Issue#30 A Pen is safe in a pen case...

The Inkspoon, Krishna Dhumala, Pelikan Hubs 2024

Issue 30 | 2 June 2024

Welcome to Issue#30. It’s been a while since the last issue, and a lot has happened. Read on for a longish issue including musings on the hobby, a new invention, a new ink and the Pelikan Hub 2024.

A pen in a pen case

A ship is safe in a harbour, but that’s not what ships are built for. I remember seeing this quote on a poster in a barber shop when I was about ten years old, and it stuck with me. I was recently reminded of it when there was a discussion on what inks are ‘safe’ to use in what fountain pen, and there were various schools of thought.

One set of people stuck by some perceived to be safe inks, like Waterman Serenity Blue, and used only that in all their pens. Others were of the opinion that as long as you didn’t let the ink dry in the pen, most inks would be okay for most pens. Yet another groups felt you could use most inks in most pens as long as you did a weekly (or daily, or monthly, or some random periodicity) flush and clean. It is to be noted that all this was free advice, with none of them sharing any experience they had personally had. The usual cheap potshots were taken at the usual suspect inks by people who had never seen, let alone used, any of them.

This got me thinking back to all the FP enthusiasts I have come across, and also to examine my own behaviour when it came to inking pens.

There are those who maintain a strict rotation of having a set number of pens inked for a set duration, and then cleaning them out and putting them away before inking up another set. I have tried this and it doesn’t work for me.

Then there are those who have an always-inked set of pens, and a bunch of others which go in and out of use. I am more like this. At any given point in time, I have three or four pens I am currently obsessed with, and they remain inked for anywhere between a couple of months to a year. A half a dozen other pens are inked to be tried, and are used occasionally. I am rather proud of the fact that I haven’t allowed any pen to dry out for the past few years.

Then there are those who never ink their pens. They only write with them dipped, and then clean them and put them away. These are usually collectors, slightly different from those who preserve their pens in a never-used condition, not even dipping them to test them.

From all of these, the only lesson to be learned for me is that there are different strokes for different folks, and we need to let everyone be.

However, looking at fountain pens as items of utility - which I do, but don’t expect everyone else to - it is rather a travesty to keep them unused. Especially if they are production models that are proven performers. It is also unfair to limit them to only one or two inks for whatever reason. This is the reason my pens are well-used. I’ve used whatever ink I want to in whatever pen I want to. The only limitation I place is that I use only fountain pen inks. By doing this, I derive a great deal of pleasure and joy from my pens, and from using them.

To come back to the ship adage, a pen is safe in a pen case, but that is not what pens are made for!

Presenting the Inkspoon!

This inkspoon is small - a mere 78.6 mm in length

A few days ago, a new fountain pen accessory came to my notice. It was the Dominant Industry Ink Muddler. It was reviewed with much fervour and enthusiasm on a few fountain pen YouTube channels, and was sold out everywhere.

Now, I am a self-described ink swatching enthusiast, and a product like this that directly caters to my ilk is something I would figure out a way to obtain. However, as this particular tool described gleefully as “a sleek and innovative accessory designed for glitter fountain pen enthusiasts” was sold out in every single place, it made me pause and look again at what it actually is. It is a glass cocktail stirrer - the one with a ball at its end - that has been mated with a glass dip pen head. The resulting zorse-like contraption is the ink muddler.

This made me think about all the fountain pen tax we all pay, most gleefully and without any second though. We buy significantly marked up ink syringes when all we need to do is pop in to the neighborhood pharmacy and get one for less than ten rupees and snip off the sharp edge with scissors. We buy ink flush, when we can easily just dilute any household bleach and achieve the same thing. But this I think is okay - it allows us to enjoy our hobby in ways only we would understand, and buying specialized products is a good way of doing that.

However, that also doesn’t stop us from developing our own hobby accessories, and that is exactly what I did.

I love swatching inks, and have used many different techniques to show off inks in a way that makes sense to me. It’s inspired by some really talented hobbyists with a truly prodigious output (Kelli and Nick Stewart are two trailblazers I follow and am inspired by). Over time, I have tried using many different methods of doing swatches. Q-tips, earbuds with different shapes, paintbrushes - all these have produced results with varying degrees of satisfaction.

But one thing that all of these have in common is that they use up more ink than I am happy to spend, especially as most of it gets wasted and is not part of the swatch. The other bit is that cleaning up the bits and piece afterwards is messy.

So when I was ruminating on the ink muddler, I was struck by a thought. It started with me thinking I could just grab a stirrer and see how it fared with making ink swatches. Then I realised I could do the same thing with the small stainless steel spoons (78.6 mm long) that are used to measure spices. The head of the spoon is tiny enough (15.7 mm at its widest) to fit in all ink bottles and most sample vials. It is food grade stainless steel, so there is no chance of it reacting with any fountain pen ink, The underside of the head is nicely curved up, allowing you to evenly spread the ink with precise control.

It was the work of a few seconds to dash to the kitchen and return with the spoon, much to bewilderment of the cook. A few minutes later, I had swatched the newly-landed Krishna Dhumala (more on the ink itself follows) and it was such a simple thing to do and the clean-up was pretty much zero.

And just like that, I ‘invented’ the Inkspoon!

A spoon used for making ink swatches

Introducing the Inkspoon!

I took my inkspoon to our monthly meeting of fountain pen enthusiasts, and it was a hit. The main attractions were that it used less ink, was more precise and was simple to clean and reuse.

I realize that such an important invention belongs to all of humanity - so I humbly present it before you with a Creative Commons Zero license!

As is to be expected, I went a bit wild and swatched a whole lot of inks with the inkspoon!

Some of the swatches I made with the newly-invented inkspoon

Krishna Dhumala - a real LDL replacement

The Lamy Dark Lilac 2024 takes a bit of work to show the dark lilac!

The brouhaha over the new 2024 ink called Lamy Dark Lilac which comprehensively failed to satisfy those who were hungering for a return of the original limited edition Lamy Dark Lilac from 2016 has repercussions all over the world, and our fountain pen communities in India were no exception.

The Krishna Dhumala

Amid all the noise and naysaying, a little bit of joy was born when someone shared a sample of the original LDL with Dr Sreekumar of Krishna Inks. He looked at it from an inkmaker’s perspective and told us that he was going to replicate it to the best of his ability.

The sheen overwhelms the dark lilac in the LDL 2024 as opposed to the clearly visible dark lilac in Krishna Dhumala

After a few weeks of experimentation, he finally released Krishna Dhumala, which can be a reasonable replacement for the OG LDL - definitely more so than the one released by Lamy. The main issue with Lamy’s version is the overwhelming sheen which does not let the dark lilac show at all - this effect is visible in both swatches and writing samples.

The difference in colour between writing using Krishna Dhumala (Lines 1, 3 and 5) and LDL 2024 (Lines 2, 4 and 6) can be seen clearly here.

Pelikan Hubs are here again!

Pelikan Hubs 2024 have been announced. They will be held on Friday, 27 September 2024. If you haven’t already, go ahead and sign up - the last date for registrations is Monday, 24 June 2024.

The Hyderabad hub promises to be fun - we already have more than 20 registrations from among the community!

Waterman Ideal on Pen Delight

Abhinesh of the Pen Delight channel has put out a video about a vintage Waterman 0552 1/2. Do give it a watch if you are interested in vintage pens.

Get featured in Fountain Pen Weekly

Share your take on fountain pens and related things in one (or more!) of our upcoming issues.

Any and all content you share will belong to you and will be credited to your name (or a pen name of your choice) and linked to any of your online profiles. Ideal content would be a write-up between 200 and 400 words with 1 to 5 images.

Here are a few things that can go in the Fountain Pen Weekly:

  • Pen / ink / paper ownership experience

  • Favorites in FP, ink, paper etc.

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  • Any FP-related content you want to call out - articles, podcasts, videos.

If you have any other ideas as well, do share, and I will be happy to think about it.

That’s all from me this week.

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