New Pen Day: Lamy Al-Star Bronze

Lamy Al-Star Bronze and Copper Orange

I just wanted to share a few shots of the 2019 Lamy Al-Star Bronze in real life. In the photo above, the Bronze is just below the 2015 Copper Orange Al-Star.

I bought my Bronze Al-Star this weekend. Our monthly pen club meetup was Sunday, at a wonderful pen and stationery store in Chicago called Atlas Stationers. Lucky timing, because Atlas’s first shipment of Bronze Al-Stars arrived a few days earlier. So of course I bought one. Also the Bronze ink. When Fate knocks on your door like that, you answer. (As long as Fate is not bearing three pastel Safaris, in which case, I would pretend I was not home.)

When it comes to the Bronze Al-Star, though, I’m a happy customer.

Most of my fellow pen clubbers also seemed to like it, but I do have one friend whose first reaction was dislike, so obviously tastes vary. It’s not an “aged” or “darkened” bronze color, I guess. But for most people I think the Bronze should be pretty noncontroversial and easy to like. The color is more subdued and business-like than we’ve gotten from the last few years of Al-Stars, too. It’s the classic “pen I can take to work” so many people seek. If the Bronze leads to eventual Brass and Copper color Al-Stars, I won’t be entirely surprised, but I also won’t be annoyed.

The Bronze actually reminds me not of an Al-Star but of the metallic colors Lamy picked for the more upscale Lx line. Here’s a photo of the Lx in Rose Gold above the Bronze Al-Star.

Lamy Al-Star Bronze and Lamy Lx Rose Gold

The Bronze fits in beautifully with Lamy’s older and most elegant Al-Stars. Here is the Bronze in the middle of the Coffee Brown and the Pearl, two of my favorite Al-Stars from years past.

Lamy Al-Star Coffee Brown, Bronze and Pearl

Add the Copper Orange, if you must, and you’ve got an autumnal bouquet.

Lamy Al-Star Bronze, Pearl, Coffee Brown and Copper Orange

But it’s almost spring. So here is the Bronze amidst a wider array of Al-Stars. From left are Dark Purple, Raspberry, Vibrant Pink, Ruby Red, Copper Orange, Bronze, Charged Green, Green and Blue Green.

Lamy Al-Star fountain pens collection

Just for fun, here is the rest of my little collection. Pacific, Ocean Blue, Ice Blue, Graphite Gray, Pearl, Coffee Brown, Black, Aluminum and a Green with a black clip.

Lamy Al-Star fountain pens collection

My conclusion? Al-Stars are good. And the Bronze is a worthy addition to the lineup.

I did try Lamy’s accompanying Bronze ink before I bought a bottle, and it looked like a nice color in the tester Lamy that Atlas Stationers had. The ink is a moderately saturated bronze or brown with an orange tint. I look forward to trying it out,.

 

Pen Review: Dryden Designs Modern Classic

Dryden Designs Modern Classic Silver Metallic

I got a fun email last month — Donna Padua, working for Dryden Designs, a pen company that was new to me, said she’d like to send me one of their fountain pens if I’d agree to write a fair and honest review.

I said sure, if they’d be okay with me doing something different: I’d bring it to my next pen club meetup, and pass it around, and see what everyone else thought, too. My fellow pen clubbers tend to be much more “on it” when it comes to all the newer brands and newer pen models.

A few days later, the Modern Classic in metallic silver arrived on my doorstep, sent by Dryden Designs through Amazon.

I like the Amazon idea. I tend to buy new pens mostly from pen retailers, but Amazon does reach a lot more people in the US, and it has good return policies. With the price of the Modern Classic starting at $25.95, it will qualify for Amazon’s free shipping, too. Basically, Dryden Designs is making it as easy as possible to buy this pen.

But what did I (and my pen club) think of the Modern Classic?

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A Peek at the Pen Cup: The “I Am So Normal” Edition

pen cup with fountain pens

Oh yeah, look at this pen cup. I only have five fountain pens going, and it’s good.

Nothing intentional: I haven’t been using the pens much lately. That’s because my recent work has been mostly on the computer, and I am not good at writing letters, so lately I’ve been cleaning out pens and putting them away.

I have to say, with five pens, I feel so normal.

The most recently inked is my Pelikan M605 White Transparent, because the temperature is nicely frosty here, and this pen feels wintery. It’s inked with Papier Plume Bayou Nightfall, an absolutely wonderful ink in my opinion. Pen and ink make a perfect pair, and I keep coming back to ths combination. This makes me wish I had something to write.

All my other pens have been inked up for a while. But I managed to put together a suitably Christmassy trio.

pelikan lamy fountain pens

Such a happy sight. Malibu Barbie Christmas.

The green pen is my Pelikan M205 Olivine, filled with Pelikan Edelstein Olivine — another great combination. I do have to clean this one out, because it’s been inked since I got it.

The pink pen is my Lamy Al-Star Vibrant Pink. It’s still loaded with a cartridge of Lamy Blue, mainly to keep cleaning out the feed after my Vibrant Pink ink disaster. But Lamy Blue is actually a very nice ink with this pen’s extra-fine nib, and I always like a blue ink, so this is a good combination, too.

The two pens that have been inked and re-inked the longest are what have turned into my core users. One is my long-serving Lamy Safari Charcoal with fine nib and black ink (currently Taccia Kuro). The other is a pen I bought this year and haven’t taken out of rotation since: a Sailor Professional Gear Earth with extra-fine nib, inked with Papier Plume Da Blue ink. I use these two all the time, the Safari because I can take it anywhere without worry, and the Sailor because its amazing extra-fine nib writes tiny scribbles with perfect smoothness.

I’ve actually been very busy, but it just doesn’t involve much writing with pens and ink. And frankly that’s been kind of … restful. Fountain pens and inks aren’t a job for me, just things that add a dash of delight and interest to the everyday. And that’s enough. So if pens and inks aren’t centered in my life, right now, that works. My pens and inks are easy-going; they will wait their turn.

I guess I’m using them when I can. In fact, I had to move this out of the way to take the pen cup photo.

field notes lamy safari cookbook

I was using the Safari to take notes there, because I’ve finally found the time to get into something that I’ve always wanted to do: serious bread-making. (Because people always ask: not with a bread machine, but just flour, yeast, water and salt, worked by hand and set on the counter to rise over the course of the day before being shaped by hand, and then popped onto an improvised hearth in the oven.)

So I’ve been up to my elbows in different kinds of flour, and experiments with different pre-ferments. (This cuts down on my texting a lot, too.) But I am trying to refine my technique, which means I’ve been making a lot of loaves of a basic hearth bread, tweaking a few things here or there, learning inputs and outputs, and writing them down. It’s very absorbing for me, and it’s really delicious. Also I’ve become more popular with the family. Winter’s a good time to heat up the kitchen and make food for people.

Today I’ve been hovering over my brand new sourdough starter like it’s a new baby, searching for life and activity. I should know better, though. If it’s really like a baby, that sourdough won’t start bubbling and fussing until I try to take a shower, or start a movie, or go out to dinner. And as it grows, it’s going to do the opposite of what I want. As it should! So, grow big, little sourdough, and grow free, and grow as and how you will. In the meantime, I’ll just leave this here: I’m going to go walk the dog now, then I’m going to start a movie….

My 2018 Ohio Pen Show Haul

Ohio Pen Show 2018 Purchases

I know I’m late with this. But I’m always late. It’s the Follies.

And are we going to let being late deter us? No! As Bluto Blutarsky, our Churchill, says, “Nothing is over until we decide it is!”

So here’s my “Here’s my Haul!” report. And, because it’s almost Thanksgiving we’re going to garland the pen talk with holiday trimmings. We’re stuffing ourselves. I do love a theme.

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Adventures in Fountain Pen Repair and Restoration: Esterbrooks

Esterbrook J pens

Apologies for the lack of blogging, but since the Ohio Pen Show I’ve been extra busy with work — and the type of work that didn’t involve writing with pens.

But I have been working with vintage pens, a bit, because of my involvement with the Chicago Pen Show. Different vintage pens than usual. We all know that many vintage pens are rare, and many are gorgeous, and I love looking at those vintage pens. But that slice of the vintage market gets expensive. The pens I’ve been working with this month are mostly from the other end of the scale — they are vintage pens that are reasonably priced, and easy to find and get working again. Like Esterbrooks.

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A Literary Crawl Through the World of Nakaya Fountain Pens

Nakaya Decapod Shiro Tamenuri

A Tale of Three Nakayas.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was the end of the summer. It was the beginning of fall. It was when I had the chance to use three Nakayas.

Nakaya Number One was a devastatingly attractive Decapod I got at DC, almost on a lark. It had only one issue: the nib. Yes, the nib was wonderful, but it was a very crisp oblique italic, so it was wonderful for someone who wasn’t me.

I sold it at San Francisco to an awesome person with artistic talent and great handwriting. It was meant for him. And I felt good about seeing it go to him. But I did love that pen. So I felt a twinge of … self-sacrifice, maybe? However, I knew that “It is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before.”

Then Nakayas Number Two and Three arrived, bringing us to …

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