What’s What 3/1/24

Basic status update, brief comment on current pen news.

Inked Right Now

  • Pilot Custom 845 with Iroshizuku Tsutsuji

  • Parker 61 with Callifolio Heure Dorée

  • Sheaffer Valiant Tuckaway with Sheaffer Purple

  • Aurora Ipsilon with Anderillium Shoebill Stork

Gone from last week: Pilot Decimo.

Three new combinations today as the month turns over.

Tsutsuji replaces Ku-jaku in the 845, brightening things up in the process.

I initially put Heure Dorée in a Parker VP but didn’t like how it flowed with that pen’s broad italic. The 61 has a smoother, wetter stub that does well with this ink’s shading quality.

Sheaffer Purple has produced the best performance yet from the Tuckaway. It’s a clean, precise writer. Additionally, it has recharged my wish to find a nice Lifetime Balance lever filler to top off my Sheaffer group.

Still enjoying Anderillium grey in the Ipsilon with Custom Nib Studio’s Journaler grind. Been a lot of fun to use for copying down passages from Emerson’s journals.

Working On

Swatches and sunlight.

I found that some inks I haven’t used or checked in a long time had not fared well. DC Supershow Blue lost a lot of volume to evaporation and what was left didn’t look good for use in a pen, so I swatched with a dip pen and poured the rest down the drain. Midnight Emerald didn’t look or smell good in the bottle so that went out too. I had a similar experience with another Franklin-Christoph ink bottle (Honeycomb) in the past year or two. 3 Oysters Cobalt also looked off. It was very clingy on the end of the glass pen I use for swatching, with bubbles that wouldn’t dissipate, and didn’t seem worth keeping.

Thinking About

The Lamy news of late is either unsurprising or a bolt out of the blue.

Dark Lilac’s (non)resurrection laid out another example of how companies are often not aware of themselves in the same way as their customers, and that any one part of the customer base tends to overestimate its place in the larger scheme. File those as unsurprising.

The announcement that Mitsubishi Pencil bought Lamy lock, stock, and barrel seemed to catch everyone out. That both companies have long-standing family ownership gives a better feeling off the bat than if a holding company or VC firm were involved. We’ll see what comes of it.


1 March 2024

What’s What 2/18-2/24 2024

Inked Right Now

  • Pilot Decimo with Robert Oster Frankly Scarlet

  • Aurora Ipsilon with Anderillium Shoebill Stork

  • Pilot Custom 845 with Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

Gone from last time: Franklin-Christoph 65 and the blue Decimo.

The 845 rolls along with journaling duty. One Decimo tags out and the other tags in. A week ago, we were looking at a snowstorm and skies were grey on grey on grey. The storm ended up being a miss in my area but the leadup pushed me to reach for a grey ink to fill the Aurora. It has a Journaler grind from Gena at Custom Nib Studio, which does well to highlight the shading properties of Shoebill Stork.

New & Exciting

Following a link from The Well-Appointed Desk I spent some time reading at browsing at Baum-kuchen. I’m pretty sure I’d heard of them before but never visited their site. Be advised you will not be in and out in a few minutes because there’s a lot to look at. A very nice catalog to shop, articles & essays, courses you can take, etc. More than that, though, is the surrounding feeling that the people at Baum-kuchen love what they do and put a great deal of passion into it. I think it’s best illustrated with the following pictures.

I won’t go through everything in the package here because it would take a while. Suffice it to say that Baum-kuchen has many of the favorite Japanese stationery items you’re familiar with, but there’s much more of their own creation. That’s what I would encourage you to explore. See if what they care about hits on what you care about.

Working On

Swatching continues. The front door at my house has tall narrow panes on either side of frame. In the morning, sunlight streams through them in a concentrated beam. This morning, I had the swatch book in my hand walking past the front door and took note of how the colors popped in the sunlight. I don’t often use direct sun for indoor pictures because it gives very strong contrast and shadow that my phone doesn’t do well with, but I thought it was worth trying for these.

One item from the Baum-kuchen order than came in handy right away were the card files from Traveler’s Company. They’re great for holding the Tsubame Ink Collection Cards I’ve filled out over the past few years.

I filled all but a few slots in two of these books, just under 120 cards total. Between the card files and the Wearingeul book I’m getting much closer to the organization I envisioned for my ink swatches.


19 February 2024

1 Month(ish) Check-in for 2024

At the beginning of January, I wrote about starting a habit tracker to help maintain and monitor progress on small things I want to do every day. One of them was writing out entries from The Daily Stoic in an Itoya Profolio. The tracker setup was in a Lamy A6.

Daily companions, in theory.Daily companions, in theory.

For the first month it was going well. The excitement of something new and the feeling of commitment to do it propelled things for a time. The tasks were in mind at some point during each day and if I missed a day then the tracker reminded me with a visual record. I always got caught up on any missed entries with the Stoic journal. However, as January ended the momentum slowed. February started and my daily habits didn’t catch the bus.

Last night I picked up the Custom 845 to make a note in my work planner. I thought to myself I haven’t written with this pen much in the last little while. Part of the daily journal habit was to use this pen exclusively for writing there, so if I wasn’t doing that then I wasn’t using the 845 like I planned. This made me find the tracker notebook and open to the February pages.

Not the ideal record.Not the ideal record.

I stopped doing the things I committed to doing. More than that, I stopped using the system that was in place to maintain accountability. This was the result. Once a few days went by without either doing the things or thinking about them, it was down the slippery slope of out of sight, out of mind.”

Today I sat with the journal a while and wrote out all the February entries to date. This was good because I felt a sense of getting back on the horse, so to speak. It was not as good in that of I wrote out 9 days of entries without all the accompanying time to reflect on them and formulate my own thoughts in response, if any.

Sorry I ditched you, Marcus.Sorry I ditched you, Marcus.

At the outset I thought the journaling would be the easiest item to do each day. It was centered on a subject that interests me and engages my mind. It provides a chance to write with a great pen regularly and appreciate its qualities. It was meant to be a small but dedicated block of time each day to focus on myself and what’s important to me. But I let go of the rope and lost it for over a week.

One thing I told myself at the outset was that new things take time to grow and there would be bumps in the road. Here’s the first significant bump. I’m annoyed with myself but not mad. It’s more important to look at what interrupted the daily flow and find an approach that helps prevent the same from happening again. Do I need to set a daily task on my phone for this? I do it for some other things so even if they slip my mind there’s something else around to help bring it back in front in me. Do I need to pick a certain time or point in the day to do the journal? Should it be whenever I get home from work, or maybe just before I go to bed?

Now that the process has restarted, we’ll see if I take heed of the first and most obvious lesson. Whether it’s high stakes, low stakes, or something in between, saying you’re committed doesn’t mean much unless you do the thing itself.

Working On

Another project got started this week. One that wasn’t planned but feels like it was somehow years in the making. Yeah, sounds random.

The stationery hobby lends itself to ephemera and things you like that don’t necessarily need to stick around once their purpose is fulfilled. I feel this is best exemplified by used notebooks.

I’ve carried a small notebook daily at work for a long time. Once all the pages are filled the notebook has done its job. If the information it contains has no relevance or long-term value then I don’t see a need to keep it. But then part of me doesn’t want to throw it out precisely because it was a dependable daily item. Given a general desire to hang on to fewer material things, and having a hard time making that a reality, the old notebooks really do need to go. So, I throw them out save for one part.

I cut off the front covers of the notebooks and kept those. Not unlike a ticket stub from a game or concert you attended, it rekindles the memory of that time/place/experience. For several years these covers collected in a drawer, not often seen, or thought about. I came across them recently in the process of reorganizing things around my desk. I also stumbled across this.

A Peter Pauper sketchbook. I bought this hoping the heavyweight paper would be good for ink swatching. Unfortunately, fountain pen inks didn’t present on it the way I wanted. I’m not a sketcher so the book sat around without a purpose. Picking it up the other day not long after finding the notebook covers gave me an idea. What if I mounted the covers onto the pages of the sketchbook, essentially making it a scrapbook. Luck was on my side because the sketchbook pages are all perforated. If I removed every other page, it would keep the book from bulging or stressing the binding too much from the added material.

Okay, let’s see how this goes.

I like Nava's design aesthetic and their sense of humor. I like Nava's design aesthetic and their sense of humor.

This pairing predates the actual Nock and Rickshaw collaboration after Nock closed. This pairing predates the actual Nock and Rickshaw collaboration after Nock closed.

Pour one out for CWPE.Pour one out for CWPE.

I quite liked this Baron Fig set.I quite liked this Baron Fig set.

So far, so good. And then I realized there were other bits and bobs that would fit in too.

I got about a dozen pages done and wondered if the identification notes were a good idea. Some of the things say exactly what they are so what’s the point in me writing it there? Maybe a note that’s smaller and more out of the way, if it’s needed at all, is a better way to go.

Now I’m digging through drawers and boxes for the little things I kept. Can they all find a place in the scrapbook? I don’t know. I’m not a scrapbook person and have never done anything like this. It’s fun, though, to save some small part of the old things so they aren’t completely forgotten.

What otherwise disposable things are you hanging on to from writing and associated pursuits?


9 February 2024

What’s What 2/4-2/10 2024

An old favorite ink leads to series of connections, unexpected Lamy, more swatching, and last week’s payoff.

Inked Right Now

  • Pilot Custom 845 with Iroshizuku Ku-jaku

  • Franklin-Christoph 65 with Colorverse Ginkgo Tree

  • Pilot Decimo with Pilot Light Blue

Gone from last week: Parker Sonnet.

Yama-guri ran low in the 845 so perused the Iroshizuku selection and landed on Ku-jaku. I bought a sample of Ku-jaku from Goulet in July of 2017. (6 ½ years feels like a lifetime in this pen hobby/journey). As best I can remember, it was the first Iroshizuku ink I used. It taught me two things — Iroshizuku ink is high quality stuff and I have a thing for inks in the teal/aqua/blue-green range.

I have distinct memories of Ku-jaku in my Lamy Vista with a 1.1 nib, writing a note at work and someone asking Oh, what color is that?” A random moment frozen in time that Ku-jaku was part of. Ku-jaku gets lost in the shuffle of my much larger ink collection these days. I should revisit it more often to make more memories with it. Sailor Yamadori is another great blue-green I’ve had a long time that doesn’t get the run it should. Using either of those inks gives a sense of nostalgia for the initial few years of growth and discovery in the hobby.

With Ku-jaku replacing Yama-guri’s chestnut brown, the currently inked set had all blue or blue-adjacent colors. The Sonnet fill of Colorverse Supernova was getting low so I pulled it and sought a warmer, earthy color for another pen.

Since I had enjoyed Supernova in the previous few weeks, I chose another Colorverse ink — Ginkgo Tree. No matter how many times I write or type ginkgo I never seem to get it correct. This is evidenced by the overwriting correction of the ink name in the first picture above. I also somehow thought it was still January and tried start February with a J. Ginkgo Tree has a nice warmth to it. Seems to have a drier flow and benefits from priming the feed every few days, particularly in these very dry winter stretches.

New & Exciting

I went to Staples today for some sundries and just as I always peruse the stationery at B&N, I always check the pen aisle at office supply stores. The fountain pen selection appears reduced to a single Waterman model in two colors. The only Parker Jotters left were ballpoints. No more Pentel Tradios or Sheaffer calligraphy models. No more Cross. There were Parker blue and black cartridges available but no Pilot, Cross, Waterman or Sheaffer carts on the refill rack. No Parker or Waterman bottled ink like there used to be. For as much as I noticed what wasn’t there, something new did stand out.

How long have you been here?How long have you been here?

Those are Lamy ballpoints on top and rollerballs below. I’m fairly sure I used to see Lamy fountain pen cartridges and other refills at Staples, but not the pens. When looking at the Vista rollerball I wondered if the cap would fit my Vista fountain pen, whose original cap was damaged a few years back. I could have taken a few minutes to confirm that one way or the other on my phone but affection for the demonstrator overtook any sense of patience. I grabbed one off the hook and checked out.

Typical Lamy.Typical Lamy.

Pristine and beautiful. Pristine and beautiful.

So, how about that cross-compatibility for the rollerball cap to the FP section? No, sadly, it’s not quite there. The sections are almost identical between the two pens. The rollerball cap will fit on the FP section but it takes some pressure to fully close and feels like you’re forcing it. The black Safari FP cap I had been using in place of the Vista’s original cap did fit on the rollerball section but has no retention strength. It comes off with the lightest touch and wouldn’t last two seconds in your pocket. Oh well. Looks like I’m now the proud, if somewhat misguided, owner of a Vista rollerball.

As Maxwell Smart would say, missed it by that much. As Maxwell Smart would say, missed it by that much.

I don’t have much experience with Lamy rollerballs. I bought a 2000 roller as a gift for my brother a few years back and tested it upon arrival. It wrote fine but that was just a few scribbles. The medium black M63 refill in today’s Vista writes smoothly and the ink dries almost in an instant. While black ink fits the pens aesthetic, a blue refill is more my taste so I suppose I’ll be looking for one somewhere soon. One thing I don’t prefer is that I feel like I can’t see the point of the pen well enough when I’m writing. It gives a sense of not knowing exactly where you’re writing. It could be counteracted by holding the pen at a steeper angle to the page but that’s not comfortable for more than a few sentences in most scenarios.

Ink performance is good.Ink performance is good.

With the two Vistas side by side, I noticed their logo markings.

That’s what years and miles do.

Working On

Swatching continues in the Wearingeul book. Since I’d recently inked up a pen with Colorverse I decided to swatch all their inks for my next batch.

I recently had a pen using my last bit of Colorverse Supernova, but did I remember to swatch it before cleaning out the pen? No, of course I didn't. I recently had a pen using my last bit of Colorverse Supernova, but did I remember to swatch it before cleaning out the pen? No, of course I didn't.

Colorverse has been a sneaky large presence in my ink collection over the years. My introduction to the brand was in 2018 when I bought an Ink Flight sample box from Tom Oddo at Ink Journal. The catch is you don’t know what inks are in the flight when ordering, so you get to be surprised. I may have heard the name Colorverse before getting them in the flight but I certainly hadn’t used or seen them in person.

A brief aside about Tom. You may know him as the online face of Goldspot Pens. Ink Journal is his personal venture where he offers flights of different ink samples every month. Tom also produces lots of other content centered around journaling, pen tips, buying advice, handwriting, creativity, and more. You should check out his blog and if you like what you see then signing up for his weekly newsletter would be worth your while. He’s also one half of the Pentertainment Podcast with PenBoyRoy, of which I am a devoted fan. I just wanted to take a moment to recognize Tom for everything he does for the pen community and the passion that shows through in his efforts.

Back to that first bunch of Colorverse samples. I liked all the inks included but Gravity Wave was surely my favorite. Can you guess what color Gravity Wave is? If you said teal, you’d be right. So, I guess teal is the color of the week given my previous talk of Ku-jaku and Yamadori.

A year or two later I got an ink sample pack from Goulet as a Christmas gift. It was all Colorverse inks from their Joy in the Ordinary series. I preferred Delicious Sleep out of that bunch with Coffee Break coming second. I’ve also been gifted Ham #65 and I won a bottle of Horizon in a giveaway from Roy and Tom on their podcast.

One thing you can’t deny Colorverse is the effort they put into their collections. The names, themes, artwork, and packaging are all the result of a great deal of work from people who care about their products. They even make the cutest little 5ml bottles you ever did see.

When I lay that all out, it’s strange to see most of the Colorverse inks I’ve had are ones I didn’t know I was getting. The flight from Tom could have been from any maker but it happened to be Colorverse. Same for the inks I was gifted. The brand established itself in my life almost entirely through the choices of other people. I’m glad it happened that way because the happiness of the unexpected is somehow a bit more than that of the choice you deliberated over making for yourself.

Closing Out

I wrote last week about an old knife I used to own and buying it again. The carbon fiber Delica has arrived, new old stock in mint condition, and I’m happy to say it is everything I remember it was. If I acquired nothing else for any of my personal interests this year, I would be fully content having regained this knife.

Spyderco C11CFPSpyderco C11CFP

Older Delicas have a more acute point to the blade, which I prefer to the more recent versions. Older Delicas have a more acute point to the blade, which I prefer to the more recent versions.

Carbon fiber Delica alongside my other Delica, a first generation example with a G-2 blade. Carbon fiber Delica alongside my other Delica, a first generation example with a G-2 blade.


5 February 2024