2015 Favourites – Part 2

The writing experience won’t be complete with just pens and inks. Paper plays a role as important as the other two.

Rhodia 90 gsm paper was one of the first fountain pen friendly paper products that I tried. After using the paper for a while, I started to get frustrated and feel that maybe it’s not the best for me: certain pens do not work well (skipping and hard starts) on the paper, and several inks do not look as nice as how they appear on other paper and notebooks, even the ones that are considered to be with lower quality. That’s when I started looking for more varieties of paper to try. Here is my top 5 favourite paper products:

1. Rhodia 80 gsm Dotpad

Rhodia #16 Dotpad has my go-to paper. I like its convenience and portability. The 80 gsm paper feels relatively less glossy and polished, which is friendly to nearly all of my pens and inks.

2. Tomoe River loose sheet paper

Tomoe River paper is relatively new to me. I have heard of this paper for a while already, but wasn’t interested in it, because I thought it wouldn’t be practical or useful for how I prefer to use my notebooks and notepads for daily writing. However, one day I decided to give it a try, after hearing so many times about how wonderfully it shows the sheen and has no feathering or bleed through. It is really fun to use and now I try every ink that I fill into the pen with this paper, just to see what kind of magic it has. I still don’t think that it is practical. But it’s definitely fun to use.

3. Maruman Mnemosyne notebook

I prefer the Maruman Mneymosyne notebooks for their design. This is my choice of the daily notebook, mainly for two reasons:

  • Being a wire bound notebook, it can lay flat and give enough time for the ink to dry.
  • Each page is perforated, so that when I want to quickly take some notes and remove the page, I have the option to easily do so.

4. Leuchtturm1917 notebook

The Leuchtturm1917 notebooks get a spot in the top 5 for their excellent paper quality. In comparison, the paper seems to be not as glossy as the Rhodia 80 gsm paper, and it gives more feedback. What I like about it is that many inks appear more vibrantly on this paper, such as Sailor Jentle Souten and Private Reserve DC Supershow Blue. For certain inks, there is even more sheen shown on it. Last but not least, there are so many colour options for the notebook cover! It’s always nice to have a lot of options!

5. Midori TRAVELER’s Notebook insert 001

I always carry my Midori TRAVELER’s Notebook with me. I use it for any type of writing from to-do lists to short articles. The insert 001 (lined) works well exactly for that. However, while it certainly has a big advantage, which is the convenience, it isn’t my favourite paper type, for a similar reason like the Rhodia 90 gsm paper. It can be too glossy for the pens sometimes, which is not only causing skipping or hard start issues, but also taking certain inks a lot of time to dry.

Other than the lists of pens, inks, and paper, I have another one that I think is interesting to talk about. And that is accessories. For this list, I consider anything that is related to this hobby but not being pens, inks, or paper as accessory. There are ones that I find particular useful or fun to have. And here are the top 5:

1. Bulb syringe

This is one of the best tools for fountain pens in my experience. It is so useful for cleaning cartridge converter pens. Its efficiency and effectiveness guarantee it a solid place in the top 5.

2. Fountain pen cleaning solution

I had several pens that had flow or skipping issues. I wasn’t sure if the cleaning solution could offer much help. It didn’t take long for me to absolutely believe in it. The pens’ performances got much better. It is also useful to clean the pen with it occasionally just as a regular maintenance. I am often surprised by how much ink is still trapped in the pen.

3. Visconti Dreamtouch Leather 6 Pen Holder

Among all the pen pouches that I have used, this Visconti 6 pen pouch outshines everything else. I usually carry 3 to 6 pens and this pen case offers more than sufficient. The slot reserved for each pen is spacious enough to handle any pen in my collection, even the Delta Dolcevita Oversize. It features the full protection to pens and the build quality is excellent. Small details such as using the non-metal zipper and full-length divider certainly help ensure that the pen pouch itself will not cause any damage to the pens inside.

4. Silicone grease

I do not eyedropper any of my pens, but the silicone grease still comes handy greasing my piston-fill Pelikan pens and some other converters that can be disassembled. One quick maintenance can ensure that the piston mechanism works smoothly for a long time.

5. LEGO bricks

Why do LEGO bricks appear on the list for the top 5 favourite fountain pen accessories? Building LEGO is another big hobby of mine. While having many LEGO bricks around, it’s fun to combine the two hobbies together. I started to use LEGO bricks to build pen holders and individual pen stands. It is extremely useful to store the pens being used frequently and glass dip pens. For the one that I am currently using, even a base plate is added to hold ink bottles. With the LEGO bricks, the possibilities are endless and it’s always been a great pleasure to design and build something purely based on my preferences and further improve it along the way.

Here are my favourites for 2015. What are your favourite pens, inks, paper, and accessories?

Thank you for reading!

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2015 Favourites – Part 1

This is my second year coming back to use fountain pens and starting my small collection of pens and inks. It’s a year that I was able to better understand what I truly love for this hobby.

I had very limited knowledge about fountain pens before I decided to come back to the hobby. I had no idea about the huge varieties of filling systems, pen materials, nib materials, and so on. And I guess these are just the basics of any fountain pen design. At the very beginning, almost any kind of design combinations look attractive to me. As the result, I was adding pens that differ vastly into my collection. As I become more knowledgeable about fountain pens, I was able to slowly figure out what particular design directions work the best for me. Therefore I am now having a better focus on what to collect. Also as different pen companies have different designs and how their pens also do not perform in the same way, this makes my collection of pens and inks lean towards certain brands. But before talking about all those details, I think now would be a good time to start listing what my favourites are. Here are my top 10 fountain pens:

  1. Pelikan Souverän M400 Tortoiseshell-White (14K Gold, F)
  2. Pelikan Souverän M805 Stressmann (18K Gold, EF)
  3. Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla (18K Gold, M)
  4. Pelikan Souverän M600 Pink (14K Gold, F)
  5. Delta Dolcevita Oversize (14K Gold, F)
  6. Pelikan Souverän M620 Chicago (18K Gold, F)
  7. Lamy 2000 (14K Gold, F)
  8. Waterman Carène Ombres et Lumières (18K Gold, F)
  9. Pilot Vanishing Point Twilight (18K Gold, M)
  10. Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Platinum Line (14K Gold, F)

By now you can probably see that I really love Pelikan and this brand is certainly the most favourite. My preference for the filling system is the piston filling mechanism, and I think Pelikan does the best job in this area. The pistons are always smooth and the barrels hold a lot of ink. While many other pen companies also offer piston filling pen options, Pelikan makes the basic pen maintenance super convenient by designing the nib units to be easily removable and swappable.

Each other pen has its own advantage. The Graf von Faber-Castell Classic Grenadilla has a very smooth and springy 18K gold nib. Its trip to the nib meister turned it from an average medium nib to a wet nib that writes a bit similar to an architect’s point. The pen looks classic and sits balanced in the hand. It is just so fun to use. All the other pens in the list are also good writers and the ones from Delta, Waterman and Pilot are particularly beautiful pens. Being a smooth and reliable writer, my Lamy 2000 is rarely out of rotation. Last but not least, the Montblanc Meisterstück Classique has always been one of my favourites, since it is my first fountain pen. And of course it writes equally as well as the others, if not even better.

These pens are the ones that I love the most and use the most often. There are some honourable mentions that I want to list below. While they could not make it to the top 10, these pens are either very interesting to use, or offering great values for the money:

As for inks, below is my top 5:

  1. Montblanc Lavender Purple
  2. Sailor Jentle Souten
  3. Sailor Jentle Tokiwa-Matsu
  4. Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin
  5. Montblanc Toffee Brown

I love cool colour inks in general, except for the Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin. These inks all flow well, easy for pen maintenance and offer excellent performances on many types of paper. The best part is, they all have a decent amount of shading combining with most paper types and pens.

Once again there are some honourable mentions in each colour range. Please feel free to check out this page.

That’s it for my top 10 fountain pens and top 5 inks for 2015. In the next blog I will continue to talk about other things that made this hobby wonderful, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading!

Toronto Pen Show – 2015

The Toronto pen show is the first pen show that I have been to. While I had high expectations for it, it certainly did not disappoint. I was able to meet many wonderful people there and get quite a few things that I am glad to add to my collection.

Before the show, I made a fairly long wish list that covered from pens to inks, and from pen pouches to inkwells. It turned out that none of the items in my wish list showed up or was appealing enough. However, I found something much more interesting.

My first find is a pair of Pelikan M200 nibs. One is a regular italic nib and the other one is an architect’s point. The architect’s point is particularly fun to play with. I think the nib offers a bit more style to the writing and it didn’t take me too long to get used to it.

 

After getting the two Pelikan nibs, I continued to explore the rest of the show floor. Along the way I was able to see many pens that I have never seen in person before, which was super exciting. However, I didn’t find anything that made me want to have a closer look, until this, the Delta Dolcevita Oversize:

 

I used to think that the Delta Dolcevita medium size would be the best size for me. I quickly realized how perfect the oversize is the second that I picked it up to try.

Gold coloured trims are usually not my favourite. But with the beautiful orange resin, I think the gold trim on this pen is a good match.

After that, I got the chance to send a few of my pens to the nib meister in the show. I have a few nibs that I would now prefer a finer width, and a nib that needed tuning to fix the flow issue. I am really glad with the result. The nibs write exactly like what I wished for, and now I can enjoy these pens even more.

 

Overall, I think the Toronto pen show exceeded my expectations and I really enjoyed it. It was a good opportunity to find treasures that I won’t usually get to see in person and the best chance to meet people in this great community.