I know it’s modest in comparison to many an ink stash, but the fact is my inks are getting out of hand.
How much of any given thing is too much is a purely personal thing. I recently saw a photo on Instagram showing a vast Diamine ink order. The lady unpacking it mentioned that it was a trifle excessive, yet to her it was justifiable. My first thought, however, was “That’s a panic-inducing amount of ink.” Then I thought “She’ll need to open a pen shop.” Lastly, I thought “It’s going to be years before she can buy any more ink.” All of which feel like very negative points to me.
Now, one thing I know about myself is that my rate of ink consumption is relatively low. That’s due to not hand-writing as much as I potentially could and also to my preference for fine nibs with economical ink flow. At the rate I use it, I reckon the ink I currently own will see me through two to three years but, to be honest, I hate to think of it taking that amount of time to pare back my stock of inks. I need to make it into a game, and every game needs a game plan.
One good thing about my store of inks is that some of them are favourites which I want to be part of my more compact “core collection”. These include Waterman Inspired Blue, Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt, one of the reds (but not all of the reds!), and Diamine Honey Burst (oh, how I love that colour). Then there are a couple that I want to see the back of: Lamy Benitoite and Graf von Faber-Castell Stone Grey, both of which I find very boring. I think the Benitoite needs to go into my friend’s Parker 51, the wettest writer I own, and be used in the ongoing collation project of old journal entries. Thinking of that reminds me that I have a medium nib that I can swap back into my Lamy LX. That will give me two pens which lay down more ink and so burn through stocks more rapidly.
Tackling duplicates is another aspect of the stash-down. My personal bête noir is a tendency to buy very similar shades from different manufacturers, particularly when it comes to reds and blues. I tell myself that I am still searching for the perfect shade of each colour, the one ink that strikes a chord in my heart, but is that true?
Returning to those red inks, for example: I like Lamy Crystal Ruby, Diamine Wild Strawberry, and Graf von Faber-Castell India Red equally and I’d be happy for any one of them to be my one and only red ink. What I don’t need is to have all three. Then there’s the Graf von Faber-Castell Electric Pink which is a little outside the true red range, yet would work equally well in place of any of the three reds I have. It’s the same story with the two Diamine purple inks – Pansy and Majestic Purple are both lovely colours, but they’re too close in shade and one is enough for me.
The danger with trying to reduce a collection of any product is the constant temptation to buy new items. I know how easy it is to fall into the mindset that removing one item creates a hole to slot a new one into. One of the joys of the fountain pen hobby is experimenting with different ink colours, but my interest doesn’t lie in having entire floodplains of ink with minute differences in shade. Whilst I want to keep the option open to buy a new ink, I want to be very conscious about the inks I do buy because the best way to deal with a problem like over-stocking is to stop it arising in the first place. Hand-in-hand with this goes the temptation factor that social media presents me with. I’m already pretty good at seeing ink hauls and currently inked lists as a source of entertainment rather than a shopping list. I’m also assisted by my perverse nature – the more often I see a particular item, the less likely I am to want to rush out and buy it.
At heart, I think the thing I enjoy most about this hobby is using the pens and inks I’ve got to write words on paper, and I’m not doing as much of that as I’d like. My challenge to myself in the coming months is to half the number of inks I own and it’s going to be fun to see the stash reducing, word by word, fill by fill. I’ll keep you updated.