My last fill with my Lamy 2000 was with Montblanc JFK — a navy blue ink that I really expected to love. But it didn’t gel with the pen. Writing with it just felt like hard work, and my hand always passed over the combo for something else.
In the end I flushed it, and reinked with Kobe Kano Cho Midnight, a glossy blue that’s so dark it’s true to its nocturnal name. The nib now glides, laying a thick line, and it’s a pleasure to write with. I look for excuses to pick it up. For the last six months or so I’ve pretty much exclusively used this ink in the 2000, and I may never switch again.
Last week I wrote my Pelikan M805 dry. It was loaded with Montblanc Lavender Purple, one of my favourite inks, and a good fit for the pen. But I decided it was time for a change, and reinked with a new ink of mine, Birmingham’s Pennsylvania Railroad Boiler Steam Blue Black (how’s that for a mouthful?). Now, I’ve loved most of the Birmingham inks I’ve used, so I expected it to be good. But it just works so wonderfully with the nib, especially on Tomoe River. I’ve written with it for two successive diary entries, and that’s unheard of for me.
It’s natural that certain inks work best with certain pens… shading inks may benefit best from a broad nib; weak inks from a wet line; and a dry nib can be remedied by a lubricated ink. But it’s not that simple. Three of the four inks I’ve written about above could be called blue-black. Two of them are Mont Blanc. And both pens are German and reasonably wet, with decent widths. Yet the alchemy is either there or it isn’t.
I’m starting to think that I need to keep track of these perfect pairings, if only because the magic of the combinations is so strong that I don’t want to lose it.
And, perhaps more importantly, I’m now trying to give inks (and pens) a second chance: if my first try doesn’t work, I mix it up and try again. I never thought that fountain pens would need to take a lesson from speed-dating, but apparently so…