Archive of ‘fountain pens ink paper’ category

bulow x450 kurve

The Bulow X450 Kurve is an affordable dressy pen that gives the bang of bling for baby bucks.

China-made, it’s become popular for its looks and accessibility. If you get a good one, you’re lucky.

The nib is a two-tone (gold and silver) 18-k gold-plated broad, and is a smooth writer.

The cap and body are green marble resin outfitted with gold hardware, that, however, has tarnished a bit over the couple of years I’ve owned it. The Kurve generally comes in plain colors (vanilla, midnight blue, claret red), while the marble finishes like this are less commonly available.

It is not a good idea to post this pen.

bulow x450 fountain pen green with gold trim

The ink used for this writing sample is Waterman Havana (yes, from an old batch before they changed the names of their inks). 

I’ve always been partial to XF and F pens because I use Moleskine notebooks with their thin, non-fountain-pen-friendly paper, but once in a while it’s satisfying to break out the broads, fill them with inks of interesting colors, and revel in swirls and curves and flourishes.

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green lamy safari 2012 limited edition

The Lamy Safari is a favorite collectible of fountain pen users, especially because the company comes out with limited edition colors from time to time.

For months I resisted buying this year’s special color because I am not particularly fond of it. But after thinking about it, I decided the chance to build a Lamy Safari rainbow doesn’t come often. So I succumbed to the lure of color.

I bought this pen at Scribe Writing Essentials, Eastwood Mall, Quezon City. The pen came inside this massive hinged charcoal gray plastic box placed inside a silver-gray cardboard sleeve.

Inside was the 2012 limited edition Lamy Safari in apple green, a converter, and a cartridge.

This is the old or alternate style of box made of gray cardboard that I used to get Lamys in when I ordered online (from

Here’s a Lamy Al-Star in Coffee that I got online. The cardboard packaging is simple and eco-friendly. Lamy should phase out that plastic box and the extra cardboard sleeve. This one is much better for the environment.

A comparison shot of the Al-Star (top) and the Safari (green). The specs are the same, the only difference is the material – the Al-Stars are aluminum and the Safaris are of sturdy ABS plastic.

I did not provide a writing sample as I have already done so in previous Lamy Safari and Al-Star reviews, and because Lamys are reliable right off the bat and lay down a consistent neat line.

The ink window gives you an idea how much ink you have left, so you won’t run out in the middle of a sentence. The stainless steel nibs come in fine, medium, broad, and italic (extra charge).

You can’t go wrong with a Lamy – you should have one as part of your daily arsenal. The question is, how many will you get? If you can afford it, think of them as Pokemon –  ”collect them all!”

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sailor lecoule

This is a step-by-step unboxing and inking of a Sailor Lecoule.

Since an image is worth a thousand words, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

The packaging: first comes a cardboard outer sleeve…

…and an acrylic inner box. Inside it are the pen and two short cartridges. The converter is an option. 

The parts of a Lecoule: cap with chrome trim, barrel with pearlescent white body, converter, and stainless steel MF nib in a transparent section.

I decided to use Pilot Iroshizuku ink in Tsutsuji (azalea), a vibrant hot pink.

Slowly lowering the section and converter into the ink…

…drawing the ink halfway up the converter…

…until the converter is full.

The nib, stained with Tsutsuji, rests on the ink bottle cap.

After inking, the pieces are fitted back together.

A writing sample. The Sailor Lecoule nib only comes in MF -medium-fine – and is a nail with a very slight hint of spring. For those used to nibs that yield a bit, this one will take some getting used to. It would be a good entry pen for those coming from ballpoints. 

The design is all about simplicity and tradition, with an added touch of fun. I love how the transparent material makes it almost a demonstrator!

Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji ink and Sailor Lecoule – an interesting combination. 

I bought this red Sailor Lecoule at Scribe Writing Essentials store in Eastwood City Mall, C-5 Road, Quezon City. (No affiliation, only that it’s the only in-mall fountain pen specialty store in the country.)

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited for sharpness and color with iPhoto.

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ritual ink

For fountain pen users, refilling a pen is not only a requirement for it to remain functional. It is a ritual.

If your pen has a converter, piston-fill, or other fill system that requires dipping the nib into the ink, there are certain steps to follow.

First, if you want the ink color to remain true, clean the converter or flush out the ink chamber. If you don’t mind your inks mixing, or if you are in a hurry, you may skip this step.

Next, make sure the plunger of the converter is all the way down to the bottom of the chamber.

Then dip the nib all the way into the ink. I make sure the entire nib – all the metal parts – are submerged. I try not to let ink get into the section, especially for demonstrator (transparent) pens, because those are nearly impossible to clean.

Twist the plunger upwards, or perform the appropriate filling act for your pen.

Watch the ink enter the chamber and fill it up with with fluid that in your capable and imaginative hands will be transformed, with the partnership of paper, into drawings or musical notes or words of poetry and prose that will touch, move, inform, persuade.

Filling the converter of a Sailor Lecoule with Lamy Blue-Black ink.

Though there are less steps to take, snapping in a new ink cartridge is also satisfying. Although to save the environment and reduce waste, try refilling your empty cartridges with ink using a syringe.

The act of refilling a pen with ink forces you to slow down, to be calm, to clear your mind of other helter-skelter thoughts and for some moments focus on this thing alone.

Distraction might cause you, in haste or clumsiness, to spill the ink or drop the pen parts and damage them. Re-inking makes you re-connect your mind with your body as you perform each step with deliberation, in the now.

 It is meditation, if you will allow it to be.

Photoritual taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed and Instagram.

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sailor clear candy


Sailor released its colorful Clear Candy fountain pen line late last year to celebrate the company’s centennial.

It’s marketed as a student’s pen, but its price (about $19.50 at Scribe in Manila), between the Platinum Preppy ($3.30 at JetPens) and the Lamy Safari (about $25 at National Bookstore in Manila), would make it more affordable for working folks rather than students on a budget.

The pen comes in a clear acrylic box, but maybe only at Scribe in Manila, where I bought this.

The  barrel, cap, feed, and section are made of plastic, and the nib of steel, the ubiquitous rolled-under stamped metal sheet that is the modern nail and a feature of budget pens.

The parts of a Clear Candy – barrel, cap with inset star, cartridge, and steel nib in a white section. There was an older version called the AS Manhattaner’s NY Artists’ Guild fountain pen – that one had a cat. AN ADORABLE CAT.

Inking for the first time, using red J. Herbin Anniversary Ink. 

The pen came with a converter, which I find more convenient to use than a cartridge. Be careful when you open the barrel – when I did that to re-ink for the second time, I found that the converter had come unscrewed from the rest of its parts. Good thing there was very little ink left in the chamber and a horrible messy inky accident all over the papers in my office was averted.

The white section stains when the pen is inked. (This is because I use a converter.) Clean it immediately with a tissue dipped in alcohol. That’s inconvenient, but then the pen is pink, and, as we all know, pink covers over a multitude of sins. To avoid this, you could ink by dipping the converter itself into the ink bottle, rather than through the nib. (Or by using a cartridge instead.)

It was too dry a writer with the red J. Herbin Anniversary Ink. I might have the nib modded into a stub – it might write better that way.

The nib is very firm. I cannot coax the least bit of spring from it. At first it was a bit scratchy and dry and did nothing at all for my handwriting. But after some smoothening on rough cardboard, the nib has settled into a toothiness that bites well into most types of paper.

Because the nib is an F-2 fine, there aren’t any bleeding, feathering, nor show-through issues. It’ll do all right on cheap, thin paper, if that’s what you have to work with.

Experiment with different types of ink to find which level of dryness or wetness you prefer, as this pen is choosy about its ink and does better with some than with others.

Here’s a size comparison with a Nokia C-3 phone.

While it might not be to your liking at the start, I suggest you give it a breaking-in period. It’ll do as a school pen for taking notes and as an all-around daily warrior. It comes in many colors – check out the lineup at JetPens.

In Manila, the Sailor Clear Candy pen is available at Scribe, Eastwood Mall.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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inoxcrom nature

I’ve been asked, what’s the best beginner fountain pen?

As with anything, it’s a matter of preference. And like fashion, pens are where you find them. There are excellent pens at all price points.

Take, for instance, Spanish brand Inoxcrom, founded in 1955.

During its heyday it was largest and leading brand in Spain and its products were marketed in 80 countries. Its pens and other stationery were the default choices of Spanish students for decades. However, the Barcelona-based company fell upon hard financial times after the death of its founder, Manuel Vaque Ferrandis, in 2003. As of September 11 this year, the company is said to be in liquidation.

Despite its corporate woes, Inoxcrom produced a good-quality line of pens that were sturdy and reliable. The student pens are made of plastic barrels, caps, etc. with stainless-steel nibs.

This is the “Panda” fountain pen from the “Nature” collection. There are ten animals in the set: cow, cat, mouse, ram, donkey, penguin, chick, dolphin, toucan, panda. As far as I can find out, the collection was released in 2007.

Inexpensive pens such as Inoxcrom are great for experimenting with. In this pen, I’m running my own blend of ink – “Old Rose” – made of 9 parts Diamine Cerise and one part Parker Quink Black, more or less. I’m not sure I can duplicate this exact shade, which I can’t find among bottled brands. Anyway, ink blending is part of the fun of being an FP user.

The notebook is Moleskine. The nib is cooperative, no matter what kind of ink I fill the cartridge with. The text is something I made up after the manner of Sei Shonagon. 

Inoxcrom pens from 2007 and older were made in Europe; from 2008 onward, they were made in China.

If you ask me, I’d tell you to buy all the Inoxcrom you can get your hands on, seeing as the company is insolvent and this could be the end of their marvelous colorful reliable products. There still might be some stock at Fully Booked and National Bookstore in Manila.

Photo taken with an iPhone 4S.

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pastel pink esterbrook

Ah, the age of fountain pens. While there are staunch FP users like myself keeping modern pen companies in business, my inner retronaut is drawn to the inescapable allure of the vintage, when materials were different and the nibs were better – or more interesting, at least.

This is a light pink pastel Esterbrook CH model “purse pen” from the mid-1950s. It is a “first generation” with two black jewels.

Pastel pink CH Esterbrook with a bottle of J. Herbin Vert Empire.

It’s a lever fill, with a miniscule capacity that requires frequent re-inking – not that I mind. I love playing with ink.

The plastic used for the pastel Esties was softer and prone to cracking and staining.

This pen came with a steel DuraCrome point 2668 nib, which is a “Firm Medium” for “general writing”. (Here’s a chart of Esterbrook nibs and their descriptions.) I’m not sure if the nib was modded somehow before it came to me, but it writes like an italic stub. It was scratchy so I smoothened it on an old brown kraft paper envelope.

The nib was so sharp it tore holes in the paper. 

Trying to rub out the sharpness by stroking it across rough paper. See the deeply-scored lines made by the nib.

After some effort, it writes much better.

Estie DuraCrome nibs were made without extra metal at the tip, so having less metal to wear away, I succeeded in getting it somewhat smoother, although I wore the point down at an angle instead of straight across. It works for me, anyway.

Writing sample with the smoothened nib. The Vert Empire ink mixed with existing black left unflushed from the nib and sac, so this is not a true rendering of the ink color.

Here’s another writing sample, this time with the same ink appearing in truer color. I love this nib!

There is a dark pink version of the purse Estie that I covet. Perhaps one day the universe will drop it into my lap.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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sheaffer targa matte black

Knowing that I collect fountain pens, and that my favorites ones are vintage and those that belonged to other people, my stepfather sent me one of his.

It’s a classic matte black Sheaffer Targa, circa ’80s, with the distinctive  inlaid nib design executed in 14 karat gold.

The tassies at both ends are plain black. The weight and heft are just right, and the pen remains well-balanced even when posted. This is the regular-size version, not the slim, and is comfortable to hold and write with for extended periods.

According to this source, this pen could be a “Sheaffer Targa version 4, 1003 Matte Black second edition.”

The small photo above shows the parts: barrel; nib, section, and Skrip cartridge; and cap with clip.

The elegance of its design and the quality of materials used make this a timeless pen, one for all seasons.

But its superpower lies in its nib.

Writing sample of Sheaffer Targa matte black on Kokuyo notebook, J. Herbin Lie de The ink.

On creamy Kokuyo paper, the nib glided here and there like skating on glass. There were no skips, starts, nor hiccups at any point of the writing process. If there is such a thing as a nib that “disappears” into the writing experience, becoming an extension of your hand to convey your innermost thoughts onto paper, this is it – the Sheaffer Targa inlaid nib.

 All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed for sharpness and color.

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platinum preppy pink

It’s been raining quite a lot lately, and the skies are often gray and gloomy.

When that happens, I reach for something colorful to brighten my spirits.

Today, it’s this Platinum Preppy fountain pen in perfect peekaboo pink.

 Full shot of the pink Platinum Preppy. Instagram filter: Valencia

As with most things of Japanese design, it is cute. Coming from the prestigious and respected Platinum Pen Company (est. 1919), it is reliable from the moment you snap the cartridge in.

The Preppy is an entry-level for children, students, and anyone who wants an inexpensive but well-made fountain pen. (They’re only US$ 3.30 at Jetpens!)  It comes in several different colors – black, blue, green, purple, red, yellow, and pink among them – with matching colored nibs and ink cartridges.  The nibs come in 03 Fine and 05 Medium. This one’s an 05 Medium.

 Parts of a Platinum Preppy: nib and section, cartridge, barrel, cap and clip. Instagram filter: Hefe.

There being none sold in the Philippines, I got mine at Quill and Nib in West Des Moines, Iowa, during a trip there.

Here’s a writing sample in Platinum’s cheery almost-sakura pink ink. The words and drawing are from an Internet meme.

Writing sample and closeup of a Platinum Preppy nib. 

Someday it will stop raining. Someday it will stop being gray and gloomy. Till then, here’s my pink Platinum Preppy.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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blue lamy safari italic

Going through my collection of fountain pens, I was pleasantly surprised to rediscover this bold blue Lamy Safari from a couple of years back.

The Lamy cap and barrel is made of high-quality ABS plastic with a chrome clip. It has a cartridge/converter fill system. The barrel has a cutout – that’s to see how much ink is left, which serves the same purpose of the Ink-Vue windows of 1930s Waterman pens, but in a simpler fashion.

I prefer converters to cartridges. They’re eco-friendly because they’re reusable, although carts can be refilled with a syringe. Here, I’ve dipped the Lamy’s nib into a bottle of Private Reserve.

A converter is also great for priming a clean pen because it draws ink up through the nib. Here the converter is half-full. (You can see I’m an optimist.)

Here’s a writing sample with this pen’s lovely 1.1 italic nib. The ink color is actually Tropical Blue, not Turquoise. Sorry for the typo error. The Lamy does not have spell-check.

A closer look at the nib will show the end of the nib that lays the ink down in a wider line than usual, perfect for rendering italics, calligraphy, and interesting drawings. It’s going to get a lot more use from now on.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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