The size of ink bottles.

Ink is probably the cheapest part of this fountain pen hobby for most of us.

Comparing prices is difficult and a subject of itself(nicer and more expensive bottles, and huge differences in bottle sizes). But a cheap ink is around $5 and I haven’t found a single bottle priced much higher than $40 (I checked Goulet and JetPens).

You will spend a lot more on the notebooks you need to fill in order to use the ink, than on the ink itself.

If you are the kind of person that only uses one colour, and order another identical bottle when you run out, then larger bottles are probably a good thing. But it might not be if you are like me.

I’m usually sick of a colour, with a very few exceptions, after I have used somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of a 50ml bottle. If you have read this site for a while, you probably get that I’m a minimalist. I don’t like having a lot of stuff collecting dust. I complete a notebook before I start the next, and I don’t keep a lot of spares. Because I don’t like it.

What I want is smaller ink bottles. Because I don’t care if a bottle cost me 5, 10 or 30 dollars; and I don’t care if they are 15ml or 50ml, because I’ll spend a hell of a lot more on notebooks than ink. My desire for using different inks are a lot larger than my need for getting as much ink as possible for my money.

I write a lot, and I think I can complete somewhere between two and three bottles a year, probably closer to two. Which means I have to put some serious limitations on how much ink I order to avoid being in the “I have more ink than I can use before I die” situation. But I could buy a hell of a lot more, and try a hell of a lot more inks, if the bottle sizes were like a third of what they are today.

I assume that the reason there is so much ink in each bottle has to do with the fact that the amount of ink isn’t what makes it expensive. I assume they feel like they want to give as much value as possible to their customers. And that’s good, I just want the option to also get it in a smaller bottle.

A beginners combo.

Where do you start?

This is intended as a starting point after you have played around with a Pilot Metropolitan or a Pilot Pretty or some other kind of cheap fountain pen.

I suggest the following combo:

  • TWSBI Eco
  • Leuchtturm1917 notebook
  • Noodlers Bernanke

Start with either a medium or fine nib. You can always move into broader or finer nibs later.

This combo will give you a very good starting point. The reason I recommend this combination is that you get a lot for your money, enough pen and ink to last you for around a year, and a combo that is easy to start with. A medium TWISBI nib combined with Leuchtturm1917 and Noodlers Bernanke is something I know has a short dry time.

Dry time isn’t that important. But I think it is good when you start, because it makes easier to learn how to deal with fountain pens. Especially important if you are a lefty.

The ECO is without doubt one one my favourite pens, it is one of the three pens in my daily carry, and the other two is both priced at around $150(Lamy 2000 and Pilot Vanishing point).

A Rhodia re-visit.

It only took me a little bit over four years, but I’ve given Rhodia another shot. I tested them out back when I was too shy to bring fountain pens with me outside my flat. So my “outside” pen was my first Retro 51. And I thought the dry time with that pen on the Rhodia pads was horrible. It felt like I could take a cigarette break between each page.

But in retrospect, it wasn’t that bad compared to something like for example tomoe river. So, I ordered a dot grid orange Rhodia Webnotebook from JetPens. This got to be the coolest notebook I have ever owned. The material of the cover feels almost like a leather bound book; soft and a little bit of friction.

The paper in this one is the 90g version. I have nothing bad to say about it. It is more bleed resistant than my Leuchtturm1917 notebooks, but also a little bit longer dry time. But I don’t think you will notice much of a difference, unless you are really sensitive to dry time. Switching to a finer nib or a faster drying ink would probably do more for your dry time.

This notebook is so cool, that I might consider using them as my “writing” notebook, instead of a Leuchtturm1917, but there is one major stopping point: I have grown to really love having multiple markers.

I would most defininently go for “webbies” if you the combination of great paper and the best looking and best feeling cover.

Three inks for a very long time.

I have probably used Iroshizuku tsuki-yo in all of my pens that are in regular rotation for a little bit over a month by the time this goes live. I have used three inks except for some minor reviewing here and there since February 2016.

First I got the tsuki-yo, and I used that for about a month, before I switched to shin-ryoku, and used that until January 2016, when I got a bottle of fuyu-gaki and I used it until I ran out in the end of April, then I used the rest of the shin-ryoku bottle before I got back to my tsuki-yo.

I’m not that into switching inks all the time. The reason is that doing a proper clean is a pain in the ass to do that often. So I usually end up using at least half a bottle before I move on to the next thing.

Three excellent inks, but the only one of the three that I know for certain that I will re-purchase is the tsuki-yo. The shading is much more interesting, and it is kind of like black, as in that you never get bored by it.

Piston fillers versus Cartridge converter

It all boils down to one simple question: what is more important of large ink capacity or ease of cleaning?

If you are the kind of person that has a lot of different inks, and like to change them on a frequent basis, then having room for a lot of ink might not be the most important. Because cleaning a cartridge converter pen is quick, you can just flush it out with a bulb syringe and flush the converter and you’re set for a new ink. While doing the same with a piston filler takes longer time because you need to fill and empty the pen until it is clean.

On the other side, if you are like me, and often use the same ink for months, if not until the bottle is empty, then you probably prefer having room for a lot of ink. A Piston filler is made to have room for as much ink as possible. While a converter is often designed to fit in a large number of different pens. And the result is often far smaller ink capacity.

I have pens with both. But I always prefer room for more ink because all of my pens (except for my Noodlers Ahab) is filled with the same ink. And I use a pen until it runs out, then I move over to the next pen, refill the empty one and rotate through all of my pens.

And I try to clean them every second to third refill or so. For me it doens’t really matter how easy it is to clean them for a new ink because it don’t do it that often.

Pilot CON-40

It should not be a huge surprise to everyone that I’m not the biggest fan of the Pilot CON-50 converter. It looks kind of dated. Not that the design of a converter is the most important thing in the world, but it still looks like something out of the 80s or 90s. But my biggest problem is the ink capacity that leaves a lot to be desired.

To be fair, they have a lot of pens to accommodate, which probably makes it very hard to make something that have a lot of ink, is reasonably easy and cheap to produce and so on.

The new model is the CON-40. It looks more modern, and is slightly smaller. But I don’t notice much of a difference, if you just do a regular fill. But I found it much more difficult to push all the air out and fill it all the way up, than in its predecessor. My personal opinion is that is isn’t really worth it. It is faster, less messy and easier to just refill the pen more often.

Pilot are doing the opposite of what I want with the CON-40, they are accommodating more pen, by replacing the CON-50 and the squeeze converter with one. I get why; one less product to produce, ship and keep in stock everywhere. But I still wish they made a separate converter for the Vanishing Point to make it more “on pair” with the Lamy 2000.

Task Management in 2017

My task management system is constantly changing in order to adopt to ever changing requirements from my side. My system has consisted of three different components (the later years), except for during periods when I have been experimenting to figure out where something trives or not. They are: a central database, a notebook and a “smart system”.

The central database is usually based on having one or multiple “Taskpaper” documents. It’s just a simple format to write down projects and tasks in a plain text file. It feels a lot like using a notebook. I use it because I is very easy to automate and copy past stuff into. This is where I store everything at some point.

My notebook (currently a Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal), and I use my own bastardised version of Patrick Rhone’s Dashplus system. My notebook is where I keep what I am working on right now. The perspective is never longer than a couple of weeks. And I also use it when I need to plan something. This is because I prefer just taking a notebook and sitting down at Starbucks or what ever and figuring out everything I need to do in order to complete something.

The reason I use a notebook to keep track of what I am doing now and the following days is that I find in much less distracting to have a notebook open than to having to switch applications all the time to figure out what’s now and what’s next.

Then you have the “smart application”. I currently use Things, and I have used more or less any application available in the past. I mostly use it for repeating tasks and stuff where I need to be reminded.

How strictly I’m following the stuff above varies a lot. There are times when I use taskpaper to deal with stuff I usually use a notebook for, and there are other times when I use a notebook as the central database. While other times I mostly use Things.

But the only thing that is constant, except for the three elements is the fact that I’m willing to let my system live its own life in order to solve any short time problem I might have, and then bring it back to its ideal form as soon as possible.

Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi

This was my first Pilot Iroshizuku ink. I got it back in late 2015. And I then thought I reviewed it not long after I got it. Then I thought I did so the last time I discovered that I hadn’t, but no. So: third is the charm?

It was my third bottle of ink. My two first ones was Lamy Black(I think I used it for a week before I got rid of it) and Noodler’s Bernanke Black. The Bernanke was a ink I chose because of its short dry time. And it is amazing. But the Take-sumi is not far behind, and has a few other things going for it.

I think something like the Bernanke is good as your first ink, if you are worried about dry time, and then go for something with longer dry time later. The Take-sumi’s colour is backer than the other black inks I have tried, but it isn’t the blackest black you can find. But it looks good with thinner and broader nibs.

This was also the ink that got me into thinking about finding the perfect compromises between colour, dry time and writing experience. And this is one out of two black inks I can recommend to anyone without any hesitation.

What I use paper for in 2017.

I think using analog tools like analog cameras, pens and paper are enjoyable by themselves. And I use them as my primary tool in any situation where it isn’t a hassle.

My calendar is on paper(I use the Field Notes 56-week planner), I keep a journal(a Midori Travelers Notebook), my to do system is in a Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal(I also have parts of it in a Taskpaper file on my Mac) and everything I write, including this, started out in a Lined Leuchtturm1917 notebook. And I also keep a Field Notes in my back pocket; it contains my shopping list and the hours I work; it is the perfect format for the stuff I need on the go.

My guiding principle is that I need to be able to use the analog counterpart without loosing anything I care about, without it being a hassle. But the reason at the end of the day is that I think paper works better for me.

I write drafts on paper because its forcing me to do multiple drafts, I use a planner instead of an app because I can’t stand calendar apps and I prefer managing tasks on paper because I find it easier to maintain focus.