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

Sailor Yama-doriA 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

Happy New Year!

Happy belated New Year and Handwriting Day!

Even though this blog has been quiet, the pens in my rotation are ever increasing.  Toward the end of the year, I took advantage of various promotions and purchased some fountain pen ink I have longed for.  As you may have guessed, too many pens are inked!  I have since then cleaned out several pens, but still have 7 of them in rotation.

currently inked
Written on Maruman B5 Report pad

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Hobonichi 2017

It is never too early/late to plan.  My incessant debate over which planner to use for the following year begins as early as June, almost around the same time as when Hobonichi rolls out various announcements on its exciting offers for the coming year.

Check out the 2017 line up here.  The webstore will open September 1, 2016 at 11AM Japan time (August 31 at 3PM UTC).  Use this converter to calculate the release time in your time zone.

To see in-person photos of the 2017 planners, visit Hobonichi’s Facebook page.

Which one has caught your eyes?