Different people like different writing instruments. Some like smooth pens, while others like pens with a little bit more resistance.
I like smooth nibs. The less the friction the better it is.
I do in general also prefer broader nibs. I think they look better on the page. And I just gravitate against writing instruments that feels good to be, and look good one the page. In other words, the more ink on the page the better. Some people like a lot of ink on the page, while others don't.
When it comes down to ink capacity I have some very strong opinions. I think pens with larger ink capacity always are more useful than those with a lower one. This is because if you write a lot with pens, you either need to have a piston filler, refill them all the time or have a lot of them. Back when I was a full time student, I loved my Lamy 2000. I filled it in the morning and I never – not once – ran out of ink during a single day. The story is another with the Pilot Metropolitan. That one never lasted more than a couple of hours.
If I'm just writing a few lines here or there then I often use my Falcon or VP. But I always go for either my Lamy 2000 or ink up one of my TWSBI Eco's if I'm going to write a lot. Or if I need a lot of ink capacity away from home and don't want to bring a bottle of ink.
The Ink Smudge from day one have been about finding the stuff I enjoy to use. I have not always succeeded at that, but that have been the goal.
I'm not a collector, I just want to have some good inks, some good notebooks and some good pens and pencils that works for me. And just use it.
It all started with Moleskine and Pilot G2's. Then I got into the Retro 51, and then the Pilot Metropolitan and Lamy Safari. And then I started to use Leuchtturm1917 and expensive fountain pens.
But at the end of the day the only thing I care about is finding what works the best for me.
Fountain pens works the best for me, if it is long form. And pencils works the best for shorter stuff. Leuchtturm1917 is the thing I like the best for larger notebook, and Nock.co's pocket sized notebooks are awesome. Pilot Iroshizuku inks are the thing that works the best for me. And I guess I just started my journey into pencils, but I really feel like after five years I have landed on where I want to be with fountain pens.
What makes fountain pens and pencils interesting is that both are very much a "high maintenance" writing instrument.
The fountain pen is messy and the pen is clean.
I'm not saying that one is better than the other, because they are not.
Fountain pens are a mess, because they sometimes are leaking, you need to make sure they don't dry up. You also have to clean them to make sure that they work properly. But the great thing about a fountain pen is that you can write for a very long time without having to do anything about them.
Pencils on the other hand requires you to sharpen them, either when you write all the way into the wood, or when the point becomes too sharp for your taste. But they don't leak, and they always work, as long as you keep them sharp.
I kind of enjoy both. But sometimes I wish I could just use a regular Bic like a normal person.
What makes both pens and fountain pens interesting though is that both are very personal. And you have to weigh up the different pros and cons the different choices have to figure out what's the best for you. Parts of it is how you like the writing experience to be, while other parts of it is about how you like your handwriting or drawings to look.
I just inked all of my pens in rotation up with this ink. And it behaves like the other two Diamine inks I have used in the past. It dries a little bit slower than Iroshizuku inks, but not too bad. And the flow is a little bit slower than Iroshizuku. But not that bad in the scheme of things.
This ink has a lovely light blue colour. It kind of reminds me of the standard blue colour you get with all Pilot fountain opens. But better than that in all ways. Because like everyone who reads this site knows: I can't stand that colour. It looks
If lighter colours are your thing I would recommend this ink. It is not something I would buy, because I do in general prefer darker colours.
The Diamine inks are great, they have some very interesting colours, and is a great option if you are willing to sacrifice a little bit on inflow and dry time for great colours.
This notebook is amazing. There are no other way to put it. When I look at a Rhodia Webnotebook I see the best designed version of the A4 softcover notebook that Moleskine popularised. This on the other hand is the perfect design for the soft cover version; you know the kind you can buy in a three pack.
The design is very understated, and you don’t think much about it straight away. Before you start to realise how perfect everything is. Even the stitches on the back are beautiful.
Let’s move over to the paper. The paper is very similar to Rhodia(same parent company), but my impression is that it is a little bit smother. There are smaller differences between this and Rhodia, like there are minor differences between Leuchtturm1917 and Rhodia, but they are very minor. And I would put them in the same ball park.
This book came with a lined layout, and I like it a lot. The lines are broader than I’m used to from Travelers Notebook refills and Leuchtturm1917; they remind me a lot about the layout I used in school. The kind you usually find in most wire bound notebooks.
The Flying Spirit is a fantastic notebook, that I would recommend to anyone that like notebooks like the Moleskine Volant. It is in many ways a much better version of that. With better paper and higher quality production standards. I’m not going to get another one of these, because I prefer a hardcover notebook, because it is a little bit easier to write on them for example when I take the train to work, and don’t always have access to a good table. %
I guess this comes as a response to recent discussions on The Pen Addict podcast about keeping journals or not. My collection of notebooks is growing. And it grows some every year. The big question is: what should I do about them?
One option is to just keep them and let future generations deal with it. Not unlike how my parents and grand parents generations dealt with climate change.
Another option is to throw it all out.
And the third is to throw out some of it.
A lot of it is just notebook after notebook after notebook of tasks. While other parts are notes I have taken while reading or studying. And some of it is journaling.
Here is the thing: I'm probably the worst judge to what's interesting. And I'm not one of those who care what happens after I'm dead and buried.
I ordered a Kum Automatic long point pencil sharpener with Blackwing branding at the same time as I ordered my first box of Blackwings. It cost about $7.50 at JetPens. It has two holes, numbered, you use the first one to shape the wood, it will stop shaving off wood when you're done and then you use the second hole to sharpen the tip.
I got this one because it was not too expensive, and I hoped that the blackwing branding on it was a sign of quality. It works great. I don't have any complaints about it, it sharpens my pencils every single time. Without any issues. The only think I wish was different is more space for shavings.
I'm probably going to get a couple more of them. This is the sharpener you want if you want a long point sharpener and only care about the utility of it.
I bought my first box of pencils not too long ago. And I think this is the first time I have paid for a pencil. Why? I'm not sure to either of the why questions. I have never bought a pencil because I didn't know it was more to them than the crappy plastic thing I got at school, that us boys always tried to bend into weird shapes. And I'm not sure why I bought a box of them now. I guess it was because a lot of people I respect enjoy using them.
My biggest surprise about pencils is how similar to fountain pens they are. Everyone have their own taste. And you have a lot of the same problems: both are very fiddly. Also: there are compromises. For example a softer pencil is smoother, but you need to sharpen them more often. Not unlike how broader fountain pens are more smooth(until you move into stubs), but they require more ink and take longer to dry.
I have enjoyed the Blackwings a lot. And I use them a lot. They are great to write with for example on the train and other places where I don't want to think about ink smudging. They also look fantastic. Which was kind of the reason I went with the regular blackwings. But I will probably check out the 602 the next time. Because I think I will prefer a pencil that doesn't require as much sharpening. But who knows? This is new to me.
I wrote about an idea I had not too long ago. The idea was to take empty Pilot Iroshizuku bottles, clean them and then use them as a inkwell or a ink bottle for other inks. Because not every bottle of ink is the same. Some of them are just a bottle, with a flat bottom. And that can make it a struggle to fill your pens, even though there are a lot of ink left. Especially with pens like the Vanishing Point.
I started doing this a few weeks ago and it works like a charm.
This got me to think about looking for something even better. But it works for now.
Like I mentioned in a earlier post, I have limited the number of pens I use to three. My Lamy 2000, Pilot Vanishing Point and my Pilot Metal Falcon. The way I rotate them is that I always use the pen that is all the way to the right in my Nock.co Hightower. And when I write it dry, I refill it, and rotate everything to the right and the pen I wrote dry in the left pocket.
I was walking around in the city, while Ingri and I were waiting for the train back home and I walked past one Leuchtturm1917 display case and two Lamy display cases. And I thought: damn things have changed since 2013.
Back when I started, the only fountain pen related thing I knew about in Norway that was available was Parker. You could get the cartridges, while pens was something you had to order. And there was Mont Blanc stuff. But that's stupid money.
In 2018, I could jump on the train, buy a Lamy Safari, Al Star or any of the entry level Lamy pens or a Leuchtturm1917 notebook. Something I had to order from UK or US in the past.
What I carry these days are more or less the same as always, with some minor changes.
I always carry three pens, and I rotate them from a collection of five that I have in active use: Lamy 2000(M), Pilot Vanishing Point(B), Pilot Metal Falcon (Broad Flex), TWSBI Clear Eco(B), TWSBI Black Eco(Sub).
All of them are inked up with the same ink, as always. I currently use the Diamine Sargasso Blue, which I reviewed a while back.
As always, I use my Nock.co Hightower to carry my pens and pocket sized stuff.
Some of this stuff might change when Nock.co releases their A5 and Travelers Notebook Covers.
I'm lucking enough to own a lot of great pens. But that means that I can't use all of them. Or I can at least not use all of them all the time.
I own a few Retro51's, three Pilot Metropolitan, one Lamy Safari, two TWSBI Eco, one TWSBI 580AL, a Lamy 2000, A Pilot Vanishing Point, a Pilot Metal Falcon and one Noodlers Ahab.
The way it works for me is that the pens I use is the ones I have in my Nock Hightower. It has room for three pens. And I have a system for rotating the pens in it. Too few pens means that you run out of ink, and too many means that they dry up or that you spend more time making sure that they don't dry up than you spend writing with them.
My problem before I started to move pens out of rotation, first with the Metropolitans and then the Eco's was that there was three pens I enjoyed way more than the others. I love the Metropolitan, but I enjoyed the other five pens way more. And I also loved the Eco's but I loved the other three pens more.
The result was that I almost never used them, except for when it felt like "I had to". Therefore I decided to clean and rotate out everything that I didn't enjoyed the most. And I'll probably ink them up when I test out inks.
I think there is a maximum number of pens I can keep in rotation. For me is it around five. Because there is only so many pens you can write with regularly before you have to spend a lot of time making sure they don't dry up.
When I got my Metal Falcon I decided to empty, clean and stop having my two Pilot Metropolitans as a part of my daily carry. This is kind of weird, because up to this point all of the pens I enjoy using have been a part of my rotation. But the truth is that I enjoy all the other pens in my rotation a lot more. And seven pens is a little bit too much.
The notebooks I have been carrying as of late – I don’t remember exactly when I re-added the pocket sized notebook to what I carry – but it has remained the same since then.
I carry one Nock.co pocket sized notebook, one Leuchtturm1917 Bullet Journal, one Leuchtturm1917 Lined A5 and a regular sized Traveler’s Notebook filled with lined refills.
The reason I carry two different lined notebooks is that one of them contains drafts for various long form stuff I am writing, while the other is just journal entries.
I have decided to do something about this. What I’m going to do short term is to use up the last lined refill for my Travelers Notebook, before I move over to just using the Leuchtturm1917 and then I’m going to move back to using the Travelers Notebook.
As always, I might go back, if that makes sense. But at the moment it feels light to slim things down a little bit. And only carry one notebook for each thing, instead of two for long form writing. x
I really love my newest pen, the CON-70. And, then, I got this idea after a few days of using the pen. Damn, I want a Vanishing Point with this converter. Like I have said many times, I don’t think the 0.4 or 0.5 you can get into the standard converter is enough.
I usually can get through one or multiple days with that. Except for when I en up writing a lot by hand. Then I run through the converter fast. It’s not about that, it’s rather the fact that I hate to have to worry about it. I never do with my Lamy 2000 or TWSBI pens.
The reason I worry is that I have filled it in the morning, and written it dry before the day was over more than once.
A Vanishing Point with a larger converter, would mean that the pen would also be larger, and it would be heavier. This would probably make it even less accessible to women. And that sucks. But, I’m not saying “scrap the existing one and make this one”. I’m saying make this in addition.
I got one of the Noodler’s flex pens in the spring. It was cheap, and I only ordered to verify that flex nibs was something I could get into. And, of course, it was. The next step was a little bit more difficult. Because I wanted something nicer, and hopefully less smelly. And, while there are options, there are not a lot of them.
There was some from Franklin Christoph, two versions I think; I got the news when I was in the middle of it. And I think Edison are selling the same nibs.
Then you have the whole vintage market. And the last option, except for the one I went with, was the Aurora limited edition one.
And then you have Pilot’s Falcon and Metal Falcon.
I went with the Pilot Metal Falcon. Why? The Aurora was limited in availability and way about my comfort zone. And the FC I want (Model 66 Solid Ice) is never available, when I check. And Edison is way too expensive for me.
The Flacon and Metal Falcon are both very good options for what I wanted. Something a little bit nicer, in the less than $300 price range. And with a gold nib. The regular Falcon usually retails around $150, and the Metal Falcon around $240.
What you get for an extra $90 is a bigger converter, a bigger and heavier pen. The increased weight is because the pens made out of metal instead of resin. Other than they look more or less identical; but I think the Metal is a little bit larger. The reason I think you want the Metal Falcon instead of the regular one is because it can old up to 1ml of ink. While the CON-50 (the old standard converter) olds up to 0.5 and the CON-40 (the new standard converter) holds up to 0.4ml.
I think the CON-70 is fantastic. What I ask for in a converter is enough capacity that I can get through a day of a lot of writing without problems. My Falcon can do that, without any problems, my Vanishing Point on the other hand can’t.
Fantastic pen, and I can without doubt recommend it if you are looking for a good pen with a flexible gold nib.
I’ve had this on my mind for a few months now, and things that stay that way for a very long time are usually in the “not the worst thing in the world” camp.
The kind of bottle you get with your ink varies a lot, based on a few different factors; usually the price and the amount of ink. For example Iroshizuku have fantastic bottles, while Diamine have bad bottles and Noodlers aren’t the best, but not the best either.
There are a few different things I think are important when you are judging a bottle; but above everything there is two things that are the most important. How easy is it to fill your pens when it starts to run low? Is the opening large enough to fit any pen?
On one side is it really dumb to spend a significant amount of money on designing and producing a glorified container. You’re just going to use most of the ink before you throw it out. But on the other side is designing a good one important for the experience of using the ink, and you get to use more of it if it is good.
On the other side would a fancy bottle make the product more expensive. But the added cost will be lower per ml for larger bottles.
Would it be worth it to buy a inkwell that is designed to make it easy to use as much as possible of the ink? Then the whole “how good is the ink bottle debate” is void. I actually think I would. But I might consider re-using some of my Iroshizuku bottles until I find something I like.
As a white straight cis male working I don’t have that much experience that the system are working against me; and I don’t experience much fill-in-your-ism-of-choice-here.
But there is one area where I really can feel it. I’m left handed. There are some products more than others that seems to be designed in a way where they have made a mathematical model for the dead center for normal or the bullseye of normal. And then they have designed a product to serve them, and to only test it on people who qualify as normal.
There are a few products I always bring up when I complain about this, the Vanishing Point or the Lamy Safari; but you can also spot some of the same problems if you look at for example the nibs available for the Lamy 2000.
The problem with the Lamy Safari, and all the other “cheaper” Lamy pens is that the grip section is molded, and it doesn’t work that great when the way you hold the pen is opposite of “Normal man”. While the problem with the Vanishing Point is just that the clip becomes a little bit “in the way” if you are left handed; the difference is that, if you are right handed it will end up between your thumb and your index finger; while for us lefties it ends up between your index finger and middle finger.
Both of these problems could be solved relatively easy; you just make a “reversed” version. The problem with the Lamy 2000 nibs are that the “Oblique” nibs don’t come in a lefty version, and good luck writing with those left handed.
I’m pretty sure they don’t do this to be assholes or anything like this. I just think that they didn’t even consider testing it on left handed people before putting it out there.
I just wish that more companies did a better job to make sure their products either work for everyone or that it is a version that works for everyone.
Because you have two options, either you design stuff in way where they are fully functional no matter what hand you write with. Or you design stuff in a way where you need separate models for left handed and right handed. The key is that you either design stuff to be universal or you have models for both groups.
So, if you want a good retractable fountain pen, you have one good option. And I have only seen one other option, which isn’t that good to be honest.
On one side you have the Pilot Vanishing Point and on the other you have the Lamy Dialog 3.
I have a VP and I love it, even though it has some constraints. The short version is that it is a special pen, where Pilot have made many hard choices in order to get a pen that is as good as it is. But that means that it won’t be a good fit for many people. The biggest problem with it is that the clip is kind of annoying for some people, doesn’t hold enough ink, and that it is a pain in the ass to fill when you ink bottle runs low.
My impression when I was going to get a retractable pen, and spent some(a lot) of time researching is that the Dialog isn’t that great. I might get one at some point, but not now.
Here is the thing: we need more retractable fountain pens. To get some fresh blood and some competition in this market where Pilot and their Vanishing Point dominates. I get the engineering problems with making it. But I want more competition here. Because many people cannot use the only good retractable fountain pen available, because of the clip.
It would be really awesome if someone started to sell the mechanism, and then as a result a lot of different pen designs based on it.
There aren’t many things I’m worse at than keeping up with anniversaries and stuff like that. Part of the reason is that I write most of the post from a few weeks to a few months before they are going live, so I have little to no connection to when something will be live. That has the added benefit of me doing everything I can to make them have as little connection to “right now” as possible.
By the time this goes live I would have written this blog for over two years. A lot have happened over that time. These days I’m more or less happy with the kind of stuff I’m using. And the main area of experimenting is new inks. I might try a couple of new notebooks a year, and I only get new pens when I see something I don’t have in some pen I discover.
I guess I have moved over to what I really wanted this site to be about. Writing more about using the products, than the products themselves. And how to go about figuring out the perfect stuff for me. Rather than reviewing all the Lamy Safari or TWSBI colors.
What if I actually manages to schedule this post for the real anniversary next year?
I haven’t written about what I use and carry in a long time now.
The pens I carry change from week to week, but what I have with me today is my Pilot Vanishing Point, TWSBI Eco Stub and TWSBI Eco Broad. And I have my trusted Travelers Notebook with two lined refill, one Nock.co pocket sized notebook. And two Leuchtturm1917 A5 notebooks; one lined for writing and one dot grid for tasks and stuff.
My current ink is Diamine Sargasso Sea.
I’m mostly happy with my setup at the moment. There aren’t much I change, except for my ink every few months. But I do wish Leuchtturm1917 would expand the available colours available for their various notebooks. Because I would like to have different colours for the two notebooks I carry.
Binder clips are probably my favourite “hack” to get page markers in notebooks that don’t come with them. They are dirt cheap and works great. I use them both with my Travelers notebook and my pocket sized notebooks to be able to find the first empty page as fast as possible.
I don’t use any fancy ones, just the plain black no-name ones you can find in any office supply shop. And I’ve had the same box for years.
They are durable, and stay put. My only complaint about them is that I wish I could find a version that was smaller and didn’t get stuck as easy when I take notebooks in and out of my bag.