The Scale of Paper Absorption Part Two

This is part two of a series of scientific paper tests to determine the most lefty and fountain pen friendly paper. To read Part One, please click here. I tested each paper with 12 pens with inks of varying degrees of wetness. Dry-times were measured by dragging my finger across three lines after 5 seconds, and then repeating this process with new lines until the ink dried, increasing each time by 5 seconds.

Leuchtturm 1917:

Leuchtturm 1917 had an average dry time of 16.25 seconds. The longest dry time was 30 seconds with Colorverse Extra Dimension. The only ink that feathered at all was Noodlers Golden Brown, and it was mild feathering. Bleed through is a 2. This paper shows off shading but not sheening. With minimal feathering and a surprisingly slow dry time, Leuchtturm 1917 is a 6 on the Scale of Absorption. I say surprisingly slow, as Leuchtturm is one of the papers often recommended for lefties on stationary websites because it’s so absorbent. I think that this paper is best used after finding the right pen and ink combination for you, and if you enjoy toothy paper.

Doane Paper:

Doane Paper had an average dry time of 5.42 seconds. Colorverse Extra Dimension had the longest dry time within 10 seconds. Every other ink just seeped right in. Bleed-through is a 5, but there was no feathering. No inks bled through on to the next page, but quite a few bled to the back. This paper is great if you want to jot something down quickly and immediately put it away, it’s also pretty toothy. With light feathering, moderate bleed-through, and a little bit of shading, Doane Paper is a 2 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Nock Co:

Nock Paper had an average dry time of 5.83 seconds. The longest dry time was Kyo-no-oto Kokeiro with 15 seconds. Every other ink tested dried within 5 seconds, even Extra Dimension. Most inks yielded crisp lines, but Golden Brown was a little bit feathery, as was Schrödinger. You can see a little bit of shading in certain inks like Fire & Ice and Kokeiro, and no sheen. This paper has a little bit of tooth, but not unpleasantly so. Bleed-through is a 2. This paper has a little bit of tooth, but much less than Leuchtturm. With a fast dry time, very light feathering and light bleed-through, Nock Paper is a 4 on the Scale of Absorption.


Blackwing Paper had an average dry-time of 9.16 seconds. The longest dry-times were Extra Dimension and Wild Strawberry with 20 seconds each. Bleed-through is a 1, but Golden Brown and Haha both feathered a little bit, as did Extra Dimension. Extra Dimension shades, as well as every other ink tested except for Golden Brown and Haha. With a median dry-time, light feathering and bleed-through, Blackwing Paper is a 5 on the Scale of Paper Absorption. Considering that this paper is designed to be used with pencils, Blackwing Paper does quite well with fountain pens, and it’s pretty smooth to write on.

Delfonics Rollbahn:

Rollbahn Paper had an average dry-time of 17.5 seconds. The longest dry-time was Colorverse Schrödinger, which dried within 30 seconds. This paper shows off shading quite nicely, but no sheening, and is pleasantly smooth. Bleed-through is a 1. There was no feathering with crisp lines, and some tiny spots that bled to the back of the page. With a slow dry-time, nice shading, no feathering and minimal bleed-through, Rollbahn is an 8 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Midori MD:

Midori paper had an average dry-time of 25 seconds. As you can see in the first photo above, Golden Brown never dried, even after 3 minutes, and is a smudgy mess. Because every other ink dried within 1 minute and 5 seconds, I didn’t factor Golden Brown into my average dry-time for this paper. Because Midori paper is water resistant, super wet inks tend to sit on top of the page. Another day I’ll do a set of tests with really wet inks like Golden Brown and calculate the average in minutes. Bleed-through is a 0, with no feathering and the ability to use both sides of the paper. Inks that previously showed no sheen, like Wild Strawberry, sheen and shade on Midori. With the longest dry-time thus far and wonderful ink performance, Midori MD is a 10 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

Field Notes (Steno):

Field Notes paper on their Steno Book had an average dry-time of 11.6 seconds. The longest dry-times were Extra Dimension and Kokeiro, each drying within 20 seconds. Bleed-through is a 4, but with no feathering and decent shading. Even Manyo Ha Ha showed its dual shading. Golden Brown seeped right in the page, but the lines are still pretty crisp. With a moderately low dry-time, moderately high bleed-through, and a respectable amount of shading, Field Notes is a 3 on the Scale of Paper Absorption.

After looking at how I graded these results, I’ve updated some of the scores for part one, and added some Amazon affiliate links in case you might want to purchase any of these notebooks. I plan on making one more part, and then turning these posts into one webpage, including an actual scale to see where each paper falls. The links on this post are Amazon affiliate links as well. If you click on them and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

The Hobonichi Techo A6

I bought a Hobonichi planner at the beginning of a pandemic lockdown. Here’s what I did with it:

Back in March of 2020 I ordered a Hobonichi Techo planner as a birthday present to myself. The notebook that I was using as a sort-of-planner was a disorganized mess, and I was looking for something small and low maintenance. My A6 Hobonichi ended up being just right for the rest of 2020.

The front cover got a bit warped from being in my Seed case behind the inside pen slots.

Hobonichi Techo planners come in both A6, A5, and slim wallet sizes, and are available in Japanese and English languages. The English language editions sell out quickly. They can be used as part of a system with a cover and various accessories, but I just got the planner book by itself. At the time of purchase, I was able to get a spring edition that begins in April of 2020 and ends in March of 2021. At the beginning of January I tried starting a fresh new journal, but have since went back to using the Hobonichi because I want to finish it.

Without a job and very few dates to remember, I used the calendar section at the beginning of the book to track when I left the house and where I went. During this age of Covid-19, I’ve been the main person in my household running errands. With this information written down I could go back and look at when the last time I left the house was, and how many times I went out in a month.

For the daily pages, the Hobonichi has a very nice layout. In the top left corner there’s the date and weekday as well as any applicable holidays. In the top right corner there’s a little area with five checkboxes for a to-do list. The rest of the page is gridded with subtle lines that are different colors for each month. At the bottom of the page there is a daily quote. Since my version is in Japanese, I ended up handwriting the day of the week and applicable holiday. I also wrote down what number day of my lockdown it was; the last day I logged was number 281. By the middle of the year it’s gonna be like Blast From The Past when Brendan Fraser’s character first leaves the bunker.

In the to-do list section I wrote down basic household tasks like chores and daily reminders. The five checkboxes were not limiting and helped me to focus on those five or less things. In the blank gridded area I would sometimes doodle or test pens and inks. At the beginning of each month there’s a blank page, and sometimes I would write a quote for the month.

In the back of the planner there are some plain gridded pages that allow more space for notes or sketches. Then there’s a time table where you can write out a weekly schedule. After that, there’s two pages formatted for a graph or chart. There are several pages of literature about Japanese culture. There are also pages to list your top 100 anything, and pages for your favorite restaurants and music or movies. The Hobonichi Techo planners are both fun and practical.

The pages in the back are perfect for writing down timely quotes.

As for the paper, Hobonichi uses Tomoe River. To accommodate the slow dry times I used a Robert Oster blotter card as a bookmark. I usually would just leave the planner open for a few minutes in between writing to give the ink time to dry. When I was done writing, I would put the card over the last thing I wrote and close the case. This worked fine with most inks, except for some very wet Noodlers ones like Golden Brown and Black Swan in Australian Roses. Inks that sheen on most papers, like Organics Studio Nitrogen, really smear on Tomoe River, even after drying. There’s a lot of ghosting because the paper is so thin, but very few inks bled through to the back of the page, and no inks bled onto the next page. Noodlers Blue Nosed Bear bled, as well as J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor.

I kept my planner in a Nock Co. A6 Seed case, which works great. These cases have two pen slots on the inside, a card slot on the other, and an outside pocket. When your notebook is fully in one of these cases, the front cover can get warped because it sits behind the pen slots. This is really only an issue if the notebook you’re using has a cover that you care about, and it can be fixed by leaving the front cover out of the sleeve. I could say more wonderful things about the Seed, but that’s for a different post.

Overall, the Hobonichi A6 Techo has been a nice and low maintenance planner. The one-page-a-day format on smaller paper is perfect for anyone who has anxiety about committing to a larger notebook. It helped me manage daily tasks and keep track of the days. The minimalist aesthetic of the daily pages can be used as intended for to-do lists and short journal entries, or you can just draw all over it. I would definitely use one of these again.

Yama-Budo by Pilot Iroshizuku

A planner doodle on Tomoe River paper.

Iroshizuku is Pilot’s higher end line of inks that are available in all the colors of the rainbow. The ink that I’ve chosen to write about today is Yama-Budo, a lovely burgundy color. This inks shades from fuchsia to plum, and on certain papers it’ll sheen a nice gold. In the photo above, the sheen looks almost chartreuse.

Yama-Budo is very well behaved, like most Iroshizuku inks. It flows well out of every pen that I’ve tried it in, and isn’t too wet. On this Nock Co. paper that I’m writing on it dries very fast. Also, Yama-Budo doesn’t feather or bleed-through. On absorbent papers like Leuchtturm and Nock, this ink is very lefty compatible, especially with finer nibs. On the Tomoe River paper pictured above there’s some smudging, but once this ink dries it doesn’t lift.

As far as inks on the red/purple spectrum go, Yama-Budo is right in the middle. It’s bright enough to draw attention to notations, and dark enough to use as a regular note taking ink. It’s a personal favorite of mine, and it’s among the handful of Iroshizuku colors that I keep coming back to.

Yama-Budo next to Lamy Beryl and Colorverse Andromeda

Iroshizuku inks come in these nice sturdy glass bottles, with minimalist labeling and a little dip in the bottom to help get all the ink out. Yama-Budo is an old friend that you can call after a long period of time and pick up right where you left off.

If you would like to purchase this ink, please click here. This is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission from the sale. It’s a way to support this blog directly!

Fun with Gel Pens

From left to right: Pilot Hi-tec-C Maica, Zebra Sarasa, Pilot G-Tec-C4, Ohto Rays, Stabilo Bionic Worker, Pentel Energel, Pilot G2, Uni One, Pilot Juice up, Pentel Energel

Sometimes, you may feel like using a pen that isn’t a fountain pen. Situations may arise where you just want to take a note with a retractable pen. You may want a low maintenance change of pace. Sometimes, you just want the pleasant sensation of feeling a tiny gel coated ball rolling against your paper. There are times when you need:

Gel Pens

In grade school, I used Ticonderoga #2 pencils and would come home with the side of my hand a graphite blob. In middle school I discovered the Bic 4 color ballpoint, which I still cherish for its simplicity and design. In high school I started using erasable ballpoint pens. When I was in college the Paper Mate Inkjoy pens came out, and I fell in love with the blue and green ones. They were great for long stretches of note taking, and I didn’t smear. These were the first gel pens that I really enjoyed using consistently. I had some of the Uniball Vision pens, but they didn’t dry fast and tended to bleed on cheap notebook paper. The first non-disposable pen I purchased was a Fisher Space Pen, but I didn’t like how inconsistent the lines were. So, the Inkjoy got me through all 4 years of college.

When I met my partner, they sent me a Pilot Hi-tec C Maica gel pen in blue-black with a 0.4 mm point. I wasn’t used to any point finer than 0.5, so it was nice to be able to write small block letters. The second non-disposable pen I bought was the Ohto Rays. This pen has the vintage look of the space pen, but writes a nice and consistent line.

After using fountain pens almost exclusively, I recently started getting into gel pens again. I made a writing sample of some gel pens that are either recommended for lefties, or are ones that I’ve found work very well for overwriting.

I crossed out the jetstream edge because I remembered while writing that it’s an oil-based ballpoint.

About half of these pens were purchased on Jetpens, and some were found on Yoseka Stationary and St. Louis Art Supply. Jetpens even has a section of different office supplies for lefties, as well as a comprehensive guide. I’ve found this guide to be very helpful while figuring out what you want in a pen. I highly encourage anyone reading this from the United States to purchase from Yoseka Stationary and STL Art Supply, they both offer really warm customer service, and you’d be supporting a small business during a difficult time. Thank you for reading my non-affiliated ad segment.

The first writing sample is a Pentel Energel in navy blue. The Energel feels the most like a fountain pen out of all these samples. The ink is very smooth and consistent. The navy blue refill is in a retractable body with a ribbed silicone grip while the blue refill is in a slim ivory body with a matte grip and snap cap. The snap cap is very robust and satisfying. I recommend the Pentel Energel as a lefty-friendly pen.

Next is the Pilot G-Tec-C4. This is apparently the international version of the Hi-Tec-C gel pen, and unscrews at the tip to refill. If you like the design of the Bic Cristal but want a nicer writing experience, this is the pen for you. The tip writes a very fine and precise line, there’s some feedback but this pen hasn’t felt scratchy for me. The ink dries fast with no smudging or bleeding.

The Zebra Sarasa is on Jetpen’s list of lefty friendly office products, but was my least favorite out of these samples. The clip on these pens is spring loaded, which is neat, but this pen just didn’t write very smoothly for me.

The Pilot G-2 really is as nice as people say. With a 0.7 mm point, it’s the thickest line width in this sampling. This pen gives a smooth, consistent, vibrant line that stands out among the other turquoise gels in this list.

Next is the Uni One. This is a clean and sleek pen with a spring loaded wire clip. With a 0.38 mm tip the One has a slightly thinner point than the Hi-tec-C, but the gel is slightly wetter so the line appears broader and more vibrant. I enjoy writing with this pen and want to try other colors eventually.

The Pilot Juice Up is an upgrade to the regular Juice, which I have not tried. The ink in this pen is water-based pigment ink, which makes it water-resistant. The Juice Up tip is a hybrid between a needlepoint and a conical point, making it a bit more forgiving to use while holding vertically or nearly vertically. A nit-picky drawback of this pen for me is that when the tip is retracted, the clip and push button are one piece, so it tends to jiggle while writing. The grip section is slightly translucent when held up to light, which is neat. I recommend the Pilot Juice Up as a lefty-friendly pen.

The Ohto Rays writes similarly to the Energel, and is on Jetpens lefty-friendly page. The gel is named Flash Dry, and I’ve never smudged with this pen. The body has a classic design similar to a Parker Jotter, making the Rays nice for a professional setting. Personally, I like to use this pen for checks and writing on envelopes. I also carry it in my purse with a Field Notes memo book if I need to write anything down while I’m out. My Mother, who is also left handed, also enjoys using this pen.

The Pilot Hi-tec-C Maica is pretty much the same pen as the G-tec, but the body has a clip less cap and the grip section is bumped rather than ribbed. This particular pen is one that I’ve had a while, so the line starts to fade if I hold the pen a certain way. The same thing happened with the other Maica I used to have, and I wonder if this has something to do with my level of writing pressure.

The last sample in this post is the Stabilo Bionic Worker. This is my most recent gel pen acquisition, and it’s quite nice to write with. The body is covered in grippy orange rubber, and the clip is stiff and wide. The gel is liquid gel and it writes a smooth, wet line. This pen is less precise than an Energel with the same point width, but just as smooth. If you’re a lefty who works in any business requiring a sturdy pen, I recommend it.

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Reverse Writing!


My girlfriend, who is a righty, has been looking for a really fine-nibbed pen to take notes with at work on small pieces of paper. She recently got a Sailor Pro Gear Slim in fine, and a Sailor 1911S with a 21k zoom nib. She got a zoom nib so that it could eventually be ground into an extreme predator nib, which is an extra fine held normally and an architect when flipped over. We both have TWSBI minis in EF, and she always writes EF in quotes because it’s not fine enough. So last week, she decided to try and write with that pen with the nib flipped over (or reverse writing) and had a great experience!

I’ve been afraid to try reverse writing since I ruined my first fountain pen by doing that. Now that I’m more versed in the way of the fountain pen, my girlfriend encouraged me to try it again because the ink will dry faster while writing quick notes.

The photo above is a sample of both my girlfriend and I trying out some currently inked pens while reverse writing. Gold nibs ended up working well across the board, while steel nibs ended up being more finicky. The Pelikan m200 and MontBlanc Monte Rosa are both steel nibs that performed very well reversed. The m200 is normally quite broad for a fine nib, and with Noodler’s Golden Brown it’s extra wet. Reversed though, the nib is more akin to a Japanese fine. In the photo below I tried to get a close-up of the Pelikan nib. The tip is pretty ball shaped, with some raised tipping material on top. Theoretically, any nib with raised tipping material like that should work for reverse writing.


Now the MontBlanc, written in green on the sample page, is an elevated reverse experience. Both me and my girlfriend loved writing with this, it’s great.

The Monte Rosa is a vintage pen by MontBlanc, the model I have is from the late 1950s. The nib is labeled medium on the piston knob but the tip is upturned like a waverly nib. I don’t know if all MontBlanc steel nibs are like this, or if this nib was worked on at some point in its lifetime, but it writes very smoothly. Writing reversed at a high angle you’re using more of the ball at the top of the nib. So, you get a finer line without sacrificing smoothness or ink flow. Writing reverse with this pen is what I imagine writing with a kugel nib feels like. I just found out about that type of nib yesterday and I’m very excited about them.


Using the two zoom nibs was interesting because I didn’t know how versatile they are, or how nice 21k nibs feel. The tips are ground into a triangle shape, so the lower the angle you hold the pen, the broader the line. For me, using my zoom nib at a nearly 90 degree angle gave about a medium line. When reverse writing though, no matter what angle the writer holds the pen, they’re using the pointiest and finest part of the nib. I didn’t try reverse writing with a fude nib but I imagine it would have a similar outcome.

The finest line I was able to get was with a Pilot Custom 98 with a #3 fine nib.

I really need to polish that section ring
My two Pilot #3 fines side by side

This nib doesn’t have much tipping on top, but the nib seems slightly downturned with a round point. With this I was able to write as tiny as I can with a 0.4mm Hi-tec Maica. I also have a Pilot Legno 89s with the same size fine nib, but it writes less smoothly than the Custom 98 no matter what. I took a close-up of them side by side and I think the 98 tip is a little bit rounder and blunter. I did purchase the Custom 98 used and the Legno new, so the older nib is more worn in.

The Pilot Custom 912 with a Waverly nib gave a similar experience to the Monte Rosa but the 912 just has the upturned tip and no ball on top. This nib is fantastic anyway, and is so pleasing to write with for a lefty like me because you’re always writing at the correct position. With reverse writing, it’s like you’re using a posting nib because it ends up being downturned. You get a considerably finer line that could probably be used for writing checks.

The most surprising pen to try with this experiment was a Pilot Falcon, not the most lefty friendly pen. But, it writes really well reversed. I have it inked up with Namiki black right now, which is normally really wet out of this pen, but reversed it’s just the right amount of wetness. While overwriting normally with a Falcon I usually use light pressure so that the tines don’t catch on the paper, but reversed I haven’t had to worry about that.

The Vanishing Point Decimo was another surprise for both me and my girlfriend. This is another pen that is problematic for lefty overwriters because of the clip by the nib. Reverse writing with the Decimo was weird, and I still didn’t find it comfortable to hold.

Overall, this experiment was fun and revealing. Reverse writing doesn’t work with every pen, but Japanese gold nibs had more consistent results. I recommend trying out reverse writing with your pens if you like writing tiny and fast drying ink.

The Scale of Paper Absorption Part 1

This is the lefty fountain pen dilemma: do you want to be able to see all the lovely ink properties but have to contort your hand so you don’t smudge? Or do you want to be able to write how your body wants to without a cramping hand and without worrying about smudging? There are so many different paper options on the market, but which ones are lefty and fountain pen friendly? I’ve taken all the different notebooks I have and measured dry times, bleed-through and feathering. I chose 12 pens with varying nib sizes and wetness to use across the different papers for consistency. For each paper I’ll include average dry times and rate bleed-through on a scale of one to five. One being minimal and five being the ink bled onto the next page. Each paper will also have a rating from absorbent to impermeable, from zero to ten.

Stalogy 365:

Stalogy 365 paper has an average dry time of 14.2 seconds. Bleed-through is a 2, but the paper is thin enough that there is show-through on the back of the page. Sailor Haha had a dry time of about 10 seconds and feathered a tiny bit. Noodlers Golden Brown had a dry time of about 20 seconds and also feathered a tiny bit. With minimal feathering and bleed-through and a fairly fast dry-time, Stalogy 365 is a 3 on the Scale of Absorption.


Mnemosyne paper has an average dry time of 15.42 seconds. There was no bleed-through and minimal show-through, making this paper a 1 on the bleed scale. Both Noodlers Golden Brown and Colorverse Schrödinger had a dry time of 20 seconds and feathered noticeably. Sailor Haha feathered a tiny bit with a dry time of 10 seconds. Even though Golden Brown feathered in some spots, it still shaded quite nicely. Fire and Ice sheened a lot. Mnemosyne is a happy medium for those who want paper that’s absorbent and can show ink properties. With the slightly slower dry time and no bleed-through, Mnemosyne is a 7 on the Scale of Absorption.


L!fe paper has an average dry time of 20 seconds. There was no bleed-through or show-through, a 1 on the bleed scale. Colorverse Schrödinger had a whopping 45 second dry time, while Noodlers Golden Brown had a 30 second dry time. I’ve learned that Iroshizuku Ama-Iro is a consistently fast drying ink. I’ve been using this notebook as a currently inked log, and it does a good job of showing off shading and sheening. With a slow dry time and no bleed-through, L!fe paper is a 8 on the Scale of Absorption.


Moleskine paper had an average dry time of 5.41 seconds. There was a lot of bleed-through and a lot of feathering, making this a 4 on the bleed scale. This paper isn’t pleasant to write on, but if fast dry times are a priority for you, then Moleskine will work. With paper this absorbent, the ink just sinks right in and there’s no sheening or shading. Every ink that I tested dried in about 5 seconds except for Kyoto Kokeiro, which dried at about 10 seconds. Moleskine paper is a 1 on the Scale of Absorption.


Rhodia paper has an average dry time of 10.83 seconds. There was no bleed-through or feathering, a 1 on the bleed-scale. This paper shows off both sheening and shading. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but Fire and Ice and Pilot Blue-Black both sheened. I ended up lightly smudging some ink that had already dried while writing. Rhodia is a 5 on the Scale of Absorption.

This is part 1 of what will be a series of scientific tests on paper absorption. I’ll keep using the same pen and ink combinations, but 5 different paper tests seems like a good place to start.

Happy Fountain Pen Day!

On this very special day for the fountain pen enthusiast I’d like to say hi and thank you to the small handful of people who’ve decided to follow this blog recently!

Today isn’t a new pen day, but last week my Desiderata BAMF came in the mail. Here are some initial thoughts, a full review will come later.

The BAMF is an all ebonite pen from the Desiderata Pen Company. This is the first handmade small batch pen I’ve purchased. The BAMF is meant to have a Zebra G dip pen nib in it, but there is the option to just have a regular fountain pen nib. I opted for a Nemosine 0.6 mm stub.

I love the engravings on Nemosine nibs.

The 0.6 mm stub nib is very nice to write with. My girlfriend and I can both write with it and the writing experience is the same. This nib can even be used while over-writing, and it’s still smooth. The tip is very round, making it much more forgiving for a lefty than a 1.1 mm stub.

The BAMF has a stealth blind cap on the back of the pen to reveal a pump piston filling mechanism. This system is very similar to a TWSBI Go, but you can’t see how much ink is in your pen. Overall, I really like the BAMF. It’s very comfortable to hold and the nib is very lefty friendly.

“Hey can you hand me that pen?” “Which one?” “The one that says ‘Bad-ass motherfucker’ on it.”


The first fountain pen that I purchased was the TWSBI Go. I watched Brian Goulet’s videos about the Go, and how it compared to the Eco. I think I ended up purchasing the Go because it seemed simple, and it was 10$ cheaper. I ordered the smoke grey color with a medium nib.

The day before I received my Go, I got a concussion at work and ended up taking medical leave. The morning of pen arrival, I took my first trip to stationary heaven called St. Louis Art Supply. So before the Go even got delivered, I purchased a Kaweco Sport and Perkeo both with medium nibs. I included this little story to say that I then had a lot more free time to fiddle with fountain pens, and that I no longer have the two Kaweco pens, but I still have the Go.

The TWSBI Go has a spring loaded piston filling mechanism and a snap cap! It comes in smoke grey, blue and clear. This is also by far the easiest non-cartridge filler to completely disassemble. You just unscrew the barrel, then turn the piston cap clockwise to remove that. Then you slide off the spring and turn the little metal sleeve counter-clockwise to take that off. Now you can remove the piston and clean the inside of the ink chamber.

A fully disassembled clear Go.

The Go is a thick but light pen. The grip section tapers down with slight protrusions close to the nib so that your fingers don’t slip down while writing. I found that while learning to adjust my grip, this pen was still comfortable to hold. The smooth, wet nib and light weight also cause no hand fatigue. Having written with the Kaweco Perkeo and a Lamy Al-Star before this, the Go was a nice change of pace because I could hold the pen in a way that was most comfortable for me while overwriting. The Kaweco Sport also has a round section, but it’s slimmer and requires a tighter grip. The Go can be posted, and it looks a bit ridiculous, but it makes no difference in how the pen feels while writing.

I’ve tried a few different brands of ink in my Go, from Iroshizuku and Noodlers to Kyoto and Monteverde. The medium nib is pretty wet, and I’ve smudged a few times with certain inks like Noodlers Golden Brown. I know that Golden Brown is a very wet ink for flex nibs, but I love brown inks. With fast drying inks like Robert Oster, or dry in general inks like Lamy, the medium nib works great. Early on I had some burping issues, but pushing down the piston very gently to get some excess air out helps. You’ll be able to see the little bubbles come out of the opening in the feed. When the bubbles stop and it’s just ink coming out, keep your finger on the piston and slowly let it slide back into place. One thing about the Go that other TWSBI models don’t have is a little notch inside the section for the feed to sit flush in. I didn’t put the feed in correctly one time and ink spilled out.

A writing sample on Tomoe River paper, with Kyoto Kokeiro ink.

I would recommend the TWSBI Go as a beginner pen for lefties because it’s comfortable to hold while learning how to write with a fountain pen. It’s easy to take apart and fill, and the plastic is durable enough to withstand dropping. There are many great options for beginner/starter pens, but for those who want a durable and inexpensive piston filler, you can’t go wrong with the TWSBI Go. This pen retails for 20$ USD and comes in smoke grey, blue and clear.

If you would like to purchase this pen for yourself, please click here. This is an Amazon affiliate link. If you click on it and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission from the sale. It’s a way for you to support this blog while ordering a new pen!

Fire and Ice by Robert Oster

Shading and sheening

Finding the perfect pen and ink combination for you can be one of the most gratifying aspects of using a fountain pen.

For this first ink post I’d like to talk about Fire and Ice, a fast drying ink by Robert Oster. Most Robert Oster inks have fast dry times. The only smudging I’ve had from them is with Blue Denim, and that’s from the sheen lifting. Robert Oster has quite a few blue inks that are both similar and very different, but Fire and Ice stands out in the crowd.

Here we have School Blue, Fire and Ice, Blue Denim and Lake of Fire.

On the right paper, Fire and Ice shades and sheens, ranging from a bright blue to a dark turquoise with red sheen. The first pen that I put this ink in was a Pilot Custom 912 with a Waverly nib, and that is a perfect combination for me. Fire and Ice is wet enough that it’ll always flow smoothly, but it dries fast enough that I never smudge. This ink is even wet enough that I can comfortably write with a dry pen like a Lamy Safari, which is what I’m using right now.

The Robert Oster bottles contain 50 ml of ink and are made of recyclable plastic, which is comforting to me for some reason. Last year when I was getting into fountain pens, I watched a Goulet Pens video of stationary recommendations for lefties, and Robert Oster Black Violet was on that list. I purchased a bottle, and that ink is indeed fast drying and lefty friendly. Since then, I’ve accumulated six bottles and many samples, but Fire and Ice is my favorite. If I were to recommend a single ink company for lefties, it would be Robert Oster. It dries fast, they have interesting ink colors, and their bottles are a decent 50 ml for about 15$ USD. This is comparable to Iroshizuku, who’s 50ml glass bottles are about 22$ USD.

On Tomoe River and Nakabayashi papers, dry times were 15 and 10 seconds respectively. On Rhodia and Nock, dry times were 10 seconds and 1 second respectively. With Tomoe River you see the most shading/sheening, but side-writers may want to avoid using this combination except for short notes. For most lefties, I believe that these dry times are long enough that you can write with this ink and not smudge.

I’m not giving such high praise simply because I want to impress the Robert Oster twitter account, I just think they’re really neat.

The Sheaffer Balance Jr.

Nib: 14k Feather Touch #5

In my last post, I wrote about how I restored this little guy. If you’re interested in reading, please click here.

This Sheaffer Balance jr. is from about 1934. Its slender size and shape make it a nice pocket pen, and great for small hands. As you may have been able to tell by the name, this pen feels balanced. While I was researching the history of this pen, I read that the bottom of the cap below the band can develop hairline cracks from posting. I have written with this pen posted, but after reading that I’ve stopped posting. For me, the Balance is long enough to write comfortably unposted.

How I hold this pen. Unposted it’s still long to hold comfortably, even though I grip at the cap threads.

This particular Balance has a dark green celluloid body that catches the light very nicely. The nib is a 14k Feather Touch. The tines are platinum plated and springy. I’ve found that this nib feels best when using a light hand. The feed is ebonite, and flows so well. Before this pen I had a loose Feather Touch nib that I tried to put into several different modern pens, but I never got a good fit so the nib never wrote well. Now that I’ve written with a proper Feather, I enjoy it very much.

More of that sweet nib action.

The above photo is a writing sample on Apica CD paper. The ink is Organics Studio Barkley’s Blue Teal, which is safe for vintage pens. This ink flows very nicely, the only time this pen has dried up was when it ran out of ink. Like most vintage pens, the Balance is a lever filler. When you lift up the lever on the outside of the pen, a pressure bar inside compresses the latex sac and ink is drawn into the pen. These pens aren’t meant to be taken apart all the time, so it’s best to find an ink that works well and to stick with it.

The Balance writes well on all three papers that I tested it on. On smooth paper like Tomoe River, the nib glides like a feather in the air (I’ll show myself out). On the Midori and Apica, there was a bit more feedback, but not so much that writing was unpleasant. When overwriting and holding the pen vertically, the Balance is smoothest for me. Underwriting feels scratchier, and ink flow is the same as when I overwrite.

The Sheaffer engraving, as well as some hand-carved initials. The Balance models all have the patent number 78,795.

Since restoring this pen, I’ve filled it twice. Because the latex sac is small to fit in this short pen, the ink capacity is low. You also can’t know how well you filled the pen until you run out of ink. The Sheaffer Balance jr. works very well for lefty overwriters like me, as well as anyone who holds their pen at a higher angle. I found this pen on eBay for under 40 U.S. dollars unrestored, but Balances that are in better condition and restored will sell for a higher price.

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