Category Archives: Ink

2018 Pen and Stationery Resolutions

They are a little late, but here are my 2018 resolutions. The theme for this year’s resolutions is “Less is used more.” This is even true of the resolutions.

One–End the year with fewer pens than I started with. (Note: I’m counting the pen I ordered last year but haven’t received yet as part of the current total.) (Second Note: Already cancelled a Kickstarter I was considering supporting.)

Two–Continue to stay the hell away from the nightly Kingdom Note pen sales.



One–-End the year with fewer inks.

Two–Change “FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out) to NOMO (No fear Of Missing Out).



One–No new notebooks this year. (Unless five get used up.)

Two–Scan the old stuff before it molds and moulders.

One–Take pictures of stuff.

Two–Review stuff.




The Ghosts of Resolutions Past

For today’s post, I thought I’d revisit last year’s pen and stationery resolutions to see how well/badly I’ve done with them.

One–Refine the collection. Focus more on quality rather than rapid and random acquisition. Get rid of what doesn’t set your soul on fire.

Two–To help accomplish One, stay the hell away from the nightly Kingdom Note pen sales. 

Three–Actually use your so-called “work horse” pens at work.

Four–Sell the pens that have been in storage for a long time.


One and Four: A mixed bag here. I did quite well by shedding a substantial chunk of my collection and only acquiring a couple new ones.

Two: Another mixed bag. I acquired two pens via the Kingdom Note nightly sales. One was an OMAS and the second an orange  Faber-Castell Ondoro (acquired in no small part thanks to a substantial amount of built up points).

Three: Done. Also close to finishing a second bottle of my workhorse ink: Noodler’s Old Manhattan.  Would have finished it all, but rotated with a couple other workhorse pens.


One–Sell the large stockpile of Kingdom Note inks once the weather warms, and/or find pen addicts who live in the tropics.

Two–Limit the ink rotation. Use up the inks you like, sell off the rest. Match pens with ink and make a system out of them.

Three–No more new inks (after you’ve acquired a couple you have your eye on.)

Four–Formalize the ink business or run away.


One: Sold a large portion now working on getting rid of the last bit after the thaw.

Two: A jolly good start, then a spectacular failure.

Three: Actually did quite well at this. Only acquired three new bottles of ink. (And a few samples…)

Four: Still running away, slowly, after outreach to an ink manufacturer went nowhere, but a have a few ideas for acquiring inks that require actually visiting stores. (Without me actually having to visit the store…)


One–Stop collecting scraps to bundle into notebooks.  Remember that you can’t spell “scrap” without “crap”. (“It’s crap” said quickly and repeatedly eventually sounds like “Scrap”. I think “scrap” actually derives from the Elizabethan English pronunciation “S’crap.” Look it up, forsooth.)

Two–Do one push up on the floor in the store for each 100 yen of price before buying a new notebook you suddenly can’t live without. (Don’t forget to wash hands after doing this.) Also, consider doing this for pen and ink purchases: Cheapest Montblanc Hemingway = 1,763 push ups (followed by spending the pen money on hospital bills and physical therapy.)

Three–Scan, scan, and scan old notebooks and then retire the moldering hard copies.

Four–Retire the last of the handmade writing tablets. Keep only the ones currently in use at work.

Five–Use up as many notebooks as you can before you get better at push-ups.


One: Accomplished. Have only saved Rhodia paper and some Tomoe River Paper.

Two: Never stood a chance of doing this. Did do push ups, though, just not related to purchases.

Three: Did some of this, then scanner/printer died. Bought new all-in-one and stopped scanning.

Four: Done except for a few that I’m still using up.

Five: Been doing a good job of this. Have also given away extra Field Notes, including a few Colors editions.


One–Take pictures of stuff.

Two–Review stuff.

Three–Just say “NO” to Massdrop and Kickstarter.

Four–Listen to the Pen Addict podcast, but do not check out the show notes. If you do check out the show notes, do NOT click on any interesting links.


One: Did well, but need to organize office better to establish a better studio space.

Two: Partially accomplished, but have a lot more to review.

Three: Mostly accomplished. Avoided Massdrop, for many reasons, but gave into a few Kickstarters.

Four: Mostly accomplished. Except I do now own a pen with Bomb Pops on it.


The Future:
In the next post, I’ll figure out my 2018 Stationery Resolutions. (Note: one has already been accomplished, so that my count as cheating.)

Done Days and Then Some

The end of the term is ambiguous.

Our youngest is done today. I’ve been done. I’m not sure about our oldest, but she has at least one more day. Then she might be done.

Our youngest showed off her report card today. The card doesn’t have marks, instead it has assessments. The assessments are “Very Good”, “Can Do It”, and “Well, Yeah, Present”. (Something like that.) Our youngest was mostly “Very Good” with only three “Can Do It” marks.

As for our oldest: well, I’m not sure. She has a concert on Sunday. After that I don’t know. School may be finished, but practice may be not. Band practice never seems to end.

Eventually, we will visit the in-laws. We’re still not sure how we’re going to get there. Or when we’ll get there.

That’s what things are like this time of year. More when I know it.

Spreading the Joy/Addiction

I think I’ve got my colleague hooked now, and all it took was some colorful pretty dyes.

As I’ve used my nearly endless supply of fountain pens, my colleague grew intrigued by the also nearly endless supply of different ink flavors I used. She liked the teals and blue-greens and the orange inks. Eventually, she bought a selection of gateway drugs: a Pilot Cocoon in orange;   a Platinum Preppy; and a couple other cheap, small fountain pens.

She started out using cartridges, but would swap ink colors without cleaning the pen. This led to a few interesting colors getting ruined by leftovers.

Recently, and without any direct prodding from me, she’s decided to try bottled inks and converters. She bought a few cheap Chinese pens to play with. (Note: I will eventually give her a converter for her Pilot so that she may fully witness the horror that is Pilot converters.) She also bought an impressive first bottled ink.

I showed her how to fill the first converter full, getting ink on my fingers as is appropriate. I also brought a couple flavors from home for her to try (Kingdom Note Kabutomushi and Bungu Box Hamanako Mandarin) in her other pens.

Since then she’s refilled on her own, getting ink on her fingers as is appropriate, and had discovered which kind of nib she likes. She’s also discovered the joys of nib creep and getting ink on your fingers without even trying.

Next, it will be time for her to realize that spending over $50 dollars on a pen isn’t that crazy. Once that happens, the escalation will begin and she’ll be fully addicted.

Then my work will be done.


The Advantages of Confusion and Panic

Recently Sailor Ink has been doing some strange things and it’s actually helping me out.

For reasons no one can understand (well, money actually) Sailor has been changing the sizes of its ink bottles. The new bottles are smaller (20 ml), look like little jelly/jam sample jars, and “only” cost 1000 yen (1080 with tax). This means that 50 ml of ink, the old standard size, now cost 2500 yen, or 2700 with tax. The fear is that this means the price of the old new bottles is going up.

Adding to the fear and confusion, Sailor is offering popular ink flavors in the new bottles which makes pen addicts fear these are destined to become the new normal size.

I’ve not tried the new new bottles yet, but given how badly the old new bottles–which look like squat flying saucers–sucked, I’m not expecting the new new bottles will work well with larger pens.

Granted, they may be useful as samples for people not willing to spend 2160 yen on a full bottle, but the pen community panics easily and Sailor has a habit of making odd decisions about bottles and ink flavors.

As a result, I’ve had good luck clearing out a large portion of my over-bought inventory of ink. That makes it hard for me to complain about the new bottles.

New Place New Rules

I posted the sale pens and sold three of them fairly quickly. Since then things have been silent at the usual place.

Posting the pens violates all kinds of collector/hoarder sensibilities. I can think of dozens of excuses why I shouldn’t post just yet. Two of my oldest pens sold first and think, symbolically, that’s a useful thing. Normally, like George Carlin, I prefer to leave symbols to the symbol-minded, but this time, because the pens are two of my most sentimental, it’s only right they are the first to go.

To break the silence, I’ve looked into other places to post the pens but those places have different rules. You can sell things but not very often. You can only post fountain pen related items. You can’t be a commercial venture. You can’t be icky. (Well, something like that.)

Because I’ve got a couple non-fountain pens in the sale and because I also have a lot of ink to move, I wrote the manager of a fountain pen related Facebook group to ask a few questions. I’m waiting for a response (mostly about ink which is kind of/sort of a commercial venture) but even if I haven’t heard back I’ll post the pens on a Facebook group tomorrow and hope for the best. (I will also offer to send a link about the ink.)

Luckily I have lots of time next week to pack and ship. Hopefully I’ll have more stuff to ship. If I manage to follow the rules, I should be okay. Probably.


Kingdom Note’s Japanese “Biological” Inks–All the Swatches (Plus Two)

Note: My apologies for this unfortunately long post. I’ve attempted to align smaller versions of the pictures side by side but have failed miserably and feel it’s best not to teach my daughters any more bad words than they’ve already learned up to this point. Also, please forgive the few misspellings and the constant bad handwriting.

Note Too: The photos appear as close to the physical swatches as I can get them on my home monitor. Your version of the pictures may vary substantially from the way I see them.


For reasons I’ve mentioned before I consider myself the official international distributor of Kingdom Note‘s Japanese “Biological” series of inks. They feature colors taken from flora and fauna that live in and near Japan.

Although I don’t own all the inks, I did take samples as they passed through the variety room and, based on those, bought several for myself.

In general, I find the KN inks to be less saturated than many other specialty Sailor inks, Bungubox for example, but they are gentle on your pens.


The Birds

In this series my favorite is Kiji (Green Pheasant). It has more shade and sheen than seen in the photo below. It also tends to go down dark but dry with a paler look.

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck) has a nice terracotta look and is almost always in one of my pens.

I also like Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay) but there are other blues I like better. Lidth’s Jay is a bit more pale than as shown in the photo.

Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon)

Toki (Crested Ibis)

Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay)

Kiji (Green Pheasant)

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck)

The Crustaceans

In this series I’m particularly fond of Yashigani (Coconut Crab). I like the mahogany/chocolate look and like that it works in different nib sizes. I also like Kurumaebi, but mostly in medium and broad nibs.

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab) is another favorite, although I understand why people don’t like it. I think it works best in wet medium and broad nibs.

I like Takaashigani (Spider Crab) but only in certain pens.

Kurumaebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn aka Shrimp)

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab)

Takaashigani (Spider Crab)

Yashigani (Coconut Crab)

Nihonzarigani (Blue Crayfish)

The Fungi

I’m not as fond of this series as the others. In fact, the only one I own is Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus). It is one of my favorite blue inks (I can’t decide if it counts as a blue-black or not). I also like the look of Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom) but haven’t used it.

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric) reminds me of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki. I don’t currently own a bottle, but it’s on the well, yeah, maybe some day list.

Sorairotake (aka Sky Blue Mushroom)

Sakuratake (aka Pink Mushroom)

Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom)

Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus)

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric)

The Bugs

My mother always says the only good bug is a dead bug, which means she would probably smash these bottles once she saw the pictures of bugs on them, but this is probably my favorite series. The only one I don’t own is Okuwagata (Stag Beetle). It has a nice green sheen to it, but there are other black inks I like better.

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly) is usually in at least one of my pens. Note that it may be slightly more lavender than the picture below but I got is as close as possible.

Higurashi (Green Cicada) is a new favorite. Ruriboshikamikiri (Blue Beetle) is a nice blue.

My favorite, though, is Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros beetle) Yes, I know it’s misspelled on the swatch. I especially like it in my LAMY 2000. It seems to match perfectly to that pen’s F nib.

Higurashi (Green Cicada)

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly)

Ruriboshikamikiri (Rosalia Bates, aka Blue Beetle)

Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros Beetle)

Okuwagata (Stag Beetle).

The Jellyfish

I don’t own and have not used this series. I like the Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish) and may get a bottle in the future. I’m torn on Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle). It reminds me of Noodler’s Apache Sunset, but has the advantage of drying in this lifetime.

Owankurage (aka Mint Jellyfish)

Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish)

Ginkodurage (aka Blue Jellyfish)

Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle)

Tacokurage (aka Pink Jellyfish)

Bonus Inks: The Tale of Genji Series

This is part of a new series of inks (with accompanying pens) recently released by Kingdom Note. Four inks have been released, but I’ve only been able to get my hands on two.

I like Tachibana but am not a fan of Asahanada’s Fabric (misidentified as Asao’s Fabric on the swatch).

Tale of Genji Series Asahanada’s Fabric

Tale of Genji Series Tachibana


Lost in the Ink World

Yesterday I mentioned how I went to a knife show and somehow managed to buy ink. Today I somehow managed to sell almost all of that ink. The problem is, now I have to go back and hope the monster I unleashed hasn’t cleaned the place out so that I can buy and sell more.

After I posted pics of the ink on Instagram (mostly to test the waters for potential buyers) I also helped some locals find the store and at least one of those locals will buy one of each. Given the reaction of the clerk when I ordered one of each of the eight flavors they had, I’m sure that having a couple more people show up and ask for all eight was a real surprise.

Note: I will have to use that when I approach the stores when and if I decide to formalize the business: I can move markets. For fifteen minutes or so. I also have customers in North America, New Zealand, The Philippines, Europe and India. If I were not lazy I’d have more. Maybe I’ll leave that last bit off.

Now I’m taking careful notes to avoid repeating the one serious mistake I’ve made. (My confidence is low.)

I’ve also continued to play with the accounting software. This is another post, but let’s just say for now I ran an experiment. Then I had to repeat it. Then I swore. Then I repeated it. Then it seemed to work.



Lots of the Same

Went to a knife show but ended up acquiring ink.

Today there was a knife show sponsored by the Japan Custom Knife Makers and the Japan Knife Guild. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but at these shows you never know.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, a lot of the makers were displaying similar kinds of knives. The main theme was small fixed blade knives that are popular among some knife geeks in the USA but are problematic here in Japan. In theory a fixed blade with a blade under six centimeters long is legal to carry. However, as soon as you pull it out and use it someone will complain.

After a couple sweeps of the tables my Canadian friend and I headed down for a beer and then, after he went home, I headed down to Maruzen where I tried to convince a woman to make me a leather pen case (she turned me down). Then I went across the street to Takashimaya to pick up a couple bottles of their bespoke ink and discovered they had eight different flavors.

I bought all of them as I’m pretty sure I can sell them. However, on the way to the register, the clerk pointed out three flavors by a different company. I didn’t buy them, but that gives me an excuse to go back.

The Missing Ink

Last Sunday I failed miserably, but not in the usual way.

The 18th Mitsukoshi World Fountain Pen Festival started this week after years of forgetting I finally remembered to call and try to schedule an appointment with the Sailor pens ink blender.

The call-in, drop-in time was 10:30 last Sunday and I had the number entered in my phone and right as it clicked 10:30 I pressed call. I got a busy signal.

Oddly, She Who Must Be Obeyed also helped by calling on our landline. After 20 minutes of attempts, all we got was a busy signal. I suspect this means that there was a line of people at the store  and they stole all the appointments. Because, let’s face it, if I didn’t get what I wanted it was because of theft. Something like that.

(Note: There were only about 40 appointments available over the two days.)

This won’t stop me from attending the pen festival, but it probably means I won’t buy anything. I will try to sneak into line at the Sailor booth to see if I can get a pen fixed. I’ll also play with as many pens as I can. Then I’ll run away before temptation sets in. Probably.