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….

How Fine is a Pelikan M600 Extra-Fine Nib?

How fine is the Pelikan M600 extra-fine nib? Not very! At least, not “very fine” in the sense of “narrow.” But “very fine” in the sense of “excellent.”

I happen to have a Pelikan M600 with extra-fine nib inked up at the same time as a Sailor 1911L with medium nib. The two pens have different inks, but here’s a comparison writing sample.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

I’m not particularly surprised by this. I often use two modern M600 Pelikans with extra-fine nibs, and I always jokingly call those nibs “alleged extra-fines.”

Partly that’s because I tend to think of nib widths in line with vintage Parkers and Pelikans, and modern Japanese pens — all of which run narrower than modern Pelikan gold nibs. But also because I use a lot of modern Pelikan fine nibs, and I find those pretty darn close to Pelikan extra-fine nibs. In fact, I swear that a few of my Pelikan fines write a narrower line.*

Here’s another writing sample. The Pelikan gold extra-fine uses the dark green of Pelikan Edelstein Olivine, and the Sailor medium is inked with the lighter green of Sailor Waka-Uguisu.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

I bring this up now because Pelikan has decided to start charging extra for their extra-fine nibs. They apparently implemented the price increase in Europe earlier this year, and it just reached the US with the M600 Vibrant Orange, which will cost $440 with fine through broad nibs, versus $476 with an extra-fine nib.

I’ve never bought many Pelikan extra-fine nibs. I tend to use vintage fine nibs and modern Japanese fine and extra-fine nibs when I want a finer lines. So my extra-fine nib needs are covered. But I don’t think Pelikan extra-fine gold nibs are bad, just because they may be wider. In fact, I think Pelikan’s gold extra-fine nibs are very good.

To me, what makes Pelikan’s gold extra-fine nibs good, and maybe a little special, is that they are extremely smooth and easy writers. I’ve noticed that people who don’t share my love of very narrow nibs always love my Pelikan extra-fines.

Modern Pelikan gold nibs are beautifully ground to almost float on the page, so you can write very fluidly with them, and they reward a light touch. That’s true for the extra-fine, as well. Sure, it may write wider than many extra-fine nibs, but it also writes wetter and smoother.**

Sailor gold nib also are beautifully ground, but at size medium and below, Sailor nibs feature a characteristic feedback. Instead of floating across the page, a Sailor nib feels more like writing with a pencil — it’s a different kind of smoothness. Or look to the extra-fine nibs of Lamy and Aurora: in those the extra-fine nib tends to have a smaller sweet spot and put less ink down on the paper. All these brands’s extra-fines will generally write finer than Pelikan’s gold extra-fine, but the experience is different.

So I can think of a lot of reasons why many fountain pen users prefer the Pelikan extra-fine.

And even though it’s not particularly narrow, I enjoy using it myself. I’m not sure it’s different enough from the Pelikan gold fine nib for me to buy another, given the price increase, but I’d heartily recommend it to those who don’t already own one, especially those who don’t necessarily seek the narrowest line possible.

Pelikan extra-fine nib writing comparison

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*Please note that I’m only talking about modern Pelikan gold nibs here. Modern Pelikan gold nibs differ from (i) the steel nibs found on pens like the M200 line, and (ii) vintage Pelikan nibs.

**There will be sample variations in any nib, so these are generalized statements based on my experience across a range of pens. Some individual extra-fine gold nibs from Pelikan may be narrower or dryer, than normal, or may exhibit other variances.

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.

I Resist Not At All: the Pelikan M600 Vibrant Orange

Pelikan M600 Vibrant Orange

It was only days ago that I heaped praise on Pelikan for making excellent quality pens, and supporting fountain pen fans, and suggested that all of us might consider supporting Pelikan in return, by buying one of their excellent pens before the next Hub.

I even suggested to a commentator that he make his next Pelikan pen purchase a “really special and splashy one.”

Well, now, Pelikan has come out with what to me the M600 Vibrant Orange. And I have taken my own advice. Which is not how this was supposed to work.

But I was never going to be able to resist the Vibrant Orange. It’s definitely my favorite type of fountain pen: fun. The Vibrant Orange looks to rival only the legendary M600 Pink in fun. It’s pedal-to-the-metal, absolute “I’m not a dork even though this is a fountain pen,” full-on fun. And in the M600 size.

The only thing that could have made this any better is if it were a Lamy Safari.

And/or not $440 in the United States.

Still, it’s the pen for me. As soon as I saw the earliest announcement from a European dealer, I ordered one from Dan Smith, the Nibsmith — before it was even up on anyone’s website, before I knew the US price. Oooh, pro-tip: if you have fountain pen dealers in your cellphone contacts, these things happen.

Candidly, I’ve been hoping for this pen for years, since I first saw a Pelikan M320 in this material.

I’m getting a broad nib. More seriously, I ordered from Dan because the Nibsmith is a US dealer, and he’ll grind the nib or just adjust the flow for free, which I appreciate. Plus he’s got a little pre-order package going, including free shipping. Plus he’s a friend of the blog. Plus, he’s in my cellphone contacts.

Though apparently, that is no mark of distinction, because his phone number is right at the top of his website. Hmph. On the other hand, opportunity missed. If I can order a pizza from Domino’s by texting 🍕 I should have just ordered this with 🍊✒️ 💸.

I will refine this by next year. Until then, no more pen purchases. 😇

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“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)

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.

 

 

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.