Monday, October 29, 2012

A Review of the Pilot Penmanship Fountain Pen

(Top to bottom) Penmanship clear eyedropper conversion, Penmanship clear, & Penmanship black

First Impressions (9)
This pen looks really thin. This is not thin in a bad way, jut thinner than a lot of pens I own. The barrel also tapers quite a bit, which surprised me, considering the length of the cartridge. That said, it looks sleek and slick. The black version has a sort of missile/squid look to it, while the clear one is just...neat.

Appearance (8)
While the plastic is bright and shiny, it does not give the appearance of being a cheap, plastic pen. Having used other starter fountain pens that were made of cheap plastic, the Penmanship does not have the same brittle look to its body. The threads on the cap+section and section+body are tightly spaced, so that the pieces do not wobble while screwing them together. Additionally, the cap has two small wings to aid in the screwing and unscrewing of it from the body. This pen comes in two colors: clear and black. The clear pen is entirely clear, except for the feed and nib, though the plastic does have a very slight blue tint to it. The black pen has red wings on the cap, but is entirely black aside from this (not including nib and feed).

Design/Size/Weight (7)
In my hand, the weight, shape of the grip, and the distance between the grip and nib cause me to write slower and more cautiously than something like a Preppy or a Safari, where the grips are either round or down closer to the nib. This slower writing actually improves my handwriting, though it does not allow for the quick scrawling of notes. Thus, I would say that this design, in my hand, fulfills the name of the pen quite well. I rated it a seven because I do not feel as though I could write with this pen for a very long time and have it remain entirely comfortable.

Nib (8)
My first realization regarding this nib was just how fine it is. It is labeled as an extra-fine, yet coming from Pilot, I wonder if this is a Japanese extra-fine, as it appears to be finer still than the extra-fine nib on my Lamy Safari. This nib is a dry writer and a bit sharp-edged, picking up fibers from cheap papers and causing a bit of ink spread until one stops to clean away the bits. However, it does put down ink very well. I do like that this nib can be swapped with those from the Pilot Plumix, the Pilot Pluminix, and several other Pilot pens, providing an entirely new feel for the pen.

Filling System (10)
I quite like the filling system on these pens. They are cartridge converter, and all of the Penmanships I own have come with a single, black Pilot-brand proprietary cartridge. Despite taking proprietary cartridges, this still works well for those interested in using bottled ink. The Pilot proprietary cartridges are sturdy and have a wide opening, allowing for easy cleaning and refilling. Additionally, converters are available, and I have managed to successfully convert one of these Penmanships to an eyedropper fill.

Cost and Value (9)
At $8.25 (USD), I would not term these pens “dirt cheap starter pens,” but I would say that they are a great deal. Plus, the Pilot Penmanship makes an excellent addition to a starter fountain pen collection (or even that of someone well-versed with pens).

Conclusion (8)
Overall, I think this is a great pen. In my mind, there is a simple formula for whether or not to buy one of these: IF you do not have an extra-fine pen (OR do not have one that you like OR want another one) & IF you are interested in trying one, then DO buy one of these pens.
These pens can be purchased from, here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

First Annual Fountain Pen Day!

Azizah over at Gourmet Pens recently posted about the upcoming, first annual Fountain Pen Day that will be taking place on November 2, and it will always be on the first Friday of November. This is a day in which to share and promote the use of these fine writing instruments! More information can be found at the official website, here: Fountain Pen Day. Be sure to pay them a visit! How will you celebrate?

Desk Pens Writing Comparison

Deepest apologies for the infrequency of an update! Today's short post is in response to a comment I received on my posting of the picture of my desk pens. Here are the same pens, along with a bit of a writing sample for each!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pilot Penmanship Eyedropper Conversion

Recall, if you will, the teaser photo I posted last week and how I hinted that I would be posting something special soon. Without further ado, here it is, my guide on how to convert the Pilot Penmanship to an eyedropper-filled fountain pen.

The Pilot Penmanship is a relatively inexpensive fountain pen that comes fitted with an extra-fine nib. I have found this pen to be perfect for writing notes on cheap paper, as the extra-fine nib compensates for what would otherwise be a mess of ink bleeding in all directions from the written lines. The Pilot Penmanship uses a proprietary Pilot/Namiki cartridge, which is made of sturdy plastic and perfectly capable of being refilled. Additionally, converters can be purchased in order to use bottled ink with the Penmanship. However, if you are looking for a less expensive solution, which will allow for the use of bottled ink in greater quantities than a cartridge or converter could hold, look no further than the eyedropper conversion.

The eyedropper conversion is so named because an eyedropper and a bottle of ink may be used to fill the pen. This conversion involves storing ink in the body of the pen itself, and I think it looks fabulous inside translucent pens where the ink, regardless of its color, may be seen. Onto the steps...

 For this conversion, you will need:
  1. Pilot Penmanship (black or clear, the body is the same)
  2. Platinum Preppy O-Rings (or any O-Rings of this same size)
  3. 100% Pure Silicone Grease
  4. A bottled ink of your choice

Begin by unscrewing the section (upper half with nib) from the rest of the body (lower half). Check to make sure that the end of the body does not have a hole in it. If it does, you may need to use epoxy, super glue, or Gorilla glue to seal this.

Remove one of the O-Rings from the bag.

Stretch the O-Ring around the end of the section with the threads.

Roll the O-Ring over the threads until it is flush against the section.

Take out your Silicone Grease and put a very small amount on your finger or a Q-Tip.

Rub the Silicone Grease over all of the threads, simply coating it with a very thin layer.

Screw the body and the section back together. It is not necessary to screw it back on very tight, as the Silicone Grease and O-Ring will prevent any leaks.

Close-up of where the section joins the body.
Another close-up of where the section joins the body.

To fill the pen, unscrew the body from the section. Hold the body upright. Using an eyedropper, syringe, pipette, or other preferred method, fill the body with ink to just below where the threads begin. Carefully, screw the section back on to the body, being cautious to not overly tighten it, as this can cause cracks in the body.

Ink should begin immediately flowing through the section and to the nib.

The filled eyedropper conversion.
Congratulations, if you followed these instructions and completed your own Pilot Penmanship Eyedropper Conversion!

The section, after filling.
A shot of three eyedropper converted pens: Pilot Penmanship, extra-fine nib (top); Platinum Preppy, rollerball nib (middle); and Pilot Plumix, medium italic nib (right).

The Pilot Penmanship can be purchased here: Pilot Penmanship at JetPens.
O-Rings and Silicone Grease can be purchased here: O-Rings & Silicone Grease at the Goulet Pen Company.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Current Italic Desk Pens

As a follow-up to my post about pens that I keep on my desk, I thought it would be appropriate to share some of the other pens that I have there, as well. The difference is that these pens all have italic nibs. Writing with an italic nib will cause a variation in the width of the line, based on the angle and direction of writing. Without further ado...

From left to right, pen, nib size, and ink:
  •  Manuscript Italic felt-tip pen, 3.6 nib
  • Staedtler Calligraphy, broad nib - Staedtler black
  • Pilot Plumix eyedropper conversion, medium nib - Noodler's X-Feather
  • Senator Bellissimo, 1.5 nib - Diamine Royal Blue

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Current Desk Pens

Today, I thought it would be fun to share the pens that I typically have upon my desk. These are usually pens that I enjoy using on a regular basis but, for one reason or another, I do not want to carry with me.

From left to right, pen, nib size, and ink:
  • Baoer #3018 Black Sonnet, fine nib - Mont Blanc Toffee Brown
  • Parker Urban GT, medium nib - Parker Blue
  • Parker Urban gel pen - Black ink
    • Not a great writer, but it looks nice and fits with its neighbors
  • Parker Urban rollerball pen - Black ink
  • Bic Disposable Fountain Pen, medium nib - Bic Black
    • This used to be a pocket carry pen until the cap started to crack, causing it to come off at random
    • The cheap plastic clip broke after a few weeks of carrying it
    • The plan is to strip it of all paint and writing and attempt to refill it
  • Rotring Core "Tanakor," XL nib (essentially a broad) - Custom 1:1 blend of Noodler's Dragon's Napalm and Noodler's Red-black
    • Sometimes a pocket carry, its size can make this difficult
  • Baoer Skywalker, medium nib - Just cleaned and not yet refilled
  • (Not pictured) Personalized Waterford Marquis Claria, medium nib - Noodler's X-Feather

The eight-pen stand is sold exclusively by Todd at isellpens. (To which I have no affiliation.) I highly recommend his website as a great source of fountain pens and accessories.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to post below!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Samovar Tea Lounge - Green Tea Class: Live Online Tasting - Followup

At 2pm, I eagerly tuned in to the hosting of a live online tea taste and green tea class, led by Jesse Jacobs, the founder of Samovar Tea Lounge. The tasting began with Jesse describing the components of the subject of the tasting, Ryokucha. They are sencha green tea, matcha green tea, and popped brown rice.

Some important points from their tasting class:
  • Control the brewing strength by filtering the leaves from your tea.
  • Quick guide on how to taste tea:
    • Look at the leaves themselves and inspect for consistency. This will lead to consistent flavor. 
    • Breath in the aroma, hold it in the lungs, then exhale. This lets you get the full olfactory experience.
    • Let the tea cool to room temperature before tasting it, in order to get all of the flavors.
    • Slurp the first sip a bit in order to aerate the tea and let it coat your mouth and tongue.
  • Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, called flavenoids. The fresher the tea, the greater the antioxidant amount.
  • Green tea will pair well with:
    • Eggs
    • Oatmeal
    • Fish, especially salmon
    • Other seafood, including sushi
    • Mousse
    • Brownies
  • Loose tea is absolutely better than bagged tea in every way.
  • The biggest enemies of tea are heat, light, and moisture. Keep your tea stored away from these things to preserve as much freshness as possible.
I look forward to further tastings and classes from Samovar Tea Lounge! It was definitely worth watching.

Upcoming Project Sneak Peek

This is a sneak peek of a small project that I will soon be making...

Along the way, I will also be creating and sharing a guide so that you, too, can perform such a...project. (I cannot tell you what it is and spoil the surprise!)

My apologies for the poor focus and camera quality, though, I suppose, it only increases the mystery! (The fabric fibers certainly are clear.)

The Case Of The Exploding Pen

Yesterday afternoon featured an incident that I thought ought to be shared. Thankfully, a pen did not literally least not in the typical sense. I have a Platinum Preppy that has been converted to an eyedropper-fill. Additionally, I replaced the fountain pen nib with a rollerball nib some time ago.

I had decided, yesterday, that I wanted to replace the rollerball tip with the fountain pen nib, a process that is relatively easy and, in an empty pen, absolutely clean. However, being an eyedropper conversion, this pen still had quite a bit of ink in it, which I was not anxious to empty and refill, before and after the tip replacement process.

The rollerball tip was easy enough to remove, and I shortly began inserting the fountain pen nib and feed into the collector. Holding the pen upright to prevent any spills, all was going well and the nib was almost entirely inserted. All that remained was to push it the last few millimeters, when it would click into place. I gave it a bit more pressure, still gently, to lock it into the collector...and immediately recoiled as a small shower of ink speckled the left side of my face from cheekbone to forehead.

The moral of this story: Do not look too closely when dealing with "live" ink. An object forced into an area where there is ink has a good chance of displacing the ink.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Executive Decision

My Moleskine has made its way back into my daily carry bag. It was not being used, sitting at home, and my fountain pens were missing the feeling of writing on nice paper.

Fountain Pen: Lamy Safari Apple Green (2012 Special Edition), fine black nib

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Samovar Tea Lounge - Green Tea Class: Live Online Tasting

Samovar Tea Lounge is a wonderful teahouse with multiple locations in Northern California. Their website contains a fabulous trove of information about tea. On Friday, October 12, at 2PM PST, they will be hosting an online, live, green tea class and tasting. More information may be found here. I will hopefully be "attending" this event and will post my thoughts afterward. Enjoy!

The Road Goes Ever On And On

This blog has existed for a mere two days, yet it is already evolving. Change is a natural process, and change occurs in order than a being or concept might better synchronize with its environment. Such happens to be the case here.

"Well...okay..." says the reader. "So what does that mean?"

In reality, very few changes will be made to what (little) already exists. Lego, fountain pens, and tea will remain the primary topics of this blog. The photoblogging of these subjects will also continue; however, the content will be expanded to include such things as relevant projects and reviews of (hopefully) awesome products and experiences. Those reviews will probably center mainly upon the "Create" and "Write" portions of this blog. As for the "Drink," my reviews of tea may be read at It's All About The Leaf, and my personal tea log is here, on Steepster.

I hope you enjoy everything that is to come from Built from Ink and Tea.

Singing Spicy Sonnets

Caption: "Singing spicy sonnets."
Fountain Pen: Baoer #3018 Black Sonnet, fine nib
Tea: Dragon Pearl Whole Tea's Fujian Premium black tea with added ginger

Monday, October 8, 2012

I Need A Hero

Caption: "I need a hero."
Fountain Pen: Hero 329, fine nib, black, new version
Tea: The Secret Garden Organic Herb Shop's Macadamia Nut Rooibos

Built from Ink and Tea

And it was said, "Let there be yet another photography blog upon the Internet." And, thus, it was so.

What makes this one different from the others? The photographs for this blog, as referenced in the title, "Built from Ink and Tea," and in the URL,, will be compose primarily, if not entirely, of Lego, fountain pens, and tea. Sometimes, it will be all three. Sometimes, it will only be one or two. Sometimes, there may be "guest subjects." Always, there will be at least one of the three, and there will always be a clever caption, so long as I can develop one. 

The goal will be to shoot (see what I did there?) for weekly updates. Hopefully, at the least, the updates will be weekly, if not more frequent. Update number one will be forthcoming, soon!

So long as these photos continue to bring a smile to the faces of those who see them, there is success.

Enjoy and thank you for following!