Ask The Desk: Pen Questions & Sheening Inks

I must confess I don’t know how I got so behind on the Ask the Desk questions. Maybe I didn’t realize how many questions were out there! Here are just a few of the dozens of questions in the in-box right now. Please be patient as I try my best to get through them.

Phillip asks:

Soooo I’m mostly a Fountain Pen guy but there are times that I “need” other pens. So I’m looking for a recommendations or three for a non-FP. I like a minimal design and like larger diameter pens. Currently been using a uni-ball Signo .38 UMR-1 that Brad Dowdy recommended love the refill but pen is way to slender for my large hands. I’ve also used Retro 51 refill and liked it but not a huge fan of the pen design. I would like to spend less than $50 … what would you point me towards, I was leaning to maybe a Baron Fig Squire, been looking for a used one to try out no luck in finding one used, so unless you point me in another direction I might just order one of them.

Sometimes, finding the perfect pen is aligning the XY coordinates. Since the two refills you like are so different, it lead me way off on the X coordinate but the price point was way off on the Y coordinate. Without these differing points, I would have immediately said you probably want the BigiDesign TiArto but it’s price point is $85. The Ti Pocket Pro, which can be pre-ordered from their Kickstarter might be another option a little closer to your budget at $65 though.

Along the same theme, Daniel asked:

I love the write of the uniball jetstream fine pen. But lookwize its not really very impressive. Can you recommend a pen that writes similarly but looks more professional under 50 dollars?

One of the classiest looking pens is a Parker Jotter. It’s available in a lot of great metallic finishes like this Oxford Grey Pinstripe with Chrome trim. It sells for $18.50 and takes a standard Parker-style refill which gives you a lot of refill options though not specifically the Uni Jetstream.  However, with some creative workarounds, there is a D1 refill of the Jetstream available and clever Tofty on Shapeways makes a Parker adapter to a D1 ($5.20) so you could have a distinguished looking pen with no actual hacking involved. You just slip the refill into the adapter and put it into the pen. Voila! Classy and will write beautifully. This technique would work with any of the other Parker Jotters, pens that take Paker-style refills or any other pen that Tofty can modify to take the D1 adapter to meet your needs.

Mariah asks:

Can you recommend a good Lamy fountain pen for a left handed writer? Not worried about the price! Thank you so much for your time.

Depending on your writing grip, any Lamy might suit your left-handed writing just fine. If you are like myself and Laura, however, you may find that the molded grip of the Safari, AL-Star and Vistas to be a bit uncomfortable if you have an overhanded or side-angle writing style. If you grip like most right-handed writers and write with your hand below your writing line, than any Lamy fountain pen will probably be just fine.

And honestly, almost all the standard writing nibs are fine for left-handed writers. Don’t let anyone tell you you need a special left-handed nib! You don’t need a special fork to eat your salad or a special spoon to eat your ice cream any more than you need a special nib to write.

You may want to have a peek at some of the previous Ask the Desk posts where I covered the left-handed topic as well, which is forever close to my left-handed heart!

Pranay asks:

Which are the best ‘sheening’ inks?

While there is not one specific brand that makes only sheening inks, there are a several inks that you must have if you are looking for sheening inks. In the process of collecting information, I found MacchiatoMan’s post about Sheen vs. Shimmer which is a great reference point.

Right now, the big favorites are:

  • Robert Oster Fire & Ice: this is the king god Mo’ Fo’ of sheeny teal blues. It’s not very expensive at $16 through most online ink shops and it sheens in almost every pen from the EF-iest to the widest calligraphy nib. There are several other Oster colors with great sheening properties: Torquay,
  • Sailor Jentle inks have some good sheening colors. Sakura Mori, Irori, Oku-Yama, and Yama Budo are a few of my favorites. (Matt at the Pen Habit has a good review of Oku-Yama and Macchiato Man included a great image of (Correction: Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo and) Apricot on his post.)
  • Waterman actually has several sheening colors though they are seldom mentioned. Tender Purple, Harmonious Green and Inspired Blue come to mind.
  • It seems a bit unfair to mention it, but last year’s “must have” ink Lamy Dark Lilac sheen a ton. Unfortunately, its sold out and impossible to find now.
  • And it turns out some of the Caran d’Ache Chromatics sheen too!

There are certainly others that I haven’t mentioned and I am SURE I forgot something but I bet someone will remind me in the comments.


Written by

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Re: Phillip’s question, I don’t have advice on what to pick, but I feel like I would steer away from the Baron Fig Squire given his preference for a larger diameter pen. I really like my Squire, but I feel like it’s a fairly slender pen.

    Re: sheening inks, I was pleasantly surprised by the reissue of Sailor Jentle Epinard – it has some great and fairly unexpected sheen.

  2. Good to know about the Caran d’Ache sheening inks. Another great Sailor sheener is Tokiwa-Matsu, olive greenish ink with a red sheen.

  3. Regarding Phillip’s question — I also sometimes have to use a non-FP, and for those cases I carry a refillable pen from Semikolon. They come in a variety of enameled colors; they are heavier than a normal pen but have a barrel diameter of about 1cm. They list for about $40, and take Parker style refills, so you can pick and choose to find a refill you like (I’m currently using Fisher Space Pen refills in mine).

  4. Thank you , thank you, thank you for the tip about the Tofty D1 adapter! I love Parker Jotters but hate their refills. Love the Jetstream refill but I’m not crazy about their pen bodies. Now I can have the best of both worlds. I’ve ordered my Tofty adapter and can’t wait to try it out.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.