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What I've been using this week! 11-28-2021 Edition


 I didn't keep any good records of the pens I used this week. I know. 

Bad Mike. 

It was a busy week, though. The end of the semester is here and I'm swamped. Add to that the upcoming Inkvent videos and going out of town for a few days next week, and I'm extra swamped. So, I just have a few pens to share with you today. A couple of new pens that came in this week were inked and used, and a couple of others got some use. And I'll talk about one that I just don't like much. 

First up, this new Esterbrook Estie Scarlet. Kenro Industries sent this one out for review this week, and it's a really good looking pen. I've got a few Esties now, and they're great. This one has a broad JoWo nib, and it writes super well. Kenro also sent along a bottle of Scarlet ink for it, and it's a nice color. It's sort of a light red, but not a pink. Sort of a hothouse tomato color. Pretty interesting. 

This is the other pen I got last week. The Schon DSGN Pocket 6 is another pen that I know I like. We have a few of them, and this new 3D style is outstanding. The black sections are slightly raised over the orange ones, and the finish has a bit of a matte texture. I asked Ian about how this was done, and he told me, but I don't think I entirely understood. Magic!

This next one is a Montblanc that I will need to send home soon. It's the Swift writer's edition, and I have the Swift ink in it right now. This ink has just never been my favorite. I don't know why. I love a murky green, but this one has never done it for me. The pen is great, though. I just don't want to change the ink because I hate wasting ink and piston fillers are a little bit of a pain to clean out. 

This is a pen that a viewer sent me a while ago. It's a Kara's Pen Co Ink, and it's pretty nice. I had one of these pens in their first version, and it was okay. It had a tendency to unscrew its cap on its own, and you didn't really want to trust it in a pocket. This one has been good, and there are a few other differences. For one thing, it's an awesome orange color! The real star here is that ink, though. Kiwi Ink's Quetzalcoatl is a dark red that is loaded with sheen and shimmer. It never fails to provide both of those things when you write, and I haven't had a single issue with it yet. It's really great. 

Okay, last one, and I promised you that I would talk about a pen that I don't like. It's this one. The Zebra Z-Grip Flight is a ballpoint that I picked up at Target (I think). I like lots of Zebra pens, and so I'm usually pretty confident in them. These are a really broad ballpoint with a 1.2mm tip, and I figured I'd give them a try. Broad ballpoints are so hit or miss, though. This one skips and streaks and generally behaves badly. And then I wrote on this paper with it, and it worked pretty perfectly. Maybe it just needs the right paper to work well?

Fine. I'll give it another shot. 

So, until next week: Give those pens and inks that you don't love another chance. You never know!

What I've been using this week! 11-21-2021 Edition


It's week two of this "What I've been using" experiment. The last post got some views, so I guess someone out there likes these. Thanks! Or hates them and reads them, anyway. That's also fine. Enjoy your hate-read! 

That cup in the picture above was made by my friend Julia Scott. Find her work at Semicool Ceramics, and tell her I sent you. In addition to being generally rad, she makes really good stuff. 

Again, this isn't an exhaustive list or anything. I don't keep records that are that detailed. It's just sort of what I've been using most, or what I've been using that I haven't used in a while. Before we get to pictures, I'll say I've continued using those two Diplomat Aeros from last week as well as a Tactile Turn Side Click, various pens that live in Penwells and whatever else around here that I have picked up off of the desk. I was using this bright orange Uniball Signo pen for some small things, and I love the color and how it writes. That orange ink will smear days later, though, so that's kind of a bummer. 

OK! Show and Tell Time!

Show and Tell

First up we've got the Sailor 1911 Mozaique from last week. It's still got this Dominant Industry Pearl Tanzanite in it, and it's still working flawlessly. The Yoseka site has some wording on it that makes it look like it might be some sort of dangerous to use in fountain pens, but I think that stuff is all about the shimmer in the ink, and it's excessively cautious. I can't say how this would work in an EF nib, but this Sailor's Music Stub handles it excellently. I'd say it'll work in lots of pens. 

This is a newly inked up pen. I love this pen from Carolina Pen Co. It always makes me think of moth wings or something similarly soft and gently colorful. I haven't inked it in a while, and that had to change. And I really wanted to ink up this Dominant Industry Autumn Forest Pearl ink. It looks so good in swatches, but it is much more shimmery than the Tanzanite so I wasn't sure how it would actually work in a fountain pen. Turns out: Real well. I have only had it in the pen for a couple of days, but it hasn't stopped up or clogged at all. Flow is good, shimmer is good, and the ink looks great even when there isn't all that much shimmer in a word. Shimmer is usually a bit inconsistent, and that's true here. It's a great green, and the shimmer really adds to it when it's there. That ink card is from Tsubame Note, and they're fun. 

This one is actually Audrey's pen. It's a Sailor ProGear Angel's Delight, and I kinda "borrowed" it from her. I have a Tequila Sunrise in this pen model, and I hate the nib. I've never liked the nib on it, and nothing that's been done to it has made me like it more. I do really like the pen body, though, so I'm going to swap nibs with this one (which I actually do like). First, though, I want to run through the ink in this pen. The Angel's Delight had actually been put back into one of Aud's pen cases for quite a while, and she didn't know it was still inked. Even though this was inked in 2019, it writes perfectly today. The Iroshizuku Kiri-same ink is a bit darker, but that's just some concentration from evaporation. The cap on this pen is great, right? Kind of amazing that it'll work after 2 years. So, to those people who say you absolutely must clean every pen every month: Nah. You don't have to do that.

This is another newly inked pen. It's a Franklin-Christoph Model 20. I was just talking with Aud about how I hadn't used one of these in a while, so it was obviously time to get to it. And I matched an ink to it. Wild. I never do that. This is Earl Grey Tea, and I don't know why it's orange. Maybe it's orange because of the bergamot in Early Grey? I'm pretty sure that's a green fruit, though. The mystery continues. Anyway, it looks great and the flow is totally fine. No issues with this ink so far. Dominant Industry is hitting them all out of the park. 

This is completely different. The Ninipie Pen & Marker is real good. I picked this up from Yoseka in my last box, and it's real good. The direct ink pen that juts out of the top of this highlighter writes well and is a very readable grey. The highlighter is also good, and the combo makes it easy to take notes and write in margins and highlight text without changing pens. I'm impressed! 

Lastly, a shout out to Zebra's Fountain Pen! Yeah. The punctuation is part of it. I picked up a pack of these from the BJ's a couple of years ago, and I didn't see them again for a long time. Now, though, you can find them pretty easily. I've seen them at Target in various color combos and in singles at Walgreens. I'd bet they are other places, too, but I haven't been going that many places lately. I think these are better than the Pilot Varsity in most cases. There are some colors that just aren't as good as the Varsity, but the finer point keeps the ink from feathering on bad papers, and they don't dry out when they're capped. The ink looks kinda grey in the picture above, but I think that's just the way that the light is reflecting it. It's black in reality. 

Okay, that's it. I've included one more picture because I took it, and it looks pretty good. That's a Galen Leather Magnum Opus Pen Case. The hard sides and removable pen tray are pretty great. Reminds me of the Franklin-Christoph New Penvelopes a bit with some of those features, though the tray is a bit different and the closure is magnetic instead of a flap. And the Galen version is $159 instead of the FC's $65-75. 

What I've been using this week! 11-13-2021 Edition


Hi folks!

I've never written a post like this before, so you'll have to bear with me while I work out the kinks and get into a flow.

I know that lots of bloggers have gotten into a habit of tracking the way that they use their fountain pens, and I am going to try and hop onto that bandwagon. It's been a fun little switch keeping a short log of the pens I used and the pens I've just inked and things like that. 


My list isn't complete. 

I took these pictures with my phone and in a hurry.

My list didn't start until about mid-week.

My list doesn't include the papers I used or the standard pens I used or lots of other things, probably. 

But, at the end of the day, it's more than I'd been doing to keep any kind of track. So! Let's dive in! 


I've had this Montblanc Johathan Swift on loan for a couple of weeks now, and it's fun to use. The nib is smooth, the section is just long enough for me to use comfortably, and I really like the look. It's a quality pen. My friend might see this and say "YES! I've got Mike! He's going to be a LE Montblanc collector now." Nah. No way, man. I'm far too cheap for that kind of thing. Its' a rabbit hole I'm going to stay out of. Like watches. Don't get into watches, folks. 

 This one has the matching Swift Sea Weed ink from MB in it. It's a very sea weedy green, indeed.



While I'm on Montblancs, I've just gotten a Montblanc 320 in the mail. It's not an expensive Montblanc and it's not a very fancy one, but it's pretty darn nice and it's my first Montblanc so it's got that going for it. The body is burgundy and the nib is sort of inlaid. It reminds me of a Lamy Safari nib, but it feels entirely different to those. This one has a bit of a softness to it that you won't find in a Lamy nib even though both are made of steel. Moral of the story: Different nibs are different. Steel doesn't feel the same from nib to nib, and neither does gold. Try them all! 

 I have Private Reserve's Tropical Blue in it, and that ink is too wet for this nib on most papers. MB doesn't mark their nibs, so I didn't know what to expect. You live and learn.





I was talking about inks with a friend online and they asked me about Diplomat inks. I have a few of those that Dromgoole's sent out, but I don't think I've even tried them all. In talking to them, I was recounting how some of them were hits and some were misses, but that I couldn't remember trying this one called Pine Tree that I really liked on a swatch. So I inked it up! It's now in this awesome Aurora 888 Black Mamba that Audrey got me for Christmas a couple of years back. I hadn't used that pen in a while, and I really like it. And I like this brown ink, too. So that's a win/win. Hooray!




Then I was talking about nibs with another friend online, and I remembered that I have a pair of nibs from Mark Bacas that I haven't used in a long time and that I haven't gotten around to making a video about. They're both on Diplomat Aeros and they're both pretty rad. One is a Predator Extreme which is fine on one side and architect-like on the other. It's really a Predator Not-That-Extreme because it's only a fine on one side and a sort of blade grind on the other that is like a very forgiving architect on the reverse. I asked for it that way because I don't really do extra fines and harsh architects. I tend to rotate my pens and I write a bit bigger than an EF allows, so he did it to my taste. It's neat. 



The Predator Not-That-Extreme


The other is called (I think) a Reverse Nib. It's got a stub on one side and basically a fine nib when you flip it over. It's very cool and useful. He doesn't have that on his nib-menu, though, so maybe it's something else? It was done in the Before Times and my memory is hazy on some details from then. 

I've got both of these inked with Diamine's Jalur Gemilang, and it's a fantastic blue sheener. Whew!



Lastly, I inked up my Sailor Mozaique with Dominant Industry Pearl Tanzanite. It's a really dark purple ink with blue shimmer in it, and I've only had it in there for about 3 hours. It looks cool though, and the flow is good so far in this Music Stub. As with all inks like this, things could go wrong so I'll keep testing it for a while before I make a call on it.

That's it. That's the first "What I've been using" post. It's a work in progress, but let me know what you think. If these are something that people like then I'll try to keep doing them. Are there things you'd want to know more about? Do I prattle on too long? What're you hungry for?

Fountain Pen Day Give Away!


***I've emailed winners today, so check your email boxes! Thanks so much for entering this give away! They're always a little nerve wracking for some reason, but I hope you all enjoy the prizes and the other things you've done for Fountain Pen Day.***



I'm happy to be able to give away quite a few things this year for Fountain Pen Day! 

Prizes will include an Esterbrook JR Paradise pen in ORANGE (I know, I can't believe I'm giving it away, either), some Esterbrook swag like pins, a stamp, and an Ester Book Holder, and more! Enter below before the end of the day on Fountain Pen Day! 


I'd appreciate a follow or a subscribe on the sites that the giveaway directs you to (though of course it's not mandatory)! 


The giveaway is open to all US shipping addresses. (I hate doing that, but I can't swing the international shipping costs.)


Inkdependence's Fountain Pen Day Give Away!

Esterbrook Aqua & Shimmer Aqua



Written Review


Esterbrook sent out a set of samples of their inks for review, and they'll be coming to the blog now that the inks are available to buy. As far as I know, these aren't limited or anything like that, and the ones I've tried are really good, so check them out. 


This pair is the first I'm reviewing, and I've really liked them. Aqua and Shimmer Aqua seem to be about the same color, and it's a really nice blue. 


The shimmer compliments the ink, and doesn't generally overpower the color of the ink. Sometimes you'll see much more shimmer than otherwise, but that's pretty normal for a shimmering ink. Lots of things make a difference to that performance including how open your feed channels are, the size and wetness of your nib, whether you've shaken or rolled the pen before/during writing, and other factors about the ink itself. As with all shimmers, I'd keep them in something you can take apart easily for cleaning if you're someone who wants to keep the shimmer particles from showing up in your next ink fill. 


Close Ups

The price is a little high, I think. I like these inks, but that price puts them above the "impulse buy the whole set" level for me. 

The Bottle


A good, usable bottle shape and size that reminds me of the shape used by many German ink brands. I don't know of any that come in 50ml sizes, though, so it may just be a resemblance. There's no indication on the bottle as to where the ink is made. 


Water Resistance?


Water resistance is pretty low. There are some bits of line and dot left over, and you might be able to recover your work if you spill coffee on your page, but it'll take some doing. 




Beautiful chromatography on this. Reminds me of a violet's flower petal.

 Copy Paper Test



There was some mind bleed on the copy paper. Mostly dots from where I paused or ended a letter. That's pretty good for this kind of paper.



Tomoe River Ink Journal



Beautiful. I really like this shade.



Inky Fingers (Wheat Straw Paper)



Color Comparisons


Video Review


**As mentioned at the top of the post, these ink samples were sent out for review by Kenro, the owners of the Esterbrook brand. That doesn't change my reviewing in any way I'm aware of.**

ST Dupont Line D Guilloche Large Fountain Pens!


Confession time: I started this post in May. Somehow I just never hit the "publish" button. 

These ST Dupont Guilloche pens were sent out for me to review by Coles of London. The short version is that they're really fantastic pens. Their feelis excellent, the nibs are excellent, and that guilloche finish is next level. It's got a depth that you really want to watch the video to see. Since I made this video for my YouTube channel they have released other colors including a very popular lavender color that I know people love.


**They are lacquered with some sort of  "natural lacquer" which Audrey reacted to a little bit. She's very sensitive to any sort of urushi, so this won't bother you if you don't have any sensitivity to that kind of thing.**

How To Pen Show



One of the things I've been thinking about for a long while is starting a How To series of videos over on my YouTube channel. They'd cover basic things like "What are the parts of a Fountain Pen?" or "How do I fill this thing now that I have it?" With a series of big pen shows coming up soon, though, a friend asked me if I have a video about Pen Shows. I have lots of videos about pen shows! Just...not a How To Pen Show. So I made one of those. You'll find it at the bottom of this post. 


But, really, it would also be a good idea to have a blog post about it with the same advice. Well, here it is! 


Before the Show:


A little preparation can go a long way when you're getting ready for an event. If you haven't been to a show before, then you might not have much idea what you're getting into. Watching some of my pen show live streams from past years might help out with this, but so will: 


Making Lists!


Yep. Use that stationery. Make some lists. Get your mind settled on some paper so that when you get to a show, and get overwhelmed by the variety of things you'll see, you have past-you's calm reflection to lean on. 


A list of things to buy: 

  • Stuff you're sure you want to find. 
  • Nibs you want to get ground. (Do this first thing!)
  • Pens you want to have fixed. 

A list of Things to Try

  • Things you've heard about or seen online, but you think they really need to be held. There are lots of pens like this. Pilot Vanishing Points, for example, are great pens, but they don't work for everyone. Maybe something looks too heavy or too light in videos or pictures. Find it. Hold it. Try it out. Figure out if it's for you.  

A list of People to Meet

  • Pen shows have pens, but they're really about people. Meeting and talking to fellow pen nerds is something that most of us don't really get to do all that often, but pen shows are the perfect time for that. 
  • Some of your favorite bloggers and others in the community will be around pen shows, and we love to meet people who have appreciated our work.  



  •  Get snacks. Have a water bottle. Keep your body fueled!
  • Wear shoes you can walk and stand in for long periods. 
    • Most shows don't have a lot of seating around the show, so you're going to be standing or walking a ways to find a seat. Don't ruin your feet. 
  • Have an appropriate bag. 
    • You don't want anything too bulky, but you do want to be able to carry some stuff with you without making constant trips to your room or your car to drop things off or grab things to show to people. 
    • I'd recommend a small backpack or a slim messenger. 
  •  Bring your own paper. 
    • You'll want to try out pens and inks on papers that you know. Vendors will have some paper, but it might not be like what you usually use, so bring your own to make sure. 
  • Make a budget.
    • Or not. That's up to you.  
  • Bring some cash. 
    • Not every vendor can take a card or PayPal.
    • Cash lets you know what you've spent if you have a budget. 

At the Show:



*Eat a snack!

*Take care of yourself!


Be Polite:

  • Give people room.
  • Be aware of your space.
  • Ask before you touch things. Don't be Grabby Hands. 

Ask Questions:

  •  Vendors know stuff. 
  • Most of them want to tell you about their goods. 
  • You'll be happier if you know more about what you're getting. 
  • You'll avoid buyer's remorse.


Should I Buy It Now?

  •  Modern pens from an authorized vendor?
    • Mostly you can take a lap and come back. Prices will be about the same between vendors, but some might be other colors and nib sizes. 
  • Small Maker pens and goods: 
    • Lots of their products are one of a kind. If you find something that really calls to you, and you take a lap, it might well be gone when you get back. 
    • This is a bit of a double-edged sword. You can be happy that it went to a loving home and  you saved the money on it to spend on another thing. Or you might be really sad about the one that got away. I've experienced it both ways, so know yourself. 
  • Vintage Pens:
    • This really depends. Is it vintage and common? You can probably take a lap and find something like it again. Is it really rare and something you've been looking for? Is it a great price? Probably snag that thing.


After Hours:

 Hang out with people. Make a new friend. We might all be strangers, but we've got at least one thing in common. 

Show them what you've got. Look at what they've got! Try out some things you wouldn't be able to otherwise. 


Pen people are generally very happy to share their pens with you so that you can try them out and see what it's like to write with something exotic or unusual. Just remember the Grabby Hands rule. Ask before you grab. 


Pen shows are fun. Seeing new things, meeting new people.I hope this little guide has been helpful. Check out the associated video below.

Energel's New Clothes: The Kuro


I've always liked the EnerGel pens from Pentel. They're very good gel pens, with really good inks. Their most common body style here in the USA are the silver ones in the photo below. They're a really comfortable body, with a good grip to them, but they're not the most professional looking things available. Now, I'm a college professor. No one expects us to use a particular pen or ink color, but I've heard from others that they don't feel super comfortable pulling out a big sliver-and-color pen to take notes in a meeting. 

The other two styles shown in that image are better in taht way. The blue one looks a lot like a Pilot G2, and no one blinks at those. The black one has sort of a Bic Stic vibe to it with the very subdued look. They're just not all that comfortable to use for long periods because the grip is just hard plastic.

Enter the EnerGel Kuro! Kuro is the Japanese word for generic black, and that's mostly what this pen is. It's a matte barrel with a few ridges, and it has an almost rubbery feel to it. The back of the pack says that it's latex-free, though, so no worries about that if you have an allergy to it. 

They are slimmer than the usual EnerGel pens with a diameter of 9.4mm as opposed to 10.6mm. You can really feel that missing millimeter, and that's my only worry about this model. My hands are larger than average, and I usually want a thicker pen when I can get one. It remains to be seen if I can use these for long stretches without some hand cramping. I think they'll be fine, but that's my only gripe about them.


So, how is that ink?


Frankly, it's great. It dries fast and it's extra vivid. Gel inks usually have more pop to them than other stick-pen inks, but EnerGel really does a great job. While I love my Sarasa pens, I think EnerGel beats them on vibrancy. 

These refills are the same ones that you'll find in the regular line of EnerGels, though, so

Check out my video below, and subscribe to the channel for stationery stuff! 

St. Louis Pen Show 2021 Ink: KWZ's Meet me in St. Louis "Forest Park Green"


The St. Louis Pen Show has sent me a sample of their show ink to review every year, and it's always been pretty cool. I think this is my favorite one yet. Thanks, Ken! 

Diplomat Deep Green


I've been a fan of Diplomat pens for the last several years. I did my first review on a Diplomat Traveller in December of 2013. It was a fine pen. Then the first Diplomat Aero in 2016. I maaaay have accumulated a few more Aeros and other Diplomats since that time. So, when I heard that they were making a line of inks, I had to get some. 

I reached out to Dromgoole's in Houston, TX and they sent me a few bottles to review. Thanks, Dromgoole's! 

So far, I've used three of the 7 inks that were sent to me, and they've all been different from one another. This one runs really wet. Another is quite dry. Another is very medium and erasable. It may be a brand about which you can't make generalizations, and that's fine I suppose. The performance of this ink is sort of all over the place, though. Look below to see what I mean. It bleeds and feathers where it shouldn't, but when you get it on the right papers it's really good. 

The bottles say that the ink is made by Octopus Fluids in Germany. I think it's cool to know that sort of thing, and I wish more brands would be upfront about their sources. I'm not familiar with Octopus Fluids, but I do like a cephalopod, so that's cool with me. 

Written Review:

Video Review:

If you like videos about ink and pens, subscribe to my channel at YouTube and tell a friend! 

Close Ups:

You can see some feathering here on Rhodia. That's odd, for sure. But wait until you see how it works on some of the papers below. 

20# Copy Paper:

There's some feathering and a bit of bleeding on this copy paper, but not really much more than on Rhodia. That's weird.  

Inky Fingers Currently Inked Notebook:

So we've seen feathering on Rhodia (a coated paper that doesn't usually absorb ink), and some feathering on some bad office copy paper. This wheat straw paper, though, has no issues at all with Deep Green. It looks great and it doesn't feather or bleed at all. 

Tomoe River Ink Journal:

TR, of course, has no issues at all. 

Water Test:


Color Comparisons:

**This ink was sent to me for free for this review. That doesn't change what you're seeing here, and I don't think it affects my reviews. What you see is what I got. **