An 18111 Commission

Mid last year, I reached out to Yoshi Nakama of 18111 Pens about commissioning a custom pen. As the DC Pen Show was only a few weeks away, we agreed to discuss it at the show. At the time, I hoped to get a pen themed to my Exalted Bloodlines series.

I eagerly sought him out at the show. However, when I showed him the ideas I had in mind, he warned me it may not be doable.

The designs I showed Mr. Nakama at the DC Pen Show.
Left to right: My design idea for the rollstopper, the blood drop I wanted scattered around the pen, and the moon and star I wanted on the top of the cap.

The proposed roll stopper design, the blood drop I wanted scattered across the pen, and the moon and star I wanted on the top of the cap all have “sharp corners.” Apparently, 3D printing and laser engraving can’t produce sharp corners at that size.

However, I hoped we could reach a compromise with a modified design that I liked and could be executed. I agreed to modify the design before sending Mr. Nakama the files. He warned me that his waiting list was about 3 months long. Granted, considering the year+ waiting lists many pen makers have right now, 3 months is hardly an issue.

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Identifying and Dating a Vintage Esterbrook

While volunteering at the 2019 Baltimore Pen Show, I was gifted a lovely red, lever-fill, vintage Esterbrook pen. Admittedly, I know next-to-nothing about vintage Esterbrooks. I also have a penchant for finding out as much about my vintage pens as possible.

That said, it should be no surprise that I set out to identify and date (as accurately as possible) my new Esterbrook as soon as I was able.

Because I had fun doing so, and I found the information interesting, I figured I’d share it with you in the hopes that my research would prove useful to others.

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2019 BWIPS Volunteering

As I mentioned in my last post, this was my first time as pen show volunteer staff. It’s an experience I look forward to repeating many times in the future.

When Corinne, the show organizer, put out a call to the DC Pen Crew for volunteers, I eagerly signed up. My reasoning, beyond wanting to help out, was that if I was volunteering, I wouldn’t be spending money.

That theory worked out well. When I received the schedule, I was happy to see myself listed for Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. That shift schedule worked so well that I’m hoping for the same next year.

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Green Nib Update

I mentioned in my 2018 DC Pen Show post that I purchased a green nib from Hinze Pen Company to match my Green Ivies pen from 18111. At the time, I thought I was purchasing an anodized nib. Turns out, it’s lacquered steel, which explains my experience. At the show, I was warned by a few people that colored nibs tend to experience flaking. Sadly, that warning held true for my nib.

I waited a while to write this update, because I was hoping that I could give you a positive result. At first it seemed as though the flaking was minor, and, if it had stayed like that, I could have lived with it.

With the first and second cleaning (both within the first month), a bit of green flaked off either side of the nib slit on the outer edge of the tines. It was noticeable, but it wasn’t really obvious, so I hoped that that would be the end of the flaking, and I’d have a good nib.

However, with the most recent cleaning, I decided to change the color in my pen. I found, as I cleaned it, that the ink was being particularly stubborn. After 10+ minutes of flushing water through it, I decided to pop it in my ultrasonic cleaner.

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People with Pens: Rachel de la Fuente

I’ve always been a fan of hand writing. I can type almost as fast as I can think, so there’s nothing to slow me down. Sometimes, that can be a good thing. But when I want to devote some thought to what I’m writing, I switch to hand writing so I have to slow down.

This is especially useful when I’m writing books and/or blog posts. Writing “stream of consciousness” isn’t typically great when you want what you’re writing to make sense. It’s much better, for me, to slow down some and make sure that what I’m writing is cohesive and coherent.

The biggest downside to hand-writing, though, is hand fatigue. Over the years, I’ve developed several different grips for holding my writing implement to increase the amount I can write in one go.

But the pressure and effort required to write with pencils and ballpoint pens increases hand fatigue. Fountain pens help alleviate that with the lack of pressure needed to write. Something about not needing to press down to write makes it easier to hold the pen in a looser grip, which also helps with hand fatigue.

Fountain pens, perhaps because of their design, or our association of nibs with older things, also tend to make people want to write nicer. They certainly did for me and many of my pen friends. But, despite my great love of fountain pens today, it’s a relatively recent hobby for me.

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Explaining Pens

“You spent HOW much on a pen?” Every pen person has heard it at least once. It can get a bit annoying to hear, mainly because you can hear the judgement in the tone nine times out of ten. If you aren’t a pen person, you’ve probably though it while reading my blog.

I used to just laugh it off and continue the conversation, but the tiny kernel of hurt remained. It seemed an unfair judgement. After all, I stay within my monthly budget. All my bills get paid. What difference does it make if I buy a semi-expensive pen? Semi-expensive in relation to the full spectrum of available pens, that is.

Granted, if you’re someone who’s spent their entire life using BIC ballpoints, it’s likely the idea of spending even $10 on a pen is too much. But we’re all different. We all have something we splurge on (when we can). The trick is to know what the person you’re talking to splurges on.

For example, I was talking to a friend the other day who was having the typical non-pen person reaction (basically, wow, that’s expensive). Knowing she’s on the girly side, I told her:

“Pens for me are like shoes and bags for other ladies”

It was really interesting to experience her near instant change in attitude with her new understanding.

“ohh got it 😉 they are like the jimmy choos”

I’ve had similar experiences with other friends, too. Once I can give them something to relate to, they understand me better and the judgement ceases.

How do you explain your pen habit/hobby to friends and family? Or if you aren’t a pen person, what’s your main habit/hobby, and how do you explain it to your friends and family? Leave me a comment to let me know. I’m really curious.

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Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 Comparative Review

Last year I wrote about my Stipula Etruria Rainbow Prisma 88 and followed it up with an update. It’s one of my favorite pens, so when the Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 Magma was announced, I snapped one up.

Now that my Magma is back in action, I’m writing a comparative review of the two. I couldn’t find anything about the Rainbow when it first came out, and there doesn’t seem to be anything about the Magma, so hopefully, this will help anyone considering purchasing either of them.

Backstories

If you know the history behind these two pens in my collection, feel free to skip down to the main review.

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The Montegrappa Fortuna Saga

With one exception, my experiences with fountain pens have been fantastic. Today I’m going to tell you about that exception. Before I do, however, I want you to keep something in mind. I vacillated for weeks between sharing this story and keeping it to myself. I don’t want it to read as a smear on Motegrappa. What I want you to take away from this story is the amazing customer service offered by Cary Yeager of Kenro Industries.

Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear

I bought my Montegrappa Fortuna Heartwood Pear (FHP) on November 11 at Bertram’s Inkwell‘s yearly trunk show. I’d been eyeing the pen for a while. It’s beautiful. Cary had one at his table with the nib size I wanted, so I bought it. And so began the FHP saga.

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How I Got My Grail Pen

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the DC Pen Show and shared my favorite fountain pen story: how I got pen #19 of 88 of the Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 limited edition. It’s been my favorite pen story every since, but it has now been dethroned by the story I’m sharing with you today. Allow me to tell you the full story behind my acquisition of my grail pen.

Stipula Leonardo da Vinci olive wood
Stipula Leonardo da Vinci olive wood limited edition (photo from Rakuten). Photo modified to be more true to life.

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2018 Baltimore Pen Show – Part 6

Alright, this is it. The big one. The one we’ve all be waiting for…whoops, nope, this isn’t Harry Potter. This is my last BWIPS 2018 post. I hope you’ve enjoyed reminiscing with me. If you haven’t yet, go read parts 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 before continuing.

When I left you yesterday, we were all heading back to the hotel for the “official” pen show after dark fun. Somehow, between leaving Frank & Nic’s as one big group, and arriving at the hotel (a 5-minute walk if you’re going slow) we separated into multiple smaller clusters of 3-8 people.

Jim made a beeline for the hallway between the show rooms as soon as it became apparent that that was where the “event” was being held. Jim wanted a good spot, and I tagged along with him.

Soon Cary Yeager and a gentleman whose name I don’t know came down the hall and started setting up the area. I helped bring out and set up the chairs so my conscience would be clear when I didn’t stay to clean up.

Slowly, people filtered down from the bar and lobby, filling the little hallway area to overflowing.

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