My Arsenal

This is from a post I made on FPN. I've been thinking a lot about the pen, paper, and ink products I use. I have such variety that I though why not sit down and think about what are my essentials, my staples, the things I can't live without. This is what I've come up with. I can safely say that, at this point, if any of these things go missing, get broken, or whatever I will be hunting down replacements just as fast as I can say "Charge It!"

My arsenal:
  • Pens- Levenger Plumpster, Pilot VP, Stipula Vedo, and Edison Glenmont bulb filler . I have 14 pens, but these pens represent my workhorse pens. At least one or two are always inked. Should any of the above pens break or be lost they will have to be replaced forthwith! All are fantastic writes and offer different conveniences. The Plumpster is fat, comfortable, and a c/c systems which offers some flexibility when traveling. The VP's retractable nib makes it the perfect notes pen. The Vedo is a piston filler with good ink capacity, comfortable design, and a great custom nib. The Edison was designed to my specifications which makes it a staple by default. I mostly use it for journaling and letter writing.
  • Inks- Mont Blanc Violet and Visconti Blue. I have 32 bottles of ink and an equal number of samples. This one was hard to nail down, but out of all my inks these are the two that absolutely are never going to be allowed to run out. I have others near this category: Levenger True Teal, Noodler's Turquoise, Diamine Prussian blue, but MB Violet and Visconti Blue are in a league of their own.
  • Journal- I don't have a signature journal as yet, but I am very partial to theExacompta Basics Gold Edged journals and Paperchase journals.
  • Stationery- American Stationery Business Monarch. I have several I like and use often including Crane's 90gsm Pearl White, Rhodia blank pads, and G. Lalo, but I always come back to the Business Monarch. It's perfect for my needs.
  • Paper for everyday use- Staples Bagasse and HP LaserJet 24lb. These two papers are cheap, abundant, and extremely fp friendly. I have to say the HP LaserJet took me by surprise. It is superbly FP friendly with just about all my pens and inks: No feathering or bleedthrough. It's surprisingly robust and available at a big box office supply store near you! I love Clairefontaine and Rhodia as well, but they are a bit more expensive than I'd like for everyday mundane writing.
  • Planner- Quo Vadis Septanote(Trinote). This is my perfect planner. It never fails to come through for me and the paper is fantastically FP friendly. It's in weekly format which is perfect for me as I like to plan by the week. It has ample room for appointments and ample room for notes. There is also a side bar for other important notes. Really, I couldn't live without it.
  • Misc- Circa Desk Punch, discs, and covers. Ok, this is pending. I've already discovered that I LOVE the disc bound system. My punch is coming just as soon as my simply irresistible kit gets off back order! :glare: I'm not shooting blind on this one. I have used the disc bound system before (Clairefontaine Clairing notebooks) and have been longing for a system I could customize. I just had to justify the cost to myself. The disc bound system is just perfection for me. It holds everything securely while allowing for a lot of flexibility since you can easily remove and relocate pages and add pages were need be. My notebooks will be filled primarily with HP LaserJet 24lb paper and Staples Bagasse.
I have no idea what my readership is like (if I have one at all), but if anyone is out there reading this please feel free to let me/us know what is in your arsenal as well.

NB: Many of these items have already been reviewed here and are linked where appropriate. All the others are in the works and will be appearing soon as I can get to them.

Dark/Dusky purples

Well, just to round out my week in purples I've decided to post a comparison photo of some of the dark and/or dusky purples I've used in the past several months.

  • I'm not such a big fan of Noodler's Purple Wampum. It can be a bit feathery, but the color is great!
  • PR Ebony Purple is my go to purple for when I want something bordering on black, but not black.
  • Mont Blanc Violet has great sentimental value for me. My husband gifted me this ink on our wedding day. I have two bottles of it and only use it on occasion. It is one of the best looking red leaning purples I've found.
  • JH Poussiere de Lune is gorgeous and performs flawlessly.
  • I have a love hate relationship with Diamine Damson. I like the color in the right pen, but I find the ink to be a bit dry feeling at times.
  • Diamine Amazing Amethyst is probably my favorite purple right now. It is basically the perfect gray purple that leans blue. There is nothing like it!

The Edison Glenmont in Purple Web Celluloid

Let me start this with a bit of a slideshow. One of the great things about ordering a pen from Brian is that you get to watch it being born. As I was watching Brian make my pen, I took some screen shots of the process. I've included captions so that you all can figure out what was going on.

I just can't say enough about how fun it is to watch your pen being made.



First Impressions

This pen is everything I thought it would be and more. The material is unsurpassed. I never appreciated the difference between acrylic and celluloid. It is warm to the touch and seems to ‘glow’ for lack of a better word. This pen and material is near impossible to photograph properly, especially with my little Lumix  TZ4 and rigged up lighting setup. I’ve done the best I can do, but please take my word for it when I say this is a material that can only be appreciated in person and in direct sunlight!



This pen just looks great! As mentioned above, I’ve used a celluloid material. It is Purple Web by American Art Plastics and is a true Celluloid not just acrylic. I find that I quite like the slight camphor smell as I write with it. It’s not overbearing at all. The material itself is a deep purple mauve sort of color. In poor lighting it appears a plain dark plum, but when the sun shines on it it just comes alive. The material has striations in it. These striations are actually translucent, so depending on how thin the pen is turned you can actually see through them. Brian turns his pens rather thickly, so I can only see through the material near the ink window and near the cap threads. It’s a rather nice effect. In addition to the striations, the material also has a bit of silver dust sprinkled through out. This also gives it a bit of a shine.

I’ve included a picture from Brian’s Flickr page that better illustrates this than my photos. Note this is not my pen:

The expert craftsmanship is evident. If one examines the pen closely one can observe the occasional maker's marks. This is not to say that the pen is flawed. To the contrary, the glossy finish on this pen is superb. The occasional tool mark only adds to the handmade aesthetic of the pen. It’s a bit like observing handmade carpentry (did you know Brian is also a woodworker and does beautiful Marquetry work?). I love it!



The Glenmont design is itself a sight to behold. I love that it recalls the Waterman, Sheaffer, Parker flatops that were so popular in the 20s and 30s. While I love cigar shaped pens as much as the next person there really is just something about those flat tops.

I did make a few alterations to the pen design. Most notably, my pen has no coordinating color end caps. With the material I chose I did not think them appropriate. Also, my pen is a bulb filler. This required some changes to the design of the barrel. Also, my barrel does not taper as much as the original Glenmont design. I don’t post my pens, so it was not necessary to taper it so much. Finally, I added an ink window so that I can tell when I’m running low on ink.

The quality of this pen’s construction is really unsurpassed. Everything fits tightly and flush. The threading is precise and the finish is impeccable. Really, this pen is top notch all the way!

This pen is 5 7/8” capped and 5 1/4” uncapped. If I had one complaint it would be in regards to the girth of the pen. I’d like a fatter section. As is, it is a little under .5 inch in girth. I tend to like pens with a large section so that it keeps my grip on the pen loose and thus reduces fatigue during long writing sessions. This may be something that can be address during the customization process.

In most fountain pen reviews this would be the most important section. With regards to a custom pen, I think not. When you commission a custom pen you are really commissioning the body of the pen not the nib.

Brian has sourced the best prefabricated nibs and feeds he can find and will adjust them to your preferences. I ordered two steel nibs for my pen. One was a .8mm Stub and the other was a Medium.

I ordered the stub first. The grind was well done except that it was a bit more crisp than I’d wanted. I consider this my own fault as I was not very specific about what kind of writing experience I wanted. Brian ground the nib for maximum line variation which translated into the nib writing beautifully, but not quite as smooth as I’d wanted. When I contacted Brian about this he immediately offered to adjust the nib for me. I should receive it back next week, but I am confident that it will be excellent. ***

In the meantime, and mostly because I could not bare to take this gorgeous pen out of rotation, I ordered a medium nib. We went over my exact desires for the nib (I’m a quick learner) and I am very pleased to announce that it came to me EXACTLY as I wanted. It is a wonderfully smooth and wet writer. I have no complaints or reservations about it; it is simply a joy to use. I’m sure the stub will be too.

Filling System


My pen is a bulb filler. This is a fun filling system. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you do it is perfect. Might I also add that it is very easy to clean out. You simply suck up some water to rinse the feed and the filler tube. The nib unscrews so that you can rinse out the barrel.

My pen holds quite a bit of ink at over 2.5ml. I have my nib tuned to a very wet 7/10 wetness, so I go through the ink pretty quickly.

Cost and Value


What can I say? You get what you pay for. With the bulb filler, and customizations it is very easy to spend over $400 on one of Brian’s pens (though the base models are generally around $250). For the price I paid I got 1.5 months of superior customer service, it took him 3-4 hours over the course of 2 days to make my pen, and I gave my input the entire way through even as I was watching him make my pen over the webcam.

I could have gotten a Visconti Opera Master, Pelikan M800 or Auroura Optima, but I would not have gotten the service or the ability to be so deeply involved in the process. This pen was definitely worth it!

Conclusion (10/10,  A++)
I am beyond pleased with this pen. It is everything I wanted and then some. I would not hesitate to recommend Brian to anyone looking to purchase a handmade custom fountain pen. Very well done!

No Affil.

*** Just adding an update to this review.

I have received my readjusted .8mm stub nib that I mentioned in my review. The results are as I expected. It is a wonderful writer. The sweet spot is very particular, but once I found it I as more than satisfied with the result. I've been using the pen for several days now, and I am completely adjusted to the sweet spot.

Wonderful nib, wonderful width, wonderfully juicy. I am well pleased.

As an added bonus, I had him fashion the top of the nib into a fine point so that I can flip it over and have a fine line when needed. He did a good job with that too. The fine side of the nib is not buttery smooth, but I did not expect it to be. It is quite useful though.

Thanks Brian! :thumbup: :thumbup:

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune

I waited longer than most FP enthusiasts to try this ink. I don't know why really as dusky purples are some of my favorite inks. Let me tell you this ink does not disappoint. It is gorgeous and quite well behaved.

The Details:
  • I'd describe this color as a dusky mauve. In a very wet writer and when used on a very absorbent paper, it can be quite deep and dark. It can even look black at times.
  • It does not bleed through or feather. I find it quite tolerant of most papers, even those of poor quality.
  • The flow and lubrication are excellent. It really makes for a smooth writing experience.
  • The drying time is a little longer than I expected at 13 seconds, but I was using a very wet writer and these note card do have longer drying times. Still, I expected it to be faster.
  • The shading is good, but not as pronounced as some other dusky purples I have (namely Diamine Amazing Amethyst).
  • Now for the most surprising thing about this ink... THE WATER RESISTANCE IS EXCELLENT!!! In a water droplet test (drop water on the page, leave to sit for a couple minutes, soak the water up with a paper towel) this ink barely lost any color and remained perfectly legible! More extensive tests are needed, but I am very happy with these findings!!
JH PDL card

No Affil.

Diamine Amazing Amethyst

I haven't posted in quite some time. My apologies. Life has been doing a wonderful job of getting in the way, but I promise to make it up to you. I'm starting with two reviews in one day! Up first is the lovely Diamine Amazing Amethyst!

This is probably my favorite Diamine ink at the moment, and my favorite dusky purple. I bought this to go with my new Edison Glenmont (review coming later this week) because I thought the color would go perfectly with it. Alas, it does not. This is a bit more blue than my Glenmont. Even still this ink has a very permanent and prominent place in my collection!

The details:
  • I'd describe this color as a Dusky Bluish-Grey-Purple. It lacks the reddish undertones of Diamine Damson or JH Poussière de Lune.
  • This ink does not feather or bleed through any paper of average quality.
  • The flow and lubrication are quite good indeed, and in my opinion, much better than Diamine Damson which I find to be a little less lubricating than I'd like.
  • The drying time is excellent. Note that my Edison is tuned to about 7 of 10 wetness and yet this ink still was dry to the touch in 7 seconds. Also note that it takes inks longer to dry on this note card than on most other papers I use. Therefore, I can say that this ink should work rather well for a lefty over-writer! ;)
  • The shading is absolutely marvelous. This is one of the best shading purples I own.
  • The only downside for me is that it is not at all water resistant. AT ALL.
Note: This ink is a part of Diamine's Bespoke Ink series. It is only available directly from Diamine and only in the 30ml bottles. I'm hoping that they choose to make it a permanent part of their line up. For myself, I'll be ordering a couple more bottles just to be sure to have enough on hand. Dia AA card

No affil.

New Diamine Inks

My shipment arrived today and I am VERY pleased with my purchases. VERY. Here they are:


Amazing Amethyst is indeed amazing! I love this color. This is actually exactly the purple ink I've been looking for. It is medium dark and is purple with a slight bit of grey to it. It is completely different than Damson which was a bit too grey and mauve for me though still a nice color. This Amazing Amethyst is going to be my Edison ink. (I should have my pen in 2 weeks) I really wish they would make this a regular ink and sell it in the big bottles.

I really like the Lavender as. It is good and bright. It reminds me of Waterman Violet or Levenger Amethyst.

Marine is a gorgeous blue-green. It is almost exactly like Steel Blue except it is probably 50% less green and a couple shades lighter. So all of you who didn't like Steel Blue because it is too green might like Marine.

Pelikan M205 Blue Demonstrator

Pel M205 Posted and Ink

First Impressions

The freely admit that this was an impulse buy. I found it on sale at such a great price that I could not walk away from it despite the fact that it is a demonstrator and I generally hate demonstrators. Still, when I opened up the box I was instantly attracted to the pen

This pen is small, there is no denying that, but the blue color of the plastic is very attractive. In my opinion, it helps class the pen up a bit. If it were just clear plastic I think it would look quite cheap. I also appreciate the silver-colored furniture. I find gold trim positively revolting except when it is on a vintage black pen. Some have described the plastic as “cheap looking,” and I don’t entirely disagree, but considering the price of this pen I can get over it. ;)


Pel M205 Blue

The dimensions of this pen are as follows: 4 7/8” capped, 5 7/8” posted, and 4 3/4” unposted. This pen is quite small and incredibly light weighing in at about 1/2 oz. (16-17g) inked to capacity!

The design of the pen is simple. It does not vary from the rest of the M2xx line except in terms of finishes. This is not a design that excites me, but it is functional. As one would expect from Pelikan, the pen is well constructed. Despite it’s plasticy-ness (new word?!) it feels quite solid. I don’t feel as though I have to handle this pen with great care.

One thing I don’t like is that I have to post the cap. If I don’t, this small pen is not comfortable in the hand. With the cap posted the pen feels well-balanced.


Pel F steel Nib

This pen has a fine nib on it. This was not my choice. This was the only option available to me at the price I paid. The M205 uses the same steel nib as the M215. It is available in XF, F, M, and B. This steel fine nib is springy and quite smooth though still a little tactile on the page. Out of the box, the nib wrote a bit dry, but I adjusted the flow a little and now it is fairly juicy. I’m surprised at how much I’m liking this nib now.

I’m not a big fan of fine nibs, so I was going to send it to Chartpak for an exchange. However, I’ve decided to keep this nib. I figure I need a good fine nib and I can always buy a replacement for $30. I can even spring for a Binder Stub (.8mm) for $50.

Filling System
Now, this is the real reason I bought this pen. This little guy is a piston filler and I wanted another one for my little accumulation. The more I use them the more I realize that the piston filling system is my favorite of all. As others have noted, the Pelikan filling system is quite smooth in operation and boy does it suck! (which is a good thing for FPs) This pen holds about 2ml. of ink, which combined with the fine nib, makes for quite a lot of writing between fills. I have nothing bad to say!

Cost and Value

You can find these online for anything from $95 to $75. If you are in the market for a used one you might be able for find one in the $60 range. I’d say this is a pretty good buy even at $90, but if you can find it for $60 you’ll really have an excellent bargain on your hands.

Conclusion (9/10, A-)
While I didn’t expect it, I think I quite like this little pen. I can see this fitting right into my rotation as a great school and annotation pen especially with this great ink capacity. I’d certainly recommend this pen to anyone looking for an inexpensive, practical, and functional piston filling pen.

pel est lev compare
The perspective is a little wonky in this photo. The M205 is about the same size as the Esterbrook J next to it. Both are dwarfed by the Levenger Plumpster.

No Affil.

Noodler's Bad Blue Heron

It's been a while since I've done a review, but I've been swamped with work. It takes time to put these things together; time I have not had of late. HOWEVER, since I was able to get my hands on a bottle of Noodler's Bad Blue Heron, I thought I might as well put a review up.

I bought this ink because a. someone on FPN described it as looking like the Crayola Cerulean crayon and that was always my favorite color in the box b. this is a darker bulletproof ink and I've been looking for one of those. I have not been disappointed.

Firstly the color. This ink does look a bit like Cerulean crayons when it is wet, but it dries to a very attractive dark blue with hints of green and maybe turquoise. It might even be described as a blue-black. It's difficult to capture the color of this ink in pictures, but I've done my best.

No feathering
No Bleed through
Excellent flow
Good lubrication
Some good shading depending on your nib and paper
It's not just bulletproof, it's part of the Warden Ink series. It is the most fraud resistant ink available. (see comp. below)
Comes in a 3 oz. bottle
No nib creep.

It has that trademark chemical odor that can down right knock you over if you sniff the bottle.
It sticks to the nib and can be a pain to clean off.

Now about this sticking business. This was a bit off putting at first. When I first got the bottle I dip tested it with a dip pen. This ink dried on the dip pen nib and it was really hard to wipe off. This made me nervous. So, I put it in a Sheaffer's Cartridge pen. I did not have the same sticking problem. After having it in that pen for a few days I switched it over to my Levenger Plumpster. I didn't have any problems rinsing the Sheaffer clean, and I can't find any evidence of ink still stuck on the nib. It's been in the Plumpster for several days now and I haven't had any problems at all. No clogging, no nothing. It also is not sticking to or staining the walls of the cartridge I put it in. So, I'm confident that this ink is perfectly pen safe.

My one suggestion would be to fill the pen using a syringe or some other method so you don't have to dip the nib in the ink. This makes for easier clean up. But either way you should be fine. I also recommend that you flush you pen every one to two fills of this ink. Good pen hygiene=happy pens!

Further Note: When I write a review of an ink I strive to provide the most accurate account of my experiences as possible. My comments about the ink sticking to the dip pen nib should not be misconstrued as a denunciation of this ink. I, in fact, love it and it will likely see heavy rotation in my pens. For some reason, that is beyond my understanding, people tend to have a visceral kind of reaction to Noodler's ink as if it is the devil or something. I am not one of those who subscribes to that sort of nonsense. I have several bottles of Noodler's ink, including two other bulletproof inks, and I use them without reservation!

Now for the pictures:

ND Heron

Here is a comparison for reference:

ND heron comp

Here are a set of swabs meant to test this ink's bulletproofness. This test was performed on 24# copy paper. As you can see A little of the blue dye is lifted when it come in contact with liquid; otherwise, this ink isn't going anywhere. I got a little carried away with the soapy water test and actually did remove some of the paper. The ink is still there!

ND Heron tests

No affil.

Noodler's Turquoise and Blue-Green Comparisons

I LOVE Blue-Green inks. I mean I REALLY love Blue-Green inks. ND Turquoise is one of my favorites along with Diamine Steel Blue.

Noodler's Turquoise isn't really turquoise. Instead it is a medium-dark blue leaning blue green. This is not a bulletproof ink or an eternal ink. This one is just a part of Noodler's standard ink line. Not much different in composition from your run of the mill fountain pen ink brands. It behaves very well and is not overly saturated. Fantastic ink all around.

No feathering or bleed through.
The flow is excellent and the lubrication is quite good. My nib floats across the page.
The drying time is a little slower than average at 7-10 seconds, but not slow enough to cause any problems.
I haven't seen much more than minimal shading out of this ink, but I've only had it in this fine nibbed pen. Shading might be more pronounced in a stub or italic pen.
This ink is not bulletproof or eternal. It isn't even water resistant. It washed completely away almost instantly.


Here is are a couple Blue-Green comparisons for your review. I Hope you enjoy them:


BG Showdown 09

No Affil.

Exacompta Basics Gold Edged Sketchbook with Madeira Cover

exacompta cover

I was in the market for a new journal when I sent a question to Karen at Exaclair about one of their other Exacompta blank journals. She informed me that it was not very fountain pen friendly and suggested that I might like the Basics journal. Within a couple days of that conversation I received the journal reviewed here as a sample. Thank you so much for the excellent customer service! (I am not otherwise affiliated with Exaclair. My apologies for the quality of the photos. The light is not very good today.)

First Impressions:

Upon receiving this journal I was immediately impressed by the quality and vibrancy of this journal's cover. I just looked at it and handled it for a couple minutes before even opening it up. Then, when I opened it up, I was again impressed by the high quality of the paper.


exacompta cover close up

The journal I received has the red Madeira cover. "Sketch Book" is conspicuously impressed on the front of the cover. This cover can also come with "Journal" impressed on the front rather than "Sketch Book." I'd much prefer one that said "Journal" since that is what I will use this for, but either way, I'd just like it to be plain. As a general rule, I do not like embossed or impressed leather or leather-like covers. I always feel it takes away from the appearance of the journal unless it is a discreet personalization. YMMV

The cover is not leather, but it sure feels like it. Faux leathers usually feel cheap to me, but Exacompta has gotten this one right. It's is soft, supple, and smooth with just a bit of light texturing. The stitching on the cover is also quite excellent. It is obvious that some serious thought went into the design of this cover. Very well done.

exacompta profile

This journal is gold edged, but I also understand that it comes with silver edging if you'd prefer that. I'm not so fond of the gold edging though it does add to the "up-market" feel of this journal.


exacompta open

The Basics Journal is the perfect size: 8" in length, 6" in width, and 1" in depth. AND, it lies flat! This is invaluable!

The excellent quality of this journal continue on the inside. The pages are stitch bound and taped. There is a very functional tri-colored bookmark. The end papers aren't very stiff but certainly do their job. My only quibble is that they are printed all over with the Exacompta logo. It takes away from the overall feel of this journal YMMV.

exacomta refill

Of course the cover is refillable. The refills are called Exacompta Basics Sketch Book or Journal. You have the choice of lined or blank pages. I prefer blank. You can use the refills without the Madeira covers and save yourself a few bucks. The refills offer a simple tan or black cover stamped with a small picture and the words "Journal" or "Sketch Book." As I mentioned earlier, you also have the choice of either gold edging or silver edging.


exacompta paper

This is the most important part for me. The paper in this journal is superb! The Basics journal contains 100 g, off-white, 25% cotton content laid paper. The paper takes fountain pen ink exceedingly well. There is no bleed through, no feathering, and show through is nearly non-existent. This paper is just about perfect. It reminds me of G. Lalo Verge de France .

exacompta writing

Now some people have issues with laid paper. They feel as though their nibs get "catch" on the texture. I do not have this issue even with my extra fine nibs. YMMV.


The Writer's Bloc has these listed at $20 regular price. The refill by itself runs $11.40 for either the lined or the blank pages. I think this is an excellent price for what you get.

Conclusion, A-/B+:

I really like the Basics Journal. It is very well made. The cover is excellent, the size is ideal, it lies flat, and the off-white laid paper is a dream to write on. I only have a couple quibbles: I don't care for the "Sketch Book" impressed on the cover and I'm not fond of the gold edging.

I would definitely recommend the Basics Journal (with or without the Madeira cover) to anyone who is looking for quality, function, and affordability.

Thanks again Karen!