Wednesday, 29 April 2015

National Stationery Week Day 3: Sporty

I’m a big fan of Kaweco, and I really like the Kaweco Sport.


The “classic” sport is made of ABS plastic, not glamorous but tough. It’s pocket sized and lozenge shaped:


Once you post them, they’re a decent size.


They come in lots of different colours and formats — I have a black “guilloche” with an EF nib, and a burgundy one with an ink roller tip.



The nibs are great. They also come in different materials like acrylic and aluminium and carbon fibre and now brass. The only downside is the section and nib are both short so you’re either going to hold the pen close to the tip, or hold it around the section threads. That’s actually more comfy with the cheapo plastic pen than the (much) pricer Aluminium, so for everyday use I’d go with the cheap ones. You can still get decent replacement nibs.

Cartridge only, though. I’m using the nice-but-boring Royal Blue that came with the pen, and a Visconti red cartridge (because I wanted the fancy Bakelite cartridge case).


Apparently the little coin on the case was for displaying a corporate logo when the cases were given out as gifts.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

National Stationery Week Day 2: Flex It!


I really recommend a Noodler’s Ahab. They’re not the easiest to get hold of in the UK (but not impossible) but they’re cheap, you can completely disassemble them for cleaning, and you can flex them:


Which means you get some great line variation.



It also means you lay down a lot of ink, which will affect the colour of the strokes and in some inks (like this “Deep Dark Purple” from Cult Pens) you get sheen.



Not the best pictures, but you can see that the sheen is a really nice shade of dark green on top of the purple (don’t tell the Drazi).

The only issue with flexing is it takes so much ink at once that sometimes the feed can’t keep up. But also some Ahabs just don’t like some inks — it may have something to do with the ebonite feed, rather than a plastic one. Here it runs dry on heavy flexing.


Of course I was really pushing the flex on that one — normally when I write the result is more like the middle line. It still lays ink pretty wet, but that can work with e.g. laid writing papers. Gives a lot of character to the writing, even if you don’t know how to do copperplate.

Monday, 27 April 2015

National Stationery Week Day 1: Cartouche

It’s National Stationery Week!

Last year I found some Herbin Bouquet D’Antan which according to the website is

Bouquet d’antan: il s’agit des bouquets que l’on peut trouver chez des personnes agées. Cette couleur évoque la nostalgie du temps qui passe.

Or “It represents a bouquet that can be found at an elderly’s house.”

The cartridges I have are NOS as Herbin discontinued them a while back, so these have been sitting in a drawer, and losing water:


Seems to write OK, though, despite being more concentrated.


The pen is a Kaweco Dia2, which is very nice indeed. Great nibs that are cheap to replace, and take international cartridges so this is my main travelling pen.


Wednesday, 28 January 2015

20 Diamine Ink Chromatograms

Here are 20 chromatograms of the Diamine inks I own (yes, too many). The process starts with a white coffee paper cut into an approximate rectangle, spotted with the ink of choice, and placed in a shot glass with water in the bottom:



Here are the reds and oranges. Left to right is Amber, Sunset, Deep Dark Orange (Cult Pens), Ancient Copper, Deep Dark Red, Oxblood and Red Dragon. Interesting how close some of the inks are. Also note the pink part of the chromatogram (a pain to flush out of a pen) and by contrast how well the red moves with the solvent front.


Here are some greys and blues. L-R it’s Graphite, Grey, Eclipse, Deep Dark Blue, Deep Dark Purple, and Imperial Blue (another pain to flush).


Remaining colours are Hope Pink, China Blue, Meadow, Salamander, Evergreen, Deep Dark Green and Deep Dark Brown. Given how similar the dark greens are, it’s remarkable how different DDG is to Evergreen and Salamander.


The whole lot in a scan:


Top Row: DD Blue, Green, Brown, Purple, Red and Orange, plus Red Dragon, Oxblood, Ancient Copper and Sunset

Bottom Row: Grey, Graphite, Salamander, Evergreen, Meadow, China Blue, Eclipse (upside down), Imperial Blue, Hope Pink, Amber

Update — alternative scan:


Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Old and New Favourites

Weaveworld cover

Nothing like a bit of food poisoning to give you new perspective. For me it was the chance to re-read Clive Barker’s Weaveworld.

This is a book from my late teens, and like most teens I liked my flavours strong and not subtle.  It’s too long, the characters are mostly one-trick ponies, the prose is unnecessary, and the plot swings from being pedestrian to incomprehensible. Still, it resonates very strongly, mainly for Barker’s description of magic.

I prefer The Great and Secret Show (and Imajica, although I read that much later) for magical imagery, but Weaveworld has coloured my perception of what magic should appear to be in both fiction and games. I say appear, because I don’t think there’s any system behind the magic, it’s all texture and the effect it has on the environment. The closest we get to philosophy is probably the concept of Cosm / Metacosm / Quiddity in the books of the Art.

Compared to Immacolata’s  Menstruum and Gentle’s Pneuma, magic in D&D looks a bit agricultural. Barker’s mages usually either know innately how to do magic (the Seerkind), or they’ve seized it through hard work and sacrifice (the Jaffe, Swann), or have been gifted it (Shadwell). Mostly Barker writes about people using magic, rather than the magic itself.

This is probably why Mage: the Ascension appealed to me so strongly (and it cites Imajica in the bibliography). Unfortunately it’s mired in an awful system and an awful political structure, the same clans-and-tribes nonsense inherited from the earlier oWoD games. When I ran Mage the best fun came from mostly ignoring the rules and using the spheres as a rough guide, and pushing all the Traditions nonsense to the background (the characters were mostly Hollow).

I have no idea how magic works in a modern FATE driven game like Dresden Files. My preference is for something completely freeform; a bit like the Everway approach, if that weren’t so light and twee and goody-goody. And looking at FATE (which I have been recently) I’m not sure an Aspect driven game would work either. Of course being my new favourite thing WaRP has a lot of promise, with magic being described in the same loose sense as other Traits. The only downside is there’s not enough to lose; no sanity, no acquiring deformities through paradox, etc. I’ll work on that.

New Favourite: The Anachroneironaut

Now for a new favourite. My new favourite blog is the Anachroneironaut. Amazing gothic illustrations, lovecraftian houseplants, and ink. Check out this amazing piece of art inspired by Perdido Street Station.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Saturday, 18 January 2014

We Lived In Arizona

New year, new gear.

While I’m winding up to writing about the crazy number of games I’ve garnered recently (damn you, Bundle of Holding) here’s some very pretty ink from my favourite stationers Cult Pens (made exclusively for them by Diamine):


That’s Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Purple. Not a colour that I use much, but something about this shade of purple speaks to me. Not a lot of water resistance, but a fantastic green sheen when laid on thick.
Purple Sheen
To make up the free postage I added some of their Deep Dark Red to the order. I won’t do a proper review but just compare it to Oxblood and Red Dragon (which I’ve compared before):

Differences are very subtle, but I’m not surprised. Deep Dark Blue looks a lot like Diamine Midnight, too. I was going to refill on Oxblood anyway, and the DDR will do fine in its place. Very good for marking up documents.
The fat letters come from my new Pilot Parallel set (xmas prezzie). Fantastic fun, even if my script is a bit wonky.

For more info on the parallel this is Stephen Brown’s review:

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ink Review: Diamine China Blue

Diamine China Blue: a really nice, light but characterful blue. I’m not a big user of blue, and this one won’t make for a day to day ink owing to the light colour and poor contrast. Should be good for cards, though. It needs a wet pen, or even better a flex pen like my Noodler’s Ahab.

It looks a little more violet in the scan; trust me, on the page there’s no hint of violet. The ink is notable for changing colour over 24 hours as it dries (bottom swab is just applied, top has had a day to sit, middle has had about 9 hours).

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Noodler’s Zhivago

Zhivago is my first Noodler’s ink. Noodler’s has a cult status and niche production, so while everyone talks about Noodler’s, the product is difficult to get over here — at this time the only UK stockist is PurePens.

Very dark grey-green inks are my thing so I have both Diamine Graphite and Evergreen to compare to. Evergreen lightens over 24 hours which is why there are two swabs. Zhivago has excellent water resistance unlike the others.

Noodler’s inks are heavily saturated making them candidates for dilution — some recommend this for Zhivago to bring out the green tones, because otherwise it looks basically black. I have tried this and can say yes, the dilutions help but it doesn’t bring the colour anywhere near the green of Evergreen — the result is a slightly greener Graphite.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Autumnal Cheer

It was International Fountain Pen Day on the 1st of November, and I missed it. Never mind.

I met my mum for lunch and belated birthday presents, including a Minoan salt cellar, a new pen, and ink! The latter is Noodler’s Zhivago which I have yet to break into.

The pen is a Noodler’s Ahab, in the “Truk Lagoon” colour.

Ahab Konrad

That’s my Ahab above and my Konrad below. These are affordable flex pens that produce a lot of line variation with pressure (as you can see in the Diamine Sunset scan). I don’t know whether it’s bad luck or bad design, but the Konrad’s seating for feed and nib is clearly defective. You can see a lot of gap between section and feed, and the pen generally gushes ink. The Ahab doesn’t have this problem; one reason is that it has grooves for the nib to slot into.

Plenty of people love the Konrad and I prefer it aesthetically, but functionally the Ahab is better–from the filling mechanism to the fit of the parts (the Konrad is a piston filler, but it’s not great). The one thing the Konrad does better is post.

I filled Ahab with Diamine Sunset.


This is my writing sample:


I’ve both photographed and scanned the text. The reason for this is the scanner is very bad at picking up the subtle orange in Sunset which is really an orange ink. It looks almost red:

In short — I really like Diamine Sunset in very specific circumstances, but those are few and far between. It needs a wet pen but in a wet pen it’s no good for marking up on office documents on printer paper. If I use it at work in a dry writer it comes out light and boring, best used for hilighting only. It’s too bright for extensive notes.

While I’m on the subject of light inks, I also scanned Diamine Amber:


That’s my TWSBI mini with a broad nib. Here’s a scan, which is a bit more faithful:

Two fairly autumnal colours that are warm and cheering. I doubt I’ll ever get to the bottom of either sample bottle, but they’ll see some use in birthday cards.