What Makes The Stationery Community Great

That time when the Nock Co. party turned into a show and tell.

That time when the Nock Co. party turned into a show and tell.

(Daniel Lemay is an analog tool enthusiast and enjoys pondering over many things. You can find him on Twitter at @dslemay and his blog at Circumspect Reverie)

Less than 18 months ago I was on the outside looking in. I wasn't into pens or stationery, but decided to try out a fountain pen to see if it would help remediate growing RSI issues. I listened to the most recent Pen Addict fountain pen primer episode. Since then I have fallen deep into the pen, and other stationery, rabbit holes. Beyond that I have discovered what an amazing community there is here. As many have mentioned previously, the stationery community has been the best community that I have been a part of.

At the heart of a good community is a focus on the health of the people, the relationships therein, and an empathetic basis. The stationery community has this in spades. The welcoming and inclusive attitude of the community, even to an introverted fledgling such as myself, is one of its shining characteristics. Regardless of your current knowledge of stationery, people in this community have always been ready to help you find out what work best for you and troubleshoot problems. People are open and willing to share their knowledge and experience, and are overall excited to share and spread the love of good writing instruments.

Something that has always struck me as significant about the community is the care people have for each other and how giving they are. This is not a group of people whose connection to each other ends at the discussion of one's latest acquisition. They truly care about the people in it and come alongside both in the positive and more difficult moments. On one such occasion last year the community secretly orchestrated the funding, purchase, and delivery of a Nakaya for Mary Collis after she received news of her MS diagnosis. The accompanying note sums up the heart of this compassionate and caring community: "...This pen doesn't fix anything, but hopefully every time you use it it will put a smile on your face as you tackle all that lies ahead." Such care and support are something to be cherished.

I too experienced the sheer generosity of the people here. After saving up for months fairly early in my pen addiction I finally was able to purchase a Franklin Christoph Model 40. Less than two months into owning it, I somehow lost it (my most expensive pen at the time and the only one I ever lost). After sharing the sad news in the Pen Addict Slack Group I got an unexpected message from Thomas Hall offering to give me his Model 40 because he wasn't using it much. That was something that totally caught me off guard--that I, a nobody in my perspective, would be the recipient of such generosity from someone I didn't even know. The generosity of this community shows itself regularly through freely offering ink samples, picking up and shipping of Field Notes only found locally, etc.

Additionally, the stationery community is a great place where we can challenge each other and disagreements don't devolve into the normal internet vitriol. Conversations include TWSBI's build quality, the temporary transition of Noodler's ink to plastic bottles, Kickstarter snafus, the renewal of the Esterbrook brand, and more. Most recently, Ian Hedley began a great discussion about Pilot's product availability and significant price difference between the USA and the UK. It has continued with an official response from Pilot and Ian sharing some additional thoughts on Pilot's response here. Even amidst disagreement, conversations remain productive and respectful, which is the best we can ask for. A community where everyone agrees lacks diversity and the opportunity for growth.

The stationery community is not just a place where people share their nerdy obsession. Rather, that serves as the societal impetus bringing us all together. The community is much more than that. It is a place that is welcoming and works to cast off the notion of societal cliques. It is a place which avoids myopic behavior, where people care about each other deeply and are giving in spirit. It is a place where disagreement and civil discourse can take place. Ultimately, the stationery community is a place to be welcomed into, to belong, and to call home.

Posted on February 11, 2016 and filed under Pen Shows, Guest Post.

Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro Ink Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well-known for being great fountain pen inks, and I'm sure we've all tried our fair share of different colors from the brand. For many of us, some of our favorite inks come from this line, and for good reason.

I've long been a fan of their Kon-peki ink, which is a bright blue that pops off any page. But, it can be a bit too much pop for some moods. Another favorite color of mine for fountain pen inks is turquoise mixed with other colors to tone down the gemstone feel. Sailor Yama-dori is a wonderful ink, and I've recently come to love Franklin Christoph's Midnight Emerald. Both of these inks are dark, subdued, and expose beautiful levels of depth when writing. So, it was only inevitable that I try the Iroshizuku color that somewhat matches the same spectrum. In short, it's an exceptional ink with a beautiful color.

Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro is labeled as "Pine Tree Dew" on JetPens' site, which boils down to "Gray Turquoise." In this case, I think the word arrangement is perfect — it's definitely a turquoise ink with a bit of gray mixed in, not the other way around. There's plenty of color in the ink, but it's subdued enough to make it elegant and intriguing. I like inks that make you look twice or second-guess your first assumption.

If you've ever tried an Iroshizuku ink, you know what to expect. If you never have tried them, you're in for a treat. Like all other in this brand, the Syo-ro ink is smooth, quick-drying, and resists feathering and bleeding on pretty much all papers (with the exception being cheap copy paper). There's a fair amount of shading to create the beautiful level of depth in the colors, and it works well with a pen that has some flex.

I've tried some other green inks in the past that I hoped would match the characteristics in this ink. Sadly, most of them looked dull on the page after the ink dried. With Syo-ro, the color is still bright and present after the ink has dried. The color looks like it has life, which exactly what I want from an ink that I use daily.

Show-through, bleeding, and feathering are minimal with this ink. It's remarkably well-behaved in many circumstances, and it's gentle on your pens as well. Cleaning is an easy exercise.

Dry time on this ink keeps surprising me. In most cases on my Rhodia pad, I could only create a tiny smudge on the 10-second mark. This is very quick for a fountain pen ink, and something to keep in mind if that attribute is important to you. Keep in mind, though, that this will vary based on the nib and feed unit for every pen you use.

I really have nothing bad to say about this ink. Sure, the Iroshizuku inks aren't the cheapest, but that's for good reason. When you buy an ink from this line, you know that it will perform well. The only thing you have to decide is what color, or how many.

Syo-ro is available from JetPens in two sizes: a 50ml bottle and a 15ml sample bottle. With the 15ml bottle being half the price of the 50ml bottle, it's hard to justify choosing it. It might make more sense if it was a 25ml bottle to match the price difference, or if the price was more in line with a bottle that is only 30% of the larger one. At any rate, if you like turquoise and fountain pens, this is one you don't want to miss.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 10, 2016 and filed under Ink Reviews, Iroshizuku, Pilot.

Pen Addict Membership Update

Things have been going well with Pen Addict Memberships so far. Granted, I don’t have a baseline to make a perfect comparison, but I have been happy, and more importantly (as judged by my inbox) members have been happy.

Refill, the Pen Addict members newsletter, hit Issue #5 last week and I think it was the best yet. I was also joined by Dr. Jonathan Deans from Pen Economics in Issue #4 for the launch of “Dowdy And The Doctor”, a monthly mini-podcast (around 15 minutes) where we tackle interesting pen topics with an economic slant.

As a member, you get access to all of the back issues as well as all future newsletters. I’m trying something different with Issue #6, making a Friday travel diary as I head out to the Los Angeles Pen Show. I think I have the format set, but I guess we will all find out together on Saturday!

If you are considering becoming a Pen Addict member and supporting this site, you can find all the details, including a sample newsletter, on the Membership Page.

Thank you to everyone who has joined so far. It is greatly appreciated!

Posted on February 9, 2016 and filed under Members.

Uni Mitsubishi Vermilion and Prussian Blue Pencil Review

Seeing a two-tone pencil, especially one of the red and blue variety, takes me back. They seem like a cool relic of the 1960’s, although I assume they have been around much longer that that. If my memory serves me, I first ran across them in the 1970’s and 1980’s in my grandfathers art studio. It was one of those pencils that you only found on a table or in a desk there, giving them a bit of cachet in my young pen addict’s brain.

I liberated one or two over the years I’m sure, allowing me to double-blade long before Darth Maul made it popular. But they weren’t great pencils. The red was often too orange or too light, and the blue was similarly faint. Plus, I’m sure I would get in trouble turning in a school assignment in red colored pencil.

But red and blue two-tone pencils have an aura about them. If you see them in the wild, you know serious or interesting work goes on where they rest, more so than a desk full of yellow pencils or Bic Clics. Having one on my desk makes me feel like I am in Mad Men about to edit the new Coca-Cola ad copy.

The Uni Mitsubishi Vermilion and Prussian Blue Pencil is the first one I have tried in years, and I’m very happy with the results. Both pencil cores are dark enough, and the red isn’t too orange. The blue is softer than the red, so if you are using them in equal amounts the blue will need to be sharpened sooner. Also, don’t even bother with trying to erase them. That’s not happening.

This leads to another interesting bit about two-tone pencils. As if they weren’t unique enough, they come in different color proportions. This one is a standard 5:5 model, meaning the ratio of red to blue is exactly even. There is a 7:3 model available, with red taking on the lions share of the core. That’s the one my editor would need to use if I actually had an editor. Red would be all over the page.

And that is where the use case for two-tone pencils lies today. If you aren’t using them as a markup tool for editing, engineering, or teaching, you may be using them as a colored pencil for artwork and sketching. Outside of that, they aren’t a great writing pencil. A traditional graphite pencil will outwork them every day of the week. But they are cool. And they are old school. And they add a little bit of brightness and inspiration to any desk they reside on.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on February 8, 2016 and filed under Uni, Pencil Reviews.