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!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

So how is everyone? Soap, mountains and tattoos

It's been a while since my last post, I've been busy with all kinds of other stuff but now I've decided my blogging break is over.

I've been making a lot of soap in the meantime, like this one:

This is a creamy kind of soap made with caustic potash. Its history in Europe reaches even farther back than that of solid soap bars. I added some salt and oils to a part of it to make a body peeling and generous amounts of oils and butters for a super nurturing body wash. Some people even make their own toothpaste out of soft soap but I haven't tried that.

I also liked this one, a pure white unscented coconut soap (I also wanted to find out if the beautiful scent of coconut oil would linger in the soap which sadly it doesn't). It has almost 20 % superfat because coconut oil, once saponified, is really eager to clean and de-fat your skin. The superfat counterbalances that somewhat.
I love that mold, these faces  look so gentle and peaceful!

I gave a lot of soap away as gifts for friends and family but still have quite some extra so I've stopped making it for now and enjoy using it. I guess I'll have homemade soap for quite a few months to come! The upside: soap needs to cure for at least a month and mostly gets better with time.

In May I got my first tattoo and some more have followed - I've been thinking about getting one for quite a few years. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised I like this kind of ink too!

Here's a snapshot of my first one, a meadow silhouette wrapping around my forearm. It was taken on the humble summit of the Schoberstein in Austria, looking down on the Attersee (a pretty large lake actually). I liked the idea of a "mountain meadow" picture so  I took it while recovering from the ascent. ;)
I truly like watching how vegetation changes as you ascend a mountain. There were numerous flowers I'd never seen before and countless butterflies fluttering around us in the afternoon sun. I also like it when the path becomes more rocky and exposed and looking down gives you the chills - in a beautiful, rollercoaster ride sort of way. The sweaty and exhausting part probably can't be helped if you want to get up there, but I really don't enjoy sports per se. :D

Ahh, there truly has been too little sunshine and warmth this summer, but looking at this picture brings it all back. I even got sunburnt on a convertible ride to the South of the Czech Republic - some of the most beautiful landscape I've ever seen. Stopped by in Krumlov, the Vltava was full of boats, manned by people in various stages of intoxication - it seems to be their idea of a beer garden. Sadly I don't have any pictures to show for it but I was having a great time.

This is the latest addition, it's sitting on the front of my upper arm. It was done in Vianden, Luxembourg by my friend and tattoo artist Sonja (Punktum Tattoo) who has done all my tattoos up to now. She's located in Cologne, Germany and likes to do dotwork and all kinds of geometric shapes and patterns. If you like this style you should check her out, she's an amazing artist and a very kind and special person.

I've actually been to 4 different countries in August, though I have to admit the distances haven't been very spectacular. :D
Now I'm back home, summer is almost over, a perfect time to do some more writing and drawing, generally playing with my pens and inks - and waking this blog from its summer hibernation!

What have you been doing during the summer and what are you looking forward to in autumn and winter? Before we know it it will be Christmas again! (Ugh. Need presents!)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What I've been up to: Soap & Stuff

I haven't posted anything these last weeks, this is mainly because I've plunged myself head first into a new hobby. It's a very girlish one too: making soap!

Since this isn't "Fight Club" making soap really isn't all that exciting but I've always had a thing for handmade stuff, especially if I made them myself (like my notebooks). I feel that somehow this shares a common background with my fountain pen hobby which both are about making everyday moments (like writing or washing your hands...) very special ones.

Making soap also is all about transforming rather unimpressive raw ingredients (oils, water and crystalline, caustic sodium hydroxide) into a reassuringly firm and smooth something that cleans and conditions your skin at the same time. Also it's a great opportunity to play with scents which is another interest of mine.

Some soap I've made. Doesn't this remind you of a zen like Nakaya in heki-tame? ;)

These are two soaps I've made recently, the first is made of pumpkin kernel oil, coconut and shea butter - the pumpin kernel oil is responsible for the beautiful color which sadly won't last.

This creamy white soap is made of coconut, babassu, peanut and avocado oil and contains a generous amount of sea salt which some skins apparently love and mine obviously does.

Both will have to rest some more weeks though until their pH value has lowered enough to make them gentle enough for everday use.

Don't worry, I won't turn this into a soap blog, just wanted to show you what I'm playing with these days and I'm pretty confident I'll be back to fountain pens in no time!
I hope you're all enjoying the approaching springtime.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Bling, bling! Jinhao 650 Pearl

I love mother of pearl in pens! So when a fountain pen friend ordered some of those Jinhaos from China I asked him to get one for me too. There wasn't a lot to read about it beforehand but I still didn't regret the purchase - the pen is far from flawless but the price is hard to beat!

It's a large and heavy model (66 g capped) but fairly usable uncapped (44 g). Cap and barrel are made of metal and covered with black lacquer. The lacquer quality is so-so, mine has had some scratches from the start, but it's alright if you don't look at it too closely.

The section is covered with matte resin, probably in order to improve the grip which isn't too great. My fingers tend to slip towards the nib after writing a few lines.

As you can see the barrel is covered with stripes of white and abalone sea shell. There also seems to be a model with abalone shell only which I would've liked even better. Still it looks pretty (even if slightly on the kitschy side, lol). I would've loved to own that pen as a little girl, I probably would've felt like a princess while doing my homework!

The best part of it: Its two-tone steel nib, reground to cursive italic by Volker (Pen Paradise) and a really, really nice writer. Thanks again, Volker!

How do you like the Jinhao Pearl?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Amber: Graf von Faber Castell's Pen of the Year 2004

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004

While for a lot of people Faber-Castell seems to be the German pen maker no one ever really thinks of I've been impressed by their Pen of the Year series for a long time. Only a few of them I really like and one of them has taken my breath away: the 2004 version done in amber.

There are six amber rings, cut and fitted by hand and set off with platinum plated rings, cap and end cap.

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004

There's really not that much more to say about the pen so I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

The amber is deep and rich, like solid sunlight and honey. It is milky white in places and clear gold in others.

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004

Beautiful to the touch, too.

I know it's just a pen - but it's a beautiful one. I believe I already wrote about how I used to collect minerals. Now strictly speaking amber isn't a mineral but I still did have a few pieces, some with enclosed insects (is this the appropriate phrasing? I couldn't find a proper translation). I've always been fascinated by it. Later when I started to discover incense and fragrances I sometimes used to heat a pin over a candle flame and touch it to my piece of amber so it would issue a unique and aromatic scent.

Of course it's inked and currently filled with Stipula Verde Muschiato. Somehow the murky, muddy green fits the glossy platinum and cheerful amber perfectly. It's fitted with a beautiful, slightly stubbish and perfectly behaving broad nib.
It's a heavy pen: 73 g capped but manageable 40 g uncapped.

Graf von Faber-Castell Pen of the Year 2004

By the way: Many thanks to Fountain Pen Geeks for recommending my blog as a sunday read and to all others who have been linking and commenting. That was a really nice belated Christmas gift! :)