“Ink, a Drug.”
― Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister
A few years ago, I bought a little wooden shelf unit at a thrift store for a couple dollars and mounted it on the wall above my secretary desk – which I mostly use for handwriting.
I’ve been reorganizing my office room and decided to use the shelf to store my fountain pen inks. It was about the right size and in a good spot. As I looked at it I thought it would look good with some illumination – so I went onto the internet and bought a one meter RGB LED light strip. It was from one of those cheap places so I had to wait a long time for it to arrive on a slow boat from you-know-where – but I was in no hurry.
When it arrived I drilled some holes in the shelf and the wall and ran a USB cord up to the shelf. I glued the strip down behind the ink bottles (I tried behind and in front – behind looked better) and there is was. The strip does blink and flash and rotate colors and all that stuff (It comes with a little remote) but I usually leave it shining a more or less “white” light. I thought that the colors of the ink would show but they are way too opaque and appear black.
Still I was very happy with how it turned out.
My favorite inks and, especially, ink bottles are the Pilot Iroshizuku ink from Japan. It is expensive, but I save the bottles and reuse them. When I have something I want to accomplish I will give myself the reward of a bottle of Iroshizuku if I meet the goal, as an incentive. I love the little well in the bottom to help get the last bit of ink out. The glass is heavy and really attractive.
Down on the end of the shelf are four bottles of vintage Waterman ink. I bought these in a box at an estate sale for a dollar. They are old (the blue ink in the photo above is called “Florida Blue” has a new name now – “Serenity Blue”) but it seems to still work well. Very well-behaved ink.
If you look on the shelf you can see a couple of vintage Sheaffer Skrip ink bottles. I’m always looking for these at antique stores and such. The ink is long gone, but I refill them with modern ink from boring bottles. What is cool about these vintage bottles is that they have a little well along the lip of the bottle. When the bottle is almost empty, you tip the bottle up to fill the well. You can get the tip of a fountain pen in there and thereby use every drop.
It doesn’t work as well as it should (the well is too small for some modern large-nibbed fountain pens) but I still like the idea and history.
As I recall, it was 5th grade when we began using pen and ink. Yes, I’m of the wooden desk/inkwell generation. And do you remember ink blotters? I wish now that I’d kept a few. Some were pretty darned artistic.
I have one ink blotter – a simple wooden rocker-type. I don’t use it very much – modern inks tend to dry fast. I’m young enough to miss the inkwell days – but my desks had a place for them and I never really knew what they were for.