On Hiatus, Briefly

Howdy folks,

Many of you are aware that I’ve been in Bulgaria for the past couple of months, but I’ve never been exactly forthcoming about the reason I made this trip. I’m here because my partner is Bulgarian and will be having surgery. Due to the vagaries of the body and other shenanigans, a procedure that should have happened at the end of January is now happening early next week. So I’m going to be taking a break from posting for a little while.

See you soon!


Economical Links for 2018.03.02


I haven’t been feeling well the past few days, so I’m behind in both my reading and my writing. Most of Europe turned into an icebox this week — snow fell in Rome! — and over two feet (61cm) of the white stuff fell in this part of Bulgaria.

Fortunately, the Bulgarians administer rakia (aka homemade rocket fuel) as a cure-all and a restorative, so I’ve been staying very warm indeed!

Anyway, here are some links to the like-minded…

Makrolon and a black Schmidt nib for $11.
Faber-Castell WritINK Fountain Pen Review (via Gourmet Pens)
Faber-Castell nibs are highly regarded, so this might be an inexpensive way to get your mitts on one.
Maruman 3Feet Notepad – A7 (via The Passionate Penman)
A cute little notepad with fountain pen-friendly paper.
A warning about pens in ultrasonic cleaners (via David Nishimura at Vintage Pen News)
Something to be aware of if you use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your pens and pen parts.
Kokuyo Harinacs Stapleless Staplers (via Bleistift)
Cool and clever. I want one.

Economical Links for 2018.02.23


Here are some links to the like-minded:

Pilot Petits: Mini but Mighty (via Fountain Pen Follies)
I found one of these in my Christmas stocking but haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
PenBBS – a review of a beautiful and inexpensive acrylic fountain pen (via Write eXperience)
I’m seeing more Chinese pens enter the market in the $30 price range — could this be a sign of an upwards price correction, or are these just “premium” offerings?
My Old Faithful! Diamine Majestic Blue (via Fountain PenArchy)
READ THE TASTING NOTES. (Also: pics or it didn’t happen!)
Ink Price Evolution (Japan 2005-2018) (via Crónicas Estilográficas)
This makes me glad I never got into Sailor inks.

The Merlot Incident at Tomoe River

It started with a question. “How does Tomoe River paper handle wine?” she asked.

Not beer? I thought to myself, as she’d written an entire book on the subject, but perhaps that meant she’d already splashed a frothy brew across pristine sheets sometime in her past. Her book was titled “Stuff Every Beer Snob Should Know,” after all.

But she asked about wine and Tomoe River paper, and I happen to have both, plus a willingness to make sacrifices for science.

For this experiment, I chose an unremarkable Merlot from a country that shall not be named. It would be a sin to waste good Bulgarian wine, and in my time here in Bulgaria, I’ve yet to encounter a bad one.

Wine in glass, I opened my Hobonichi Techo, which is filled with sweet, sweet Tomoe River paper, and applied the wine by dripping it onto the page. I apologize in advance for not having a control in the form of wine on a different paper. I’m a penster, not a scientist.

Upon application, the wine pooled on the surface of the paper in dark red blots. Dry time was very long, approximately 24 hours, but during the drying process, the color changed to a lovely dusky purple. There is some shading, but no sheen.

Closer examination reveals absolutely no feathering.

On the reverse side of the page, there is quite a bit of showthrough but zero bleedthrough. Some wrinkling is also present within the larger wine blots. The qualities that Tomoe River paper is known for appear to hold true with wine as well as ink.

Tomoe River paper truly is a marvel. Now go forth and pour yourself a glass of wine or several, and worry not about spilling your thoughts — or your wine — out on the page.

Economical Links for 2018.02.16


Here are some links to the like-minded, plus an announcement at the end that I’m pretty darn excited about.

Zebra V-301 Fountain Pen Review (via A Better Desk)
Not bad for a pen that costs three bucks.
The Wing Sung 3008 – An Economical Masterpiece (via The Indian Marmalade Company)
I think the Wing Sung 618 and 698 are better pens, but the 3008 is an interesting (and even cheaper!) option. Like the Zebra above, it’s priced around three bucks.
Diplomat Magnum SoftTouch Fountain Pen Review (via Pen Addict)
I didn’t know Diplomat made pens at this price level until now, so now I’m sharing that knowledge with you.
Fountain Pen Revolution Darjeeling | Fountain Pen Review (via The Pen Habit)
Ink Review: Monteverde California Teal (via The Well-Appointed Desk)
Ink Review: Monteverde Rose Noir (via The Well-Appointed Desk)
A pair of reviews from The Well-Appointed Desk. I’ve liked all the Monteverde Inks I’ve tried so far, and I think they’re reasonably priced.
Beaufort Obsidian Black (via 7heDaniel)
Beaufort is a Scottish maker of pen refills (think Parker-style rollerballs) but they’ve released a new line of fountain pen ink. Obsidian Black is a black ink with some interesting properties.

And now, a short announcement on the occasion of this blog’s one year anniversary:

I’m starting a newsletter called Penster’s Dispatch. If you like this blog and want to read more of it, consider signing up. There’ll be no ads or marketing BS, just a more intimate venue where I’ll write more commentary about inexpensive pens, plus some other musings that don’t quite fit on this blog.

(Confidential to those of you who’ve ever emailed me asking about my travels, motorcycles, or bourbon preferences: you really ought to sign up.)

I’ve been intrigued by the concept of “slow blogging” for a long time, and as someone who’s always needed a kick in the ass to write something, I hope this will get me started on all the writing I haven’t been doing.

As always, thank you for stopping by.