Handle with Kids’ Gloves

Growing up I don’t really remember alot of things that came in a KIDS version. Maybe because I was kid and it didn’t really matter until I grew a little older and found my big sister getting the adult size frosty and I still got the kid’s size. I remember getting that crossed eye look on my face trying to figure out how many more years I had to grow before I got the big ones. Based on my waistline today I have made up for all those mini sized travesties in the Wendys drive-thru.

McDonalds has it right too, the Kids Meal is the same food as mom and dad gets just smaller quantities. Home Depot and their kids’ tools? not so much…..OK OK I get the argument of safety but it didn’t take me long as a kid to figure out my hammer, wrench and screwdrivers did not perform like dads. I think another company who’s done it right is Pelikan with their Pelikano Junior fountain pen.  Tailored towards the grade school crowd just learning how to write it’s really a great pen.  I find it encouraging with all the media surrounding the demise of cursive handwriting in school that we see a real pen company still offering a real pen for kids.


The body is big, bold and colorful. The nib is nothing to look at but out of the box mine was aligned and the experience was very smooth. As good as any of my Lamy’s or TWSBI’s.  Another really cool feature is the small window in the body where the owner is encouraged to put their name on a little slip of paper inside the barrel so it shows through the window. Very cool.

I have purchased one of these for my 8 year old and 10 year old for their first fountain pens. They like them a lot and so far have taken real good care of them. It only takes cartridges so my kids have already figured out they can refill the old cartridge with some of dad’s fancy ink colors when they run out. Speaking of the ink it’s a very nice shade of blue, dried quickly and no bleed through or smearing on all the paper I tried.

All in all a great pen for child or equally great as a tough knock around pen for purse or pocket that won’t break the bank.

Maybe I could write to McDonalds and convince them to put a $15 pen as a prize in a $3 Happy Meal.

What is your child using?

Remember to write something nice.

Leaded or Unleaded

I’m curious as to how this euphemism got associated with Decaf coffee but I digress in the first sentence. My first car was cheap enough and actually sporty enough, a 1969 Pontiac Firebird with a 6 cylinder that was some type of aluminum block performance thing that required premium leaded fuel. If anyone was actually reading this blog they might not be old enough to remember leaded fuel, much less the super high octane premium variant. I was always in search of a gas station that sold it before giving up and returning to my neighborhood station that I believe jacked the price up just me because they knew that’s all my car would run on.

Such as been my search for new pens lately that I find myself trolling the internet for great pen bargains but returning to my favorite online outlets to actually buy. It was at one of those sites that I stumbled across their wooden pencil selections for sale.  This recent online stumble combined with a recent conversation with the proprietors of my favorite brick and mortar pen stores, Origami Ink, in Asheville NC has sparked a mild interest in what wooden pencils have to offer. The softness of the lead, the lead centering, the eraser, the special sharpeners and on and on.

I never grew fond of traditional mechanical pencils but always had a soft spot for Berol #1 wooden pencils in my woodworking shop. My dad loved them and they were always better quality than the price leader brand sold at the big box stores for pennies at back to school sales. Now I’m seeing Blackwings, Staedler and Rhodia with multiple choices within their lines. I don’t even know what I will use a wooden pencil for. I can’t believe I would ever journal with one and I do hope I don’t become that guy that carries around a wooden pencil in it’s on leather case.

Maybe like fuel purchases when I was a young driver I should stick with what I’m comfortable with and and not venture too far out from the fountain pen genre. Or…… just wait until pay day and get a dozen 2B Blackwings with the coolest eraser on the planet.

How about you, any fancy wood pencil obssesions or lessons you dare to share?

Write something nice…(pen or pencil)

Maybe the cart was before the horse

One never knew when you would get a letter from my grandmother Emily. There were alot of thoughts going on in her head and she was known to put them to paper. Sometimes with a pen, a pencil or her well loved manual typewriter. Her words and wisdom were classic within our family as were her typo repairs. Never just a cross out or a blotch of wite out, nope, that correction was always creatively placed right where it belonged, no lines pointing to a side column or starting the sentence over, that would have been too easy.

I enjoyed those letters and have kept them. They are inspiration to me for no other reason than she took the time to write me and she was thinking about me. I sometimes wonder if I got my self deprecating humor gene from here because in her musings there would usually be a comment about her getting old or bad handwriting or something that would never detract from the joy we got from reading her scribbles.

I share her passion for penning thoughts to paper and sending them to a friend or family loved one. Oh yes I went through the email stage, carefully crafting my words like it was an essay contest or grant application but I never really attained joy from that method. It wasn’t until my obsession with fountain pens took over a couple of years ago that I really began writing as my mind and thoughts flowed, no back space key in sight or within reach. Sure there are some mark throughs and mistakes but it’s just more fun. Today I support the postal service without sending a nuisance amount of mail (I think). I hope the notes make it to their intended recipients as sometimes I hear from them and sometimes I don’t. That’s ok either way as I was thinking about them and they really owe me nothing.  A smile comes to my face as soon as I attach the stamp  and I suspect Grandma Emily is looking down and sharing my joy.

What came first with you?  Did you write alot then got into fountain pens or got into fountains pens and started writing more?

Remember: Write something nice

Some pieces left behind

Growing up my dad blessed me with alot of exposure to the workshop and many things garage like. I know he liked to tinker and he always enjoyed saving money when he fixed things himself even if the labor hours invested was a financial model bomb. During these times I remember him bringing home old radios and TVs that didn’t work and never letting them get into the house for my mom to see but in our garage he would set me up with my own workbench and a gaggle of tools.  My sole mission was to dismantle said item using the tools at my disposable and none of which were a hammer. I would sit for hours as he worked on something more productive across the aisle and when I was done he would smile with pride looking at a carcass of what used to be a TV and a table full of sorted nuts, bolts and other sundry parts.  He would tell me “good job”, I would go on to other playful adventures and he would collect up the screws, nuts and bolts to feed his collection of always being ready for the next repair. Those experiences taught me mountains of how to use basic handtools and fed a curiousity of all things mechanical, how they go together, how they work and how they come apart.

This curiousity is always hungry so upon getting my Bexley Corona back from Richard Binder I was excited to get ink back down on paper with the new attitude adjusted nib. Doing so I noticed some ink on my finger that I didn’t recall having there 5 minutes earlier. A little closer examination revealed some slight leakage around the body threads of my Corona. A quick flush and some better lighting I discovered that section does unscrew. Refer to paragraph one above and you will understand why, against my better judgement, there was no turning back now.  Not a lot of pieces and the mechanism looked simple but impressive. The piston looked like one of those medical syringe type and it rested on a brass rod.  I placed some silicone on the threads and began putting everything back together in a sequence that seemed to be pretty straightforward.  With the silicone the piston action seemed to be a little smoother.

From there I decided on flowing with some Caran D’Ache Grand Canyon for a change. Finding it in my collection was the easy part, getting it into the pen, not so much. The pen just wouldn’t fill so of course I mildly panicked thinking I put it back together wrong. A cleaning and disassemby again revealed nothing my untrained eyes could see wrong so I attributed it to the shallow ink bottle and not enough room for the nib to fully submerge. On to a J Herbin variety of Bleu Pervinche. I got a little bit of ink in but still not full. Maybe the same problem with shallow bottle. Last I went back to old standby Noodlers. I seem to have gotten more in the pen but still alot of air. Decided I would write with it awhile and not obssess over it. Or maybe a blog entry is obssessing over it.

I am back to really enjoying the pen and research will continue on proper reassembly of the pen. The good news is contrary to my childhood projects across from Dad in the workshop at least this time there is no left over parts.

Any pen disassembly adventures you care to share?

Remember: Write something nice.

I like it better than the beer of the same name

We added a new bird house to our front yard recently. Having found the cat nip of bird seed our flying friend population has grown dramatically. Sitting at my desk yesterday admiring the landing agilty of a black bird I turned and caught from the corner of my eye our letter carrier placing a small USPS Priority package in my mailbox. Knowing that could only be two things I headed for the door. One of two repairs had made it home. My M1000 from Chartpak or my Bexley Corona from Richard Binder. I guessed the latter based on the service level from Chartpak thus far, but that’s another post.

I purchased my Corona from Richard several months ago. It was probably what I consider my first pretty pen as opposed to a plain good writer. Bexley Corona

I chose a fine nib which was out of my comfort zone but I figured Richard would do his magic. I was correct and I really enjoyed several ink fills with it. As part of my daily rotation I began see a little bit of hard starting on the first stroke for the first letter. Not a big deal but I thought I would write Richard for suggestions. He was quick to respond with some suggestions, one being send it back to him for examination.  The real newness had worn off so I figured I could survive it being gone for a little while especially if it came back writing nicer. I got it out the next morning in the mail and just a couple days went by until I got a detailed note from Richard teling me what he had found. We both believe it’s part my inexperience with the light touch a fountain pen requires to put ink down on the paper and maybe a little adjustment of the nib. I learn something about this hobby every day.

I reached the mailbox and to my delight it was my Corona landing from a stay at the Nashua Pen Spa. Ripping it open I was excited to try it out and after about a page and a half I didn’t get any slow starts or a single skip. Impressive writer now more than ever. Richard does great work and it now has me thinking about my next Bexley in a medium nib this time.

I’m ecstatic that my Corona is now singing on paper almost as beautifully as the winged foul in my front yard.

Any favorites you decided to send off for repair?

Remember – Write something nice.

This does end well

I have learned alot in my relatively short Fountain Pen usage history. The common belief is everyone should have a grail pen that they are most fond of. It may not be expensive or pretty but it is the one you would never sell.  I started looking for mine and a few popped up. A Pelikan M1000 and a Nakaya.  I suspect I will own both eventually and right now I’m going through some fits with my M1000 but that’s for another post.

In my quest I read alot about Edison Pens and how Brian could make you one of his signature lines in any material design you wanted, several types of fillers and a good selection of shapes. I surfed the site a bit and I must say I’m not impressed easy with those that make their own pens. I’ve done it and simple renditions are not that hard, see below:wp

Granted these are in no way to the caliber of what Edison offers but to me they were reasonably attractive, the recipient loved them and for a lowly ballpoint they wrote fine.

So as shopping for my grail pen continued I decided to focus on BIG pens which fit me better and are more comfortable for me to write with. I kept reading more and more about the performance of the Edison line so I gave it a try. I spent about an hour picking out colors and materials, then wrestling in my mind over F or M nib then steel or gold.  Brian was helpful and responsive throughout the process and soon thereafter I placed my order plunking down more money for a mere writing stick than I ever have before.  The wait began but was pleasently interupted soon with an email from Brian that they were running ahead of schedule and my pen was on it’s way.  My excitement really built during those few days and it was here quickly.

Packaging was well done and right out the box the pen was a dream. Not the glass smooth slippery I had experienced in the past but I was coming to learn that smooth was not my favorite. My #76 gliding across the paper without any skip or hard starting. Very impressive and mechanical fitment of cap and general construction of the pen really impressed me and illustrated that Edison’s level of pen making is light years ahead of what I am accustomed to even though the process starts out similar.

I ordered it with no clip so I’m a bit paranoid about leaving it on my desk with it’s tendency to roll so I got myself a Sula Jane and Earl chrome tanned pen sleeve that it fits it very well.

My grail pen has arrived. An Edison # 76.

edison 76 edison Nib

Yes I dropped a wad of cash on a Pelikan M1000 and right out of the box I knew it wasn’t right and it’s sitting at Chartpak right now getting fitted with another nib. MAJOR disappointment. My Nakaya is still backordered from Japan and when it does come in I’m not so sure I will still pull the trigger on it. Maybe I’ll sell the M1000.

Have you had a GRAIL experience yet?

Remember: Write something nice



Yes It Really Does

I try to journal everyday and today was no different except the page looks quite artsy. Two pens in my daily rotation case ran out of ink on me. My Cross Apogee which was loaded with a splendid blue hue sample from the Goulets stopped about 5 lines into my journal page. I picked up one of my two vintage pen, a very nice Parker 51, and to my dismay it was dried up.

Next in line from my 1.1m stub nibbed TWSBI 540 that has been well polished and smoothed by non other than the legendary Pendleton Brown. Fine fellow he is and a great nibmeister.

I guess that’s why many of us carry more than one pen. Any funny running out of ink stories you care to share?

Remember: Write something nice