Olive Octopus handwritten text with sketch of octopus


Here are my answers to the #21PenQuestions from The Well-Appointed Desk.

Question 1 What is the pen they'll have to pry out of your cold dead hands?

The Sailor Pro Gear Slim "Nuts" pen with the colorway based on the Manyo Shirakashi and Yamabuki inks. My pen has a lovely medium nib and is inked with Shirakashi. The pen body is in the neighborhood of my favorite green, and the first series of Manyo inks were very influential as I got into inks and pens. If I have to pick a favorite ink it's Shirakashi, so when this pen was announced there was no question.

Sailor Pro Gear Slim 'Nuts' pen with a medium gold nib and light gray green translucent body with transparent yellow accents with swatches of the green/brown/blue Sailor Manyo Shirakashi and bright yellow Sailor Manyo Yamabuki inks.

Question 2 What's your guilty pleasure pen?

Life's too short to get hung up about "guilty" pleasures, but I'll say the TWSBI Eco/Eco-T because I don't NEED any more but it makes me happy to pick up new colors that catch my eye. They work well, show off ink, and resist drying out so well that having several inked for long periods of time hasn't been a problem.

TWSBI ECO Persian Green, TWSBI ECO Heat (orange), TWSBI ECO-T Saffron (yellow)

Question 3 What's the pen you wish existed?

There's such a variety of interesting pens that already exist out there for me to still discover so this question is overwhelming to consider. Since TWSBIs were my entrance into fountain pens and first love I'll keep it simple and say I'd love to get an olive/army green TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR (or even a Mini).

More translucent Eco colors like the Jade and Glow Purple/Green would be cool too.

TWSBI Diamond 580 ALR in Prussian Blue with Ink Institute Jade Vine ink and a swatch card with a bird outline colored in and labeled with the Jade Vine ink.

Question 4 What pen would you give to a new enthusiast?

Ideally I'd hand over any pen I have available to try first and have a conversation to find a fit. That said, I'm most likely to give someone a Platinum Preppy/Prefonte because they aren't a big financial investment, are fairly low-maintenance, and resist drying out, to establish a low-pressure environment to try a simple pen with a nice nib and just focus on the writing experience. Plus the Preppy Wa editions are super fun.

Eight different Preppy, Preppy Wa, and Prefounte transparent fountain pen models in green with black squares, yellow, clear, black with a geometric floral design, pink with sakura blossoms and wavy dotted lines, dark blue Prefounte model with a metal clip, blue-black with sparkly gold and silver dragonflies, and bright blue, plus a compatible silver-trim Platinum converter.

Question 5 What pen do you want to get along with but it just never clicked?

The wording of this question is apropos because I have not been very into the Pilot Vanishing Point or similar "click" fountain pens. A clipless version is slightly more appealing, and I hope to spend some quality time with a Pilot Decimo in the future to give it a fair chance, but at least for now these aren't for me.

A gray Pilot Vanishing Point pen with silver trim, a capless design where the nib is hidden when not in use and the clip is toward the nib.

Question 6 What pen do you only keep only because its pretty?

I got this Stipula Adagio Seaglass with a stub nib because it was on sale and it looked different and interesting. The nib and piston are serviceable but not noteworthy, however this material has really pretty colors and I like to see the transparency when it's held up in the light.

Multiple views of a Stipula Adagio Seaglass fountain pen with a stub nib. The pen has a translucent swirly material with green, blue, brown, and silver colors, a faceted barrel and cap, silver colored metal accents including a wide metal cap band with 'Adagio Stipula', vertical line texture and a ring of leaves.

Question 7 What pen (or stationery product) did you buy because everyone else did?

The Kakimori stainless steel nib (the conical shape with ink grooves). It's interesting and I don't regret getting it, but I have a variety of other dip pens/dip nibs that I reach for more often. I think the Kakimori pen nib will be more useful to me for dip pen writing (without flex), and if I get more practice controlling ink flow with the first nib it may work better for sketching.

A Kakimori pen nib, shaped like a firm fountain pen nib without a feed, in a black plastic nib holder. A Kakimori stainless steel nib that is a conical shape with groves to hold ink in a ferrule that happens to fit ok into another plastic orange pen body with a cap. Both pens are resting on a metal turtle pen rest.

Question 8 What pen (or stationery product) is over your head or just baffles you?

Right now I think vintage pens are still a bit over my head. I've tried out enough to understand how different and nice those nibs can be (very nice), but I just don't know enough about the filling systems, materials, maintenance, safe inks, etc. to feel comfortable having a vintage pen. I'm just more interested in exploring the variety in inks than pens right now.

Question 9 What pen (or stationery product) surprised you?

I famously hate glitter, so I was quite surprised to receive a bright blue Benu Euphoria pen with gold and silver confetti swirls and realize it's actually a perfect celebration pen that I enjoy using. I also think shimmer inks are fun, color me surprised. ✨️

Pile of col-o-dex swatch cards for shimmer inks and a Carolina Pen Co brown with green sparkle pen, a purple and orange Pen Addict Benu Euphoria, and a Benu Euphoria Bora Bora blue, silver, and gold pen.

Question 10 What pen doesn't really work for you but you keep it because it's a collectible?

I only collect things that I like or find useful, regardless of current or anticipated future market value. Here's a more fun question: What pens do I keep because they are collectable AND I like and use them? Retro 51s!

Collection of Retro 51 pens with bees, autumn leaves, the doors of the Palmer in Chicago, Gray's Anatomy, the Periodic Table of Elements, Sleepy Hollow, and Hubble in a gear theme pen holder.

Question 11 What is your favorite sparkly pen (or ink)?

I don't want to pick a favorite so here are 4(!) shimmer inks I currently have in pens.

  • Colorverse Iris Nebula, a dark gray purple with yellow/blue/green? shimmer
  • Wearingeul The Autumn Night After a Thousand Years, a gorgeous deep green with brown sheen and golden shimmer
  • Wearingeul I am a Cat, a blue gray with gold shimmer
  • Diamine Sailor's Warning, a bright orangey red with pink shimmer

Swatches and pens filled with four inks: Colorverse Iris Nebula in a TWSBI Vac Iris, Wearingeul The Autumn Night after a Thousand Years in a TWSBI Go, Wearingeul I am a Cat in a Kaweco Sport Pearlescent, Diamine Sailor's Warning in a TWSBI Eco Persian Green.

Question 12 Which nib do you love - but hate the pen?

Let's reduce "hate" to "are disappointed with." I certainly don't hate the Pilot 912, black is fine and I like the flat ends & silver trim. After trying the *15* nib options I picked the SFM, it's a great pen! But I also like the transparent 74s, the brown Falcon, and wish more colors were available for this pen shape/nib options. With several nibs only available on this model (in the US), no wonder people leave on the stickers. 🙃

A Pilot Custom Heritage 912 black pen with silver trim, with a Soft Fine Medium (SFM) nib. A short writing sample showing the slight flex.

Question 13 What pen (or stationery product) gives you the willies?

I got a sample of Organics Studio Nitrogen among a random group of ink samples pretty early on, before I knew anything about it. It ended up leaving its marks all over my first Col-o-ring, let's just say I'm not a big fan of super sheener inks. 🤣

Col-o-ring swatch card for the bright blue sheening ink Organics Studio Nitrogen with blue fingerprint smudges on the card, along with blue fingerprints across several other Col-o-ring swatch cards.

Question 14 What's your favorite pen for long form writing?

I don't do a lot of long form writing but my Opus 88 Halo, which has a particularly nice extra fine nib, is a pen I'd pick for that purpose. The pen is an eyedropper with a very large ink capacity, and a fine line should dry fairly quickly and be reasonably legible even if my handwriting degrades over time. If I wanted to see a little more character in an ink, I could switch to a medium nib in a similar pen, the Opus 88 Koloro.

An Opus 88 Koloro pen in transparent teal acrylic/tan ebonite with a writing sample of the medium nib, and a transparent Opus 88 Halo with a green section next to a writing sample of the extra fine nib.

Question 15 What pen (or stationery product) do you love in theory but not in practice?

Travel journals, the type where people save tickets, maps, menus and other ephemera to tape into a journal with writing, sketches, photos, stickers, stamps etc. to document a trip. I think it's so cool and love to see them, but in practice I don't think I'm cut out to manage a project like that and still remain present and engaged in the travel itself. Photos and maybe a bit of writing is enough.

Question 16 What pen (or stationery product) would you never let someone else use?

Sharing pens and ink swatches/samples has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of finding the fountain pen community. There isn't really anything I wouldn't let anyone else use, I just reserve the right to reasonable discretion about who/what/when. Many people have generously let me try all kinds of pens so I try not to take for granted how special that is and do the same.

A Franklin-Christoph TN cover with Tomoe River notebooks full of ink swatches, a Rickshaw Nock Sinclair pen case full of misc fountain pens, and plastic bag full of sample vials.

Question 17 What pen (or stationery product) would you never use for yourself?

As a personal preference, I choose materials other than leather, like fabric and the “NWF” (New Wood Fiber) material that Franklin-Christoph uses, for pen/stationery accessories.

Two regular size Franklin-Christoph TN style notebook covers in Greystone X-Pac and brown NWF, one passport size Franklin-Christoph passport TN cover in NWF olive, a Rickshaw pen roll with Mt. Fuji design, an orange Nock 3 pen case.

Question 18 What pen (or stationery product) could you NOT bring yourself to buy?

Any super expensive pens. There's definitely a point beyond entry-level gold nib or “maker” pens where more expensive pens become things I can enjoy seeing as exquisite tools and works of art, but don't really consider owning. I like having a broad toolbox of pen shapes, sizes, and nibs more than finding an expensive “grail” pen.

Namiki Yukari pen with Bamboo design and other Namiki Maki-e pens out of focus in the background.

Question 19 What's your favorite vintage pen?

I don't know (see question 8), but I saw a lot of interesting greens among the trays of vintage pens at a pen show.

Question 20 What is your favorite EDC/pocket pen?

My favorite is either the TWSBI Diamond Mini AL (Mint Blue) or Mini Vac (Smoke).They both have good clips, threaded posting of the cap, hold a generous amount of ink, clearly show how much ink is left, cap securely, and resist drying out. The Mini Vac's shutoff valve can minimize the risk of an inky mess during travel (especially due to pressure changes with air travel), while the Diamond Mini AL is a little more compact and a fun color.

A TWSBI Diamond Mini AL (Mint Blue) and a TWSBI Mini Vac (Smoke) tucked into the elastic band around a passport-size Franklin-Christoph TN notebook cover in Olive NWF material.

Question 21 What's the pen (or stationery product) that got away?

I don't have any good stories of something that got away, but I will say that the Stilo e Stile x Leonardo Momento Zero Prisma looked really sharp-a frosted white translucent barrel with rainbow metal hardware. A lot of the recent materials that catch my eye are for the Momento Zero Grande model but I like that this pen was the smaller Momento Zero, and even the converter has the rainbow hardware.

Screenshot of an Instagram post from stiloestile showing the limited edition Stilo e Stile x Leonardo Momento Zero Prisma, a frosted white translucent barrel pen with rainbow metal hardware.

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