That’s my challenge for April 2023. Whilst many within the fountain pen community are getting ready to celebrate the start of April by dipping into 30 inks over 30 days, I’m going to head in the other direction for a deep dive into one particular ink.

The ink

I thought about buying a completely new-to-me ink, but realised I have yet to properly introduce the two inks I treated myself to at last October’s London Pen Show. I decided to go with Scribo’s Notturno Viola for this challenge because it seems to me that a calm, plummy purple would be good in a wide variety of writing situations. I had already opened the bottle and taken a couple of quick dips, but this will be the first time I’ve gone so far as to ink up a pen and write with it consistently.

The pens

First up, I decided on the Waterman Exception (another London Pen Show purchase). I have a small issue with the nib of this pen as it has a small skipping habit. I’ve slowly been working on that and it has improved to the point where I want to try inking it up with a mainstream colour. So far it has been inked with red and mainly used for emphasis – the odd word here and there. The nib is a wet medium and therefore a little outside my traditional comfort zone, but not so broad or so gushy as to be repellent to me.

I thought the second pen was going to be easy – the Montblanc Slimline needed to be in my lineup. I popped in the converter and filled the pen, only to find the ink immediately flooded back out through the nib into the bottle as I lifted the pen. I was previously using cartridges, so I’ll have to take a look and see what is going on. I replaced this choice with the Parker Sonnet – another pen that sometimes skips a bit. We shall see how this goes.

Next, I decided on the Lamy Studio. Love this pen, hate the converter! For some reason, all Lamy converters seem to work fine in the pen, then do strange things when I come to clean them out – expelling leftover ink backwards over my fingers even when I’m holding them face-down in the water. This doesn’t put me off using my Lamy pens, but it does annoy me on cleaning days.

Finally, I have chosen the Cross Century II. I thought it would be fun to compare this with the Montblanc Slimline as I feel they very much fill the same slot in my lineup. They are both slender pens with fine nibs which deliver consistently well-behaved writing experiences. They are even similar in colour. The Cross is also, by the tiniest of margins, my favourite fountain pen, purely because of my emotional ties to it. Now the Montblanc is out of the line-up, the Cross will be doing duty as my planner pen.

That gives me two steel nibs and two gold nibs, one medium and the others providing variations on a fine line.

The strategy

If any of the pens should run dry during the month, I’ll use my discretion as to whether to re-ink, or to swap in a different pen.

My discretion will also come into play with the Waterman Exception as I know it may prove frustrating on longer writing sessions. Then again, it might come into its own, which is why I’m including it in my line-up.

I hope to learn something about the ink, but also about the papers I’m using: the V&A planner, my Paperblanks journal, Stamford Notebook Company exercise books, and other miscellaneous bits and pieces I might feel inclined to pick up.

Until the end of last week, I was going to make an exception to this challenge by continuing to use the Waterman Allure at the office. All of a sudden, though, I was tired of using this one pen at work. Instead, I’m taking my pen case with me and using whatever I fancy for my work scribblings. So, for April these, too, will be purple.

And finally, should I get bored with purple ink…. well, then, all bets are off and I reserve the right to find something crazy to satiate my need for colour.

10 thoughts on “30 days, 4 pens, 1 ink

  1. Glad to find someone who has SCRIBO inks. I am most fond of their Russo Chianti, the Grigio Scribo and the Verde Mediterraneo. I’ve considered a similar exercise but with the goal of comparing gold vs steel nibs, same ink, same paper. Gold nibs seem to hate me, I try not to take it personal. Best of luck, I am curious to read your thoughts afterwards.

    1. Hi, Danny. I’m so interested in your comment about gold nibs, because I feel the gold nibs I have are the ones that take the most effort to enjoy. I’m more than happy with the steel nibs in the majority of my pens. Have you tried a titanium nib at all?

    2. We are not alone in our experiences with gold nibs. I need to try a titanium nib, thanks for reminding me. Purchasing one this year is on my to-do. Have you tried one?

    3. I haven’t tried a titanium nib. But I have a history with this material: during my late teens and twenties I fully intended to buy a pair of titanium earrings. They never materialised. Even now, not having worn earrings for ten years or more, I still slip into the mindset of thinking I need a pair of titanium earrings if I see them in a shop window! That’s probably why the nibs keep calling to me.

    4. Such a good idea Pam, I think you have inspired me to do the same. I’ve spent a few weeks filling pens with inks which looked wonderful on the colour charts but really do not work in the pen. My journal is beginning to resemble the rainbows of Regent Street in Pride week. So following your example I’m going to calm it all down and really get to know one ink in three pens. Thanks for the idea.

    5. Hi, Tim. Thanks for sending me the swatches of your inks – they look great. I know exactly what you mean about using too many colours. For March I have been rotating between my three ink colours in my journal and that has worked, but it can easily get out of hand. My real-life fountain pen friend at work had a new pen this week (Kaweco Student) and she popped in a black ink cartridge and we both tried it out. Although I never use black ink, I was slightly envious of the simplicity of her just having the one ink colour. For me it would be blue-black.

  2. I love this idea! It’s good to focus on one ink for a full month. Also, you have allowed room to exercise your discretion when a pen runs dry.
    I hope the Montblanc can be rescued. It sounds like the feed might be broken.

    1. Thanks. I think the differences in how the four pens write, and how they feel in the hand, will provide the variety this month, rather than the ink colours. That said, I’ve enjoyed the three colours I chose for March more than I expected to at the outset. Diamine Honey Burst is particularly good paired with the Kaweco Al Sport so I think I may be revisiting that later in the year.

    1. It is a lovely ink. I’m so pleased April is here at last. I shall be a little sad in 30 days time when I write my traditional end-of-April quote and turn to May. I would say the Scribo inks feel expensive when you first shell out for them, but then you get 90ml in a bottle that’s built like a brick and it all seems worth it.

Comments are now closed.