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A (Pen) Case Study // A.C.

A (Pen) Case Study // A.C.
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Scene of the crime: my desk. Victim: me. Is it lucky or a curse to have a partner who shows you stationery goods on a regular basis? I’ve kept planners and sketchbooks as far back as I can remember, but the reason I got into journaling as an all-encompassing habit, took a chance on a Traveler’s Notebook and finally got bewitched by fountain pens: I accuse Emil. It’s getting serial at this point. Here, conveniently gathered in one case, are my witnesses. Which also happen to be the weapons.

The Lamys. These two were adopted from Emil at different times. Versatile and lightweight, the white Lamy came first and was my go-to fountain pen for many years. You’ll see it in a lot of photos in older BK stories, snapshots of my notebooks and photos of my desk; a constant companion. The maroon came along later to finish a very special job for me…by which I mean, Emil lent it to me when I needed just the right pen to draw word balloons for my comic. All of these needed cleanly drawn and consistent with each other so as not to distract from the story they carry, and lettering was a race against the clock, so it was crucial that I had total confidence in the handling of whatever tool I used for this task. I would’ve used the white Lamy that I was already so familiar with, but its F nib was a little too thin for what I needed. Its maroon twin came loaded with an M nib—and delivered. They say that Lamys are good “workhorse” pens, and I can certainly see why.

The Sailor. The newest addition to the lineup. Small, sprightly and rather particular. Its spidery, delicate line, wonderful for writing very small, shows up on some writing surfaces more willingly than others. With my default handwriting, this pen seems to prefer the short, straight strokes of a sans-serif style over more curly or elaborate variations. Strangely enough, it also cooperates during mind dumps or stream-of-consciousness journaling. The zippy, ehh-who-cares-if-it’s-legible recklessness of that writing suits this pen’s springy gold nib just fine. It’s taken me a while to warm up to this one, as it slowly reveals its character and preferences to me. But I’m sticking around for it. It’s cute enough.

The Merry-Go-Round. The big one. Bought this marble-like chunk of a pen secondhand from a fellow artist friend. On the heavy side for my small hands, but utterly reliable for laying down consistent, thick, juicy lines that contain a ton of visible shift in color. It’s got a weighty, rolling feel on paper, which I find encourages decisive, steady marks. When the magnetic cap *snap-clicks!* into place, it’s the most satisfying sound ever.

Last to take the stand today: the Smoke and Mirrors. Out of the small amount of fountain pens I’ve tried so far, this one feels most like a traditional quill dip pen; you can coax a beautiful amount of variation in line weight out of it. Ink flows smooth and easy from the steel nib, but there’s an ever-so-slight grit to its strokes. This was the first fountain pen I’d ever bought for myself on the higher end of my hobby budget. I’d had no intention of doing this, but sometime in March 2021, Emil casually showed me a picture online. “Doesn’t this pen look like a panel from your comic?” I had to laugh. “You know what, yeah, it does.” 

Not two days after that, I admitted to Emil that I was thinking—just thinking, considering, mind you—of getting the Smoke and Mirrors as a reward for finishing my book. He replied: “Oh, that’d be great! Then it can be mates with my Mei-getsu.” Thus was my fate sealed. 

The day I first opened the black leatherette box, I said nothing for a few long moments. Emil told me later that my expression didn’t change at all and he got scared that maybe, now that I’d seen it in person, I didn’t like it. Hardly. I fell for it. Edison and Goulet weren’t kidding around when they named this thing; it has a mysterious allure. Glitter and sparkle don’t suffice. The only word that will do to describe the shifting, warbling quality of the light on the swirling resin is chatoyance, from “cat’s-eye”, used also in gemology and woodworking. Honestly, sometimes I leave this pen out—even going to the trouble of putting it back in the case—just to behold it in the light. It’s the fatale of the bunch, for sure.

The whole truth of it is, I believe Emil didn’t mean to tempt me. At best we can try him as an accomplice. He shows me interesting and outrageous fountain pen designs for fun all the time. Chat with him during BK’s open hours and it’ll become evident that, like everyone working there, except teasingly, he simply won’t pressure anyone into buying things. Especially not something they aren’t genuinely interested in. No, for everything in this (pen) case, I have only myself to blame. Let’s call this one closed.

Text and photos by: A.C. Esguerra

Where to find A.C. : instagram @blueludebar

Read other stories by A.C. : Here

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1 comment

  • LJD: June 09, 2022

    This is the best pen case! I learned from Baum-kuchen that it holds a Hobonichi Weeks, and I’ve been so happy I bought it! It’s now irreplaceable in my EDC. (Beautiful photographs in this post!)

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