“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.

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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.

Pen Review: Pilot Custom 74

Pilot Custom 74 Orange

I was lucky enough recently to borrow an orange Pilot Custom 74 with fine nib.

I’ve had my eye on the Custom 74 for years; and every once in a while I think, “Should I?” The lure is the nib: I think the Pilot fine nib is perfection. But I haven’t yet found the perfect Pilot fountain pen. Could the Custom 74 be the answer?

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My Favorite, and Least Favorite, Starter Fountain Pens

fountain pens

Starter fountain pens: let’s get into it. Everyone loves a “what starter fountain pen should I buy” question. I am no exception: I have a few suggestions. The problem is, I also have a few I really don’t suggest, even though they are commonly recommended for beginners.

My choices are based on my own preferences, my own experience and my own tastes. Feel free to disagree. Different opinions and experiences are part of the fun.

For a starter fountain pen, I want a pen with a fairly low price. That encourages people to take the chance. And if you don’t get the hang of writing with the fountain pen, or don’t like it, or you lose your pen, it’s not the end of the world. I only consider new pens, not vintage pens, for ease of purchase and ease of use.

But another requirement for me is that the pen be capable of providing lasting satisfaction. My ideal starter fountain pen can be used regularly even when you’ve moved past the starter stage. Because fountain pens don’t have to be expensive or precious, in my opinion.

So let’s jump in the pool.

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More Inks for Lamy’s Charged Green Al-Star

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Here are a few more ink possibilities for the new Lamy Charged Green Al-Star, these suggested by readers of the original post, here.

The first is Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku-rin, as suggested by Rafael.  I think Chiku-rin really works with the suggestion of celery green in the pen.  It might be slightly greener, and the pen slightly more yellow, but I like more green, and I like this combination.

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Second is Derek’s suggestion of Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Goldgrün. This is a very popular ink with nice shading, that I think of as an avocado green.  And I think this color really works beautifully with our Charged Green Al-Star, too.

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Chiku-rin and Alt-Goldgrün are both yellow-greens.  With the Charged Green Al-Star, that’s clearly the way to go — or else greenish yellow inks.  Thanks to Rafael and Derek.