Back in December of last year, I shared a blog post about my lovely Jinhao x159s. I started out with two of their basic pen colors that were readily available: a dark blue with gold trim and the basic black resin color with silver trim.
I mentioned at that time, I saw an Avocado green and a few other colors would be available at the beginning of this year.
Fast forward to now and here is a picture of my current Jinhao x159 family.
The avocado green color is quite pretty. I’m also thinking about adding the orange pen color later this year.
My writing sample shows the top three written with a fine nib and the last one written with an extra fine nib.
My four x159s with fine nibs (blue, black, avocado, and red) have unique personalities. The are all smooth nibs, but I can see they write with different personalities. My Wine Red writes the finest (but still wet) and my Black pen writes the wettest.
I was curious about Jinhao’s extra fine nib and how well it would perform with my writing and sketching. I decided to add a Dark Green color with gold trim. When I received this pen, I could see remnants of blue ink that had dried on the feed. I was glad to see that Jinhao tested my EF nib before packaging and shipping. I gave my pen a good rinse and filled it with some lovely olive green ink called Oklahoma City.
The EF nib is smooth with a tiny bit of feedback. It writes like a dry fine nib. Just slightly narrower than my Wine Red fine nib pen.
I’ve been leaning towards the gold trim as it comes with the two tone gold and silver nib.
I wonder if Jinhao will produce additional colors. I could use a purple and a teal pen color to match my favorite ink colors.
Pens: Jinhao x159 in Black, Dark Blue, Avocado Green, and Wine Red with Fine nibs. Jinhao x159 in Dark Green with Extra Fine nib.
Inks: Robert Oster Blood Rose (shimmer) and Oklahoma City. Diamine Enchanted Ocean (shimmer). Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen.
I’ve been absent from my blog with good reason. I’ve been busy restoring an old Singer Featherweight sewing machine I found on my recent travels.
I found this vintage sewing machine at an antique shop. The sales lady was kind enough to take it out of its case, place it on the counter, and plug in the foot pedal for me. I pressed the foot pedal and did not see any movement on the machine. I could hear the motor humming and the belt pulley moving slowly. There was no movement from the needle bar nor the feed dog. Thankfully, there was no smoke coming from the motor. I tried to manually turn the hand wheel and it was very stiff. I checked the presser foot lever and I was able to flip it up and press it down.
I made an offer on the machine which was less than what was written on the price tag. I wasn’t too sure if I had the knowledge and skill to get this machine to sew again. I knew I would be replacing a few parts as well as spending some much needed quality time with this vintage machine. This would include several spa days of deep cleaning and scrubbing. This would be my first attempt at restoration. For those who know me, I do enjoy a good challenge.
A quick call was made to the owner of this vintage beauty and he wanted to be sure it was going to someone who would enjoy sewing with it. Talk about being in the right place and at the right time. This was meant to be.
I did some quick research and found my Featherweight was commissioned or went into production in 1938 in Elizabethport, New Jersey. It’s almost 85 years old!
One of the details I noticed about my lovely Featherweight was the decorative scrollwork on the faceplate. A few of my sewing buddies have told me this pre-WWII machine was a special find.
During the war, Singer stopped manufacturing the Featherweights. Post-war they made a few cosmetic changes to their Featherweights and continued manufacturing their sought after Featherweight machines.
The black painted body and chrome metal plates have layers of dirt and grime. Possibly a decade or so of non-use which explains the non-working/non-moving parts that were stuck and old sewing machine oil that turned into a hard varnish. I would guess the machine was stored in a garage or possibly in an attic. When I opened the case, the “old smell” almost knocked me over. I’ve read this scent is from the old glue used to hold the fabric cover over the wooden case. I tried to give the machine a dry dusting with a rag in a few areas on the outside of the machine and I found bits of spider parts and unknown dried debris underneath the exterior of the motor.
I’ve rolled up my sleeves and ventured into new territory with my first Featherweight sewing machine. So far, it’s been a fun adventure. More to come!
I finally got around to finishing my floral page in my art journal. In my last blog post I had created a helleborus flower as that was the only blooming flower in our garden. A few days later, additional flowers were blooming including miniature daffodils.
I’ve been taking reference pictures for future use. I do this as time flies by quickly and when I’m ready to sketch again, the flowering blooms have long expired.
Luckily, both my helleborus and daffodils are still blooming around our gardens. This morning I stepped outside to look at our miniature daffodils before I sketched the remaining flowers in my art journal.
I like adding the hazy and blurry colors in the background of my sketches. It gives me the feeling that there are other flowers in the background without adding any details.
Pens: Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Wine Red with Fine nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs.
Inks: Robert Oster Heart of Gold (shimmer), Blood Rose (shimmer), and African Gold. Van Dieman’s Ink Anna’s Hummingbird Wing (shimmer), KWZ/Galen Leather Prairie Green (shimmer), and DeAtramentis Document Grey.
I’ve been writing my Jinhao fountain pens dry. Literally, I would run out of ink while in the middle of writing a sentence. My x159 pens are lovely wet writers and I’ve also been using them for creating my pen & ink sketches.
My favorite pinky red ink color to sketch with is Blood Rose. Yes, it’s a shimmering ink. My Wine Red x159 has been filled with this lovely color since I received it and turns out to be on its third refill of the same color. This might be the perfect pen & ink combination for me.
In my black x159, I filled my pen with the lovely Prairie Green shimmering ink color. My shimmering inks have been flowing well in my Jinhao’s.
I’m finding Blood Rose and Prairie Green are two lovely colors that work well together and perfect for floral sketches. The inks react beautifully with water on my sketch paper and they create lovely washes of color.
For the last few weeks, I have seen some blooming beauties in our gardens. A pop of color here and there. The flowering colors range from white with green edges to a light green to a deep burgundy/purple.
I decided it was time to start sketching again. I created this loose sketch of a Helleborus flower in my art journal.
I used my Document Grey ink to sketch the outline of my flower. I used Blood Rose for the flower’s petals and Prairie Green for the leaves and stem. To create the subtle colors in the background, I wet the paper around the flower and I dropped in some color using my water brush. I was careful not to blend the colors together or I would end up with a muddy mix.
Since I’m sketching with lighter inky colors, I’m thinking about using Document Urban Grey to create the lighter color outlines of my floral sketches.
Prompt: Go outside and see what is blooming in your yard, at a park, or at your local garden center. Take a picture or two of the flower. Create a pen & ink sketch. Don’t worry about the details. Focus on the shape(s) of your flower and petals. Create another sketch using a different ink color for the flower.
Cleaning Note & Tip: When I’m refilling the same ink into the same pen, I do clean my pen before refilling. Especially, when I’m using shimmering inks. I place a towel under my pen (with feed facing up) and I use my soft toothbrush dipped in water and gently clean out the feed and the underside of the nib. I will dip my toothbrush several times into water and then onto my feed/nib. The towel underneath will pull the water and remaining sparkly particles out from the nib. I’m often amazed how much shimmering particles come out of the feed/nib.
Pens: Jinhao x159 Wine Red in gold trim with Fine nib. Jinhao x159 Black in silver trim with Fine nib. Platinum Preppy 02 Extra Fine nib.
Inks: Robert Oster Blood Rose (shimmer), KWZ & Galen Leather exclusive Prairie Green (shimmer), and DeAtramentis Document Grey.
I took my pencil sketch and using my permanent gray ink, I sketched over my pencil lines that I wanted to keep. In some areas I straightened out the previous broken lines I had drawn. I also added in more details where needed. After my permanent ink had dried on my paper, I used my kneaded eraser to remove my pencil lines. Right now, my sketch looks flat and almost like a cartoon.
I left my inky sketch alone for a few days while I decided which colors to use for my inky washes.
I came back to my sketch armed with my TWSBI Swipe filled with Thunderstorm and started my pen & ink wash process. Thunderstorm has been my go to black/blue inky color for when I need to sketch something in black and also for creating shadows around and under my object. It’s a lovely color to use and it has quite a bit of personality as you can see in my sketch below.
I was careful to not inundate my sketch by dumping a lot of dark color onto my paper. It’s harder to “lift” dark colors let alone “lift” fountain pen ink off of my paper. With my first layer of color I applied a light or watered down color wash. To avoid creating a flat sketch, I made sure to leave some lighter color or the white of my paper as highlights. I am always looking for my light source. I let the first layer dry completely before attempting to apply the second layer of color.
When I apply my second layer of color, I can now focus on areas that are quite a bit darker. I think about the shadows within my object. Where are the darkest parts of my object. By applying the different values of a color, I can create a sense of “roundness” to my object. I can also make certain parts of my object appear closer to me like the numbered dial on my tension knob, the golden logo patch, or the horizontal light covering in the arm of my machine.
I used Morning Frost on the silvery pieces of my object like the throat plate, parts of the tension dial/discs, thread spindle, stitch regulator, bobbin winding system, and for the hand wheel/pulley.
While I’m creating my pen & ink wash, I have to remind myself to be a bit spontaneous and less controlling with my sketch. There are times when it’s harder to control where the ink color goes. I make the best of it and most of the time I create wonderful inky surprises.
I have also learned to know when to stop. Since I was using a mixed media paper versus a heavier watercolor paper, I noticed my second layer of inky wash was disturbing the paper’s surface. Small areas of my paper developed a “rash” while the paper was still wet. That was my clue to stop work in that area as the surface had been compromised. Once the paper is dry, the rashes miraculously disappear.
In case you’ve forgotten, this is where my pen & ink sketch started from. My quick pencil sketch.
Once I start sketching, I forget about properly centering my object on the page or in this case across two pages. To help remove the white space on the right side, I added the bobbin and two spools of thread. I intentionally left one of the spools half-off the page to balance out the left side where I ran out of space for the machine’s bed extension.
Pens: TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs. TWSBI Swipe with Stub 1.1 nib. Platinum Preppy with 02 Extra Fine nib.
Inks: Robert Oster Thunderstorm, African Gold, Steely Days, Melon Tea, and Blood Rose. Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost. DeAtramentis Document Grey (Preppy).
Pencil: Pentel Energize mechanical with 0.7mm HB lead
My mind and time has been busy with a restoration hobby I picked up at the beginning of 2023. This project required some TLC and a bit of cleaning to remove decades worth of dirt, grime, old oil that turned to varnish, and rust.
I had a few days while I was waiting for parts to arrive and attempted to create some sketches. I failed miserably as it had been weeks since I’ve last sketched anything. You see, this is the reason why sketching daily is important. Keep the creativity, the sketching skills, and memory muscles in good working order.
When other things take over (priorities), I tend to quickly lose my sketching mojo. It usually takes a week of daily sketching to get my lost memory muscles and creative interests back in sync.
Naturally a week later, I’m back to sketching with my mechanical pencil. Here is my latest sketch. I’m struggling with capturing too many details.
At this point, I’ve decided to stop working on my sketch before adding any color. I had originally thought about creating a watercolor sketch, but then realized I picked up the wrong journal after my sketch was completed. I created this sketch in my mixed media journal (150gsm paper) and so I’m limited to a single wash or two of colors. It looks like this will become a pen & ink wash sketch.
I guess I can always recreate another sketch in my watercolor journal.
Prompt: Create a sketch of your favorite hobby. Create your sketch across 2 pages. It could be one single hobby item or several items that make up your hobby. If you don’t have a favorite hobby, create a sketch of a hobby you would like to try/get into.
A couple of weeks ago, Hubby and I went on a trip. I made sure to set aside some time to figure out what art supplies I would pack and take with me for our adventure.
I thought about how I wanted to record this journey. Do I bring my watercolor paints and brushes? Or do I bring my fountain pens and inks? Or do I bring both?
I laid out my favorite supplies including my fave Maxpedition case and my new Rickshaw/Nock case. Based on my past traveling experiences I knew these would be the two cases to bring and it would be easy to figure out what supplies will fit in the cases.
After going back and forth between the two mediums, I knew I would not enjoy our trip if I could not decide what main art medium to use to capture our adventures. I decided it was best to bring my fountains pens and inks in my Maxpedition case. I used my Rickshaw case to carry just the essentials when I was out and about with my slender messenger bag.
I carried with me a slender A5 journal and wrote about our adventures each day. I was keeping a daily travel log. I found it was easier to write or jot down key points from our adventures as I sipped my coffee in the morning or while we sat in front of a fire pit enjoying the early evening weather.
I also included my A5 mixed media art journal for my pen & ink washes. Both journals fit inside my Lochby Field Journal.
Each day, I recorded objects and things that were easy to sketch. Sometimes I would have 5-15 minutes to quickly sketch something with my pencil or permanent pen.
In my two page spread (above), I created a variety of sketches from ideas in my head. Each object had Thunderstorm incorporated into the sketch which brought the sketches together or created a bit of harmony.
It was handy to have my Rickshaw case filled with my essential supplies as I was able to create quick sketches on the go. Yes, that meant I had to narrow down my choices to six inky colors to take with me.
My Pilot Custom 823 was filled with Hailstorm. I used this ink for writing in my journals. It’s a dark green color that leans more towards blue.
For this trip, I decided to fill a Preppy with a permanent Grey ink color. I used this Preppy mostly for the outlines in my sketches. I do like using this lighter color for my outlines versus using the bold black Carbon ink color.
For my peach sketch, I did not have an orange ink color with me. I used Blood Rose and African Gold and blended/dabbed the colors a bit on my paper. Again, Thunderstorm makes another appearance in each of my sketching scenes.
Here’s an example of a quick sketch I created in my art journal. I had about ten minutes to sketch a few things and not enough time to add my fountain pen inky colors to all of my sketches. I find it’s okay to leave out the colors and add them back in for another day. I can also go back into my travel log and find other things to add to my sketch and add the colors when I have the time.
I know the pages in my art journal looks a bit bare and there are quite a few blank areas in between my sketches. They are my invisible placeholders for when I will go back and write a story about my adventures.
Pens: Pilot Custom 823 in Amber w/Fine nib. Nahvalur Original Plus in Melacara Purple w/Stub nib. Platinum Preppy (02) Extra Fine nib. TWSBI Swipe w/Stub nib. TWSBI GOs w/Stub nibs.
Inks: DeAtramentis Document Ink in Grey. Van Dieman’s Ink Hailstorm and Anna’s Hummingbird Wing (shimmer). Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Steely Days, Melon Tea, African Gold, Blood Rose, Sydney Darling Harbour, and Thunderstorm.
Cases: Maxpedition Beefy Pocket Organizer in Olive Green. Rickshaw Nock Sinclair model R in Black/Aqua.
Other: Pentel Energize Mechanical Pencil with 0.7mm HB lead. Pentel Water Brushes with small and medium size tips.
Art Journal: Stillman & Birn softcover Alpha A5 (5.5″x8.5″)
When I create my sketches, I typically start out with a pencil sketch. This helps me outline my shapes and also helps me with placement and location of my objects on my paper. When I’m satisfied with the look of my sketches, I will typically go over my pencil lines with a permanent ink like Platinum Carbon ink. Platinum Carbon is a black ink color that does not budge or move when I apply my ink washes or watercolor paints over it.
Late last year, I found that the black ink color I use is just a bit too dark or bold for my sketching style. Especially, when I apply light color washes to my sketches.
I was on a mission to find a good permanent grey ink color.
I started looking in my ink collection cabinet and found I had a bottle of Document Grey ink that I purchased in 2019. While I was researching online I found a newer (to me) Urban Grey color. I was trying to do an online comparison between the two colors and I could see they were different and I was curious by how much.
I went ahead and ordered Urban Grey. Appropriately named, it mostly reminded me of creating urban sketches with this color. I assumed lots of urban sketchers use this ink color. I had a hard time finding it in stock.
Once I received my new bottle of ink, I could see the difference between the two DeAtramentis Document Ink bottles. The label on the Urban Grey bottle portrayed it as a lighter grey color.
I could not wait to create my inky swatches. My swatches also show a difference between the two grey ink colors. The following picture reminds me of a monochromatic photo. I should have placed a bright red fountain pen for a pop of color in my photo shoot.
Urban Grey appears to be a softer and slightly lighter grey color.
I originally purchased my bottle of Grey for it’s lovely medium neutral grey color.
I would consider Urban Grey to be a light neutral gray color. From the writing on my swatch card, it’s definitely a readable ink color. It would also work nicely for writing descriptions and documentation in my art journal where I would not want it to compete with my sketches.
So, which color do I like best? I like them both for different reasons. I’m still working on test sketches and hope to show my fellow readers some sample sketches using the two colors. Stay tuned!
Inks: DeAtramentis Document Inks in Grey and Urban Grey
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.
I ended 2022 with a last minute purchase of a new Van Dieman’s Ink that caught my eye. My new ink arrived in 2023, so it’s my first new inky color for this year.
This is a new series of inks called Birds of a Feather. The series is broken into six different birds: Anna’s Hummingbird, Blue Jay, Elegant Peacock, European Honey Bee Eater, Laughing Kookaburra, and Mandarin Duck.
The ink I selected is from Anna’s Hummingbird called Wing. The box has a colorful and gorgeous artwork that also appears on the bottle’s label.
This is a medium olive green ink color with lovely shading. At first it appears to have green shimmers.
I double checked the bottom of my bottle to see what the actual shimmering particles looked like. It definitely looked green to me.
I looked at my swatch from a slight angle, it looks like a bright green shimmer.
When I looked at my swatch from a side angle, I started to see another shimmering color appear. A lovely teal blue color.
I went back to my bottle and gave it a good shake. I tried to capture the shimmering colors I saw which could now be three colors depending on the lighting.
Once the shimmers started to settle inside the bottle, different layers of shimmering colors appeared. At the very bottom I could see some of the gold particles. In the middle was the green and towards the top is a tiny bit of teal blue.
The following shows my damp towel with some of the bluish grey underlying ink color and then blooming out into olive green and a bright chartreuse green around the outer areas. There is also a bright neon green color around the outer edge. I can honestly say this ink has a lot of personality.
As the my towel dried, the bluish grey color is more defined in the bloom.
So how does this VDI Wing compare to my other olive green inks? It’s very similar to Prairie Green, but a bit darker. Prairie Green has gold shimmers which gives this color a lighter appearance. Wing has several shimmering colors which gives the illusion the ink is darker.
This is another of my “trust my gut instinct” ink and I’m so happy to have this in my inky collection. Looking forward to sketching with this ink.
Ink: Van Dieman’s Ink Birds of a Feather series – Anna’s Hummingbird Wings (shimmers)
Tools used: Automatic Pen with 3A nib. River City Pen Company nib holder with JoWo #6 Fine nib.