Issue#6: Who's afraid of Baystate Blue

Baystate Blue, Pangrams, PLP Pen Store

Issue 6 | 18 June 2023

Issue #6 is our longest one yet - fellow Hyderabad Fountain Pen Clubber and provider of Baystate Blue, Susheel, writes about his Baystate Blue experience, and I ramble on about pangrams and a bit about a new fountain pen store in my city.

So without beating any further around the proverbial bush, here we go!

The Baystate Blues

Susheel | Hyderabad Fountain Pen Club

For those who may have transcended the urge to accumulate more and more pens and decided to “diversify” into the even more insidious blackhole of inks, there is one, whose reputation might send chills down a pen owner’s spine --- Baystate Blue from Noodler’s Ink. Internet pen forums are replete with the horror tales of what it can do to pens, pets, prized fabric and anything else that could be prone to spillage and “splashage” from a carelessly handled bottle or pen filled with it.

However, apart from having to put up with a fluffy blue tinted pet running around the house for a week or so, the negative that the ink garners is largely undeserved. Yeah that expensive apparel you spilled it on? No question there…that’s a write-off.

For me, as a person who prefers permanent, indelible inks, Baystate Blue is a great ink so much so that it and Heart of Darkness (also from Noodler’s) are inked in EDC pens. What is it about this ink that appeals to me? The dearly missed fantasy author Terry Pratchett mentions Octarine, “the eighth colour of the spectrum” in his Discworld universe and describes it as a fluorescent greenish yellow purple. If you can imagine that, try and imagine a fluorescent turquoise blue with a ethereal pink hue just suggesting its presence but not quite establishing itself. Always trying to play peek-a-boo with in the periphery of our vision. Ok…the colour just “pops” on the paper. It stands out and in natural daylight it doesn’t just stand out but also screams at us to pay attention to what it says.

And yes…if inks could be attributed with anthropomorphic characteristics, it is cranky. Not because of its, often overrated, tendency to stain, but because it doesn’t “play well” with other inks. So those of you like to create their own shades and ink mixes to create their own custom “signature” shades, Baystate Blue is not your friend. It will punish you for even the mere suggestion that you might do this. What you will end up with is clumps, slime, foam, or sedimentation…it will be like your are reliving the days in your school chemistry lab.

Common sense would thus dictate a few precautions:

• Clean your pen of any ink residue from before refilling with Baystate Blue. On the same note clean your pen thoroughly of BSB residue before using another ink the same pen.

• Avoid using it in vintage piston fillers or sac fillers. Definite no-no in your capillary fill Parker 61. Use it in pens that you are confident that you can dismantle and clean thoroughly.

With regard to the more common complaint (or more precisely, paranoia) of staining in demonstrators or pens with pristine white bodies, well a lot of other inks do this too. In most cases a thorough cleaning aided, if necessary, by a dilution of dishwashing liquid and liquid fabric bleach (I use Robin) has proved pretty effective in overcoming this. Or you can buy ready-made pen flushes, but I see this as unnecessary expenditure…after all, “you can make it at home, for free.” I have found that a soft baby’s toothbrush and the small brushes used for cleaning reusable drinking straws are useful things to have with you when cleaning pens. The best bet is to dedicate a pen exclusively for the ink.

In the end, the unique brightness of the shade, the way it pops on paper and its indelibility makes it ideal for your journaling and even professional needs. Don’t get sucked in by the scare stories and give the ink a try.

Pangram ponderings

Pangrams are used by a sub-section of fountain pen users when they try out a new pen or ink, or they are making a video to show how a particular pen and ink combinations works. They are perhaps second only to the name of the pen, the name of the ink and the paper the writing is being performed on. There are of course those who write a series of discombobulated 8s horizontally and vertically, make up multi-lined hashes as well.

Old chestnut in a new AI bottle!

The most common pangram is of course that old chestnut: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Also seen at various places are Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs and Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow. According to the 1988 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records - which I quote because that’s the only one I had access to as a boy and I would memorize random things from it - the shortest pangram is Veldt jynx grimps waqf zho buck. I read somewhere recently that this is a perfect pangram - one where each letter of the alphabet appears only once.

Since endless tinkering is one of my many vices, I made up my own, which I liberally scrawl everywhere I am testing out pens and inks: Caveman of Hyderabad likes exquisite jigsaw puzzle. And here’s what an AI thinks that looks like visually:

FP Happenings

PLP Pen Store was opened this week. The Hyderabad-based penmaker opened a retail shop where their entire range of fountain pens is on display. I am especially fond of their ebonite offerings which are finished really well and have some of the highest polish I have seen in Indian ebonites.

While there is nothing fancy about the shop, it does mean two things:

1) We now have a place where we can go and check out all of PLP Pens’ offerings without having to call and set up a meeting with them. The physical space also allows displaying the wares in a way that browsing is easy.

2) This is now the closest fountain pen shop to me, even though it is 13 kilometres from my home!

Satish and Mr Lakshmipathy from PLP Pens also regularly attend our monthly meetings, so it was only fitting that we turned up to check out the shop and wish them well on opening day.

In case you’re in Hyderabad and would like to visit, here is the Google Maps location of the shop.

Everyday FPness

This week, I took some of my favourite fountain pens along when we went to a cafe and indulged in some writing there. The still-hot-and-never-ending summer inspired me to write some scalding hot words, but the experience was quite fun!

The nitro cold brew and Old Washington sliders went quite beautifully with the Nahvalur Nautilus, Visconti Mirage and PLP Pens 007 quite well 🙂 

As always, it was a joy to write on the Tomoe River paper in the Hobonichi Weeks Mega.

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