Message from London: Please send ink

IMG_4095I’m still here! Must drink… more ink… We can’t get it! Of all the new brands and ranges, Robert Oster is the main marque to have penetrated our online shops widely. We suffer in the UK when we buy things from beyond our shores: there are customs charges and the even more pricey Royal Mail “handling fee”, so it’s better for us to be able to “buy local”.

IMG_4093London is a wasteland for fine stationery, only W. H. Smith giving scant succour to the pen and ink fiend. Or so I thought, until perusing the Instagram of Leigh Reyes who visited the city recently and shopped at L. Cornelissen & Son (est. 1855) and the London Graphic Centre. A commenter recommended Green & Stone. Jackson’s Art Supplies also have two shops in London. These companies stock art supplies, (very few fountain pens,) brush pens, dip pens and calligraphy ink.

So what have I been up to? I’ve started journalling in a Hobonichi Techo and kept up my photography: I have uploaded some of the best snaps on Instagram and Facebook, but I have a huge backlog to go up on Flickr. Home, family and looking after a certain dog has occupied my time a lot and kept me away from developing creative pursuits for fun and profit. I shall have to be more single-minded, I think.

A shaky start

I began collecting fountain pens a couple of months ago. I was trying to restart as an artist by acquiring sketchbooks and paint, then I got inspired by calligraphy which led to a hunt for fountain pens with a flexible nib. Flex nibs give a broader line when pressure is applied on the downstroke, as opposed to an italic nib which is the same width until you change direction. I fancied getting vintage pens rather than new ones, but pens with really soft flex nibs go for a premium price. And as for the legendary “wet noodle” nibs… eBay was my ruin.

Another discovery was the community of stationery blogs such as The Pen Addict and The Well-Appointed Desk. Also dealers like The Goulet Pen Company in the USA have guides, glossaries and videos to teach the basics of fountain pens.

I had to start this blog to spur me to produce some writing or art. I got off to a fairly shaky start, selecting some 80 GSM paper (a notebook from the Matisse exhibition at Tate Modern in London) which should be heavyweight enough for fountain pens, but as it’s recycled paper it has “teeth”—ie it’s not as smooth as new paper.

Here I give impressions of my first few purchases:

Wow, this Noodler's Nib Creaper is good.
Wow, this Noodler’s Nib Creaper is good.
These pens write much better on finer paper.
These pens write better on finer paper.