Posted in Stories

Doodling: Scribble absentmindedly, Stress relief and Creativity

Today I am going off-topic – not really, you’ll see – and discussing doodling.

Webster defines a doodle as “an aimless or casual scribble, design or sketch.” Sounds like a waste of time, correct? We’ll see about that. I do not view doodling as art, but many have made it artistic. If you perform a Duck-Duck-Go search for “Doodling+images” you find artwork…. don’t let that discourage you.

I am a doodler from way back. When I was a high school student in an Analytic Geometry class, I would doodle in the margins of my notebook. The teacher collected said notebooks to assess our “note-taking skills” for which we received a grade. Upon return, mine always included a comment about “doodling less and note more,” since I got an “A” in the class…. Anyway, isn’t this the dumbest thing to remember (guess I can thank the doodling)?

I credit the genesis of this post to the bloggers at Pam Alison Knits, and Your Friendly Malaysian Writer. I was discussing the use of outlines with Stuart and mentioned I don’t use outlines, I start with an idea and let it run wild, developing the outline as I go relying on imagination and inspiration. With Pam, we chatted about journaling and the use of stickers, NO stickers, doodle instead. WOW an epiphany, so I decided to reproduce a recent doodle focusing on the process (inspiration and imagination).

My Doodling

Changes in my “job” have precipitated the need to make use of journals to “plan” my week and manage tasks. I often doodle in the journal, or on scrap paper, or on whatever is handy.

On a Monday not long ago, I was preparing a to-do list and simply wrote down the word “Monday.” Several minutes later I decided Mondays should be banned, thus the “prohibited” circle (that is a pretty good freehand circle – don’t you agree). BTW, all my doodling is done with fountains.

Later that morning, while aimlessly updating the journal I decided the “ban Mondays circle” would make a great poster. Thus I boxed in the circle and made the decision the poster should be supported by a fictitious group the “Work Week Liberation Front” and of course a peace sign.

Quite happy with myself, and focusing on the doodle, I thought, should the sign be carried by an angry mob of stick people with pitchforks and torches or simply a sign attached to a post. As an angry mob was way more effort, and no mob would incorporate a peace sign. I decided it was best to nail the sign to a post.

A tattered second sign proclaiming my love of Mondays seemed in order. Not sure what the non-smilie face is, maybe a button/pin someone stuck to the sign.

This brings us to the completed doodle. Clearly, not artwork but I enjoyed the escape from the doldrums of a work week (full of none productive meetings) and happy with the results.

Stress Relief & Memory Recall

What a surprise, it appears doodling offers health benefits, primarily stress release. It is said that our brains work better with the structure of coherent stories, but sometimes there are gaps in these stories. Doodling helps fill these gaps by activating your brain’s “unfocus” synapses, giving your “focus” synapses a break, resulting in increased creativity and problem-solving. Doodling has also been shown to increase memory recall by as much as 29%. Feel free to doodle away during that next “important” conference call, plus it makes you look like you are taking copious notes.

Are you feeling “stuck,” can’t concentrate, or is your mind is wandering … it’s time to doodle.

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Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

The Color of Your Ink and You

Welcome to installment #3 of “What This Says About You.” Today we are going to look at the color of the ink you choose, its association with stuff, and what it says about you. In case you missed the first two installments I’m including them here:

Maybe you don’t give your selection of ink color a second thought, or maybe you select the color of your ink to match emotions, or maybe to match the pen, or maybe to suit the writing material.

In the broadest of terms, colors are grouped as either warm (red, orange, yellow) or cool (blue, green, violet). Warm colors evoke energy and excitement while cool colors are calming – guess that is why I prefer cool colors.

Personality Studies (so they claim)

Blue ink: people choosing blue ink, including the palest sky blue right to deepest dark midnight blues, are seen as having an outgoing personality, are friendly in nature with a warm and welcoming temperament. Are someone who conforms but still has a personality of their own.

Black ink: people choosing black ink are in charge of their life, the captain of their destiny, considered dominant and a force to be reckoned with. Possibly conservative and maybe a little uptight, rarely showing emotions, and thinking with their head rather than their heart.

Red ink: people choosing red ink are emotional, passionate, and love being the center of attention, everyone knows exactly how you feel. Emotions and their heart are worn on your sleeve! Someone who is creative and artsy and loves to experiment and try new things.

Typical usage of ink by color

Black is the ink choice of business. Projects professionalism, is often a requirement when signing legal documents and completing forms. Copiers and OCR equipment are better at picking up black ink.

Blue is the typical day-to-day ink. Blue ink is a pleasing and clear contrast to the black print on forms.

Red ink is used often used to correct or identify errors, and provide warnings! The use and impact of red ink is a blog post unto itself.

Green ink, back in the day was used for stocktaking and my preferred ink color.

Purple ink is often associated with poetic writing and literature. Historically, purple-colored ink was used to indicate power and sacred knowledge (royalty and religious orders).

The Skinny on Colors

  • GREY/WHITE: balance, neutral, clean, purity, innocence, perfection, timeless
  • PINK: romance, feminine, creative, sweet, cute, fun, sensual
  • RED: provocative, energy, urgency, excitement, passionate, powerful
  • ORANGE: youthful, creative, aggressive, action, fun, playful, lively, exuberant
  • YELLOW: optimistic, youthful, cheerful, happiness, friendliness
  • GREEN: plentiful, healthy, fresh, balance, relaxation, youth, growth, sustainable
  • BLUE: trust, honesty, security, intelligence, confidence, calm, stability, integrity
  • PURPLE: royalty, regal, soothing, imagination, wisdom, creative, calm, spiritual
  • BROWN: stability, simplicity, dependable, rugged, outdoor, natural, sustainable
  • BLACK: elegant, classic, powerful, luxury, dramatic, sophisticated, edgy, sleek

Just For Fun

Posted in Nibs, Stories

Nibs, Then and Now

Nibs, the business end of every fountain pen. Contemporary nibs and vintage nibs are cousins, opposed to siblings. The terminology used by one group doesn’t always accurately transfer to the other. Generally speaking, quality vintage nibs are held in high esteem compared to their cousins and there is a trend to add vintage nibs to contemporary pens to enjoy the characteristics and nostalgia of the vintage nibs, not found in contemporary nibs.

Pen markings

Contemporary nibs often have elaborate and intricate scroll work stamped or etched into the nib making that nib a piece of art unto its self. Not functionally necessary but it does provide an “ooh-ahh” moment for the owner.

Photo credit: Nibs.com

These nibs have a writing quality letter stamped on them. Round nibs typically fall into one of four tip sizes: Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B). Italics or oblique nibs are not round, they have an angled straight writing surface and are often associated with the same quality designation or in mm based on the width of the point.

Vintage nibs usually (Esterbrook being the exception), are imprinted with a single-digit number. This is the case from the 1880s up to WWII. These numbers have nothing to do with the writing quality of the nib, nor the size of tip (fine, medium, broad, etc.), nor the flexibility of the nib. The numbers indicate the size of the nib – not the size of the point.

It gets better, assuming the nib has a number, theses numbers are inconsistent from manufacture to manufacture. A #4 on one nib may equate to a #2 on another nib. Warranted nibs are notoriously inconsistent since they were produced by many different manufacturers.

Material

Early inks tended to corroded steel nibs, then with the introduction of fountain pens gold nibs are adopted as the standard in lieu of steel nibs because gold doesn’t corrode. Vintage gold nibs could be easily manufactured in various degrees of hardness and flexibility.

Gold and most steel nibs are tipped with an alloy, normally using metals from the platinum group to act as a hard, wear resistant, writing surface. Vintage nibs were initially tipped with iridium; however, Tipping alloys have not contained iridium since the mid-1950’s – due to its rarity and high cost. Osmium, rhenium, ruthenium and tungsten are most common in the alloys of today used to tip a nib.

The color of a nib does not indicate whether it is made of gold or steel. Nibs are available in steel, gold, and black colors. Some gold nibs are plated with a silvery metal like rhodium while some steel nibs are gold plated as a cheaper means to prevent corrosion from contact with ink. Real gold nibs will have an imprint specifying its gold content, usually 14K or 18K.

Performance

The primary difference between contemporary steel and gold nibs is the ability to flex. Flexibility occurs while writing, when pressure is applied causing the nib tines to spread, applying more ink to the paper.

The springiness of a gold nib will come down to it’s shape and how the gold was alloyed, more than the amount of gold it contains. Because a gold nib will naturally flex, the nib will have a little more “give” providing minor line variation – flexibility.

The smoothness and feedback associated with a contemporary steel or gold nib is the same because both nibs are using the same tipping material. The difference and cost is based on the material behind the tips.

Bottom Line

In the world of contemporary nibs, gold and steel nibs are readily available. Stainless steel nibs have retained the stigma associated with vintage steel nibs – being inferior and cheap. Those nibs manufactured in Asia (excluding Japan) are often of lessor quality than those manufactured in Germany. Assuming as consumers we purchase quality nibs, the difference between a steel nib and an identical gold nib is a couple hundred dollars due to the price of gold, and as a consumer, if the need or want of a flex nib is not needed then a steel nib is a much more attractive alternative.

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

fountain pens ARE for lefties

For transparency, I am not a lefty. If I misrepresent something or say something wrong, please call me out. There is no malicious intent, just ignorance.

It all began when I noticed that my future son-in-law is a lefty. I got to wondering how do or can lefties use fountain pens. Writing left in a right-handed world is a real challenge. For the lefty, as they commit words to paper – flowing left to right, their hand follow behind the words, and oops a real mess. Lefties have to push their hand across the paper instead of pulling it. Often resulting in the pen digging into the paper, but always ending with ink-covered hands.

Photo by The Heart Thrills

A popular belief is that fountain pens are not suitable for left-handed writers. Hogwash! Choosing the right pen, nib, ink, and paper make all the difference.

Left-handed people usually write with a peculiar angle referred to as“overwriter” or “underwriter.” Overwriters write with a sharper angle over the top of the writing line, while underwriters position their hand below the writing line. Underwriting reduces the pressure on the pen which will help reduce the ink flow and improve comfort.

Photo by Kelly Creates.Ca

Pens

Let’s dispel the notion that lefties must use specially designed fountain pens or nibs. There are special options available to assist the lefty, that will help reduce smudges and improving comfort.

Pelikan provides a number of left-handed pens or for the ambidextrous. For lefties, their ergonomic rubber grip promotes correct finger placement while the stainless steel nib has a little ball at its tip to better regulate the ink flow and keep the pen moving easily along.

Pelikan Pelikano

The Lamy Safari with its ergonomically shaped section and a slightly oblique left-handed nib make for a very satisfying left-handed pen.

Nibs

Waterman’s pens of the 1927 advertised a “Ballpoint tip,” on their fountain pens. Describing them as “suitable for left-hand writers”. Fast forward to now, as a general rule, avoid stub or flex nibs, they allow a larger flow of ink onto the page. Also, avoid fine tip nibs if an underwriter. Pushing the nib with a sharper angle can result in damage to the paper.

Lamy offers an LH Z50 nib, slightly oblique in favor of left-handed writers who tilt their hand.

Inks

Most fountain pen inks sit on top of the paper as they dry. This is great for everyone but a nightmare for the lefty. They need smooth (low viscosity) ink to help with the challenges of writing. These inks require less pressure for ink flow, thus more comfort and less exertion while writing.

The most popular fast-drying ink is Noodlers Bernanke. These are specially formulated to soak into the paper’s fibers. Worthy alternatives for consideration include Private Reserve (made by Yafa) line of Fast Dry inks, Birmingham Pen Company’s Crisp formula. DeAtramentis document inks, Platinum Carbon Ink, Rohrer & Klingner (iron gall inks), Pilot Iroshizuku and Pelikan 4001 inks.

Noodler’s Bernanke Ink

Paper

Most paper is coated to improve smoothness. A fully coated paper is slippery, making it difficult for the ink to absorb and dry. While the uncoated paper is often course, making it difficult for fountain pen nibs to glide across.

Given different ink formulations, drying time will vary by paper absorbency; however, a paper’s absorbency is inversely correlated with its smoothness. Simply said, paper that is more absorbent will be rougher to write on, thus increasing feedback through the nib making for a less comfortable experience for the lefty. The challenge is finding the balance between drying time and writing smoothness.

Paper favored for its “fountain pen friendliness” often takes longer for the ink to dry since the ink sits up on the paper and does not soak in. Paper by Rhodia or Tomoe River are renowned as great fountain pen paper as the ink does not bleed or feather but it can often increase dry time, some lasting as long as 40 seconds to dry. Also, consider Leuchtturm1917 paper as an alternative.

Review Pelikan Pelikano Jr.

LH Pelikan Pelikano Jr

I am pleased to provide the following review of a left-handed Pelikan by a lefty – my future son-in-law, Stephen. It is worth noting that this is his first time using a fountain pen.

“The occasional smudge happens but the way I have to hold the pen to get the ink to flow makes it less likely to smear. The ink flow is smooth but again, only if I am holding the pen at an angle basically coming from the southwest side if that makes sense. [he is an underwriter]

“I would say that there is occasional scratching on the downstroke but only when I am not holding the pen as mentioned. My biggest issue is with the grip, it is super low on the pen for the angle that works best so it has taken some time to adjust to that new grip.

“As a new user with no previous fountain pen experience, I have very much enjoyed writing with it. I have noticed, my handwriting is becoming a little larger in order to accommodate for the difference between the fountain and the ballpoint pen. Also, I’ve seen an improvement in my handwriting when using the Pelikan.

A quick follow up, Stephen drank the Koolaid and now owns 3 fountain pens, 2 Pelikans and 1 Lamy.

Posted in Collection

It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup?

What is old is New again.

Let’s start the new year off with an old friend, we’ll sort of. I’m inking up the Waterman Lauret I, which is new to me in 2021 but is 30 years old. By old friend, I mean this pen feels just like the Waterman Hemisphere in hand. If you recall, the Hemisphere is the pen that got me started down this rat hole. Also, I adding a little excitement and opened the Papier Plume ink Cafe Diabolique which I picked up on Fountain Pen Day.

Papier Plume‘s special FPD ink: Cafe Diabolique which was blended to be an exact match for Cafe Brulot, a trance-inducing after-dinner coffee ritual which is still being performed by a few old-school waiters skilled in the flaming at-table ritual.

What did Santa bring you?