Some thoughts on cleaning fountain pens.

How much and how often you clean your pens are up to you, but I think it is a good idea to do it now and then.

I try to do it myself not every time I refill my pens but every other to every third time. And I only do a full “flush water in and out until its 100% clean” when I change inks. I just flush clean water through the pen a few times before I refill it. Takes less than a minute per pen.

If you are using a cartridge converter type pen, then there is no damage to cleaning it every time you have the opportunity. But the more often you clean a piston filler, the shorter time it is between each time you have to grease the piston.

Like with everything else, there is something that is too much and something that is too little; the trick is to find a place in the middle.

You probably know why, but I am going to explain it anyways. The reason you want to flush water through your fountain pen from time to time is to make sure nothing dries up in the feed of your pen; and that is bad because it blocks the ink from flowing through your pen and onto the page.

If you use a piston or a converter, just suck water in and out a few times, and use a bulb syringe if you use cartridges.

But the most important thing is to do a thorough cleaning when you are switching inks. The first reason should be obvious to everyone, but it is to make sure that you see the proper colour of your new ink and not some weird mix between the old and new. But even more important is to make sure that your pen are completely clean when you start using your new ink, because some inks don’t mix that well. Everything from combinations that actually can damage your pen to combinations that clog up your feed.

When is bad paper a good idea?

Just a short one on bad paper.

They come in two forms, both of them bleed like crazy. That’s what make them bad. But they come in many different thicknesses. Bad thin paper is just horrible; think Moleskine; because you get bleed through on multiple pages at a time.

But. Bad think paper isn’t the worst thing in the world in some ways. Because bad thick paper have the shortest dry time possible. This is because instead of letting the ink dry on top of the paper like you see in the most extreme with Tomoe River, and in lesser degrees on Rhodia and Leuchtturm1917, the ink are just absorbed by the page.

I think it is a good idea when you are learning how to write with a fountain pen; especially if you are a lefty. And if you are in a meeting where you don’t want to stand out as the weirdo with arcane writing instruments and ink all over his fingers.

Lamy 2000 vs the Pilot Vanishing Point

The Lamy 2000 and the Pilot Vanishing Point are probably the two most common “first expensive” fountain pen for many. They are two very different pens, and what makes each of them great is also very different.

What makes both of them great are the fantastic nibs and you get a lot for your money. But there are some good and some bad about both of them.

The Lamy 2000 has a hooded nib, I love it, but it isn’t a good fit for everyone. Some people can never get a hold of how to angle it. And it can be a little bit big for some users. But you get one of the best designed fountain pens, if not the best and a lot of ink in each filling.

The Vanishing Point on the other hand is a cartridge converter pen instead of a piston filler; this means that the ink capacity is much lower. And this pen is also much more right handed friendly than left handed. This is because of the profile and position of the clip. I’m not bothered by it, but a lot of people are.

Both of these pens are something you either have to risk or need to try before you know if it is something for you. It isn’t the biggest risk, because both of them would be fairly easy to sell used without too much of a loss.

You probably want both.

What I love about the Vanishing Point is how quick it is to unretract, write something down and retract the nib again; compared to taking the nib of a regular pen, write and then putting it on again. The thing that drive me nuts about it is how poor the ink capacity is.

What I love about the Lamy 2000 is that the ink almost lasts forever, and the nib is my absolute favourite. And there are nothing I dislike about it, but it is just much faster to use the Vanishing Point.

I would get both again without having to think that much about it, but the Lamy 2000 is without doubt the one I think is the better out of the two. But one of the reasons it is the better, is that the Vanishing Point is a pen design with a lot of constraints that are needed to give it the one killer feature that is the reason we buy it: the only good retractable fountain pen in existence.

My notebook system

My notebook system or set up (the set of notebooks I use and carry every single day) consists of a Travelers Notebook, two A5 hardcover notebooks and a pocket sized one.

The Travelers Notebook always have two lined refills in it, and I use it for my daily journaling, or long form writing when I carry as few things with me as possible. The only accessory I own for it is their excellent pen holder. But I only use it when the Travelers Notebook is the only stationary thing I carry.

My pocket sized notebook is currently a blue Nock.co notebook, and historically I have been a Field Notes user. But I finally got fed up with their paper quality. I use it for shopping lists, keeping track of hours I work etc. The basic rule for what I write in it is stuff I need to reference when I’m out, or stuff I felt like I had to remember when I was out.

My two A5 notebooks are usually Leuchtturm1917; lined and the bullet journal version. But I’m currently using a dot grid Rhodia Webnotebook instead of the Bullet Journal because I tested the Webbie out, and I have a rule against having notebooks I just tested a few pages in laying around in my home office.

The lined on are used for long form writing, like this article for example. And the dot grid are using to manage tasks. Think of it like the bastard child of bullet journal and the dash plus system.

What is the deal with Pilot and Cartridges?

One of the things I think is very weird is how many of their pens that I’m interested come as a cartridge / converter pen instead of for example a piston filler. While they at the same time use a converter that don’t use the room available in the pen that well and have a boring line of cartridges.

If I get a Pilot pen, let’s say a Vanishing Point or a Falcon. Then I’ll use the standard cartridge, which I would have to use a syringe in order to fill it up properly, and I would still only get a fraction of the ink of a TWSBI Eco or a Lamy 2000.

Second, their ink line up. Pilot have some amazing ink, many if not all of them from the Iroshizuku line. Why aren’t they available as cartridges?

I don’t get it…

The clear TWSBI ECO.

Two of my all time favourite pens are the Pilot Metropolitan and the TWSBI Eco. I think an Eco is the best TWSBI pen you can buy, and probably the best bang for your buck in any pen.

I loved everything about it, except for the black / white parts. TWSBI finally fixed that by releasing an clear version. And the result is an pen that looks almost as good as a 580. It looks cheaper, but not by much.

I love the Eco, while I’m not that fund of most of the other TWSBI pens because they are a little bit too expensive to make sense for me. Why buy that when a little bit more can get you a Vanishing Point or Lamy 2000?

Anyways. I’m loving my clear Eco.

Pen Addicts Norway: a Facebook group.

Karl, the owner to Tudos the only Norwegian web shop that carries the kind of stuff we all love have recently started a Facebook group for Norwegian Pen Addicts.

This is kind of weird for me, because before the Pen Addict Slack I thought it was just me, because of the lack of stores that carried fountain pen products in Norway. Then after the Pen Addict Slack I thought we were maybe two people? Now we have a real webshop, and there are aperantly as many as over twenty people that care enough to join a Facebook Group.

Amazing.

New pages

I have added some new pages recently: Use and Top 3.

Use is a page I’m going to keep up to date, it’s a summary of the various items I’m currently using. And Top 3 is my version of Brad and Myke’s Top 5 picks; my all time top 3 pens, inks and notebooks.

How I use the three markers in my Bullet Journal

My current favourite new discovery is the three markers in the Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal. I think that just having one is barley more useful than having none, because I usually want to mark and keep track of more than one thing; I do for example use one to keep track of the next free page and another one to show how long I have come in transcribing used pages in my long form writing notebook.

The way I use the three markers is in my journal. The first one is used to mark the first page with un competed tasks,. The second is used to show the page I was working on last time I closed the book. And the third is used to show the first unused page.

Having three instead of one makes it possible to navigate it so much faster than what I would have been able to if I only had one marker. I’m not sure if having three instead of two is that different, but two instead of one is a game changer.

Three excellent notebooks

Finding a good notebook to use with your fountain pen can be difficult.

You can of course go for notebook with thick really observant paper. And I recommend that if you just starting out. But it doesn’t look that good. Here are my three favourites; they all handle fountain pens really well, and have relatively short dry time.

Travlelers notebook refill(the none tome river variant), Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia. All of them are excellent. Which one you pick depends on your needs.

I use at least two of them at a daily basis. My journal is a Travelers Notebook, and I use two Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, one for tasks and one for long form writing.

The Travelers Notebook is great for a number of reasons, it is really compact and you can customise it after your needs. For example by combining blank and lined paper. And the narrow format makes it very easy to deal with slow drying inks(when you are left handed), it also makes it much easier to fit the notebook in a coat pocket or something than a regular A5 one.

Leuchtturm1917 has my favourite paper. It dries very fast, and almost never bleed through. And they also provide some nice details, like always at least two bookmarks and make a few special editions. Think of them as Moleskine with good paper.

Rhodia. I love their Webnotebooks. The book binding is the best feeling thing I have ever felt. I’m pretty sure it isn’t leather, but it feels like it, if not better. And the soft give of it gives it a very luxurious feeling. The dry time is a little bit longer than Leuchtturm1917, but not by far.

My personal go to is Leuchtturm1917 because of their multiple bookmarks. But I will from time to time get a Webbie for long form writing because they are so cool. And I would probably switch if they started to provide multiple markers.