One of my favourite parts about fountain pens is the ink – different colours, different flow, different stories behind each ink.
I am a bit fussy about ink, as I think many fountain pen people can be (or so I like to tell myself), and also not too adventurous (mostly browns and blues and blue-black-greys and a few particular greens), but I’m always on the look-out for an ink I can fall in love with.
It can be fun and frustrating and exciting to explore all the kinds of ink there are, and to compare inks between brands and colours, all part of the adventure.
And so we have a new Instagram account! You can find us on Instagram @wonderpensink. Our regular account, @wonderpens, will still be continuing on as is – shots of the shop and new products and what’s going on behind the scene.
We thought it would be fun to have a completely separate account so you can just scroll through and see all of the ink circles.
The ink circles are not technically or scientifically swabbed or scanned or adjusted 100% – our screens all look a bit different, lighting is different, and even the way I swab them can vary (I’m using Q-tips, and ones with more or less cotton can mean a more or less saturated swab), and inks can also look different from pen to pen and on different papers. In particular, it’s been a bit tricky to catch the heart of an ink if it’s got sheen or sparkle or shimmer.
We thought about using the scanner but…I guess we’re sort of hoping that this new account will just be a bit of fun!
I’m taking the photos with my iPhone 7, always taken with natural light, and adjusting them to the best of my ability for it to look like the page I see with my eye.
A way to discover new inks, or to compare inks side by side, but also to discover new things about inks – we’re planning on doing mini-series or themes where we can compare inks in a brand, inks of a colour, best-sellers or funny names, inks with sheen or waterproof writers, staff favourites or seasonal colours.
And it has been a lot of fun so far, to read comments on how this ink was someone’s very first ink, or this other ink is a new favourite for them, or they didn’t realize that a certain ink looks this way.
How we do it!
You might recognize the page corners from the Japanese Hobonichi Techo, a page-a-day agenda with the thin but super fountain-pen-friendly Tomoe River paper. We’ve still got a few left if you’re itching to start 2017 with one, but we do have more on the way, including a few of the sold out cover colours.
We’re using q-tips to do the ink swabs, and I have to admit it’s a good thing that Jon also has his Hobonichi for when I mess up or if I’ve made a mistake planning out which days to do which inks.
I’ve found the best way to do circle swabs is to swab the outline of the circle first, and then spiral inwards. It gives more even coverage, and also allows for a bit of pooling in certain spots so you can see the different shading an ink can give.
Because it’s quite wet on the page, and because the Tomoe River paper doesn’t quite absorb the ink, but the ink dries on top of the page, it takes a while to dry, and I’ve been leaving it for 10 minutes or more just so I don’t close it and it smudges accidentally.
Soon we’re going to try taking a video so you can see the ink circle in action. Practice doesn’t quite perfect in our situation, since I haven’t quite achieved a completely perfect circle yet, but at the very least I’ve moved from oblong blob to circular blob, if of various sizes, despite having a grid for reference.
After the swab, to write the name of the ink underneath, I sometimes dip a fountain pen (usually my flex Konrad, since Caleb sent my cap flying behind the stove so I can’t fill it and cap it), but sometimes I use a dip pen and a calligraphy nib. If it’s an ink that I really love, and I have an empty pen ready, I’ll fill up a pen and write the name of the ink with that .
It’s actually been a bit of a disaster for me since we’ve started this new account – I have literally too many pens to fit into my pen roll, and have taken to having filled pens floating around in my bag and knocking around here and there, or rolling them up outside the pockets but inside the flap of my pen roll and just hoping they won’t fall out. I’ve also taken to filling Jon’s pens for him with inks of my choice.
We just started the account in November, but it’s been a lot of fun trying to figure out how many dates and how many inks that’s going to take me. It’s one of those things where you can say 10-3 is 7, but if you’re doing from the 3rd of the month to the 10th of the month, it’s actually 8. Tricky, I know.
We have a few themes planned for the future, and coming up next are going to be a few Christmas inks as we count down to the big day. Red and green and a hint of gold!
It’s interesting now that we’ve done a few to see what the background was like on the day that I snapped the photo, and the miscellaneous things that are floating around my desk or my floor or my kitchen table.
You might remember that I’m using my Hobonichi for gratitude journaling, and it’s also been a bit of a balancing act with the swabs, since I don’t want to have my writing messing up a clean shot, although I think it’s always neat to see people’s handwriting. So far I’ve been taking shots sort of in advance, but I’m disorganized enough that I’ve also been holding off on writing in the Hobonichi until it’s bright enough to take a photo, sometimes even the next day (you can imagine how well I’ve been doing going back and filling it in after).
I think next year, 2017, I might use two separate Hobonichis, one for the ink and one for my personal journaling, and we can leave one in the shop for people to browse through once it’s finished.