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.

Problem Solving, With the Very Large Array

pen cups

There are good problems to have, of course, and having too many fountain pens inked is probably one of them. I’ve been looking at a lot of new-to-me inks, so I can’t complain if that requires a lot of pens. And in there is one awesome Platinum pen I’m going to be giving away. But I still had the small issue of where to put all those pens.

Last time I confronted this, I went for a temporary solution: I ejected a rollerball from the pen cup, and moved the fountain pens around like puzzle pieces until they all fit. Not ideal, but a workable quick fix. “You go, girl.”

However, one new ink led to another, and another led to a third, and so on. Before you could say “J. Herbin,” I was over-penned once again. This time, there were no more squeezes possible, and nothing to do but add another pen cup to the lineup. And not a pretty one, either. “Le sigh.”

But it’s all in how you look at things, right?  So I shall look at my pen cuppage not as excess, but as a small tribute to the Very Large Array, which uses 27 movable radio telescopes to explore the universe.

And I mean, even the number 27 is inspiring.  When I think how many pens would fit into 27 pen cups….

“You go, girl!”

Looking at the Five KWZ Azure Inks

KWZ Azure #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 ink swabs

I have used and reviewed all five of the KWZ dye-based Azure inks, and I like the whole family, but I think we could use a sort of cheat sheet.

Here are links to the full reviews:

Together the five Azure comprise a nice range of blue inks that are low-maintenance and nicely saturated. Azure #1 kicks things off as KWZ’s traditional or standard blue, and it is the lightest and least saturated of the five. Azure #2 is a darker blue but still in the standard range. With the next three Azures, we get more fun, offbeat and vibrant shades of blue.

My quick summary goes something like this:

Most standard: Azure #1.

Most serious: Azure #2.

Most lively: Azure #3 wins by a whisker. But Azure #4 and Azure #5 also have a great kick.

Most uncommon shade of blue: Azure #4.

Most like Parker Penman Sapphire: Azure #3. Not a clone, though. Azure #5 has something of the PPS feel, too.

Best on poor paper:  Azure #2 and Azure #5.

Most dry: Azure #2 and Azure #3.

Most wet: Azure #4 and Azure #5.

Best shading: Azure #4.

Best sheen: Azure #4.

Easiest to clean: They all clean out wonderfully easily.

Most water resistant:  Azure #2. With a big “but.” On normal paper they’ll all soak in sufficiently. On fountain-pen friendly paper, none is actually water-resistant, but Azure #2 seems to survive the best of the five.

Best for a Lamy Safari: Azure #4. This is a category of interest to exactly one person in the entire world. But that would be me.

Most swoon-worthy: Azure #3 (more dry) and Azure #5 (more wet).

I think they are all excellent. I received samples of Azure #2 and Azure #3 from KWZ to do those reviews.

Aurora Optimas: What Do We Say to the God of Fountain Pen Problems? Not Today.

Aurora Optima fountain pens in box

Well, Fountain Pen Follies did not enjoy a great start to the week, what with finding yucky stuff in some ink. However, let’s put that drear aside. Fountain pens are supposed to be fun. And here’s what I got yesterday from a very nice friend: this fantastic Aurora box.

Look at that gorgeous thing. Even the sun is happy to see it.

The box is wood on the outside and soft fabric on the inside. It’s like a luxury hotel room for fountain pens. And here are my Optimas, all moved in.

Aurora Optima fountain pens

From left to right, that’s the 365, the Sole, the Emerald Green Auroloide, the Blue Auroloide with gold, the Demonstrator with chrome, the Demonstrator with red, the Burgundy Auroloide, the Nero Perla and the Blue Auroloide with chrome.

I am waiting for the Monviso, which should come out in a few weeks.

And after that, I’ll still have ten spots to fill. It’s going to be fun. So check back in ten years.  Just calendar that in now.

A Peek at the Pen Cups


My pen cup runneth over.  Both of them. And they show what’s going on here for the next week or two.


I’ve got four Kaweco Sports inked right now.  Three of them contain inks I’m going to be reviewing, or might be reviewing or really thought I’d already have finished reviewing.  Those pens are blue, clear and purple, respectively.

The other is my new AL-Sport.  Which is new.  I am not sure I expressed that clearly enough.  I meant, new!  Well, actually, newest.  Newest!


Does that photo up above look sufficiently dark and mysterious?  Good.  There are two pens there that I think are going to be pens of the week this very week, so I don’t want to give away too much now.  I hope it’s just like Pretty Little Liars here, in terms of suspense.  So you can tune in tomorrow, when I reveal “A.”

Fountain Pen Favorites for February 2016


We have an extra day this February, which means I’m celebrating with an extra post.  Sorry, readers!  But let’s do an Oscars theme, in honor of yesterday’s Academy Awards.

The “Mad Max: Fury Road Sweeping All Categories” Award goes to KWZ Ink.  I’ve only reviewed four KWZ inks this month, I think, but I’ve got at least two more in pens right now.  This mighty little brand continues to impress me: beautiful inks, different styles, all so easy on my pens.

The “Gosh, That ‘Room’ Kid Has Gorgeous Parents, Too” Award goes to MY63’s beautiful leather pen cups. Here and here. Put them next to his wonderful leather pen cases, and the whole family is beautiful.

The “Chris Rock Rocks” Award goes to Lamy, a company that certainly could diversify past the color green, but at least is finally making its fans happy with a forthcoming purple Safari.  Now on preorder, by the way. I’ve seen a lot of people excited about that purple Safari, and about the Charged Green Al-Star that arrived this month. It’s nice to see people excited about pens.

A Pen Case Just for Kaweco Sports


What is that interesting bit of red and black up there? It’s the coolest leather pen case/pen cup. Michael at MY63 Leather made it just to fit four Kaweco Sports.

Kaweco Sports are mini-pens, smaller than normal when capped, and then normal size when you post them to write with.  But because they are shorter capped, when you put them in a regular pen case or pen cup, they tend to get a little lost in there.

So Michael decided to make a cup or case that fits Kaweco Sports exactly.

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A Peek at the Pen Cup: Deluxe Edition


Look at this gorgeous thing. This is my new pen cup, courtesy of the wonderful and talented Michael of MY63 Leather case fame.

Michael’s handmade leather work is amazing, and he’s branched out from his marvelous pen cases to other beautiful items like leather notebook covers.  I had casually mentioned a pen cup to him, and look what he made.  It is just stunning.

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