Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ink P0rn: Beautiful ink bottles

Since Zeynep from Write to me often! asked me to take a picture of the Octopus ink bottles I've gone through my inks and picked the bottles I like most for pictures. Enjoy!

Stipula Calamo Zafferano
 Sometimes bottles that have had an accident are the most charming. Those Stipula ink bottles are huge and made of brown glass. 

Iroshizuku tsuki-yo
I don't like wasting ink, especially Iroshizuku! But since it can't be made undone, I have to say it's a pretty great way to display the color. 

Octopus Burgunder (new style bottle) and Karamell

Here's two bottles of ink by new German brand Octopus. I like the large, pharmacy-style bottle the most, it's more unique than the Pelikan-ish bottles also used by Kaweco and Standardgraph. As ink-pens.com pointed out recently, the bottles are similar but not quite the same! 

Private Reserve Electric DC Blue and Montblanc Ink of Joy.

Crystalizing ink can be annoying but I like the vividly colored sediments some orange inks leave at the bottle threads.

Visconti blue (back) and aquamarine.

Old style Visconti glass ink bottles...! Always make me fear they might topple over while filling a pen... but beautiful. The new plastic ones can't compare, also the blue in the glass bottle is much more vivid then the one in the plastic bottle which is a subtle blue-black. Those two have different sizes, the larger one being their Aquamarine turquoise.
(By the way, I think I love that Florentine pattern more every day. Gorgeous colors. I will show it up closer sometime.)

Octopus Karamell and Pinie

... and some more Octopus bottles! Thanks again to Volker & Christiane for their gift.
Do you recognize the pen in front of them?

Besides: Wishing everyone a very happy New Year full of luck, happiness and good health!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Stipula for Mercury: Francois des Trixhes

Christmas is almost here and between last minute shopping and cleaning the house before our usual holiday journey to one of our parents's homes I've got something special to show: a Stipula for Mercury "Francois de Trixhes" fountain pen in gorgeous grey and blue celluloid. As far as I know it's about 15 years old.

Stipula for Mercury "Francois des Trixhes"

The pen is imprinted "Mercury, Francois de Trixhes" and was limited to 80 pieces. According to Regina Martini, who I bought this from, Stipula manufactured these as well as the "Impero" edition for Tibaldi - which would explain why it's the same celluloid. It's amazing! I've never seen a color like this before, the vivid blue veins are striking, like a black and white picture slowly disintegrating and color bursting through the cracks.

Also this was the first pen where I could actually smell the camphor note of the celluloid by sniffing the cap (though after I knew what to look for I also succeeded in detecting the same smell with some Omas pens). 

The pen is fitted with a rhodium plated Stipula italic which could be somewhat wetter but is nicely soft.

Sadly I have no idea who Francois des Trixhes is which makes me feel somewhat inadequate but can't be helped as google doesn't seem to know him either. Any ideas, anyone?

As is to be expected, the pen is very lightweight (25 g capped, 17 g uncapped) but not overly slim so it sits nicely in your hand. It's filled with converter or cartridges. Once I get the nib to write as I'd like it to I might add a writing sample.

Tom Westerich is selling a Goldfink button filler which he made of this same celluloid so he still seems to have some of it. It looks great and I don't have a button filler yet so I'm severely tempted - the price helps me resist though!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Olive Wood! Graf von Faber-Castell Elemento

I've loved the Elemento since it came out 2 years ago. Lately those have been offered with discounts at some places so I decided time was finally ripe to get one!

Graf von Faber-Castell Elemento

The Elemento introduced their "Intuition: Wood" model which is now also available in Grenadilla, Ebony and Permambucco. The Elemento is a unique edition made of olive wood. You can see the fine grain and every pore of the wood.
The wood also has a special property which is called "Stirnholz" in German and I couldn't really find a translation for - one site offered "end grained wood" but I'm not sure if it's an accurate translation. Imagine cutting a tree into discs instead of logs. It's the same wood but the discs will look different and will also be harder. That's the way the wood was cut for the Elemento pens.

The barrel is heavily lacquered so discoloration and staining can be avoided. You can probaly write with this one as long as you want, the grip section won't become darker or dirty. On the other hand, due to the treatment it doesn't feel as much like wood. I guess you can't have everything!
Their Grenadilla and Permambucco pens are not as heavily treated so you might want to look at them if you're after a wooden pen with a wooden grip section.

The pen is filled with cartridge or converter. By operating the knob at the back end the nib unit will be released from the barrel, not unlike the system Waterman used in their Serenité pens. If you use the converter, it is recommended to wipe the nib unit clean before inserting it back into the pen.

Did you notice that the grip section is slightly tapered? It feels extremely comfortable. Also my fingers don't seem to slide towards the edge as they tend to with some pens but stay just where they belong.

The Elemento is a medium sized (ca. 13 cm capped, 12,5 cm uncapped) and lightweight pen with 41g capped but only 21g uncapped. (Their Intuition Wood pens are noticeably heavier) The cap can be posted which feels quite comfortable - even to me who hardly ever posts the cap.

Especially next to their Pens of the Year the Elemento looks tiny but it has a nice girth and doesn't feel too short by any means.

 Graf von Faber-Castell Elemento: round tipped B nib 

The nib is two-tone and larger than the ones on their regular Intuition models. In the thread about the red Conway Stewart Churchill I commented on its nib not having a breather hole and suspected that might be the only one of my nibs with that feature. Here I am telling bullshit! These don't have one either but it took me a long time to notice it. It's a smooth and reliable nib like all Faber-Castell's I've ever tried.

Even the cap has a beautiful inlay of olive wood. The stripes of wood running down the barrel are chosen to be similar in color and grain, giving the whole pen a harmonious appearance.

On Graf von Faber-Castell's ads the wood looks very yellowish but mine has more of a red undertone. I guess each one is a little different.

How do you like this one?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ink Twins: Diamine Twilight + Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris

One day I noticed I'd like to organize my ink collection outside of my head: Make some writing samples for each color, preferably with different plens, plus a few notes how the ink performed in the pen and maybe a swab. Sorted by color so it would be easy to find a specific shade if I ever looked for one. I started out immediately using a softcover notebook. 

Then I realized a notebook wouldn't be the best choice and something more modular would probably be better - so I chose index cards. Their heavier cardstock would also handle the swabs better.

I've made about 30 sample cards so far, always with the inks I'm using at the moment, and already found ink twins! Diamine Twilight and Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris look somewhat different while the ink is still wet but when dried they're hardly discernible at all. They're a nice dusky blue-green color.

Swabs: Diamine Twilight (top) and Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris (bottom)

Then I wrote a few lines of text, changing pens every few words. If it weren't for the fact that one pen has an italic nib and the other one a round medium I couldn't make out any difference at all.

Could you?
In English it reads:
"Who can find the words written with Twilight? (Hint: It's extremely helpful not to look for color difference alone!)"

Both inks behave and flow quite well but the Rohrer & Klingner is the better deal for € 3,95/50 ml.

Do you know of any more ink twins?

Sunday, December 1, 2013

New Ink Maker: Octopus from Germany

It's a great thing having all this variety of ink colors to choose from. Wet ones, dry ones, shading ones and others, colorful ones and subtle ones - the range is large already. Is there anything we could want from a new ink maker?

Yes, I think so! Especially this really great caramel brown, fittingly called "Karamell" from Octopus here in Germany. They have a huge web shop selling printer ink and toner and apparently one of their chemists thought he'd like to make some nice fountain pen inks too. They're offering a small range of colors at good prices, packed in the no nonsense Pelikan ink bottles.

Nakaya Piccolo with Octopus Karamell ink

Volker from Pen Paradise sent me a bottle each of their Karamell and Pinie (pine brown) when he heard I was interested in them - thanks so much, Volker!
I've also got Red and Burgundy. So far I've tried red, which is a pretty bright and not very interesting color and didn't flow too well in my Lamy 2000. The Karamell, however, is a different story. I love this shade of brown, it's quite light but easily readable, a little reddish but not too much and offers great shading. I compared it to Diamine Ochre, Ancient Copper and Montblanc Collodi and it's very different from all of them.
At first flow was very generous in my Nakaya Piccolo, then it dried up somewhat but still flows OK without any skipping.

I'll try it in some more pens as this is definitely a keeper ink! Will show the other colors as I test them.

The pen I'm using it in is a Nakaya Piccolo in yellow tame-nuri but fitted with a Platinum music nib as I no longer liked the soft fine nib the Nakaya came with and had the music nib around. As nibs and feeds were identical except for the imprints the exchange went fairly smoothly. (I've heard there's been a change of feed generations lately so this might not work if you have an old and a new model. Also music nibs have their own special feeds to supply both slits)
I have to say the Platinum nib looks great - I might even prefer it over the Nakaya ones looks wise.

The pen appears pretty dark in this picture so if you'd like to see some more of it look here: Nakaya Rainbow. It's the rightmost pen in the pictures. The color looks similar to shiro tame nuri but when held next to each other you can see that the base color is indeed yellow instead of white.