Sunset

Some pens are just so terribly lovely that they make you want to cry. Even in a little cellphone picture on Twitter I could tell this was one of those pens. I tweeted the Goldspot Pens people, and they were kind enough to let me borrow this pen for a test drive.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

It comes in a box, which I would rate as acceptable. The inside of the box is nicer than the outside of the box. The entirety of the box is not as nice as a top hat.

I opted to give the White Ivorine a try, and it looks phenomenal with the gold plated accents. I may have said this about other pens, but this pen truly makes me wish I had a billiard room. If I had the time I’d take it up to the Biltmore Estate and demand they let me do a photo shoot.

Everything is magically comfortable

How many shades can I make White Ivorine appear to be? All of them, apparently.

One thing words and pictures can’t quite convey is how luxurious the resin feels. You pick up the pen and it’s the first thing you notice—this is different. This is nice. The grip is comfortably sculpted, the barrel that becomes the threading for the cap has its edge smoothly rounded off. The little details of design all speak of expert handling—as well they should; every Parker Duofold is finished by hand.

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

Or so the internet tells me. You can always believe the internet

The cap posts quite high up on the pen. Personally, I like the balance of the pen with the cap unposted, but it’s not too terribly back-weighted that I couldn’t write with it posted. The Duofold logo on the top is wonderful—can I get a Duofold signet ring so I can stamp this pattern in wax? Possibly on everything from there on out?

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

Check your mouth. It may be hanging open, leaking drool. This is perfectly normal

I almost want to stare at this nib more than I want to write with it. It’s satisfying, but rather firm for a gold nib (a deliberate condition, just something I wasn’t aware of going into it). I’m not trying to downplay how it writes, because it does a good job with excellent flow, but it’s not the kind of life-changing experience that convinces you to have a first-born just so you can give it up in exchange for the chance to write with this nib. It’s good, but it’s not that good. I imagine, however, that the more you write with it, the better it will get. I’d be willing to write a mile of words with this Duofold. The feel in my hand leaves no room for complaints.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

A scale of creamy-color reference. White Ivorine, Pelikan Creamweiss, and Pilot Vanishing Point White.

If you’re the kind of person who has Benjamins to throw down, this Parker Duofold will not disappoint. For the rest of us, now is a good a time as any to start a dollar-a-day Duofold savings fund.

 

Thanks again to Goldspot Pens for letting me try this pen!

Parker Duofold Historical Colors White Ivorine International Medium Point Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens





Ink Drop Soup: Yoropen, Back Again!

27 08 2014

Remember the Yoropen?

This pen probably has more in common with some species of tropical, exotic bird than it does with other pens

It took about 8 minutes of scrolling back through my media library to find this

I mentioned when I reviewed it that there was a metal version. Little did I realize at the time that Yoropens had been pretty much discontinued since about 2008/2009, operations shut down…but they are back, and trying to get started up again through Kickstarter.

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

Image from the Yoropens Z3 Kickstarter

The Z3 is an updated version of the old metal Yoropen (the Z2) in a big way: instead of requiring only special, odd, proprietary ink cartridges, the inside has been redesigned to be able to accommodate generic refills after they’ve been bent appropriately by an included mold.

Image

Image from the Yoropens Kickstarter

I’m excited to see the new Yoropen Z3 in action, and Yoropen has reached out to me to send me one to try once it’s ready; keep your eyes open for a review in the future. In the meantime, the Kickstarter is live if you’re looking for a different pen from a company with previous success that’s trying to get back in the game.

Yoropen Z3 on Kickstarter








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