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….

The 2019 Lamy Safari is Announced, and I Just Cannot Even

IMG_0122

My Lamy Safari-hating friend just sent me this, which, courtesy of the nice folks at Goulet Pens, is apparently what Lamy has cooked up for the 2019 Safari special edition.

😱

It’s taken me a few hours to figure out a nice way of conveying my reaction more subtly than just using “Munch’s The Scream” emoji, above.

If you know the television show The Good Place, you will understand my first reaction to this photo, which was a quote from the show: “Holy mother forking shirtballs.”

It’s fair to say that the Pastels are not my bag. I don’t really like the look, with that pen, because the color scheme doesn’t fit with the design, in my view. But that’s fine. Maybe they are better in person, and at least they are different, and not black. But my disappointment is more general. I’ve been a Lamy Safari fan since the first year of the Safari. And it’s as a fan that I say this, sadly: the annual editions have been more lackluster than not, for a while now.

This is just the capper. It seems like two out of three years I’ve been wondering the same thing: Is this where I stop, and give up collecting Safaris?

There was the tossed-off Neon Trio. Then the “Dark Materials” Trio of Dark Lilac, Petrol and All-Black, an obvious attempt to extend the market with Safaris for those who hate Safaris. Now comes the Pastel trio. I don’t know precisely which group the Pastel is meant to appeal to, but I’d bet that the genesis of those colors is a market study.

And then, not even one Pastel, but three at once. Why limit your bottom-line by putting out only one annual edition, when you can potentially triple revenues by putting out three? Which of course is reversed for consumers, as Slightly Unnerved, in the comment below, politely brings up.

That issue is much worse for those of us in the US, where a Safari, without converter, retails at just under $30 each.

I don’t know if there’s been new ownership or management at Lamy, and that’s what’s behind this — but I suspect so. But it does seem rather obvious that the annual Safari, and probably the Safari as a whole, is now seen as a cash cow. I think that’s understandable from a business perspective. I would never tell a business not to maximize profit. It’s just not the same, from the fan perspective.

The Safari used to be a quirky pen that a few of us loved. And you had to actually love it, to withstand the slings and arrows, because the fountain pen world was full of people who loved to put the Safari down. The Safari appealed to a very small subset of adults — those who liked contemporary design and fountain pens. And I think the Safari reflected what the Lamy company was — a home for risky products, designed products, that didn’t appeal to everyone, but were well-built and well-priced. Modern design plus affordability plus quality.

The new Lamy is obviously different. And the new Lamy is certainly reflected in the last five to seven years of annual Safaris. That’s fine — and I don’t own the company. But, as a fan, I think they’ve essentially lost what made me a fan. Or not so much “lost” as “abandoned.” I think now whoever runs Lamy has pivoted to squeezing out as much profit as possible. Which on an intellectual level I understand. The Golden Goose, and all. I do I wish Lamy well, and hope they don’t end up killing that Golden Goose. But I think, however, that I’m not really a fan any more.

A Peek at the Pen Cup: Mean, Green, Certainly Not Lean

IMG_1194

Look at that: absolute chaos has descended on Fountain Pen Follies.

And. So. Much. Green.

It’s probably obvious just looking at that: these last two months have been insanely busy in real life, leaving no time for writing with pens. At the same time, I’ve been inundated with pens and ink. I’ve got a bunch of new inks, including some nice samples, and also a few new pens, to try out. Then I wanted to ink up testers for my Pelikan Hub. Then there’s the new Sailor 1911L in Key Lime. Everything has piled up. I’ve got close to 30 pens there, crammed in like commuters on an L train at rush hour.

That Sailor 1911L in Key Lime is the pen I notice most in that crowd. In the first photo, it’s the green pen near the top right corner. What makes that photo unusual is something that you might not notice: there was sun outside. See how nice and gleaming the Sailor looks in the sun?

Here’s an extreme closeup.

Sailor 1911L Key Lime in sun

Pizzazz.

In the sun, the pearlized material of the Key Lime really comes through. On the one I’m using, there are wavy shimmers, for a moire effect.

Here’s another shot, in which you can see the very subtle shimmers on the pen body:

Sailor 1911L Key Lime with comparison pens

Still in the sun, the Key Lime there is between the Pelikan Stockholm and the Lamy Al-Star Charged Green. That’s closer to what the Key Lime usually looks like. But it’s a smidge yellower in real life, which just doesn’t come through in photos.

I want to do a post on the many looks of the Key Lime, because it’s such a cool color, but also so different, and so hard to get a fix on. It’s fascinating.

What you can’t see is that inside all those pens is a lot of green ink. Too much green ink. I feel like I should be decorating for Christmas. Except, of course, it is only October. And in October we celebrate the biggest holiday season of all. The start of NHL hockey.

I’m sure we all feel “too much” at times. Right now, those crammed pen cups are nagging me, like a pile of laundry you haven’t folded for a week. So this Peek at the Pen Cup was the “no mas” edition. I’m going to spend some time cleaning out the pens I can do without, and getting back on track with the others.

“Always Listen to Your Mother”: I Go to the San Francisco Pen Show

vintage Pelikan fountain pen

That is a pen.

I am starting out with a giant pen — Actual Pen Content — because after my inattention to pens at the DC Show, I vowed to be more on my game at the San Francisco Show.

That sounds so good! So of course it’s totally untrue. I said no such thing. And that pen hasn’t been within 2,000 miles of the San Francisco Pen Show. But it’s a pen.

And I did pick up a smattering of Actual Pen Content from the San Francisco show, which I will put at the very end, for loyal readers or those wasting time at work. Others, feel free to skip ahead.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Lamy Al-Star Vibrant Pink: Pen and Ink

DSC_5960

This is hardly breaking news, but Lamy gave us another nice Al-Star for 2018, the Vibrant Pink, with matching ink.

I’m not sure this new Al-Star is any more interesting than any other, but it is pink, and that’s an excuse for photos, plus a headline that contains a poem. I’ll include a twist at the end, too. (All this, and for free, too? Such a deal.)

Well here we go: Vibrant Pink, pen and ink.

(click Page 2 below to continue)

Happy Galentine’s Day, Fountain Pen Friends

Today is devoted to two celebrations: a belated Galentine’s Day, plus Valentine’s Day.

And all involving pen stuff. Not because I’m a total loser. Not just because I’m a total loser. But also because it’s a blog about pen things.

What is Galentine’s Day? Only the most awesome holiday ever. Galentine’s Day started on a television show, Parks and Recreation, when Amy Poehler’s character decided the day before Valentine’s Day should be a day to celebrate female friendship, over brunch. Thus Galentine’s Day.

This should totally be a thing. So I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world: Happy Galentine’s Day.

Except, we need to add a few wrinkles. First, we’re a day late, because it’s me. Second, we’re on the internet, and I’m not a morning person, so that brunch thing isn’t happening. Just pour yourself a cup of coffee, or open a package of cookies or a bottle of wine. I toast you, virtually.

The biggest change is that our Galentine’s Day is open to all, whether a real gal or an honorary gal. If you’re a guy — and you are still reading — then hopefully you’re happy to be one of the gals. Make yourself at home. It’s my internet-only, fake-brunch, day-late, Galentine’s Day, and all are welcome.

I’m not going to shy away from gal-palling here. But I’m also going to assume that honorary gals will be interested, too, if only to see the other side.

Here are some pretty pens that seem fitting for this Galentine’s Day.

Pelikan M600 Pink and Pelikan M605 White Transparent

These are the Pelikan M600 Pink and the Pelikan M605 White Transparent, and they are the nicest Galentine’s pens ever.

But you know, gals do not just like pink things. In fact, some gals don’t like pink at all. And that is okay. Galentine’s Day is for all. Here’s a green pen I like.

Sheaffer PFM I green

And here are some pens that aren’t very colorful.

assorted fountain pens

Those pens are sober enough even for those guys who don’t qualify as honorary gals.

But you know what? I hate to say it, but, they aren’t really fun enough for our celebration. For today, let’s forget those. They can come back on, say, tax day. A guy day if ever there was one.

Instead, I will grab some fountain pens that are more fun and Galentine’s-appropriate.

assorted fountain pens

One of those is even black, and that one is also owned by a guy I know.

See! Galentine’s Day is all about celebrating your friends, and mine are pretty great.

Now, some might say that my friends have great taste. But that’s not for me to say. Because if I say that, it would be sort of complimenting myself, because of the implication that they also have great taste in friends (me). So I can’t really say that, and still be modest. Apparently. So I’ll just leave it to you gals and guys to say that. Right there, in the comments. Below. At the bottom there.

Okay, have we all left fawning compliments? Good work. So here are some other writing instruments that would work for this special day.

Lamy Safari pencil and ballpoint pen

These are the Lamy Safari Pink ballpoint and mechanical pencil. These live on the top of my desk, where my husband can use them. Because they are pink, if he walks away with them, I will track them down, and he’ll have to sheepishly return them to my desk.

This makes a happy contrast with, say, my phone charger.

And speaking of people who are your family but use that to walk off with your things, here’s a small sample of things found today in my daughters’ rooms.

Field Notes

Those are Galentine’s Day-appropriate Field Notes. You’ve been reading me long enough to know that they once were mine. No more. I now buy at least two packs of anything gal-like, for this reason.

I guess that makes every day a Galentine’s Day, and that’s a nice thing. But looking at that photo, I want to suggest, bitterly, that Jailentine’s Day might be more appropriate. That one on the right is fly.

Ah well. I will console myself.

Lamy Safaris

Those are some Safaris I have. I am pretty sure that Fred Astaire was thinking of these in Swing Time when he sang, “Some day, when I’m awfully low / When the world is cold / I will feel a glow just thinking of you / And the way you look tonight.”

And there’s a second verse. So here is a drawer of Al-Stars, too.

Lamy Al-Stars

This year’s Vibrant Pink will slot in there, too. Some day, when my pen arrives ….

Ah what a pretty picture. I am so glad we could share this Galentine’s Day in pens together.

 

 

Bits and Pieces and Lamys and Pilots

So how are we all doing? All good? I hope so. I’m good, too, just super busy doing other things. As a result, I feel like I’ve been more inattentive than usual to my fountain pen blogger responsibilities.

Except, of course, the whole reason I took the job of fountain pen blogger in the first place is that it comes with absolutely no responsibilities. Excellent!

Except the pay? Same.

Still, I do like to check in with everyone, at least every once in a while, if for no other reason than to signal that I’m not dead or anything. So here’s what’s going on here, in pens and other follies.

1. Pilot Kakuno.

Last Sunday someone showed me a Pilot Kakuno in clear plastic. I was taken by it. It seems like a nice starter pen: it’s small but not tiny, with a comfortable grip. And I love a clear pen. Yes, it’s for children. But I don’t hold that against pens. I’m a Safari fan (like all right-thinking people).

2. Almost mine.

I liked the Kakuno in clear plastic so much that I actually put one, with a converter, into my Jetpens cart. Come for washi tape, leave with a pen. It’s that $25-free-shipping offer. It gets me every time.

In the end, though, I didn’t get it. As nice as the Kakuno is, I realized I wouldn’t use it beyond the first “Isn’t this fun!” stage.

3. Great news, Lamy.

You may remember that at the Ohio Pen Show someone took off with my beloved Lamy Pico in Laser Orange. That was a bummer. But this week Fontoplumo announced that Lamy is adding the Laser Orange as a regular Pico color.

The Laser Orange Pico was possibly my favorite pen purchase of 2016, and I’ll buy another for sure.

(There are some other new Lamy colors, too, including a very nice purple Lamy Nexx, for purple fans.)

4. Lamy, Lamy, Lamy.

Speaking of new Lamy colors, it hasn’t been officially announced, but it has been reliably rumored that the new 2018 Safari is going to be a textured black color.

Honestly, my first thought was “blah.” A textured black would be the third not-fun Safari in a row. Is this one necessary? There are three Safari or Al-Star pens in black or charcoal in the regular line already. In fact, a Charcoal Safari is the one pen I always keep inked.

But the idea has grown on me. It may be Stockholm Syndrome, but if the not-fun Safari is going to remain Lamy’s thing, they could do worse than textured black. I like black; probably everyone likes black.

Plus, well, I don’t know how to say this, but … I’d never really looked closely at the Charcoal, despite using it daily. And, now that I have, I think Lamy may have a point. The Charcoal is kind of an odd shade of gray. A textured black Safari might be more appealing.

So I’m mildly looking forward to this new not-fun Safari. Add that to the Laser Orange Pico and the 2018 Vibrant Pink Al-Star. That’s three Lamy purchases on the horizon for me, and I’m feeling positive about all three. Good vibes, Lamy.

5. The Best Lamy.

My favorite Lamy is on its way back to me as we speak — the Dialog 3. Thanks to the intervention of a good pen dealer (the Nibsmith), my pen is in the mail, with its clip apparently all fixed.

And just in the nick of time, too. I missed that pen so much I was debating between nailing Christmas lights to the wall to try to communicate with it, or firing up the shrine to Jobu and sacrificing a Platinum Preppy.

I think the lesson here is that having a good pen dealer is important.

6. Better than Lamy.

Virginia Woolf’s birthday was this past week. We are not worthy. Looking for a reading suggestion? Pick up Mrs Dalloway, or To The Lighthouse, available at fine bookstores and libraries everywhere. I’m going to pick up my copy of The Waves again, and this time, I swear, I’ll finish.

7. Actually.

Actually I have a Virginia Woolf pen. It’s beautiful.

I mean, it’s not Virginia Woolf’s pen. Of course. Fun fact: fountain pens were a new-fangled invention to her. I seem to remember a passage in her letters or diary where she totally dragged this buggy new technology. Yet to us, fountain pens are old-fashioned. I find that delightful. Also a little trippy.

A Peek at the Pen Cup: New Year, New Me Edition

pen cup

You know how some people love New Year’s resolutions? Yeah, not me. But you know how some people love pen-cleaning? Okay, also not me. But, you know how some people are procrastinators, and they will do anything to avoid a disagreeable task? Me!

So over the last few days I’ve avoided cleaning off my desk by cleaning out my two pen cups instead. Instead of the long, hard slog that desk-cleaning would entail, I’ve chosen to redo my roster of inked pens. Fun.

“New Year, New Me.” Or, at least, New Year, new pens and inks. Plus, I’m down to one pen cup now. Wow.

pens in pen cup

I know, all this excellence and accomplishment is probably intimidating. But I did keep some holdover pens. And not even out of laziness, but out of “I still like these.”

Here’s what has stayed inked: Lamy Safari with Pelikan Brilliant Black (as always); Pelikan M710 Toledo with Papier Plume Pecan; Pelikan M200 with Papier Plume Bayou Nightfall; Pelikan M600 with KWZ Warsaw Dreaming; Parker 75 with Waterman blue; and Parker 75 with Waterman blue black.

Also in there are two Parker Jotter ballpoints. I like them, and they give me something to hand to those people who look at my desk, look at my pens, and desperately ask, “Is there anything I can use to sign this form?” (Those people are relatives, which is why I cater to their whims. Occasionally they feed me.)

For the new pen, I decide to do another ink from Ink Dips, an occasional series where I randomly pick an ink sample from a bag of leftovers. Fun.

So I stick my hand in a bag of leftover ink samples, close my eyes and pull out … Caran d’Ache Ultra Violet. The first Ink Dip of 2018. Ta da.

Now, here’s the thing: I very much like Caran d’Ache inks, but that one is a purple sort of color. I am an honorable person. But this is the first Ink Dip of 2018, and I don’t think purple is a nice thing to do to people (at least, not to me). Especially early in the year, before I’ve had enough coffee. So I cheat, and pick again.

And this time, I pull out … Callifolio Violet. Also purple.

2018 is trying to kill me, and it’s only Day Two.

I say a word, which happens to be a swear word, and I pick again. This time it’s Callifolio Inti. That one is golden yellow, not purple, and looks very nice. Though if this were Russian Roulette I’d already be doubly dead. Not fun.

But I am an honorable person, and don’t have many pens inked, so I find three Pelikans, enough for all these inks, even the purples. I tell myself, “I can do this. The Pelikans will pull me through.”

But can I do this? Two purples in a row?

I don’t know that I can. At least, not without resorting to huffing.

So I go back in the ink area and spend another half hour searching through many other ink samples, to find a special ink. The one I have in mind is ink that’s no longer made, that people seem to love, but I’ve never tried. My friend sent me a small sample of this ink, just so I could try it.

And I put it somewhere really safe. “Somewhere safe” means “I have no idea where.” Duh. But, finally I find it. I pick a beautiful Pelikan for this special ink, too.

Pelikan M620 Stockholm and Montblanc Racing Green swabs

Montblanc Racing Green, finally. In my Pelikan M620 Stockholm.

I’m up to four new pens. Also, I’m not huffing yet. So, a modestly successful New Year, so far.