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January 27, 2009

Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution

Most of the time, room temperature water is sufficient for cleaning a fountain pen. However, if your pen has a lot of dried ink in it or you want to change your ink color or ink brand, a good soaking in a cleaning solution can help. This recipe was created by an experienced fountain pen user. A word of caution: we do not recommend using this formula with old or vintage fountain pens because ammonia or even water can cause damage to them. This solution should be safe for most modern fountain pens, but again, please use caution if your pen is made from some specialty material.

Here's a formula for a fountain pen cleaning solution that you can make at home:

1 part household ammonia (no stronger than a 10% ammonia solution)

2 parts water

Drop or 2 of mild dish detergent such as Dawn or Joy

Store the solution in a wide-mouthed glass jar large enough to immerse the parts of a pen.

Take apart your fountain pen and soak the feed and nib in the cleaning solution for several hours. Most of the time it is not necessary to soak the barrel or the cap. Remove the feed and nib from the cleaning solution and rinse with room temperature tap water until water runs clear. Blot with a clean, lint-free cloth and allow to dry overnight.

This solution can be used several times. It is a bit smelly! Follow all warnings on the household ammonia container and do not mix with chlorine bleach.

Others have had success soaking & cleaning fountain pen feeds and nibs in household ammonia straight from the bottle. They warn that before doing this be sure that the household ammonia has no more than 10% ammonia in the solution! A stronger solution may damage your pens.

January 20, 2009

Fountain Pen Ink Mixing - Combinations to Avoid

Noodler's Baystate

It is impossible to predict what will happen with every combination when you mix fountain pen ink to create custom colors. Once Alan mixed Noodler's Year of the Golden Pig and Noodler's Georgia Peach to try and get a golden-yellow highlighting ink and it created a gel! This result certainly would have messed up the ink flow in any pen! To save you from some unexpected results, there are a few  fountain pen ink mixing combinations that you may want to avoid.

When mixing blue-black fountain pen inks it is good to be cautious since some blue-black inks, especially older formulas, contain iron which makes the ink acidic and corrosive to fountain pens. Mixing some blue-black inks can also cause clogging.

Mixing inks can change or neutralize any special properties that they may have. For example, Noodler's "bulletproof" inks (waterfast, fade resistant) when mixed with conventional inks loose their special "bulletproof" properties. Noodler's Polar Blue or Polar Black inks may lose some of their freeze-resistance when mixed with regular inks, however, we do not live in a cold enough location to test this out. Does anyone have experience with this?

The formula of Noodler's Baystate Inks is styled after vintage inks and has a different pH than all other Noodler's Inks. This ink was not made to be mixed with any other ink except for other Baystate colors! In addition, the Baystate inks each have slightly different properties. Baystate Blue is waterproof, but Baystate Concord Grape is only partially water-resistant and Baystate Cape Cod Cranberry is not waterproof at all. These inks are a favorite of some writers because they have a very high color intensity and look dramatic on certain paper grades, so it is nice to know what their limitations are.

Do you have any fountain pen ink mixing nightmares or warnings that you wish to share with us?

 

January 13, 2009

Thanks for a great year!

2009 is here! We at Writer's Bloc are looking forward to all the exciting things the new year has in store, but we also wanted to acknowledge how awesome 2008 was!

We had amazing support throughout our first year as an “online-only” store. Thanks to the fans of our brick and mortar store who took the effort to find us online, and to people who found us online and spread the word. We've had the chance to talk to people from all over the country, actually all over the world, about writing and writing products. Through your questions we've done a lot of research and have learned so much-- in fact, your questions were what inspired this blog, so keep them coming! We also really appreciate your sincere comments that help us know what we're doing right and what we can do better in the future. If you would indulge us to brag a little here is a sample of the comments that we received throughout the year:

“A very personal site in terms of the selection and the quality. You can tell the owner/vendor is invested and influenced by their personal taste, which is nice. I got my items very quickly and in fine shape.” -V.P., Illinois

“Received my planner within days of ordering. Pictures on the website showed the product in true form! I am very happy with my purchase!” -K.D., Virginia

“...The order went smoothly and I received my shipment within a few days ... The items were delivered without any damage and I have been a satisfied customer. I would highly recommend this company again for fountain pen and ink purchases.” - R.D., Oregon

“Fabulous store - they answered all of my questions... shipping was prompt and the items well packed... I will definitely shop here again in the future.” W.G., Texas

“I really like this vendor. Their products, layout, ease of use, pricing--all make it a first choice for me when checking out writing accessories.”-A.L., California

Thank you for seeing the love and effort we put into our store! Please visit again soon and drop us a line. Happy writing in 2009!

January 06, 2009

Calligraphy Pens


Calligraphy is an art form that almost anyone can enjoy. If you've said "I don't have a artistic bone in my body", you may be surprised, that with the right pen in hand, you could have a hidden artistic flare you never knew you had. Recently here at Writer's Bloc I was able to "play" with some great Calligraphy Pens.  
 
The Pilot Parallel Pen 3.8mm has a wide nib that makes wide, large letters. This pen, as well as the 6.0mm nib Parallel Pen, would work well with projects that call for large lettering. Great for personalizing blank cards or to make signs that need to be easy to read. For smaller lettering, the Parallel Pen also comes in 1.5mm and 2.4mm nib sizes. This pen has an interesting gradation function that allows you to gradually change your writing from one color to another color.

The Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen with a 1.5mm nib was my favorite because the nib size made what I thought was the just right stroke width for calligraphy writing in my personal letters and cards.  The angle and nib is given to making clean calligraphy letters.  A must have for the calligraphy writers among us. It is available with 1.0mm and 2.0mm nibs as well.
 
The Lamy Joy Calligraphy Pen with a 1.1mm nib makes a fine line that is very appealing to those of us who write a little smaller. A great Pen!! It glides smoothly across the paper, almost making writing effortless. This pen makes beautiful writing fun. You can also get this pen with a 1.5mm or 1.9mm nib.
 
All three of these Calligraphy Pens are well made fountain pens. They feel great in the hand and flow smoothly and evenly. They truly make for unique and stylish lettering that gives individuality to any writing endeavor.  
 
Discover the artist in you and have fun doing it!!
 
 
Lorraine at Writer's Bloc

Introduction to Mixing Fountain Pen Ink

Using an Ink Mixing Kit

One of the most enjoyable things about using a fountain pen is being able to mix your own custom ink colors! If you are a new fountain pen user, or haven't tried this for yourself yet, we would like to share some things we've learned about ink mixing.

One myth is that you must match the brand of fountain pen you are using to the brand of ink that you purchase. This may have been true with some vintage fountain pens and vintage inks, but with modern fountain pens feel free to experiment with any modern ink specially formulated for use in fountain pens. If you want to be cautious, you may try using your less expensive pens to begin your experiments. Although we haven't had this problem, we have heard that intensely colored inks may stain a fountain pen.

Another myth about ink mixing is that you must only mix inks if they are the same brand. However, we have found that many different brands of ink will work just fine when mixed together. For example, many Noodler's Inks, LAMY, Pelikan and J. Herbin Inks can be mixed together to create new colors without any problems. There are always exceptions though, so when trying a new ink combination we would recommend making a small amount first and waiting a little while to see if there are any reactions. Using an ink mixing kit is helpful since these are designed for making small test batches of ink and the clear vials help you to see if any globs or precipitate form after mixing inks together.

If a batch of ink gums up your fountain pen, or you want to start out fresh with your new ink color, you can wash the pen and the converter out thoroughly with room temperature water. Have fun experimenting to see what inks work best for you!

In a future post we will mention some ink combinations that you might want to avoid. In the meantime, we would love it if you would share your favorite fountain pen ink recipe with us!


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