Archive for ‘fountain pens’

December 11, 2010

Faily scrawlin’

I’ve been pining after a flexible fountain pen nib for a while because it allows for more character in one’s handwriting. Basically, it means that I’d be able to do thin strokes and thick strokes at will, which would mean I’d have awesome looking handwriting. That’s the theory, anyway.

I was considering a vintage pen brand called Esterbrook, which has wonderfully flexy nibs but — and here’s where I start to wrestle with myself — I don’t actually like how the pens look. (Click the link above to see pictures.) Some people like them. I can see why; it’s just not my sense of aesthetic.

A couple of weeks ago, it was a moot dilemma because I was (and am) terribly broke and a cheapie Esterbrook was out of my price range.

But then Valerie (kind, wonderful, albeit rather bratty Valerie), bought me an Esterbrook SJ in cherry red, with a 1555 firm medium nib and a 9048 flexible fine nib:

I missed out on the elusive 9128 extra fine, extra flexible nib but I have heard tell that it is not all that fine nor that flexible. And a 9048 suits me just dandy. It’s my first Esterbrook so I have nothing to compare it with save for my other pens — an exercise which, I suspect, is not so much apples and oranges but more like apples and alien ants from outer space.

I’ve been playing with a pretend-flexible nib while waiting for my Estie to arrive. It’s a cheap dip pen I bought for Valerie aaages ago, and now I’m claiming it till I get sick of it. The nib is fairly springy but not as flexible as an actual-flexible-nib, I think. But I’ve been able to play around, which makes me rather happy. And ink-stained. I cannot play with inks without getting it all over my fingers, which you can see on the photos, lol.

See my scribbles! (And be kind — I’ve never worked with a flex nib before. My lines are all wonky.) These are all done with J Herbin’s 1670 ink on a Rhodia Dot Pad No. 16. Bonus points if you can get the references in the first two. Many bonus points. And virtual cookies.

 

I did a few others but how many pictures of rather bad ‘calligraphy’ can one handle, really.

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December 2, 2010

The notebooks; they take over my room

I have an insatiable fascination with notebooks. I love them more than word can wield the matter. One of my favourite online shopping sites of all time is Inscriber, and Notemaker, its sibling notebook and paper site, is a close second. I spend a lot of time browsing and, on occasion, a good portion of my income on wonderful bits of wonderful stationery. If you ever find yourself buying Moleskines, Clairefontaine notebooks or Rhodia pads at Borders (still rather giddy that Borders stocks Clairefontaine and Rhodia), do consider Notemaker — much cheaper by far. (No affiliation, etc., happy customer, etc., usual disclaimers, etc. Etc., for good measure.)

Unfortunately, my insistence upon exploring this love for notebooks (through purchasing all that take my fancy) far exceeds my ability to actually use them all properly.

I know that most people manage to use their notebooks quite regularly. I used to, till I realised that typing let me get my thoughts out more quickly than writing. I still carry a notebook (or three) around in case I do need to scribble, so my notebooks don’t go unused per se; they’re just not as well-loved as they used to be. Which is a shame, because I’m really very fond of them.

This is my notebook collection. It is, in my head, very small — and in comparison to quite a few other people’s collection, it is. (I’d flit over to the posts over at Moleskinerie if you want to see serious notebook love.)

The spiral notebooks are just cheap lined notebooks I picked up at Big W and Officeworks for uni notes. I replaced the covers myself — you can see how they look in this post (warning: I was a bit sleepy and high and not very coherent when that post was written, lol!). They are far from interesting in content, for they have law school scribbles and law bored me to tears.

Above the spiral notebooks is an A5 jotter pad made out of junk paper, which is my general scribbly pad. It has boring things like ‘dentist appointment 2.00 Saturday’, annotated with things like ‘????’ because I’ve forgotten to note precisely which Saturday it is.

The tiny little notebooks stacked on top of the jotter pad are Moleskine cahiers, which come in packs of three. I don’t use them half as much as I used to because my fountain pens hate them (the ink goes everywhere) but I always found them an awesome size for general notetaking if I didn’t have my jotter pad on me. I also like the simplicity of them — they’re so terribly appealing, even though I hate their lack of paper quality control.

Right underneath the spiral notebooks is my first and only Clairefontaine, which won’t be the only one for long, I fear. It has the best paper in my collection, save for the brighty whiteness:

It’s not that glaringly white, just glaring in comparison to the kikki.K and Moleskine pages. At the moment, it has very little written in it, because it’s my scribbly book for fiction pieces and my inspiration is sadly running rather low. One day, it’ll be filled. Until then, I’m trying not to buy any more Clairefontaine notebooks. HA.

The books under the Clairefontaine are all from kikki.K — the seasonal release of A5 blank notebooks.  kikki.K’s A5 notebooks have fountain pen-friendly paper in a gorgeous shade of yellowed cream, and they were my go-to books before Borders made it easy to get Clairefontaine and Rhodia. It reminds me of Moleskine paper (which is sadly not very nice to my fountain pens), which is my favourite paper of all time. (Note to Clairefontaine: please make your creams more creamy. Kthnx.) This is how they look inside:

And at the very bottom of the pile is my favoured thesis notebook: the Rhodia Dot Pad (No. 16). I love Rhodia — more than Moleskine, truthfully, although I really do love the simplicity of the Moleskine aesthetic. Rhodia has amazing paper, though, and the Dot Pad is really fun. The paper seems to demand word cloud-like notes rather than great walls of script, so my notes end up turning out like this:

I find it quite useful for getting the gist of my ideas out there, since I think in keywords and generalities rather than in specifics. Every time I walk into Borders now, I’m tempted to get another Rhodia No. 16, though I haven’t quite caved yet, because this one isn’t quite done.

I stopped typing for a moment after having said that, because I was thinking to myself, ‘nice; say “haven’t yet bought another Rhodia 16” to escape confessing that you have bought another Rhodia.’

Because I have.

But not, as I say, another Rhodia No. 16. No, no.

I feel like I need a trumpet fanfare before showing this MONSTER OF A RHODIA PAD:

ROAR. BOOYEAH.

It’s so big. It’s Rhodia No. 38 and is an A3 pad of dot-paper. My biggest notebooks up until now were A5, so you can imagine that this is WHOA CRAZY HUGE in my head. It’s probably quite normal to students who do giant sketchy things.

I don’t even think my writing will be visible on this paper.

HOW FREAKING AWESOME, YOU GUYS.

I have never-ending paper.

Never-ending paper is really rather important to me. During my Honours year, I found it really difficult to keep all my thoughts to paper, and ended up scribbling on my bedroom wall, instead. It felt better than giant butcher paper.

I do think, though, that’d it be nice to be able to keep my notes without having to erase them from my wall. HENCE THE MONSTER PAD.

I love it so.

And, by the by, has anyone seen the Mutant Dolls at Chatswood Westfield? I also love them, because they always make me stop and take a second look — a second look of the ‘what on earth is that oh it’s a mutant doll I geddit cute’ variety, which is more than most shopping centre stalls get from me, really. And I sort of want one. But not really, because they creep me out. I’ve been trying to load the website to see if they’re as creepy as I recall, but I can’t load it, so I’ve decided that yes, they’re as creepy as I recall. It’ll be this way unless someone convinces me otherwise.

November 24, 2010

Inky pleasures

I’m quite new to fountain pens, although my first foray into the world of nibs and flowing ink was when I was quite young (maybe seven at the oldest), wielding my uncle’s fountain pen to draw cockroaches in brown ink.

(For the record, I hate and always hated cockroaches. But I have a strange tendency to dwell on things that horrify me.  Like knives and blood. Most people avoid their phobias and fears; I stare at them with unconcealed horror and fascination. Go figure.)

I’ve always loved stationery, and a great deal of my high school life was spent hunting after the perfect ballpoint pen. I have tried every cheapie that Officeworks and Big W has to offer. I really have. I have also tried mid-range ballpoint pens from Parker, Waterman and that Spanish brand that Myer stocks that I can’t recall at the moment. The best, by the by, is the Parker Jotter by a long mile, unless you want a lightweight pen (Jotters are a bit hefty at times), and then it’s difficult to pass by  a Pilot BPS-GP with a fine point. The Pilot BPS-GP also has a removable metal pen-cap thingy that holds the pen together…

 

That Thing. And the most important thing about That Thing is that, with practice and a bit of patience, you can spin it off the body of your pen and make it spin around the table like a little silver top. Priceless hours of class entertainment, I assure you.

The thing about ballpoints is that a ballpoint pen is only as good as its refill. And once you’ve found your ideal refill (Parker ftw!), your mission has basically ended. (Though I haven’t tried Lamy, but I don’t like the shape of their pens.)

Not so with the fountain pen, which is a finicky little brat. The nib has to get along with the ink which has to get along with the paper, or else all you get is this blurry mess of once-legible writing. And nibs change, even in the same manufacturer (and in the same pen line), which makes every pen purchase a bit of an adventure.

I’ve found that my inks tend to agree best with my Parker Sonnet, which has a nib that’s wide enough to bring out the character in inks but isn’t so broad that my writing turns (too) illegible. (I have a photo of my pen on my About page, if you’re curious.)

 

My obsession with ink started with one particular colour: J Herbin’s ‘1670 edition anniversaire’, which is a glorious blood red ink commemorating 340 years of making ink and other awesome stationery. It was, of course, limited edition and I discovered it, of course, a few months after it had been released and snapped up by ink-lovers all over the globe.

And then one day, I saw it on Inscriber, which is (without a doubt) the best online stockist of awesome stationery. And it was sold out.

Story of my life.

(Not really, I just felt very sorry for myself because I’m a bit of a brat.)

But I asked them to notify me when the product was in stock (none too hopefully for, as I just mentioned, I was in the mood for feeling sorry for myself). A few days later, the email came.

A few seconds after that, I put an order through.

And in two days time, the most amazing bottle of ink appeared on my doorstep:

 

TA DAAAAA!

Isn’t it amazing? It is. Nicest bottle of ink I’ve ever seen. J Herbin usually has shorter, squat, no-fuss (though still rather attractive) bottles, which you can sort of see on top of my Penguin books on the left. (It’s the bottle with a purple moon on it. And the ink is delectable. You can sort of see it on my About page, too.) But this bottle is so very attractive, with its wax sealed cap and little wax seal badge proclaiming its name. Each seal is hand-done, I think (I know I read that… somewhere >.>) which just adds to its awesomeness.

AWESOME, YOU GUYS.

 

A translation, for those who can’t read my handwriting:

J Herbin 1670

EDITION ANNIVERSAIRE

Nommiest red evar.

OMG.

OMG, you guise.

This red pwns my favourite red nail polish.

It looks good even though I don’t have Inkophile’s handwriting.

Eeeee! Look at the shading!

Wow. This is pretty pigmented for J. Herbin.

Love love love wheeeee.

 

My favourite red nail polish, for the record, is OPI’s An Affair in Red Square. OPI’s Affair in Red Square is a deeper red cousin of OPI’s famed I’m Not Really a Waitress, and J. Herbin’s 1670 is darker still, with earthy brown undertones that make it look closer to blood than to the sparkling Christmas tones of An Affair in Red Square.

Here’s another shot:

THIS INK IS SO AWESOME.

SO AWESOME.

It’s the sort of colour that makes me want to write passionate letters to my lover right before I murder them and write confessional notes in their blood.

If I had that sort of tendency.

Which I don’t.

Sharp knives and blood fear, remember?

Maybe I’ll just write a murder mystery instead.

ANYWAY, away from sounding creepy and back to just sounding strange:

I mentioned ‘Inkophile’ in that scrawl. Inkophile, whose handwriting I covet terribly, has an amazing blog. The swatches of 1670 put mine to shame. Look and drool: Inkophile’s swatches of1670. This ink has character and Inkophile has the skillz to really bring it out. I want those skillz. So badly.

…I wish I had more use for a red, because red is a little bit difficult to read in long stints. I suspect I’ll use this bit of ink up first and then go to my usual dusty purple or nutty brown, unless I suddenly buy another brilliant colour.

Okay, outfit post coming up later tonight!