Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

Fountain Pen Day 11 Haul

This year I was planning on just buying a new ink, which I did but then I stumbled across a special offer on a Sheaffer Prelude. The pen was being offered (FPD only) at the bargain price of $25. Amazon offers it at $65. I hummed and hawed for several hours. I wasn’t in the market for this pen, or any pen really, just some ink. It got the better of me.

Of course, when checking out, the seller was nice enough to remind me that for a couple dollars more I would qualify for FREE shipping. That’s right FREE shipping. There is a sucker born every day. The next thing I knew two inks, and a Kaweco short converter has joined the pen in my cart. But I got FREE shipping.

Sunshine Orange

Gorilla Deep Maroon Red

Werewolf Grey

The ITF technology used by Monteverde is an additive to improve ink flow – I’ll let you know how that works out. Additionally, all three inks are due based inks, they are not waterproof, and lack sheen.

I was in the market for the converted – the Benu Skull pen uses short ones and I needed a couple more dollars on the order for FREE shipping! Looking back at this ordeal, I came to realized that FREE shipping cost me nearly 4x what I would have paid for standard shipping. My wife, being the compassionate soul that she is, reminded me that I am a gullible loser. Yeah, but a happy one.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

Last month I reviewed the Kaweco Student Demonstrator. I really enjoyed the pen. I liked the feel, how it writes, and the pen aesthetics but the cap clip worries me. The cap is a screw-on and I’m probably a little overzealous when tightening the cap but each time I remove it the pen clip bends to the left or the right. How easy the cap clip blends worries me.

I’ve mixed up the usual suspects this month. The Pilot Prera and Parker Duofold are still inked. I have rotated out the Monteverde Black Tie. Replacing it with the Benu Skull pen.

For November, I have inked the Benu Skull pen. Look the skulls are smiling. I just published my review, and I’m enjoying it. BTW, this pen made my Wish List for 2022,

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started September with a review of August. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how the pens from last month fared and recap the month’s postings.
  • Kaweco Student – School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days The Kaweco Student made my 2022 wish list. I stumbled across a Student demo model at a really good price. It did not disappoint.
  • Celluloid – Real, Fake & FIRE! In this last discussion of my favorite vintage pen materials, I am presenting celluloid. Celluloid comes in a variety of formulas, and all are flammable so why would I like it as a pen?
  • Stylograph Black Sometimes things look better in the picture than in person. SURPRISE! And what a surprise it was. Did I mention it also smelled?
  • Happy All Hallows Eve Not all pens are created equally. Some are inspired by our childhood dreams of piracy and adventure. Sound exciting matie?
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling inspired (or lazy). Today it was lazy, so I will dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. This time I am going back 97 yesteryears and presenting a Waterman 52.

In the News

Conid Pens of Belgium is back and selling their bulkfiller fountain pens with the aid of new business partner Penworld who will be operating the retail front and worldwide sales.

Cosmo Air Light paper being discontinued Nippon Paper, manufacturer of Cosmo Air Light, has announced production termination of a number of papers, by March 2023. Demand for these papers has become so small that it is difficult to meet the minimum lot sizes required for production.

Book Banning

Florida’s Official New Book-Banning Council Was Quietly Packed With MAGA Moms. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ “curriculum transparency” agenda, the Florida State Board of Education hastily assembled a council to create new restrictions for public school libraries and librarian training. Nominees with years of teaching experience were snubbed for self-nominated candidates including Michelle Beavers, the local chapter of the MAGA group Moms for Liberty.”

GOP candidate slammed at debate for obsession with book-banning. Michigan Governor candidates were asked how they would balance student access to inclusive literature with parental and teacher concerns. GOP candidate responded, “I stand with those parents that want to make sure we go back to the basics of reading, writing, and math in our schools.”

George M. Johnson’s young-adult memoir All Boys Aren’t Blue has become one of the most banned books in the U.S. The book is about growing up Black and queer. At least 29 school districts have banned the book because of its LGBTQ and sexual content. “Any time you write a book where you write about your truth, there are going to be people who want to silence that truth,”

Musings

During this holiday season, I was sneaky. For those of you who don’t understand, my daughter and I enjoy playing Halloween pranks on each other. She got me with spiders last month so I retaliated by decorating a doll to scare her. Dolls and clowns are some of the scariest things.

This year I used a porcelain doll. I placed it in her car, on the passenger floor. She puts her stuff on the passenger seat. I’m adding a before picture of the doll just to appreciate the transformation.

So I ask, would you be startled or scream if you found this doll in your car?

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Refurbish

#ThrowbackThursday

Oops, I’m doing it again. I had a different topic planned but I’m not feeling inspired (or maybe it is lazy). I’ve dug up and am sharing an original post from yesteryear. Don’t worry, I’ve corrected the spelling and grammar issues, plus I polished up the story a bit but only just a bit.

This Throwback Thursday post is going way, way back. I’m presenting my Waterman Ideal 52 vest pen – it is 97 years old. (Click the Ping Backlink to read the full story.)

Waterman Ideal 52 Vest pen

It is made of black chased hard rubber (BCHR) and shows significant signs of sun damage plus the nib appears to have some damage. The nib is an oddity, the pen came with a #2 Mabie Todd opposed to a Waterman #2 nib. The nib is over a Waterman feed with what appears to be the letters “ST” above the numbers “17 16.” I determined that this design is detailed in patent 1,201,951A and the mysterious markings are the patented date Oct 17, 1916.

It looks really ugly above, but it cleaned up nicely. Just click the link to read all about the process and see the refurbished pictures.

Comments have been turned off. If you feel so inclined please comment on the original post. Thank you!

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Stories

Celluloid – Real, Fake & FIRE!

In this last discussion of my favorite vintage pen materials, I am presenting celluloid. Why do I like celluloid you ask. Unfortunately, that is a detailed answer you see. There are two kinds of celluloid; one made with cellulose nitrate and another made from cellulose acetate. I have both but I prefer the cellulose nitrate. It has a warm feel, much like ebonite, and a pleasant camphor fragrance. It’s much easier to generate vibrant colors and interesting patterns.

Cellulose nitrate (Real Celluloid)

The primary ingredient of celluloid is cellulose nitrate. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. Obtained primarily from wood pulp and cotton to produce paperboard and paper. Nitrating cellulose through exposure to a mixture of nitric acid and sulfuric acid produces highly flammable cellulose nitrate.

Parker Vacumatic and Duofold in Celluloid

It was initially used as guncotton, a replacement for gunpowder. Cellulose nitrate was also used as a low-yield explosive in mining. So naturally, it should make a great medium for manufacturing pens – once it is plasticized with camphor, celluloid’s other essential component.

Spontaneous combustion is always a possibility; however, the most common failure of celluloid occurs as it ages. Exposure to the environment allows the camphor to sublimate at room temperature, reverting the celluloid to Cellulose nitrate. Another sublimation associated with exposure to excess heat affects nitrate.

Cellulose acetate (Fake Celluloid)

“Cellulose acetate is most commonly prepared by treating cellulose with acetic acid and then with acetic anhydride in the presence of a catalyst such as sulfuric acid.”

Onishi Seisakusho Celluloid Acetate pens photo credit Jet Pens

Cellulose acetate was made by dozens of companies with different brand names and formulations. According to Lambrou’s Fountain Pens of the World, there are four different cellulosic plastics used in fountain pens:

  • Cellulose Nitrate (real celluloid)
  • Cellulose Acetate
  • Cellulose Propionate
  • Cellulose Acetobutyrate

I ask, is cellulose acetate, etc. real celluloid? It is still being manufactured and called celluloid. Or is the determination of celluloid made because of cellulose?

Now for the bad news, both nitrate and acetate are classified as flammable substances, and subject to transportation restrictions plus storage and handling regulations. For this reason, contemporary celluloid pens are very uncommon; however, Italian companies, Montegrappa and Visconti manufacture pens from celluloid as does Onishi Seisakusho in Japan.

Fun Facts

  • Early billiard balls made of cellulose nitrate were known to explode occasionally.
  • Cellulose nitrate-based film has spontaneously ignited and that which has not burned has in a large part decomposes to red powder.
  • Allegedly a prisoner explodes a deck of celluloid playing cards to facilitate his escape.

How can I tell?

The simplest way to determine if celluloid is real is to take a whiff, it is all about the fragrance. Wet the pen and rub hard creating heat. It will not smell like plastic but like camphor. Honestly, I have no idea what camphor smells like but I can tell you a celluloid pen does not smell like a petroleum product, or a solvent.

You can also test by burning shavings. Acetate will have a vinegar smell and burn yellow while nitrate will smell of camphor and burn white. Yellow vs white seems like an inconclusive test.

For those with access to a microscope, place a shaving and lace on a glass slide. Add a droplet of acetone. If celluloid, it will promptly dissolve; casein, Bakelite, and acrylic will be unaffected. This test won’t tell us if the celluloid is real or fake.

Waxing

Waxes have not been shown to benefit hard rubber, while they can damage celluloid by preventing the escape of the acidic gas by-products celluloid naturally produce. The wax seals the celluloid, preventing the nitrocellulose gas from escaping, it is retained in the celluloid hastening decomposition.

In conclusion, I test by smell. I like real celluloid because it has a warm feel and it smells good. To me, the aroma is earthy with a medicinal undertone.

Reference Material

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Reviews

Kaweco Student – School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days

The Kaweco Student made my 2022 wish list, though my interest was in the Student pen with the green cap. As we all know, I am a sucker for a deal and stumbled across a Student demo model at a really good price. I couldn’t say no.

Company Backstory

Kaweco is a German brand of writing implements, originally introduced by the Heidelberg Pen Company for its dip pens line in 1889. Kaweco became a public limited company in 1921, with an annual production of 130,000 fountain pens.

The company went bankrupt in 1930, Knust, Woringen & Grube (KWG) purchased the Kaweco company name, machines, stock, and patents. After the death of Frederik Grube, the company languished indeterminate until another bankruptcy in 1981. The brand was acquired in 1994 by the cosmetic company H&M Gutberlet Gmbh.

My Pen

As mentioned I purchased a Kaweco demo Student pen not the green one on my wish list. The pen is made from polished injection-molded acrylic with brass metal parts that are chrome plated, a stainless steel iridium-tipped nib, and accepts standard universal cartridges or converters. The pen is inspired by a design from the 1920s and ships in a retro gift tin. Ok, it’s not vintage but it is vintage-inspired.

Why demonstrator, welp the transparent design lets you see the internals, how much ink is left inside, and I think they are cool.

The clear acrylic barrel is crisp and clear while the chrome trim makes it pop – setting off its beauty. Not everyone likes a chrome or metallic section, that includes me but this demonstrator is the exception.

The barrel is not straight, it slowly tapers out to about mid-way then tapers inward to the end of the barrel.

The pen comes with 2 ink cartridges, of which only one is full. Good thing I have a syringe to refill the cartridges. I did find a converter at a really good price but I have put it off until refilling the cartridges becomes a problem or I simply get fed up. The pen accepts standard universal cartridges or converters but I’ve read reviews claiming this is not true. So make sure the converter is clearly approved for the Student.

The Kaweco logo is found on the end of the cap, the nib, and the feed.

The nib is stainless steel iridium-tipped nib. It is decorated with an etched scroll, the company logo, and the nib size, BB.

Time to insert the Royal Blue ink cartridge and give it a go. Compared to the Pilot CM nib the Kaweco BB is a pleasure and I like the CM nib.

Der Kaweco Student Demonstrator ist ein wunderbarer Stift. Ich habe einen neuen Favoriten und eine Lizenz zum Schreiben.

Vitals Statistics

  • Capped length, 131mm
  • Uncapped length, 119mm
  • Barrel diameter, 13mm
  • Cap diameter, 14.5mm
  • Weighs in at 26g

——————— Reference Material —————

Posted in Pens, Reviews, Stories

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

Last month I reviewed the Monteverde Black Tie. I liked the feel and enjoyed how it writes but hated the pen. The cap would not stay securely attached resulting in an accident whereas I bent the tines. It’s a nice writing pen that cannot be trusted.

I’ve mixed up the usual suspects this month. The Pilot Prera is still inked and in use but I have rotated out the vintage Esterbrook J, and the Scrikss 419. Rotating in the Black Tie and the Duofold.

For October, I have pulled out the Kaweco Student Demonstrator. This pen made my Wish List for 2022,

Did you miss any of the past month’s blog posts? Welp, here is your chance to catch up…

  • It’s a new month, what’s in your pen cup? Let’s see how I started September with a review of August. It’s a new month and time to shelve your current choice of pens in favor of new pens or those that may be long forgotten and feeling neglected. Also, let’s review how the pens from last month fared and recap the month’s postings.
  • Conklin Crescent Model 50 My pen is a Crescent Model 50 (aka S5) with a #5 nib and surprise it was in working order when I purchased it. The pen dates from 1918-1920. Looking good for her age.
  • “Black Tie” Optional I decided to delve into the Monteverdi catalog of pens finding the Black Tie. Unlike many pens, this one is made of carbon fiber and lots of chrome.
  • Casein “the most beautiful of plastics” Casein is a milk-derived plastic used to manufacture pens in the 1920s. It was very popular in England but never found an audience in the US.
  • Fountain Pen Ancestry, A Story Waiting to be Told I am highlighting the ancestry of 3 pens inscribed with their owner’s name. Maybe I have an overactive imagination or am hopelessly sentimental, each holds a story waiting to be known.
  • #ThrowbackThursday From time to time when I’m feeling inspired (or lazy), I will dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. This time I am going back 90+ yesteryears and presenting a pen by George W Heath – bet you haven’t heard of him?

In the News

Beyond the keyboard: Fountain pen collectors find beauty in ink, The Washington Post sends a Philistine to the DC Fountain Pen Super Show. “Billed as the world’s largest. Display areas … teemed as pen enthusiasts made their way along aisles, testing nibs with calligraphical flourishes and holding the barrels of pens carefully in their hands….”

‘Oh God I hate this’: King Charles expresses frustration over leaking pen, “The new monarch was shown signing a visitor’s book in front of cameras at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast. He reacted after the pen he was using leaked on him….”I can’t bear this bloody thing … every stinking time,” Charles said as he walked away.”

Book Banning

Featuring book banning stories on Books of Brilliance.

Book Banning has Gotten Out of Control in the United States

“Book banning has been around for a long time but over the past year or so, it has increased tenfold. Many parents don’t want their kids to be reading certain books in school or libraries…. From July 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022, 1145 books have been banned in school districts all over the United States”

LeVar Burton is not a fan of Book Banning

“I’ve been very, very, very clear about my position. And I’ve been very vocal. Read the banned books, ya’ll. If they don’t want you to read it, there’s a reason why. So read the books they don’t want you to read…”

Girls Who Code Founder Shocked By Book Being Banned

Pennsylvania’s Central York School District banned Girls Who Code without providing a reason for the ban. “They don’t want girls to learn how to code because that’s a way to be economically secure.” Reshma Saujani, the book’s author.

Musings

I have been searching for a vintage Conway Stewart casein pen and I may have found a couple. One includes the original manufacturer’s instructions which clearly specify “do not soak the pen in water,” but the color is meh. Another has colors that are impressive but the clip is heavily brassed. The search continues.

The Fall Equinox has come and gone thus begins the “holiday season.” The other morning I awoke to discover our kitchen had fallen victim to an infestation of plastic spiders. Last year I put 100 plastic spiders in our daughter’s bed – between the sheets. I did this one night when she working late at the hospital. We enjoy the Halloween season.

Also during the previous “holiday season,” I made up a doll to resemble Annabelle.

I crept into her house and strategically placed the doll on the back edge of the tub so that when she looked into the mirror she would see the doll behind her in the reflection….

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Stories

Fountain Pen Ancestry, A Story Waiting to be Told

Good morning, yesterday.
You wake up and time has slipped away.
And suddenly it’s hard to find.
The memories you left behind … -Paul Anka

Tomorrow (27 September) is Nation Ancestor Appreciation Day – yes there really is such a thing. To commemorate, I am highlighting the ancestry of three of my pens. Maybe I have an overactive imagination, or hopelessly sentimental, both I’m sure, but each holds a story waiting to be known. So without further delay allow me to present the ancestral story of each pen.

1928 Parker Duofold Jr. (1921-1934)

Ellwood Arthur Leupold was born in 1906 to Gustavus & Paulina (Padorf) Leupold (first-generation German immigrants) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

When Ellwood landed his first “real” job as a draftsman for the telephone company he also invested in a decent writing instrument. He bought a Parker Duofold Jr (circa 1928). This investment cost him $7, equivalent to $105 today – a significant investment for a 22-year-old.

Ellwood subsequently accepted a job clerking at the Corn Exchange National Bank; I’m sure his Duofold followed. In 1945, Ellwood (39) married Mary T. Cuta (31), the daughter of Basil and Stella Cuta of Poland. The couple set up house with his parents in the Olney neighborhood of Philadelphia, where they remained for the remainder of their lives. By 1950, Ellwood accepted a new position, this one with the Bureau of Water as a draftsman. Sadly, the couple did not have any children. Ellwood died in August 1985; Mary survived him by 31 years, passing in 2016 at the age of 102.

1950 Philadelphia Census

Esterbrook Dollar Pen (1934-1942)

Doris Isabelle Stirratt and her twin sister Donna, were born in 1922 to Chauncy & Theresine Stiratt of Crookston, Minnesota. As the Great Depression drew to a conclusion so did her days in high school. Doris landed a job as an assistant teacher in the Beltrami County, Minnesota school system as part of the “New Deal” National Young Administration School Project.

You can’t start your first professional job and not be prepared, around this time Doris purchased an Esterbrook “Dollar” pen.

But teaching was not her thing, in 1947, Doris accepted a position with the Beltrami County government. A couple years passed and she met a charming young doctor just starting his practice (Grant “Bob” Garlock, MD), they were married in May of 1950. The couple managed 3 children before Grant was recalled to active duty in the US Army, commissioned a Lieutenant, and deployed to Korea.

Doris had artistic talent, to supplement a Lieutenant’s pay, Doris agreed to illustrate a science textbook for Professor Alfred M. Elliott, of the University of Michigan. Zoology was published in 1952, crediting Doris Stirratt Garlock for her wonderful drawings and unbound patience with him.

Of the many drawings in the textbook, this one caught my fancy as it included a slide rule. I’m sure everyone knows what a slide rule is.

After Grant’s return in 1953, their 4th child is born and Grant accepts a position at State Hospital for the Insane in Fergus Falls, Minnesota. This apparently did not go over well with Doris and Grant remained in Beltrami. He announced his intent to take the position in Fergus Falls the following year but this also did not happen (happy wife, happy life). In the summer of 1969, two of the Garlock children join or took over the medical and surgical practice their father was associated with in Beltrami.

Doris is elected Beltrami County Treasurer in 1965, a position she holds until her retirement in 1977. This is where things get odd. At her retirement, the local newspaper quotes Doris as saying her husband “Bob” died in 1976 yet he clearly did not. He was living in California.

It appears Bob moved to Ojai, California in 1969, hence the reason their children entered his practice? After her retirement, no more Minnesota winters for Doris, she joins her husband in California, living first in Napa County before heading south to Ventura. Her husband dies in December 2009, and Doris survived him by 6.5 years.

Sheaffer Snorkle (1952-1959)

Iris Imo Simmons was born in 1904 to Erwan & Rosa (Banner) Simmons of Le Roy, Illinois. Unfortunately, she never got to know her mother, as her mom died several months after her birth. Subsequently, the family moved to Missouri, thus beginning her Odyssey. Imo, as she preferred to be known, attended school in both Livingston & Linn counties. Imo, her sisters Bebe and Edith left Parson Creek, Missouri by 1930 for Le Roy, Illinois where Bebe and Imo taught in the school system while Edith finished high school. Imo completed 2 years of college by 1940. She remained in Le Roy until the early 1950s, moving to Bloomington where she enrolled at the Illinois State University, graduating in 1956, having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Bursting with pride, deserving a reward for all the hard work or maybe it was a gift. Either way, Imo became the owner of a Sheaffer Snorkle fountain pen.

She remained in Bloomington until the early 1970s whence she retired to Memphis, Tennessee. Thus, reuniting Imo with her sisters, Bebe and Edith.

After her sisters passed, Imo moved to a nursing home in Wheeling, Missouri in 1992. A year later during the Christmas holiday, she passed. At the age of 89, Imo had outlived all her siblings (4 sisters and 1 brother). She was laid to rest in Meadville, Linn County Missouri.

Old stuff is not so boring after all.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Pens, Stories

#ThrowbackThursday

Oops, I’m doing it again. The good news still – this isn’t going to be a regularly featured post, only when I’m feeling inspired (or lazy) I will dig up and share an original post from yesteryear. I opted for an unusual pen, from a manufacturer not known for their pens. They made beautiful overlays. Corrected the spelling and grammar issues, plus I polished up the story a bit but only just a bit.

This Throwback Thursday post is going way, way back. I’m presenting my George W Heath lanyard pen. It is 90+ years old and there is a lesson to learn. Click the Ping Back to read the full story.

Geo W Heath before I “restored” it

This pen has the phrase “Blue Bird Ring” prominently imprinted above the company logo. In the 1920s, Stein & Ellbogen of Chicago used the trade name “Bluebird Diamond” to market their bridal line of rings. Could this pen belong to the Stein & Ellbogen company? Can’t you just imagine a salesperson helping some nervous young man pick out the perfect engagement ring. Afterwards using this pen to write up the sales receipt?

Comments have been turned off. If you feel so inclined please comment on the original post. Thank you!

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Material, Pens, Stories

Casein “the most beautiful of plastics.”

Casein aka Galalith (from Latin caseus, “cheese”) is a milk-derived plastic, susceptible to moisture. A synthetic plastic derived from 80% of the phosphoproteins in cow’s milk, and formaldehyde. It is rarely seen in American pen production; however, it is more commonly found in UK pens.

Identifying casein can be done by appearance and smell; rather than camphor, casein smells like antler, horn, or ivory, or vaguely like scorched hair. It appears more dull than celluloid and the curing process creates wavy striations. Alternatively, try the feel and color test. Is the pen a Conway Stewart model, highly colored and has an irregular colorful pattern? If the answer is yes to all these, it could well be casein. Hold the pen in your hand, does it feel warm to the touch? Yes – chances are it is casein.

Casein has been described as “the most beautiful of plastics.” It takes a wide variety of colors including delicate pastel shades, pearls, and mottles, and can imitate tortoiseshell and horn.

Do’s and Don’ts

Never, ever, never soak a casein fountain pen in water to remove ink stains or dried ink. Casein will expand by about 10% and become very soft losing its shape in as little as 2 hours = damaged beyond repair.

In his memoir, Walter A. Sheaffer recounts how Sheaffer once produced a line of colored casein pens which proved quite popular until the Midwestern summer caused the casein to swell and the sections fell out. The heat was identified as the cause. But I’m willing to bet the high humidity was most likely the cause.

Casein does not seem to be the ideal material to make fountain pens but it does produce BEAutiful pens. How about these three?

Photo credit: MVBurke.com
Photo credit: Peytonstreet pen

Conway Stewart is the manufacturer most often associated with casein pens. They only recently (by 2010) shuttered their casein pen production. Their remaining casein pen blanks were sold off to independent pen manufacturers.

Photo credit: Peytonstreet pen

Make you own

There are people who make their own pens. Some do this for fun, while for others it is a vocation. Both invest in equipment and supplies. I have found casein “blanks” as well as casein look-a-like blanks for pen manufacturing.

Some of the Conway Stewart casein blanks are absolutely stunning. The point is if you make pens, you can use this material (I would really enjoy owning a casein pen – just saying).

Casein is a “compressed form of the primary protein from milk,” what should the DIY pen guys consider when working with this material? I found a very informative thread on the International Association of Penturners (IAP) website, which I will summarize.

  • Working with casein is not always the easiest, it is not very strong.
  • At all times keep the material cool, use a spray bottle of cool water with each step.
  • Do not drill or turn at high speed – use a slow speed.
  • Use sharp carbide tools.
  • Slow-speed sanding or the casein will burn (turn brown) and smell like burnt milk!
  • The most important word of advice… be patient…take your time.

If you have small kids and enjoy home science projects, welp, I have a project for you. Make your own casein.

Owning a casein pen comes with responsibilities. As an owner, it is imperative you gain an appreciation for the qualities that make this pen unique. I do not own one but one day I will find a Conway Stewart casein pen that wins me over.

If you own one please chime in, I’d love to learn of your experiences.

————————-Reference——————-

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Collection, Material, Pens, Stories

Ebonite; Mottled, Woodgrain and Ripple

What is Ebonite….
The name “ebonite” comes from “ebony” and is black in color (duh). Yet it is clear brownish-red in thin-film form and brownish-red in powdered form. Also known as Vulcanite, it is warm to the touch, a durable medium, and provides excellent electrical insulation and machinability. Great, I’ll remember that next time I’m working with live electrical wires. Ebonite is sometimes called “hard rubber,” manufacturers in Germany and Japan often distinguish ebonite that is hardened with fillers from “natural” hardened ebonite.

Eco-friendly benefits of ebonite, it is manufactured with natural rubber collected from gum tree sap, and the tree is not cut down. Gum trees have a high absorption rate of carbon dioxide.

Ebonite is produced by a chemical reaction of combining rubber and sulfur molecules in a process known as “vulcanization.” Ebonite may contain from 25% to 80% sulfur and linseed oil. The process is accelerated by applying heat and pressure of steam for several days. The result of the process is low-elastic, very firm vulcanized rubber Interestingly, soft ebonite prior to vulcanization becomes ultra hard rubber afterward. When the surface of ebonite is polished, it gives a beautiful, lacquer-like gloss.

Why do I love ebonite pens, especially those that are dyed or mottled, etc. Welp, when the surface of ebonite is polished, it gives a beautiful, lacquer-like gloss. Secondly, the pen has a natural warmth to the touch, unlike contemporary acrylic, plastics, or vintage celluloid which are cold. I am particularly fond of ebonite which is mottled – mixing colored rubber with standard rubber in the vulcanization process.

Following careful mixing formulas, ebonite rods can be drawn in a spiral fashion to produce a variety of appearances and styles.

Mottled

As the technique gained popularity, pen makers in the 1920s produced elegant woodgrain pens.

Woodgrain

Expanding the woodgrain design, in 1926 Waterman introduced a flow pattern, called ripple. The only other company to produce a true ripple was Platignum.

Ripple

Ripple in still water. When there is no pebble tossed. Nor wind to blow
~ Jerry Garcia

Ripple was immensely popular and available in a variety of colors such as olive, rose, and blue-green. Contemporary mottled ebonite rods available to indie pen manufacturers come in a fantastic range of colors. The rods are readily available from manufacturers in India, Japan, and Germany.

Unfortunately, black ebonite is susceptible to sun and water damage. I have not encountered this with mottled, woodgrain, or ripple ebonite pens. Maybe I am just lucky. Please feel free to leave comments detailing your experiences with mottle ebonite, etc.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2022 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.