No Stationery, No Life

Does that phrase aptly describe you?  If so, head over to Everyday Stationery, a Japanese web-based magazine that features articles on Japanese stationery goods. Even though there are only a handful of articles in English, I am sure the collection will grow given time. For brave souls or those who are well-versed in Japanese, browse the Japanese articles that are published; most of them have a plethora of photos. Perhaps you will find an interesting item or two 🙂

Super5 Fountain Pen

Super5 Fountain pen first came to my attention by way of its waterproof ink. It was adored especially by artists since the ink is also extremely lightfast (fade resistance to light) and very close to PH neutral. To complement this seemingly amazing line of ink, the pen should not be too shabby, right? Last Christmas I joined one of the Massdrop offers on Super5 Fountain pens and purchased one with .5mm calligraphy nib.

Here are the details on this pen (information extracted from Massdrop and Super5’s sites)

  • Length: 14cm (≈5.5in; capped); 12.7cm (≈5in; uncapped)
  • Weight: 24g (≈.8oz; capped); 19g (≈.7oz; uncapped)
  • Filling system: international short, Kaweco mini converter, Super5 converter
  • Nib material: stainless steel
  • Body materials: plastic barrel and cap with metal grip and clip

Humans are visual animals so the appearance of a pen could play a role in the purchase. Looking at my purchase records, most of my pens have leaned toward the simple designs without much decoration (My most decorated pen is a Platinum Maki-e), so Super5 fits my usual modus operanti. It conforms with most classic pens, conical shape with tapered head and end with a black metal clip that ensures the pen stays put in pockets. The color selection for Super5 fountain pen mostly corresponds to its ink line: Arctic (white; it really looks like a Storm Trooper to me), Atlantic (dark blue), Australia (dark red), Darmstadt (black), Delhi (orange), Dublin (green), and Frankfurt (gray). It was a rather difficult choice, and I have contemplated purchasing multiple with different nib width for a couple days but at the end, I settled on Delhi.

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Simple design

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The only noticeable branding on pen, embossed with “Super5”

Do not let its simple exterior fools you, the grip section is surprisingly heavy. When I first opened the package, I assumed the pen was a lightweight judging by its plastic exterior, until I almost dropped it. By itself, the grip section plus the nib weighs 15g, which accounts for 94% of the body weight sans cap. Even though the pen appears to be top heavy, it is very balanced while holding it, as the weight gravitates down when one writes. Besides adding durability and balance, the metal grip warms up as you use the pen, which renders the hold more comfortable.

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Super5 nib works right out of the box. With Stipula Grigio Fumo (Fading Gray), the nib laid down a web stroke with buttery smoothness. The italic nib is sharp so the ink flow cleanly to make those little “ticks” without piercing the paper.  Love by first write is not an exaggeration by any means, as I become more enamored with each usage. Another thing about Super5 pen is that it does not dry as easily as other fountain pens. After leaving the cap off for a couple minutes the pen will still write, picking up where it left off. My speculation is since the pen is designed to use waterproof ink, anti-drying property would be a must.

The .5mm italic nib is quite versatile; it is wide enough for calligraphy and adds a bit of personality to one’s writing when used normally. As seen in the picture below, .5mm nib writes just a slightly thicker than a European medium nib so it is close to two pens in one. Super5 fountain pen takes an international cartridge. A Super5 converter is available for purchase, and just for those who are curious, a Kaweco mini converter will fit nicely as well.

Super5 writing

Here is something good to look forward to, according to Matthias who attended Insights X last year, Super5 with a flex nib is in the making with an indefinite releasing date. I am very much looking forward to this new addition, as I am having a great experience with the italic.

The pen costs 24,90€ on Papier Labor that includes 19% VAT. I purchased it for $24.95, including shipping on MassDrop. For a pen that is easy to use and is designed to use iron gall ink, I believe it is a great addition to anyone’s rotation.

Sailor Jentle Kin-Mokusei

Following its previous ink releasing pattern, in 2016 Sailor “resurrected” limited edition from years before. When I caught a glimpse of orange in the rotation, I immediately thought Sailor has brought back the coveted and beloved Apricot. Since Sailor ink priced a bit lower overseas (a little over 10 USD versus 18 USD in the States), my sister graciously brought a bottle back from home.

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Kin-Mokusei write up

The first impression  after making a swatch is its striking similarity to Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki, the bright vermillion as seen below:

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Kin-Mokusei, though, is not entirely vermillion. The bottom left corner of the swatch shows a tint of orange. In a line-up for all the orange ink in my possession, Kin-Mokusei comparatively has less yellow undertone than the rest.

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When I inked the Platinum Century 3667 with soft-fine nib, the orange hue reveals itself more. Against a white background, the color is a reddish orange. The scanned write-up page at the beginning of this post is probably the most orange, but to me equally pleasant.

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Kin-Mokusei in another light, now a reddish orange ink

Similar to other Sailor ink, it is a well-behaved ink that is friendly to most paper varieties. In a regular nib, the ink dries fairly quickly that will prevent any accidental fingerprints. It does not shade crazily like Pelikan Edelstein Amber, but it is not exactly monotone; the writing sample shows a good gradients of orange.  The ink is not water resistant, but it can stand a light wash. I have done two different water resistance tests with this ink. One is to simply do a one-stroke wash with a water brush, as seen in the bottom right corner of the pictures. The ink is smeared, but you can still see the original text. The second test involves squirting spurt of water from a syringe. At the initial point of impact, the water dissolves the ink into an orange puddle, while the text in the peripheral area stays somewhat intact with some splash marks. The picture on the right show how it looks when the puddle completely dries, you see a mix of red (what is left of the original text) and orange.

Having used the ink for three weeks now, I have not noticed any iridescent sheen, but it seems to have a glistening quality to it. When looking at Kin-Mokusei swatch at an angle, it seems to be glossier than other ink, as seen below.

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Here comes the question of the hour:  How similar is Kin-Mokusei to Apricot?  The written comparison between the two is subtle. To my eyes, Apricot’s yellow tone is more prominent than Kin-Mokusei. A quick water test on both ink also confirms that.

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The swatches bring out the inherent difference between the two.

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My take on this color is if you are absolutely mad about orange and do not get a chance to get a bottle of Apricot, Kin-Mokusei is a nice addition to the rotation, giving a pop of color. If you already have a dozen bottles of Apricot, you can make room for other great choices in this Sailor release. Do I regret my choice?  Not a bit, since Sailor is probably my favorite ink and I am running out of Apricot. Kin-Mokusei is a rich and warming color that can brighten up anyone’s day.

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This ink can be purchased at Sailor authorized retailers, such as Vanness Pens and JetPens.*

Do you like any bright color fountain pen ink?

*No affiliations, just a satisfied customer.

A Word or Two on Ink Testing Paper

Looking back to all sorts of ink reviews/test I have done on this blog, one element I have noticed is the change in paper.  In the earlier days, most ink testing is done on Rhodia classic N°16/N° 18, either grid or dot ruled.  As time goes on, I shifted to Japanese paper, mostly Maruman, with similar ruling.  This observation prompts me thinking about why I use a certain paper for ink testing.  When I first rekindled interest in fountain pens five

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Schneider 670 Fountain Pen

While I may hanker after specialty nibs and gorgeous fountain pens, I enjoy simple, economic beginner fountain pens just as much. They are great to carry around and my heart will not skip a beat if they are cosmetically marred. In my past experience, they are more reliable than luxury fountain pens at times because they are marketed for children and students, who probably have less patience for finicky pens.

While perusing at One over One Studio in Taipei, something bright caught the corner of my eyes, and when I approached, I saw these simple Schneider 670 fountain pens. Curious to how they write, I picked a pink one intended for the Little One (and yes, it shall remain as her first fountain pen, I am just performing “quality check” on her behalf 🙂 ).

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  • Length: 14.2cm (≈5.5inch; capped); 13cm (≈5.12inch uncapped); 16.3cm (≈6.42inch; posted)
  • Weight: 9g (.32oz; with cap); 7g (.25oz; without cap)
  • Filling system: international short or Kaweco converter
  • Nib size: European fine
  • Nib material: Stainless steel
  • Body material: Lightweight plastic
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It reminds me of tree rings

The texture of the cap and the body are different; the matte cap, along with the dots, gives a bit more grip to remove the cap. The grip section, too, has tree ring-like pattern and matte surface so the pen won’t slip out of the hand. In addition, the patterned section is slightly tapered to make the section triangular to increase comfort and encourage good pen holding habits. The width of the barrel is just right. Even after a long writing session, the hand will not feel fatigued.

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Simple nib, nothing fancy about it

The humble stainless nib has proven to be a workhorse– writes smoothly and perfectly after first inked. It is definitely not as buttery as a gold nib that glides across the paper, but the nib has the right balance of smoothness and traction, where the users will have control while writing, without having to hold onto the barrel so tight. This nib also writes on the wetter side, that adds to the overall smoothness. Easy to use for both beginner and fountain pen elites alike.

writing sample

The Schneider F nib writes a bit thicker when compare to other European F nib, but a bit smoother than a Lamy Safari F. In my opinion, it is a good nib width for everyday writing, not so bold where everything is a blur, and not so fine that it is hard to read.

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Schneider 670 takes standard international short cartridges, as well as a Kaweco small piston converter. One over One Studio actually included both with the purchase of the pen (which I would like to see more often in American vendors). Even though being able to take both cartridges and converter is considered a kudos, there is a shortcoming when using the converter: the ink oozes out from the neck area, as see in the photos above. My speculation is perhaps the ink flow works too well with a converter and ink got into the cap; hence the inky grip. For the first couple times using it after inking, I got inky knuckles and fingers, but the oozing stopped after several usage. To confirm my suspicion, I switched to a cartridge to observe whether the same happens and the result is the opposite of a converter. The barrel is ink-free. Good news is that the plastic does not seem to be stained easily, so just wipe with a damp cloth/paper towel and the pen is pristine again.

I have not yet found this particular model sold in the U.S., but I have found other Schneider fountain pens of similar body sold in iPenStore, between $4-$7. In other corners of the world, I imagine these pens can be easily acquired. It is actually one of the recommended starter fountain pens in most specialty writing instrument stores in Taiwan.

This pen thoroughly impressed me and I would recommend it to beginners and experienced users. It is mostly no fuss, especially with a cartridge. No tweaking is required prior to first use and I can see that it can take a beating in anyone’s everyday carry.

Ink Swatches

A problem constantly faced by stationery lovers is owning an abundance of something stationery related. Though these objects of endearment inspire creativity and joy, they can also be sources of worry– am I hoarding?  At the beginning of this year, I finally read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. While parts of the book can give most 21st-century dwellers a wake-up call, thanks to consumerism and relative stable and prosperous societies we live in, I see truism in Kondo’s angle and approach. An integral part to Kondo’s method is to handle each piece of object that you own and ask the question, “does this thing inspire joy?”  To put this in practice, I decide to swatch all full-size ink bottles I have. It has been a project that looms in the back of my head, but now it can serve several purposes:

  • My first step in tidying up
  • Inventory colors I have
  • Good tool for future ink comparison

For the paper, I have considered using Maruman Mnemosyne Word Book as the swatch paper, not only the product has been discontinued, but I also want to use something I already have for this project. Using  Canson XL Mix Media paper (98lb/160gsm) that is heavy enough to withstand light layers of wash, I trimmed out cards that are 2.5 x 3 inches in size. Instead of using cotton swabs, I used two size 6 round watercolor brushes. In the earlier years, I have used cotton swabs to make swatches but I have found them unsatisfactory. Even though swabs are absorbent, the amount of ink laid on paper is disproportional. Waterbrush, in contrast, can load up lots of ink (as it is designed to do!) and thus capable of showing color gradation better than swabs.  However, the downside of brushes is the possibility of contamination– ink residue lingers on brush fiber, so careful and thorough rinsing is pertinent.

I have been happy with the swatching results. The brightness of the paper reflects colors accurately. Because of the initial dipping usually carries a lot of ink, sheen and nuances are magnified, along with shading property. The downside of it is that the paper began to buckle slightly, but by in large, each swatch stays flat.  These swatches will come in handy for future ink reviews, as now I can place the color side by side for more subtle comparison. More importantly,  handing each ink bottle in a tangible way invokes memories I have associated with each color (i.e. how I came to purchase the ink, where I bought the ink, recalling of experience while using it). They do bring joy to my life!

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In case you are interested in the ink collection, here is what I have:

Caran d’Ache

De Atramentis

J. Herbin

KWZ

  • KWZ Honey

Lindauer

Mont Blanc

Pelikan

Rohrer and Klingner

Sailor

Stipula

  • Black