Flowers in the River of Time

I love ordering things online from Japan because they always pack everything so well and give you cute little handmade extras that remind you that ‘yes, we are a company staffed with real people who care about our products.’ Or something to that effect, anyways.

In any case, I was browsing engeika’s storefront on eBay one afternoon when I saw a pen that was love at first sight: the limited edition Wancher Sakura: River of Time. A streamlined, all black pen with a pleasing form, gold clip, flower-imprint nib and pretty little raden details on the cap and body. The perfect combination of simplicity and grace, as you can see here.

So I tried my hand at an auction, lost the first one, rejected the offer from the seller to buy it at my losing price, waited a few days for another auction to show up, and got it for $50 cheaper than my first auction price. Sweet.

And then the pen shipped like lightning across the stormy seas to reach me in a nice fat, bubble-wrap-lined EMS package in under two weeks. Impressive!

Of course, then I opened it up and saw it, sitting all snug in its own origami kimono sleeve in a cute little box and went: “squeee! Kawaii-ne!

Would you look at that? Even the ink cartridge comes in its own handmade origami sleeve! And the crane in the corner, perfectly positioned, is just too precious!

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In the sunlight, you can see how the raden sakura flowers glitter with opalescent light, even with my iPhone camera.

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Approximate size comparison (note how tiny the ink cartridge is! I might need to find something bigger so I don’t write dry in a scribbling session):

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L to R: Pilot Metropolitan, Wancher Sakura, Pelikan M400, Montblanc 146.

The pen itself also comes with a cartridge converter (with ink-shaking bead conveniently inside), a really cute nib (think I’ve seen this style on some Chinese pens and a Diplomat pen, maybe?), and the overwhelming smell of burnt plastic. (But only if you hold it up to your nose and sniff new pens, like I do.) There was even some stray black dust on the converter when I first unscrewed the pen, from what I assume are remnants of the manufacturing process.

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The style of the nib and converter make me suspect that they are Chinese made. The body of the pen is lightweight and most likely made of plastic as well. The seams on the cap that holds the clip in place aren’t the cleanest, and the engraved zogan strips on the body show a tiny gap, indicating that this was probably mass-manufactured rather than handmade—but! It looks pretty enough, and there’s a nicely distracting texture when you run your fingers over the engraved details. (Hopefully I won’t rub them off, haha.) Let’s test how it writes next.

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Before we start, did I mention that the nib is huge? Not gargantuan, but mini-giant proportions, surely?

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L to R: Montblanc 146, Wancher Sakura, Pilot Metropolitan.

Wancher sells these pens with a default M nib. I used the included ink cartridge that came with the pen for convenience’s sakes.

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Conclusion: It’s a cute little long pen that does the job well. Since it’s practically weightless in your hands, writing with it posted or unposted is equally manageable. Nib is very smooth with a hint of whispering when you write with it. At $70.99, I consider my price for it a little bit pricey, especially since the zogan work isn’t as delicate as I expected, but if you can get it cheaper, grab it because it’s a pretty pen to have around! (And as Wancher said, it’s a limited edition of sorts, so they won’t be here forever.)

Playing with My Pilot Metropolitan

Another one of these iPhone picture posts. This is one time when I’m glad I bought all the hype surrounding a fountain pen enough to get my own.

The Pilot Metropolitan has a nice, firm, delightfully smooth nib that sings. Four out of four ancient Chinese beauties agree—using this pen will make you look good, and how. ;)

The White Tiger body is my favorite, because it’s sleek and shiny while also being ink-resistant—the body has some sort of satiny metallic finish that repels ink while giving the pen a nice, hefty weight. It’s comfortably chubby, and the length + balance is good posted and unposted.

I actually got one originally for Dearest to start him on FPs, before I fell in love inadvertently and had to get another for myself, ahehehe. It is just that good—solid-construction, smooth-writing, quick-starting and slow-drying. (Okay, maybe the ink has something more to do with those last two but the point is, I like this pen a lot and it competes with all the pens in my daily carry for Writer’s Pet!)

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Shame the default black ink cartridge likes to feather on cheap papers, though. But that’s why we buy our own ink refills, mm? :D

Staples Composition Book – Brazil

It’s true what they say about Brazilian paper—it’s surprisingly fountain pen ink friendly! Only minimal bleed through here and no feathering with this $3 composition book I got from Staples.

I wished it was more like Bagasse/Sugarcane though, since ink on that sheens like crazy. But for this price point I’m more than satisfied.

Pictures speak louder than words so I’ll have them be the evidence below.

Front and back covers of the composition, with the happy “Made on Brazil” logo that caught my attention:

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Here is the bulk of my writing samples with front and back samples. The Yama-budo bled the most because the OMAS was my wettest writer; I suspect B nibs would have similar troubles with this paper. Semi-incoherent rants of love for paper outline the review in gold gel pen, teeheehee.

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Obligatory look into the front and back inside covers. These are pretty basic designs, featuring a schedule chart (so small you’d have to abbreviate anything to read it), map of time zones and tables of standard measurements.

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The deal with the $0.25 ballpoint? I really did get one from a retro vending machine at an old-time government building. It writes…pretty well! And it’s my pen of choice to lend to friends since I hoard my fountain pens more than Smaug and his pile of bling. XP

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Preview to Notebook Madness

A friend of mine who recently visited Japan came back from the Itoya store with a mini set of goodies for me!

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A vertical-ruled memo book decorated with a blooming Sakura (cherry blossom) tree, similarly-themed Sakura envelopes, and really cute mini animal-head vials with pipette! (She knows I like to travel with ink sample vials for emergency refills—if these are waterproof, I’m totally using them instead!)

The stationery is made by Frontia, a Japanese brand I’ve never heard of before. I’m eager to see how the paper holds up to fountain pen ink!

Anyways, this seems like the perfect excuse opportunity to do a mini notebook rant, of which I have quite the eclectic collection. Stay tuned for more details in the future!

Proactive Prompting

I’m a bit of a minority in my social circle since I’m an FP addict. Oh sure, I’ve wheedled convinced a few friends into trying them out, and a few more now use Platinum Preppys or Pilot Varsities alongside their usual lineup, but try talking to them about nib widths and paper and you’ll start getting glazed looks…

*sobs*( TДT)

Ahem. Anyways…!

That’s why I take my love of pens online, where I can rant to my heart’s content and even find readers for my efforts. Yayness. Still though, this little blog is pretty haphazard and that bothers my meticulously-ordered-and-detail-oriented side.

You know, the one that says to keep all the silver ties on the neck of Iroshizuku bottles ’cause they’re so pretty even though I have to keep retying the little bows after every refill.

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Or the one that makes me cut and reuse lined backing paper with my blank journals so I don’t accidentally write crooked.

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Or the one that gets a little miffed when my lowercase “r”s don’t end up having those pretty loops ’cause I rushed through my cursive handwriting.

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Small things like that. So I’ve decided to do some virtual organizing!

There are a plethora of pen blogs on the web, each with its own unique focus. Some specialize in vintage pen restoration, others in writing up pen/paper/ink reviews, still others in plentiful postings of praiseworthy pen & paper photography.

Well, I’m terrible at taking things apart (much less putting them back together), too busy to be a regular reviewer, and the best camera I have on hand is my iPhone. What I can do is write—and rave—on and on about pens. So I’ll do that instead, because I like writing stories and reading them, and snatching these snippets out of my head and onto this screen is the best way to share them with fellow pen enthusiasts.

There’s that tried and true saying about people asking a penny for your thoughts. I’ll be throwing around my two cents’ worth in the future, under the Personal Penny heading because it sounds cooler that way. Actually, I’ve written pen-related babbles a few times in the past, but it should be easier to find them from now on under a uniform tag. Basically it’ll be longer blog posts with more pictures and more introspection on all things pen-related. O joy of joys! ٩(^ᴗ^)۶

Now to round out the post with a gratuitous pen photo!

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Why yes, I do use my Nakaya pen kimono for my Danitrio Short Octagon. Because Danis are my babies and my Nakaya Briarwood is tough enough to survive without it. Siblings should share even if they’re pens, y’know!

By the way, if there are any more budding fountain pen fans out there waiting to take the dip—do it! And then tell me all about it. And for those trying to convince friends to join in the party: bribe ‘em with free ink refills. Diamine Schubert made it irresistible for one of mine. ;)

Three Graceful Greens

Savor the season! The sight of new leaves budding on the trees, the sound of birds twittering outside my window, sunbeams dancing on Dawn’s fingertips as they coax her to rise earlier and earlier with each morning.

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April showers lightly dust the flowers in sparkling coats of rainbow-hued raindrops, and the earth exhales a sigh of relief as she opens her heart to embrace the Spring, because cold, cold Winter is gone at last.

There are many colors to describe Spring, but none quite so fitting as green. And being a fountain pen user means that I have a lot of options to choose from. :)

Spring greens are so bright and cheery, and these are the three that make my list:

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Aren’t they lovely? The blue is, of course, Sailor Jentle Sky High. And last but never least, the pens that did the honors.

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New Pen, Old Ink

Well, not really old…I got my Diamine Music Set from Vanness Pens online when they were having a major ink sale last December…but I’ve rarely used its lovely, lovely inks since then.

The other day I paired Diamine Handel (which is like a lush, more purply-Yama-budo with blue-green sheen) with a new acquisition, a Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku with a dazzling maki-e finish. They make a perfect couple together—that subtle blend of elegance and richness that I can describe as a sort of delightful divinity.

I’ve been too busy these past few months to write much, and will likely continue that trend for some weeks to come, so just a picture will have to do for now.

Someday, I dream of using up a week’s or so worth of time to fountain-pen-blog my heart out. Til then, I leave you with fanciful figments of my fickle ambitions. ;)

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The Emperor’s Pen

It’s funny how many more details you can pick up from movies after getting into fountain pens—and stationery in general.

Caught The Emperor’s Club recently and couldn’t keep my eyes off the pens in the movie.

I find it notable that Sedgewick Bell wrote his essays with what looked like a cheap disposable Bic ink stick. *cough* Seems like a proper reflection of his moral quality.*cough*

Definitely stood out from the other pens used by students. Sad to say those looked like rollerballs and ballpoints though. The points weren’t pointy enough to resemble fountain pens. Eh.

The highlight of the movie would definitely be when Mr Hundert is trying to write his book on Rome while combating writer’s block. From the three seconds of screen time, I judged that he was using a green-striped Pelikan Souveran. Can’t tell whether it was an M400 or M800—it looked too small for his hands, but too thick for the smaller sized Pelikans.

I like that he’s a Pelikan kind of teacher! Though his writing style baffles me—a mix of Gothic and Italic characters that tilt every which way. (Funny how he doesn’t just used Roman roundhand since he’s a teacher of the Classics, lol. Okay, okay, bad pun I know.) I’m guessing they had different people write different portions of his notes. His writing certainly has character!

Oh, and the movie was pretty good, too. The feelz, mah friends. The FEELZ.

Window Shopping

The great thing about Montblanc boutiques is that none are ever the same, not really. I mean, they all sell MB pens and watches and portfolios and stuff, but there are still subtle differences to distinguish each store.

Such as which LE pens are on display. Inevitably, the latest and greatest models will always be under a spotlight, but depending on local supply and demand, other LEs will be happily playing second fiddle on the side. And like all larger-than-life figures, nothing beats seeing the real thing in the flesh.

Today, for example, I saw my first L’Aubrac. The grenadilla wood looks a lot lighter than the pictures on the MB website—and the pen itself, a lot fatter. On the bright side, this allowed better contrast to show between the different-colored wood grain—very pretty. On the other hand, the texture and colors seemed to overwhelm the silver dots in the cap, which looked as if they were tiny stars drowning in an endless chocolate sky. But to each her own.

There were also two 2013 PoA pens on display—the Ludovico Sfoza/Duke of Milan ones, in both the blue and black editions. Black looked grayer than I expected; blue, less turquoise and darker, like concentrated Sailor Sky High. Pretty pens but also a bit too glossy for my tastes (I’m a maki-e, tree-sap kinda pen gal).

Grace de Monaco seems to be in every MB boutique I see, probably since she’s one of the newer Diva lines—which are, incidentally, quite pretty, slim little things. If only they weren’t cartridge fillers, sigh.

There was a MB 149 in the center back display with a nib that could eat all of mine for breakfast and then some (yes, even my #6 on the Danitrio—what a monster!). There’s a saying about princes born with silver spoons on their tongues—I’d say gold MB nibs would fit as well.

The 2013 WE Balzac was there too, the lighting making its thick gray (dare I say Pelikan-esque?) stripes even thicker than usual. I really liked this pen in the promotional shots until I saw one myself. It had an interesting shape, nice lovely Gothic lettering on the nib (shame my initials aren’t HB), and a cute story for the cap band design (inspired by a walking stick! Aww…).

But sadly, it doesn’t appeal to me in real life. The stripes look too…flat and gray, somehow, and the turquoise stones on the cap too small, and—oh, if only the barrel was semi-transparent so it could do that cool glimmering stained-glass window effect you get with ink windows! I suppose my tastes are too girly for it.

Anyways, the star of the moment was the new 2014 Great Characters Leonardo da Vinci pen. I really like the little wheel on the clip, and the cool see-through wrap-around window atop the cap, and the wing design they have on the nib and barrel. It’s a bit too silver for me (I’m a gold trimmings girl, through an through), but I appreciate style and da Vinci’s got it in spades. Totally steampunk!

You can read about its specifics on the official MB website here, but here are some phone photos of the display itself.

I admit, I took it so I could read the text in the booklet later. I devour descriptions like whoa.

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Right, in case it’s blurry, I’ll rewrite the stuff below:

“Leonardo spent almost 30 years investigating the question of how a living creature can propel itself through the air under its own power. In his attempts to reveal the secret, he analysed the aerodynamics of the wings both of birds and bats. He consolidated his findings in many individual drawings and in one general study of bird flight. They are the starting point for the development of his spectacular flying machine–and now also the inspiration for numerous design details of the Limited Edition Leonardo. The engraving on the forepart of the writing instrument shows the study of a wing Leonardo sketched for a flying device on page 74 of one of his most famous notebooks–known today as “Paris Manuscript B”.”

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“This page number served as the inspiration for the Limited Edition 74.

The finely engraved depiction of a bat adorning the handcrafted 750 gold nib is based on a drawing from Leonardo’s study of bird flight.”

& the small gray text: “The page number “74”, inscribed by hand in the top right corner, is the reason the drawing became known as “Wing study fol. 74r” in the literature.”

Yeah, window shopping’s pretty fun and this post was pure piffle fluff filler. Just another day in the life of a fountain pen lover.