Parker Quink with Solv-X

I came by a bottle with packaging of Quink Black with Solv-X made in France.

Now can the ink be used or is it just a collectible?

So where does one go with a question like this? The Fountain Pen Network of course and two members rang in with no bad smell, no nasties floating around, swirl it around with a stick, and if it passes all these tests, it's a go.

It smells fine. Tomorrow in the light of day, I'll plunge a skewer into the bottle and see if I can get anything fishy.

Thinking Outloud

Putting order into one's life ain't easy.

The living room now looks like a battle field with bins, blue and clear, paper, oddments, magazines, books, trinkets, sew-stuff and more on all the surfaces and on the floor.

But what I've discovered is at least three incomplete projects:

I started a project on Susan B. Anthony in '03, but got side-tracked by an invitation to participate in a fabric-based publication. Whilst I finished my entries for that publication and had one of my pieces included, the original project has lain fallow. Time to follow through on my commitment to the Anthony House in Syracuse, finish up and donate the book to them.

I've a half dozen collages or mixed media pieces finished or nearly so and ready for the Bakers Dozen in New Zealand and more than enough material to conclude the commitment of 13 8x10 works for the March '09 deadline.

I've amassed quite some material to move on with my World War II project, and with the offering of a solo show, I should make this a first or second tier high priority item. I do have to email my collaborators on the Dark Art project to see if they'd like to include their work in the potential show.


Fine Arts

Fine Arts has often been at the head of the pack when it comes to quality art supplies and new products.

It seems they have a new 4x6 72lb black leather journal that takes ink well.

As I am just starting plans for a 2-month sojourn to Panajchel, I'm thinking light: one suitcase, one shoulder bag with lap-top, camera, passport, etc. and nothing else. My mini-basket, even filled with a few fountain pens, my mini-watercolor palette and one or two journals, will be very light weight and compact. However, the journals can't be more than 4x6 if I want them to sit in the basket.

I'm considering the smaller 4x6 Rhodia epure and looking at the Right as Rain journal which is also 4x6 and seems intriguing but I haven't a clue how well it will take ink and lastly, the Fine Arts sketchbook.

The Chariot or Challenge VII

So many challenges, so many images to choose from among my favourite and unknown decks.

I see some serious adventures and challenges ahead.

My Pelikan came home at 12:22 PM today

Chartpak did a terrific job with turning around my Pelikan M215. I sent it to them priority, insured on 23 September and I got it back today, well wrapped and with too many instructions about ink care.

I will be inking her up mighty soon!


All those Wild Turkeys

Apparently the wild turkey is much at home in my area.

I see them on and off in various places and on different roads, but today was the first time they all decided to pay a visit and sit on the Grange fence.

All adults.

Is there an end to Ink?

Biffybeans says there'll be a sale at Pear Tree on inks in October, just a few days away.

But if I buy another bottle of ink, I think my cabinet will fall down.


In the seven years I've been a buyer and seller at ebay I've seen many changes.

One change I've noticed recently is that many more bidders are pouncers. They don't bid until the very last minute and then bid high.

I've lost the last three German fountain pens I've wanted this way, and while none went for an extraordinarily high price, as I only want one for sentimental reasons I've bid what I thought I could pay and what the pen is worth.

This last pen I wanted more than others, bid more than twice what I ordinarily bid for these pens and still an hour before the bidding was to end--I lost!

On my wish list

I've had two watercolour books on my wish list for about a year, perhaps more, that just don't drop in price.

So, I called the library and yes, they can get me a copy of Watercolour Painting by Jean Louis Morelle (2003) and Pat Dews (1998) Creative Discoveries in Watermedia.

I am eager to see them as my experience in the past has been that a recommended book doesn't always make for the best book in my view.

In fact after such a long time I can't remember in what context the Dews' book was recommended. I can however remember that Morelle's book was referenced repeatedly in Ewa Karpinska's Wet-on-Wet Watercolour Painting book, a book I thoroughly enjoyed.

With the prospect of a sturdy and nearly pristine drafting table, the acquisition of several small and portable plastic low slung bins and an energetic mind-set, I hope to actually get back to art in a serious way after a hiatus of nearly two years.

I have brought up all the larger bins (oh, my aching back) from the cellar and have been sorting through finished work, work in progress, collage materials and just plain stuff. The living room, generally a tidy spot in my universe, is now a chaotic maze of colour and shapes, matboard, canvas and enticing shreds of fabric.

October is my art month.

The Swords

Yesterday was an Ace of Swords.

And perhaps it was. I drove over to Livingston Manor, stopped off at Willow and Brown and got the beautiful red mixing cups and spoons I was hankering after, and then went to the Catskill Art Society for a workshop.

I realized five minutes into the program that I was in the wrong place at the right time. But, I did manage to stay through the entire presentation, come away with a few telephone numbers of participants, caught up with Karen B, who was also attending the workshop, and fly into the new Camping Store on Main Street
to buy a great looking Lewis & Clark Frontier travel sack for toiletries.

Driving back to PA I was caught up not with the energy of the Ace but by the natural wonders of the roads travelled.

And now today, I pull the Emperor. It is a rainy, overcast day.

I puttered, prattling around the warm house attempting to finish some of the open projects, and continue the ongoing sorting process
of paper galore.

The only strange or worthy of mention event thus far was
the appearance of more than a dozen wild Turkeys, first sitting on the Grange fence and then gobbling some grasses in my side yard.

I snapped some photographs through the window but none of them really came out well enough to share.

Pen Rolls, Two

Lai Yee (Teresa Haas) of HisNibs makes some interesting pen rolls in various sizes and colours.

Pen Rolls

One of the projects I have in my basket is making a pen roll.

I've been fussing with my pencil roll to see how to best adapt it for fountain pens. Immediately I realized that any roll I make has to accommodate either small or large fountain pens. The pencil roll is the perfect height for most pens but my Pelikans and other small pens drop down too far into the sockets.

So it may be that I'll make two rolls, each accommodating just a few pens, one for the smaller pens and another for the larger sized boys.

I am thinking of a felt exterior, lined in silk with a stiff satin ribbon. If there was a fabric store nearby, it would probably take all of an hour to make, but I have to find the fabric first.

I'm going down to Milford on Tuesday. I wonder if this town has one.

Upstairs, Downstairs

Here's a wee peak at the top of my downstairs' desk. I have one of my Morriset inkwells and my one blotter on this desk with all my stamps and assorted mailing paraphernalia.

I try to reserve this desk for cheque writing and quick notes but it gets crowded with non-sense mail that has to be sent to re-cycle or a visit to the burn barrel.

Tomorrow I will clear it up again.

And here is my mini-desk that I use in the bedroom to hold my in use fountain pens and my Levenger index cards. I spend quite a bit of time on my double decker rolling cart writing, cleaning fountain pens, testing inks and thinking about my projects. I have a small wicker basket with zillions of folded slips of paper on which I've written all my projects. When I finish one, I tear or shred the slip with a sense of accomplishment.

My Mission desk in my small office is the repository of my laptop and printer. I really want to clear this surface and use it as a proper writing desk. But where will I put these electronics?


Paul Newman at 83

RIP Paul Newman.

I was saddened when I heard of his death and mindful of the one time I walked into him--literally.

I was at the opening of the Harry Darger exhibit at the American Folk Arts Museum on an amazingly sunny Autumn day; in fact, a day like today. I had come from the Joint Disease Hospital after a follow-up exam having broken my wrist that summer, and instead of going back to the office, I played hookey. Not only did I forego work I convinced Mark to join me.

Mark, even more than me, loved outsider art and I knew he'd enjoy the exhibit. As I was a member, it was a freebie.

But I certainly didn't imagine that in addition to seeing this imaginative, outstanding, misunderstood oeuvre of work by Darger, I'd walk into one of the few movie stars I idolized. He was polite. I was giddy. His wife, Joanne Woodward, 50 paces across the gallery floor, stared in disbelief as I engaged Mr. Newman in discussion.

Mark was embarrassed. I was ecstatic.

And now he too has passed on.


Another Japanese Journal

Midori has this Travelers Journal to offer.

I wrote to them today and wonder where it is sold other than the one place mentioned in searching4arcadia.

It doesn't at first blush appear to be clear why it costs approximately $50.00.

And while I have spent that much on a leather journal, it ain't going to happen this week or this year. I just have too many others, and far greater must buy items on my list.

Friday is Book Day

Even when I lived in Europe I'd get the New York Times Book Review, weeks late of course, but a mother-in-law desperate to please would send it on, with other important written words, to me faithfully.

This year I've read less than ever, spent fewer dollars on books and used the library frequently, but continue to read the Book Review.

In fact, when I was writing "Art of Convivium" to be published in a fortnight, I went back to old habits and read the reviews as if they were part of my thesis and studied sentence structure and word usage.

Today I read a piece by Dorothy Gallagher that moved me to the pen and reminded me of my passion for how it sounds. How it sounds is why I write poetry, prose and essays. This sort of writing often is more permissive of sound than other forms of the written word.

And Gallagher apparently understands in her reading and writing the importance of clarity.

Only yesterday, I was speaking with Nora Eisenberg about the art of writing, her writing in particular but I also shared some of my illustrated word concepts with her.

I hadn't realized she wrote about social issues, and she hadn't realized that I wrote at all, but then we barely know each other.

We also discovered we have mutual friends in Linda and Toby of Proprioceptive Writing fame now transplanted to the West Coast. I met them in Portland, ME and I'm not certain where Nora met them. I must ask the next time we meet.

Proprioceptive writing taught me to clear the air around my thoughts and then my words in ways no other course, class or workshop ever did. Often when I write, even random notes, the PW is present and at the forefront of my thoughts.

Now to pull myself away from distractions and gather together the authentic voice.

Writing it down, bones, bare, uncharted, passionately can be facilitated by all these new fountain pens.

Found this easel on Craigs_list

Good price for a name branded drafting table. However, it is not wood.

It is the right size, adjusts to various heights, does have a ruler bar and appears in good condition.

I'd have to meet the seller in Milford (PA) on Sunday.

If there is a perfect notebook

Biffybeans will find it.

She's been on the move and on the search long before I even thought about anything but my sketchbooks.

And perhaps she's found in with the Rhodia ePure. Unfortunately, I am loathe to buy another journal with so many laying around fallow.

But if I read that this is the one, I may have to spring for it before Daily Planner runs out of this version.

Children Arriving

My Waterman is home.

I inked her up with Rohrer & Klingner Alt-Bordeaux and gave her a test run in my Apica C10. She is writing smoothly, nicely flexing and the Alt-Bordeaux clearly likes a slightly wetter nib.

And, I just received an alert from UPS that Chartpak has mailed my Pelikan M215 and she too is on her way home.

Wouldn't it be a nice gift to come home from my workshop in Livingston Manor (NY) to find her on my porch.

Shucks, I just read the notification more carefully, delivery is scheduled for 29 September--Monday.

Moving on High

When I first moved here, I thought I could convert the huge cellar to a Studio. As time went on, and weather changes occurred, I realized that in Winter, it is too cold, and in Summer, it is too humid. Furthermore, as the house is old and not well insulated, small insects seem to creep into the crevices. Spiders are abundant and not conductive to art projects.

So, I am seriously thinking of moving my supplies on high--upstairs to the spare bedroom.

In the interest of sanity, I thought I'd try to get a second drafting table and keep the bulk of my supplies down cellar, and art upstairs.

And I thought, "I need a drafting table."

I put a note on the community network and three people responded that they have a drafting table for sale. I haven't seen any yet, but I suspect one is an Alvin.

I've never been fond of the material Alvin uses on their stock tables, and would much prefer a solid wood drafting table or an older table like the Rietveld.

The Rietvield is very well designed, can easily be collapsed and has an excellent surface. It appears that the only one I see on line is in Europe and selling for a mere 1000./E.

I don't think it will be easy to find one for sale in the States and I am certainly not prepared to buy one for a thousand Euros. Perhaps Rietveld, easy to come by in the Netherlands when I lived in Amsterdam, has now become a collector's item.

Now I've found one that nearly resembles my original student drafting table with a drawer and I am very tempted to buy it, and give up the idea of saving money and getting someone else's cast off or a another second hand table.

For about $150.00 I can get a table delivered that comes closest to what I'd like except that these do no collapse.

Another subject to ponder on this rainy, miserable day in the Upper Delaware Valley.

Hiromi Paper's Italian Journal

I am curious about this journal--no info on the site.

Hiromi Paper

In the quest for the perfect journal, I followed the Black Cover review, and wrote to Awagami in Japan asking them for US sources for their notebooks.

Aya Fujimori sent me two sources, Hiromi and Kates Paperie.

I've bought fine paper from Hiromi in my bookbinding days, and know they have some of the finest stock around.

Curious why there was such a big difference in price between the two sources, I asked Aya in a follow up email what distinguished one journal from the other, and she replied, "The difference among the Yuzen Spring, Yuzen Autumn, Syuro journals is the cover paper. The Yuzen series is hand printed papers and Syuro is made of rice straw."

Frankly, I like the Syuro variant better as I am not inclined to buy floral covered journals.

So for $12.00 I think I may try this journal as I suspect it could be of a similar quality to Apica--a wonderful paper with a simple cover.

And when I get the Syuro, I will probably also buy one of the Kuretake brush pens that are being offered for a very reasonable price.

PS - Here's a review at Amateur Economist of the journal.


Parsifal's Sister is about to take another path

The desk top is covered with pens, the ink is in the cupboard, the journals rest here and there, a basket, a shelf, a bookcase, a bureau. It is time to enter another dream, another project, obsessively or not, but beyond this path.

The Waterman is traveling to me from Washington State, the Pelikan M215 is journeying away from me to New England, and when they arrive in Galilee, the collection might well be complete.

The only travelers I foresee are those who must and will set off for other adventures.

And then, this Pentamento will be at rest.



Eugene O'Neill said, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.”

A powerful statement by a man of letters, and I believe a fountain pen user, this quote set me off yesterday after I heard it mentioned in an interview.

I put O'Neill's statement on the cover of my Apica 6A10 with Caran d'ache Amazon and hope to use it to continue mending.

It is overdue.

Whilst once a Novice

I've always been fascinated with the old, the antique, the shabby, the decayed, and the collectible. For some years I ran a small antique shop with three friends, and we sold the small, the beautiful, the antiquated and the expensive.

I never set out to collect vintage fountain pens, and now after decades of collecting, I have only two pens that can be described as collectible: one is a Sheaffer Vac-Fill in beautiful condition, and the other an A.A. Waterman.

Yet, when a fellow FPn member offered Paul Erano's book for sale, I jumped at the chance to purchase it.

I am looking forward to its arrival so that I can continue to learn about the history of fountain pens.

I also check in frequently with Lion and Pen's forum to see what they are talking about and I have learned more about fountain pens than I would have imagined when I started this journey.

It is not always about Wagner

Parsifal is among the most listened to and recognizable operas in the Wagner pantheon--but when I think of Parsifal it isn't the opera but the adventure to seek the Holy Grail.

In some ways trying to find the perfect pen and/or the perfect journal could be compared to the Grail search especially if one wants the perfect trio: pen, journal and ink.

I'm not certain perfection exists, but trying is the adventure.

Crone Syndrome

When Ellen started, and later finished this deck, I was not quite a Crone but close enough to be fascinated.

I bought her hand made deck but when I left NYC, it and others were sold. One of the reasons this deck left my hands was its delicacy. It is now available for $35.00 in a laminate version and now that I feel more settled, I miss this deck. I believe images and thoughts inform and that my recent obsession with my fountain pens is a result of my personal Autumn.

All the years of collecting were for me, and now I think of what gets left behind.


Mercury Retrograde - 24.9.2008

Another cycle of Mercury retrograde will occur at 0.16 ~ Sidereal time in Germany on 25 September at 22 Libra 49 and will not reach station until 31 October, although it will reverse and go direct on 17 October (see Die Deutsche Ephemeride, Band VIII, 2001-2020).

Some people are very affected by retrograde planets, and in particular Mercury, while others barely feel it at all or believe it could have any affect on them.

This retrograde seems to have started early for me: I had to have the battery charged in Honesdale yesterday and got a parking ticket; my computer is acting up; my provider invoice was $50.00 over the previous month(s) and I am not communicating well or rather avoiding communication.

What I'd like to do is sit quietly, gaze out the window and perhaps write a letter.

Some days I long for Guilford (VT), the farm and my Golden Charlie. At the farm every day was quiet, dreamy and the adventure of the mind.

Here in NEPA the days move swiftly and with Autumn upon us, the nights come quickly, suddenly, blanketing the sky with Midnight Blue--probably similar to the Private Reserve ink.

The single positive retrograde action I've taken, thus far, is to mail off my Pelikan M215 to Chartpak for a nib exchange. I sent it this afternoon, priority, insured.

A Waterman for the price of a cup of coffee

In 1919, long before I was born, but a date that has some significance to me, a Waterman fountain pen sold for what I pay now for a bad container of coffee in nearby Narrowsburg.

What inflation rate is that?

And how did a fountain pen, a utilitarian object, made of plastic and metal, turn into a collector's item?

Life is beautiful!

Something old, something new

Although not German, this is a pen I wouldn't mind owning.


Numerologically Speaking

It seems to be all about fours.

Yesterday I pulled the 4 of Swords--a day I thought little about fountain pens.

And today I got the 4 of Wands, a celebration, when all I want to do is forget about pens.

Frankly I liked all my pens better when I just wrote with them.

Vintage Pen Collecting

This guide to collecting vintage pens is interesting. I found it whilst searching under "German 1930s fountain pens."


Another pre-WWII German fountain pen

This pen could be a Pelikan but it isn't. See the flat top and lower barrel design.

But is is a German pen from around the 30s and one that might have been tempting to a Nana.

It is a Soennecken.

(Sold for $79.00)

Loose Ends

Well, I have my lovely Pelikan M215 but haven't inked her. I just keep perseverating about the nib.

My handwriting has changed so much over the years and I'd like a wider nib. Of course, once more it is impossible to test run any so I keep putting off the decision.

However, I did decide that rather than getting a custom from Binder, or taking a trade for an unknown nib, I will send the pen to Chartpak for a replacement.

I telephoned and asked how the replacement worked and it was during that conversation that I went from simple, quick solution to over analyzing. Why? They require that you send the pen in toto and not just the nib.

I also asked if I could come by as I wouldn't have minded driving to my old haunts in Western Massachusetts, but no they only accept the exchanges by mail. Why? They want to ensure that the nib is properly replaced.

So, tomorrow or Tuesday, I will pack up my new pen and send her to Massachusetts.

Early German Fountain Pens

My German is not good enough to participate on the Pen Exchange but the few articles in English are quite informative.

The article on "What would grandmother's pen be worth" is most telling in my inquiry about Anne Frank's pen.

Apparently the Pelikan 100 was a very established pen in the 30s.

Perhaps it does work

While not a Waterman 12, this A.A is within my price range and I had enough cash in my paypal account to pay for it without a transfer of funds.

It is small and perhaps easy to carry around and seems to write well. A Waterman with a stub nib may be the ticket to end the fountain pen ride.

A ride more exhausting and not nearly as exhilerating as my five year old rides on Coney Island's Carousel and far more expensive.
Yes, when I was five and even late into my teens, I'd go to Coney Island, go to Nathan's, get a hotdog and a bag of their special fries and walk over to the Carousel. I'd stand in front of the building, nibbling and then jump on a horse, and take the ride around and around and try to catch the ring.

As I got older the thrill of the brass ring diminished, but in my memory, the brass ring is as indelible and permanent as bulletproof ink--the thrill of the ride and the possibility of one more time around.


Aachen and the 1930s

As I polish and clean and think of travelling again, I come full circle back to Anne Frank's fountain pen. Her grandmother lived in Aachen in the 30s and it was her grandmother who gifted Anne her pen.

Aachen is the most western city in Germany and near both the Belgian and Netherlands borders. I believe one must fly into Maastricht to get to Aachen.

While pondering, I had a memory of sitting on a terrace in Zurich with my own adopted grandmother, the matriarch of a large Jewish Dutch family, and only one of two family members to survive the war. Fortuitously, and with some clever guile, she and one of her two sons escaped Holland before it was over-run by the Nazis. Her other son, the older of the two, stayed to fight in the resistance and perished.

I can see her lovely, soft face, thick grey hair pulled back in a chignon and twinkling grey eyes smiling over our tea, but concentrated and recounting the past that separated her from the Netherlands, her lost son and brought her to a June day more than twenty years later.

If I focus, perhaps I'll be able to capture something magical from those wonderful days and evenings we shared together and also touch the store-house of her knowledge and intuit what she would have given me or Miriam had she thought to give either of us a fountain pen.

Not rich but affluent, price would not have been an issue, but surely practicality. Colour and comfort would dictate to a large extent what she might have chosen, and most of all she would have selected a fountain pen that she hoped Miriam and I would cherish.

Each time I see a fountain pen offered on the 'bay from this period in history I bid $18.00 and wonder if somehow handling a Soennecken, Geha or Pelikan circa 1930s will reveal to me the secret.


The Perfect Black Book

The Black Cover is a great blog for discovering the little black book. I only wish they were fountain pen conscious. It is not possible to know if any of these are compatible with ink.

Visualizing what one wants

Both my younger daughter and a friend feel that if one visualizes strongly what one wants, it will appear.

So if I set up a proper, regular visualization will I find or even be given a antique Waterman with a flexible 2 nib and eyedropper filler? It is possible, isn't it?

And if I visualize all my pens sitting sweetly in their boxes, frogs or cases, will they miraculously re-ink themselvs, flush themselves out and write unattended and finish my novel. It is possible, isn't it?

President Lincoln didn't object to a lever, but for many reasons, I don't particularly like them and have either given away or sold all those I owned.


Queen of Cups

Although I don't use this deck as often as others, the Artists Inner Vision remains among my favourites, one because so many of the cards are beautiful and two because so many of the artists are people I've worked with on one project or another.

Cath's card of the Queen of Cup's is so Cathleen and the perfect card to draw today.

Slowing Down

My intention was to clean each pen, one at a time, put them in a nice clean clear plastic bag and then offer them for sale.

It turns out that Simichrome is not the perfect cleaner for all pens and I over-polished one.

Time to take a break!

Have you seen this pen

The single pen on my "want" list is a Waterman 12 eyedropper.


Life is about discoveries

It's never possible to know what is up the road but I do believe I am nearly at the end of this pen-mania path.

I've almost finished photographing the pens I'd like to sell. After learning more about my own Canon camera at our local Photo Shop--really nice folks--I found that if I get shots on grey days they come out better on the indoor porch than on more sunny days.

One or two need a little clean up and I believe I have all the tools, liquids and cloths necessary to do them up proud. Several are inked and my inclination is to flush them and move on.

A few more days or a week at the most and they will all be archived.

I've also declared a moratorium on inks and withdrew from the FPn Ink Exchange. If I need any more look-see inks, it is easier to get The Pear Tree samples, a far more straight forward way to get small quantities of ink than fiddling with the plastic vials.

If I press forward I should be ready to list the fountain pens and art supplies on the 'bay on schedule.