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Noodler's Upper Ganges Blue

As soon as I saw this ink, I knew I was going to like it. I think that first look was in a Goulet newsletter at the beginning of the summer, and I drooled over it while simultaneously winging about the price. It's an expensive Noodler's ink at $18.50. Is it worth it?

Read on.

Upper Ganges Blue is a medium blue with a soft, denim tone. It's unique as far as I know (if there's a dupe out there, let me know), and I suspect that it is suitable for all sorts of uses. It's not loud, so you can use it in more formal settings without worrying about it looking silly. It's different enough from other blues that you're going to recognize it among other blue inks on the page.

It is a bit of a wet writer. I used this ink in my Kaweco Sport, and I used both of my nibs with it. The B nib really showed off the color of this ink, but it was also way too wet. It would spread and bleed like mad from that nib, and I was kinda disappointed in that performance. Once I switched over to the M nib, though, the ink was much more manageable. It still looks really nice, and it's still a bit wet, but it behaves itself much better. It doesn't really spread, and it doesn't bleed through most papers in a medium nib. I'd like to try it in a really dry-writing pen and see what happens. Maybe I'll get some for my TWSBI 700.

You can see a few bloops on the image above. I was using my pen as an eye dropper, and it was running low on ink. That'll cause some drips from the nib, and once I put in a bit more ink, it worked just fine. I'm not really sold on the eye dropper pen. I'm going to be using a cartridge for a while instead. I use too many samples to be an eye dropper man, I think. It's difficult to keep the pen filled as I should.

So, what about water resistance? It's got it. As you'll see in the video below, it doesn't move much at all when you put water on it. This blue sticks around. It's pretty impressive.

Verdict: This ink is great. I want it.

Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku *Video Added*

This crazy blue-green was one of the first ink samples that I acquired, but I kept forgetting to write it up. I think this write-up was done with the dregs of the ink that I had left. I'd tried it in a few pens, but it was best in my M-nib Rotring 600.  It's a well-lubricated, slightly wet ink that doesn't bleed unless you're writing on some really cheap paper. On other papers, it will ghost a bit (of course, not on Rhodia) but not too much.

My favorite thing about it is the shading. It shades even on lame papers, and even in fine nib widths.

I would have a bottle of it if it weren't so expensive. These inks are between $28 for a 50ml bottle. That bottle is the classiest looking bottle out there, if you ask me, but it ought to be for that price.

I'll post the water-test when I can get it on YouTube. I spent all day yesterday messing with my iPhone, and I didn't have the patience left over to do any video. But, as a result of several hours on the phone with Apple tech support, in the AT&T store, and on the phone with AT&T tech support, I have internet and voice mail on my phone. Such a frustrating day.


Here's the water test video. It's not really a water resistant ink, but there is a bit of blue left over after the water hits it, so your work won't completely disappear.

FPGeeks posts the new VP

The FPGeeks posted the new finish of the Pilot Vanishing point, and it looks awesome. It's a gunmetal gray with matte black trim. It looks like a classy suit to me, for some reason.

I'm not going to repost all of the information, since it's spelled out so well on their page, but I thought I'd draw people's attention to it.

I recently got my first VP in black and silver, and it's a great pen. I didn't pay anywhere near retail, but I can see some people paying $175 for a pen like this. It's got weight, but it's balanced. It's sort of like a click-pen, but it clicks with authority. The gold nib is great It's just a quality pen that I really like writing with. I can't bring myself to pay full-price for one, but if I were to see it at a show for a reduced price (and it looks just as good) I might snatch one up.

Blog Changes

You'll have noticed that my blog layout has changed. I sort of deleted my old one accidentally, so I'm trying this one out for a bit. I'm not settled on it, but if I can get it working the way I think it should, then this is going to be a cool layout. I do wish I knew how to collapse the individual posts to a much shorter version, but I haven't figured that out yet.

Anyway, let me know what you think of the new style.

A Kickstarter: "The Bolt"

I don't spend much time over on the Kickstarter page, but every once in a while I see something that is just too cool to ignore over there. For those of you who aren't familiar with Kickstarter, it is a website which allows people who invent or improve a thing to "crowd fund" a project. They post the details of the thing they want to produce, people give them money, and (if it's cool enough) the thing gets made. It's a great idea. I've never ponied up any money for anything, but I'm kinda cheap that way.

Anyway, The Bolt is a bold-action pen. They make each one by hand from either aluminum or brass, and they leave that finish raw. I'm sure that the brass version would age awesomely.

So, if you want a minimalist pen that will take any of the Parker Jotter style refills, you might want to hop on over to Kickstarter and pledge some cash towards the project. If only it were a fountain pen...

Birthday Pen

My birthday was at the beginning of this week, and my lovely wife got me one of my favorite things: a fountain pen.

I'll talk about this pen sometime soon, but the short version is that I really like it. The rubber grip it has is really nice, the nib and flow are just as good as one would expect from a Lamy product, and the cap is a cheerful plastic that doesn't feel cheap or flimsy in the least. 

I've posted a couple of my Goulet invoices in the past, and I'll do that again today. Audrey told them that this was a birthday present, so they drew me something cool, and Rachel wrote a personal note on it for me. They're a cool group.

DeAtramentis Hyacinth

This ink came to me a long time ago (May's Ink Drop), and I wrote the review a while back. I just didn't post it. Sometimes that sort of thing happens. I liked this ink pretty well. I think I might have refilled my Wing Sung 101 three times with this ink, and that's more than usual. I just kept writing with that pen and running out of ink before I could write a review of it.

Unique Properties:
Hyacinth is one of the DA inks that is scented. Some of them are really weak, some very strong ( strong...), and some of them are pretty much in the middle. Hyacinth is in that good middle zone for me. I'm not unusually sensitive to scents, but this one doesn't bother me at all. It's a light flowery scent that doesn't stick around very long once the words on on the page. It doesn't surround you the way some of the other scented inks do, but you can smell it if you're close to your nib.

The color is somewhere between blue and purple. I can't firmly place it in either camp, but I must think it's a blue since I kept writing with it when I generally dislike purple. Either way, it's a good color that shades just a very little bit. You're unlikely to notice this shading unless you're using a broad nib or a really good paper (like my Rhodia). This pen was a really fine nib, so the shading might not even really be particularly visible on the Rhodia in the pics.

The ink is feels smooth on the nib, and it is just a touch wet. It has the flow that I prefer in an ink, but it did tend to show some spots though the page on average copy papers. It didn't feather, but there was some spread. That's fine from a fine nib like my 101's, but it would probably be a nightmare from my Kaweco's broad nib.

Dry Time: 
~5 seconds on Rhodia. That's pretty fast, but don't worry about your nib drying up if you leave it uncapped. Mine didn't dry out even after several minutes.

Water Resistance: 
Minimal, but a little does stick around. You'd be able to read your writing, I suspect, but it's not going to be great at resisting water. Don't put it to the test if you don't have to.

I quite liked the ink, but I can't say it's a favorite. I have a lot of blues, and this isn't one that I reach for. I know I like it, but I sort of forget about it in a way that I don't with some other blues that I have. Give it a shot. Grab a sample first, though, since the DA inks are pretty expensive at $15 for 35ml.

FPGeeks giving away a TWSBI Mini.

For the last few months, has been doing an old-fashioned write-in drawing for a pen. This month's pen is the as yet unreleased Mini from TWSBI. It looks a lot like a 540, only smaller. I've sent in my entry, and you should too, if you want a chance at TWSBI's new entry. 

The deadline is September 29th, so get writing!

Waterman Mysterious Blue (Video Added)

Waterman's Mysterious Blue is a very smooth, Blue-Black-Grey-Green ink. From what I've heard, it's Waterman's new name for Blue Black, and it's both more vague and more accurate. This isn't really a blue-black. It's not really a blue-green, either, since those often look like a teal of some kind. One of my favorites, Noodler's Air Corps Blue Black, is a blue-black that sometimes has a green look to it depending on your nib/paper/lighting, but it doesn't really look anything like Mysterious Blue. This is (in my experience) a unique color combo.

It came in the all-blue set from Goulet's Ink Drop a while ago, and I just never got around to trying it out. I don't know why it was (almost) last on my list, but I really like this ink. It's flow is in that awesome sweet-spot between wet and dry that gives it enough juice to shade, but not so much that it bleeds through paper or refuses to dry. Mysterious Blue doesn't bleed through
even cheap comp book paper, though it will ghost a bit. You'll be fine writing on office papers or better.

My one caveat to the above is that I've only used this ink in the Esterbrook J 2668 nib that I did the review with. That's not one of my normal pens, and I didn't use any other inks in it. It could just be that the ink/pen combo was awesome, but I've used a lot of pens and a lot of inks, and my feeling is that the ink behaved really well from this nib. I'd be surprised if it misbehaved in other pens, but one of these days I'll get more of it to test in another pen.

This is a really good ink. It's going on my "buy" list.

Like the Wild Strawberry before it, I haven't gotten around to the water-testing yet. I'll add it when I do.

As I expected, this ink doesn't stick around when you put some water on it. "Water? Man, I'm outta here!"

Diamine's Wild Strawberry (Video Added)

Wild Strawberry is a good name for this ink. It's a bright, fresh red that reminds me of strawberries. It shades just a bit, and it has an interesting golden shimmer if you have a wet enough nib. My test pen for this one was a pretty fine point, so I didn't see the sheen until I did the smear at the end and it had time to dry.

As a teacher, I sometimes grade papers that are written on pretty low-quality stuff, and you should know that this ink will bleed a bit on low-quality papers. You'll even see some ghosting on better paper with this one, but neither of these are big problems. I didn't see any spreading, and that's the real enemy of cheap paper if you're trying to write legibly in a small space. 

You'll notice that the "splatter test" area on the written sample is remarkably splatter-free. I haven't had a chance to do my water-testing and video work yet, but I'll post it on this entry later this weekend. Maybe even tomorrow. I don't think it's going to be water resistant at all, but one never knows. 

This isn't an ink with any measure of water resistance. I don't really care about that in this ink, though, as the primary draw is the rad color, and not any illusion about permanence.

TWSBI 700 Vac

I can't believe that I forgot to blog about this pen. I got it a couple of months back at the Raleigh Pen Show, and I've meant to write something about it since then. I found this pen at the Anderson Pens table, and the Andersons talked me into getting this beauty.

 I agonized over the choice of colors for quite a while (Smoke? Amber? Clear?) until Audrey asked "Why don't you like the blue one?" Uh. I don't know. I kinda love the blue one. It's red and blue. My school colors are red and blue. I got the red and blue one.

The packaging for this pen is a little over the top, but it is also pretty great. I don't have any better packaging from any of my other pens. (Of course, it's also one of the most expensive pens I have, but whatever.) It comes in a clear plastic case with a white base. The pen is supported by white plastic saddles with clear stays on top so that the pen is kinda suspended in the case. I feel confident that the pen is safe in there. It's also inside a padded brown cardboard box. Don't worry about having this one shipped. It'll be fine.

Inside that base (and I didn't discover this for a while) are some tools and supplies to keep the pen running smoothly. It comes with a little jar of silicone grease, a couple of extra o-rings, and a small wrench. I've not used the o-rings or the grease, but that wrench is very handy for taking the pen apart. It comes all the way apart pretty quickly, and that makes cleaning the pen really easy.

The build quality on this pen is superior. It is almost entirely plastic with chrome trim rings at middle, and at the ends. The clip is also a sturdy metal, but it's frosted instead of chromed. The plastic is hard, heavy, and sturdy. It's also very smooth. This looks great, but it means that I'm always wiping fingerprints off of it. The plastic on the cap is faceted instead of smooth, but it still collects fingerprints. This is something I'm just used to, but it could bother some folks. 

The body of the pen tapers towards the ends with the thickest area being just off of the middle. This creates a bit of a step from the thickest part down to the grip, and the threads there are a little aggressive. They are going to hold that cap on, but I have heard some say that they don't care for the way that the threads hit their fingers. It doesn't bother me at all, but perhaps I hold the pen further down towards the nib. 

Uncapped, the pen is about 1/4 inch longer than an uncapped Lamy Safari. Posted (and you can post this one) it is a bit longer than the Safari. It's a big pen, but it's well-balanced whether it's posted or not. That big metal weight from the chrome ring sits in the saddle of your hand, so it creates a pretty natural balance.

In terms of size, you might think of the Noodler's Ahab. It's just as big around the widest part, but a bit longer than the Ahab. I love a big pen, but I have pretty big hands.

One of the main features of this pen is the vac-filler. When you unscrew the back cap, it activates the piston. To fill the pen, you submerge the (giant) nib in ink, and push the piston down. That pulls a vacuum behind the piston, and when you get to the bottom of the push it hits a wide area and ink will be sucked into the vacuum. It works great if you have a deep ink well and plenty of ink. It doesn't work all that well for samples or shallow ink jars or low ink levels. For those, I just fill the chamber with a syringe. It's easy to slip a needle past the piston-head and fill it that way.

The other neat thing about this pen is that the piston has two parts. If you look at the break-down pic you'll see that there's a wide rubber stopper and a smaller one in front of it. When you screw down the crown of the pen it fits that smaller stopper into the end of the feed section like a cork. So, if you're flying or carrying it in a pocket you don't have to worry about ink rushing out of the nib and into the cap. That's a really nice safety feature. It does mean that if you're going to be writing a lot you'll need to open the crown a little to allow ink into the feed. I've found that I can write a page or so with a closed feed. After that, you need to open it a little. I'm not in the habit of frantically scribbling for pages at a time, so this never bothers me. I've found that the Vac 700 writes a little wetter with the feed open, but that it works perfectly well for a good amount of time with the feed closed, too.

This pen has a pretty huge capacity for ink. I am currently writing with a custom mix. I think it's Liberty's Elysium with a dash of Air Corps Blue Black, but I can't remember for certain because I've been using this fill for so long. It just doesn't seem to run out of ink.

So, how does it write? Well, this is the trouble. I bought the pen in a medium nib because Brian Anderson let me write with his medium, and it was great. A very smooth nib that was just right. Mine wasn't that great. It was smooth, but it was dry. I could write with it, but the ink color looked much lighter than it otherwise should have. I wasn't happy with that at all, and I tried to flex the sides of the nib as some suggested on the FPN. The nib it comes with is a Bock nib, and they're supposed to be good, and it's steel. I couldn't make it change at all. I finally just gave up on it and bought a set of nibs from xFountainpens. They were sort of for my ailing Ahabs, but they fit this TWSBI just fine. The nib in all but the break-down photo is the Knox F-nib. The original is the silver one shown in the break-down shot. 

That means that I can't tell you what the typical experience with the usual TWSBI nib is like. I can tell you that the feed seems really great, and that I've never had trouble starting the pen with the Knox nib in place. 

I've since talked the the Andersons, and they assure me that this was a problem with some nibs that went out on some 700s there for a while, but that TWSBI is willing to fix or replace them for free. I haven't done it yet, but I will be sending that nib off soon. 

  • Classy looking pen.
  • Cool filling system.
  • Huge ink capacity.
  • Should write very smoothly with it's original nib, but if it doesn't there are spares out there.
  • Nice color selection. 
  • Chrome and brushed metal furniture.
  • You can post it if you want.
  • Easy maintenance.
  • No non-plastic options. 
  • No non-translucent options.
  • Might be a little big for some.
  • Grip section might not be for some.
  • My particular nib wasn't great. 
  • Cost is a little higher than I would like.
  • Collects fingerprints.
So, the verdict is that I really like this pen. In fact, I recently got its little brother in orange (the 540). If you're looking for a large-ish pen on the medium-high end of the budget, then this might be the pen for you. I think that as long as the nib situation is a good one you're in good shape, and I'd certainly recommend it.

I just heard from Philip Wang (the Boss at TWSBI USA) and he writes that he adjusted my nib so that it will be much wetter. I'm eagerly awaiting a package in the mail!