Lamy Al-Star Vibrant Pink: Pen and Ink


This is hardly breaking news, but Lamy gave us another nice Al-Star for 2018, the Vibrant Pink, with matching ink.

I’m not sure this new Al-Star is any more interesting than any other, but it is pink, and that’s an excuse for photos, plus a headline that contains a poem. I’ll include a twist at the end, too. (All this, and for free, too? Such a deal.)

Well here we go: Vibrant Pink, pen and ink.

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Happy Galentine’s Day, Fountain Pen Friends

Today is devoted to two celebrations: a belated Galentine’s Day, plus Valentine’s Day.

And all involving pen stuff. Not because I’m a total loser. Not just because I’m a total loser. But also because it’s a blog about pen things.

What is Galentine’s Day? Only the most awesome holiday ever. Galentine’s Day started on a television show, Parks and Recreation, when Amy Poehler’s character decided the day before Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate female friendship, over brunch. Thus Galentine’s Day.

This should totally be a thing. So I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world: Happy Galentine’s Day.

Except, we need to add a few wrinkles. First, we’re a day late, because it’s me. Second, we’re on the internet, and I’m not a morning person, so that brunch thing isn’t happening. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, or open a package of cookies or a bottle of wine. I toast you, virtually.

The biggest change is that our Galentine’s Day is open to all, whether a real gal or an honorary gal. If you’re a guy — and you are still reading — then hopefully you’re happy to be one of the gals. Make yourself at home. It’s my internet-only, fake-brunch, day-late, Galentine’s Day, and all are welcome.

I’m not going to shy away from gal-palling here. But I’m also going to assume that honorary gals will be interested, too, if only to see the other side.

Here are some pretty pens that seem fitting for this Galentine’s Day.

Pelikan M600 Pink and Pelikan M605 White Transparent

These are the Pelikan M600 Pink and the Pelikan M605 White Transparent, and they are the nicest Galentine’s pens ever.

But you know, gals do not just like pink things. In fact, some gals don’t like pink at all. And that is okay. Galentine’s Day is for all. Here’s a green pen I like.

Sheaffer PFM I green

And here are some pens that aren’t very colorful.

assorted fountain pens

Those pens are sober enough even for those guys who don’t qualify as honorary gals.

But you know what? I hate to say it, but, they aren’t really fun enough for our celebration. For today, let’s forget those. They can come back on, say, tax day. A guy day if ever there was one.

Instead, I will grab some fountain pens that are more fun and Galentine’s-appropriate.

assorted fountain pens

One of those is even black, and that one is also owned by a guy I know.

See! Galentine’s Day is all about celebrating your friends, and mine are pretty great.

Now, some might say that my friends have great taste. But that’s not for me to say. Because if I say that, it would be sort of complimenting myself, because of the implication that they also have great taste in friends (me). So I can’t really say that, and still be modest. Apparently. So I’ll just leave it to you gals and guys to say that. Right there, in the comments. Below. At the bottom there.

Okay, have we all left fawning compliments? Good work. So here are some other writing instruments that would work for this special day.

Lamy Safari pencil and ballpoint pen

These are the Lamy Safari Pink ballpoint and mechanical pencil. These live on the top of my desk, where my husband can use them. Because they are pink, if he walks away with them, I will track them down, and he’ll have to sheepishly return them to my desk.

This makes a happy contrast with, say, my phone charger.

And speaking of people who are your family but use that to walk off with your things, here’s a small sample of things found today in my daughters’ rooms.

Field Notes

Those are Galentine’s Day-appropriate Field Notes. You’ve been reading me long enough to know that they once were mine. No more. I now buy at least two packs of anything gal-like, for this reason.

I guess that makes every day a Galentine’s Day, and that’s a nice thing. But looking at that photo, I want to suggest, bitterly, that Jailentine’s Day might be more appropriate. That one on the right is fly.

Ah well. I will console myself.

Lamy Safaris

Those are some Safaris I have. I am pretty sure that Fred Astaire was thinking of these in Swing Time when he sang, “Some day, when I’m awfully low / When the world is cold / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / And the way you look tonight.”

And there’s a second verse. So here is a drawer of Al-Stars, too.

Lamy Al-Stars

This year’s Vibrant Pink will slot in there, too. Some day, when my pen arrives ….

Ah what a pretty picture. I am so glad we could share this Galentine’s Day in pens together.



Comparing My Many Pen Cases, Because the Road to Wisdom is Excess

fountain pen cases

I was admiring my new pen case the other day, when I decided to compare it to the other pen case I have.

Okay, stop. I fell victim right there to one of the classic blunders. The most famous is “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But nearly as well-known is “never check your pen things after you’ve bought something new.”

Because, when I pulled out “the other pen case I have,” I found more than one. I actually found pen case after pen case — a clown car of pen cases. At least one of which I swear I’ve never seen before.

Well. Some might ask “how” or “why.” But in the spirit of the age, I’d rather ask, “How can I rebrand a character flaw into something flattering?”

Oscar Wilde is the man for this: “Moderation is a fatal thing, Lady Hunstanton. Nothing succeeds like excess.”

Or the poet William Blake: “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.”

So what if Wilde died in exile after serving prison time, and Blake is synonymous with madness? All that means is that I have the sort of genius in pen-case ownership that isn’t recognized in its own time.

So I shall wisely compare my many pen cases.

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Liz Newton Pen Case

Liz Newton standing pen case velcro desktop wrap

I just got a really nice standup pen case, custom made by Elizabeth Newton, and I want to show you. Because it’s a great case, and it’s a really great value.

Elizabeth hand makes pen wraps and sells them at Liz Newton Designs. Here is a link to her website. I first saw her wraps at the 2017 Chicago Pen Show, but they sold so quickly that I didn’t get one. When she posted a photo of a standup case on Instagram a few days agao, and said they were on sale, I jumped to buy one.

I ordered mine in royal blue and red, the colors of the Chicago Cubs baseball team. A few days later, this beautiful case arrived. It’s called the velcro desktop wrap, and it holds five good-size pens.

Liz Newton standing pen case velcro desktop wrap

The coolest thing is that when you put your pens in the wrap and close it, the case stands up by itself. Wow.

Because many is the morning that I, a human, struggle with that. But here’s this case, made of a soft fabric, in pretty colors, and it stands up on its own. Every single time, without groaning or grabbing its knee or wishing for coffee.

I’m not the most scientific person, but I know how this works. Magic.

Liz Newton standing pen case velcro desktop wrap

I can review this case in two words: It’s awesome. It looks beautiful, and works well. The fabric is attractive and feels nice to the touch: silky rather than stiff or rough. I like that it stands up, because that keeps the pens nib upwards. And I like that it’s easy to open, but also closes securely with the velcro.

Liz Newton standing pen case velcro desktop wrap

And I like how it looks. Go Cubs, Go.

I have a lot of cases, but I probably use pen wraps and pen rolls the most overall, because they are a good combination of light weight and protective. I tend to use pen rolls like this to carry pens in my purse and such, while I save the sturdier cases for when pens need protection from being smushed by a laptop or books or something.

The size of this case seems ideal. Rolled up, it’s compact. But it seems to fit all but the largest pens, and I don’t have pens that large. I know it easily fits pens the size of a Lamy Safari, and a Montblanc LeGrand. I’ve got five pens in there now: Pelikan M600-size pens, a Pelikan M400 size pen, a Montblanc 146 and a Montblanc LeGrand.

Montblanc pens in pen case Liz Newton

In terms of price, it’s a great value, especially now, because Elizabeth is having a promotional sale. The price can vary, depending on whether the fabric you want is regular or a special order. Mine uses a regularly stocked fabric, so it normally costs $20 plus shipping. But because the wrap is on sale right now, mine was $15 plus shipping. Shipping to Chicago cost $3, and took two days.

That’s such a screaming deal, I’m almost embarrassed. A pen wrap that’s hand-crafted and hand-sewn, in the colors you choose, delivered to your door for $18. Even if the case didn’t stand up, that would be a great deal. But. It. Does.

I feel like we all should get one. In fact, I’m thinking of getting another. Maybe blue/yellow, for my alma mater. Maybe brown/light blue, to class things up. Or brown with cream, likewise. Someone suggested orange/black, which would be fun. It could be anything, Even a simple red and pink, for Valentine’s Day, and every day.

The possibilities are endless. But this one is great.

Liz Newton standing pen case velcro desktop wrap


Bits and Pieces and Lamys and Pilots

So how are we all doing? All good? I hope so. I’m good, too, just super busy doing other things. As a result, I feel like I’ve been more inattentive than usual to my fountain pen blogger responsibilities.

Except, of course, the whole reason I took the job of fountain pen blogger in the first place is that it comes with absolutely no responsibilities. Excellent!

Except the pay? Same.

Still, I do like to check in with everyone, at least every once in a while, if for no other reason than to signal that I’m not dead or anything. So here’s what’s going on here, in pens and other follies.

1. Pilot Kakuno.

Last Sunday someone showed me a Pilot Kakuno in clear plastic. I was taken by it. It seems like a nice starter pen: it’s small but not tiny, with a comfortable grip. And I love a clear pen. Yes, it’s for children. But I don’t hold that against pens. I’m a Safari fan (like all right-thinking people).

2. Almost mine.

I liked the Kakuno in clear plastic so much that I actually put one, with a converter, into my Jetpens cart. Come for washi tape, leave with a pen. It’s that $25-free-shipping offer. It gets me every time.

In the end, though, I didn’t get it. As nice as the Kakuno is, I realized I wouldn’t use it beyond the first “Isn’t this fun!” stage.

3. Great news, Lamy.

You may remember that at the Ohio Pen Show someone took off with my beloved Lamy Pico in Laser Orange. That was a bummer. But this week Fontoplumo announced that Lamy is adding the Laser Orange as a regular Pico color.

The Laser Orange Pico was possibly my favorite pen purchase of 2016, and I’ll buy another for sure.

(There are some other new Lamy colors, too, including a very nice purple Lamy Nexx, for purple fans.)

4. Lamy, Lamy, Lamy.

Speaking of new Lamy colors, it hasn’t been officially announced, but it has been reliably rumored that the new 2018 Safari is going to be a textured black color.

Honestly, my first thought was “blah.” A textured black would be the third not-fun Safari in a row. Is this one necessary? There are three Safari or Al-Star pens in black or charcoal in the regular line already. In fact, a Charcoal Safari is the one pen I always keep inked.

But the idea has grown on me. It may be Stockholm Syndrome, but if the not-fun Safari is going to remain Lamy’s thing, they could do worse than textured black. I like black; probably everyone likes black.

Plus, well, I don’t know how to say this, but … I’d never really looked closely at the Charcoal, despite using it daily. And, now that I have, I think Lamy may have a point. The Charcoal is kind of an odd shade of gray. A textured black Safari might be more appealing.

So I’m mildly looking forward to this new not-fun Safari. Add that to the Laser Orange Pico and the 2018 Vibrant Pink Al-Star. That’s three Lamy purchases on the horizon for me, and I’m feeling positive about all three. Good vibes, Lamy.

5. The Best Lamy.

My favorite Lamy is on its way back to me as we speak — the Dialog 3. Thanks to the intervention of a good pen dealer (the Nibsmith), my pen is in the mail, with its clip apparently all fixed.

And just in the nick of time, too. I missed that pen so much I was debating between nailing Christmas lights to the wall to try to communicate with it, or firing up the shrine to Jobu and sacrificing a Platinum Preppy.

I think the lesson here is that having a good pen dealer is important.

6. Better than Lamy.

Virginia Woolf’s birthday was this past week. We are not worthy. Looking for a reading suggestion? Pick up Mrs Dalloway, or To The Lighthouse, available at fine bookstores and libraries everywhere. I’m going to pick up my copy of The Waves again, and this time, I swear, I’ll finish.

7. Actually.

Actually I have a Virginia Woolf pen. It’s beautiful.

I mean, it’s not Virginia Woolf’s pen. Of course. Fun fact: fountain pens were a new-fangled invention to her. I seem to remember a passage in her letters or diary where she totally dragged this buggy new technology. Yet to us, fountain pens are old-fashioned. I find that delightful. Also a little trippy.

How to Resist Temptation

It’s not even the end of January, and I’ve already been tempted with a slew of new or upcoming pens, dangled in front of me, metaphorically, via the internet. And I don’t want pens, darn it. But the weather is terrible, and I’ve been inside a lot. Also, I’m weak.

On the other hand, because I have zero willpower, over the years I have developed some excellent coping mechanisms of my own, and jealously catalogued others. And I am going to share some of those here, in hopes of inspiring myself. Or, more realistically, in hopes of keeping my attention otherwise occupied, so I don’t buy anything. (See Number 4, below.)

1. The Fifties Popular Culture Method. This is my most-used, and most recommended, method of resisting temptation. It’s simple and effective, and can be summed up in one word: “Don’t.” Don’t resist at all. Give in, immediately. The key is to do so wholeheartedly. You don’t beat yourself up; instead, you congratulate yourself. You aren’t an undisciplined profligate; oh no. You are madcap, fun-filled and aglow with the love of life. You “seize the day.” You embody the mantra that “we only live once.” You never forget that “life is a banquet!”

Your spiritual home is a bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Your song is “Que Sera, Sera.”

2. Reason, Maturity and Proportion. This is where you stop yourself, take a deep breath, and really contemplate “why” you “need” this thing. Why, in a world so beautiful, in a lifetime that’s so short, where every breath you take could be seen as a miracle, where every sparrow’s fall is consequential — and where you already have more pens and inks than a person can use up in a lifetime — does acquiring another “thing” matter?

Your spiritual home is a gorgeous, mountain-side monastery, and your song is “Every Grain of Sand.” (This is not my usual method, but I do love that song.)

3. Delay. This is pretty easy, and especially suitable for those, like me, with a short attention span. Now what was I saying? Oh yes, delay.

Here’s how it works: something is announced and you see it on some social network site or other. Your perfectly normal reaction is, “Ooooh, shiny. Want!” You should absolutely feel free to start looking for it immediately. But I want you to attack that task with determination; I want you to give it your all. Spend a lot of time. Figure out who has it, what the price is, how much shipping would be, what nib size you want, what your friends think, what your “not really friends because they are mean to you about your choices” friends think, what other people (complete strangers using anonymous handles like “LuvFurPens”) think about it, what other stores have it, then whether the nib size you thought you wanted is really the right one, then whether there’s a converter that fits, then rethink the nib size and maybe reconsider the ideal color a few more times.

And then — and this is critical — next you have check how much it is at a store abroad. Keeping in mind that, wherever you happen to live, it will always be cheaper somewhere else.

At which point, you absolutely need to do some more sleuthing, but this time, at online merchants in other countries. Translate some words from languages you do not speak, do the currency conversion, figure out international shipping costs, do the currency conversion on that, too, then figure out if you can add a few things to justify the international shipping, then figure out if you can add a few more things beyond that, so you have enough to qualify for free international shipping. Now, with your cart full of $150, or €75 or £50 worth of items — now, and only now — you can pause. In fact, you must. This is now not just buying some small item that caught your fancy. It is now a Bigger Deal. You need to give yourself time to think. You started out looking for a $20 pen or a $15 bottle of ink; now you’ve got €150 in your cart.

Better start all over again. At a minimum, is it really cheaper when I buy everything? Maybe some of those things are cheaper elsewhere, so the whole basket would be cheaper from another merchant. Or, maybe I should just buy it in my own country and pay the slightly more expensive $20 price, but only get that one item. And maybe I need to compare a few stores right here.

But then, once you’ve settled on a source in your own country, and you’ve got it in your cart — well, of course, now, once again, you should pause.

If it all worked properly, you now have at least two carts full, with merchants in at least two different countries. And, by this point, the minutes have ticked past, perhaps bled into hours. Uh oh. You probably have to do some real work, or make dinner or do chores, or maybe you’re slated to have some actual in-person interaction pretty soon. And maybe, if everything took a good long time, you now feel disenchanted with the stupid item anyway. It cost you all that time, after all, and you still don’t have it. Stupid pen/ink/notebook. Now you’re behind on everything, just because of that stupid thing. And wait, do you really like the color burnt orange? Or a medium nib? Who wants a medium nib? Just forget it. You can go back tomorrow.

And probably, the next day, you won’t even remember that you had to have that thing. Or, if you do remember, you’ll think, meh, it’s not such a big deal anyway. I’m pretty sure I hate the color burnt orange. Maybe I’ll see it in my next club meeting/pen show/trip out of the house. And then I can decide.

Your spiritual home is the internet, and your song is “Lost in the Supermarket.”

4. Deflect and Distract. You can’t buy something if you do something else. Clean your desk (ugh, me lately, and okay this stinks — forget I mentioned it). Better is to read a book. Listen to music. Open the Poetry Foundation’s website: start with the poem of the day, then explore. Talk to a friend. Email an old friend. Find a new recipe to make for dinner tomorrow. Figure out the movie schedules this weekend. Invite a nearby friend over, or out for coffee. Turn on the tv (maybe the Blackhawks are playing). Do laundry. Clean the basement or a closet. Go to the library. Take a walk. Read a blog. Write a blog. Write a comment on a blog! Ah, that’s excellent. Life is beautiful.

Your spiritual home is a seashore at sunset, and your song is (Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay.

5. Self-Discipline. In which you look at all the pens and inks you already own, and realize you should just use those instead of buying something new.

Your spiritual home is a cabin somewhere off the grid, not connected to the internet, and you have no song, because that would require electricity. I find you inhuman.

Ink Dips: Callifolio Violet

Callifolio Violet writing samples

Ink Dips is a more casual, laid-back ink evaluation than is normal here at Fountain Pen Follies. Instead of evaluating an ink I’m actually interested in, the point of Ink Dips is to blindly pick an ink sample from a box of the pooh-poohed and, more than likely, the purple. Then I dip a toe in the water, by trying that sample in only one pen. It’s an ink experiment that’s a bit dippy.

Callifolio Violet. This is nice standard purple ink, at a nice price. It writes a nice narrow line. It is also the second purple ink in a row to become an Ink Dip. I’ll be honest, I think they won. I’m a shadow of my former self, which should scare us all.

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Ink Snippet: Montblanc Racing Green

Montblanc Racing Green writing samples

Montblanc Racing Green. Montblanc Racing Green is nearly unobtainium, unless you’re really spendy or obsessed. Montblanc discontinued Racing Green years ago, and it’s since become quite the thing. Everyone talks about it, everyone seeks it, or at least seeks an ink that looks like it. Every time a new olive-green ink is released, an ink fan somewhere wonders, “Is this like Racing Green?”

I’d never used Montblanc Racing Green before last week. When it was available, it didn’t interest me, and when it stopped being available, the price shot sky high. But I’ve been using it lately, thanks to a sample from a kind friend.

I have good news, and bad news.

The good news (at least for me) is that I don’t really get it, the mania. Yes, the ink is attractive. It’s very nice. But it’s not going to change anyone’s life. It’s not the greatest ink ever made, in my opinion. It’s not even the greatest green I’ve ever seen.

The bad news is that I don’t know another ink that’s a good doppelgänger. Normally I can point out nice inks that are pretty close. Here, however, the closest alternative is, in my opinion, not nearly so appealing.

But it’s okay. Yes, Montblanc Racing Green was a nice ink, and it’s now gone, for all intents and purposes. But don’t think twice, it’s alright.

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Ink Dips: Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet

Caran d'Ache Ultra Violet writing samples

Ink Dips is a more casual, laid-back ink evaluation than is normal here at Fountain Pen Follies. Instead of choosing an ink I’m interested in, the point of Ink Dips is to blindly pick an ink sample from a box of the slighted or set-aside. Then I dip a toe in the water by trying that sample in only one pen. It’s an ink experiment that’s a bit dippy.

Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet. This is a very nice purple ink, in an interesting hue, with good behavior in the pen, and good performance on poor paper. It is, however, very expensive, at least in the United States.

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