Saturday, August 1, 2015

Paper love - bookbinding

High time for a post as I haven't been here in a while, I've had a rather stressful time at work and in my free time I've been playing The Witcher 3 (which I can fully recommend btw) - so less time for pen related things! However I've had some fun with a closely pen related hobby: bookbinding. One of these things (like making soap) I'd always wanted to try and after a few attempts I have to say making soap is somewhat easier! :D

I'm not showing the very first attempts as those are more than a little embarrassing but here are some recent ones (still very dilettante I'm afraid):

These rather neat looking specimen are made with ready made book blocks. I've only made and decorated the covers plus end bands and ribbon bookmarks. It took one failed attempt to work out the right measurements for front and back covers but after that it went pretty well.

The book blocks are really neat by the way, 144 chamois colored pages with a slight vergé texture and very fountain pen friendly (they also come with lines and grid). They come with end papers so all you need to do is glue them into place. If you are located in Germany I recommend the shop Buch-Kunst-Papier! They generally have a huge range of bookbinding and general paper goodness to browse.

However for me working with ready made components is not as satisfying since I haven't made the whole thing from scratch! So I've also done some coptic binding.

All these books are A5 size by the way as this is my favorite format for journalling.
I've been fascinated by coptic bindings since I first saw them on FPN (in one of TMLee's threads I believe) as those books open completely flat. These are truly handmade books from folding and piercing the paper and decorating the covers to stitching the whole thing - including all the flaws.

There's still so much to learn, I've yet to produce the perfect coptic binding - one is wobbly, another one has irregular stitching, the third has a glue stain somewhere (in fact almost all of them have glue stains somewhere - I'm really not made for handling icky, sticky paper, also makes me remember my kindergarden days more vividly than I care for!) but whatever. It's still fun to experiment.

As boyfriend has been working with leather for quite a while (see the leather notebooks he's made for me) and we still have a rather large stockpile I've started experimenting with leather covers last week. I like leather for book covers as it's obviously more sturdy than book cloth and less prone to staining and the general grubbyness that comes with use - most varieties anyway. For this black and orange notebook - again with a ready made book block - I've used some scraps of kangaroo leather. It's amazing, super thin but firm with a super glossy surface.

It was only after taking the picture I'd noticed that the orange endband was missing - I've managed to fondle it in place by now!
The cover is from a paper pack pad I found at TK Maxx called Steampunk Florals. These papers can be pretty great for bookbinding, especially for use as flyleaves and such, because they are quite sturdy. Also this one has a glossy surface which is pretty neat for a cover, especially combined with the high sheen leather.

This is my latest attempt in coptic binding: black horse leather, bright orange yarn and ribbon bookmark. I got this postcard with the leaf lady from a dear friend several years ago and have always love the motif. The postcard sits in a slight indentation which gives some protection from wear and tear.

My go to paper for bookbinding is the System Inkjet paper by Karstadt (I believe I've referenced it several times in the past) as it is a nice ivory color, fountain pen friendly, firm and smooth at 120gsm. Also it's inexpensive which is important as I'm experimenting all the time and need at least 30 sheets for a journal.
For the leaf lady notebook I've printed a light grey 5 mm dot grid.

I love marbled paper and journals with marbled covers can be hard to come by or super expensive. However the papers per se aren't that pricey - especially when compared to Japanese Katazome - and I really like being able to use them to my heart's content. I believe the above is my favorite, especially together with the the dark red book cloth.

I've seen videos about how the marbled effect is achieved but I'm still no less than amazed by it. Maybe I'll try that myself some day too!

What have you been up to this summer? Is there any hobby stuff you've always wanted to do?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

This week's beautiful pens: Week 14

You probably all know these times in life when everything else is more important than your precious hobby. The last few months have been such a time for me, I've had amazing and challenging times and somes that were quite a bit of both. 

However my pens have been awaiting my return patiently and they're ready for a new round of "Weekly Pens". It's weird but I've been having a hard time deciding which pens to ink - and then, which ink to use in them - so right now it's only five pens!

Also it's mostly the same pens I used last year already. Maybe that is partly because I find it difficult to choose new ones but they're also really good writers.

- Danitrio Mikado (IB) with Montblanc Corn Poppy Red: This one has been in rotation for months now. I've used it a little less for a while because it didn't work well with the inks I had chosen (Montblanc Meisterstück Diamond and Diamine Mediterranean Blue) but it works great with the Corn Poppy Red. It does need a fresh serving of silicone grease though, Corn Poppy seems to be quite runny in this respect.
- ST Dupont Olympio M Alligator (OM) with Herbin Gris Orage: This combination works really well. I love sparkly Gris Orage.
- Pelikan M1000 Fantasia (IBB) with Herbin Gris Orage: See above. Love this ink.
- Ferrari da Varese Botticelli (IB) with Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare: spring is approaching, so it's time for some cheerful colors. Blu Mare is my go-to turquoise. It also flows quite well. I like the contrast: silver and mother of pearl, meet the Caribbean!
- Sailor King of Pens (B) with a Sailor blue-black cartridge: I traded for this one in December but then all this stuff came up and I still haven't found the time to really get acquainted with it. It has a nice, soft nib and seems to be a super reliable writer.

Time to fill up the two empty slots in the pen case until next week!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Mother of pearl eye candy by Ferrari da Varese

Some eye candy for you! I recently sold one of my Botticellis and got another one with plain silver cap instead. Now those two could be twins.

The new one is nicely polished, its older sister has some lovely patina. I really can't decide which I like better.

They both have Bock B nibs, reground to italics. A bit on the heavy side but lovely writers.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year everyone! Also: time for a new diary.

After having recovered from the New Year's Eve celebrations now is the time to prepare for going back to work and starting a new year. It's also the time to retire last year's diary (discard or keep - what's your approach?) and start the new one.

For me it's going to be my second Bomo Art diary as I've been really happy with the one I used in 2014. 

For the cover I chose the balloon motif again but with a dark green leather spine instead of the dark red I had last year.

The daily diary is A5 sized with a thick whiteish book block and ribbon bookmark. Like last year's specimen it feels like solid and durable work and indeed my old one has held up to daily use very well.

On the inside, besides one page for every day of the year there are all sorts of useful additions like international holidays, a register section for contacts and even a world map. For a closer look check my post about it from 2013.

 Like all Bomo products it has the "BomoArt Classic" embossing on the back cover.

 Seen here with my currently favorite writer, a Danitrio Mikado! The balloons really don't get old for me. I've had them on last year's and this year's diary, a notebook and my kindle cover, all with different colored leather spines which seem to enhance different aspects of the design.

 The paper is still very thin, my guess would be 60-70 g/m2 but amazingly ink friendly. For the smoke test I wrote a few lines with my Delta Dolce Vita medium with 1.1 steel italic nib which gushes like crazy since I've given the feed a good clean with dishwashing liquid (guess I didn't rinse it well enough) so even with dryish Rohrer & Klingner Salix there is a LOT of ink flow.

The picture was taken a few seconds after writing the words but as you can see the ink is still glistening. No feathering though.

 Also no bleedthrough on the back side. Quite impressive! At work I mostly use pencils to jot down notes and appointments - quick and convenient - but also my fountain pens if I have time. No problems with the paper anyway!

 That's the pen by the way! It came with a very dry 18 k fine nib which I didn't enjoy too much so I exchanged it for a Monteverde 1.1 steel italic and it's getting a lot more use now. The exchange was easy as the nib and feed pull out with very little force needed.
The original nib was full rhodium plated so I like to think pen and nib still look nice together though a closer look will of course reveal that there's some frankenpen-ness going on here!

Which daily diary will you be using this year? Do you have an all time favorite you buy every year or do you like to experiment? Do you have a specific pen to use it with?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Belated birthday gifts - cute office animals

My birthday is in April but when I got this voucher for an online shop full of nice gimmicks I just couldn't decide on what to get until now. Eventually I chose some items to enhance my rather boring workplace!

Like this paperclip holder. There's a little hole in the top of the dome through which you can shake the paperclips out while Mr. polar bear is watching over the rest!

Also I got this pencil sharpener with the cutest little squirrel sitting on a log which actually puts the pencil shavings to some decorative purpose. Time to give all the pencils in my office a nice sharp point!

"Pen cake" pen wrap with GvFC Classic pencil (ebony) and Kaweco Sport AL raw

This last item, the "pen cake" pen wrap probably isn't going to be used in my office. Most of the slots are a little too narrow for my fountain pens and I'd be concerned they might scratch each other up.

Instead I'm thinking it could be quite nice for an on the fly arts set. It's quite large in diameter so it should also be suitable for long pencils. A pencil or two, maybe some inktense or watercolor pencils, a water brush. There's also this vintage Waterman I like to use for drawing which is rather slim and already has its share of scuffs and scratches.
There's also a larger loop suitable for a rubber. The pen wrap closes with a snap-fastener and is washable.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

This week's beautiful pens: Week 51

Here's this week's somewhat belated but nonetheless beautiful pens!

As you can see there's still only slight changes, maybe because these 7 are really great writers.

Still inked:
- the mystery pen aka Pelikan M1000 Fantasia (M nib), Noodler's Antietam
- Aurora Optima Nero Perla (IB nib), Sailor Sakura: a beautiful pale pink ink I haven't used in ages. Looks beautiful on smooth cream paper though the color is a little light. Could probably use more ink flow to become more saturated and more easily readable.
- ST Dupont Olympio Alligator (OM), Diamine Eclipse: I really like this oblique. It's really sensitive to angle but the line variation is amazing. Review coming up.
- Omas Ogiva Autumno (M), Stipula Verde Muschiato.
- Danitrio Mikado (0,8 italic), Noodler's Cayenne: As I've started a new journal this one is back in business as a journaling pen and I'm no longer experiencing any trouble with the ink flow. Hard to believe what a comfortable writer this huge pen is - you see how the M1000 is dwarfed by comparison.

New in rotation:
- Ferrari da Varese Botticelli (B), Diamine Majestic Blue - that one took a short trip to Italy because of nib noise. I had bought the pen pre-owned and it had been bought a few years ago but Ferrari da Varese took care of it very quickly and free of charge. Thank you FdV!
- a Sailor King of Pen resin (B), Sailor blue-black cartridge: I only traded for that pen last week. I had tried a KoP at a pen posse and was smitten by the nib immediately. Funny enough, the opportunity to own one presented itself in due course. Now I'm back to three Sailor pens (the other ones being smaller maki-e models) and the KoP nib truly is amazing.
By the way the blue black ink in the cartridge looks totally different from my Sailor Jentle bottled blue-black, much lighter and petrol-ish. Can anyone confirm that?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mystery pen unveiled: Pelikan maki-e Fantasia

This week there's no "Weekly Pens" picture as there's been virtually no change since last week! Instead the mystery pen is being unveiled.

It came in a golden cardboard box with a paulownia wood box and some papers inside. The kanji are unreadable to me but my guess would be they are spelling the name of the pen or maybe the workshop which made it? Maybe one of my readers knows?

After opening the lid of the wooden box, the pen is safely nestled within folds of cream satin.

According to Pelikan the design is inspired by kimono patterns. On a backdrop of byakudan-nuri work - flakes of gold foil covered by lacquer - cherry blossoms and hexagons are painted in different colors of lacquer. Each hexagon is filled with a traditional Japanese motif. There is also amber (I think) and raden work.

There's one with the Asanoha pattern, gold on greeen with silver center points. I really like this pattern. Might get it tattooed one day. More eye candy following:

What really makes this pen special is the idea of a non black background. It's perfect, warm and vibrant without being overly colorful (YMMV).
Right now there's a medium nib in it. Filled with Noodler's Antietam which seems to reflect the color of the reddish brown lacquer backdrop.

Monday, December 1, 2014

This week's beautiful pens: Week 49

This week there's only a little bit of change in my pen lineup but at least a slightly better picture of it as I was able to use the DSLR instead of my phone. :D

Still inked:
- Omas Ogiva Autumno (M nib), Stipula Verde Muschiato: This one started out really dry but after some tweaking it is now a really nice and extremely comfortable writer. I really like these springy newish style nibs - the ones on my old Paragon and Bibliotheque Nationale are much stiffer.
- Omas Ogiva Vintage (stub), Diamine Red Dragon: Makes me wonder this one still hasn't run out of ink. The ink flow is impressive to say the least.
- Aurora Optima Nero Perla (B italic nib): Flushed it since the Barck Royal Blue started to flow somewhat hesitantly, then forgot to re-ink. Not sure what ink to use in it, maybe Noodler's Cayenne to use it as a backup journaling pen or something entirely different - I still have this untouched bottle of Noodler's Walnut.
- Stipula Saturno (0.9 italic), Damine Majestic Blue: Such a great pen and a nice color too (dark green/blueish ebonite) and a great writer too. Still I have hardly written a few words with it since I inked it up last week. Makes me wonder why.
- the mystery pen

New to the rotation:
- ST Dupont Olympio L "Alligator" (OM nib), Diamine Eclipse: Last week I sold this pen's brother, a Shaman LE with the same nib grind. I figured I'd never have the two of them inked at the same time so one of them was bound to go. The shaft is covered with leather which I think really might be alligator - not really comfortable with that but at least I bought this one pre-owned.
- Danitrio Mikado (0.8 italic), Noodler's Cayenne - an exception to the 6 pens rule as it's too large for the Visconti case! Used this one for my journal the last few days but it turns out it's not the perfect pen for it either. While it's neither too wet nor too dry per se the ink flow is stop and go which usually doesn't happen with this pen - must be the combination of pen and ink or ink and paper or alle of those. Hugely annoying. However meanwhile there's only about 20% of the journal left so I might not find the perfect combination before it's filled.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Guess the mystery pen!

As Christmas is coming closer and closer it's also the season for delightful secrecy!

So like in 2012 here's a detail shot of a mystery pen. Do you recognize it?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Celluloid goodness: Omas Ogiva Vintage

Last year I've started diving into the adventure that is Omas fountain pens with an Extra Lucens, an old style Paragon and a Bibliotheque Nationale.

At the end of 2013 Omas launched the Ogiva Vintage limited editions in arco brown or saft green. As I already had the Paragon in arco brown I went for the saft green. This one moved in with me in late  spring already but only now I got around to taking photos.

Omas Ogiva Vintage in saft green

It's a cigar shaped pen, rather large - larger in fact than a Pelikan M1000 but slightly slimmer - but lightweight as I've come to expect from Omas pens. It's 23 g capped and feather light 12 g uncapped but that doesn't make it feel flimsy and I just love the way it nestles in my hand when writing.

Interestingly enough, the Ogiva Vintage are a good deal longer than my most recent addition to the Omas flock, a somewhat older Ogiva Autumno, which is a good centimeter shorter.

 Ahh! The celluloid!

It's a somewhat weird but very charming murky olive coler with lots of pearlescent hightlights. Clip, trimmings and also the nib are rosegold plated which goes really nicely together.

The nib is a factory stub. Sadly this one already made a trip to Italy because the rose gold plating was flaking off. However Omas replaced the nib very quickly so I hope that this one will be fine.

I'm also planning to show you the Autumno I've acquired recently and take a group shot of the two. As you can see I'm still right in the middle of the Omas adventure!

Monday, November 24, 2014

This week's beautiful pens: Week 48

Still sticking to the rule - more or less.

This week's 5 pens to rule them all:

Remained inked:
- Omas Ogiva Vintage in saft green, factory stub nib, inked with Diamine Red Dragon. I really like the color combination, it reminds me of a chrysoberyll ring my father used to have (though I don't recall him ever wearing it). It's a mineral that's olive green in daylight but turns dark red in lamp light.
- Nakaya Negoro shiro-tame with IB nib, inked with Noodler's Cayenne. Current journalling pen though where the Churchill was too wet for the paper this one is almost a little too dry. Well, the journal is bound to be filled one day and if I have to make a lot of bad drawings to accelerate that!
- the mystery pen

New in rotation:
- Omas Ogiva in autumno, M nib, inked with Stipula Verde Muschiato. Works perfectly with the celluloid color! The nib didn't flow too well at first but after a little tweaking it's very nice.
- Aurora Optima Nero Perla - my own one now! It has a B nib reground to an italic by Volker (pen paradise)
- Stipula Saturno in green ebonite, 0.9 italic nib, Diamine Majestic Blue.

I would've liked to enjoy the Stipula Mercury for a little longer but after a hopeful start the nib dried up and wouldn't bother to write consistently again. Seems I haven't fixed it yet. Sigh.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The magic of shu!

"Shu" means vermilion, an ancient dye made of pulverized cinnabar. Cinnabar is a mineral that has been used for decorative purposes for millennia. It has grown especially famous as "Chinese Red" as it was mixed with urushi and used for all kinds of lacquerware.

I'm not sure if modern days's red urushi is still dyed with cinnabar but I like the looks. I'm really having a hard time deciding which finish and color I like best!

Here's two shu pens, one by Nakaya (in matte, unpolished texture), the other by Namiki. Enjoy! More pictures and details to come.

Nakaya Portable Cigar shu-nurippanashi; Namiki Yukari Royal vermilion.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This week's beautiful pens: Week 47

Up to now limiting myself to six inked pens has worked pretty well. Here are this week's pens to rule them all (minus the mystery pen I mentioned last week):

They are:
- a Conway Stewart Churchill (IB) with Noodler's Habanero - same as last week, still my journalling pen though the flow is somewhat excessive for my current journal.
- a Ferrari da Varese Botticelli in white mother of pearl barrel and plain silver cap. B nib, not inked yet - couldn't decide. This crappy photo really doesn't do the pen justice, for a better look at the Botticelli models click here.
- a Nakaya Negoro shiro-tame (IB) with Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare - as last week.
- an Omas Ogiva Vintage in saft green with stub nib. That pen only just got back from Italy because the rose gold plating on the nib was flaking off (yuck... but Omas replaced it quickly and without any hassle). Now it's back with a brand new, juicy nib. Inked with Diamine Red Dragon.
- a Stipula for Mercury (IB) with Diamine Majestic Blue, as last week.

Yes, I flushed the Pen of the Year 2004 and put it into the storage drawer. It was hard but doable. I'm proud. :-D
Also I returned the Aurora to its owner and sealed the deal for my own one which should arrive here within the week. Oh boy... Sticking to that rule will be really hard once it arrives. Maybe I need another exception for new pens?

Last week I determined that super large pens are an exception to the 6-pens-rule because they don't fit into the pen case. Another exception is the 5 year diary pen I keep at home for solely said purpose. It's always a reliable fine nibbed pen filled with iron gall ink because I don't have much space in my current 5 year diary and the paper is not too good with ink either.
At the moment this is a Sailor 1911 with maki-e butterflies, filled with Rohrer & Klingner Salix.

(I'm afraid if I keep making up exceptions I might end up with as many inked pens as before. o.O)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Six pens to rule them all?

(Belated) happy fountain pen day!

I've been mostly too busy writing with my pens (well, among other things) to find much time for writing about them but today is an exception.

Like probably a lot of you I have quite a few pens. I always estimated around 50 but a count has shown it's actually closer to 70. I like them all and love most of them and I'm currently trying to trade away or sell those which I don't love and use.

As I've always wanted to use all my pens there were times when 20 or so of them were inked at the same time. Of course most of them dried out before I could use up all their ink - even with pen pals and journalling and drawing I just don't use that much ink! So now I've cut back.

I have this beautiful and immensely handy Visconti 6 pen case which already looks a little bit battered since I've used it every day since the day I bought it. So I've determined I'll have a maximum of six pens inked at the same time.

(When you think about it's not even that easy to find use for 6 different pens. For instance I'd like my journal to be more or less consistent ink wise and I can't write a letter every day (and don't even have enough pen pals to write to that often!).

Anyway, these are my "6 pens to rule them all" for the moment!
(Yes, that's only 5 on that picture. One of them is, for now, a secret!)

And they are:
- a Conway Stewart Churchill in amber acrylic with IB nib. It is currently my journaling pen, filled with Noodler's Cayenne. It belongs to an endangered species now that Conway Stewart is no more. For a look at the whole pen click here.
- a Nakaya Negoro in shiro tame-nuri, portable size with 0.8 italic. Filled with Rohrer & Klingner Blu Mare. For a closer look at the pen click here.
- an Aurora Optima in Perla Nero celluloid. This one doesn't really belong to my collection yet but I'm evaluating whether it should become part of it. I really like that celluloid. It has a factory stub nib.
- a Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004 (amber). That one hasn't left my rotation since I got it last year. Read more about this pen here.
- a Stipula Mercury Francois des Trixhes in stunning grey and blue celluloid with a factory italic nib. I inked this one up yesterday after it had been out of use for quite a while. The nib never really made me happy. I had exchanged its feed for a Montegrappa ebonite feed which seemed to work fine until the ink flow suddenly stopped. Since I really like the pen I inked it up with Diamine Majestic Blue and wrote an extensive letter - no problems at all and really great line variation, it really flatters my handwriting. Hope it stays that way. Read more about this pen here.

There is an exception to the 5 pen rule: Pens that don't fit in the case such as a Danitrio Genkai, Mikado, Nakaya Long Cigar or Delta Roma Imperiale.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goodbyes: Sailor Susutake and a yellow Montegrappa Miya

Lately my approach on the Fountain Pen Accumulating Quest has changed. I was making a mental list of the pens I had actually used within the last 12 months and the result made me a little sad. I do keep two journals - a regular one and a "five year diary" which I will write about shortly -, have penpals, make notes etc. but still there doesn't seem to be enough room in my day for putting that many pens to good use.

Besides: You need some of this time to have all these exciting experiences you'll later write about!

So my iron grip on some of my pens has loosened, I was willing to let some of them go and even my attitude towards new pen cravings has been affected. There's this Nakaya in unpolished shu I've liked on and off for a long time. I might be able to get one in November, but then - does it make sense as I don't seem to have sufficient time for the humble Nakaya selection I already possess?

Whatever I will decide, I'd like to show you two of the pens that have gone to new homes this year as they are - nevertheless and undoubtedly - beautiful!

Isn't this just an amazing shade of yellow? Yellow is rarely seen in pens and mostly for good reason as staining and transparency of the material have to be dealt with. Also the color has to be carefully nuanced as not to appear signal or neon yellow.

Montegrappa have solved all of these problems masterfully in their yellow Miya line. The color is warm and deep, coming alive with numerous shimmering streaks within the celluloid. Despite the light color the pen retains its beautifully solid appearance. Its nice weight adds to that as well.

If you'd like to read more about them, you might want to check out my post about the Montegrappa Alfa Romeo (based on the Miya shape and size).

So why let this one go? To my shame: Only to swap it for a Miya Argento in the same color as I like the yellow and turquoise Miya version even better with full sterling silver caps. Once I had managed to lay hands on an Argento in yellow for a really attractive price I decided I didn't need two of these yellow beauties.
(Let's call it "refining" the collection since it didn't really downsize it...)

The other pen I sold was a collectible I'd acquired pretty soon after my interest in fountain pens was first sparked: a Sailor Susutake Bamboo. I was fascinated with the smoked bamboo and its history, also the pen was fitted with an equally impressive nib: a Cross Emperor.

I still think this pen is an amazing work of art but you'd be hard pressed to find a pen less suitable for comfortable writing! 

See this step from the section to the barrel?

The smoked bamboo is silky smooth and the Cross Emperor nib would have been truly interesting but as the pen was, all in all, so uncomfortable to hold I never explored it to its full extent.

It wasn't all that easy to let this one go since it is a true work of art but I'm still glad it has found a more appreciative owner now. It has gone to a new home in Finland.

Will I let some more of my pens go to new homes in order to keep only the ones that are true jewels to  me - or will I continue being my old squirrel self and just hoard happily ever after? Who knows!

Have any of you restructured your pen inventories in the past? What were your reasons? How do you feel about it now?

Have a great week full of beautiful and exciting things to write about!