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Inkvent 2020 Begins!


 It's the first day of December 2020, and that means that it's time for inkvent!

Last year was the first time I took on this challenge, and it was a blast. A lot of work, but a blast nonetheless. Diamine had created a whole month's worth of new inks, and they'd put them in these really fun boxes and you could just buy them and enjoy them. It was a great idea, and I made a new video each day where I opened the little door in the box and got an inky surprise. Those inks were all made into a part of their lineup this year, and lots of them are worth checking out. Find them as the "Blue" series or the "Inkvent" series at your favorite Diamine retailer. 

This year, well, they didn't do it. There was (is) a pandemic, and it got in the way. Totally understandable. However, some of my YouTube viewers gave us the idea that we should do Inkvent anyway. Home-made style. Some of them have contributed samples of ink for Audrey to package up for me and I'll be posting a video each day with one of those inks. It'll be fun! 

The first ink video is posted for your enjoyment on my YouTube channel. If you go over to watch it, please do subscribe to the channel. Give it a thumbs up. Leave a comment. Watch another video after that one. All of those things tell YouTube that my content is enjoyed, and it tells them that they should show my videos to more people. It's really the only way to get discovered over there. 


Oh! If you'd like to send me an ink sample or two that I can maybe include (depending on timing) here's my address: 

Mike Matteson

PO Box 1131

Graham, NC 27253

Birmingham Pen Company's Electron



These new house-made inks from the BPC are certainly something I've been looking forward to. This one has a pretty great color but, as you'll see in the video below, you'll want to take care in the nib you use and the paper you use it on. It can be really nice with the right combo and unfortunately bleedy or pale with the wrong one. Find it here!

**This ink was sent to me free of charge with the expectation of my honest review. What you see is what I got.**

The Pocket Pen Roundup!




One of the things that my Live Stream (Fridays at 5pm Eastern Time) audience have been asking for is a video that talks about pocket pens. So: Ta-Da! I did that. 


Pocket pens are something that I really like, even though I generally go for larger pens. These are the little pens that live in your pocket or your purse. They are generally small. Mostly they're the pens that you will certainly want to post in order to use comfortably. Aside from that, though, they can vary wildly. Styles, sizes, shapes, nibs, all of that will vary wildly.

One of my early pens was the Kaweco Sport. At about $20, it was an easy pen to fit into my early budget and it had lots of nibs that I could buy all by themselves and easily switch out merely by changing the sections. It's a pen that I carried forever, but not one that I ever felt like I needed to collect different versions of. In fact, until recently I only ever had my original, scuffed, stained, transparent Sport. 

And that's how my pocket pen journey began.Watch that video for a look at where pocket pens have been and where they're going. I've grabbed all of the pocket pens I could find around the house as well as some pens that aren't really pocket pens unless you've got really big pockets.

Aurora's Special Edition Red

Thanks for the ink, Kenro Industries!

Aurora is an Italian company that is known for classic pens like the 88 and the Optima. The color palette that they use in their pens has been expansive and fun, but their ink selection has been  minimal. Aurora Black is one of the best black inks around, and it's wonderful in trouble shooting a dry pen, because if a pen can write it will write with Aurora Black. They've also got a Blue and a Blue Black (which behave differently from the Black). But that was it.

Now, though, they've expanded quite a lot. In the last year they've dropped 10 new inks. These Special Edition inks run the whole color gamut and I've got a few of them to show you courtesy of Kenro Industries, the USA's Aurora distributor.

First up is this red. I love a good red ink, and this one looks awesome in swabs. But how is it in nibs?

Written Review

As you can see, I had some trouble with this one. I loved it in a swatch on a Col-o-Dex card. I love it in that smear at the top of the Rhodia page. I just had a hard time finding a pen that I liked using with this ink for some reason. I think the deal is that it was just too dry for all but the wettest nibs I have around. It was unsatisfying in the really fine nib of the yStudio and sort of inconsistent in the Optima's nib. When I got it in the Leonardo, it was a beautiful hue, but it was prone to bleeding on not-great papers because it was putting out so much ink. It looks good on the high quality papers, though.

Close Ups

Woo! Look at that! That's some good looking red ink.

So, yeah. It's a little dry. It's also really good lookin'.

Sometimes it just takes a little while to find the right combo of nib and ink. It's rewarding when you do, though.

These are really nice looking bottles, and they're a good size for filling up pens. So, that's good. They come with a little stopper in the top when you first get them. That will keep them from leaking, but it's also a bear to get out without making a mess of your fingers. I used a pair of needle nose pliers after the first time.

Water Test
It smears, but it's readable

Tomoe River Ink Journal

Inky Fingers Wheat Straw Paper

Video Review

Color Comparisons

**This ink was given to me to review by the Aurora distributor in return for my honest review. As far as I know, that doesn't change my reviews in any way. What you see is what I got. **

Monteverde Scotch Brown


This is one of those inks that I have used regularly for years without reviewing. I think every reviewer has a few of these things. Pens, inks, papers that we use regularly for ages just slip under our radar. They're part of the background for us while we're talking about other pens and inks and papers. 

This one is a nice, medium brown that has a bit of shading to it. It's lived in a  Franklin-Christoph Pocket 66 for at least a couple of years. The pen and ink combo have been sort of perfect, so I just haven't switched it out. It looks like cola sloshing back and forth in the antique glass finish of the pen. You won't see a writing sample from the FC pen's broad nib, though. That pen in in a Penwell on my desk at work, and I haven't been able to get back into the building for several months, at this point. I miss that desk, penwell, and pen.

 I've also had it in a couple of other pens, and it's been great in all of them. Between the three pens, it's been used in a fine, medium, and broad nib with great success. Of course, you get more shading out of a broad nib, but the flow in all three was really good. 

So: Great color, great performance in a variety of pens, and a solid price at $8-9. If you're looking for a brown ink, this is one of my favorites.

Written Review

Close Ups

Copy Paper Test

Good stuff. No problems on the cheap copy paper.

Tomoe River

Wheat Straw

Water Drop Test

It's not water resistant. Finally, a weakness.


Color Comparisons

Video Review

**I bought this ink, and what you see is what you get.**

We need to be better.


I don’t usually talk about world events in this space.

Of course, the nation isn’t usually on fire, either.

So, look:

Black lives matter.

I know some people won’t be happy with this post, and that’s…well, that’s too bad.

Let me start off by saying that I know I’ve got life on easy mode. I’m a white, heterosexual, cis male in America. When I get stopped by the police (it’s happened a few times), my heart pounds because I might get a ticket and not because I might be killed. People in my neighborhood don’t get upset when I take a walk. No one calls the cops because I “look suspicious.” That’s privilege, and I get it.

Instead of trying to tell you what racism is like, let me tell you about something I regret. I don’t have many regrets. This one, though, it really eats at me sometimes.

I was in a store with my father a few years ago. These two biker dudes (stereotypically bearded wearing black tees and leather vests and patches and all) in line ahead of us at the checkout were talking to us about traveling and my dad was talking to them about traveling because he loves a road trip. Then they said something about how they always detour around DC. They looked like we should know why. We didn’t, so my dad says “Yeah, I don’t like the traffic there, either.” They’re on motorcycles and I wouldn’t want to be caught in traffic on a hot highway on a motorcycle. It sucks enough when you’re in a car.


“It smells like fried chicken and watermelon,” they say.  <wink>

I didn’t get it for a few seconds. I remember not getting it that these dudes who were talking to us about road trips decided that we were people who would understand and appreciate some casual racism. Obama was President at the time. They were just being super racist, and they thought that we’d appreciate it and that a wink was good and we were all in the same club because we’re white guys.

So here’s what I regret: I didn’t do much of anything. I didn’t tell anyone off. I didn’t take any action. I stood there awkwardly, said “oof” and ended the conversation.

Sure, it’s good that I didn’t go full tilt on strangers in a store. They were bigger than me. Almost certainly armed. I’d probably have gotten myself killed. Still, though, I didn’t do enough. I didn’t tell them that I wasn’t a racist and they should be ashamed. I didn’t ask them to explain their joke. I didn’t say much of anything to them about this abhorrent behavior.

So, that’s what I regret: I didn’t speak up.

I don’t know how to end racism. I don’t know how to get people to understand that their fellow people have equal value and rights. I know we can’t stay silent in the face of bigotry.

Call out racism or any other bigotry in your friends, family, or social groups. Do it on the job. Do it on the phone. Do it if we ever have parties again. Speak up when you hear it or see it. Don’t let it pass by without comment. I know that this happens in checkout lines and parks and schools and churches and everywhere else. Don’t let it be “normal.”

Racism isn’t always as blatant as the KKK. It’s often subtle exclusion and suspicion. Maybe the people doing it haven’t realized that racism is tainting their perception of other people. Maybe they’ll stop and think about what they’re saying or doing if you say something as simple as “Would you think that about a white person?” or “Would you ask that about a man?”

Maybe even just a "That's not cool, dude."

Some people are fine being racists, but I’d bet lots of them don’t want to be racists. They can be reached. I don’t know the magic words, but we need to do better.

We can be better. We can treat people as people who are equally deserving of our respect. We can help our neighbors stand up to bullies and racists. I must believe that we can be better.

Kala Nostalgia Mongolian Sandstorm


Another Kala ink! The last one looked like several of the other inks in the Kala Nostalgia range, and this one doesn't. It's a dusty sort of purple. Most of the time.

On one particular paper, it's really different. I have no idea why. Check out the way it pops when you put on Tomoe River. Weird, right?

Anyway, if you're looking for a dusty violet-grey ink with good flow and exceptional water resistance, then you should check out this weirdly named sandstorm.

I bought this ink at JetPens, and it's recently come into stock at Shigure Inks, as well. If you order something because you saw it on a blog, let the vendor know who helped you out!

Written Review


Bottle and Col-o-Dex

Copy Paper (the bad stuff)

You get a bit of bleed here and there, but it's nothing major and this is some really bad paper.

Tomoe River Inkjournal

This the one that's kinda wild. The color is totally different

Inky Fingers Currently Inked


Water Drop Test

Is this the before or the after? It's the after. This ink doesn't care about water.

Video Review

Color Comparisons

**I bought this ink. Thanks Patrons!**