What I Bought in 2016: Fountain Pens

2016 pen purchases

I like to do a year-end accounting of what I bought, to keep myself honest, and to try to learn a little. Here’s what I’ve learned looking back at my 2016 fountain pen purchases: ouch.

I bought 19 pens this year. They are all very nice pens. But I find the total number surprising, and excessive. Also, two of them are purple. Which is just messed up.

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Ink Review: Bung Box Dandyism

Bung Box Dandyism writing samples

Bung Box Dandyism. This is a very dark green ink, made by Sailor for Bung Box in Japan. It’s an appealing color that in some ways combines the best of Sailor greens. And it perfectly hits the recent craze for very saturated and wet inks. Unfortunately, it’s an expensive ink here in the US, or I think it would be more popular.

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New Clips for the Kaweco Liliput

Kaweco Liliput Clip

Here’s some welcome news: Kaweco is coming out with clips for their Liliput fountain pens and ballpoint pens. Two clips, because the ballpoints and fountain pens have a different diameter.

I reviewed two of the Liliput fountain pens here, along with the large size Supra. I really liked the Liliput. It’s a very small carry-around fountain pen with a really sturdy form factor, and the excellent Kaweco stainless steel nib also used in the AL-Sport, AC-Sport and Dia2.

And I think the clip’s a great addition. Because it’s such a small pen, I like having the option to clip the Liliput in place inside a pocket or bag. I’m not sure what the clip price will be, but clips for the Sport pens range from $3 to $6 in the US, so I’m guessing “reasonable.”

Kaweco keeps impressing me, because they keep coming out with products and designs that show they are fountain pen users themselves. I really like this pen company.


Photo courtesy of Kaweco press release




Some Journal Inspiration

“Writing has so much to give, so much to teach, so many surprises. That thing you had to force yourself to do — the actual act of writing — turns out to be the best part. It’s like discovering that while you thought you needed the tea ceremony for the caffeine, what you really needed was the tea ceremony. The act of writing turns out to be its own reward.”

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird, sent along by a friend.

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve, and I heard this on the radio when I was returning from picking up the last of bits we need for tonight and tomorrow. It made me think of my mother, who loved Christmas.

Our family Christmas traditions, as I’ve mentioned before, are Swedish, so Christmas Eve has always been more meaningful to me than Christmas Day. It’s the night of our family’s traditional Swedish dinner, and it was the night growing up that our church had the children’s pageant, the carols, the service. It’s the night that’s not about things.

My mother was the kindest, smartest, most talented person I ever knew. Also very strong-willed and certain. Our personalities and interests were quite different, so I was something of a trial for her. I was always doing things my way. She eventually learned that I was probably the one thing she couldn’t fix. I was the recipe that turned out all whacked.

But there were good ingredients in there. And at least I always made her laugh. So she came to bear my foibles with a resignation that was entirely unusual for her. I like to think that she came to appreciate individuality and difference. But now that I’m a mother, I think it’s more likely that she adopted the, “Don’t look at me; it’s not my fault” shrug that comes in handy for us all.

I love my mother, and I’ll probably always strive to be worthy of her. She was the best person I ever knew. She passed away after a long and difficult illness days before Christmas two years ago, so she’s especially in my thoughts this time of year. I know she wouldn’t love this version of Silent Night. I guess I’m still doing things my way. But this does remind me of her. I remember the crunch of the snow as we walked home from church in the dark of night on Christmas Eve, in the sharp and bitter cold. I like to think of my mother now sleeping in heavenly peace, in the dawn of redeeming grace.

So I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Hanukkah and a peaceful and happy end of the year with those you love.

The Naughty List, In Song

Well, I love a good Christmas song as much as anyone, probably more than most people, but I guess good songs must cost more, because my shopping trips this year have been the stuff of musical nightmares. What is going on in American malls this year?

I actually walked around Barnes & Noble with my hands over my ears for ten minutes. (Then I stood in front of the science books and loudly exclaimed, “Boy these look nerdy,” before realizing (a) I was actually there to buy a science book as a gift, and (b) the guys browsing these books would hear me. And edge away, crushed.) I am quite certain I’m on Barnes & Noble’s naughty list.

But because I practically needed to bleach out my poor brain after these trips, I’ve put together a playlist for people like me. Those who need a little un-Christmas, right this very minute. A list for my fellow naughty-listers, if you will.

Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart: Just the greatest song ever recorded. That’s all.


Car Seat Headrest, Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales: A little mopey at first, but it’s got a beat that builds in a killer way. This is my second favorite song of 2016. Your mother will be disappointed in some of the lyrics. Which are helpfully printed right there.


Flaming Lips, Yoshimi: A fairly gross video to play for your young nephews, to enliven your holiday gathering. I neither admit nor deny having done this myself.


The B-52s, Roam: Pure fun from the 80s. But also words to live by. Your mother should like this one.


The Weather Girls, It’s Raining Men: Pure fun from the 80s, part two. Put some camp in your Christmas or Hanukkah. Just made for moms.


A Tribe Called Quest, Bonita Applebum: We are rolling forward into 1990, when A Tribe Called Quest ambled onto the scene. If she listens to the lyrics, your mother will definitely not like this song. Unless your mother is me, which I’m afraid only works for three of you. Play this for your young nephews, however, and you’ll never have to attend another family dinner. Because you will never again be invited.


Lauryn Hill, Doo-Wop (That Thing): Very occasionally, someone makes something, and it’s perfect. Here you go.


A Tribe Called Quest, We the People: Extreme bad-language alert. Plus, this expresses a point of view that isn’t popular with everyone. So if you don’t already know this group, don’t click. But it’s my favorite song of 2016. So it’s gonna make my list. Also, RIP Phife.

First Look: Diamine Shimmering Inks

Diamine Shimmering Inks writing sample

Here is a quick look at some of the newer Diamine shimmer inks. A friend very nicely sent me these, and I’ve been using them with broader nibs. That’s Blue Flame with a broad architect’s nib ground by Dan Smith, Moon Dust from a 1.1 mm stub, and Firestorm Red and Inferno Orange in regular broad nibs.

These are nice enough inks, but they don’t strike me as “must haves,” at least for my normal fountain pen use. I’ll talk about why, after the jump.

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Pen of the Day: Sheaffer PFM Green with Kaweco Palm Green

Sheaffer PFM with Kaweco Palm Green ink

Sheaffer PFM Green with medium nib. I’m still rocking the holiday inks.

Here, it’s Kaweco Palm Green. In contrast to the more sophisticated Garnet Red ink that I filled last week, Kaweco Palm Green is an unabashedly kid-friendly color.

It’s the one your kindergarten-aged self would have pulled from the crayon box to color in the Christmas tree, on the construction-paper card you were making for mom.

Sheaffer PFM with Kaweco Palm Green ink

And it reminds me of gum drops.

miniature gingerbread house