Saturday, February 17, 2018

Analog in a Digital World

I have a day job and recently was part of a company gathering where the company president gave a speech. The speech really inspired me to make this post as it really fits right in my wheel house. Be analog in a digital world. What does that look like?

Nowadays, kids are tied to their phones as well as their parents. Whether it be for social media, email, cameras, shopping or texting, the digital age is here.

Being analog is what I grew up with and it is foreign to my kids. If we wanted to talk to someone, we would call them. If we wanted to buy something, we would go to the store. We played outside and read books. Notes were taken by hand with paper and pen/pencil. Letters were a part of everyday life.

I have seen us as a society become so enamored with the ease of the digital  lifestyle. I have also seen the small revolution happening that is bringing the analog back. Here is what I mean.

I grew up with the local mom and pop style business and I saw the birth of the giant conglomerates that ended many of those family businesses. I am now seeing the swing of the populace embracing the mom and pop business again and shopping more locally. I am seeing the resurgence of customer service and more writing being done. Heck, my son even takes notes by hand now.

Being analog is picking up the phone to work on a solution with a fellow co-worker rather than sending yet another email. Being analog is writing a thank you note to a customer or friend. Being analog is looking for more of the human contact rather than a computer keyboard or screen. Being able to call a customer service line and speaking with a person rather than traversing a maze of department options or talking to the computer voice lady who never understands what you tell her anyways.

At work I prefer to call a co-worker to work on a project or ask a question. I write letters and prefer to shop locally rather than a chain. Handwriting my notes while others type them in on a tablet is my preference and I love the analog ways even though I do enjoy the conveniences of the digital landscape. Do you?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Steel vs. Gold Nibs

This could be a touchy subject and I will preface this by saying this is solely based off of my opinions through my experiences. The writing experience is purely subjective from one person to another.

I recently had a pen pal mention to me that they are relatively new to the fountain pen world and so far, only have steel nib based pens in their collection. That got me to do some thinking on whether that is truly a negative or not and are gold nibs truly worth it.

I have pens in my collection with steel nibs and I have gold nibs as well but is there a discernible difference? In the community, gold nibs are labeled as being smooth and quite a game changer compared to their steel counterparts. My answer to this is it depends.

I have some steel nibs that are super smooth and I mean butter smooth. I also have some steel nibs that are a bit toothy, even for a broader tipped nib. I even have gold nibs that fit both ends of that spectrum as well. The manufacturer is the defining caveat here, in my opinion. 

Signum 18k Gold Nib
Platinum 3776 14k Gold Nib

Diplomat makes a steel nib whose smooth performance rivals any gold nib I have ever used. Platinum makes a rather toothy gold nib in the 3776 feels very steel like at times. Whether a pen manufacturer makes their own nibs or orders a branded version of nibs made by a third party like Jowo or Bock, the experience varies.

Diplomat Steel Nib

Goulet Steel Two-Toned Nib
Lamy Steel Black Coated Nib
 From my experience, gold nibs are generally more artistic in their presentation through fancy etching, scroll work, insignias and plating materials. Not to say that you will not find some fancy steel nibs but more often than not, the gold nibs are more decorated. Gold nibs seem to have a wetter flow over steel nibs. Sometimes the nibs will be plated with a different colored material to make it look black or even silver and sometimes the gold or steel nib is completely unadorned with the exception of a logo.

Pelikan 18k Two-Toned Gold Nib

Pilot 18k Rhodium Plated Gold Nib 

Edison Two-Toned Steel Nib

 Franklin-Christoph 14k Gold Nib

Is smooth writing the only consideration here? nah. Steel nibs are most generally stiff and rigid whereas gold nibs will usually have some give and this can be referred to a "springy" nib. I greatly enjoy a springy nib but I am not much for flex. 

Type of ink is something to consider as well and mainly on whether you plan on using Iron Gall inks or not. 

So what is my answer to this steel versus gold nib debate? Well, it depends. I tend to look at the entire pen and not just the nib material when purchasing a pen. How does it write? What is the flow like? Does it fit my hand? Is it balanced? What is the filling mechanism? All of these questions fill my mind when looking at a potential pen and not just the nib material. I will say that if a pen is highly priced, I do expect a gold nib to help justify the price tag.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Franklin Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic - Antique Glass

As most of you know, I really love Franklin-Christoph products and I especially love their customer service. Shortly before Christmas, Franklin-Christoph put a limited number of their model 02 and 31 pens,  in the coveted Antique Glass finish, up for sale. I already have a model 31 pen but the 02 was on my wish list and here it is.

 The 02 has an interesting design where the barrel tapers around the mid point of the barrel to the end of the pen. Pictures on the internet make this look very drastic and I was really not wanting one of these for the longest time based off of that. That all changed when a pen friend of mine purchased one of these in the Antique Glass finish from a waiting list. After writing with this pen and seeing how the taper is not as dramatic as online pictures show it to be, I wanted it. 

 As with most F-C pens, these are lightweight and well balanced. The 02 has a nice length for people with larger hands and it posts very deeply which is the purpose for the taper but I don't like to post, so no biggie. 

The nib is their broad offering in steel and it writes like butter on the page. It is a #6 sized nib and is quite juicy, just the way I like.

I had the option of adding a clip to the cap or going clipless. Since the 66 I have is without clip, I went without the clip here as well. I really prefer the clipless offering and it makes the removal from the pen case nice and easy. 

The Antique Glass finish is stunning and now I understand why these particular pens are so very popular. I ended up filling this pen as an eyedropper with Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire  which looks amazing with this finish. 

All in all I love this pen and it makes my 4th Franklin-Christoph writing instrument. At this rate, I may need to add one of each model to the collection. A very merry Christmas indeed!

This review is based off of my experiences and opinions. I do not represent Franklin-Christoph nor am i being compensated in any way.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Why Choose a Fountain Pen?

I have been seeing articles more and more lately concerning the rise in fountain pen sales both here in the United States and Internationally. This got me to remember a blog post I did early on called Why Fountain Pens? but what about from a different point of view? I put out a call to some of my fountain pen friends and one has responded and given me permission to use. Here is why my friend Chris loves fountain pens and chooses them over other instruments of writing.

"I considered myself a bit of a pen snob; my father had a good taste for nice ballpoint (and later gel) pens which I inherited (and would often "steal" his pens when able). I remember specifically mentioning being a bit of a pen snob to a co-worker a few years back, and it wasn't but a month or so later and he shows me a fountain pen. I was immediately enamored! I ordered one of my own at his suggestion, and once it arrived I was struck by how much joy it brought back to writing. I've even begun practicing calligraphy.

I've noticed a few benefits for myself by writing. First it's a stress-reliever. My mind is always going, and writing down my thoughts helps calm my mind down. Second I have experienced mental benefits in regards to thinking (forcing you to contemplate things as you write them), and to hand and eye coordination. In fact, I'd highly recommend public schools bring back handwriting to students.

Thanks to being introduced to fountain pens I now write almost daily, and don't even think about using a computer for taking notes. My handwriting has also dramatically improved, to the point where it's a little weird getting compliments on it as a dude. I also like the idea of using permanent inks on high quality paper. The idea of having your words continue on, short of fire or extreme water damage, is pretty neat. Handing your words down to the next generation, old school style."

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Crossfield A5 Notebook

Every now and then, I come across something new to me and this is one of those events. A friend of mine showed me their Crossfield notebook and I loved it. What did I do? Yep, I ordered one.

The Crossfield is obtained from Nanami Paper, which is a company located in California specializing in fine Japanese stationery. They have a wide selection of products but this notebook really caught my eye. 

It comes in this protective sleeve, which is a nice touch, and it adds a bit of class. I guess I am a sucker for nice packaging. 

The notebook itself, is more of a burgundy and the cover is semi-flexible coated fabric cover. The cover, binding and back cover are all the same color and material. That is my only complaint on this notebook. Until you open it, you are not quite sure if it is backwards or not. There is no indication on which is front or back.

The binding is stitched and the book does lie flat easily, which is great for an added writing experience.

The corners of the book are cut at an angle, much like the Franklin Christoph Firma Flex but is more gradual and not as drastic.

 The paper on this notebook is white Tomoe River at 52gsm and is in a grid layout. There is a bow in the upper right corner of each page and four rectangles at the bottom of each page which ultimately allows the user to use this notebook for a multitude of formats.

As with Tomoe River paper, it is super fountain pen friendly. Since the paper is the white version, there is more ghosting on the back of the page than the cream color but it still is not much, in my opinion.

This notebook has 480 pages of Tomoe River paper and the grid is 5mm. It is a great value for $24.00 + shipping, in my opinion. It is a quality book, with a huge amount of paper and it even ships with a full A5 sized sheet of blotting paper too!

This review is based off of my experience and opinion. I do not represent Nanami Paper nor am I being compensated in any way.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Papier Plume Samhain Limited Edition FPD Ink

Halloween has come and gone this year as well as Fountain Pen Day (FPD). My only purchase on FPD were a couple of inks from Papier Plume as one of these inks was a special limited edition for FPD inspired by Halloween. Samhain is a Gaelic festival that celebrates the harvest season and the moving into winter and is the inspiration for Halloween.

Papier Plume made this ink in a very limited quantity and they were going to be hand-outs to the participants at a get together for FPD. After an inquiry, I learned they would put about 30ish bottles on the website at noon that day so I was diligent and was able to get a bottle ordered.

The photo on the website showed a dark, murky purple ink and it looked amazing and so appropriate for Samhain, which is what the ink is called. When I received the ink, I was super disappointed as it was more of a greyish, faded purple than anything.

I then visited the Papier Plume website again to see if I was hallucinating the ink color and then I read the description. “It has great shading qualities going from a thin purple (the thinning of the veil) to a dark purple (the longer nights).  We've found best results in a wetter nib, or even some sort of flex nib.” Well crap!

I then swabbed the ink with a small paint brush and I was able to see more purple but it is still more muted and I also compared it to Bayou Nightfall which is also a greyish green color.

The only time I was able to get a darker purple out of this was when I had to prime the piston on a Twsbi Diamond 580 and 2 large drops of ink came out. Yes, the ink does seem a tad on the drier side.

I will say that the ink shades quite nicely and does have some saturation visible on certain papers. It is a decent ink but it was not what I was expecting and I am very disappointed. At this point, I doubt I will keep it. 

This is based off of my experience and my opinion. I do not represent Papier Plume nor am I being compensated in any way.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Franklin-Christoph Firma-Flex Journal Notebook A5

All of my faithful readers know I have really taken to the pens made by Franklin-Christoph but what about the notebooks? Well, I purchased one of them at the Dallas Pen Show and it is a wonderful notebook, plain and simple.

This is the A5 sized journal notebook which is always the size I prefer and it is in the graph format on the page. It has a very elegant and classy look and it is stitched together which adds to the entire quality of the book itself. I also love the celtic knot with the 4 diamonds debossed on the cover.

 The book is sturdy like a hardcover but is still semi-flexible, which  is a nice feature. The binding, much like the cover, is sewn and not glued so this book does lie flat for convenience and overall writing access. I also like the angle cut corners as it is a nice touch.

How is the paper though? That is a great question. The paper is quite smooth but with a very small hint of feedback. There are 96 sheets here for a total of 192 pages. The paper is pH neutral and it is also acid free but the most interesting aspect of the paper is that it is made from sugar cane extract. Franklin-Christoph has a secret paper formula and that is all I know about the intricacies here. What I can say is the paper does not feather, bleed or spread with ink and I tried a wide assortment of inks and nib widths here.

This paper also shows off nice shading in an ink as well as sheen.

It is another fine quality product from Franklin-Christoph and I will definitely be purchasing more as I fill up this one. A true pleasure to write in.

This is based off my experiences and opinion. I do not represent Franklin-Christoph nor am I being compensated in any way.