food and fountain pens, a perfect combination!

Filipino fountain pen collectors gathered to celebrate pens, ink, and a fellow collector’s birthday at the second meeting of the Fountain Pen Network-Philippines (FPN-P) chapter last Saturday (August 23) at the home of stockbroker/musician Jay Ignacio.

Multi-talented birthday celebrant Jay, who is also a chef specializing in Italian cuisine, whipped up a delectable feast for fellow FPN-P members: grilled chicken salad, Italian meatloaf with creamy mushroom sauce, vegetarian penne (“Eh kasi nga naman ‘pen’ meet ito,” said Jay), and appetizers of cold cuts and chunks of parmigiano meant to be eaten with orange marmalade.

The piece de resistance was the magnificent “Nakaya Rose” cake and matching cupcakes, commissioned by Jay’s family from a bakeshop specializing in bespoke pastry.

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No, the pens were not edible. But they were very very pretty and we all wished they were real.

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The inspiration for the cakes came from these print ads in a pen magazine (photos by Ayee Ignacio)

It might have been Butch Palma, who lived in the US for over two decades, who said that penmeets in the US get along fine with just doughnuts and coffee. We all looked at each other and shrugged. In the Filipino culture, all gatherings are marked by an abundance of food. You can no more have a meeting without food than you can have a penmeet without – er – pens.

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Penfriends (L-R) Butch Dalisay, Caloy Abad Santos, Jay Ignacio, Chito Limson, Butch Palma, and Leigh Reyes

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Leigh shows Chito how to smoothen a scratchy nib with Micromesh

Butch P., who has around 400 pens in his collection, has made a hobby of pen restoration, as has Leigh. Together they made a terrrific tag team – Butch P. to align the tines of nibs, Leigh to smoothen them – for their impromptu fountain pen “lying-in” (not quite a hospital or a clinic). In just a few minutes, they massaged a recalcitrant Recife of Butch D.’s into smooth-as-silk condition.

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Pens and inks were the stars of the party. Towards the bottom of the image are big guns such as Arita, Montegrappa, Pelikan, and Visconti. The two gray pen trays in the upper part of the image show Butch P.’s “for sale” pens – among them lovely vintage Sheaffer Snorkels, Balances, and Triumphs, all of which he has fully restored and rendered functional. At the very top, the red felt-lined wooden box stows some of Butch D.’s Pelikans.

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The bright orange ink on the left is “Majestic Orange” from Noodler’s Singapore line. Dubbed “bulletproof and eternal” , it will not wash away from paper nor can it be removed with bleach or other chemical means including airplane degreasers. The paper will disintegrate first. Yes, it’s that tough.

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Leigh’s bottle of “evil” Noodler’s Baystate Blue – it stains horribly, yet has such a vibrant, eye-popping color. Bravely, Caloy filled a pen with this potent potion.

Like collectors of every stripe, we talked about our obsessions for five enjoyable hours that quickly passed. Pens exchanged hands and were dipped in the inks that we shared with each other – Noodler’s Singapore line was well represented with Spirit of Bamboo, Majestic Orange, Vanda Miss Joaquim, and Singapore Sling.

Also on hand to try were Leigh’s Noodler’s Baystate Blue and Jay’s “vanilla” black Parker Quink, which Leigh used to lubricate the pens for smoothening. My favorite was the Diamine Cerise from Leigh, a happy cheerful hue that satisfies my craving for pink ink. With our nibs soaked in rainbows, we executed swirls and flourishes in copperplate and chicken scratch, as the fancy took us.

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Leigh’s calligraphy. This is what FPs can do, in well-trained and artistic hands. The line variations are possible only with semi-flex and flexible nibs, usually stubs and italics. (Photo by Butch Dalisay)

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My pens (L-R): late 20′s hard rubber ringtop, ’30s celluloid Wahl-Eversharp, mid-’30s Sheaffer Ebonized Pearl Junior, ’30s Welsharp mini, mid-’30s Sheaffer Black-and-Pearl petite, ’70s Pilot 77, 1944 Parker Vacumatic, ’30s Wearever, ’30s Sheaffer Balance Jet Black Lady, ’30s Sheaffer Balance Golden Brown Striated standard size, ’30s Sheaffer Balance Jet Black Lady (photo by Butch Dalisay)

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