Thursday, May 23, 2013

Nibs, nibs!

Every now and again I am fascinated purely by nibs. When compared to a felt tip pen, a nib is a pretty high tech device to write with. Some of them may be faulty out of the box due to this but - and I guess there's no need to tell my readers about this - a well writing nib is just like nothing else.

Plus, as the nibs grew larger and larger over the past century, they have become canvas for artwork and designs.

Below's the gargantuan nib of a Danitrio Genkai. It's the same size as the Pelikan M1000's nibs but feels smaller sitting on the pen. The nibs are beautifully soft and wet. The pen itself is plain Urushi which makes the intricate platings and carvings on the nib shine even more. For pictures of a Genkai (though serei-nuri and not tame-nuri as the one below) as a whole look here: A large canvas: Danitrio Genkai

Danitrio Genkai: large pen, large nib

Another example how the nib design is part of the pen's overall look on the Montblanc Agatha Christie. Montblanc have brought this to perfection in their writer's editions, each having their own specially designed nib. This one is like writing with a snake - sounds weird, but the whole pen is really amazing work. I've blogged about another writer's edition with an equally unique nib here: Montblanc Jonathan Swift

Montblanc Agatha Christie

Do you have any favourite nib designs or shapes or is there any on this blog you'd like to see more of?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Daily survival kit

When I go, these will go with me...

Women in general are infamous for the amount of things they "need" to carry around with them on a daily basis. In fact though, most people of either sex have a basic "survival kit" of items which they like to have close most of the time. So do I on most occasions when I leave the house for a longer period of time. Here's some of my daily stuff, in random order:

- notebook with handmade leather cover: for some work basics, intermittent strokes of genius as well as random things important enough to be put in writing. I made a separate post about this kind of notebooks here: Hand made leather journals - the work journal

 - appearance rescue kit: comb, powder, lip balm. Probably the one "female" point in this list. The comb is a really cute little toy made from horn which was a gift from a dear friend - an essential since I have long hair. Can't do without the lip balm either. At the moment it's plain shea butter, but I also like scented ones. Also like Blistex and Carmex for that cool-mint feeling.

- phone (SGS III): I'm not a huge fan of talking on the phone. Mobile phones became attractive to me when they started offering mobile internet access (and the phone companies started offering reasonable prices for using it). I rarely call people or receive phone calls on it but still find lots of uses.

- e-reader (Kindle PW): There has hardly been any time in my life where I haven't gone through a few pages of a book every day. Like most bibliophiles I love the look and feel of a printed book. I also want to keep my paper books in the best possible condition. Carrying them around doesn't add to that whereas the kindle sits safely in his rugged leather sleeve, bearing no notice of harsh environments. I've had a Sony e-ink reader for two years until I received the PW as an early birthday present. (Thanks!) Awesome: some of the default screensavers show fountain pens and dip pens.
Currently reading: Andrzej Sapkowski's Witcher series.

- Visconti 6 pen case: This is definitely one of the more awesome cases around. When it comes to pen cases, I'm a cheapass or, maybe more accurate: My standards of what is a reasonable price for an item may be distorted, but only when it comes to fountain pens. I'm not ready to shell out ridiculous amounts of money for pen cases though I do want to have my pens protected. The Visconti pen case comes in several sizes from 1 to 12 pens, it's a leather covered hard shell case and very reasonably priced. It carries the six pens I can't live without for the moment. The one that's peeping out is a Nakaya Negoro, you can find out more about that pen here: Oh noes it's broken!

Are you a watch-wallet-keys minimalist or do you lug half your household around for the day? What are your daily carry items?

P. S.: Of course I also carry keys, a wallet, something to eat and a bottle of ink! I just don't deem those interesting enough.

P. P. S.: I'm glad I took those pictures last week because today I'd freeze on the balcony. Brr! Spring, get a grip already!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Raden Pelikans

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight and Moonlight side by side

Got enough of the sparkly stuff already? Then bear with me just a little longer for I've got some more comparison shots to show.

Pelikan M1000 Moonlight & Sunlight
As you can see, the Raden stripes on the Sunlight, although narrower, catch the light more readily and give a more vivid reflection. The Moonlight gives a more peaceful overall impression. (Just came across an eBay listing where the seller had a wild mix of Sunlight and Moonlight pictures in his auction. The auction was about the Sunlight only. Zzzz... It's not that hard to see the difference, is it?)
Pelikan M1000 Moonlight & Sunlight

I haven't managed to take a really good photo of the artist's signatures so this will have to do. As you can see the pens were done by different workshops/artists. It doesn't bother me but it's still a weird thing to do when you're planning to issue a duo of pens.
Pelikan M1000 Moonlight & Sunlight
Pelikan M1000 Moonlight & Sunlight
So which one do you like better? I find it hard to decide.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight

 ... yes, finally! :-D

It took me quite a while to work out the best lighting for Abalone shell and as I haven't had much success I went back to using plain daylight. So here's the long awaited pictures.

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight

Like the M1000 Moonlight it's Raden work done on a black M1000 corpus. The stripes on the Sunlight, however, are somewhat narrower and much more vivid in color, ranging from yellow to green, blue and purple. I could imagine this burst of color just needs to be counterbalanced by larger black spaces, else it would probably make you dizzy.
The color difference to the Moonlight, which is mostly done in shades of green, blue and purple, is due to different kinds of mother of pearl. First I thought it's just different parts of the shell, but it's actually different species. The sea snail with blue-green mother of pearl is found in the Australian sea whereas the other kind is found in the Japanese sea.

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight

Every raden strip is made of one piece, running over the full length of cap and barrel.

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight

Wouldn't it be a shame not to write with this pen? I certainly think so, so I've been writing with it on a daily basis for a few weeks now. Unlike many other collectibles this pen is neither weirdly shaped nor extremely heavy so it offers the writing feel you can expect from a Pelikan M1000. At the moment it's fitted with a sharpened-up O3B nib and filled with Iroshizuku Ajisai.

Pelikan M1000 Sunlight

Here's proof: a dirty nib.

I also took some pictures for direct comparison with the M1000 Moonlight which I will post a little later on. :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Montblanc Agatha Christie - Agatha the Brave

DiY pen stuff

... well, in fact it was me who needed the bravery more than Agatha. All she had to do was come with slightly misaligned tines. Not a big deal, it wasn't even very noticeable when writing but once I had seen the flaw I could no longer forget about it. 
When you do some reading, things like that even seem to be fixable by yourself. Small irregularities can be put right by gently bending the tines with your fingernails, you don't even need tools or anything. 

As simple as that sounds it took me many attempts of gently bending stuff with no effect whatsoever, which I guess is what happens if you are too gentle with anything. In the past I've always given up at some point and sent the pen to a repairman but I wasn't feeling like that this time. Also I got lots of encouragement from the enablers at the German pen forum Penexchange.
So, with my heart in my mouth, I spent several hours with Agatha and indeed, I'm starting to get there!

Montblanc Agatha Christie in nearly no light (would've loved some more depth of fiel here...) and with nearly well aligned tines.

Since I made thie picture I've fiddled with the nib some more because it wasn't perfect yet and I could still improve it by a fair bit. And since my fingers were inky all over already I figured I could fiddle with some more nibs that had given me trouble, all of which ended up being better than where I'd started out.

Discovering new abilities (however dilettante): awesome!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

More Paper Love: Le Typographe Writing Pad & Journal

Beautiful paper and prints from Belgium

Here's a more detailed review of the Le Typographe paper, a brand I'd never heard of before I came across a writing pad and envelopes in a nearby Papeterie store.

Le Typographe "Insects" writing pad and envelopes

The design is simple but beautiful - and cool too. Each sheet and envelope is adorned with one of 9 insect prints, including, among others, a ladybird, dragonfly, ant and various bugs. The envelopes are lined and come in a beautiful little box of ink blue cardboard, matching the cover of the pad. The pad comes in A5 size with C6 envelopes.

 Le Typographe "Insects" writing pad 

I was glad I could touch the paper in the store - since not every paper is fountain pen friendly, buying an unknown brand can be a bit of a risk. This one, though, is amazing. The sheets are high white 100 gsm carrying a custom watermark. As I understood, Le Typographe (who are located in Brussels) don't make their own paper but they're definitely buying from a high quality source.

Le Typographe watermark

Ink shades nicely.

The paper is slightly textured and tolerates ink very well. The front side feels more coated than the back side, which takes up a little more ink but still is far from feathering or bleed through with the inks I've tried. The above is Noodler's Apache Sunset in a Visconti Homo Sapiens with broad cursive italic nib.

Back side: minimal showtrough.

Here's the back side, same pen and ink.
Both sides of the paper make shading very prominent as it allows the ink to pool on the paper for a while; accordingly drying time is close to forever.
Showthrough is negligible, I haven't managed to produce any bleedthrough yet.

Sheen monster: Private Reserve's Electric DC Blue in Pelikan M1000 crisped-up O3B.

Sheen properties of the ink are very prominent on this paper, much more so than on Clairefontaine or Rhodia. However, when using highly saturated inks like Private Reserve's Electric DC Blue in the picture the drying time is even more extreme and there is a probability of smearing even when dry. Less saturated inks don't have this problem.

 So far I've tested the pad with said Visconti Homo Sapiens, a Pelikan M1000, a Nakaya Long Cigar, a Montegrappa Miya (with which I've written a long letter) and a Danitrio Mae West. The Mae West was the only one having problems with it. I could imagine that pens that have skipping issues on very smooth paper also will have problems with the Le Typographe.

Le Typographe Quadrille notebook - outside

As I said, a really interesting brand! As their web site is very minimalistic and possibly not up to date I haven't succeeded yet in finding out about their range of products. Their is a range of writing pads with various prints and there should be some notebooks as well. As I really, really like the paper I've ordered their "Quadrille" notebook.

 Le Typographe Quadrille notebook - inside 

Following their minimalistic design it's a simple notebook with glue binding and a thin cloth spine which makes the notebook lie completely flat when opened. When sketching you could also use both pages without a problem. Downside of this: It probably won't last as long as a stitch-bound journal.
The interior pages themselves are a bit extravagant as one side of each page is printed with a faint 1 mm grid, the other one is blank.

 Le Typographe Quadrille notebook - for reasons unknown, an unobtrusive grid pattern is printed on one side of each page and on the front cover.

The paper is a bit thinner and less stiff than the one used in their writing pads but has the same fountain pen friendly qualities.

Le Typographe Quadrille notebook

I like the looks but it's the paper that has won me over. It's really nice to find out there's still some new cool stuff out there for fountain pen users! I will keep an eye on the brand and update if I come across any of their other products.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Paper Love

May sun & Jenni Bick journals.

No need to just think of spring anymore as it's finally here! I've put my winter coat away (not the thick bed sheets though as the nights are still chilly) and planted flowers in the pots on my balcony and the window sills. Still the weather can't quite make up its mind, so you have to be quick to catch the glorious rays of sunshine that make everything prettier.
Jenni Bick Journal with cotton paper

Not that those wonderful journals need sunlight to be pretty! They're made by book binding workshop Jenni Bick Bookbinding in Massachusetts, large and thick books in a format somewhere between A4 and A5 with a ribbed leather spine and a sweet tissue-paper-like cover in shades of blue, green and gold.

Jenni Bick Journal with cotton paper

One of them is filled with beautifully tattered-looking cotton paper, the other one with crisp chamois colored sheets with a hammered texture. In fact, they're so pretty they are intimidating. Can anyone's handwriting be beautiful enough not to besmirch one of these books? (Probably so! But, more importantly: can mine..?)

I'll take the plunge some day.

Jenni Bick journal.
The leather has an open surface and a slightly distressed look and feel to it which suits the "antique" style perfectly.

Jenni Bick Journal with cotton paper

Besides the stunning looks the journals are really well made. The bindings are strong and firm and everything feels like there's been a lot of thought and care put into it. It's a bit of a hassle to order stuff overseas but well... Europe has quite a few nice suppliers of stationery and notebooks but nothing like this - at least to my knowledge (if I'm wrong please let me know!).

"One of a kind" journals like these are made in small numbers only so they're not on their web site all the time, but you can usually snatch them up a few times a year (no, I'm not getting paid for this post! Though I wouldn't decline. Accepting journals too! *cough* :D)