New Pen Day: Charleston from Jonathon Brooks of Carolina Pen Company

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

Because a thing is not worth doing if it’s not done to excess, I had no sooner plucked my urushi Charleston from Jonathon Brooks’s table at the Chicago Pen Show, than I found another.

This one is a Charleston in acrylic that Jonathon also made. It became my second purchase at the pen show, all in two minutes of shopping. That is because I am perfectly normal and sensible. Not because pens are shiny.

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

I could say I bought “only” two. Because I liked a lot of Jonathon’s pens. I was especially tempted by one in multi-colored acrylic. But even I couldn’t justify that. “Not three,” I said, virtuously.

But I kept a yearning eye on that one for the rest of the show. Until some wonderful person with very good taste bought it. Not all heroes wear capes. Thank you, friend.

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

This one is amazing. The material is black with sparkles, interspersed with a few clouds of dark blue. It’s very interstellar. Jonathon had a second that was similar, but with green, based on the Northern Lights. That one looked great, too. This one was my choice because blue is my favorite color.

This comes with a steel Jowo nib of your choice, and I picked the 1.1 mm stub.

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

That’s very nice to write with, like all Jowo 1.1 mm stubs.

It’s a cartridge/converter pen, and Jonathon once again inked this for me with the very attractive Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue. I’ve grown fond of the ink. Perhaps from now on I’ll only buy pens inked with Soda Pop Blue. Take that, boring brown American soda pop.

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

This pen cost $175. That’s expensive compared to my Safaris, but I think it’s a good deal. Aesthetically this pen is a little like my beautiful urushi and gold Charleston. It’s sparkly, it’s made of special material, and it’s subtle but with depths that repay close attention.

Jonathon Brooks acrylic Carolina Pen Company

For specifics of the Charleston model, I refer you to the prior post. It’s a large pen, and lightweight, with a comfortable section. It posts securely, but I like it unposted.

Jonathon Brooks had a hand in all three pens I bought at the show this year, since he also makes the gorgeous resin that Kanilea conceived for the Hanauma Bay pen. I love the work Jonathon does, and the work Hugh and Karol and Matt at Kanilea do with him. And they are all great people, as my friend Jon has pointed out. Which is nice.

In the end, I’m chuffed. Three amazing pens. I’m very fortunate I could swing that. But I’m surprised that I wanted to. I have been selling off pens for a while, and I haven’t had much interest in buying. Until these happened.

New Pen Day: Urushi Charleston from Jonathan Brooks of Carolina Pen Company

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

This is the first pen I bought this year at the Chicago Pen Show. It’s from Jonathon Brooks, it is urushi with gold flakes, and it is something.

Jonathon makes gorgeous resins for penmakers like Kanilea Pen Co. and Franklin-Christoph, but he also makes his own pens, from various materials, through his Carolina Pen Company. This is the Charleston model, which he finished in tamenuri urushi with gold flake.

I really like the pen design. Barrel and cap are tapered, and a little curvy, with pointed ends. The Charleston’s shape calls to mind the Nakaya Piccolo and the Edison Pearl, though unlike those pens, the Charleston cap is slightly wider than the pen body.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

And there are the gold flakes.

I just like looking at the finish.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

It’s so nice-looking.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The gold flakes are subtle, with colors ranging from reddish to yellow.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

But, we can also talk about practicality. Because as nice as this pen looks, it actually is just as comfortable to use. It’s lightweight, with a relatively long pen body, and a long section, and a nice girth. Because the cap is a little wider, there is only a tiny step down to the threads and section. And the long section is easy to hold.

In fact, the pen’s size and weight is one reason I picked this one instead of a urushi pen one from bigger, better-known brand. Another reason is the personal touch. I like that Jonathon makes his pens on a smaller scale. He only had four urushi pens on his table, all different. And as much as I like traditional urushi, raden and makie pens, it’s also nice to see innovation. This pen isn’t exactly traditional. And I like that about it.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company

The nib is a #6  Jowo 14k gold nib, marked with the Carolina Pen Company logo. Mine is a fine, but you can swap in any other #6 Jowo nib, even those made by Franklin-Christoph or Edison or after-market sellers of interesting nibs.

The Jowo fine gold nib is a standard Jowo fine, slightly on the finer side, which is exactly how I like it. It writes well. Jonathon filled mine with Robert Oster Soda Pop Blue, which I’d never used before, and really like.

The pen came with a pen rest and a pen sleeve; I picked pink for the sleeve.

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It’s a cartridge-converter pen and uses international cartridges, which is an easy-to-clean filling system allowing a lot of flexibility.

And, again, the pen’s size really works for me. Here’s a comparison to other well-known pens — from left to right, a Montblanc LeGrand (146), a Lamy Vista, the Charleston, an Aurora Optima and a Pelikan 400.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

Here are the pens uncapped. Notice the Charleston’s nice long section.

Jonathon Brooks urushi Carolina Pen Company size comparison

I find the pen perfectly comfortable to use unposted. Though I have smaller hands it seems large enough for people with larger hands, too.

Despite the gold flakes, the pen isn’t really blingy. It catches your eye, and invites you to look closely to discover why.

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It’s a lovely pen. It’s another pen I just love to look at, even when I’m not writing with it.

I really have nothing that isn’t positive to say. The craftsmanship is flawless. The finish looks beautiful and the cap screws on well. I like writing with it. I like seeing it. And I like having a pen by Jonathon Brooks: he’s a first-rate pen and materials maker, but he seems like an even better person. And I feel very lucky to have this beautiful pen.

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Technical Difficulties

Ooh, there was a really weird issue with the blog — my last post totally disappeared when I used the phone app yesterday to correct a small mistake. Then the post turned into a much earlier draft. Wild. I think it’s up again in proper form, but that was very exciting for a while.

And I’ve learned two important lessons: don’t use my phone for anything, and don’t ever correct anything. Which, when you think about it, are actually broadly applicable lessons for life. For example, add “never ask him out,” and it’s basically the dating advice from The Rules.

Another, more felicitous and intriguing, thought … what if I’ve been hacked? What if non-state actors are trying to get at my secret pen files? What if they’ve discovered that my little blog is not really about pens at all, but is clever cover for an international espionage ring? When you think about it, “resin” must be code for something else? And what about ink? Or, wait a minute, iron gall ink? This kind of stuff couldn’t really occupy someone’s serious attention for years, right?

New Pen Day: Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Here’s one of the pens I bought at the Chicago Pen Show, in fact the last pen I bought at the pen show. It’s the Kanilea Hanauma Bay.

I really tried not to buy this pen. I tried to be sensible. But it was like going to a puppy adoption event, casually. You just want to “see the puppies.” You start playing with the little guys. Of course. Puppies are cute. Next thing you know, you’ve got little Bernard in the back seat, and you’re wondering if your husband will actually divorce you for this.

Except a fountain pen will not chew the baseboards and shred the curtains. So this was a comparatively sensible decision. Plus, it was my birthday, so the rules do not apply.

However, if you want to avoid succumbing to temptation, at least now I can help you. I can point out exactly where I went wrong: I picked it up. And then I really looked at it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I kept looking. And then, it was too late. It was my puppy now.

The Hanauma Bay resin is a mixture of swirly bits and sparkly bits and even translucent bits, in blues, blue-greens, white and oranges. From every angle, in every way, it’s beautiful, and interesting.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The Kanilea Pen Company makes fountain pens designed around custom-made resins by Jonathon Brooks. The family behind Kanilea are Hugh and Karol Scher and Matt Baldwin, and they work with Jonathon to come up with resins that reflect elements from their travels in Hawaii. Together they’ve created eleven Kanilea fountain pen materials. This is the latest, named after Hanauma Bay in Hawaii.

There are all kinds of ways to customize a Kanilea pen, since they make five different body styles, and you can get it with a clip or clipless. Mine turns out to be the classic flush design, with a medallion in gold-plated sterling silver.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Even within a particular material, the resins, and thus the pens, are slightly different. This is mine.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I like pens in one of two categories: minimalist and modern, or colorful and fun. The pen body may be minimalist, but the material is very colorful. And very beautiful. In some spots, it makes me think of Van Gogh.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The material has depth. It repays your attention. You see something new every time, and on every part as you rotate it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

And no matter how it looks in photos, it looks much better in real life. I’d seen the pens before, in Kanilea’s wonderful product shots. That didn’t prepare me for how great they look in person.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

It’s not surprising for a pen made in small numbers, with this care and attention, and with custom-designed material, but these are expensive. Mine was $395 with a steel nib. It’s a cartridge-converter pen, and you have a choice of steel nibs from extra-fine to stub. Or you could upcharge to a gold nib if you wanted. Hugh adjusts the nib to your liking. Mine has the steel stub.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

A pen in this price range isn’t an impulse buy, or at least it wasn’t for me. But I had sold some pens and could buy this. And I haven’t had any second thoughts — in fact, the opposite. I feel pretty lucky to have it.

The nib writes well after Hugh’s ministrations, and the pen body is lightweight and a good size, with a comfortable section. I enjoy writing with it. But the bottom line is, it’s just gorgeous. And very time I pick it up, I’m delighted.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

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Artwork by Mary Jo Ernst, sketched at the 2018 Chicago Pen Show. Mary Jo can be found on Instagram under @mysteriousmannequin.

Chicago Pen Show: Tally

Pens Purchased: Three.

Amount Spent: Eleventy zillion dollars.

Inks Purchased: Four.

Graf von Faber-Castell Moss Green, which I’ve sampled and really like.

Graf von Faber-Castell Electric Pink, which had me at “electric pink.”

Montblanc Lucky Orange, which my friend Dan likes and I thought he might need. But then I forgot to tell him. So I guess we’ll find out if he reads the blog.

Diamine Earl Grey, which I really liked, though I wouldn’t have predicted that.

Inks I Forgot I Purchased: One. KWZ Hawaii Blue. It’s a KWZ, and it’s blue, so of course.

Inks Not Purchased: Two. I set aside KWZ Honey on Sunday, but forgot to go back to buy it. And I wanted another Papier Plume Da Blue, but forgot completely.

Lists Needed Next Year: “Don’t forget to buy these at the pen show.”

Pens Repaired: One. It took two wonderful pen repair people to do it.

Nibs Ground: None. I brought the nib, like last year, but forgot to bring it over, like last year.

Lists Needed Next Year: “Don’t forget to do this at the pen show.”

Thought That Just Occurred to Me: Perhaps a temporary tattoo would work better than a list.

Pens Sold: Seven or eight. Thanks, Rick.

Required Research on Nakaya pens at the Classic Pens Table : Probably 50-80 visits. But I mean, the show was four days.

Nakayas Now Needed: One. Nakai-ai in Unpolished Shu with Flex Double Broad Cursive Italic.

Best Thing: Meeting a pen friend from Michigan in person for the first time.

Next Best Thing: Lots of other nice people.

State With Highest Ratio of Incredibly Nice People: Iowa. Especially Nick, Diana, Paloma and Steve.

People I Could Have Talked to for Much Longer: On Saturday night it was three: Nicole, Trevor, and Laura. But every day, and every year, at the pen show it seems like I could just answer “everyone.”

Exact Moment My Brain Fried: 8:30 pm, Saturday night. Bang, fizzz, poof, gone.

Total Hours of Sleep Over the Three Nights: Twelve.

Number of Brain Cells Currently Functioning: Twelve.

Life-Changing Discovery: “Cold Foam Cascara Cold Brew” from Starbucks.

Number of People Who Asked Me, “Are You Following Me Around?”: Four.

Number of People Who I Hope Were Kidding About That: Four.

Papier Plume Bootlegger’s Sacrament and Da Blue: Ink Giveaway Winners

Congratulations! For the Papier Plume ink Bootlegger’s Sacrament, LJD was selected. For Papier Plume Da Blue, it was Meg Weglarz. Please contact me through the link on the blog with your name and address by May 1 to claim the prize. Or let me know if you’re coming to the Chicago Pen Show, and can pick it up there, and I can add some extra stuff.

Thanks to everyone who participated. Papier Plume will be selling these inks at the Chicago Pen Show, May 3-6, and then afterwards on their website, if any remain.

Here’s the Bootlegger’s Sacrament list. Excuse any misspellings.

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And here’s the list for Da Blue.

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Papier Plume Giveaway: Da Blue and Bootlegger’s Sacrament

Papier Plume Da Blue and Bootlegger's Sacrament

Thanks to Papier Plume, I’ve got a bottle of each of the two inks Papier Plume made for the 2018 Chicago Pen Show to give away through the blog.

This year’s inks are Bootlegger’s Sacrament and Da Blue. They are beautiful colors, in beautiful bottles, and Papier Plume intends to make no more of either after this batch of 120 of each sells out.

To enter to win all you have to do is leave a comment about the inks down below. I’ll put you down for both, unless you say that you only want one, but the first winner won’t be entered in the second drawing. I’ll draw for Bootlegger’s Sacrament first, then Da Blue.

One entry per person please, and please let your friends know. It’s a nice thing to do. If they win, they’ll love you forever. And I’m sure you can get some ink out of them.

I will select the two winners on April 25, using a random number generator, and then post their names here on the blog. So be sure to check back. Once announced, each winner must contact me by May 1 to claim the prize. If you’re coming to the Chicago Pen Show, I applaud you — and more to the point, I’ll give you the ink in person. Otherwise I’ll mail it. Thanks for entering.

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Additional rules: If any prize isn’t claimed by May 1, 2018, it expires. Retail price of the ink is $10 per bottle. Prize is not transferable, and has no cash value. Odds depend on number of entries. No purchase necessary. Purchase will not improve odds of winning. Entrants must be 18 years of age. Void where prohibited by law.

Ink Review: Papier Plume Da Blue

Papier Plume Da Blue

Papier Plume Da Blue. This is a gray-leaning blue-black ink, with an itsy bitsy hint of green. Da Blue ink pays tribute to the Chicago Bears football team, and is one of two limited-edition inks that Papier Plume of New Orleans is bringing to the Chicago Pen Show next month.

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Announcing two new Papier Plume inks for the 2018 Chicago Pen Show: Bootlegger’s Sacrament and Da Blue

Papier Plume Da Blue and Bootlegger's Sacrament

Papier Plume of New Orleans has once again made two special limited edition inks for the Chicago Pen Show: Da Blue and Bootlegger’s Sacrament.

I’m dropping the dime today, with a quick first look at these inks. Over the next few days, I’ll post detailed reviews with photos, including writing samples. And keep checking back for a giveaway. Papier Plume has generously given me a bottle of each ink for a lucky Fountain Pen Follies reader.

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