Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's here, it's here, it's here! (My first Goulet Pens order)

I arrived home today to find a package waiting!

After removing the bubble wrap, I ended up with this oblong object, all wrapped up in the Goulets' signature blue saran wrap. (And yes, as you can already see, I went a little overboard on these things...)

Each (tightly capped) little vial contains a generous portion of the given ink, and is nicely labeled.

I also bought this syringe kit, to make it easier to transfer ink from the vials to pens. The bottom of the vials is cone shaped, which should make it easier to fill a pen, but I imagine you'd still have trouble getting the last little bit. Plus, I are clumsy.

So, rather than futzing with dipping the nib, I took the converter out of my orange Safari and filled it with ink using one of the syringes. Selecting an ink to start with was tough! I admit to using the very childish close-your-eyes-and-grab-one method, and ended up with Diamine Majestic Blue.

All fueled up and ready to go!

 I put the little Safari back together, waited a second for the ink to start, and we were off!

Looking forward to playing this ink for awhile, and with the rest of the colors as time goes on!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mini-Typecast, Lame Photo Update Just to Update

I'm getting a bunch o' ink samples, mostly Diamine.  It's my first time trying this service of theirs, and I'm pretty excited.

Speaking of inky things, this stuff is pretty awesome for a number of cleaning duties, one of which is getting ink out of the bathroom sink...

However, the lack of the apostrophe in the official name was driving me I added one.

Lousy photo of today's fountain pen rotation: Bling (Pelikan M200, Noodler's Air Corp Blue-Black ink), Stealth (Lamy 2000, Noodler's Black), Click (Pilot Vanishing Point, Private Reserve Midnight Blues) and What The...??? (Rotring Core, Noodler's Black Swan in Australian Roses)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I did accomplish one thing this weekend aside from noisy fiddle repair: I cleaned up my primary desk, and also did a buncha sorting through the various drawers and cups and storage bins where writing supplies and other junk tend to accumulate. Threw out a lot of things, cleaned up others. In the process, I discovered a few things.

For one, I may have the largest private collection of those correction tape dispenser thingies in existence:

Seriously, there are about a dozen! I guess I can stop buying 'em for awhile, now I know where they all are...

Also, after clean up, I'm even more perplexed by my complete and utter inability to ever find a Sharpie on those occasions when I need one. I mean...they were everywhere! More than half a dozen of 'em, spread throughout the house!

They are corralled now. Hopefully they'll stay that way.

Don't make me set up a webcam to keep an eye on you while I'm out and about, Sharpies. I don't want to hurt you, but I will.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Death to Delay (typecast poetry)

Reading between the lines...I didn't exactly accomplish much this weekend. (Except for--with phone assistance from my luthier sister--putting a new tailpiece on the fiddle I keep attempting to play. I can make LOUD HORRIBLE NOISES now. Woot!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Leuchtturm1917: Moleskine Killer?

"Lilac" Leuchtturm1917

I'd intended to write up a sort of review of my first Leuchtturm1917 notebook, but...well, it didn't happen. At this point, I'm on my second of these notebooks, having finished up the original black blank one I bought at Powell's City of Books. The second, my current journal, is a purple dot grid version. So...due to procrastination, I have experience.

Apologies in advance for my usual crummy, yellowish indoor lighting photos. I do try.

I went through a period a few years back when I used Moleskines quite a bit as journals. This was when they were first gaining popularity. I liked the sleek feel of them, their simple, elegant appearance, the nice little features like the back pocket, bookmark ribbon, and elastic closure. Ultimately, however, I couldn't justify the cost, particularly since I had lots of issues with the paper and fountain pen ink: feathering and bleeding on some pages, beading of ink and smearing on others. Frustrating.

Moleskine feathering--see all the little hairy looking extensions on my letters? Eek! Oh, and the content of this entry may be familiar to some of the typospherians...

Bleed-through on the back of the page. Note that this was not a particularly "bleedy" ink, or a broad nib.

Since those early days, about a zillion Moleskine clones have showed up on the market: compact notebooks with the hard cover, the pocket, the elastic, the bookmark. The Leuchtturm1917 is one that is recently gaining some attention on fountain pen boards and such, and when I saw them at Powell's for a fairly reasonable price, I grabbed one to try.

Page o' samples. I smeared the Black Swan...oops.

What I like:
  • I've had almost *no* issues with bleed-through or feathering with fountain pen or dip pen inks. A very, very wet ink could possibly feather or bleed, but even my fairly wet medium fountain pen nibs do pretty well, as did dip pens with sumi ink. Also, the paper has just a hint of texture to it, making it nice for pencil as well.
Back side of the page. There's show-through due to the thin paper, but really only the Sharpie bleeds, and only an eensy bit. Not bad...

And an attempt at a close-up, to show that there really isn't much if any feathering, even with pretty wet inks. Nothing like Moleskines, in any case.
  • Although I could buy a dozen Wal-mart composition books for the same price as one of these (and the Norcom comp books are still my choice for scribbling), as premium notebooks go, the Leuchtturm1917s are fairly inexpensive. I purchased this additional notebook from Writer's Bloc for $13 for a large notebook. Compare that with more like $18 for a Moleskine of the same basic size.
  • Pretty colors: many of the Leuchtturm1917 sizes and styles are available in a number of colors, for them what likes such things.
  • They have page numbers! Major bonus for me. I like to be able to gauge how much of a notebook I've used/how many pages I have left/how many pages I've written in a given day, and typically the first thing I do with a new journal is to sit down and mark page numbers. It's a tedious task, and I am very, very happy to have this done for me. The page numbers are very small and subtle and don't take up oodles of my writing space. Nicely done.
Page number
  • Dot grid format! I'm a new convert to this style of notebooks. They give you the freedom of a blank page, but with just enough of a visual guide to help you write neat lines. Also, the dots are subdued enough not to get in the way of lighter inks and pencil writing.
  • It's a small thing, but a nice detail nonetheless: these notebooks come with a variety of labels for archival purposes. I always date my journals after use, so I appreciate this. Another little detail that's a nice touch: the blank version came with a backing sheet that can be used behind the current page, with grid on one side and lines on the other.
Lots o' Labelage

  What I don't like:
  • Although the pages lay *mostly* flat, there's definitely more of a "hump" than you get with Moleskine notebooks. It's perhaps my favorite feature of Moleskines, and I'm a little disappointed these are as bumpy as they are.
Even held still have to write into a bump. Don't mind my inky fingers...
  • Although I didn't encounter bleed-through or feathering, the pages are very thin (I kind of think they'd be better off making these with fewer pages and thicker paper) and there is a certain amount of show-through.
  • The covers are thinner and less substantial feeling than Moleskine. Overall, it just doesn't feel as sleek and ruggedly made as a Moleskine, though that may just be perception. I carried my first one around in a backpack crammed full of other books and odds and ends for two months with no ill effects whatsoever.
  • The elastic isn't as...well, elastic.
  • When new and newly unwrapped from their protective wrap, these notebooks smell funny. It's sort of a press-board sort of smell. It quickly wears off, fortunately. It's been awhile since I unwrapped a new Moleskine, and I'm sure they have a "new notebook" smell as well, but I don't remember it being objectionable in any way.
  • I've experienced some skipping issues: the paper, while very ink friendly for the most part, is pretty sensitive to skin oils. Fountain pen ink may skip on spots where you rested your hand. I sometimes have similar issues with other quality paper, though (i.e. paper that doesn't absorb ink like crazy). It's a trade-off.
Indifferent details:
  • The last eight pages are perforated and can be easily removed. Personally, it's not a feature I imagine I'll use.
  • In addition to the numbered pages, there's a blank table of contents page at the front to assist with organizing. At the moment, I'm not sure how I'd use this in a journal. For significant dates, maybe? Dunno. But it's there for those of you who would use such a thing.
Bottom line:
They aren't perfect, and I wouldn't declare them a Moleskine killer. For the zillion and a half people who use gel pens or ballpoints and who don't care about the other little features the Leuchtturm1917 offers, Moleskine may remain the better choice. And Moleskines are everywhere, after all. (Even Target, now!) They're convenient.

I'm sold, nonetheless. The Leuchtturm1917 notebooks have most of the features I like about the Moleskine (hard cover, bookmark, elastic, pocket, at least kinda lays flat) and a few others I really appreciate (page numbers, dot grid format), the paper is way better, and none of the drawbacks are utter deal breakers to me. They're my journal of choice for the time being. I just hope the price remains reasonable-ish!

Vitals as reviewed:
249 slightly off-white dot grid pages
Acid-free 80gsm paper
A5 size (5.75 x 8.25")
Designed in Germany, printed and bound in Taiwan

Sunday, June 12, 2011

In Which I "Demonstrate" the Making of Inky Messes

Pilot Plumix Eye Dropper

Saturday morning I gave blood.  Last few times I've done this, I've attempted to continue my day without any reservations, and have had some wooziness later in the day.  It's not a nice feeling.  This time, I resolved to be a good girl and mostly take it easy and drink plenty of fluids; chill out, catch up on my journal, read a bit, maybe watch some TV.

Now...for the TV part, my brother and sister-in-law recently turned me on to the show "Hoarders," which is about people who compulsively buy/obtain and hoard...all kinds of stuff, from food to toys to old construction materials to...well, you name it.  It's like watching a train wreck: tough to watch at times, and yet you can't turn away.  It makes me feel a bit better about my own lack of organizing skills and...umm...collecting tendencies: OK, so I may have something like...erm...a few dozen empty notebooks waiting to be used, and that's pretty ridiculous.  But at least I don't have so many notebooks they spill out onto the floor or out into the yard or keep me from getting to the kitchen.  Yay me!

On the other hand, it makes me frantically want to prevent becoming such a person.  I finished watching my first episode earlier in the week, and ended up staying up late vacuuming and putting things away, and after another episode on Saturday, I ended up going through drawers I've barely touched since I moved in, sorting.  In the process, I came across some pens and such I'd pretty much forgotten about.  For example, the Pilot Plumix I bought for four or five bucks at Target awhile back.

It's an odd looking little thing...I continue to like Mike Clemens' "baby squid" descriptor.  But it is comfortable to hold and has quite a nice smooth italic nib.  I used it a bit at first, but the ink went dry, and I debated with ordering cartridges, or a converter (to use bottled ink) that would probably cost as much or more as the pen itself had. In the end I stuck it in a drawer to deal with later.  And there it stayed, until now.

It comes with a single ink cartridge.  This cartridge *could* be refilled with a syringe, and that was sort of my plan, but as I was rinsing the last of the original blue ink out of the pen, it struck me: the barrel of this thing seems pretty water tight.  Why not fill the whole barrel with ink and turn it into an eyedropper pen?

I have a Platinum Preppy pen that is converted just using silicone grease smeared on the threads, and I figured this would probably be enough for the Plumix as well...but I also added an O ring of sorts: I still have about a zillion of those dorky orthodontic rubber bands used to adjust one's bite as part of the whole braces thing, and some of them seemed just the right size (the Stellar's Sea Lions, for dentists/orthodontic patients playing at home), so I added one of those as a precaution.  I'm not sure it really does anything, and it's not the most attractive of O rings...but it makes me feel better.

Close-up of the threads, "O ring".

And then, using an eye dropper, I filled it up with Waterman South Seas Blue!  Two reasons for choosing this ink: 1. it looks mahvelous in this pen, and 2. it is the most washable of my current inks--just a precaution until I'm sure this thing isn't gonna explode...

Pilot Plumix Eye Dropper conversion

I then tried it out, and it seemed to work great!  Flushed with success, I ran to the Internets to see if anyone else had had the same brilliant idea.  They had, but many also mentioned having plugged the hole at the end of the barrel.  Say what?  Hole???  I ran back and checked the leaks, fortunately.  But after a few minutes, I could wipe a tissue over the end of the barrel and get a smudge of blue, so apparently there *is* a hole there.  I emptied out the ink and dribbled some super glue in the divot there and let it cure.  Hopefully it's enough.

The cap feels like relatively fragile plastic, so I don't think I'd just toss this pen in my bag with everything else (it holds a *lot* of ink, after all, and what a mess *that* could be!), but otherwise, it seems to be holding together pretty nicely. As I said below, it's a bit of a dry writer, but a fun little pen.

So there you have it: a quirky italic "demonstrator" (i.e. you can see the inner workings) eye dropper fountain pen for about five bucks. Pretty nifty. I'll have to update if it ends up developing issues later on, but at the moment, I think I have a good excuse for keeping it. I mean, it's not hoarding if I'm using the thing, right? Right??

For additional information on making eye dropper pens out of cheapie plastic fountain pens, Jetpens has this nice little article with more info and far better pictures: How to Do an Eye Dropper Conversion.