Archive of ‘fountain pens ink paper’ category

daily art: essay-a-day

Inspired by Summer Pierre’s one-page story writing exercise, I started an essay-a-day daily art project, a diary-slash-creative non-fiction effort.

Summer’s method of using keyword flashcards to choose a topic is interesting but I’m too lazy to make flashcards. I suppose instead of flashcards that I’d have to carry around, I could flip through a book and point to a word.

For now I rely on serendipitous random happenstance of whatever floats to the surface of my mind when faced with a blank sheet of paper, though I do have a theme going on now; all the pieces start with “In [add name of city].”

Here’s my second entry in a pocket plain Moleskine.

Materials: vintage Sheaffer Agio fountain pen inked with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Derwent Coloursoft pencils.

I follow Summer’s rules of writing whatever comes first to mind and no editing. The length of the piece is constrained by the size of the page, although I’ve done a two-page piece.

I posted the picture above on Instagram and Twitter, and tweeted a link to Summer’s article. That got a retweet and a favorite from Summer herself! (Follow her on Twitter @summerpierre).

I asked if she didn’t mind that I adopted her idea.

Her reply? “@jennyortuoste of course not! I am THRILLED you took to it!”

Art is global and knows no boundaries. 

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noodler’s ahab

I have a profound weakness for demonstrator (transparent) pens, so when I visited Quill and Nib at the Valley West Mall, West Des Moines, my eye was drawn to this cheerful sunny Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen.

I don’t like yellow, but this was the only color they had left that was light enough for me to see the ink inside, which is why I like demonstrators in the first place. I don’t mind the color now – it’s a change from all the transparent demonstrators I already have.

These are the parts of an Ahab – from the top, the nib and section with the breather tube for the piston-fill system; cap with steel band; piston rod; and barrel.

The filling system was new to me and at first I was unsure how to go about using it. I thought about Googling, then asking Ahab-owning friends for help. But I decided, naah, I’ll play with it.

I chose magenta De Atramentis ink that I also got at Quill and Nib. (There were so many other lovely colors but alas! I had no room for more in my small hand-carry size suitcase.)

I dipped the nib into the ink and drew up on the rod. Success! The ink flowed into the chamber and up into the breather tube as well.

I still didn’t know if this was supposed to happen, but it seemed fine so I fitted the piston rod back into the barrel for the next step.

A word on the filling system: there are excellent reviews all over the Web that I could have read first, such as Peninkcillin’s and FP Geeks’, and they are informative about all aspects of the pen.

One thing that’s great about it is that it can be converted into an eyedropper fill with an o-ring, giving a generous 6ml ink capacity.

The piston rod is quite long when fully retracted.

Even so, it fits into the barrel.

I pushed the rod back in a bit. Ink dripped out of the nib, but at the same time air was expelled, which seemed to be the right thing to happen. When I read other reviews, the advice was when filling to first push the rod in to expel air, then dip in ink and draw back to fill the chamber. Now I know.

It’s a bit of a wet writer, which is only as it should be, since the Ahab has a semi-flex nib. Flex nibs use a lot of ink and are very thirsty. They tend to railroad when not enough ink for the flex gets up into the feed.

The Ahab’s got nothing on the vintage flex nibs that I own and have reviewed on this blog, such as those by Waterman and Sheaffer, but considering that it’s a modern version in steel and not the more malleable gold is quite an achievement.

Alas, it railroaded the first time I tried it! I was disappointed and put the pen away. What did I expect after all for $19?

After a couple of weeks I took it out again, and was pleased to find that things had somehow settled in and the pen was performing much better. Look at that juicy flex action on the downstroke, and the overall width variation!

Affordable cost + flex ability + eyedropper ready = good deal!

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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waterman lady patricia

The Waterman Lady Patricia was released in 1930 following the spectacular debut of the larger Patrician line a year earlier. This model is the Ink-Vue, lever fill. They are small and dainty, perfect for lady and child hands.

This one has a 14k Ideal firm nib.

 The “Lady Pat” came in various colors and transparency patterns, such as red and the rare turquoise and moss-agate. This one is a hard-to-find Persian. Best of all, it comes with a semi-flexible nib, for that good old line variation.

A closer look shows the black celluloid section, silver cap band, and lovely marbling of the barrel and cap. The nib has a heart-shaped breather hole.

This writing sample shows the wonderful line variation such a nib can give. Take care, though, not to push it into the “danger zone” when flexing, otherwise the nib will spring.

Waterman made  ”wet noodle” nibs back in the day; alas, modern manufacturers no longer do. Something to do with the metallurgy, or some such technical matter. Look for antique and vintage pens on eBay or from fellow pen collectors, which is how I get mine.

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mondial lus stylo

This is the Mondial Lus Stylo fountain pen – tiny, yet sturdy and packs a wallop. I won it in the Fountain Pen Network-Philippines raffle holiday penmeet last year; it was donated by anthropologist Butch Palma, penmeister extraordinaire.

This is my first French fountain pen. FPs are still widely used in Europe and come in models to fit all ages and budgets.

It’s a no-nonsense pocket-size pen that is small and easy to carry, yet still long enough to use when posted. It comes with a functional steel nib that is a nail yet with a slight hint of give for that extra touch of comfort when writing for long periods. A short cartridge fits perfectly inside its transparent plastic barrel that allows you to see how much ink you have left.

Function – check. Style – check, if you like simple modern design. It’s a good budget instrument to make sure you’re never without a fountain pen in your bag.


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pilot prera

In marvelous serendipity a lovely pen from a lovely friend finds its way into my hands.

She leaves a note for me in her graceful, flowing calligraphy.

Inside the box she thoughtfully provided is nestled her ivory Pilot Prera, now rehomed with me.

The Prera is short and slim, at 4.75 inches capped, 5.3 inches with the cap posted.

“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This Prera comes with a CON-50 screw-type converter, and can take cartridges.

I fill the Prera with pink Sailor Jentle ink. The converter doesn’t hold a lot, but it’s enough for several days’ normal use.

It’s still light enough to use even with the cap posted.

Surprise! It comes with a 1.1 italic nib. Stock nibs come in medium and fine.

I’ve always loved Japanese pens for their elegant design, craftsmanship, and reliability – no skips, blots, and start-up issues. On my wish list are a pink Prera and a demonstrator Prera with pink accents. Someday…

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danitrio cumlaude

Danitrio fountain pens are handmade from rods of Italian celluloid (cellulose acetate), hand-turned on a lathe, and polished by hand for days. It’s available in two sizes – large and small – and comes with either an 18k nib or a steel (iridium) nib. They are well-made and most collectors try to acquire at least one.

Danis are a bit pricey, and I thought I’d never own one until I learned about their Cumlaude model. It’s the basic, entry-level Dani, and since I got mine on a “group buy” with fellow members of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, I was finally able to afford one.

The pens we got were from the “close-out” Cumlaude sale, the last few stock left of this type of pen. (Dani no longer makes celluloid pens, concentrating now on urushi and maki-e from ebonite).

This is a large brown Danitrio Cumlaude, Fine nib. It also comes in blue.

Earlier Cumlaudes had markings on the cap band – “Trio Cumlaude” – and a metal section, according to Peaceable Writer. The clips of both types are marked with the brand name.

The “close-out” Cumlaudes have no metal internal parts. It has a converter fill system. I’ve heard it can be turned into an eyedropper fill, but the ink would stain the celluloid material and reduce the translucence.

When filling it for the first time, I chose J. Herbin Vert Empire and removed the converter from the barrel, in case of spills. I don’t want to stain the pen’s lovely marble-y brown body.

The large Dani is fairly fat. Although I have small hands, I got used to its size right away, as it requires less of a grip to hold on to it and manipulate it, unlike with smaller pens. It won’t exacerbate the focal dystonia in my right hand.

This is a Fine steel nib. It is a nail with very little give. Here’s a writing sample.

While the nib is smooth and buttery once it gets started, I had problems with the initial flow and with doing curves – it skips on the upstroke of a cursive “J” or “N”, and the top of “S”.  I don’t have this issue with other pens, like my equally new TWSBI, for instance. This problem was resolved when I used a different ink – Waterman, which flows well and is a “default” and safe ink for many FP users.

I find it also messy and blotty sometimes – see what happened when I unscrewed the cap the other day. I have yet to observe whether the change in ink will eliminate this particular issue.

Overall, the Danitrio Cumlaude is a handsome pen and an interesting and welcome addition to my collection.

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twsbi diamond 540

Demonstrator fountain pens made of clear plastic material are the most exciting type of fountain pens to have because they allow you to see right into their guts, “demonstrating” how they work, and see how much ink you have left. They boost productivity because now you’ll never run out of ink – scritch, scritch – in the middle of a sentence.

I own several demonstrators, among them Pilot, Sailor, and Pelikan, but do not use them everyday. I don’t like ink getting into the section.

Then the TWSBI Diamond 540 came along. *cue choirs of angels*

TWSBI is a Taiwanese manufacturer of quality fountain pens. They won the prestigious red dot design award in 2010  and their products are red hot collectible among users.

Filipino FP enthusiasts used to buy them online, but they are now available in the Philippines, at  Scribe in Eastwood Mall. The store carries fine writing instruments, ink, and stationery, among other things.

So I finally got one at Scribe, and because the TWSBI Diamond 540 is reasonably priced (for something so awesome), I had no hesitations about filling it right away, damn the be-inked section and full speed ahead.

It is inked because I had it tested in the store before taking pictures. Here it is back in the box for a full-length shot.

The TWSBI also comes in blue, amber, and smoke-colored demonstrators. While I have colored demonstrators (yellow and blue Pelikans), I prefer the clear. That way the colors of the inks show through, gleaming translucently when you hold the pen up to the light.

A close look at the piston-fill end.

The pen comes with an o-ring, silicon grease, and a wee wrench to let you clean and service it yourself. The piston-fill is a convenient, easy-to-use, and nearly fool-proof system, and won’t give any trouble.

A view of the nib, capped. 

I got an EF nib. In terms of line width, it’s between the Japanese EF (very very fine indeed) and the Western EF (which writes like a Japanese F).

The TWSBI nib is steel and a veritable nail, with only a slight hint of spring. But it writes smoothly, without skips or blots right from the get-go. It’s reliable and sturdy and is on the top of my present pantheon of daily road warriors.

A writing sample with the TWSBI Diamond 540, extra-fine nib. Ink used is Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses.

Glamour shot of the freshly-filled TWSBI Diamond 540 with a Moleskine Le Petit Prince pocket notebook. 

It’s my current favorite. It’s always great when fantastic design, a clear body, and reliability come together in one lovely artifact.

Photos taken with an iPhone 4S and that wonderful 8mp camera it’s got.

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moleskine pocket plain “le petit prince”

My first Moleskine notebook, a pocket ruled, took me three years to fill up. It had been with me on all my travels, was the repository of my secrets and shopping lists, and over the years got so battered and beat-up that I had to mend the cracked spine with pink duct tape from Bleubug.

With the new year and its potential for new beginnings and moving on, I decided to break open a fresh notebook.

It’s still a Moleskine pocket – it’s my favorite format. This one is a limited-edition “Le Petit Prince” design, shown here with a vintage 1930s Waterman Lady Patricia “Persian” lever-fill fountain pen.

The inside front cover is adorned with illustrations from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Each Moleskine notebook comes with a multi-language insert that is a masterpiece of branding. Moleskine positions itself as a purveyor of fine quality notebooks and planners, keyed to the words “culture, imagination, memory, travel, personal identity”, which conjure up a wealth of potentials and possibilities for the user’s positioning and reinvention of self. 

The Le Petit Prince edition has a mobile of the title character on the back cover, with instructions for assembly.

A closer look at the mobile insert.

The mobile, fully assembled. I attached a length of gold thread and hung it from the whiteboard at my office.

I have other kinds of Moleskine notebooks, plain and with different artwork, but I chose this particular one to remind me that “what is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

And that which is truly essential cannot be written down in any notebook, but only on the heart.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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moleskine pocket weekly planner 2012

Perhaps a couple of weeks before the year ends, we start shopping around for next year’s planner. Over the years, I’ve learned to be guided by experience and instinct on what format suits me best, based on my working style.

After having used many different types and sizes of planners – Franklin Covey, Starbucks – and because I tend to carry everything and the kitchen sink with me wherever I go, I’ve tried to minimize weight and mass by choosing “pocket” versions of things, including planners.

And the winner is…the Moleskine Pocket Weekly Planner, Horizontal Layout!

I got this one way back last September at Diesel Bookstore, Oakland, California. As is usually the case with such goods, I got it cheaper there than for what it was later sold here in Manila.

Cover of Moleskine Pocket Planner. The artwork was outsourced from the Moleskine community. -> See the artist draw. Draw, draw, draw.

Back cover. -> See the monster. He is waiting for the artist to finish drawing. Wait, wait, wait.

Cover spread. -> See the monster and the artist. Look at the weird art all around them. Look, look, look. And run away. Far, far away.

Inside front cover.

Inside spread with horizontal week-at-a-glance layout. The Moleskine’s ribbon bookmark is always useful.

For fountain pen users, I recommend using an extra-fine or fine FP with Moleskine paper to minimize show-through. Ballpoint and gel pen users should have no problem at all and will find Moleys a joy to write upon.

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montblanc noblesse

Well, hello, there. What an interesting way to start the year, fountain-pen-wise – meeting a Montblanc I’ve never come across before.

This is a Montblanc Noblesse. It was available from the late ’70s to ’80s.

The pen has a slimline design popular during that period.

The Montblanc white star is on the cap, as usual. The nib of this particular pen is an 18k Fine. The gold cap band is engraved with the words “Montblanc Noblesse”.

The filling system is a converter. As you can see, this one’s pristine. Never been inked. *heartbeat*

It came with a bottle of Montblanc Emerald Green ink, a color that has been discontinued.

Filling this vintage pen for the first time is a fantastic way to start the year.

The nib is a nail without a hint of spring, writes buttery-smooth, and simply glides over paper.

This gem of a Montblanc is not mine, but I am glad to have met it and been the one to fill it and write with it for the first time. A distinct honor, I must say.

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