Posted in Reviews, Stories

Eco Friendly Stuff, The Review

At the end of November on Cyber Monday, I highlighted some eco-friendly pen and journaling options. To be transparent, I do not have any vested financial interest in any of the products but I was intrigued and willing to try some out, thus I made some purchases.

For Christmas, my wife got me (she also got me a pen, imagine her surprise) eco-friendly pencils, a fountain pen, and a journal. Let’s see how well they did and what did they cost me.

Rainbow Recycled Paper Pencils, wood and plastic free.

The pencils write and act well… like pencils. I put one in an electric pencil sharpener, no issues there, it took a perfect sharp point. Some Amazon reviewers complained about this but I had no issues. I love the rainbow color. The pencil is made from recycled paper and is wood and plastic-free. The writing material is of premium #2 HB pencil lead, conform with EN71 and ISO9001. When I put the pencil to work, the point did not break (another popular complaint). I was sketching a plan for built-in bookcases, I feel I gave the pencils a good workout. At $1/pencil it’s not the cheapest alternative but I can find plenty of more expensive wood pencils.

Zenzoi bamboo fountain pen

The pen cost $24, is handmade, and is classified as a calligraphy pen! I’m not entirely sure why, as it came with a German medium iridium nib. In the Q&A section another purchaser described it as a medium-bold point pen nib, not flat like a calligraphy nib, it’s more like a Speedball B-6 nib. With a name like Zenzoi, yes it is made in China for Germany. The pen is considered eco-friendly because it is made from bamboo, which as we all know is grass.

Zenzoi, a bamboo pen in a bamboo case

The barrel has a smooth finish with just a slight textured feel. The two blind end caps are rough. I am fighting the desire to get out the Danish Oil and apply a finish to the pen.

The converter is the type that is just pushed into the section. At the end that operates the plunger-screw mechanism is easily detached allowing access for cleaning. In the spirit of being green, I inked it up with Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume. The ink writes wet, no sheen, and minor feathering.

Bayou Nightfall by Papier Plume

Vital Statistics

  • Capped length 145mm,
  • Uncapped length 123mm,
  • Barrel diameter 11.5mm,
  • Cap diameter 13mm,
  • Pen weighs in at 13g.

Decomposition Notebook

The Decomposition Notebook turned out to be a fake. I know Caveat Emptor but I got it from Amazon and assumed (yes I know about ass-u-me). The good news, is it only cost me $6 and it is no longer available. I recommend going directly to Decomposition where the books are 50%-100% post-consumer waste and printed with soy-based inks. I noticed a couple pocket or field journals, maybe I’ll get one, compare it to the fake, and review it.

On a side note, we have started using cloth unpaper towels in place of paper towels for most clean-ups. They are attractive, highly absorbent, and come in a pack of 10. Alternatively, I guess I could have used hand towels or dishwashing clothes but really, they aren’t as attractive, and honestly, they are not as absorbent.

The Unpaper Towels
Posted in Stories

The Genus of Ink

Whether you find yourself using a ballpoint pen, a gel pen, or a fountain pen, other than the color of the ink who really thinks about the ink?

This seemed like a good topic but once I got to researching the topic, reading the vast amount of information I decided this post would be an exercise in generalization and summarization. The amount of information is overwhelming and yes I am talking about ink for fountain and dip pens.

Fountain pen ink is water with dyes and other chemicals required for the proper function. The chemicals create the properties of the ink, including the surface tension or viscosity (wettability). While the saturation of the dyes provides the color. I know, duh!. Also, present are anti-bacterial chemicals so your ink doesn’t develop a life of its own while in the bottle. Of course molld does bad things to pens!

Types of Inks

There are many, many different inks for pens, so let’s group them as those for dip pens and those for fountain pens. Generally speaking, fountain pen inks do not play well with dip pen nibs. The ink flows too quickly off the nib, causing blotches.

For Dip pens

Art Inks

These are inks used for calligraphy and artwork or drawings. Types of inks that fall into this category include: Carbon inks like India ink and China Black made with fine particles of carbon or soot. And Pigment inks for colors (organic and synthetic).

Document Inks

For over a thousand years documents were written with iron gall inks. These inks rely on the chemistry of oxidizing iron. Usually, gallic acid is used to keep dissolved iron ions in the solution. When the ink is applied to paper, oxygen in the air oxidizes the iron producing a black oxide.

Writing Inks

These inks are not as robust, tending to fade with time. Aniline was one of the first synthetic dyes produced based on a solution of coal-tar dyes in organic solvents. Inks prepared from an aniline dye are dissolved in alcohol and bound with a resin.

For Fountain Pens

Dye-Based Inks

The aniline dyes used in fountain pen inks are organic in nature and subject to molding – just saying. These inks contain chemicals to wet the internal surfaces of the pen. The acidity of the ink has been adjusted to prevent the ink from drying out in the pen while quickly drying on paper.

Pigmented Inks

Traditional pigmented inks are hazardous to fountain pens, gum arabic, or shellac are added as a binding agent. Modern inks do not contain a binding agent and the ink particles are ultrafine. How fine you ask? So fine that molecular vibration called Brownian Motion keeps the particles in suspension.

Iron-Gall Inks

Most modern iron-gall inks should only be used in dip pens, they contain gum arabic. Other modern inks contain Ferro-gallic to increase the permanency of water-based inks. These chemicals are not as corrosive as gallic ink, but they increase the level of corrosiveness of the ink and can damage the nib and pen.

Cellulose-Reactive (Bulletproof) Inks

Bulletproof inks are based on dye technology, and cellulose-reactive chemistry to bind the dyes to the cellulose fibers in the paper or your clothes. Once the bond has been made to the fibers it cannot be removed – the ink stains the paper or your clothes.

Certified Document Inks

Pigmented, Iron-Gall and Cellulose-Reactive inks are all ‘Permanent’ but they are not legally certified to have those properties. De Atramentis Document inks and Mont Blanc Permanent Inks are certified permanent.

Expiration Date

Mont Blanc recommends replacing inks after 4 years because ink properties change with time due to gradual chemical reactions. Unless your ink has turned moldy in the bottle, there is no reason to stop using it.

Ink Staining Pens?

Inks in the red, violet, and pink range are more likely to stain the ink container and the nib section of the pen. The blue-tone inks are generally the least likely to stain. Ink transfers from the nib into the inside of the cap, then the cap is posted on the pen. Providing ample opportunity for ink from the pen cap to stain the body of the pen.

A good part of the “ink experience” is often summarized by how it flows. Always give your pen a good cleaning. Inks frequently leave residue in converters. If residue is in the converter, it is in the feed and nothing good is happening.

——————————- Reference Material ————————-