KoInkyDinky? I think not!

7 11 2020

So I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s “Norse Mythology“, which while totally enjoyable as a read is a little disappointing in that it’s a pretty basic retelling of many stories I’m already familiar with (“with which I’m already familiar”?). I think I was anticipating his more twisted, tangential treatment but got a pretty vanilla rendering of the familiar tales.

No matter – the tales are as believable as any other religious fare and there’s even a bit of sex and violence. Norse mythology – along with that of the Romans (what have they ever done for us?) and the Greeks – is so much less complicated than that of the Judeo-christian variety. They’re up-front in stating the gods are a fickle bunch and pretty much anything good, bad, or indifferent can happen to you on any given day, so you might as well just get on with your life and leave them to it.

Today, we call this physics.

Friday, being the first Friday in November was celebrated by some as “Fountain Pen Day”. It’s a thing. It’s no less contrived than Father’s Day, and serves the same purpose – artificially stimulating the economy and giving us an excuse for another sale day.

At least “Left-hander’s Day” (August 13th) brings focus to people for whom the struggle is real. (Don’t mock me until you’ve tried using scissors in the opposite hand for which they were designed!)

Where was I? Oh yes – Fountain Pen Day (FPD). OK, so let’s just say I’ve been a little free and easy with the keyboard and my credit card of late. Months of home arrest due to COVID can do that to a bank account. Contrary to many others who celebrated their lack of control on FPD, I didn’t hit “Add to cart” once on Friday.

That said, it isn’t as true that I was so restrained in the previous few weeks. That, plus the UK’s Royal Mail and Canada Post – and perhaps even Loki – conspired to cause the postman/woman to deliver two fountain pens, a replacement nib for a previously purchased pen and an alternative width nib for one of the new acquisitions.

Kaweco AL Sport with EF nib in Stonewashed Blue; Replacement B nib unit for previous Lamy Brass Sport; Lamy Studio Lx All Black with F nib and B alternative also in black

The arrival of all these fountain pen goodies “on the day” was quite the coincidence and quite unplanned. What made the whole thing ever so slightly eerie though was that I also received a postcard from my daughter currently in Den Haag, Netherlands. Because her student residence had been temporarily locked down in mid-October, she, along with the other inmates residents had been given a free postcard and stamp, and the one she’d picked for me was quite apt, and also arrived on FPD.

Coincidence? Je ne pense pas!

An apt choice of postcard!




New Writing Stuff!

22 06 2020

So yesterday I continued my perpetual hunt for a reasonably priced case for my growing collection of fountain pens. As with most “niche” things, the prices asked for them typically far outweigh the value to me. Yesterday’s hunt took us to DeSerres in Burnaby. They had some interesting stuff, but it felt a bit lacklustre to be honest. The staff were very helpful though, and were only too pleased to open up sealed packages to let me examine the interior of the few cases they were stocking.

On the way out, Mrs E spotted the notebooks and though I briefly had a Rhodia notebook in my hand, I was ultimately drawn to a Fabriano EcoQua dot notebook. Actually, it’s more of a pad with tear-off pages, but they’re printed double-sided with a dot pattern and are A5, 85g/m². It was a mere CA$5, and though I had no high expectation at that price, I must say I am downright impressed so far!

No feathering or bleed through with a selection of inks and nibs, and I’m lovin’ it! At least as good a fountain pen writing experience as my recently acquired (at much more expense) Clairefontaine notebook.

EcoQua dotted notebook

Image Source: DeSerres

Basking in this new acquisition, I was further rewarded today by a long awaited package from Goulet Pens in the States. This was some LAMY Turmaline 2020 special edition ink (to match a pen I previously bought for Mrs E.) and a red Clairefontaine notebook… which I’m ever so slightly regretting now.

A quick dip in the LAMY ink with the end of a plastic chopstick to do a swab test and I was at first disappointed that it seemed the same as the LAMY Amazonite she already has. As it dried though, there’s definitely a brighter, slightly more green tint to it. Now I love it, and I’m hoping she doesn’t notice how quickly it’ll seem to evaporate…

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Recent writing acquisitions – note brightness difference between Turmaline and Amazonite swabs





Fountain (pen) of (my) youth

11 05 2020

Odd day. Can’t remember exactly when “lockdown”, such as it is in BC, began, but I’m into week four of a five week furlough from work, so it’s at least that long. I’m treating it as a dry run for retirement. Love the extra time for reading, gardening, teasing Mrs E. and generally discovering vitally important things I haven’t used in years to fix.

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I ended up on a random investigation of fountain pens, inks and associated accoutrements today. Along the way I cleaned and revitalised a cheap fountain pen by “Pen & Ink” which now works great, though the nib is a little broad for my current tastes. The outside of it had become tacky and I read that rubbing alcohol was a good way of removing the tackiness. The brand I used was 70% ethanol (wood alcohol – don’t try using it in cocktails!) but I think some brands are isopropyl alcohol. “Test on a less visible area” being the usual warning in case it melts everything.

Anyway, it worked great on my particular piece of soft plastic. So much so that I also used it on the rubbery grips of the Canon film camera I recently bought second hand. Big fan of alcohol now. (As if I wasn’t already…)

As for the pen innards, I flushed it many times with the rubbing alcohol and then near boiling water to remove residue of old dipping pen ink I’d erroneously filled it with a while ago. (It’s not water-soluble like fountain pen ink is and can contain solids and corrosive chemicals). I have to say the slow, painstaking repetition was quite cathartic. I put a little Lamy Amazonite (kind of teal/turquoise) ink in it to test, and it works lovely and smooth now. Its “medium” nib is a bit broad though for my current tastes.

Flushed (as it were) with this success, I felt nostalgic for the first fountain pen I ever used/owned when I was 11. A present from my parents, it was a Parker 45, as a fountain pen was the required writing instrument at my High School, a traditional grammar school in the UK. I’d looked for this pen several times before but wasn’t entirely sure I hadn’t “purged it” a là Maria Kondo. Perhaps the joy I felt sure it would spark now might not have been the case some time previously.

I even perused a UK vintage fountain pen site to see how much a replacement would be. £55 is the answer – though that was an all-metal body with a stainless-steel nib. Mine was black, with a rolled gold nib. I remembered it well!

After looking in all the obvious places, I suddenly felt inspired to look in the desk drawers of my nest-flown “arty” daughter. It’s not quite as creepy as it sounds – she’s lived abroad for several years now, and she does still have quite the stash of art supplies in her old room.

Boy, did I hit the mother lode! Not only did I find my old school pen (we’re talking 1975 vintage here!), but another lovely fountain pen I was given as a thank-you for being my friend’s Best Man back in the UK. This one is a lovely sleek élysée (ironically, despite the Es acute,  a German company – now defunct). There’s a great write-up here.

Looking in my “calligraphy tin” I discovered the bodies of no less than 3 Parker 25’s and a very particular Peugeot edition of a Creeks n Creeks (Stypen – French) “stubby”. This is so short it can only take the short ink cartridges common in schools. No option of a convertor to take ink from a bottle.

Armed with a little collection now of less than clean fountain pens, I spent a very pleasant few hours purging all manner of colours of ink from their crevices with near-boiling water and rubbing alcohol.

Now… if only I could remember how to write!

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Creeks n Creeks Peugeot special élysée – Series 60 Parker 25 Pen & Ink – sketch Parker 45