New Pen Day: Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Here’s one of the pens I bought at the Chicago Pen Show, in fact the last pen I bought at the pen show. It’s the Kanilea Hanauma Bay.

I really tried not to buy this pen. I tried to be sensible. But it was like going to a puppy adoption event, casually. You just want to “see the puppies.” You start playing with the little guys. Of course. Puppies are cute. Next thing you know, you’ve got little Bernard in the back seat, and you’re wondering if your husband will actually divorce you for this.

Except a fountain pen will not chew the baseboards and shred the curtains. So this was a comparatively sensible decision. Plus, it was my birthday, so the rules do not apply.

However, if you want to avoid succumbing to temptation, at least now I can help you. I can point out exactly where I went wrong: I picked it up. And then I really looked at it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I kept looking. And then, it was too late. It was my puppy now.

The Hanauma Bay resin is a mixture of swirly bits and sparkly bits and even translucent bits, in blues, blue-greens, white and oranges. From every angle, in every way, it’s beautiful, and interesting.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The Kanilea Pen Company makes fountain pens designed around custom-made resins by Jonathon Brooks. The family behind Kanilea are Hugh and Karol Scher and Matt Baldwin, and they work with Jonathon to come up with resins that reflect elements from their travels in Hawaii. Together they’ve created eleven Kanilea fountain pen materials. This is the latest, named after Hanauma Bay in Hawaii.

There are all kinds of ways to customize a Kanilea pen, since they make five different body styles, and you can get it with a clip or clipless. Mine turns out to be the classic flush design, with a medallion in gold-plated sterling silver.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

Even within a particular material, the resins, and thus the pens, are slightly different. This is mine.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

I like pens in one of two categories: minimalist and modern, or colorful and fun. The pen body may be minimalist, but the material is very colorful. And very beautiful. In some spots, it makes me think of Van Gogh.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

The material has depth. It repays your attention. You see something new every time, and on every part as you rotate it.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

And no matter how it looks in photos, it looks much better in real life. I’d seen the pens before, in Kanilea’s wonderful product shots. That didn’t prepare me for how great they look in person.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

It’s not surprising for a pen made in small numbers, with this care and attention, and with custom-designed material, but these are expensive. Mine was $395 with a steel nib. It’s a cartridge-converter pen, and you have a choice of steel nibs from extra-fine to stub. Or you could upcharge to a gold nib if you wanted. Hugh adjusts the nib to your liking. Mine has the steel stub.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

A pen in this price range isn’t an impulse buy, or at least it wasn’t for me. But I had sold some pens and could buy this. And I haven’t had any second thoughts — in fact, the opposite. I feel pretty lucky to have it.

The nib writes well after Hugh’s ministrations, and the pen body is lightweight and a good size, with a comfortable section. I enjoy writing with it. But the bottom line is, it’s just gorgeous. And very time I pick it up, I’m delighted.

Kanilea Hanauma Bay

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Artwork by Mary Jo Ernst, sketched at the 2018 Chicago Pen Show. Mary Jo can be found on Instagram under @mysteriousmannequin.

A Thanksgiving Story

Gather round, folks, for a Thanksgiving story. It does not involve Pilgrims, or Native Americans or Abraham Lincoln. Nor does it directly involve fountain pens. But it relates to the latter, in a roundabout way. Also, it’s vegetarian, which is unusual for Thanksgiving.

I warn you, however: this is a dull story. But there is a wedding, some pie, and a happy ending. So I’d only need to tweak a few things to have a great screenplay. And if you soldier on to the end, I will play a completely unrelated song I like.

Today is Thanksgiving, and I’ve been planning and cooking much of the week, because there’s a lot of food to make, and it’s more enjoyable this way.  Also necessary. For instance, I happen to have a pie crust recipe that is fantastic but which takes two days to reach perfect flakiness. (While I am instantly flaky. Puzzling that a pie crust is more work than a person.)

As I was doing Thanksgiving things, I was reminded of last Thanksgiving. When a little plastic piece popped off my Cuisinart food processor, right in the midst of apple-slicing or cranberry chopping or some other crucial task. This was a little plastic tab that held the cover on the bowl of the Cuisinart. Without it, the Cuisinart would not work. So this was a dramatic development.

Daughter of pioneers that I am, I duct-taped that sucker together and sped onward to culinary triumph and gustatory delight. But after Thanksgiving, I had to figure out what to do.

Our Cuisinart was a classic. Literally: the Cuisinart Classic. It was a much-appreciated wedding present, and has proved itself a stalwart machine and faithful kitchen helper. We’d named it (“the Cuisi”). And it never cut off anyone’s fingers. Last Thanksgiving was the first problem we’d had with it in more than 23 years.

My attachment to the Cuisi is, therefore, equal parts practical and sentimental. It didn’t cut off my fingers, and it had been a wedding present. We’d used it a lot. We’d moved with it into three homes. It was older than our kids. We’d grown accustomed to its face.

Also, I have the typical old person’s conviction that anything from my time is just better than anything available today. (Rationally, this is irrational. But it’s something everyone comes to believe.) “Sure this PS4 is snazzy, but back when I was a kid, we had Pong and then Atari, and those were really something. We didn’t need fancy graphics. We used our imaginations.”

Still, even putting delusions of the good old days aside, this was an objectively excellent food processor, and I did not want to replace it. So I looked at the Cuisinart website for a replacement bowl. I wasn’t sure what would fit. I wasn’t sure if I could get by with just the bowl or needed to spring for the whole bowl-cover-sleeve setup, at which point, maybe it would be cheaper to just buy a new Cuisinart. So I called Cuisinart to ask.

And first, how great for a company, in this day and age, to have a customer service number you can call, with people on staff to answer questions?

I talked to a very nice person who understood exactly what had happened to the little tab. She told me they did have a new bowl that would fit, but she added, “But your current cover and pusher sleeve won’t fit on that, because we’ve redesigned the whole thing for safety.”

Ugh. I began to silently rue my fate: safety always means expense. But I didn’t even have time to venture anything like, “I can make do. I’m not that attached to my hands.” No, she continued, it was okay. They would send me the new cover and pusher sleeve for free. It was Cuisinart that had redesigned these parts, so that was their policy.

And how great is that?

She took my order for the bowl, added the cover and pusher sleeve, and had it mailed to me immediately. At which point I had a mostly new Cuisi for Christmas cooking and all the days of our lives, once again. Which I remember happily every time I use the Cuisi. Including right now, as I cook Thanksgiving and carefully watch my fingers — which I don’t even need to worry about any more, probably, because of the enhanced safety of that excellent new bowl.

And ever since, when I have had to buy a new small appliance, I buy a Cuisinart. New coffee maker. New hand blender slash new-finger-chopper. All Cuisinart. And I will continue. Not just because they make very good machines. But because you can call a person, get help, and buy replacement parts — even for a machine that’s more than two decades old. Because they provide excellent customer service. Because they build things to last.

And that’s where fountain pens come in, in a roundabout way.

We are all different, with different budgets and needs, and we all occasionally succumb to impulse purchases. But I’ll tell you an adage we old people have learned the hard way: buy quality, buy once; buy cheap, buy twice. In the long run, that’s good for your budget and probably for the planet.

So along those lines, here is my personal opinions of four pen brands that in my experience have excellent quality, but also have provided me with the very best service and response if there’s ever been an issue with a pen. Edison, Lamy, Montblanc and Pelikan.

Now, thank you for listening to my Thanksgiving story, and for reading this entire year. Happy Thanksgiving, America. Here is something good:

True Confessions, Ballpoint Edition: Parker Jotter Jubilee Premier Edition Saffron

Parker Jotter Jubilee Premier Edition Saffron Yellow

This is my new ballpoint, which is actually old, and kind of dented and scratched, so it was a bit overlooked, thrown in at the bottom of a box that was part of a large collection of fountain pens.

The pen bears the official name of the “Parker Jotter Jubilee Premier Edition ” in Saffron Yellow. Quite a mouthful of nouns.

These were part of an anniversary edition of Jotters from 2004, as set forth in this excellent article by Len Provisor. Coincidentally, Len was in the room when this particular Jotter came out of the big box of pens. But he didn’t find it. It was Rich who found it, then told me about the edition, and then was nice enough to leave it for me to buy. Thanks, Rich.

Thus, my first Jotter.

Parker Jotter Jubilee Premier Edition Saffron Yellow

Mechanically, it’s just a regular Jotter, in regular Jotter size, made in the UK. The pen body is sterling silver with an inlay of saffron yellow. Mine clearly has been used pretty heavily, and it has some discoloration and dents and such, but that’s perfect for me, because that made it affordable, and I want to use it anyway. It came with a Jotter gel refill, which writes a very smooth line, albeit fairly broad.

I actually bought this pen for my younger daughter, who likes ballpoints and Jotters, but by the time I got home, I decided it was so good we should share it. “Look what I got for you! And we can share it!” was how I put it.

So now, I actually have three nice ballpoints. Although they were all bought at different times, I had them all out today, and something became clear. I had a theme.

Parker Jotter Jubilee Premier Edition Saffron Yellow & Caran d'Ache 849 Tropical & Lamy Pico

Or at least a color scheme.

Those are, from the top, the Lamy Pico in Laser Orange, which I carry in my purse, the Jotter and a Caran d’Ache 849 in Tangerine-Pink Tropical.

That Lamy Pico is an outstanding design, and the best purse pen ever; and in real life it’s even brighter than a photo can convey, so it’s impossible to lose. The Caran d’Ache 849 is a classic, and attractively subdued in color, and so is the Jotter. I’m pretty happy to have them all.

Plus, since they are ballpoints, I can stop right here. Right?

I’m All In on the Pelikan M605 White, Fashionable Accessory, and First of Its Name

Pelikan M605 White

Okay, I pulled the trigger. I preordered this icicle yesterday.

It’s been a will-she-or-won’t-she saga, at least in my head. When I heard the rumors early in the year, I was on the fence. Leaning no. “White? Another pen?” Then after it was announced and photos released, I leaned yes. But I didn’t preorder right away. Because I do nothing right away.

Until my usual drug dealer (sorry, pen dealer)* reminded me yesterday that, uh, you need to order, duh.  So I did so immediately. Because I’m swift when it’s the last minute.

But then after I paid, I had second thoughts. Well, familiar thoughts. Like, “It’s, um, white.” And, “I have no money.” And, “Wait, why am I buying a pen?”

That’s the real issue. I don’t need another pen. I don’t even want another pen. And I don’t have the boredom or craving for excitement that sometimes makes us shop for fun. It’s really the opposite: my life has been so hectic in the important areas that I’m fine with no controversy or change in the pen lineup, thanks. Dead calm, that’s what I’m after.

But while I don’t actively want any pen, I do like this particular pen. I think it’s going to look great. And, true, I’ve never been sure about the white, but I’m starting to cotton to it. I’m starting to see it as nicely wintry. Sure, one could read it as “icy hellscape,” but even that appeals to me right now. We’ve had record heat here this fall, California is on fire, Puerto Rico is under water, and yesterday brought news of not one, but two, “supervolcanoes” getting ready to wipe out all life on the planet. In my own personal Apocalypse Watch slash drinking game, each of those events is worthy of “Drink!” So why not add a melting polar ice cap pen?

Not to mention that this pen totally reminds me of the winter coat that Daenerys put on to go north of the Wall in Game of Thrones.

dany-coat-1.w710.h473

And that was such a cool look, it was fire hot. Sure, the White Walkers and the Night King are sick and scary, and have our guys surrounded. But I’ve got dragons, and Jon Snow is hot, and if I have to fly on a dragon to the frozen north, I am sure going to wear my fashionable coatdress and look my best.

So, I’m on board with the white Pelikan, once more. It’s worthy of both Jon Snow, king in the North, and Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. I am looking forward to it, again.

*I bought mine from the Nibsmith. Not for nothing, my Pusher Man the Nibsmith is offering a discount on all pens and ink of 10% using the code SAVE10 through October 20. That’s if anyone else is similarly gripped by insanity interested in buying Pelikan’s coatdress or any other pen. I point it out here because, when you’ve signed up to bungee jump into the gorge, you want as many friends possible going with you. Yes. This is me, enabling you.

Lamy Safari Your Team: A Totally Made-Up Thing That I Do, As an Adult

Sports Lamy Safaris Cubs Blackhawks Oilers colors

After an almost interminable wait, the NHL started the 2017-2018 regular season last night, though it’s only tonight that the Best Team Ever (the Chicago Blackhawks) will drop the puck. Go Hawks.

Then, tomorrow, the defending World Series Champions of 2016, “Ladies and Gentlemen, your Chicago Cubs,” will kick off their National League Division Series against the Washington Generals. Or is that the Nationals? (Hahaha, sick burn.)

Faithful readers may remember that last year, as the Cubs began the World Series after a record-breaking 108 year drought, we here in the Fountain Pen Follies World Headquarters and Television Control Tower made a Cubs Lamy Safari for good luck. It was constructed from the body and section of a blue Safari and the cap of a white Safari with red clip, and was filled with J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage for the green ivy of Wrigley Field.

Now, I am not saying it’s the Chicago Cubs Safari that was responsible for the Cubs improbable seventh game, rain-delayed, extra-innings, curse-breaking victory after 108 years. But it might have been, right? A baseball fan in general, and a Cubs fan in particular, is superstitious. So I’m putting the Cubs Safari back in action today.

Sports Lamy Safaris Chicago Cubs colors

This time, of course, it’s filled with Papier Plume Ivy 108, the Cubs green ink. Go Cubs, Go. And thanks for a great year.

But then, I felt a little bad, because I was leaving out the Best Team Ever (the Chicago Blackhawks). So I pulled out a few more Safaris, in red, black and white, and fashioned a Chicago Blackhawks Safari. It’s filled with Caran d’Ache Infra Red ink.

Sports Lamy Safaris Chicago Blackhawks colors

And then, well, I actually like almost every hockey team, because I’m a mom that way. So why not make one for my second favorite hockey team, the Edmonton Oilers? Parts of a blue, orange and white Safari did the trick. This is filled with KWZ Northern Twilight, in tribute to Canada.

Sports Lamy Safaris Edmonton Oilers colors

All sports teams have home and away sweaters, so I snuck in white on the sections of the Blackhawks and Oilers pens to represent the road jersey.

Sports Lamy Safaris Blackhawks Oilers colors

That photo is a metaphorical representation of both teams rocketing to the top of the standings, where I see them playing in the Western Conference championship. Where the Oilers unfortunately must fall to the Blackhawks, so the mighty Hawks can win the Stanley Cup again. So that’s a shame, but it’s great just to get that far, and maybe next year, Oilers.

And you know what? Anyone can play this! Are you a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins, defending champions? Here you go.

Sports Lamy Safaris Penguins Bruins colors

That same yellow and black color works for the Boston Bruins, too.

And what about the enemy of the Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers? I’ve got you covered.

Sports Lamy Safaris Flyers colors

(Obviously, the Flyers ink would be Skrip Red, because of their Broad Street Bullies history.)

The combinations are endless. So I say onto all, try it. It’s fun. Lamy Safari Your Team!

(That Oilers one could double for the Chicago Bears football team, for instance, except, hahaha the Bears don’t deserve a Lamy Safari. Maybe a Bic. That someone stepped on in the hallway.)

I also will just drop here the teensy weensy reminder that, although October is the home of both the baseball playoffs and the start of the hockey season, we’ve heard nary a hint of  #Trophtober. Nor #Hocktober. Because sports have dignity.

Dignity, the watchword of Fountain Pen Follies. Now please excuse me, I need to go play with my Lamy Safaris, yell at the tv screen and pound some nachos.

Five Fountain Pen Rules You Can Take to the Bank

5_en_raya

We’ve talked about some fountain pen “rules” that I think we can safely ignore. Here are some that, to the contrary, make a lot of sense to me. Feel free to chime in.

Rule Number 1. “Use a light touch.”

Your pens really will do better if you write with a light hand. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to get in the habit.

Rule Number 2. “It’s safer to try before you buy.”

If not, be prepared to cycle through some pens.

This isn’t something to bemoan, necessarily, but just something to recognize. Some people positively love cycling through pens. Others don’t, but we may live too far from fountain pen dealers to test everything in person. So we may end up with some unexpected disappointments.

It may help to think of buying before trying as my friend does, which is to analogize it to fly fishing. Some fish end up in the creel, and some you will catch and release.

Rule Number 3. “A nibmeister is worth the time and money.”

Very often the only difference between a pen that is just okay and a pen you love is the nib. Very often a good nibmeister can do something about that.

Rule Number 4. “It’s not just the pen, but also the ink and paper.”

This is part diagnosis, part treatment. If a pen isn’t writing as you like, try changing the ink. Pen writing too wet and wide for you? Try a dry ink. Pen balky? Try a wetter ink with good flow. And try a different paper, while you’re at it.

Sometimes a ink and pen are both great, but not together. Or maybe a pen and ink combination is perfect, except on one particular paper dry time is glacial.

You can have a great ink, a great pen and a great paper, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily bring out the best in each other.

Rule Number 5. “Remember to have fun.”

It’s not brain surgery. It’s not even driving. We can just have fun with pens and inks, right? We can wield our empty Sheaffer Snorkels as water guns against teenage daughters or other enemies. We can put blue ink in red pens. We can ignore the clearly worded warning from J. Herbin, and dare to mix two different inks. We can.

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Photo by Alumnos de la UPC – Fotografía propia, GFDL, Link

Pen of the Day: Edison Custom Herald with KWZ Hunter Green

 

Edison Custom Herald ebonite with KWZ Hunter Green ink

Edison Custom Herald with medium nib. Here’s an old favorite pen of mine, a custom Herald by Edison in a gorgeous green-brown ebonite, with silver-colored clip and nib.

This custom Herald has a medium 18k nib, set to Edison’s usual juicy flow, which really shows off any ink. Right now I’m using it with a new-to-me ink, KWZ Hunter Green.

Edison Custom Herald ebonite with KWZ Hunter Green ink

Hunter Green is khaki, but it’s fairly saturated, and with a wetter writer like this Edison, Hunter Green can look very dark indeed. Which I like. But the color is, of course, lighter in pens with less ink flow.

Shading is minimal. Here’s a writing sample of Hunter Green.

KWZ Hunter Green ink writing sample

Pen of the Day: Kaweco Classic Sport with KWZ Iron Gall Orange Ink

Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen with KWZ Iron Gall Orange ink

Kaweco Classic Sport with broad nib. Not so much a Pen of the Day this time, because I’m more interested in the ink, the new-to-me KWZ Iron Gall Orange.

KWZ Iron Gall Orange ink writing sample

If you read this blog regularly, you will not be surprised that KWZ Iron Gall Orange is not so much orange as brown. After all, this is KWZ, the imaginative ink maker that offers a black ink called Dark Brown and a fairly purple ink called Brown-Pink.

I look forward to putting Iron Gall Orange through its paces. This pen is my old reliable, the Kaweco Classic Sport, here with a broad nib.

KWZ Iron Gall Orange ink writing sample with Kaweco Classic Sport fountain pen