Monteverde Jewelria

I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about this company or its reputation. I bought my pen simply because it glowed among all the staid pens. It is almost Easter, almost spring and its bright sunny appeal was simple.


My actual goal was to buy a bottle of Monteverde ink; however, I was not impressed at all with what was on hand and not familiar enough with the brand to know what was good. The ink samples were poorly done and it was too hard to choose. On the other hand, I did walk away with a ridiculously expensive bottle of Graf von Faber Castell ink. The ink cost more than the pen which I got for thirty per cent off. The vendor did ink it up with Monteverde Blue Horizon for me (he offered me any colour I wanted). Tonally, it is a doppelganger for Kon-Peki but does not have any shading at all which makes it a poor second cousin.

As for the pen, it is a little bit over the top. It doesn’t need two broad silver bands on the cap, in my opinion. On the other hand, I do love the mountain profile on the finial and the nib. Nice! I am a sucker for finials. The nib is pleasant and perfunctory. Nothing very good or very bad about it. The pen is extremely light and easy to use, the converter came with it. The closest pen I have in price is the Pilot Metropolitan and the two are not comparable. I prefer writing with the Jewelria because it is lighter and because it doesn’t have that nasty section step down but the nib is definitely inferior in my opinion. All subjective. The closes pen I have in style is the Edison Pearlette and again I feel that the two are not comparable. The Pearlette is a dream of a pen.

I knew when I bought this pen that there was really no reason, other than good cheer, for the purchase. It has not really added anything to my collection that is different. I do reach for it because it is a happy, glowing thing and that reasoning will have to suffice. I would recommend it to anyone who can get it at a comparable price to the Metro as an alternative to it if the Metro step down is a turn off. I have to admit that I often second guess reaching for my Metro for this very reason.


In Praise of Cheap Pens

A funny story. I had decided to try to smooth a nib. I purchased mylar and splints and mesh from Goulet. And a cheap $10 Jinhao to practise on. The pen is an outlandish inside guts of an acorn squash kind of orange. Design wise, it is actually not that bad. No, really. It has a snap cap with a funky clip design, a heavy metal body, a pretty good section and a converter that should make Pilot blush. I dutifully reviewed the YouTube videos and thus armed, proceeded to smooth the nib. And it worked. The pen writes fairly smoothly and fairly wet. No starting or skipping problems.

Emboldened, I signed up for a pen tuning class by a local nibmeister. When I showed up, I was given a pen to practise on: an inside guts acorn squash coloured Jinhao. Not kidding. To make matters worse, it wrote wonderfully without any tuning whatsoever.

As someone who struggled for nine months with a Visconti, the irony is not lost on me. Of note,  in between the two Jinhaos, I picked up a Pilot Metropolitan Retro. And it writes like a hero (once I replaced the shoddy converter included with a piston converter). My Lamys remain steadfast friends, almost best friends with their comfortable ways.

Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop Red

The world does not need one more review of this pen. It is ubiquitous. I had to get one. It cost less than $30 at Take Note. Admit it: the hot red with the hot pink band is kick butt. I appreciate the snap cap. It came with a horrible squeeze converter. Fortunately, I have a spare Pilot Con-50 Piston converter lying around (makes me shake my head: where on earth did this come from?) Also have sunk to using a syringe to fill the squeeze converter. You have to prime the nib if you do this but beats the alternative.

Turquoise Ink Test 27
This photo captures the only negative thing that can be said about the Metropolitan–that step down from the barrel to the section is just crazy.

Of course I couldn’t wait to ink it up with my new KWZ Grey Plum. I really wanted some Noodlers’ Violet but could not find it anywhere. Gummiberry was far too light. Grey Plum very much reminds me of Brown Pink. I digress. Point is, once the squeeze converter is empty, I will replace it with the twist converter.

Writes smooth and wet.

Turquoise Ink Test 25

As stated everywhere, it writes quite well. I am not even tempted to tweak it. I chose the medium nib over the fine in part because I seem to be sliding over to the broader part of the nib world and in part because I hoped to get more mileage out of my shading inks. As luck would have it, there is really no shading to the Grey Plum.

The owner of Take Note advised that Pilot may be coming out with speciality nibs for these pens in the upcoming months but she was not sure if the nibs would be sold as nib units or if you would have to buy a whole new pen. No doubt I will be in regardless of how they have to be purchased.



The Great Turquoise Ink Test

With great in quotes! This has taken me forever! I had a hoot setting it up and doing it. Photographing it not so much.

Turquoise Ink Test 28

I used 7 inks:

  1. Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku (Peacock)
  2. Kaweco Paradise Blue
  3. Edelstein Aquamarine
  4. Lamy Turquoise
  5. Iroshizuku Amo-Iro (Sky Blue–probably should not have been included)
  6. Robert Oster Bondi Blue
  7. Robert Oster Fire & Ice

The seven pens were:

  1. Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 1.1 stub with Ku-Jaku
  2. Edison Beaumont 1.1 wih Paradise Blue (cartridge syringed into a converter)
  3. Lamy Safari 1.1 with Edelstein Aquamarine
  4. Visconti Opera smooth cursive italic with Lamy Turquoise
  5. Sailor Pro-Color Fine with Amo-Iro (again, should not be in here but too late now!)
  6. Platinum 3776 Medium with Robert Oster Bondi Blue
  7. Twsbi Mini Classic 1.1 with Robert Oster Fire & Ice
Turquoise Ink Test The Pens
Left to Right: Lamy Safari; Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66; Visconti Opera; Sailor Pro-Color; Twisbi Mini Classic; Edison Beaumont; Platinum 3776

Turquoise Ink Test The Pens Uncapped

I ended up using eight papers and decided to call a halt after eight. Here they are:

  1. Tamoe River Paper:Turquoise Ink Test Tomoe River Paper
  2. Clairefontaine:Turquoise Ink Test Clairefontaine
  3. Life Noble Notebook:Turquoise Ink Test Life Noble Note
  4. Tsubame Fools Cream Section Notebook:Turquoise Ink Test Tsubame Fools Cream Paper
  5. Rhodia Dot Pad:Turquoise Ink Test Rhodia Dot Pad
  6. Mnem0syne:

    Turquoise Ink Test Mnemosyne
    A typo! or do you call it a hando? Also, a piece of fluff. Sigh. The photos are killing me!
  7. Midori MD Notebook:Turquoise Ink Test Midori MD Notebook
  8. Leuchtturm 1917:Turquoise Ink Test Leuchtturm

The only thing this test did is confirm my bias: Lamy Turquoise is the best turquoise ink hands down! Also confirms my strong dislike of the Kaweco ink. This particular colour is interesting but the ink itself is sludgy and horrible. I have used it in cartridge and extracted ink form in a number of pens and dislike it. A lot.

My Visconti made it home

Just in time for my vacation. It was delivered to work yesterday. I have not had much time to play with it. Had a Pens and Pints meet after work so got home late. Of course I have done a couple of pages but I want to give it a thorough work out before I comment. One thing I can say is that the writing it produces is amazing! Not sure if I like the nib/writing experience. But the writing is amazing. Stuck in that conundrum at the present.


And I am determined to buckle down and get some pen things done! And ink things. And paper things. Yeah, like that!

I have been thinking a lot about my pens lately in the context of where I am at now, almost a year into this craziness. So far, my enthusiasm is not waning. If anything, I seem to get a little crazier by the day. In large part that is due to experience. It takes quite awhile and a lot of writing to build up that experience. I have made a lot of mistakes out of inexperience.  I can’t feel too bad about them, there is really no other way to learn than hands on.

Once upon a time, a year ago, when I bought a new pen all I wanted to do is get home and ink it up and go. That hasn’t changed one iota. But what has changed is the flood of questions that come as I write: what is this going to do on that paper? How does this compare to that nib? What would this ink look like in it? All the while writing like mad. It would take years to answer all the questions and in the meanwhile I keep buying more pens and papers and inks so the questions get multiplied exponentially.

Lately, I have acquired a small sample of Robert Oster Inks which led to purchasing three full bottles which has led to wondering what really is the best turquoise. It is all so subjective at the end of the day but there is an underlying set of facts. The best example I can think of is OS N. I purchased a bottle of this second hand. At that time, OS had stopped producing ink. I think that they are back in business, not too sure. I wrote a bit with it and thought it was fine but it didn’t wow me out enough to give it much thought or to use it much. The other day I was rifling through one of my (umpteen) journals and an ink literally jumped off the page and hit me in the head. No, not literally, of course but it was shocking. The sheen was unbelievable. I figured out it was OS N. I saw no evidence of this when I was writing with it. The magic took place out of sight and therefore out of mind. It was really wonderful. Fast forward, everyone is agog about Fire and Ice because in part, the sheening and I just don’t really like it. Ditto (maybe) with Bondi Blue. The jury is still out. Objectively, all three inks exhibit a ton of sheen. Subjectively, I have elevated OS N on my list because of that, knocked Fire and Ice off my list because of it and am still deciding re Bondi Blue. So, the same characteristic can be appealing and off-putting.

It isn’t quite as insane as it sounds. OS N is a deep blue. And I am not a die hard blue fan so the sheening gives the blue a bit of interest for me. I am a die hard turquoise fan and find the sheening too much, gilding the lily so to speak.

I have decided to do the turquoise test which will involve cleaning a lot of pens and gathering a lot of inks and papers and going at it. My idea of an amazing first day of vacation.

Waiting for the Postman

I did it. I sent my Visconti Rembrandt off for a nib tweaking and it has been done! Waiting for it to arrive back home at this point. A little bit excited. Okay, okay, a lot excited.

I sent it to Mark Bacas (at Nibgrinder).

I have a Visconti Rembrandt Medium steel nib. I do not like this nib. I have never liked this nib. It misbehaves constantly, hard starting, skipping and the like. It has made me dislike this pen (I would prefer to dislike it for other reasons, of which there are quite a few for me but if the nib worked I believe I could broker a negotiated peace with it. As it stands, it deserves nothing but baleful stares.) Is it possible to grind this to a smooth cursive italic? I don’t care about the size of the resulting stub; in fact, the smaller the better. If it is possible, is this something you would consider doing? If not, could you tune up this woefully underperforming nib?

He was extremely responsive to my email inquiry. I did delay sending it for a bit–I have to admit I wasn’t thrilled about throwing it in the mail. And of course, the shipping cost. Ouch! Before I could turn around, I got an email from Mr. Bacas saying he had received the pen and reground it. But what made me jump up and down was he included pictures of the pre-worked pen clearly showing what was wrong with it and a video showing the post-work pen in action! I literally skipped around the kitchen when I saw it.

Mark pointed out that the two tines were not identical: one was larger and sticking out a bit.

I can’t upload the video unless I upgrade my plan which I don’t plan on doing unless I up my photography skills. Suffice it to say, it is one of the best movies I have ever watched, laughing!

I immediately reviewed my pens to see what I am going to send him next…

Robert Oster Inks

I am not sure when I first heard about this ink line. I do know that you would have to be under a rock not to have heard of Fire and Ice. The last time I saw such a fuss about an ink was Emerald of Chivor. I am not that fond of inks that do anything more than shade but I decided I had to give this a go. None of my local stores sell it. I found a good deal at Vanness online. They had a 12 4 ml sample pack of Robert Oster “Dark and Light” for $24 and a shipping fee of $9.00 US. (I threw a pen in there to make it worth the shipping. Ahem.) I love that the samples are twice the size of Goulet samples–but not twice the cost. Shipping is cheaper and much faster, too.

I ordered an individual sample of Fire and Ice from Goulet.

As for the sample box, I have had three pleasant surprises, all brown. The Bronze, Gold Antiqua and Caffe Crema are all on my “get full bottle” list. Loving the khaki but finding it “pools” too much. Of course, that could be the nib and/or the paper so I need to try it out in a few more combinations (yes, I love the 4 ml samples! that lets me get a few more runs at the ink and helps me make up my mind). Summer Storm is bizarre. It goes on saturated and moody but quickly dries to a washed out gray blue. Much as I am fascinated by the transformation, the end result is too blah for me. Barossa Grape is pleasing but very muted. Purple Rock is more my style and I am enjoying it but it has nothing to recommend it in my opinion over other stunning purples out there. I still have a few to go before I have run through the samples but discovering the three browns was a huge payoff and I am very pleased that I got this sample package.

Best news yet, I found a local source for these inks which will save me enormous shipping costs (I think. Every middleman needs to get their cut so I am going to price it out. If it works out well, I will come back and credit and reference. I don’t want to name names until I am sure that the pricing is fair and the service is reliable.)

P.S. Fire and Ice is interesting but it is going to take a mule kick to move me off Lamy Turquoise as my favourite turquoise.

Family Day

And we are not, so far, doing very well at it. Max is doing a chemistry assignment, the dogs are off to the park with the dog walker and I am surfing pen sites. Since we are enjoying our time off (except, possibly, Max) it is all to the good anyway.

I am in the process of packing my Visconti Rembrandt up for a trip to a nibmeister. I asked the Nibgrinder, Mark Bacas, if he thought he could grind my medium nib to a smooth cursive italic and he answered in the affirmative so off it goes.

This seems like the “next step” in my slow evolution. I read a post recently that I greatly admired wherein the author listed milestones in their pen evolution and it gave me pause. I would like to write a similar article but am so behind in everything it will have to wait. One of my milestones I have yet to achieve is having a custom ground nib. I did buy a used pen that the vendor assured me had had the nib ground and tuned by Richard Binder but that is not the same thing as engaging a nib grinder myself.

I have had some limited success of which I am quite proud in tuning nibs with mesh, Mylar, brass splints and a million videos and I could take a run at the Visconti. The fact that I haven’t even tried tells me that my heart is fully set on having it custom ground. I am not happy about the shipping process. It is stupidly expensive. I went to great lengths to try to get a local nibmeister. So far, to no avail.

The Rembrandt is one of the first pens I purchased. I was immediately attracted to its creamy ivory colour and the metal section (I only own two black fountain pens. One I inherited and the other is the Namiki Falcon I purchased used). I bought it at a brick and mortar store and there is no reason whatsoever that it should have given me any problems. The fact is that I am quite shy and felt uncomfortable taking it back to the store. I was sure I was to blame for the hard starts and skipping.  My very first pen, purchased from Singapore, had had a bad nib. I simply was not comfortable enough in my own skin to realize that these were the outliers and not the norm. It wasn’t until I had quite a number of pens under my belt that I began to suspect that it wasn’t me. The Visconti would sit out rotation after rotation. Whenever I did ink it, its behaviour irked me so much, it quickly went out of the line again. It constantly hard starts and skips. It was impossible to produce an entire paragraph much less a page of decent writing with it.

To be fair to the brick and mortar store: I have no clue what they would have done\would do if I brought it back in. I expect that they would have helped me. I bought a Kaweco AL Sport Classic at Wonder Pens that was terrible. I went back a month later, without a receipt, to get buy a new nib for it. As soon as they heard the story, the pen went into the back room and was tweaked and fixed, no charge. I was impressed by this as I was fully prepared to purchase a new nib. So, I have no reason to expect the store I bought the Visconti from would be any less attentive. I think what I really want is the grind. Especially because I do not own an italic nib and yes, that is another milestone to achieve. Two in the bush is worth one in the hand in this parable.


Saturday Shopping

I bought my most expensive pen and my cheapest pen today. (I might have bought a Platinum Preppy in 2011 in which case that statement is not totally accurate but this might also be a false memory. Living in the age of Trump.) I purchased my first Jinhao. I have since gone to the WonderPen site and discovered that this is a Jinhao 188 with a medium nib.


I bought it so I could practice my nib smoothing (which is why I didn’t even bother to find out the model or nib size when I bought it). I think my first attempts at tweaking it worked fairly well and I am pleased with this ugly duckling. It is inked with Robert Oster Purple Rock. That is a mar right above the band. I didn’t even notice it when I bought it because I was still lingering in my mind on my new Platinum 3776 tortoiseshell celluloid. It is stunning. Will try to take a decent picture of it.

It has the same shape and nib as my Platinum Yamanaka but this is a fine. It does not have the same slip cap which is a shame but I am guessing that they couldn’t put it next to the celluloid material.

I finally bought a blotting rocker and some blotting paper (my birthday present–thanks mom and dad).