Sipping Mocha Cappuccino’s With Prospero and Miranda on the “Ile of Divels”: Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown Ink

“But this rough magic
I here abjure, and when I have required
Some heavenly music, which even now I do,
To work mine end upon their senses that
This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,
Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
And deeper than did ever plummet sound
I’ll drown my book.”
— Prospero, “The Tempest”

I’m still looking. I’m working my way through the Browns, Chocolate ink sample package from Goulet Pens in search of an old-timey-looking fountain pen ink. Here’s what’s in the set:

De Atramentis Black Edition Black-Brown
Diamine Chocolate Brown
Diamine Macassar
Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown
Noodler’s #41 Brown
Noodler’s Brown
Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan
Noodler’s Walnut

After excursions with Noodler’s Walnut (already a full-bottle purchase) and De Atramentis Black Edition Black-Brown, it became Faber-Castell Hazelnut Brown’s turn. I put it in a Lamy Safari with fine nib and set sail.

“This Airy Charm”

This ink does have a certain airy charm. But it is more airy than charming. It’s a light, caramel color. Almost terracotta. It’s mocha cappuccino. It’s nice in its own way, but it’s not what I’m looking for. A nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Which brings us to the “Ile of Divels.”

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Picking Dead Forget-Me-Nows With Nosferatu Through Mud and Pain: De Atramentis Black Edition Black-Brown Ink

Uh-boy. I’m not going to be anything but honest in these ink assessments. Brace yourself.

I’m continuing my pursuit of an antiquey-, oldey-feeling fountain pen ink, which started here, working my way through an order of the Browns, Chocolate ink sample package from Goulet Pens. This time around I’m reviewing the awkwardly named De Atramentis Black Edition Black-Brown.

This ink is a dark, purplish brown. Or a dark, brownish purple. That’s exactly the problem. This ink can’t decide whether it is purple or brown. The result is a lifeless mud. It is precisely the color I remember getting when mixing too many watercolor pigments together as a kid. Once you got to that brownish purple, you gave up. It’s a useless color, being no color at all, stuck in a dichotomy. It’s the same with this ink.

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The 2016 Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show



The 2016 Baltimore-Washington International Pen Show was held from March 4 to 6 at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Linthicum, Maryland. This was the first pen show I’ve attended. I haven’t been tempted before into desiring anything much beyond a Lamy AL-Star; I didn’t really see the point. The effect of the show is that this has now changed.

My wallet remained closed, but my head has been turned. Photos on the internet don’t convey how beautiful these pens are. Nice pens need to be seen in person. That’s when the craving starts.

BWIPS4_ACFMy first stop was the table for Ryan Krusac Studios. These handmade pens were incredible. The ones above in particular caught my eye, a limited-edition series called Dangers of the Deep, with scrimshaw work on naturally shed moose antler. Blackbeard, krakens, ships at sea, and mermaids are all here. The metal has an old-world patina with spots of verdigris. I don’t know if it’s on purpose, but the pens are subtly shaped like spyglasses. The whole aesthetic and coloration is perfect. I still can’t get over these. If I ever decide to treat myself, I’m going back to these pens.

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Smoking a Pipe With Tutankhamun: Noodler’s Walnut Ink

I’m in search of a fountain pen ink, but I’m not sure where to find it.

I’m looking for something that conveys the feeling of old writing. Something that looks old-timey. I want sepia, but inks called “Sepia” are too light. Something I can tolerate looking at over an entire page. Something neutral and dark and antiquey. Something that has a certain feel.

Noodler’s Nightshade, for example, has a certain feel. When I look at it I think Edgar Allan Poe. Arsenic and old lace. Dead roses. I like it, but a whole page of it at times brings out a predominant purple quality that’s too light. It takes a long time to dry — quite long on Rhodia webnotebook paper.

I also want something that can do well on cheap paper. I’m finding that some inks spread on yellow legal pad as if written with a mushy felt tip pen.

I hadn’t tried brown inks yet, so I ordered the Browns, Chocolate ink sample package from Goulet Pens. Maybe here …

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You Can Leave It Blank if You Want


Q: Do you have to write anything at all? Couldn’t you just leave it blank?

A: You can leave it blank if you want. That’s your record, right? Some people tell me that over a whole year they only wrote in it once and they just can’t use it right. But it’s only a planner, you don’t have to worry about using it right or wrong. You are what is important, so if you left your planner blank, well what’s the problem?

We make the Hobonichi Planners and sell them, but the Planner isn’t what is really important. The one left standing on the stage is you yourself, the one using it. That’s really important to remember.

It’s odd, there’s a guy in the office here who never writes in his Planner, but always carries it around with him. He says he likes having it with him. And he likes the cover. He has no intention of using it, but always has it with him.

Tom Vincent interviews Shigesato Itoi, creator of the Hobonichi Techo

Photo: ACF