On a personal note, this week has been an absolute shocker for me. My daughter tested positive for Covid, so we’re all in isolation for two weeks, and I’m feeling rough as hell (my daughter feels right as rain now, though!).
Leaving aside the enormous impact this is having on mental health, work, school, nursery, etc, from a pen perspective it’s terrible timing — I have 17 pens and ink packs that need to go to the post office from my recent sale, and I’m not allowed to leave the house.
Sorry to those of you waiting for something from me, doubly so if I haven’t reached out directly and you’re wondering where the parcel is. It’s been a difficult week and my brain has been all over the place.
Market research going well
I did manage to publish one blog this week: a survey about all things fountain pens.
After sharing it on a Facebook group, my Instagram feed and r/fountainpens, I’ve managed to gather 1,200 responses, which I am pleasantly surprised at. And feedback has been mostly positive… I’m letting the rest slide. If anyone thinks they can do better, and is willing to put in the hours to make it happen, they’re welcome to try.
I’m already looking at the data. Here’s a sneak peek at one question…
In exciting news, it’s looking like Ben Walsh will be generously donating a Gravitas pen as the giveaway prize — fantastic!
Gravitas comes to life
Which brings me to the news (well, about a week old now, but hey) that Gravitas Pens is alive and kicking, despite the Kickstarter not meeting its goal.
The site is live, production pens are ready to go, and I bought two, a twist in rose gold and a fountain pen in bronze. Can’t wait until they turn up — the bronze has a very special customisation just for me (perks of the position…!).
Desiderata BAMF needs a BUFF
My doormat has not been empty. Today, after a lengthy and extremely costly trip through customs, my Desiderata BAMF (Bad-Ass Mother Fucker) turned up.
As with all Desiderata pens, it’s the exact antithesis of what I complained about in my ‘sticks of resin‘ rant-post: it has a completely custom-built pump filler…
…an unusual brushed finish, barrel engraving, and a cheeky glimpse of bright red ebonite when you uncap it.
My example is a great writer, and very comfortable and balanced in my hand — probably more comfortable actually than the Soubriquet. Unfortunately, it has a few cosmetic flaws that have soured my excitement a little. There are several (well, nine actually — I’m anal enough to count) chips around the rim of the blind cap:
And the edge of the cap is damaged:
I’ve messaged Pierre about these issues, and just as I’m publishing this post he’s got back to me with a very thorough video message discussing possible solutions — I can’t fault the customer service.
No flaws on this, my seventh Schon Pocket Six. This Galaxy 2 I bought used on complete impulse, and in one sense I wish I hadn’t — now I’ve outgrown the custom Rickshaw six-P6 case I was using! Still, look at those galaxy colours… doesn’t it make a great addition to the lineup?
Adjusting to William Hannah
And lastly, after consulting the wise denizens of the Fountain Pens UK Facebook group, I sprung for a William Hannah notebook, or rather notebook system. At £99, it is on the pricey side for a notebook, but that’s not bothering me — like I said, it’s a system. It uses a row of steel discs for mounting paper, and the sheets are removable, refillable and repositionable. You can top up with all different types of paper, including habit trackers, to-do lists, diary pages and much more. So you can use it for years and sweat that £99 investment.
It arrived yesterday, and it does things so differently to what I’m used to that I’m having trouble adjusting.
First, I’m not used to this kind of flexibility: I’m starting out with a to-do list page at the start and a mix of line and dot pages, but I don’t think I’ll really see the full benefit of the Filofax-style section possibilities. I’m a bit concerned about what I’m going to do with the used pages after I remove them from the notebook, too… how should I file them?
The paper itself is very different to my usual thin Tomoe. At 110gsm it’s HEAVY, and toothier, although undeniably fountain-pen friendly. I like it, no doubt, but the thickness means there’s a strict limit on how many pages you can fit in. And these thick pages you really have to manhandle about. There’s no just slamming the notebook shut when you’re done; you need to work the pages round the rings from left to right into a single stack, then shut the cover as a separate motion.
I was worried about the metal discs getting in the way of my hand when writing, compared to a normal flat binding, since they stick up quite a way. They don’t, actually. However, they do scratch my watch bracelet, which is intensely annoying. I’ve never had a notebook do that before!
And the fourth of my first impressions is a general sense of disquiet about the leather binding. It’s absolutely beautiful, thick and sumptuous, and wonderfully colourful in this whiskey brown and kingfisher blue combination. But it’s not folded, it has no defined, constructed spine: it just curves around. I’m sure it will flatten down with use, but right now it’s rather bulging and a bit floppy. If I shoved it into my work bag right now I’d be concerned about bending a corner back or something.
If that sounds like a damning review, it isn’t — but this is not at all like a normal notebook and I need time to adjust.
The Rickshaw routine
If it’s taken me a while to adjust to William Hannah, the opposite is true of Rickshaw’s products: I’ve taken to them like a duck to water. The Bento Bag has become my daybag.
…the Hand Roll is my daily pen tote, and my Schons live in their own special pen roll.
I wouldn’t say Rickshaw has totally displaced Nock in my carry — the Burton is still my preferred journalling setup for an A5 notebook, and the zip-up Sinclair is the best way to carry three pens and a pocket notebook — but they’ve filled a hole I didn’t know needed filling. Excellent.
And that, ladies and gents, is all I have to update you on this week. Are you on the hunt for any Black Friday bargains?