Archive for the ‘Fountain Pen’ Category


Next door to Puyricard, purveyors of Provençal chocolate on Rue Belges, in between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes, is Maison Franco, a well-stocked art supplies shop. Of interest to aspiring calligraphers would be an assortment of nibs, nib holders, notebooks with fine-grade paper (such as the Essential Notebook by L’Atelier du Papier), and Talens’ Ecoline liquid watercolors. I bought a Winsor & Newton traveling set with a built-in water container. Failing to produce anything that could remotely be called art, I can at least fill it with single-malt Scotch and behave like an artist.

A couple of minutes’ walk from Maison Franco is a French bookstore, with notebooks and pens on the upper floor. They have a selection of Moleskines, Habana, and Paperblanks, plus Rhodia and Clairefontaine pads and notebooks. There’s an itty-bitty Parker and Waterman booth. In the back of the same floor is art supplies (including calligraphy brushes), G. Lalo correspondence paper, and the last dregs of tester ink in three J. Herbin bottles.

Monoprix, my savior (they were open until 7:30!), had the Forever Forest line of recycled paper notebooks and pads, in addition to the Clairefontaine Triomphe line. I found a cute Pilot Pluminix, which is like a Pilot calligraphy pen made stubbier to appeal to a younger market.

Cannes is not a place to buy pens.

Unless you really really really want a Lamy or an Omas Briarwood. Then head to Graphein. It’s one of Les Boutiques de Gray Street, a row of indoor shops beside the Gray d’Albion hotel, where I spent two weeks of my life. It’s a good thing I only found it on my second to the last day in Cannes. Otherwise the salesperson and I would have been great friends. I bought three bottles of ink (branded Bethge, but manufactured by J. Herbin) and a leather-covered notebook.


Styl’Honoré is on Rue du Marché Saint-Honoré. They have a wide merchandise mix, from school ballpoints to Taccia. What I really wanted to buy was their Cocktail ink. I chose Noir diamant, Coucher de Soleil, Poudre d’Iris and Velours Blue. They come in 75 ml bottles, and can be diluted with water.

Mora Stylos is on Rue de Tournon, which is a short walk from the Odeon Metro stop. (For people with blisters, it’s closer to a death march.) When I went in, I almost stumbled on a huge vacuum cleaner in the middle of the shop. I was that early. The Oldwins were to my left, and I didn’t even bother to look at the other modern pens they had in stock. I spared long looks for the vintage pen selection. They had a delicious Waterman safety. And a pre-owned Sailor Susutake Ito Maki, which used to be my holy grail pen but has fallen from its pedestal because it is simply too huge for my hand. But self-discipline carried the day.

I tried several Oldwin models, picked the Classic in red ebonite, and paid for it with a gulp and a prayer.

On the way back to the Metro stop I passed by Duriez and came away with even more notebooks. So the night before I left Paris, I jettisoned two pairs of shoes, two pairs of jeans and a lot of tops to stay under the 30 kg baggage allowance. Notebooks and ink are more important than silly old clothes.

Oh, and just in case you think I’m insane, there are other people like me in Manila. In fact, we’re having a pen meet this Saturday. Do email me for details if you want to come along.

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Visconti Mazzi Dragon box

Another dragon joins the collection. This time it’s Italian. Claudio Mazzi is best known for his airbrushed Zippos. This was his first collaboration with Visconti. His style reminds me of Heavy Metal covers and 80’s posters beloved of teenage fanboys.

Visconti Mazzi Dragon box

Visconti Mazzi Dragon pen

Visconti Mazzi Dragon - nib and section

The pen’s clip is the classic Visconti arc. The capband is inscribed with “Visconti” and “The Dragon,” in Gothic capitals.

Visconti Mazzi Dragon - stub nib

The nib is a stub, and it’s a juicy one. Noodler’s Antietam shades well. And surprise, it was a nib I didn’t have to tweak.

Three Dragons - Nakaya, Danitrio, Visconti

Why do we never tire of dragons?

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This is a happy Friday. I was able to replace a sac, all by myself.

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So now I have two pens by Hironobu Okazaki. (The first one has a tree frog; my pet name for it is Froggi-e Maki-e.) This one I keep calling Platinum Wave, but it’s actually Silver Wave based on Kevin’s original sales post: “Platinum powders (Hirame, flat foil) used on the wave crest with Taka Maki-e method. The whole pen was painted with white Urushi, Actually the white looks like Beige). Bokashi-nuri was done with gold flat powders at the top to show the sky in blue Urushi.”

I toned the ink to the sky, so it is now filled with Private Reserve Blue Suede. (Pengallery mistakenly sent me two bottles of PR Blue Suede, does anyone want the other one?) This brings my tiny Danitrio collection to five.

Here are three:

These are all large, slightly larger than the MontBlanc 149, but lighter in the hand. I asked for a flexible extra-fine nib on the Silver Wave.

I’ve tried to adjust the color to be more accurate, but this beige-cream-sand shade is hard to capture. The blue on the upper portion of the cap is darker than I thought it would be. It’s the sky in twilight or before a storm, rather than the one lounging above the Boracay sand.

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It has finally arrived, my fourth Nakaya – and my first direct order from Japan. Ishi means stone. The Nakaya craftsmen layered silver over a brown body. The result is a deep gray with light gray highlights that will become lighter. I expect the pen will look worn over time, like rocks in a river.

I ordered a fine flexible nib, and while it is not a full flex, it is certainly pleasant to use and capable of line variation with a light touch.

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After Mass, we passed by HMR. The self-styled “surplus haus” boasted banners in summer colors, and streamers with huge “70% off” headlines in watermelon red. HMR usually has computers, audio and video equipment, legacy parts and supplies (when was the last time you saw dot-matrix printer paper, or 128 MB thumb drives?), and furniture. The stock changes with the season, but those are the mainstays.

The shelves directly after the entrance always have a surprise. Around Christmas last year it was Puffy Ami Yumi playsets in pristine condition. This visit, I found a MontBlanc Noblesse rollerball (the saleslady said, “P7,500 e ballpen lang, ano ba yan.” (P7,500 for a ballpen, how could that be?) I heartily agreed. As my eyes tried to pick out any other pens among the watches (Citizen Eco-Drive, Kenneth Cole Reaction, and a whole lot of Nike Triaxes), I spotted a white object with a discreet bird splat.

White MontBlanc pen case

The pen case came home with me, for the grand total of P550 (around USD13). A bargain with or without bird splat. It’s cute. It feels sturdy. And it fits three M600-sized Pelikans:

Once I get around to ordering custom nibs for the Pelikan Shanghai and Piazza Navona, this could become my when-you-absolutely-need-to-carry-only-three-pens case.

I lucked out on padded envelopes at P10 each, and two VTech educational toys for Lucien. The lady in front of me at the cashier had cleaned out HMR’s entire stock of PET-bottled Perrier, V8, boxed Kleenex and multi-purpose paper. As she whipped out her gold Citibank card and her HMRewards card, I wanted to shake her hand in a sudden surge of shopping fellowship. Thank heavens my mom distracted me with a box of floor polish (24 bottles) and Miracle-Gro plant food.

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I am thankful for the Pentel Aquash, which I carry together with a pan of gouache. I know I can’t paint worth flapdoodle but it is interesting to observe how fountain pen ink mixes with other media. On the Fountain Pen Network, there’s a good thread that explains dye versus pigment versus paint.

Writing with a fine nib over gouache is iffy; when the water evaporates, the gouache feels almost powdery, and there is a real risk of getting pigment particles in between the tines of the nib, which can impair it. I think I prefer layering the gouache over the fountain pen lines and squiggles. It does give more depth, especially if I use a waterproof Noodler’s ink in the pen.


Fountain pen ink also behaves differently when spattered with a brush – at least the Caran d’Ache Saffron I decided to have fun with. It just plops down and stays there, unlike watercolor spatters which can run.

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