Thanks Ralph

For the better part of a year, I’ve had designs on a second article detailing my history with a pen that is important to me and foundational to where I find myself in the hobby after 8 years. The first such article is here.

I figured the second article would be of similar style to the first. But each time I have started writing the sentences it’s not coming together the same way. Looking back at the first article and remembering what my mindset and feelings were like last summer, I realize I’m in a different place mentally. There was a lot of enthusiasm 12 months ago for all the things I wanted to talk about. Concepts for this and plans for that. Many words were written to express everything stationery-related that had built up in my mind. Then, in the fall, a new position at work put more on my plate and free time became more committed to trying to relax than to undertake projects for publication here. There was still a lot to write but the balance was changing. Today, things have settled into a regular but less frequent output.

I know I can write the second article. I was a history major; we can always give you around a thousand words about something if the need arises. I just don’t know that it will pour out of me like the first article did. There isn’t as much water sitting behind the dam anymore. A good bit has been released downstream and the pressure has equalized.

A lot of my writing happens in large continuous bursts. My entries here are usually done all in one shot. Consider it a holdover from the college days when I wrote countless papers to eventually be that history major. I may occasionally do a broad outline for something I post here, but I almost never do a draft & revise process over multiple sessions. The spontaneity of the taking the first step and seeing where it goes, for however long it takes, is what typically gives me good results. I tend to figure things out as I write about them, not before. Now I find myself asking if I can write something important to me in another way than I am used to. Do I have the tools to come up with plan B because plan A isn’t working? Honestly, plan A wasn’t really a plan at all so much as just opening the floodgates on that dam. Either way, I’m having a hard time getting where I want to go.

I’ve mentioned before that I find many things to appreciate and ponder from Emerson, specifically the collection of his journals pictured above. When I feel bereft of ideas or direction, I know Emerson will give something to latch on to. Today, he gave me this…

From this, let’s resolve to see the writing we want to do in a different way. Rather than perceiving a problem of how will it happen, we should return to what’s within us that wants to be expressed. Let the page be filled with everything about the subject that moves you. What you want to say is there. If you put yourself on that page, it must be there.

22 July 2024

What’s What 7/19/24

Inked Right Now

  • Parker Rialto with Diamine Damson

  • Wahl Eversharp Skyline with Herbin Ambre de Birmanie

  • Parker Duofold International with Parker Blue

My trim preference is usually silver over gold, but with blue pens gold is hard to beat. My trim preference is usually silver over gold, but with blue pens gold is hard to beat.

Gone from last time: Spoke Icon. The Zebra Sarasa Grand is still in the mix but not pictured today.

The Rialto was covered here and the pairing of this pen with Damson has been excellent. Great for note taking at work. I’ve had a few cases where the nib dried out a bit if left unused & uncapped for several minutes but it got going again with minimal fuss.

The fill of Teranishi Fujiyama Rin ran out and I still wanted to keep using the Duofold for journal duty so I popped in a small cartridge of Parker Blue. It’s a solid ink. Not particularly inspiring as blues go, but I had not used it in some time and the small cartridge just needs to get me through the end of the month.

After cleaning out the Icon I went to my list of pens not seen in a while and selected the Skyline. It has looks and performance in spades. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. (Okay, it’s not a classic Ferrari, but the same idea applies.) I wanted an ink with some contrast to the other two in use but had to keep in mind that the Skyline is a wet writer. Herbin’s standard ink line leans to the drier side in my experience and can help keep a wet nib under control. Ambre de Birmanie has a warm, rich look and its shading properties are still shown even with the Skyline’s generous and changeable line.

Working On

Sending out pens for custom grinds. I swear I’m working on it…or really thinking hard about it…or almost close to something.

19 July 2024

Still Working the Back of the Line

Continuing last week’s theme of selecting pens that haven’t been used in a while, I inked up this Parker Rialto. I got it off eBay last summer, mostly for the black & blue color scheme.

It’s about as thin a pen as I care to use and there’s enough grip to be comfortable. It’s about as thin a pen as I care to use and there’s enough grip to be comfortable.

The italic and architect nibs on my other two inked pens have been great but I felt a call for a finer line option, which the Rialto provides.

I went with Diamine Damson for the ink. Like the Rialto, Damson hasn’t come out of the drawer in a while. While I already have purple ink in the Duofold right now, Damson is on the opposite side of the range so there isn’t an overlap.

Speaking of the Duofold, I was reminded the other day of how good looking the material is. Just add sunshine and…

Hard to compete with that.

12 July 2024

What’s What 7/1/24

Staying local and an unexpected revelation.

Inked Right Now

  • Parker Duofold International with Teranishi Fujiyama Irodori Rin

  • Spoke Icon with Nagasawa Kobe #59 Hirano Gion Romance

  • Zebra Sarasa Grand with Zebra Blue Gray

Gone from last time: Taccia Spectrum, Parker Duofold Maxima, Pelikan Steno. In other words, everything.

Staying local refers to diving back into my own collection for the next pen to ink rather than searching outside for new things to acquire. Shopping my own store, if you will. It’s an easy perspective to lose sight of at times but worth keeping near the top of my mind.

I was editing my pen list in Fountain Pen Companion and then sorted the list to see what I hadn’t used in a while. Has it really been two-ish years since I used some of these pens? Yes, it has, so I picked a few to dust off and ink up.

The Duofold International is a great pen in pretty much every way for me. Stunning chatoyant blue material, broad italic nib that’s more smooth than sharp, and very comfortable to write with. I paired it with the newest ink I have — Rin purple from Teranishi’s Fujiyama Irodori line. I didn’t know about this set of inks until I was browsing Jetpens for some multipen refills a few weeks ago and stumbled across it. It looks more blue-black than purple in the image above because I couldn’t get a good picture with my phone and had to scan the page instead. I’ll add some better shots of the color later. It flows well in the Parker and isn’t too wet. I decided to use this combination as my daily journal pen for the month, replacing the Duofold Maxima.

The Spoke Icon can confuse you at first sight. Looks like it could be a flashlight. Or maybe a hand tool of some sort, where under the cap you’d find a specialty screwdriver or a pointy scriber. It would be perfectly at home in a tool box given the black Delrin body and silver metal accent. But the Icon is a fountain pen and it’s a pleasure to use thanks to one of the best metal grips I’ve found on any pen. It originally came a with nice EF nib, but I wanted something bigger this time out. Not another stub or italic since the Parker has that covered. How about a broad architect? Yes, that’s the ticket. I covered this nib in a previous entry and each time I use it I’m glad I took a chance on it five years ago. I chose another recently acquired ink for this pen — Kobe Nagasawa #59. It’s a dark gray that pulls off some shading with the wide architect lines.

Now to the outlier. Something looks odd in this week’s trio, right? Since when does a gel pen land in the fountain pen centered currently inked lineups? It took being the best off the shelf gel pen I’ve used. Like, ever. It took being good enough to compete with my preferred rollerballs as a legitimate daily carry option. It took the latest iteration of the Zebra Sarasa Grand with blue gray ink.

Okay, that came off as dramatic, but this pen impressed me greatly. I know Zebra makes solid products. I used to love their Zeb Roller 2000 and steel-bodied F series pens once upon a time. However, Zebra hasn’t done much for me in a while. Their inks are fine but the pen bodies tended to miss in one way or another. The previous version of the Sarasa Grand got my hopes up until I tried it. The clip sat too high and got in the way of my thumb when clicking the pen open or closed. The 2024 version addresses that issue and I’m fine with the click action now. So, it’s a high-quality body that I can operate cleanly, but what elevates the Sarasa Grand to best gel pen status?

The ink.

This blue gray shade is great. It’s right in line with Caran d’Ache Magnetic Blue and Akkerman New East Indigo fountain pen inks. Something about the color just hits me square and I crumble, in a good way. It’s nice to get surprised with that experience from anything. This time it happened to come from a gel pen, which is among the last things I’d expect to provide it.

If the Sarasa Grand sounds interesting to you, Joe at The Gentleman Stationer has a write up on them and they’re available in his shop as well. I didn’t get my Sarasa from Joe but I’ve bought other items from him before and always had an excellent customer experience.

1 July 2024