Mailbox Monday #16

My
email inbox gets a plethora of interesting pen related questions, and I
spend a good deal of time crafting thoughtful responses to each person
who writes to me. A lot of times, the questions I get are good ones that
I feel are worth sharing with you! I’ll be posting highlights of some
of my more interesting email questions every Mailbox Monday. These are
some emails of mine from the past week or so:

I live in London (UK) and have recently travelled to Arizona where I am spending the summer. Within a very short time of being here I am noticing that my pens are drying up from one day to the next! We are in the desert here and the air is very dry so I am not surprised. I am using cartridges of ink as it seemed the safest way to travel. To get the pens going again when they have dried up, I tend to give the cartridges a good squeeze. I find that the ink is going rather fast with this method and I am wondering if there is any other way to go about keeping the ink flowing in my pens?

Welcome to the US! Summer in Arizona, huh? Yes, I can see how that might be a little dry and hot! Your pens drying out is no shock to me either, given your weather. Part of the reason your ink is going faster too is that I’m sure some of the water is evaporating out of your ink as it sits in your pens, so you may even notice the ink color seems more saturated and darker than usual!

There’s a neat little trick that you can try that may help you out. If you cut up a small piece of sponge and put it inside the very furthest part of the cap, and wet it with water, this should help to keep your nib moist and increase the relative humidity level inside your pen so it won’t dry out as quickly. Of course, you’ll have to make sure the piece of sponge isn’t too big, because if the nib itself actually touches the sponge, that could actually wick all of the ink out of the pen and into the sponge! It’ll take a little tinkering, but it might be worth the effort 🙂 Otherwise, I would say it could help if you keep your pens stored in a sealed plastic bag (like a Ziploc snack bag) when not in use, that would help to keep it from drying out.

I was just wondering if the Konrad Rollerballs were coming back, it seems they were gone forever! Maybe Nathan has stopped production? Also, i am in the market to buy a highlighter ink to use for school. I need the most Florescent noodlers highlighter ink that would not smear. Do you have any advice for me?

The Konrad rollerballs aren’t discontinued or anything, we’ve just been out of them for a long time because Nathan hasn’t made any available. I’m not sure why, some kind of production issue no doubt. I wish I knew when more would be in, but I don’t. We keep trying to order them regularly, so as soon as they are available again, we’ll be carrying them.

For highlighters, it’s tough to go wrong with Firefly, that’s the best all-around Noodler’s highlighter in my opinion.

I will be moving from the USA to Scotland soon. Since I’ve become involved with fountain pens I’ve acquired a pretty good collection of inks (approximately 14 or so). I refuse to leave it behind so I’ve been debating how to get my ink collection to Scotland with me, and I’m going back and forth between coughing up the cost to ship it or taking it in my checked luggage on the airplane. From information I’ve read, as long as you pack an ink bottle very well, it should be safe to travel in luggage even with the pressure in the plane. But as someone who frequently ships to other countries (and maybe even has experience in having bottled ink in your personal luggage), what would you recommend?

Your ink should be just okay. We ship ink all over the world every day, and aside from rough handling or outright physical abuse to the package, the ink arrives just fine every time. Yours should be alright…I haven’t done extensive testing but I have flown a couple of times with ink in my own bag and it did hold up just fine. I would definitely put them into separate sealed bags and pad them well though, you don’t want a vindictive baggage handler to accidentally break them! That’s probably your biggest threat to the ink during your travel 😉

Hi Brian. I am interested in purchasing the Platinum 3776 Bourgogne and was wondering if it is available with either a stub, 1.1 italic or music nib?

Unfortunately not, only in fine, medium, and broad. Perhaps Platinum will expand the nib offering down the road, but that’s all we have for now.

I’ve been getting into reading my Bible more lately, and there are passages and verses that I would like to underline or highlight. I’d love to use one of the Noodler’s highlighter ink for this purpose, but I don’t want to ruin my Bible by doing that. I’ve noticed in some of your videos, you’ve used a notebook with scriptures written in it and I thought that you might have tried, or at least know someone who has, to use the Noodlers highlighter ink for this purpose.

In the same vain, is there a regular ink that wouldn’t bleed through or ghost so bad it would hinder my ability to read the page?

Hmmm…this one is a bit of a toughie because the paper quality can vary so much from one Bible to the next! As a general rule though, Bible paper is usually very thin! So you’ll want to go with the finest nib possible. Inks I’ve heard have the most success are either Noodler’s Black or Heart of Darkness, or an iron gall ink such as Rohrer and Klingner Salix or Scabiosa, or Diamine Registrar’s Blue Black (all of these are available through our site). Here’s a thread on FPN I found with some thoughts: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/215542-best-ink-and-pen-combo-for-modern-bible-papers/page__p__2260806__hl__bible__fromsearch__1#entry2260806

Here’s another thread talking about good Bibles for note taking: http://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php?/topic/210877-best-bible-for-note-taking-in-fountain-pen/page__p__2196240__hl__bible__fromsearch__1#entry2196240

Highlighters are tough too, same problem about paper thickness. Generally, the best highlighter ink is Firefly, that’s kind of the Noodler’s staple highlighter ink. I would probably recommend trying a sample of that, one of the Dragon Cat highlighter colors, and maybe Year of the Golden Pig and test them on your paper to see how they hold up: http://www.gouletpens.com/Ink_Samples_s/851.htm

I use distilled water to clean my pens as you recommended in your video. Since it takes a bit to use a gallon jug, I’m wondering if I need to be concerned about contamination (though I pour water out and recap immediately). How long is it safe to keep and use? Same concern about ammonia. Is there a shelf-life once opened?

I believe they sometimes put an expiration date, perhaps not though. For the distilled water, you’re fine for years. The water isn’t threatened by contaminants in the air, the main reason you use distilled water instead of tap water is because of minerals in the water that come from deposits in the soil. Just opening the bottle won’t hurt it for the purpose of cleaning pens. As for the shelf life of ammonia, I think 2 years is a pretty safe bet. But really, if you open it up and it still has a really strong odor, you’re probably good to keep using it.

In your opinion, which ink comes closest to matching the new apple green Lamy Safari?

Diamine Apple Glory is actually a pretty dead-lock match, both in name and color!

Thanks
for taking the time to read my emails! I’d love to hear what you think
in the comments. I’ll be compiling this coming week’s emails into next
week’s Mailbox Monday post!

2017-10-11T14:02:50+00:00 June 25th, 2012|Mailbox Monday, Uncategorized|7 Comments
  • Joshua

    I'm not sure about this, but I suspect your answer about airplanes is partially incorrect. If a pen (or bottle) is filled at ground level, the higher pressure would be inside the pen (or ink bottle), which could force the ink out in the lower cabin pressure or much lower hold pressure. It would be a bigger problem with bottles or pens that have more air in them, so partly used bottles that are part of an ink collection may have more problems than the full bottles you ship. Unfortunately, I can't think of better advice than yours: pack well, use a surrounding container to contain leaks, and make sure your bottles are closed tightly.

  • Will Kimball

    Manly swoon!

  • Yeah, I was way off, I don't know where I was coming up with my logic. I took all that stuff out, and just left it with my findings that I've never had anyone talk about ink leaking/breaking in air travel due to being checked in a bag (other than rough handling). Not to say it couldn't happen, but I've never heard of it being a major threat. Pack it well, and keep it in a sealed bag just in case it does leak 🙂

  • Haha, yes!

  • Li-aung Yip

    I used to fly with ink bottles in my checked luggage. I packed the bottles in a cardboard box with a few layers of bubble wrap around each bottle, and newspaper shoved in the gaps to fill space.

    It works well enough – the bottles should never get actually broken. The only bottle that leaked on me was my half-full bottle of Parker Quink, which expelled a couple of mL of ink. The newspaper does double duty as an absorbent sponge if this happens.

    As far as dried-out pen nibs go, you can get the pen writing by putting one drop of water on the nib (use the tip of your finger to pick up a bit of water from a glass.) This re-liquifies the dried out ink that's already there.

  • Great advice, thank you so much!

  • Stuart

    Both distilled water and clear house ammonia have lifespans of decades or more if kept in a sealed glass bottle. A plastic bottle will let them evaporate faster, but you're still probably good for at least 10 years.