Issue#9: Fountain Pen Minds and 6 papers

Profiling FP aficionados, 6 papers

Issue 9 | 9 July 2023

Hello and welcome to Fountain Pen Weekly! I feel like I’m pretending to be a podcast every time I type the opening line. Maybe some day 🙂 

Today’s issue has a double shot from Nandini - she takes a hard look at us FP aficionados in her characteristic witty manner, and shares a doodle. I write about my experience comparing a few papers, trying to find the answer to the eternal question - does it glide?

They Walk Among Us

Nandini Ramchandran | Instagram

Law Enforcement Agencies have noticed a disturbing pattern in the Fountain Pen Community which is a cause for concern. Some FP enthusiasts are rumoured to have started grinding their own nibs, destroying pens while trying to ‘restore’ them and trolling on social media. It is believed that such psychopathic behaviour, if left unchecked, shall lead to such enthusiasts turning into FP Gurus or Maestros.

The Criminal Profiling process is defined by the FBI as a technique used to identify the perpetrator of a violent crime by identifying personality and behavioural characteristics of the offender based upon an analysis of the crime committed.

Putting my profiling skills to use, acquired and honed by watching numerous crime procedurals on Television and Streaming Platforms, I have created the Profile of a delinquent FP hobbyist.

The subject is likely to be a millennial, born between 1981 and 1996. Exposed to FPs while in school or college, the subject was probably briefly allowed to use a parent’s or grandparent’s cherished fountain pen, used by the said parent/grandparent to write important examinations, job applications, letters to their loved ones and also to fight off crocodilians while swimming across the river to get to school.

The subject has either lost or damaged the said fountain pen and after being subject to immense guilt by the family, embarked upon a search to replace or repair the family heirloom, thus coming in contact with the seedy underbelly of the fountain pen world.

The subject likely purchased a replacement, one more for himself/herself and probably an ink bottle or two.

The next small but significant step is for the subject to be come part of an FP group and from there the subject’s deep descent into derangement is rapidly accelerated.

The subject is usually a reclusive male with a predilection for checked shirts. Females are rare but not totally unknown and might be found wearing Fabindia kurtas. Examination of her mobile phone will reveal pictures of pens and cats. The subject will have at least one offspring wholly uninterested in the hobby and a spouse who is unaware of the depths to which the subject has fallen in pursuit of his/her ‘Grail”.

These men and women walk among us, unremarkable, unnoticed and unloved. They could be your friendly neighbourhood Dentist, a Doctor, Lawyer or Teacher. But do not be fooled. Under the mild and pleasant outward demeanour lurks nameless evil that can surface at the drop of a nib.

Everyday FPness

The past week was quite a lot of fun and excitement! Shreyas (who else!) asked me a question that led me to try out a newly-rediscovered pen on a bunch of different papers.

First the newly-rediscovered pen. This was a PenBBS 308 I had acquired sometime in 2018, and in the excitement of seeing a friend evince a bit of interest in it, lent it to her to see if it made her want to use fountain pens. I had pretty much forgotten about it till a few months ago, when I casually asked her about it and she said she hadn’t used it but had to find it to return it to me. I got that pen back last Sunday. That was the newly-rediscovered pen bit.

The beautiful nib of the PenBBS 308

I remember how excited when I got it for the first time - I really like how it looked as well as how it wrote. It had a beautifully decorated fine nib which was the smoothest when paired with a decently flowing ink. I was quite excited when I got it back and was debating what to ink it with when Shreyas asked me a question. He wanted to know if the pen would glide on a specific paper, and that sent me down a rabbit hole.

I lined up six types of paper, including some of my favourites, and set about figuring out which pen and ink combination would work to best answer the question. I settled on the newly-rediscovered PenBBS 308 because I knew the fine nib would glide beautifully with a wet ink. But I wanted an ink that wouldn’t flow wetly. I recalled reading some time ago that Diamine Cornflower was not well-known for being a wet flowing ink. That made the decision for me and it was this combo that went into my little writing test.

The papers used in the test were, in the order in which they are in the image:

Top left: Tomoe River 52 in the Hobonichi Weeks Mega

Top center: Regalia paper in the Endless Creative Block

Top right: Ayush A6 notebook

Bottom left: Cosmo Air Light paper in the Cosmo Note

Bottom right, above: MD Paper in an MD notebook

Bottom right, below: Bloc Rhodia No 13

I wrote on the papers in a single session of writing, copying out text so that I could observe the interaction between pen and paper. As I wrote, I immediately noted down my observations also. I found that while the TR, MD, CAL and Rhodia papers were smooth to super smooth, the Regalia and Ayush had a bit of feedback. This is of course by no means a rigorously conducted test with objective results - just a fun evening I spent noting down my entirely subjective opinions on how I thought I felt the pen write. That being said, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick up any of these papers for my needs - all of them handle ink and fountain pens very well, and bring out the properties of the ink beautifully - just in different ways.

I reported the results of my findings to Shreyas, and that led to another discussion which is currently ongoing - I will report that in a future issue of FP Weekly.

FP Doodles

Nandini Ramchandran | Instagram

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That’s all from me this week.

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