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Fountain Pen Community - Table Five

Fr. Kyle Sanders

Part of what makes the hobby of collecting fountain pens so awesome is the community. I quickly found that this community was different from others. I didn't see backstabbing or malicious intent. Instead I found helpfulness, joy, love, and other such attractive attributes. Often pen blogs can be about the pens (not always); without the community, though, vintage pens would be in garbage dumps and modern pens would be as rare as, well, diamond rings or something (I couldn't think of anything else). But no we have this awesome community of people, that not only supports the business, but even more importantly supports each other. 

So to start of this series, I enlisted my friend, Kata. I met Kata (as I did many of my fountain pen friends) on Instagram. We soon became pen pals, and one day, I haven't told her, this, I plan on visiting cold Canada to hang with the Canadian fountain pen peeps. About four months ago, her and a few other fountain pen friends were posting pictures en masse of a wedding of a fellow pen lover. So I got her to talk about it.

Kata is the one in the glasses in both pictures.


I don’t consider myself new to the fountain pen community. I’ve been around for a while, but here’s the thing – I’ve never been to a pen store or a pen show. At least, not until a few months ago.

Until I found forums like FP Geeks and the #fountainpen Instagram community (an idea of what that looks like, FK), I was wandering through this hobby with very few folks, mostly pen-pals, to write about my passions with. And then I found these wonderful online communities filled with so many amazing and supportive people, a lot of who I am happy to now call true friends.

Through FP Geeks I not only found a local pen group of folks who meet every Saturday morning over coffee and breakfast to discuss and share pens, but I’ve met a handful of new pen-pals, some on the other side of the world, but others just two hours down the road from me. I wouldn’t have met these great folks without fountain pens OR technology.

My friendship with Gerald began on Instagram. We both posted a lot using the #fountainpens hash tag and started following each other and then we started exchanging letters. He was only a few hours from me, but we both shared a passion for writing and pens. We’d write about our lives, but also about our fountain pens – our favourite pens, inks and paper. After a short while, he wrote about his engagement to his partner Katie. After that, while wedding planning was taking place, I was asked if I’d be able to make the trip to attend their wedding. Absolutely, I said! I was honoured to be invited!

The wedding was set for November 22. It just so happened that there was a PEN SHOW scheduled in Toronto just three weeks prior to the wedding. I was excited – more about meeting these fantastic people than the pens to be honest. I met three penpals and countless numbers of “fountain pen people” from forums and social media. I had a wonderful time! I me Gerald and his fiancé, a small group of us went out for dinner together.

Three weeks later, I was traveling back to Toronto for their wedding. A few other pen people were invited in addition, some who I met at the pen show but one couple traveling all the way from Florida to attend the wedding! I had actually just started writing her a few months prior to that, so we got to meet and hang out before the reception. We were all seated at the same table, of course, Table Five. The “Fountain Pen Table”, we dubbed ourselves. There was a lot of bonding and pen sharing going around the table that night. Some of us had met before and others hadn’t, but we all shared the passion for one thing – fountain pens – and it brought us all together.

It was an honour to attend the wedding of my friend, to be a part of their special day. In this digital age, it is easier to find others who share the same passions you do, but we bond through letter writing. We are friends, even if we have not met, and that is a beautiful thing.

Franklin Christoph Model 29 Bellus Review

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I had gotten this pen specifically to give it away for Fountain Pen Day, but since I had it in my possession I figured I'd give it a proper review. I'm not a big fan of the color red in pens; I'm really not a big fan of red in general (although I do enjoy some good red ink). The pen, however ,came for a good deal from a friend so I couldn't pass it up.

Looks

Despite the fact that I don't like red, this pen has a vibrant color. It remind me of a Christmas tree ornament the way it reflects light. The proper name for the color is Radiant Red, which was a Limited Edition color that is no longer available from Franklin Christoph. It also comes in black and maroon. The black has four different colors for the clip band: maroon, white, olive grey, and orange. If I were to get the pen again I would probably go for the black and white (it sort of looks like a Roman collar) or the full maroon. 

Capped, the shiny red is accented by rhodium plating on the top of the cap and on the butt of the pen. The cap band is also rhodium plated with "Franklin Christoph" engraved on it. Overall, this makes the pen look elegant. This elegance is effected by the clip ring which I think is anodized aluminum. Whatever the material, it lacks the luster of the rest of the pen, and its dullness really sticks out. To me, it takes away from the class of the pen. (This really couldn't be captured in the photographs.)

The rhodium finial, on the top and bottom of the pen, has the gothic "F" of the Franklin Christoph branding. Under it is the signature four diamond pattern. Both of these have been etched into the metal, which also adds to the class of this pen. The four diamonds are etched vertically on the clip as well. Alone they remind me of playing cards and bring to mind late night poker games with friends. This pen could definitely be a last ditch bet for a hard up gambler, and would be desired by all.

There's a little surprise when you uncap the pen. The body is perfectly symmetrical. The design of the end cap is the same as the grip section (Yes, OCD people the cam rotation is different on the blind cap and the grip, ever so slightly. Believe me I tried.) This makes the pen more aesthetically pleasing. The only way for me to describe the design of the grip section is fancy knurling. The alternating lines are enjoyable to look at and have a great grip function as well.
The nib is the traditional Franklin Christoph nib with the flourishes and again the gothic "F" etched onto the nib.

On the whole, this is a very attractive pen. Many more people than normal noticed when I carried it in my breast pocket. It calls attention to itself.

Function

Now what the clip lacks in looks makes up for in function. It has a nice spring to it which allows it to both hold onto pockets and release from them. That is a great design element to this pen, and it is very important for me to have them in a pen. So often the clip has only one element: it hold on well or releases well. Even though I don't like the look of the band, I admire the function it provides. 

This is your standard cartridge/converter pen. It has no fancy filling system. The converter fits well and doesn't shake around when writing. I do find, though, the pen doesn't maintain flow after extended writing, and I have to push the ink along every once in awhile. This is a bit of nuisance, but it is by no means a deal breaker

The cap is one of the highlights of the pen, It doesn't screw on or merely clic into place, There are rare earth magnets in the cap and section. When capping, it makes this pleasant sound <chshhh click>. The section is designed with a cam, so the <chshhh click> is followed by a quarter turn which the locks the cap in place. this is the perfect thing for the twiddler (and the the bane of the easily annoyed). I could easily repeat that <chshhh click> over and over again as I ponder various philosophical ideas.

The secret of this pen is the blind cap. Yes, you heard right, a blind cap. This is for the person who cares not to see how well the converter is filled. To me it's a redundancy in the pen. The blind cap also has an earth magnet, for when you post the pen. Because of the weight of the magnet in the cap, I find the posted pen too heavy. It is more than large enough in my hand unposed.
Minus the redundancy of the blind cap, this is a well engineered  pen.

Feel

I'll start with the Masuyama medium italic nib. It takes some getting used to. It has a sweet spot, that when consistently hit, makes the nib a joy to write with. When you move off it, it gets scratchy. This is definitely a nib that gets better with use and can easily turn off the first time user. Persevere because the experience gets better with experience.

The nib makes a very pleasant line. It's not too large as to make normal writing difficult. In fact, I can write script in my normal small handwriting. The line differentiation is enough to really enjoy cursive and BLOCK LETTERS. I'm definitely thinking about getting one of those nibs or sending Masuyama one of my medium nibbed pens to have a regular writer with this line. 

When I first saw this pen, I thought the grip section would be uncomfortable. It was what first turned me off to the pen; it didn't look enjoyable to write with. Well, my first impression was wrong. This grip section is super-comfortable. It's semi-knurling (I'm still having trouble labeling it) isn't sharp. It receives the fingers very well and improves the fingers' natural grip. The width makes it just wide enough to be neither too wide or too thin. Normally, I am fan of concave grips, but this straight one has captured the joy of my fingers. They keep asking for more when I put the pen down.

Financials 

Where this pen shines is in its price. With a standard nib choice, EF-1.4 cursive italic steel nib, the pen comes in at right under a $100. For a classy looking pen, to that's a steel (pun intended). If you upgraded to a gold nib in the same range of nib types it would $179. That's a good price for a sold made gold-nibbed pen. If you wanted to go with a Mike Masuyama grind option the steel ones are $114 and the gold are $194. These are well worth the price.

Is the Writing Reverenced?

There are three things that detract from the pen: the redundancy of the blind cap, the blandness of the clip band, and the slight advancing issue. These however don't detract enough from all the great things about this pen. 

Inks - My Recipe

Fr. Kyle Sanders

One of the most important aspects of fountain pens and what makes them so entirely awesome is that one pen can put out any color you put into it. A ballpoint is enslaved to its refill good, bad, or horrible. A gel pen only goes as far as its producer. A fountain pen can connect brands and colors neither manufacturer even imagined. The designer of the Pilot Capless certainly wasn't thinking about Noodler's super shading inks like Apache Sunset. Nor did the Nakata family imagine seeing  their beautiful Platinum or Nakaya creations filled with Pelikan highlighter ink. Ink offers so many new combinations for pens and makes that pen ever new. 

How we use ink is nearly as personal as our handwriting. Some people in the pen community try to pair inks with pens, looking for the perfect color combination that just seems to them to be the pinnacle pairing of pen and ink, never to be changed. Others like certain inks and like certain pens and so put those favorites together in different combinations. Some just like one or two inks and stick with their mainstays. I am none of those people. I do find great pen and ink combinations. I do have favorite pens (really liking my new Pilot Custom 74) and favorite inks. Neither of these, though, guide my choice of ink. 

I'm of the firm opinion that if I bought it, I must use it, whether it's my favorite or not, whether it came free with a pen or I had it imported from overseas. To have 30ml of ink sitting around unused is detestable to me. I will sometimes lessen the quantity by giving samples away to friends, but I WILL USE ALL MY INK. So, in an attempt to give equal opportunity to all my inks, (which number somewhere in the 60 bottle range) I rotate through every single one of them. One after the next after the next, my only pause comes with certain inks (Noodler's Baystate Blue) and some of my more vintage pens (with which I'd rather not damage with dangerous formulations). So, I'm guided by what's next rather than what do I want next. This frees me from the agonizing decision of which of the 60 bottles of ink do I want to use in the next pen. This self-imposed determinism allows me to just move along. It quickens filling time and disallows me from overthinking things. It also brings about nice surprises when certain pen and ink combinations arise that I wouldn't have necessarily though of, say for instance my Edison Nouveau Premiere 2014 Summer Edition filled with J. Herbin Rose Cyclamin. It was a beautiful combination of bright colors. So I just go through my ink drawer bottle by bottle inking up the next pen in rotation. 

I have two exceptions. All my ink stays in my office at work (it's a block away from home) so I bring one bottle of ink home. I rotate that bottle every month. The bottle this month is Organics Studio Laboratory Series #14. 

On the whole I like to use converters. I don't mind the less ink capacity because I also have another pens around if I run out of ink. There will be times, though, that I will choose a cartridge just to free up some storage space in my bulging accessories case. Here is where the second exception comes in. Certain pens only take cartridges. I have both empty cartridges which I can syringe fill and many full cartridges. It is a little less determined whether I fill and use a full one. I choose that on whim. If I do fill the cartridge it's from the next bottle. 

 

Currently Inked

 

Monterverde Artista Crystal - Organics Studio Laboratory Series #14

Monteverde Poquito Medium Nib - Monteverde Black Cartridge

Visconti Homo Sapiens Crystal Fine Nib - Papier Plume Midnight Blue

Pelikan M200 Italic Nib - Noodler's Golden Brown

Kaweco Sport Fine Nib - Kaweco Blue Cartridge

Lamy Joy 1.5 mm - Sailor Jentle Apricot

Sheaffer Desk Pen Fine Nib - Noodler's Apache Sunset

(not pictured)


All Apologies

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I feel like a horrible flirt. I start a conversation on here. I reveal a few things. You might have even said (and I'm sorry if you did) this looks like it may be a great blog. Maybe it will be, but a blog requires posts. As of late, you will have possibly noticed, there have been none. November and December proved to be overwhelmingly busy months for me, and, unfortunately I hadn't entered a good enough blogging groove to be faithful to you. I am truly sorry for that. 

My imagination is rife with posts and believe you me they will be coming with more regularity after the turn of the New Year. I am going on retreat to clear my head, get refocused, rested, and ready to take on this new year that God has planned for me. So I will see you again in 2015. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to those of you who have continued to follow. Thank you. 

Spend the rest of this year in joy and laughter. 

Paper - My Rule of Thumb

Fr. Kyle Sanders

It had been too long since I've been here. I apologize. November took me by surprise. Hope this whets your whistle.

Paper has been one of the universal experiences of childhood before the onslaught of touch-screen phones and tablets. We colored on it. We practiced our alphabet on it. We did our homework on it. As we got older, we took tests on it and did reports on it. Paper was used as means to test the concept of flying and, mixed with a little spittle and a straw, became a comedic means to annoy someone from across the room. As I got older, my creative time, my writing was spent on the screen. I wrote high school papers on the family computer. I wrote my college essays on a laptop. More and more, I separated myself from the tactile experience of pen to paper.

That changed when I began writing with fountain pens. I realized that certain papers didn't respond well to the ink. So I began searching for good paper to enhance my writing experience. Paper I found was a lot cheaper than pens, as a general rule, so it seemed more justifiable to buy. The deeper down the rabbit hole I went the more of a workflow with my paper evolved. When I do a review of a specific notebook, it is because I am using, or have used, that notebook in a specific part of that workflow. Whether it is a good or bad experience, I will use every leaf (or just about). So without further ado, here is my rule of thumb. 

Daily Carry

When I have a back pocket, I carry with me a pocket journal. I have found these to be both incredibly useful and incredibly helpful. I was introduced to this style of notebook by Moleskine in their Cahier line, but I have since broadened my brand horizons. I use this notebook for exactly that: quick notes, things I want to remember, phone numbers, addresses, doodles, quotes from things I read, and book titles to be read in the future. I own a OneStarLeather cover which keeps the book in better condition due to the particular conditions of being next to my rear.   

Currently Using: Field Notes Northerly Edition

Bullet Journal

I am not the most organized person, and I have found the Bullet Journal system very helpful. (If you aren't familiar with it, go check it out.) I knew I needed a medium sized journal so the first three notebooks went in that direction: Moleskine Evernote Edition (I don't know why everything started with Moleskine. I blame Barnes & Noble), Rhodia Webnotebook, and a Leuchtturm 1917 medium size. The latter has been the best of the bunch so far. Unfortunately, I filled it with three months left in the year, so I chose a smaller one to finish out the year.

Currently Using: Field Notes Sciences Edition

The case is a This is Ground Mod

Blog Journal

I have turned to writing most of my thoughts by hand. That includes all my blog posts. I have been blogging since 2008. I maintain this one and another blog as well as being a contributor to a third blog. So I'm writing often. For about two years, all my blog rough drafts have gone into a journal before I transfer to whatever format I'm using. Physically writing takes longer and allows me to distill my thoughts much better than typing would.

Currently Using: Basic Clairefontaine Life. Unplugged Staple-bound

The Clairfontaine is the green one.

Homily Journal

In the same vein, I have another journal dedicated to homily preparation. This doesn't need to be a certain size. The notebook I'm using now was originally dedicated to something else, but I never used it so it has been rededicated, in the no-page-left-behind rule I have for myself.

Currently Using: Moleskine Ruled Hardcover Extra Large

TWSBI 580 for size comparison

Homily Delivery Paper

Then, just like my pens, I have a notebook set aside to write down the homily I will deliver. This is always a top staple-bound notebook because I need to be able to tear out the pages.

Currently Using: Rhodia Ice No. 18 Lined

Scratch Pads

I keep scratch pads in front of my office computer and in front on my home computer. They allow me to take quick notes and are very helpful with phone numbers and computer file names (especially photographs).

Currently Using:

Doane Paper Large Flap Jotter - Home

 Doane Paper Small Writing Pad - Office

Project Notebooks

Finally, I set aside notebooks for particular projects I'm working on at a certain time. These notebooks vary in size and shape and are determinded by the project. I keep a pocket notebook dedicated to show notes for a podcast I participate in. At the moment I have two other projects going on: NaNoWriMo novel (yeah, don't ask me how that went) and an altar server training video.

Currently Using:

Field Notes Red-Blooded Edition - Podcast

Moleskine Cahier - Altar Server Video

Zequenz 360º Lined - NaNoWriMo

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of my paper workflow. Next up will be how I choose and use my inks.

Pens: Kara's Kustom Ink  & Pilot E95s Fine Nib 
Ink: Schmidt P8126 Refill & Noodler's Antietam (respectively)
Paper: Doane Paper Small Writing Pad

Winner of the Fountain Pen Day Giveaway

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I want to thank everyone who entered the giveaway. It unintendedly brought me over a thousand followers on Instagram. I loved the comments here and am glad to be introduced to some new people. Stay active around here y'all. That's what makes this community so great. 

Anyway, you're probably wondering who won the giveaway. Without further ado: 

Erin, congratulations. Go to the top of the site and click the letter and send me an email with your information. You have a week to get back to me. If not, the Random Number Generator will choose someone else. 

Update

Erin, so I'm still new to Squarespace and I realized that I did not fully set up the email function on the site. I am working to get the resolved and should be able to receive emails by the end of today November 10. Sorry, if you've gotten error messages.

Update 2

Okay, Erin, I have it all figured out. Send at will. 

Update 3

Erin has contacted me so all of you waiting in the wings can breathe a sigh of sadness and wish congratulations to Erin for her new pen and inks to play with. 

Fountain Pen Day Giveaway!

Fr. Kyle Sanders

I am so grateful to have, two years ago, become a part of this wonderful community. I was judging a local cookoff last week and with the cookoff was a car show. I got to talking to one of the guys who had this purple pearlescent 30's sportster. It was a loud thing, and he was a big personality to boot. His father had built and rebuilt cars, so he had been going to car shows for a long time. They have their own community. He told me that a lot of times his friends don't understand why he continues to compete and go to car shows. They though him strange, but amongst "the guys" he's a little loud (I mean a bright purple and punk car!). I told him, "Dude, I understand. I collect fountain pen. My office staff tolerates my packages and giddiness. My family things it's strange." 

This community started with, and I guess remains unified by out mutual love of FOUNTAIN PENS, but is made up a fantastic persons. Person who generally care for each other, who, although we may enable each other, are often very gracious and generous. In the continued spirit of that generosity, I am hosting my first giveaway.

I attempted to go on a fall theme jumping from the color of the pen, but here it is.

If you win you get:

a Franklin-Christoph Model 29 Bellus Special Edition Radiant Red with a Mike Masuyama ground Medium Italic Nib

Samples of:

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite

Noodler's Golden Brown

Noodler's Apache Sunset

Those three are probably my three favorite shading inks and together with the italic nib should be able to give the winner all of the colors of Autumn. 

Rules

This giveaway is going on both here and on my Instagram which is @colonel4God. So you have two possible chances to win. 

  1. Comment on the blog
  2. If you are on Instagram the rules will be explained there.
  3. This giveaway ends Sunday November 9 at 12 noon CST. After which I will choose someone at random using the Random Number Generator.
  4. I will post the winner here on the blog and on Instagram and he/she will have 1 week to respond before I choose another person at random.

GOOD LUCK.