Hello Sailor!

Bought this years ago and don’t remember the exact limited edition it was, but even the simplest Sailor nib writes like a dream.

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Hello Sailor!

Robert Oster Ink is Moleskine Friendly

Either Moleskine have improved the quality of their paper, or Robert Oster ink is magical, but it definitely doesn't suffer from feathering/spidering/spread. There's some show through, and in wider nibs, a bit of bleed through, but nothing that makes it unusable. That's pretty surprising for such saturated ink, and good news for those looking for Noodler's ink replacements.
Tested with fine, medium and 1.1 stub nibs with equal success.

Robert Oster Ink is Moleskine Friendly

Top 5 pens

In the recent Pen Addict Podcast, Brad and Myke discussed their top 5 pens, and that made me think about my top 5 pens. Do I even have a top 5? I never actually ranked my pens until now — I just use them.

After a bit of thought, I came up with this list of my favourite five pens. These are all perfect for long writing sessions, but they’re not necessarily the best for begninners, or for showing off your handwriting, so take that into consideration before you purchase any of these:

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Nakaya Cigar Piccolo Negoro Kise Hon Kataji black/red with elastic flexible medium rhodium nib — that’s quite a mouthful for a relatively small pen. This pen was made to order for me, and I had to wait quite a while and pay quite a bit for it, but it was totally worth it. The nib is a dream, and like no other nib that I own — it’s springy. It isn’t a wet noodle by any stretch, but shows a good amount of line variation, is very comfortable to write with, and is super easy to clean. The most beautiful pen that I own, in a very understated way, it’s the best all-rounder in this list.

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Parker 51 — I have quite a collection of these vintage classics, and I have yet to be disappointed with one. They somehow manage to make my handwriting really good looking, and they are fun to write with (though a bit of a pain to clean). Not the prettiest of pens, but I love their sleek looks, and they are workhorses.

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Franklin Cristoff Model 66 Stabilis Antique Glass with a 1.1 stub converted to an eyedropper pen — this pen is gorgeous, comfortable for long term writing, helps show off ink (both because you can see it sloshing around and since it lays down a significant line), and makes even the simplist handwriting look great without going overboard in terms of line thickness. It’s also super simple to clean out (though beware of staining inks), and the nib is a stunner, especially for a steel nib.

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Ti Arto with a Uni-ball UMR-85N refill— this has now become my daily journaling pen, and although it isn’t a fountain pen it is comfortable for long writing sessions, mainly because it has a relatively thick barrel and is relatively light for a machined pen. It writes well on all types of paper, including Moleskines, is relatively cheap, and accepts a dizzing array of refills. This is a pen that I don’t mind slipping into my pocket or tossing into my bag — it’s built to last and can take the punishment.

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Lamy 2000 Fine — this pen is not without faults, as the little metal prongs that hold the cap in place can get in the way of your grip, and my old 2000 is cracking in several places (ugly-fixed with superglue), but I still love it. The gold nib allows for just enough line variation to make it perfect for both writing and sketching, and the capacity is just fantastic. I’m also a big fan of its understated looks, but if you’re looking for something with more zing, this may not be the pen for you. I also bought another one, in extra-fine (after my old 2000 started cracking), and I have to say that its nib isn’t as good as my old 2K. So I’d recommend it, but only if you’re willing to tune it (either yourself, or take it to a nibsmith), if necessary.

These are my workhorses, and at any given time at least two or three of these are in use. Experimenting with pens in nice, but when you’re working on writing a novel or have a good chunk of writing to do, the snazzy wet noodles and music nibs give way to more dependable choices that are also always a joy to use.

Top 5 pens

Purple Heart: An Ink Review

Purple Heart

Another selection from Noodler’s, Purple Heart is one of Nathan’s less imaginatively named colours (I mean the man has an ink called “Black Swan in Australian Roses” in this colour range, so “Purple Heart” is a bit on the dull side).

A dusky, reddish purple that shades nicely, this ink closely resembles the much better named Tyrian Purple from Diamine. Except it is about $2 cheaper. And shades less. And is harder to clean out of your pen. And is more difficult to obtain.

This is the kind of ink that you buy when you are trying to show your rebel side at work, after you have had your fill of the excitement that blue-blacks have to offer. Dark enough to not call too much attention to yourself, but unique enough to make your heart flutter, this would be a decent ink to pick up after you have a good selection of black, blue, blue-black, brown, dark green, grey and that cool-ink- with-the-sparkly-bits-in-it.

Properties-wise Purple Heart got the very short end of the stick  — it had nothing going for it except its tantalizing colour. It is not waterproof or water-resistant. It takes a long while to dry — meaning that it is not going to be a lefties favourite. It is not particularly Field Notes and Moleskine friendly (a lot of bleed through and show through, which makes the other side of the paper practically useless), nor does it have any earth shatteringly interesting properties. It is lubricated, which means that it flows well, and plays particularly well with piston fillers (until you have to clean them out, at least).

So why did I pick this ink over its Tyrian counterpart? Because I am stupid. This ink is a Goulet Pens exclusive, and at the time that was all it took to get me to bring out the space credits. I know — I am that silly. It is a nice enough ink for me to not feel too bad for having it (after all there is nothing more sustaining than using an offbeat ink during the most boring meeting in the world), but faced with a similar choice today, Diamine’s Tyrian Purple would get my vote. After all, that ink that was so good looking on the page that you could stare at it for hours, loses a lot of its lustre after you are forced to stare at it for hours going down the drain.

 

Purple Heart: An Ink Review

Bad Belted Kingfisher: an ink review

Bad Belted Kingfisher

This is Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher.

Right off the bat it scores points for having a badass name. But if you were expecting it to be a kingfisher blue, you might be disappointed. Like its namesake, a bird that only American pen addicts are likely to be familiar with, this ink has less turquoise and teal tendencies, and more royal blue, even slightly blue-black ones.

Its depth of colour means that if you are looking a “shader”, then you will find better options around, although it does show some variation between deep, deep blue, and deep blue. On Tomoe River Paper. In bright light. With certain nibs. But the variation does exist.

The kingfisher, bad boy as he is, is not too picky when it comes to paper. Field notes, Moleskine — he’ll handle the lot of them, without feathering or too much bleed-through. So this ink is crappy paper certified, providing you forgo your gushing double broad italic fountain pen and stick to something more conservative, like a European fine nib, or a Japanese medium. There are limits, after all, to even the best of inks.

When it comes to the cool and oftentimes wacky Noodler’s properties, BBK did not get much love. It is not quick drying (but dries in a few seconds even on Rhodia paper, so not much to complain about there), freeze resistant, lubricated, fluorescent, sparkly, ghosty or scented. What it is water resistant, and part of the Warden series.

Now when it comes to water resistance and fountain pen inks it is important to remember:

  1. No  water resistance until the ink is not completely dry. That can take hours on certain types of paper.
  2. Water resistant is NOT waterproof. Rinsing it out with water will create a mess. Putting it in the washing machine will create a mess. Rubbing a wet finger to test if it is really waterproof (it isn’t) will create a mess.

Water resistant means that if you drop a few drops of water on it after the ink has dried, then you will still be able to read what you wrote after the water dried. That is the only thing promised on the tin (er… bottle).

So, about the Warden aspects of this ink… If you are interested, you are welcome to read about it here.

The ink was developed in the good old days of 2011, when the possibility of someone forging bank documents with ink was still a thing (?). These days, I’d just focus on BBK’s colour rather than its Warden superpowers.

So we are left with a middle of the road ink in terms of properties, with Noodler’s signature cheap price and good-looking bottle, with a colour that is nice, but is no Bungo Box 4B. There is no fun in it — no sheen, no hidden hue, no interesting shading, no cool property. In a field so crowded with great blue and blue-black inks, the kingfisher just doesn’t stand out.

Which is a shame, considering its name. Such a brightly-coloured bird deserves better treatment in ink, does it not?

Bad Belted Kingfisher: an ink review

Biweekly Routine

Routines and rituals are important, and one of the signs of a craftsperson is their care for the tools they use. This is true for any kind of maker, whether your craft is storytelling or leatherwork. Every two weeks I try to go through this routine, to make sure that the things that I use when I write are there and in order when I sit down to do my writing.

Clean keyboard

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Some computer keyboards harbour more harmful bacteria than a toilet seat, research has suggested. 

A BBC News report published the findings of a consumer group Which? on keyboard hygiene, and not surprisingly they were shocking.

Since your keyboard is one of your main, if not your main writing tool, taking 10-15 minutes every two weeks to clean it doesn’t seem excessive, yet few writers do so.

Here are the keyboard cleaning guides that I use:

PC World: How to Clean Your Keyboard – simple, informative, easy to follow advice on how to clean your keyboard.

Rispter Guide: Cleaning Keyboards – funny, and with plenty of pictures. Also, much more thorough than the PC world guide, and geared towards mechanical keyboard maintenance.

Check backups

You can read up here on how to backup your work. Once every two weeks go over your backups and check to see that everything is where you expect it to be.

Organize notes

Take a few minutes once every two weeks to go over your notes, file or throw away those that aren’t relevant anymore and make sure that you don’t have any loose notes scribbled on envelopes or post-it notes around the house.

Organize file names

If you for some reason work with Word and not with Scrivener (why?), and keep several versions of your work in different files, take a moment to make sure that your file names haven’t gotten out of hand, and you still know where everything is and what everything is. File names “My novel – old new new version 2” — I’m looking at you.

Check notebooks, pencils, pens

Check your notebooks, pencils, pens (fountain pens or not), to see what needs to be refilled soon, reinforced or replaced.

Update Scrivener project metadata

Take some time to fill in character names and short descriptions, places information, references etc. in your Scrivener project’s Characters, Places or Research folders. This information is important to keep on hand for long projects, and is especially useful to keep bundled together with your writing — mainly for search purposes (“where did I reference X character?”).

Biweekly Routine