Ink Review: KWZ Old Gold

KWZ Old Gold

KWZ Old Gold. This is yet another attractive and appealing golden brown ink from KWZ, a dye-based light brown ink with green and gold notes, that behaves very well. It closely resembles its stablemate KWZ Iron Gall Aztec Gold, but without any trace of iron gall.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Ink Review: KWZ Iron Gall Aztec Gold

KWZ Iron Gall Aztec Gold

KWZ Iron Gall Aztec Gold. Another day, another captivating light brown ink from KWZ. This one is Iron Gall Aztec Gold, and it’s an ink with green and gold notes, and just a bit of iron gall, that behaves supremely well and cleans up very easily. I think it’s lovely ink and so gentle that it would be a good introduction to iron gall inks.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Ink Snippet: KWZ Grey Plum

KWZ Grey Plum

KWZ Grey Plum. This is a very popular ink, and it’s almost unbelievably well-behaved. When I wrote with it, the “plum” part submerged into the “grey,” so I consider it essentially a dark gray or light black ink with a purple tint. I’d recommend Grey Plum to anyone looking for an interesting black ink. Or to fans of inks that change color as they dry.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Pen of the Day: Franklin-Christoph 03 with Robert Oster Tranquility

Franklin-Christoph 03 Iterum and Robert Oster Tranquility

Franklin-Christoph 03. When you work at a pen show, geography is destiny. Just like a college dorm, you are going to hang out with the people nearby. And my little corner of 2017 Chicago Pen Show was charmed, with Papier Plume behind and Franklin-Christoph to the right. Between Renso, Audrey, Mike and Jim, I had the nicest neighbors.

And as Chicago Pen Show Instagram, I loved documenting the action at both tables. Tracking Papier Plume as they sold out their Chicago Pen Show special inks, and watching the tsunami of customers at Franklin-Christoph. Most fun was when Audrey put out the trays of Franklin-Christoph pens in prototype materials each morning.

So it was probably inevitable that I ended up buying a Franklin-Christoph myself. I chose my 03 because it’s a nice, larger size, it has a comfortable section, and it has a clip. Mine is a prototype, but an understated one, in dark blue with a glassy color medallion in the cap top.

Prototype colors aren’t named, but Jim Rouse dubbed mine “Royal Navy Blue with a Porthole.”

Franklin-Christoph 03 Iterum and Robert Oster Tranquility

I am all over that name, as fellow Aubrey and Maturin fans would understand.

I chose a Masuyama stub nib in medium. I did test their SIG nibs (recommended by my friend). In fact, I tested all their nibs. And I retested. That’s a big advantage to picking out your pen at the show. You can mull.

I inked my pen with Robert Oster Tranquility, another pen show purchase. Tranquility is one of the many Oster blue-green inks. This one is on the greener side. The second and third photos are the best for accurate depiction of the ink color.

Tranquility has nice shading. It also has Oster’s trademark red sheen, slight with this pen, but more noticeable from a wetter pen.

Robert Oster Tranquility writing sample

Chicago Pen Show 2017 “Haul”

Chicago Pen Show 2017 purchases

We’re supposed to post our pen show pickups, so here are mine from last weekend’s Chicago Pen Show.

Seeing it all splayed out there is daunting. But magnificent. It takes a truck.

What did I buy? Two pens. One new, which is my first Franklin-Christoph. And one vintage, which is my second PFM I. Both pens are blue, which is my favorite color. I also bought five bottles of Papier Plume inks (my first). Three bottles of KWZ Chicago Blue. My first bottle of Robert Oster — Tranquility, recommended by blog readers. And a really cool notebook called the Zequenz roll up journal.

Zequenz roll up journal

In terms of gifts, Papier Plume threw in a stick of gold sealing wax, with which I intend to seal my many important proclamations, like “don’t put empty boxes back in the pantry.”

A friend gave me that empty Akkerman bottle. Someone else gave me a leather case (already in use). And I got a pin for a cool fountain pen blog, Of Quill Alchemy, from three amazingly talented students at the University of Chicago who run it.

The best present isn’t up there. It was finally meeting my dear friend Lou. We’ve known each other for years through fountain pens, but only via emails and letters, because we live so far away. Lou was in the area with his wife and brother for a family event, so they hung out with me on Thursday, the show’s first day.

That Thursday also happened to be my birthday. Now, of course turning 29 (once again) doesn’t phase me. I’ve gotten blasé about that, it happens so often. But finally meeting Lou and his family made for the best birthday ever.

pen wrap with opal

Lou made and gave me that gorgeous pen wrap. He knows me, however, so he handed it to me with the caution, “be careful.” The closure is opal. Which … okay, I’m fairly sure I’ll be googling “opal glue” before I turn 29 next year.

Inside, Lou stuck a few bookmarks, to remind me of some very important things. The last was, “remember to write me every once in a while.” He said that with a smile, because we’re both terrible at that. Not that it matters. Friends stay in each other’s hearts.

pen wrap interior

Along those lines, people in the US fountain pen community know that right after the pen show we unexpectedly lost Susan Wirth, a pen show mainstay and a great personality.

We always assume there will be a next time. But of course that’s not always true. So I’m going to try to remember to take more time for myself and other people. Rush around less, hang around more.

The KWZ Ink Interview, Part Two: How They Do It, and Why


This is the second part of my interview with Konrad Żurawski and Agnieszka Żurawska about their boutique ink company, KWZ Ink.

Part One explored how Konrad started making fountain pen inks for himself, and then realized other fountain pen users wanted to buy his creations, leading to the formation of KWZ Ink. Here, in Part Two, Konrad and Agnieszka talk about Konrad’s ink creation process, and the philosophy behind KWZ Ink.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

The KWZ Ink Interview, Part One: How It All Began


KWZ Ink is a boutique ink maker, crafting small batches of fountain pen inks ranging from beautifully executed standard colors to more unusual colors, in both iron gall and dye-based formulas.

Konrad Wojciech Żurawski and his wife Agnieszka Żurawska run KWZ Ink from Nowe Grocholice, near Warsaw, in Poland.

I have been using and reviewing KWZ inks for more than a year and a half, and I’m a huge fan. There are a lot of reasons why.

KWZ Ink has created some wonderful, innovative ink colors. They have mastered how to make inks that are fairly saturated but are easy to clean from pens. They have an entire line of gentle modern iron gall inks, which is so cutting-edge some people have a hard time believing it. But yes, a KWZ iron gall ink can be as low-maintenance as a traditional dye based ink. (KWZ Ink also offers one traditional iron gall ink that’s not so gentle, but is archival.)

Konrad and Agnieszka make their inks by hand in small batches, right down to the hand-written labels. But they devote the same attention to quality control that you find from the very best, long-standing brands.

So instead of reviewing individual inks right now, I wanted to interview Konrad and Agnieszka about KWZ — to get an overview of how they began, and to learn more about the process and the philosophy behind the inks. This is Part One: how they got started.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Icco Nico Washi Tapes: Calendar and To-Do

Icco Nico washi tape

Icco Nico Washi Tape. These just arrived from Japan: washi tapes for calendar and to-do lists made by icco nico, a small online stationery and accessory company in Nara-shi, Japan.

Icco nico is run by Mari Sakamoto. I found out about her and icco nico when I stumbled across a tweet a few months ago of washi tape she’d designed to make any notebook into a calendar. I use a bullet journal, and Field Notes memo books, so I loved this idea.

Icco nico’s initial calendar tapes were in Japanese only, so I waited for an English version. And here it is, from the icconico etsy shop. Happy Saturday to me.

I bought the vertical calendar set in English, which are the two washi tapes on the left and middle, and the roll of to-do tape on the right.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

The to-do tape comes in two colorways, pencil and crayon. Pencil seems to have only one size: 3mm. Crayon has three sizes (3, 3.7 and 5mm), which weren’t all in stock when I ordered. Choosing between the smallest and largest sizes, I went for the largest: crayon in 5mm. This is the 5mm to-do tape in a Field Notes memo book.

Icco Nico washi tape to-do

The larger size to-do list lets you write longer items and add information like phone numbers or addresses, which I find helpful. It also would work well if you’re writing your list with a broad point. But the 3mm or 3.7mm would have let me cram more “to-do’s” per page.

On the other hand, I don’t really want long to-do lists. I kind of feel oppressed by to-do lists already. (Because my to-do lists only contain unpleasant things that I actually don’t want to do. Duh. That’s why I wrote them down instead of just doing them.)

Hey! Instead of listing things like “dentist appointment,” what if I sprinkle in some items that say, “you are awesome”? Or, “stop working, call a friend for coffee.” Then I’d love to-do lists. Genius. Until then, however, I’ll let these pretty crayon colors carry me through.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

That’s a quick shot of the two sets in the Field Notes memo book, each page of which is only 5 ½ by 3 ½ inches.The pen is a Lamy Safari, for additional size reference. I’m actually going to use the two calendar tapes in my bullet journal, which is larger. One full month of the vertical calendar runs just over 7 inches, so it fits nicely on a single page of an A5 notebook or journal.

The calendar tapes have Saturday in blue and Sunday in red, a great touch. The tapes adhere well, with just the right amount of adhesive to let you stick and unstick a few times till you find the best spot.

Icco Nico washi tape calendar and to-do

I like both sets. Icco nico also makes some other organizational washi tapes, and I’m really glad I found it.


New Ink Day: Lamy Petrol

Lamy Petrol ink writing sample

I pounced on a bottle of Lamy Petrol ink, to make sure we had one for the Chicago Pen Show Ink Testing Station. And I really like it.

I put the ink in the Safari with a fine nib, and you can see the results. It’s a very dark green, with a blue tint. There’s a bit of shading. I’m thinking a Safari with a wider nib would show more shading, and maybe even lighten the color. On the other hand, using a wetter pen would darken it.

I don’t think Petrol is going to be a huge sheener. But the color is excellent, very dark and extremely legible. I don’t think it’s a “muddy” green, to borrow my friend Rick’s phrase. It’s a clear color, just dark. It’s going to be a great ink for work. It’s a “near black” ink.

I was filling pens for the Ink Testing Station, so I grabbed Pelikan Edelstein Aquamarine and Pelikan 4001 Dark Green to compare. (I was in the “P”s.)

Lamy Petrol ink comparisons

Look how much darker Petrol is than Aquamarine or Dark Green there.

The ink Petrol reminded me of is Sailor Four Seasons Miruai.

Lamy Petrol and Sailor Miruai ink swab comparison

I love Miruai. But Lamy Petrol is darker, and it’s bluer, and cheaper, and I have to say that I like Petrol even more. I’m definitely picking up a second bottle.

I’ll have to see how easily Petrol cleans out of a pen, but I sure love how it looks. I know a few other people have gotten it recently, too. What does everyone else think?