I am, slowly but surely, getting back to a routine. As though, you know, things weren’t…(I can’t use that word, here). For the first time in a long time, I seem to have adapted to things like not going out (and having a lot of time to waste!).
Things are getting done on my end, though fortunately or not, getting things done cuts into my blogging time. I was out of here last Friday, for example, because I needed to work all weekend on my Library Science course. (I’m not using accommodations this time, so I need to stay on top of things.) Then on Monday I was recovering, and Tuesday and Wednesday I didn’t even want to think about the computer. By Thursday (yesterday), I started studying again. Now it’s Friday morning and my eyes are burning at the computer, after I thought to myself earlier, that I didn’t have anything to write about.
I restarted my 日本語 (nihongo; Japanese language) lessons after I-don’t-know-how-many weeks, and I’m amazed at how much I remember. I still haven’t gotten back into the hang of repeating what I hear, every time I hear it; and I’m really not sure it’s necessary, at this point. (Words repeat.) I’m also starting to be able to recognize kanji along with (or even without) their readings.
I know for a fact that I’m fuzzy on terms for home interiors (I never really got “living room” vs. “kitchen”, for example: even though I did eventually find the translation icon), and might want to review that section (and write down the words, this time). Otherwise, even having lost that, I actually am making some headway (especially with number recognition — and the logic behind having different counters for everything).
The majority of yesterday…I mean, if I skip the Library Science studying (I have some things to do in order to keep up, but no deliverables this week)…has been devoted to playing around with my little set of fountain pens. I have a bunch of inexpensive-but-good ones, with a bunch of different colors of ink, and different-sized nibs. I’ve found that Pilot is my newly-preferred brand.
I’m actually appreciating my little $12 Pilot Kakuno with the Extra-Fine nib. If you want to use a lighter weight line or write anything tiny or finely, that’s one to go to (although it can have issues with paper incision, as it’s so sharp). The major annoyance I’m having with it right now, is capillary action drawing ink out of the grip section into the (transparent) cap, though I’m not sure it’s at all correctable, or just a design flaw. It might also be related to the specific ink I have in that one, right now (Iroshizuku Momiji, which is basically red with a touch of orange).
I’m also not sure how many of my other Pilot pens might have the issue, given that only one other of them (a Prera Demonstrator) is transparent at that juncture. The transparent Prera is fine. The design of the cap and section, and thus how they fit together, are just different. The Preras run around $30 to $40 online, depending on the model (Classic vs. Demonstrator) and your source, so Pilot could afford to invest in better design. They did, and it shows.
And no, I don’t know how different the more expensive models are, thanks! :) There is also the option of the Metropolitan lines (about $20 each), or the Penmanship line (about $10 each). They all use the same nibs, apparently (so says the Internet), though I haven’t tried switching them out.
There are also all the different colors of ink. I’m finding a theme in the ones I like…they aren’t simple colors, and they tend towards blue, green, and black for regular writing (meaning, not highlights or corrections). They also dry well — a reason I’m not planning on gambling with another Noodler’s ink.
I have Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses in a Broad Kaweco Sport (another inexpensive option, at least in the plastic models), which has a tendency not to dry. For a while. I understand this was likely done to preserve the interior mechanisms of the pens…but seriously, I want my ink to be able to dry. I write on the backs of my pages, and don’t want a ditto copy of my previous work, behind it.
I’m considering dumping out the rest of the ink in that pen and flushing it. I don’t know what I’ll do with it, after that: I’ve found that I prefer finer nibs, even though the novelty of the Broad nib was nice. It’s not so nice after your ink bleeds through to the backs of your pages and you can’t write anything small.
The Kaweco Sport was overtly an experiment to see whether I liked finer or bolder nibs, better — or whether I wanted a German pen, as versus a Japanese (Pilot, in this case) or Taiwanese one (TWSBI). They differ in aesthetics and intended end-use — though not as dramatically as dot-grid and lined notebooks!
I had to note to myself not to buy any more 5mm dot-grid or grid notebooks, unless I was going to use them for Japanese language practice, or drawings: 5mm spacing is way too close for most English writing (unless you’re great with a Fine or Extra Fine nib). Lines with 6mm or 7mm spacing, are workable for the size at which I normally write.
If you look at some kanji, though (try 語, for starters) you can see fairly easily why people who write in ideographic languages might prefer a finer line. It’s likely why the Japanese pens run finer in nib width than the German ones; although I do believe TWSBI uses German nibs. That would account for my TWSBI ECO with a Fine nib being about equivalent to a Pilot with a Medium nib.
I have tried LAMY; I gave an AL-Star away because I couldn’t stand being forced to push down on it and scrape it into the paper, to get it to write. It doesn’t work well for Japanese language in other than romaji, that is. For cursive English, it’s likely fine (or maybe would have been, if these things have to be broken-in. I don’t know. The one at the art store I tried later, didn’t have this issue; so I’m pretty much in the dark, here).
I also like it when the inks shade well…which is difficult to see much of the time (unless you’re using a Broad, Italic, or Stub nib), but some inks show shading (unevenness of color on the interior of one’s lines: reminiscent of watercolors) even in Fine and Medium nibs. The two I have in front of me are Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki-yo, and Ku-jaku; which are basically blue-black with a hint of green (in a Medium nib), and greenish-blue (in a Fine nib), respectively.
I’ve had very good experiences with the Iroshizuku line of inks, so far (no trouble with dead pens or stuck ink that never comes out — or, which seals the cartridge down so fast that it snaps off rather than releasing [this happened with a Platinum Plaisir to someone close to me — luckily, the Plaisir uses the same section and cartridge as the Platinum Preppy, and so a different interior could be swapped out with no harm to the housing]), which is why I decided to get another Pilot pen. Well, two. One of them (a Metropolitan Calligraphy Medium) was around $20, the other (a Classic Prera) was around $30. I was going for inexpensive + quality, which I’m primarily gauging as “pleasant writing experience.”
So far as that goes, Pilot wins easily out of all the fountain-pen brands I’ve tried. A runner-up is TWSBI, although I’ve never used a pen of theirs higher than the ECO, and so I don’t really know if they get better. I’ve read that TWSBI’s quality control on the grind of their nibs can be hit-or-miss (that is, they can be scratchy and need “tuning”, which I’m told, likely invalidates any warranty)…which is not an issue I’ve had with Pilot. Ever. Although you still have to find the optimal writing angle (called the “sweet spot” online), particularly with Calligraphy nibs. Even the best pen isn’t going to write well if you’re using it on its side!
The thing about the TWSBI ECO line: they have integrated rubber gaskets which prevent your inks from evaporating while they’re capped. Pilot does not have this, and thus the ink in the converter (or, I would assume, cartridge [I write too much to use cartridges]) gradually evaporates and concentrates, over time. I’ve had good luck with just replenishing them (or flushing and soaking the section overnight in Pen Flush, in the case of a pen nearly drying out all the way). I was also able to take a TWSBI ECO on a plane without it leaking, so there’s that, as well.
Given what just happened to me, though: I’m not certain a converter should be soaked in Pen Flush (it appeared sediment or bacterial growth was in the converter, after a while — then disappeared with use — but this is the same pen [Kakuno] which had odor problems [skunky smell], a while back [it no longer stinks]). For the uninitiated, converters just allow you to use bottled ink instead of snap-in cartridges. Eco-friendly, yeah? (You should see how many disposable pens I’ve gone through, otherwise!)
I mean, if you really want to get into it — I’ve seen worse: like the Noodler’s Nib Creaper I got which could not be sealed off against the outside air (the top of the cap screws on!), and ended up dying from a combination of that and a tiny ink capacity. Then I was turning the piston and something decided to snap (it kept “snapping” even after I replaced the knob, so I don’t know what was up with that, and can’t remember — I just remember seeing a broken-off fragment on the inside end of the piston. It didn’t help that I couldn’t see the other end of the piston). I am not sure whether I discarded it or tried to save it…but it’s not on my list of priorities.
The one Noodler’s pen (this is a U.S. brand) I tried that I’d use again is the Ahab Flex, but that one is a bit large for my hand, meaning it can slip and roll out of my fingers. The next step down (in terms of size) in that line is the Noodler’s Konrad Flex — which leaked. Prolifically. I’m not sure if I did something wrong (there is a slot for the nib I noticed later, which maybe I overlooked); I also never tried to heat-set the feed (as was recommended online). But seriously, I didn’t get this pen to mess with it until it writes.
Anyway. The Ahab, works; it’s also able to be completely disassembled, if you really want a thorough cleaning. I’m not sure exactly how a pen would get dirty enough to warrant that, though. (Actually, I do: it gets neglected for forever and likely should just be replaced.)
Pretty much, the biggest drawback to Pilot pens is that Pilot has a tendency to recommend only Pilot inks, with them. This is the initial reason I branched out to TWSBI and Noodler’s and Kaweco. It’s just that the Pilot pens write, so nicely.
So frikkin’ nicely.
Anyhow. I should probably go to bed, right now. :) I do have some updates as regards the potential debacle with watercolor half-pans (I really should have layered the paint instead of dispensing it all at once), but who’s counting? I also had a catastrophic paint-tube failure from my M. Graham Hansa Yellow on Tuesday night, which got me to realize that one 15ml tube is likely going to fill a full pan approximately four times, or a half-pan, about eight. (I got 3.5 pans out of it, and had already dispensed approximately 0.5 pans.)
The same thing happened with the M. Graham tube as happened a while back with a few of my Liquitex tubes: the part of the cap you hold, peeled off of the part of the cap that was screwed onto the tube. AWWWWW.
And yes, I do realize (now) that M. Graham may never dry because it has honey in it!
Disclaimer: These are all my opinions without input or compensation from any company or manufacturer. I speak only for myself and for no one else, and paid for these materials with my own funds.