Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Italic Nib: Reground Montegrappa Extra

Some pens are just great all over. They are exactly the right size, girth and weight and they look beautiful too. But there's something, a small yet important detail, that makes you grab another pen instead. Time after time.

Sometimes this detail is the nib, as was the case with this beautiful Montegrappa Extra 1930 in dark green Bamboo celluloid. I'm absolutely fine with stubbish factory broad nibs as done by Montblanc but that one was not only round tipped but also somewhat finicky. It was a hard starter if I didn't use the wettest of inks and also would dry out quickly.

So when I heard that a fountain pen friend, Volker from "Pen Paradise", had started offering nib grinding service I decided this was the pen I would send to him. I've had quite a few nibs ground to italics or stubs in the past, most of them done by John Sorowka, and while I am still totally happy with his work it's a long journey to the UK for those pens every time. 

The beautiful Montegrappa arrived back with me quickly and even more beautiful than it went. Here's a view at the tip from a few angles. Also note the delicious sponge like ebonite feed, soaked with the fetching blue-green Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris. 

So how does it write?

It's lovely! The color starts out a litte dark because I wrote these words right after taking the nib shots so the pen had been uncapped for quite a while.
The nib still feels as soft and smooth as it did before but minus the baby bottom issues. No reason why this one shouldn't get a lot more use from now on! Thanks, Volker.

Besides its great looks the Extra 1930 also is of beautiful size (about 15 cms) and weight with 39g capped and 29g uncapped.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ink of the Season: Herbin Rouge Hematite

December is almost here and a lot of people ink their pens with some nice green or red for letters and Christmas cards. I personally feel a great red ink never goes amiss whatever time of the year, especially my favorite red 1670 Rouge Hematite by J. Herbin. 

J. Herbin Rouge Hematite in a Danitrio Genkai tame-nuri

It's a nice, deep, pure red without any hints at purple or wine color. It shades nicely but what's really special about it is its distinct greenish-golden sheen. In my opinion this one needs a wet pen to truly shine so I put it into my Danitrio Genkai. Their eye droppers are famous for their generous ink flow and so is this one. It's also one of the largest fountain pens I've ever seen and owned! It's fitted with a jumbo size factory stub nib. If you like, read more about the Genkai here.

As I could hardly wait for the ink to make its way through the huge ebonite feed I opened the shutoff valve too far and flooded the nib. Somehow I like the way it looks, though. The ink seems to mirror the sleek red shades of Urushi lacquer covering the pen on the outside.

Below you can see a bit of the shading. What the picture doesn't transport is the metallic effect of the sheen. While I like to use this ink for letters or cards, having to read a novel written in Rouge Hematite wouldn't make me happy. Red, dark red and gold, that's just one color too much for one ink and looking at it for too long even makes me feel a bit dizzy at times. Also, like many highly saturated inks, it has a tendency to long drying times and smearing.

Still - despite it having its flaws and not being for everything and everybody (and not for every pen either, if only for the narrow opening of the bottle), for me this is one of the most perfect inks on the planet and definitely one of the most original!

So if your bottle of Rouge Hematite is gathering dust, why not get it out for some Christmas mail? And don't forget to shake it thoroughly before use so all those beautiful sheen particles actually make it into the pen and don't just stick around at the bottom!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Next year's diary by BomoArt

It's time to make the first appointments for the new year and so I made sure to order a nice daily diary a few weeks ago which now arrived - along with two other goodies from Budapest as well as orders for two members of the German pen forum Penexchange.

I apologize for the pictures which are just quick shots but I'm so happy about these books I'd just like to share them!

An address book (with gilded edges) and daily diary with red leather spines on top of an A4 notebook which belongs to someone from the board. The A4 journal looks very impressive, it reminds me of a book with fairy tales I used to have. I think it might intimidate me as you come to expect great things and beautiful magical worlds on its inside - but maybe it would also inspire the writer? I don't know.

The address book's letter tags are made of genuine leather with gold print! I wasn't sure about the gilded edges but then I thought, what the hell. It's such an unusual thing to have an address book these days, I might as well go for the gilded edges as well! It's beautiful.

And the diary...! I have to say I might be easily impressed with diaries. I've only started using a paper diary a few years ago for work, before that it's only just been my phone or scraps of paper. My work diaries were leatherette bound ones supplied by my employer so maybe my expectations have been low. Anyway the diary definitely lives up to the standard I've come to expect from BomoArt!

Each day has its own page of ivory colored, thin and smooth paper, printed in red and black, thus perfectly matching the ribbon bookmark, spine and end papers. It's in all kinds of languages but I've noticed a certain emphasis on Italian so maybe that's where the calendar book block was printed.

Despite being so thin, the paper seems to take fountain pen ink very well. So far I've tried it with a B italic nib using Rohrer & Klingner Verdigris which produced neither bleeding nor feathering. I'm definitely impressed, the diary I've been using performed much worse on much thicker paper.

Some show through but no bleeding at all.

There also is a weekly diary with all sorts of international holidays in it and a register section. What I love most though is this:

There is a map - or to be accurate, to of them - just next to the back cover! Now I feel like I could go exploring with it. It goes nicely with the overall vintage vibe of their products. As usual it all feels very sturdy and well made with thick cardboard covers. The leather has a smooth yet open surface which allows for natural scars and blemishes to remain visible, making it unique.

And it has balloons on the cover! Just like this one below, but with red spine.

Boyfriend says they're kitschy, but really, how could you not like those? <3

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Collectibles or: Why I love Dorian Gray

I don't recall when I read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" for the first time, but one of the things that impressed me most - besides the main story line, of course - was how Dorian used to collect beautiful and precious objects and how the narrator revels in the richness and beauty of these objects. I could especially relate to his fondness of gemstones and minerals as I used to collect minerals myself until I was about 18.

Here's a quote:
On one occasion he took up the study of jewels, and appeared at a costume ball as Anne de Joyeuse, Admiral of France, in a dress covered with five hundred and sixty pearls. This taste enthralled him for years, and, indeed, may be said never to have left him. He would often spend a whole day settling and resettling in their cases the various stones that he had collected, such as the olive-green chrysoberyl that turns red by lamplight, the cymophane with its wirelike line of silver, the pistachio-coloured peridot, rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes, carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous, four-rayed stars, flame-red cinnamon-stones, orange and violet spinels, and amethysts with their alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. He loved the red gold of the sunstone, and the moonstone's pearly whiteness, and the broken rainbow of the milky opal. He procured from Amsterdam three emeralds of extraordinary size and richness of colour, and had a turquoise de la vieille roche that was the envy of all the connoisseurs.

I still have most of my collection from back then and though I haven't really paid any attention to the subject for years there's still quite a bit of knowledge left. However, I feel this is circumstantial.

I can also relate to the parts where Dorian accumulates precious cloths and tapestries. It's not the objects themselves but the collector's passion Dorian and I - and, so I believe, Oscar Wilde himself as well - share and which he wrote about in a way that makes you feel his enthusiasm und invites you to become part of it.

If I were feeling very ambitious I'd say this is what I'd like my blog to be!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Red Pens! Conway Stewart Churchill in Cherry Red

Conway Stewart Churchill: Cherry Red
I've rambled about how much I love red pens when writing about the Montegrappa Alfa Romeo. This is another one of these beauties, a Conway Stewart Churchill in Cherry Red.

The Churchill is, I believe, Conway Stewart's flagship model and is a large yet rather lightweight pen with nice girth. I like especially the long section so there's no need to grip on the threads. They come as cartridge/converter fillers and lever fillers. I chose the lever filler on both pens as somehow it's a nice hint at the vintage Conway Stewarts.

I don't own a lot of acrylic pens, maybe because I'm a bit of a snob and prejudiced towards plastic but maybe also because most of the colors I saw didn't appeal to me. This has changed after I've discovered Conway Stewart. Both the Amber and the Cherry Red are awesome colors and patterns with just the right amount of translucency. The material is transparent enough to make its colors pop but opaque enough so you can't see the nib through the cap - something I despise if the pen's not a demonstrator. Cherry Red is naturally the more striking color of the two. 

As you can see, every pen has an imprint with a serial number and color code. 

Conway Stewart Churchill: Cherry Red

Oh, and the nibs don't have a breather hole! I don't have any other nibs built like this. At first I merely thought "okay, this nib is different" but couldn't tell what it was.

As Conway Stewart is one of the few pen makers offering factory italic nibs I had to go for these. I got an IB for the Amber and an IM for this one. The nib units screw out and can be easily interchanged. Sadly both nibs needed a bit of tweaking before they wrote really well - I think out of all the factory stubs and italics I bought so far there were three perfectly functional ones (makes me wonder why I still buy them, honestly). Two of those three were steel nibs by the way.

Anyway here's how it writes - which incidentally is very smooth and wet with nice line variation - with Diamine Sapphire Blue:

I got my Churchills from Pen Paradise here in Germany which is run by a true fountain pen enthusiast and a great source for all sorts of pens, paper and pen trays/boxes. The owner, Volker, has also been extremely helpful and quick with enquiries and has tweaked my italics for my when they were acting up.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A glimpse of a Sailor kaga maki-e onagadori

Literally "long tailed birds" - maybe more accurate: birds of paradise!

Abalone shell and Urushi lacquer on ebony wood. Will post more pictures and info about the pen later this month.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pelikan M1005 or: Time for Orange - yet again!

On most days I'm not perfectly sure what my favorite color is. On other days I just know it's orange.

It's also the perfect color for autumn to lighten up those gray and stormy days - so after I've shown you Iroshizuku yu yake and and Montblanc "Ink of Joy" last year here's yet another orange ink, the (sadly discontinued) Caran d'Ache Saffron.

Pelikan M1005 Demonstrator with Caran d'Ache Saffron
 I've had that M1005 Demonstrator for a while but haven't used it too much, mainly because it comes with a rather limited range (F, M, B) of full rhodium plated nibs. I ordered it with an F but then it seems I'm not really an F nib kind of girl.

So I decided to "frankenpen" it with one of my regular M1000 nibs so I could get to use my gorgeous reground and crisped up BB, 3B or O3B. This is the awesome 3B: great line variation, wet, responsive and "soft" as is common for the M1000 size nibs. Nib work has been done by John Sorowka.

It's hard for me to overlook such mismatches usually but it's not so bad this time. There's a lot of rhodium plating on that nib anyway and it matches alright with the orange ink adding warm color to the insides of barrel and section.

I  have two demonstrator pens, this one and a TWSBI (not counting the semi transparent and somehow quite demonstrator-like Omas Extra Lucens), but somehow I've never gotten around to putting orange ink into any of them until now. Most orange inks truly are amazing for transparent pens. Saffron almost looks blood red. I haven't heard of it staining anything either.

Pelikan M1005 Demonstrator with Caran d'Ache Saffron

Quote by Frank Herbert from the "Dune" series.

I haven't tried an orange ink which I didn't like - except maybe for Stipula Zafferano which also looks very nice but is just too light to be easily readable.

Caran d'Ache Saffron is great in every respect: easily readable, offers great shading and flow properties. The color is a bright orange lacking the "burnt" aspect of yu yake or Noodler's Apache Sunset but is not as highlighter-ish as Montblanc's "Ink of Joy". If you love orange and have the chance to snatch up a bottle: do it before they're gone for good!

Do you like to use orange ink? What's your favorite?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paper & Journals I wrote about: The Paper Index

There are some posts in this blog purely about papers or notebooks but also times I've written about paper at the sidelines of something else (usually a pen). I'm listing those posts anyway but marking them as not being fully fledged paper reviews.

Trying to keep this one updated as well, in alphabetical order:


    Friday, November 1, 2013

    Come, thou tortoise! Pelikans M800 and M600

    Are you already bored with warm colors for fall? If so you might want to skip this post because I'm definitely not!

    Pelikan M600 Tortoise & White and M800 Tortoise & Brown
    Pelikan M600 Tortoise & White and M800 Tortoise & Brown

    I know fairly little about Pelikan's history but there is something special about the tortoise celluloids. They've been around a lot in the 1950s and many of those look very nice to this day. What I didn't know until the M800 brown tortoise came out is that there are indeed two different tortoise colors, brown and green.

    Pelikan M600 Tortoise & White and M800 Tortoise & Brown

    The green tortoise on the M600 is much brighter, more transparent and looks warmer in combination with the white resin. It goes really well with the yellow gold accents on the cap, section ring and nib. Overall the M600 has a much more striking appearance.

    Pelikan M600 Tortoise & White and M800 Tortoise & Brown
    The M800 brown tortoise is somewhat more subtle and "serious". There are a lot of greyish brown hues with only a few warm coppery highlights in between. Section and cap are a very dark brown that looks almost black.

    I guess the Pelikan Souveran series is so well known I don't have to take any measurements. ;)

    Pelikan M800 tortoise brown

    Now housing an OBB nib, sharpened up by John Sorowka. (The M600 is fitted with an OB nib which has undergone the same treatment but I didn't make a writing sample of that one).

    Pelikan M800 OBB writing sample with Diamine Ancient Copper
    Pelikan M600 Tortoise & White and M800 Tortoise & Brown

    Diamine Ancient Copper seriously is one great ink color though it has its flaws. If you look closely at the pictures above you can see that it already started building up some crud on the nib while exposed to air for the photos. This is a common issue with this ink especially with caps that allow a lot of air circulation. The M800 cap closes tightly enough so this usually doesn't happen in this pen.

    Also these days I tried the 120g/sqm paper by Karstadt "System" (a chain of large convenience stores here in Germany). The paper is available in various colors and weights in wads of 50 or 100 sheets. I forgot about the exact price but it was between 5 and 7 Euros for 50 A4 or 100 A5 sheets.

    I tried some 120g/sqm in A5 and 160g/sqm in A6, both ivory colored. It's awesome with fountain pens, not too smooth, doesn't eat up all the shading and feels very nice and crisp. Great for composing a letter on it.

    Besides: Have a very happy fountain pen day everyone! A great day to write a letter, make a review, take some photos, organize your blog or ink up some pens. Are you planning any fountain pen related activity today?