Current Travel Fountain Pen Case

I brought a dozen of my artsy fountain pens with me in my Maxpedition case. I tried to cover the gamut of colors I would need to create my artwork. I used my Maxpedition case as my basic traveling “art case” to carry all of my art supplies including various water brushes in different sizes, swatch cards, paper towels, fountain pens, permanent fine line markers, and my portable watercolor palettes. I think of this as a “home base” case where I can pick and choose what supplies I want to use or take with me on the go. One day I might want to take my fountain pens with me. Another day I might want to take my watercolor paints with me.

To help me carry my essentials with me, I brought along my Rickshaw/Nock case to carry a few pens and accessories in a smaller bag. From the dozen fountain pens I brought with me, I had to narrow down my choice of colors to take on the go.

I’m able to stagger my pens in this case and zip it close. There’s a front pocket that could hold a slim journal or in my case, it conveniently holds my shop towels.

I bought this Rickshaw/Nock case a few months ago when Rickshaw was introducing this new case style with an awesome introductory price. I’m in love with this case!

Looking back, I should have bought another one in a printed fabric. Little did I know that I would fall head over heals with this case.

I’ve been sketching daily while on travel. Mostly carrying around my Rickshaw/Nock case with me. This comes in handy when I’m sitting at smaller tables and space is limited for me to spread out my case, journals, and pens.

Case: Rickshaw Nock Sinclair Model R in Black/Aqua.

Pens: Nahvalur Original Plus Melacara Purple (stub 1.1). Pilot Custom 823 Amber (Fine). Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib. TWSBI Go Stub 1.1 nib.

Inks: DeAtramentis Document Ink in Grey. Sailor Shikiori Tokiwa-Matsu. Robert Oster African Gold, Melon Tea, Blood Rose, Steely Days, Sydney Darling Harbour, and Thunderstorm

Other: Pentel water brushes in Small and Medium tips. Pentel Energize mechanical pencil with 0.7mm HB lead.

My Jinhao x159 Fountain Pens (#8 nibs)

For the last few months, I saw quite a bit of chatter about a #8 large size nib. I saw a few pen turners making some beautiful pens with this larger nib. I forgot to test one out back in August at the local pen show. Since then my curiosity got the best of me.

I came across this Jinhao x159 and I was able to order it for under $15. Here is my dark blue acrylic pen with gold trim.

I was surprised at how light this pen was. The weight when filled with ink is around 28.30 grams.

Once this large nib hit my paper, I knew I was in for a treat.

My pen writes beautifully and my Fine nib writes smooth with a tiny bit of feedback. For the price, I knew I wanted to get the black version of this pen.

I filled my black acrylic pen with a shimmering ink called Enchanted Ocean.

There are two noticeable differences between my blue and black Jinhao pens. First, my blue pen has a large italic “x159” on the metal cap band while my black pen uses a smaller regular font. Also my blue pen has larger JINHAO printed on the cap band.

The second noticeable difference is my blue pen uncaps in two full turns. My black pen uncaps in three full turns. A few online reviews mentioned how the three turns to uncap was a bit of a concern. I’m assuming my blue pen is a newer version.

The pens with the silver trim will have a silver nib. The pens with the gold trim will have the two tone gold and silver nib.

I’ve read about folks comparing this to a Montblanc 149. Since I do not own one, I won’t make any comparisons or comments.

Here’s a picture of the nib size in comparison with my small Jinhao nib from my x750.

Here’s a side view of the nibs and the sections.

Both nibs on my x159 were aligned beautifully and they both wrote smoothly with just a tiny bit of feedback.

The pens are lightweight and easy to hold in my hand. The section is large, but not in a bad way. It means I won’t be holding this pen with a death grip. Hahaha!

The transition from the section to the body is just a slight step up. Hardly noticeable.

I’ve written with both pens posted and unposted. When posted, there’s a tiny bit of back weight while writing. I think I would notice it more after a full page of writing, but my hand was never tired.

I currently have these two pens inked up as my everyday writers and I reach for them often. My black acrylic is currently sitting in my “to clean bin” as the I wrote this pen dry.

I’ve enjoyed the writing experience with both pens. I feel as though I can toss them in my bag and carry them everywhere I go. They are affordably priced and if I lose one no big deal as I can alway purchase another one.

I’m looking forward to the new colors Jinhao will be coming out in the next few weeks. I have my eye on the avocado green color with silver trim.

Pens: Jinaho x159 Dark Blue Acrylic #8 Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Black Acrylic #8 Fine nib. Both comes with a converter.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen. Diamine Shimmering Enchanted Ocean.

My Small Palette

So far, you have seen my medium size metal palette container that I’ve been using for the last few weeks. I spent some quality time with this palette and enjoyed carrying it around with me. I did find my “Meedan” metal container to be a bit limiting as I could not comfortably add additional paint pans to the middle row. My picture shows two pans wedged in there, but it’s just sitting on the edge between my other pans. The metal brackets were too close and as a result my pans would not “fit” in the middle.

While I like this medium size container palette, I mostly use it on my studio desk and also to store all of my pans filled with colors. Makes it easier to go to one container and pull out the colors I need to use.

For a more portable and smaller urban sketching metal container, I came across this lovely container from Looneng. I selected to have eight (8) empty full pans included with my container. I did not have any empty full pans in my art stash and I know this will come in handy later.

This metal container met all my requirements for a portable watercolor palette. First, there is three mixing wells on the left side cover. Other brands have two large wells. On the right side flap, there are six small mixing wells.

Here’s a major requirement for me, having the ability to place six (6) additional paint pans in the middle row. You’ll notice the empty paint pans are turned in portrait mode. That’s a total of 18 pans that can be stored in this container.

I created a custom swatch card that fits in my container. Here I have my three primary warm colors on the left side and my three primary cool colors on the right side.

This week, I had lunch at a local sushi restaurant. My watercolor sketch is mostly from memory and just playing around with mixing colors. This sketch shows my first layer of colors. A work in progress.

I’m also using an Arteza water brush that works brilliantly with my watercolor paint pans. You can see my brush tip has darkened with use. This is normal. I use my Pentel water brushes for my pen & ink artwork. I have a future blog post I am working on explaining the difference/feel of these two water brush brands. Stay tuned!

Paint: Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolors

Metal Paint Palette: Looneng Empty Watercolor Palette. Select to include 8 empty full pans or 14 empty half pans.

Paint Pans: Meeden clear half pans

Swatch card: Arches Cold Press 140lb/300gsm paper cut down to size

Water brush: Arteza Water Brush Pen (assorted tips) in Medium

Journal: Stillman & Birn Beta Softcover A5 (5.5″x8.5″) 270gsm 25 sheets/50 pages

A Fabulous Year with Narwhal/Nahvalur

Nautilus Voyage in New Orleans

Earlier this year, I created a blog post about my sparkling limited edition Nautilus Voyage in New Orleans. I was so enamored with this sparkling beauty (I still am) and the way it wrote and felt in my hand that I created a pen & ink sketch.

The pen itself is a gorgeous design and well made. It’s a piston filler pen that has an inky window to show how much ink is left in my pen.

This pen with a Fine nib handles my shimmering inks well.

Exclusive Galen Demonstrator with Rose Gold Trim

My first stop at this year’s pen show was at the Galen table. As in a Thursday afternoon stop. While they were still unpacking their boxes around me. I was checking out their exclusive ink colors and was immediately drawn to their Prairie Green ink color from KWZ. I had them set the bottle of ink aside so I could check out their pen tray filled with demonstrator pens with rose gold trim. I had uncovered another Galen exclusive and this one was with Narwhal. I tried both the fine and medium nibs and had a hard time selecting a nib. After a few minutes I trusted my gut instinct and went with the smooth medium nib.

This turned out to be my sleeper pen purchase from the pen show. When I finally had some time to fill my pen with ink and write with it, it was then I realized how stunning this pen was. Sure it looks like a typical clear demonstrator, but it feels wonderful in my hand. The quality, the weight, and the attention to the details of this pen is just lovely. I can honestly say it feels delightful and a bit better than my TWSBI Diamond 580 pens.

To give you an idea on the weight between these two pens. My TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR weighs about 26.59 grams. My Narwhal x Galens pen weighs around 29.52 grams.

You can see in the picture how clear the cap is and I can clearly see my rose gold plated nib.

Original Plus (Melacara Purple and Azureous Blue)

During the pen show, Nahvalur did an unveiling of their newest pen called the Original Plus and in four different swirls of colors.

I was able to get two Original Plus pens in Melacara Purple and Azureous Blue. Both with stub nibs. Since the Original Plus is a vacuum filler pen and holds a lot of ink, it made more sense for me to go with a broader nib. Plus I had plans on using these pens to sketch with.

I naturally filled my Melacara pen with Robert Oster Sydney Lavender. I’m thinking of pairing my Azureous with Robert Oster Australis Hydra or the lovely Fire and Ice.

The Nahvalur Stub nib writes a bit bolder and wetter. It writes like a 1.1 stub nib on the down/vertical stroke. The horizontal stroke writes like a fine nib.

Nautilus Stylophora Berry

I remember seeing a few of these pens on Nahvalur’s table on the last day of the pen show as I was quickly walking around in search of bottles of inks. I made a mental note to stop by their table later in the day and I forgot to go back. This is what happens when I don’t write down my reminders on paper.

I happened to see a video of this pen in someone’s hand and noticed how lovely it looked in natural light. It was the same pen color I had seen as I quickly ran by Nahvalur’s table at the show. It’s that peripheral vision I have when I see something out of the corner of my eye that makes me stop for a minute before running off towards my inky mission.

Yes. I added this one to my collection. A much appreciated Labor Day sale along with a coupon and my saved up inky rewards helped lower the cost of this pen.

This is my first ebonite fountain pen. I did a bit of research and learned that this ebonite material is made of hard rubber. The rubber is vulcanized for prolonged periods of time. The end result is a hard, durable and highly chemical-resistant material. It also makes it wear resistant. I also read that when the pen is held in the hand, it gives off a warmth feeling. It does.

The combination of this berry color with rose gold trim is quite stunning along with the three port-hole like windows on the body of the pen. I’m finding an ink window is a must for piston filling pens.

This pen is hard to photograph. When the pen sits on my desk I can actually see the lines of berry color running throughout the cap and body. The section has a lovely ripple pattern of color.

I’m pretty sure this pen is a Nautilus model and not the Original Plus based on the information from their website. My box was mislabeled.

My Thoughts

Now that I have several Nahvalur nibs/pens in my collection, I can say their nibs are lovely wet writers. Their stub nibs appear to be a bit thicker and writes really wet. The feel of their stub nibs remind me a bit of my Pilot Custom 742 with a stub nib. While my Pilot stub nib feels really crisp around the edges, my Nahvalur stub nib has a lovely smooth feeling around the edges.

My Nahvalur stub nib is actually wetter than my TWSBI stub nibs (Diamond, Eco, & GO).

I’ve read a few comments where folks do not like the stiff nibs. I actually enjoy the stiff nib writing experience. The Nahvalur nibs are quite smooth and put out a bit more ink than my comparable JoWo nibs.

I do want to add that I have enjoyed my Nahvalur fountain pens right out of their boxes with no need to adjust their nibs. That says a lot about a fountain pen manufacturer who produces their own nibs.

Pens: Narwhal Voyage in New Orleans with Fine nib. Narwhal-Galens exclusive in Rose Gold trim with Medium nib. Nahvalur Original Plus (vacuum filler) with Stub nib. Nahvalur Nautilus in Stylophora Berry with Fine nib.

You can find a review of my Narwhal Voyage in New Orleans and my Narwhal Original pen on my blog post here.

Diplomat Excellence is an A+

A Diplomat pen appeared on my radar two years ago. I was mesmerized by the striking wave pattern and I knew the nib would be beautiful to write with. I remembered watching a Goulet video and there was a two minute segment on this pen. At the time I thought it was expensive for a steel nib pen and so I waited. A few months ago I received an email from Vanness advertising their Diplomat Gift sets on sale. Naturally, I looked at what was on sale and I was surprised to see the Wave Guilloche set at a really good price.

This Diplomat pen feels like it should be my grail fountain pen. The quality, the lovely workmanship and attention to detail, the weight, how it feels in my hand, how beautifully it writes, and I could go on and on about this lovely fountain pen.

When I first received this pen, I filled it with Diamine Storm. Five days later, I wrote until the converter was almost dry. From what I can remember, I’ve never done that before.

I quickly filled my Waves Guilloche with Diamine All the Best and continued to write several pages in my journal. Yes, there was a lot of joy while writing with this lovely pen and ink combination.

I rarely do this (not cleaning between refills), but felt the need to keep writing

I enjoy the 1/4 turn to remove the cap from the pen. It’s a gratifying feel to put the cap on and to remove it. Also, it helps to have this easy cap removal when I need to jot down my notes quickly.

This metal pen weighs around 43.75 grams with the included converter filled with ink.

The pen can be posted and it posts deeply on the body. I could write a full page in my journal before my hand gets a tiny bit tired. It also has to do with how I hold my pen. If I hold it closer towards the nib, I can feel some back weight issues. The further up and away from the nib, the pen (posted) feels comfortable and a bit more balanced.

The wavy silver stripes on the pen creates an unusual pattern of shimmer while I twirl my pen. When I use my loupe, I can see the engraved silver wavy pattern into the matte black (guilloche engraved). When I run my fingers over it, I just feel a subtle hint of smooth tiny ridges. It’s barely noticeable with the lacquer coating.

The pen has a spring loaded clip. A really, really nice feature and I like how this pens slips in and out of my pen case with the clip gliding smoothly over the elastic bands.

I could not resist a quick sketch of my lovely fountain pen.

Pen: Diplomat Excellence A+ Waves Guilloche with Fine nib

Ink: Diamine All the Best (Shimmer & Sheen)

Paper: Rhodia

Art Journal: Stillman & Birn Alpha A5

Dominant Industry Inks

I came across Dominant Industry Inks a few weeks ago when I kept seeing two lovely ink colors appear on my social media feed.

Dominant Industry inks is based in South Korea. They designed the inks for their unique colors and effects. Their 25ml bottles are packaged in a cardboard box and includes a cloth dust bag and a single use pipette.

The heavy and unique shaped bottles look lovely sitting on my desk.

Strangely, I could not find a company website to get more details about their inks or any information about the company.

After looking at all the available ink colors, I narrowed down my choices to two Pearl ink colors called Sunset and Autumn Forest.

The Sunset ink is an unusual dusty purple ink that leans a bit towards rose. There are pink and blue undertone colors along with a rose gold shimmer. I feel as though the shimmers makes the purple ink lean a bit more towards pink.

I went through my ink swatches and the colors that came close to Sunset was Robert Oster Velvet Crush and Taccia Murasaki.

The Autumn Forest ink color is a unique ink color. I say that as it depends on what paper you use this ink on. On my swatch card, the ink appears to be a medium gray ink color. This ink has a pink and a bit of blue undertone colors as well as rose gold shimmer. Depending on the lighting, the ink color could also be considered gray-brown.

It’s interesting to look at other people’s swatches and see some green in their ink. I do not see any green at all.

I also went through my ink swatches to see what other colors I have that come close to Autumn Forest. I came up with a winner. Diamine Ash from the Red Inkvent Calendar. It’s very close match minus the shimmering particles.

The colors are gorgeous in my inky washes. For journal writing, I will use the inks in my broader nib pens. I prefer Autumn Forest over Sunset for readability. Sunset is a bit too light for me to write with.

Inks: Dominant Industry Sunset and Autumn Forest

Pens: Franklin-Christoph #31 Candystone with HPS Flex EF nib. Lamy LX Marron with Stub 1.1 nib.

Journals: GLP Creations The Author TRP 68gsm. Stalogy B6 Editor’s Series 365.

Kakimori – the Nibs

Update and Tips #1 (08/08/22): I was able to hang out at the River City Pen Company’s table during the 2022 DC Pen Show. I enjoyed my time sharing what I knew about using dip nibs and Rich’s nib holders. One show attendee mentioned that she disliked the Kakimori nib she had. She could not write with it. I gave her a few suggestions to try her nib again. One was to use a different fountain pen ink brand and color or use her favorite ink. Another was to lighten her grip on the nib holder. The other suggestion and probably the most important one is to write in the same position and angle as if you had a fountain pen in your hand.

Update #2 (08/08/22): I forgot to mention that I hosted an “after hours” pen & ink workshop for the exhibitors. Just for fun, I handed out my Kakimori nibs with my resin nib holders to try out. One had the brass nib and the other had the steel nib. I gave no instructions on how to use. They immediately took to this nib and nib holder immediately and spent some time writing with it. A few minutes later, they quickly exchanged nib and nib holder to see how the other nib felt in their hand. This was a great experiment for me to observe and I received positive feedback on both. It was interesting to see one attendee preferred the steel nib with the finer writing feel and the other attendee preferred the brass nib and the wetter lines that it could create.

(Original post begins here)

I found another nib that works great with my inky swatchings. They are round nibs and appears to have eight sides with long cut outs along the sides.

The cutouts allow for ink to settle into the nib when dipped into a bottle of ink. This allows for longer writing sessions before having to the dip the nib back into ink. You know what? It really does work.

I saw there were two offerings available. One in stainless steel and one in brass. I went with the stainless steel version as I know I would not have to worry about rust or much discoloration after use.

I took a picture for those who are curious as to what the backside of the nib looks like. The nib is hollow until the start of the cutouts. This allows the nib to sit into the nib holder.

The stainless still nib feels a bit stiff when I write with the nib. In my normal writing angle of around 45 degrees I can get a nice line width. I can also feel some feedback while writing. When I hold the nib slightly below my normal writing angle, I can get a broad stroke of color on my paper.

I enjoyed my stainless steel nib so much, that I went ahead and ordered a brass nib. I read about the differences between these two nibs. The brass nib tends to be softer and can produce broader lines. It’s also good for artists to use in their sketches.

I can definitely feel a difference between the two nibs. The brass feels a bit softer and produces a smoother experience while writing. I can also get broader strokes of color across my paper.

Do I prefer one over the other? It depends. When I’m creating my writing samples, I automatically reach for my stainless steel nib. I need a bit more time to work with both nibs.

While cleaning the nib, I did encounter some stubborn inks that wanted to cling to the nib’s cutouts. I have a child’s extra soft toothbrush that I dip in water and give a gentle scrub.

I can’t wait to use up all my inky sample vials using these lovely nibs.

Note: I enjoy this combination of nib and nib holder. I mentioned in my previous review of the River City Pen Company nib holders that for fountain pen users, there is a “familiar feel” while holding this nib holder. Once you have this combination in your hand, you just need to focus on getting used to this unusual & lovely Kakimori nib.

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel and Brass nibs available at Yoseka Stationery

Nib holders: River City Pen Company – Pink, Green, & White DiamondCast (McKenzie Penworks) and Barrier Reef (Turnt Pen Company)

Inks: Diamine Party Time and Storm (Red Inkvent)

Paper: Rhodia Dot Pad

Sketching with My Lamy Ballpoint Pen

I set out to do an experiment with all the ballpoint, rollerball, and gel pens I found in and around my studio desk. What did I uncover? I immediately eliminated the SWAG pens I received from various trade shows I’ve attended over the years. Their inks dried up fast inside the pen and were deemed unusable. They were basically disposable plastic pens. You know what I’m referring to.

I had a few name brand pens in my possession. I created a sample page where I sketched with the pens and then apply my fountain pen inks over the initial sketch. I also created sample lines and then applied water over the lines to get a better idea of how the ink reacted with water.

My gel pens and rollerball pens basically smeared when I applied water to the lines.

I was surprised to see my Retro51 ballpoint ink react the way it did with water.

My Cross, Parker, and Lamy ballpoint pens handled the water a bit better.

Here’s my Lamy ballpoint pen collection which includes the Al Star in Green, Vista in Clear, and Al Star in Cosmic.

My Lamy ballpoint trio

My Lamy writes smooth across the different art papers I use. So far, no skipping or fading. The Vista model has a thinner grip section than the Al-Star. I do like the clear body showing off my ink refill.

I keep my Lamy ballpoint pens in my art journal and in my art pen case. I can find my refills (M16) at most online pen shops. They come in Fine, Medium, and Broad tips.

My Lamy ballpoint pen is fast becoming my favorite cool tool for creating quick sketches with a fairly permanent ink. The pen colors they come in are really lovely.

Ballpoint Pens: Lamy Al Star in Green and Cosmic with Fine tip. Lamy Vista Clear with Fine tip.

Journal: Canson Mixed Media A5.

One More Use For a Nib Holder

This will be a quick post for today. Last week, I read about using a JoWo nib in my nib holder. I did not think too much about it until this morning.

I was in the midst of decluttering my studio and came across a tiny zip locked bag with two JoWo nib units. I remembered they had cracked housings. I pulled out the generic nib unit from my bag and removed the JoWo nib which was so easy to do as the housing was no longer doing its job.

I gently installed the JoWo nib into the nib holder. I was pleasantly surprised how well it fit.

Now, the true test was to see how well this nib wrote and also how much ink would this nib hold without the feed.

I’m liking this combination a lot. My writing feels similar to writing with a fountain pen. The nib holds a lot of ink as you can see from my writing sample. I made sure the ink covered the breather hole which turns out to be a decent amount of ink. Also, the nib is so easy to clean. I just dip the nib into some water and wipe with a towel.

I can definitely see using this for creating sketches and I can quickly change ink colors without too much fuss. I can also do the same for writing and journaling and using several different colors.

Nib Holder: River City Pen Company nib holder in Pink, Green, & White DiamondCast

Nib: JoWo #6 Fine nib

Ink: Jacques Herbin Vert Atlantide

Paper: Rhodia

My Favorite Dip Nib Holder

I first came upon River City Pen Company during last year’s DC Pen Show. Richard had several trays of fountain pens and I zeroed-in on one fountain pen that had a silver turtle roll stop on the cap. It was tempting, but I had to pass as my budget was small and I had already purchased two pens from another pen maker. I kept glancing over at Richard’s table and made a mental note to visit his website.

One day, I was perusing my social media feed and stumbled upon a few unique and interesting dip nib holders made from a lovely resin. Lovely swirls of colors with bits of chatoyancy and shimmer.

The shimmering stars were starting to align when I saw River City Pen Company was selling the special dip nib holders. I was clicking through Richard’s pictures on IG and one resin immediately grabbed my attention.

I went to his website and saw all the lovely resin offerings. I saw Barrier Reef was still available and I immediately knew that was meant for me. Yes, all the shimmering stars were now perfectly aligned.

I could not wait to receive my nib holder. I had put my remaining Anderillium inky reviews on hold (writing sample and sketches). My Kakimori stainless steel nib was patiently waiting to be used in my new nib holder. I know I could have used my old beat up Tachikawa nib holder, but why use plain wood when I can use something really colorful.

Look at this lovely combination!

I was not surprised to find Richard’s nib holder fit beautifully in my hand. The grip area is roughly 10.75mm which is in my favorite grip size range. The length is around 140mm or 5.5 inches in length. My nib holder weighs about 16 grams without the nib. With the Kakimori nib installed the total weight is around 19.5 grams.

Enough of the specs, let’s move on to the writing experience.

Just as I suspected, the nib holder feels as though I have a fountain pen in my hand. There is something familiar about it and it just feels like I’m at home with it.

Some of you are probably wondering what is that strange nib I’m using. It’s a stainless steel nib that has groves in it. I was able to write the small paragraph in the previous picture with half a dip. Meaning, I only dipped the nib in ink half way up the nib. That is quite a bit of writing for a dip nib. I will provide a review of this nib (and the brass one) a bit later.

I was wondering what other nibs I could use and I decided to place my Tachikawa G-nib in my nib holder. The G-nib fits perfectly.

I am so happy to be able to use this with my G-nibs. I have other nibs I need to try and I will update this blog post to include the nibs that fit.

For now, I’m using fountain pen inks with my Kakimori nib and this nib holder for writing and sketching. I’m also using this combo for testing ink colors. I can actually get this nib and holder into the bottom of my sample ink vials without any issues. I am one happy camper!

I do want to mention any inky residuals on the nib holder is easily wiped away with a towel. Just like a fountain pen.

Take a look at the available dip nib holders at River City Pen Company.

Pen: Dip Nib Holder by River City Pen Company in Barrier Reef

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel Nib. Tachikawa G nib.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen. Robert Oster Australian Blue Opal.

Papers: Rhodia Dot Grid and Graph