Department of Mixed Feelings: Emptying the Ink Bottle

empty bottle of J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier ink

I may have mentioned before that I have more than a few bottles of fountain pen ink.  The actual number is either “too many” or “nuts.” I’m a lot faster at accumulating new inks than finishing them.

But I do go through them eventually. In the last week I finished one bottle of Waterman Serenity Blue and one of J. Herbin Rouge Caroubier.

That’s partially a good feeling: I’m whittling down the numbers of bottles.  But there’s wistfulness, too.  Because I’m not going to replace the Rouge Caroubier right away.  Even though it is a beautiful, well-behaved ink, from one of my favorite brands. Even though I really like it.

Because the truth is, I still have … oh, what’s that unpleasant expression people use? Oh yes: “enough.” I still have enough ink.

But what a beautiful color.

Pen of the Day: Lamy Al-Star Ocean Blue

Lamy Al-Star Ocean Blue fountain pen

Lamy Al-Star Ocean Blue with extra-fine nib. Blue is my favorite color for fountain pens and ink. That’s not really a secret. Also not a secret is my love for Lamy pens. But I far prefer the ABS plastic Safari to the sleeker, more sophisticated aluminum Al-Star.

Except … sometimes. And this gorgeous deep blue Al-Star is one of the exceptions. I think the deep blue tone and the reflectivity of the aluminum makes the Ocean Blue Al-Star a stunner.

Lamy Al-Star Ocean Blue fountain pen

I am using it to review the ink, KWZ Azure #1. That’s because Lamy’s extra-fine nib is very different from the broad nib Aurora Optima that I’m also using with Azure #1.  Here is Azure #1 in an extra-fine.

KWZ Azure #1 ink writing sample

Pen Show Prep: Inky Stuff

ink sample filling tools

I’m helping out at the Chicago Pen Show this year, and we’re only two weeks away from opening day. So I’ve spent the last few days filling dozens and dozens of pens for the ink sample table. We’ll have a total of 300 pens for people to try different inks.

I’ve been using syringes or disposable pipettes to put the ink in a sample tube, then I fill the pens from that. Here was some interim progress, with filled pens on the left, and some used pipettes on the right.

ink sample pens and pipettes

It’s been messy. I wiped off each pen after filling, but a fair amount of ink still ended up on my fingers. However, miraculously, I didn’t spill any ink, and the kitchen table survived unstained, so I’ll take the inky fingers and stained paper towel.

inky rag and ink sample syringes

I’m done now, thankfully. I need a manicure, a massage and probably a night on the town. I think I may stay away from ink and pens for a few days, too.

But, on the bright side, the ink towel makes a nice piece of modern art.

inky rag


Ink Review: KWZ Brown-Pink

KWZ Brown-Pink ink writing samples

KWZ Brown-Pink. KWZ Brown-Pink is a very cool ink color.  It’s an interesting brown — a pale sepia with pink undertones — but it also looks like an interesting purple — almost like a faded mulberry. In both guises, it’s creative and unique.

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Flurry of Fountain Pens: Pen Group Meetup

fountain pens in case

We had a wonderful group meetup yesterday in advance of the Chicago Pen Show, which is coming up in just a few weeks. We all brought some pens. This kind of meetup is great fun, because it’s not only a nice chance to spend time with nice people, but also a great way to see and try pens you’ve only heard about. Particularly if one of the attendees has a collection to die for, like my friend Dan. That magnificent thing above is his smallest pen case.

So that case holds a bunch of Pelikans, including I think six M800s and three M1000s, plus an 85th Anniversary Aurora and two Nakayas.  But that’s just one of his pen cases. Were there four or five cases? I lost count. Because, dazzled. His collection is like the best pen store ever, except nothing is for sale and everything is inked.

I tried one of his M1000s.  Now, the M800 is too heavy for me, so the M1000 should be a non-starter, being even larger. But I thought the nib on the M1000 was heavenly.  I tried a triple broad.  Which turned out to be not much broader than my Pelikan M605’s extra-fine nib.  (Joking, not joking. Owners of modern Pelikans will understand.)

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Three Questions That Could Solve Any Problem


Isn’t that an excellent headline? Actually, I found it on the BBC website. Intrigued, I of course clicked on the article it referred to. Who wouldn’t want to solve any problem with just three questions?

Unfortunately, the article itself was a bit of a letdown for me.  Not that I really read it. It seemed to be aimed at businesses, not people. Every other sentence I skimmed contained words like “company” or “work” or “colleague.” Yawn.

Seriously, I’m sure it’s an excellent article. But any business article would be pretty much of a letdown after such a grabber of a headline.

But of course it got me thinking.  What if only three questions would give you the solution to every pressing issue?  What if you could flow chart your way to a better life?

And, you know, I think you can.  You just need better questions.

It turns out that when I thought of the problems I seem to habitually encounter, it was pretty easy to come up with many sets of three questions.  In hopes these may have general applicability, I will share them now.

Three Questions That Could Solve Any Problem:

Is my credit limit high enough?

Will my spouse find out?

Will he/she actually divorce me for this?


How quickly can I get out of here?

Are there any witnesses?

In the event there are unseen witnesses, could I explain it away?


Is it a disagreeable task?

Can I do it tomorrow instead?

Can I never do it?


Do I want to eat this food?

Do I fit in my pants?

Could I buy new pants?




Image by Gnome-help-faq.svg: Rocket000, Palosirkka derivative work: GNOME icon artists [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, LGPL ( or GPL (, via Wikimedia Commons