Ink Drop Soup: Raleigh Pen Show

7 06 2012

BABY’S FIRST PEN SHOW! (Beautiful pens from the Anderson Pens booth)

My very first pen show, and I made it all three days, even though I worked Saturday and Sunday nights (and was asleep most of the daytime, thank you night shift life), I still brewed up extra coffee, woke up early (for me), and made my way over. The only other kind of major convention I’ve been to before is an anime convention. The main difference is that no one here was dressed up as a pen.

Spoils of war!

It was great meeting other pen enthusiasts in person—usually I am otherwise skeptical when someone in person shows interest in the office supply world. I make a very good attempt at raising one eyebrow, and ask in my most dubious voice, “Are you sure you really want me to go on about this? Don’t lie, because I will go on at great length. The full wrath of my pen-ADD will be unleashed upon you.” But here was a whole room full of nice people who also like to talk about pens! It was like living inside the internet.

The majority of the goods

The pen holder/binder/whatever this is called, along with a pack of purple Sheaffer cartridges (not pictured, except for the one inside the wee Sheaffer pen) I picked up from the booth of  Bertram’s Inkwell. The Lamy Pur EF nib fountain pen to the far left (and the Clairefontaine notebook in the previous picture) both came from the booth of my local pen store, Office Supplies and More (I’m still trying to convince him to have an online presence, still to no avail). The two tiny coral-pink items are a lead pencil and fountain pen set by Arnold’s of Petersburg, VA. They are alleged to be from 1825…which I’m going to have to call horsefeathers on, as I’m pretty sure either the plastics or whatever material these two are made of weren’t available in 1825, OR (/and) lever-fill fountain pens didn’t even EXIST in 1825. It’s very clearly written on the price tag, but maybe whoever did this meant to write 1925 and had a moment. Alas, I forget the name of the booth where I got the Arnold’s mini set, but it was only $25 for the both of them (and I don’t know a blasted thing about antique pens, so that sounded good enough to me, especially considering they are both in working order).

Beautifully overwhelming quantities of pens everywhere. I wonder if my pens would look this awesome with dramatic lighting and majestic-colored resting spots in wooden trays.

The little iridescent-purplish Sheaffer pen and the blue Esterbrook (and the Sheaffer converter, which I apparently decided was worth including in the picture) all came from the above collection of one Arthur D. (Dan) Reppert. I’m thrilled with both of those pens, and I’m especially happy with my very first Esterbrook. Clearly I will have to look into Esterbrook more.

Me: “Oh, you need paper? I have some—“
Martin (rummaging for Rhodia notebook): “But this is good paper—“
Me (waving a spiralbound Clairefontaine): “Yeah, so is this!”

I finally got to see some Snorkel pens in person! And even though I didn’t buy one (it’s going on the long-term want list), I did pick up a Hero 616 from Martin‘s booth. He’s a cool guy who understands the importance of good paper and the dangers of Private Reserve fountain pen ink. Like talking to a brain mirror.

So many tempting colors….

Being still almost completely clueless about how things work in the vintage fountain pen market, I tried to keep myself from getting sucked in too deep (read: buying too many / too expensive pens), so I was thrilled to see TWSBI pens and accessories. My TWSBI up there is still the same ole Diamond 530, but thanks to Anderson Pens it now has a brand-new fine nib, and an ink buddy.

The silver will match any ink color I decide to put in there. Pen accessory and ink coordination is a fine art.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a terribly big ink presence, so someone like me looking for the rarer/stranger/more out there colors of bottled ink was a little boxed in. Aside from the Sheaffer cartridges, I didn’t buy any ink (not that I really REALLY need more ink…)

Pen wizardry

You may recall my early vexation with my otherwise lovely Pilot Vanishing Point—so it was no contest as to which pen I’d pick for my very first customization of a nib. What was once finicky now freely flows, and it’s incredible! Richard Binder is truly a god among pens.

Pens yet to come…

And finally, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Alan Shaw, and explain to him the as-yet-fruitless grail quest I’m on for the perfect, dark-purple-bodied fountain pen. Since he is a maker of custom pens, and I am in search of a custom color, well….let’s just say…there’s a good chance I might be getting into my first custom fountain pen here in the future! He’s got a lot of custom pens with really creative materials. If I made business money, there was a pen of his there with huge bird feathers in clear resin that I would’ve snatched right up. Why I didn’t take a picture of it, I don’t know. To instill regret in myself, I suppose.

All in all, a very fun and exciting first pen show! Now I need to start plotting out when the other East Coast pen shows are, see if I’ll be off. I’m hooked now.

Twsbi Diamond 530 Piston Filling Extra Fine Point Fountain Pen

18 06 2011

This is a pen where one writing sample is not enough.

So I did another writing sample, valiantly carrying on even in the face of the obvious degradation of my already awful handwriting (the degradation, I'd like to note, was more due to me writing while being a passenger in a moving vehicle than due to any defect of the pen)

Then more drawings were necessary to balance out the extra writing. The Strathmore Drawing paper I used is FANTASTIC for fountain pen drawings.

If you don’t know the story about the Twsbi fountain pen by now, look it up. I’m not your Googlemother. You’ve presumably got the internet right there in front of you.

Let's just drool for a moment, shall we?

I’d been eyeing this pen for a while; as the end of my last job’s contract drew near, I wanted to get something to celebrate the completion of my first real job. I liked the look of the Twsbi. I liked what I read about the Twsbi. It was certainly more than I regularly pay for a pen—$15 a pen is usually what constitutes puttin’ on the Ritz in my pen case—but this was a special occasion, and the overwhelming consensus I read was that this was a really great pen at a really great price. Full disclosure on price: Goldspot Pens gave me a discount (you can get such a discount too if you’ve got /start a blog and have at least 5 pen-related posts in the past two months (and review at least one of the products you get)), but between you and me I was ready to pay full price, and it would’ve still been worth the money.

Enough disclosures and disclaimers; let's look at shiny things

What do you see when you see this pen? You see a pen that’s fancy, yes, but not ostentatious. Most of the design is brought out through repeated geometric patterns—the faceted barrel, the various rings around the inside of the barrel consisting of parts of the piston mechanism, the logo on the jewel-like cap and on the nib. There’s something neat and pleasant about a design like that. And, in spite of the increase in visibility of my grubby fingerprints, I still love the design of the demonstrator pens, allowing you to see everything inside the pen.

With the cap posted, this pen is approximately way too many inches long.

This is probably the heaviest pen I own. The weight is reassuring, solid. Of course, half of that weight is in the cap; you’ve got the metal clip (sturdy, holds on pretty well) and the metal band around the threads on the cap. I can’t really write with the cap posted for several reasons: it makes the pen ridiculously long, it makes the pen feel like it’s perpetually at risk of falling over backward, and it makes me feel like I’m going to twist the piston and shoot ink out one of these times when I go to take the cap off. But since adding the cap on the end takes away from the writing experience for me, I don’t mind that the cap posts onto the end of the piston; I’m not interested in posting the cap no matter where it’s gripping the pen.

How can anyone not like the faceted barrel? It keeps my uncapped pen from rolling off the table AND it makes my Noodler's La Reine Mauve look every bit as luxuriously haughty as an ink with that kind of name deserves. You can't just use any pen when writing with liquid opulence.

The only beef I have with the design is that, at the time of writing, I (like many others) find the cap is a bit tight in the screwing on and screwing off department. It makes noises when I twist the cap on and off. We’ll see if that remains a problem in a year or so.

No, I cannot keep a nib clean to save my life. No, I did not take any pictures of my Twsbi before I inked it, such was my excitement at the prospect of using this pen.

 There are two types of nibs that I love. There’s the kind of nib that glides across the page as though without a care for even the idea of friction, the kind that’s all smooth and silk and warm butter. And then there’s the kind that has this certain something that I can’t quite put into words—there’s a sensation you can feel as you write, the contact of the nib on the paper and the exchange of ink between them, there’s something there that’s solid and real, you feel the pen on the paper and it’s fantastic. That is the kind of nib my Twsbi has. Often when I feel the nib on the paper it’s a bad thing—something’s gone scratchy, no ink is coming out, etc.—but this is different. Don’t get me wrong, I love a smooth sailing nib, but I also love whatever it is this quality is called. It’s not just writing, it’s Writing, true and proper and every bit the way it should be. There’s a certain satisfaction I get when writing with a pen that has that sort of sensation to it.

EF stands for "Extra Fantastic"

I’ll probably end up favoring this pen more for writing than drawing; though it did very well with the doodles I did (ESPECIALLY on that Strathmore paper), I’ve already got two/three powerhouse drawing fountain pens, and it just feels so nice to write with. The construction also seems sturdy enough (I’ve already dropped it once from desk height, no damage) that I’d feel comfortable carrying it around as a dedicated writing pen.

I can’t think of much I find wrong with this pen.

gratuitous nib shot

The only thing wrong here is that I didn’t buy this pen sooner. Provided I remember (don’t let me forget), I’d like to come back in about a year and do an updated mini review on the performance of this pen after more wear. I anticipate that it will age well.

One more picture. Just because I can.

Twsbi Diamond 530 Piston Filling Extra Fine Point Fountain Pen at Goldspot Pens