Día de Muertos, Pen Realized

I’m back with post three, so you know what that means. My pen arrived! If you have read my previous posts (1, 2), I suggest you do so to know how this pen came to be. Be forewarned, there is A LOT of pen porn in this post. And you can click/tap any image to view it larger. I take no responsibility for pen envy, pen lust, or pen purchases resulting from the content in this post.

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Sailor Fatigue

It took me quite a while to get into Sailor pens. I didn’t buy my first until October 2019 — 2 ¾ years after buying my first fountain pen. Not gonna lie, I’m still pretty pleased with that initial Sailor purchase — the Tequila Sunrise. It was, is, a worthy first Sailor purchase.

I’ve bought 13 more Sailor pens since then, all in the Pro Gear family, 10 of which I’ve kept. Not a bad ratio, and compared to my total pen purchases, not too terribly many. However, it does encompass the most fountain pens I’ve purchased of the same general model. It ties with TWSBI 580s, at 11, for most fountain pens I own of the same general model.

To be honest, I’d likely own more Sailor Pro Gears if they were less expensive and more easily purchased. But, fairly often, the ones I found interesting were from super small runs through stores that don’t sell online. And we all know what eBay sellers do to prices. But I digress…

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Missing Pen Shows

As I reviewed some old blog posts the other day, it hit me that: 1) I never wrote a post about the 2020 Baltimore Pen Show and 2) that it’s been over a year since my last pen show, and I really miss them!

I’m well aware that I’m incredibly privileged to live near two pen shows, BWIPS and DC. While BWIPS will always be my favorite, both are tons of fun, dangerous for the budget, and an opportunity to see pen peeps.

And that camaraderie, that sense of community, is part of what I miss so much. I can buy pens — for the most part — at any time, but I can’t see people. Video calls, while nice, are not the same. Especially in an analog hobby, so much gets lost in a digital “meeting.”

Pen meetups have been digitized for up to a year now, for most of us. And I don’t know about you, but I’m “zoomed out.” I was “zoomed out” about 7-8 months ago. So whereas I had only missed one in-person meetup in over a year before COVID, I haven’t attended a digital meetup since… probably June, maybe July. I need to make sure I join one of those soon, I keep forgetting. And I miss my local pen peeps.

But there’s hope. Vaccines are being administered, and regulations are evolving in response. I’m hopeful that we’ll have the DC pen show to attend in August. It’s officially scheduled; I hope it doesn’t need to get cancelled.

Somehow, even with the light clearly visible at the end of the tunnel, I miss in-person events more than ever.

Keep your fingers crossed, wish upon stars, and make sacrifices to the pen gods that things are normal enough soon to resume pen shows and meetups.

Indie Pen Makers Update

About 2.5 years ago, I wrote about Indie Pen makers (can you believe I only owned 20 pens? Incredible!). Since then, I’ve learned about many more pen makers, both that have started recently and that I simply didn’t know about at the time.

For the purposes of this list, I’m putting the following limitations on the term “Indie Maker”:

  • Only or regularly works with customers to make unique/custom pens
  • Fully handmade, uses CNC lathes with hand finishing, or 3D prints custom pen designs
  • Creates kitless pens
  • Not sold in stores (or only sold in local brick & mortar store)
  • Makes one-off or short runs
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Día de Muertos, Making of the Pen

I’m back with the second entry in the chronicle of my Día de Muertos pen. If you read my first entry then you know that this means I received permission to share the mock-up images for my custom pen.

Be forewarned, it will likely be a while before my next update. I’ll explain why I think so a bit later. For now, let’s pick up where I left off.

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Unpopular Fountain Pen Opinions

Alright, I’ve got a potentially (probably) divisive post for you today. I’m sharing opinions I have that seem to be unpopular based on what I’ve seen and heard in fountain pen groups and gatherings. Let’s jump in, shall we? I’ll start slow, leaving the doozies until the end.

“Rainbow”/”Iridescent” Finish

It’s been on a lot of pens in the past couple of years, and I think it’s ugly and overpriced. From Visconti’s Rainbow Watermark to TWSBI’s Vac 700r Iris and Conklin’s Duragraph Rainbow, pens at all price points are using the colorful finish.

I don’t know what to call it. It’s not a proper rainbow — the colors aren’t in order and there isn’t a good red or purple. It’s not iridescent — the colors don’t change, or even appear to change, at different angles. Regardless, I bought a seven piece cutlery set with the same finish about 3 years ago for $11 thinking it would be super cool and ended up woefully disappointed. I definitely won’t be investing in a pen with it.

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Keeping to My Goal

As I’ve stated previously, my current pen rule is to be more thoughtful with my pen purchases. I’m doing my best to purchase pens that will make me happy to own, not just happy to buy.

It can be difficult sometimes. Pens may have misleading marketing photos — I’m looking at you, Sailor Pro Gear Slim Red Supernova — or zero size reference, for example. So, pens you think will be be fabulous may turn out to be not so great, or even totally wrong for you.

The question then, is what do you do? My plan was always to immediately return any pen that didn’t make me 100% happy upon unboxing. I put that plan in place after the Red Supernova debacle. In theory, it was a great plan. In practice, it hit a major snag the next time a pen didn’t meet that standard.

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Another “Step Up” Pen

As I stated in my TWSBI post, the Kaweco Sport series is another contender for best “step up” pen. I know several people who absolutely adore the Sport series, and I’ve come across photos of truly impressive collections.

I really like the non-satin finish metal-bodied Sports for their weight and durability. The nibs for the entire series are decent and come in a wide range of sizes, but the TWSBI nibs are definitely better.

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Día de Muertos, But Make it Pen

Watching Coco gave me a greater appreciation for my Mexican heritage. Since then, I’ve been trying to fill in cultural gaps leftover from childhood; like the appreciation and understanding of Mexican art.

One of those glorious art styles is centered on Día de Muertos. The riotous use of colors alone is enough to capture my attention, but combined with macabre imagery and joyous celebration, it’s definitely in my top 5 favorite art styles/themes.

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Pen Opinions Change

Nearly 3 years ago, I wrote the third installment to my Fountain Pen 101 series: Where to Start (With Pens). In it, I recommended the Pilot Metropolitan and Platinum Preppy as the best starter pens. I also promoted the Lamy Safari as the best “step up” pen.

While I stand by my assertions about the Preppy and Metropolitan, I’ve changed my mind about the Safari. This is because 2 years ago, I tried a TWSBI Diamond 580AL. In my opinion, it is by far the better “step up” pen. I now own 11 of the 580 series pens (full sized and mini), and I love them! In fact, if some freak occurrence were to lose me my collection, I’d likely just buy a few 580s and call it quits.

A quick note before jumping into the meat of this post. There is a third contender for best “step up” pen: The Kaweco Sport series. I’d put it as the second best, due to price and nib selection, and should have a post about it in the next week or two.

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