syo-ro

“I take pride in using fountain pens. They represent craftsmanship and a love of writing. Biros, on the other hand, represent the throwaway culture of modern society, which exists on microwave ready-meals and instant coffee.”
Fennel Hudson, A Writer’s Year – Fennel’s Journal – No. 3

 

Pilot iroshizuku syo-ro ink (pine tree dew or gray turquoise)

People give me Amazon Gift Cards for Christmas and my birthday – which is a good thing because I can’t hope for anyone to understand my odd and ridiculous tastes. The final box I ordered for my birthday arrived – taking over a month, probably because it was shipped from Japan.

It was a bottle of Pilot brand iroshizuku ink, in the syo-ro color, which is described as pine tree dew or gray turquoise.

It’s a fairly expensive ink, but that’s the idea of a gift card anyway – buy something you really like, but would be too dear for you to buy for yourself.

I wanted a new go-to color of ink and pored over the iroshizuku color charts to try and find the one I like the best – a sisyphean task. I wanted a dark color with subtle shading.

You see, once you start writing with fountain pens, you realize the quality of the writing experience depends on three primary variables. Everybody talks about the pen – people pay big money for fine pens. But the paper you write on is equally important. Some pens do better with some papers. And finally there is the ink.

Not only the color, but the qualities of the ink. Some ink works better in some pens, and the relationship with the ink and the paper is very complex.

Now I had my ink after its long journey on a slow boat. I love the bottle. Its a heavy, curved piece of glass art, with a cool little well at the bottom, to help get the last drops out.

After a little thought, I cleaned out my favorite Parker “51” and loaded it up. The ink and pen go together perfectly. It is a sweet luxury.

Parker “51” loaded with iroshizuki syo-ro ink

What I learned this week, May 16, 2014

Ink & Paper

As a small child I remember watching a linotype operator keying his machine and fascinated by his callused hands handling the hot lead slugs.


The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win


How to Deal With Negative Press


How does George R. R. Martin do his actual writing?

Using a separate computer for writing is brilliant. I wouldn’t go back to Wordstar – I’d use Wordperfect 5.0 – the best word processing program I’ve seen.

I like his rant against auto-correct – “If I had wanted a capital, I’d have typed a capital.”


Kaiju-a-go-go: Every Godzilla Monster, from Lamest to Coolest

I can’t argue with King Ghidorah at #1, but I would have ranked Mothra higher.


Rate of US bicycle commuters rises by 60%

The only thing better than biking to work is biking to somewhere other than work.


Mesquite steering away from groundbreaking DART pact

I have no sympathy for Mesquite in this deal. I lived there, years ago, when the DART vote went down. Mesquite voted no. The reason I heard was, “If we get a train and a bus system, poor people will move here.” Wrong. Young professionals that work downtown and are looking for affordable housing will live there and take the train to work. And when the young profesionals move to other suburbs (with dense, transit-oriented development) what do you have left?


Google Street View sleuth: help us identify our cities’ biggest failings

There are plenty of bad spots in Dallas. Here’s one that I particularly abhor. It would be a very useful route to get from Downtown/Cedars to the Santa Fe Trestle Trail… if it wasn’t a death trap. It looks like there are sidewalks and stairs too – don’t be fooled, they go nowhere… fast.

Fake

You all know (or should know) that I have a weakness for and love of fountain pens. I am primarily a “user” rather than a “collector” – but still appreciate an aged and well-done writing instrument, as long as it has a nib.

I was looking at Amazon.com for some stuff and, off in the corner, I saw an ad that caught my eye. Usually I ignore web ads, but this one seemed aimed right at me.

It looked like The Parker Pen company, the venerable company that over the years has produced such legendary and wonderful fountain pens such as the Vacumatic and the Parker “51” has come up with a new pen – maybe some sort of advanced nib, or a revolutionary filling system. I was stoked.

So I clicked through the ad to the Parker Ingenuity, one of their “5th ink technology” pens. Something didn’t quite look right. So I did some digging and research and it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.

This wasn’t a fountain pen at all. It’s like a felt pen, with a metal hood stamped around it to make it look like a fountain pen.The actual writing surface is replaced with a new refill. It even has non-functional ribs to look like the ridges on a fountain pen feed. A typical model costs a little bit under two hundred dollars. It is obviously aimed at people that want to look like they carry a fountain pen – they want the cachet – but that don’t want inky fingers.

I know that you are going to get ink on your hands or worse when you carry a fountain pen. A pen with a nib is considered a “controlled leak” and I’ve learned to wipe off the pen and clean the inside of the cap when a pen has been lugged around where it can get a shock and shake ink out into the cap. Flying is a real problem – the reduced air pressure can cause a pen to spew ink (I carry an empty pen, an airtight case, and extra cartridges).

So I fully understand someone that wants to carry, for example, a rollerball – sometimes I think of it myself – though I say no… it seems unclean somehow. What bugs me is that they make it look like a fountain pen. A triangle with a slit in it is not a nib – a good nib is a wonderful piece of design, engineering, and manufacture. It is a delicate mechanism of steel, gold, and iridium designed to deliver a carefully controlled stream of ink in a smooth flow to a piece of paper.

A felt pen is useful and deserving of its existence – but don’t try to hide it behind a stamped piece of sheetmetal.

Oh, one other point – I am not a fan of pens that have metal sections – the part right in back of the nib, the place where your fingers grip. I don’t like the feel of cold chrome. Warm plastic, rubber, or ebonite is a better writing grip.

Now that I’ve ranted a bit… if anyone actually wanted to buy me one of those… well, that would be different.

It would be a gift.