Saturday, April 27, 2019

Fun with Sheening Inks

Last week, we posted a guide to shimmer inks. But we didn’t touch on my favorite ink property: sheen!


Light reacts differently to some inks when they’re spread over a surface in a certain way. It’s called thin-film interference, and it’s the same effect that causes the rainbow colors in a soap bubble or motor oil in a puddle of water. In inks, we call this effect sheen. In some applications, these inks will turn a different color from their original hue, and even take on a shiny metallic look. This is a really interesting effect that can cause your ink to turn two or even three colors as it dries.


Make sure that you use proper paper! Paper with an ink-resistant coating is best for letting the sheen appear. Tomoe River paper is the clear favorite amongst sheen enthusiasts; it’s extraordinarily thin, and causes ink to shade and sheen like nothing else! Rhodia and Clairefontaine papers also work well.


A key part of using sheening inks is patience. Don’t blot the ink, just let it dry naturally and see what appears. It can take some time; even as I let the inks dry for these photos, I felt pretty impatient! Often, you’ll see inks whose sheen is a complementary or near-complementary color: blue and green inks with a red sheen, fuchsia inks with a gold sheen, and so on. It can be really interesting to see how the sheen comes through!


For these swabs, I made sure to use a very heavy ink application - I swabbed over the ink multiple times so that there were places where the ink pooled. I also used an eyedropper to drop ink onto the page. Sheen comes through beautifully when the ink is allowed to pool on the page.

A lot of inks have a bit of sheen to them. Try out the eyedropper technique with your favorite ink and let it fully dry. We'd love to see your results!
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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Shimmer Inks!


Shimmer inks are a great way to add a bit of sparkle to your writing. But there are a few things you should know before you load up all your pens with shimmer ink!

When we say a fountain pen ink has “shimmer,” what we mean is that there are tiny bits of glitter in the ink! These particles of shimmer are made to be small so that they don’t interfere with the flow of the ink. However, that’s not always the way things work out. Just like pieces of silt can build up on a riverbank, pieces of shimmer can settle and stick together to create problems with your pen. This doesn’t have to be the case, though; there are ways to prevent this from happening, it just takes a bit more care and maintenance than it does when using most standard fountain pen inks.

Because shimmer will settle in the bottom of the bottle you use, make sure you shake the bottle before you fill up your pen or syringe. If you look at the bottom of the bottle before shaking, you can see all the shimmer piled up:


You can stop shaking the bottle as soon as the shimmer buildup on the bottom of the ink bottle is gone.

Keep in mind that the shimmer ink settles even after the pen has been filled! To keep the ink flowing normally, you will need to agitate it inside the pen. Don’t violently shake your pen; gently rolling it around in your hand or inverting it back and forth should be enough to get the shimmer flowing. This is worth doing every time you pick up your pen from its resting position.

We already recommend cleaning your pens monthly, but this goes doubly for pens with shimmer ink. Even the most diligent pen owners may find that shimmer ink builds up in their pen over a long period of time. Always use cool water to avoid damaging resin in your pen, and if the shimmer is being a bit too stubborn for a normal cleaning, use a pen flush or cleaning solution to rinse out your pen afterwards.


Make sure that you use a nice coated paper so that the shimmer collects on the page! Tomoe River, Clairefontaine, and Rhodia papers are all great for using fountain pen ink. This will help your writing really sparkle!

Pen Boutique carries plenty of shimmer inks for you to choose from. Diamine’s Shimmer collection and J. Herbin’s 1670 Anniversary collection provide many different options. You can go subtle with Diamine Arabian Nights, a dark purplish blue-black ink with silver shimmer, or J. Herbin’s Rouge Hematite for a loud orange-red with tons of sparkling gold!


Check out some of our shimmer inks here!
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fountain Pen Recommendations for the First-Time user

Fountain pens are a surprisingly massive topic to cover. For someone who’s new to the world of fountain pens, it can feel like there are so many options, there’s no way to know where to begin. So we at Pen Boutique wrote this guide to introduce you to three of our favorite fountain pens to recommend to brand-new users!



Pilot Metropolitan

This pen is a perennial favorite for new users and enthusiasts alike. The wonders of the Metropolitan are many: the multiple nib sizes, the included squeeze converter (a piece that lets you use bottled ink), the durable aluminum body, and the low price point (usually around $20). The bullet shape, round grip, and lightweight body are great crowd-pleasing features, not to mention the huge variety of colors and patterns offered. Most fountain pen enthusiasts have a special fondness for this pen. We think it’s a superb choice for a beginner!

Do note that Pilot is a Japanese company, and as a rule, Japanese nibs tend to run finer than European nibs. If you enjoy a Fine nib from Lamy, for example, then Pilot’s Medium nib may be the best option for you! The nib sizes available are Fine, Medium, and Stub (a nib with a flat cut on the end, often used for calligraphy).



Lamy Safari

The Lamy Safari is a pen with a ton of loyal fans. Many writing enthusiasts have multiple Safaris in their collection! These pens are noteworthy for their removable (and thus interchangeable) nibs and faceted grip to help users improve their handwriting styles. Like the Metropolitan, they come in a ton of different colors, and the range of nib sizes is even greater: they range from Extra Fine to Broad (plus a left-handed nib!). These nibs are interchangeable with Lamy calligraphy nibs that can be purchased separately, and even those have a fantastic variety of sizes: they come in 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm. You can purchase a Z24 converter for the Lamy Safari so that you can use bottled inks.



TWSBI Eco

A new addition to the Pen Boutique lineup, this is already an incredibly popular offering amongst other low-cost pens. The Eco is unusual due to its piston filling mechanism. Instead of opening up the pen to insert a cartridge or fill a converter, the user unscrews the finial (a piece on the back end of the pen), submerges the nib in ink, and re-screws the finial. This action draws a plunger down, then back up to fill the body of the pen with ink. This allows the TWSBI Eco to have a much higher ink capacity than any other pen at this price point! It also comes with a wrench and silicone grease intended for long-term maintenance. TWSBI wants users to understand the inner workings of their writing utensils, so the Eco is made with a transparent resin that lets you see your ink level and the piston mechanism at work. This pen is ideal for a new fountain pen user who wants to use bottled ink right away, and doesn’t want to refill their pen for a long time.

Want to try one of these pens? Visit our store in Columbia, Maryland, or place an order online at penboutique.com!
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Friday, March 29, 2019

Lamy Crystal Inks (T53) are here!

Pen Boutique recently received all ten Lamy Crystal inks. Let’s check them out!


Agate
This light gray ink has a noticeable yellow undertone. This is probably one of my favorites!

Amazonite
A lovely teal color that has a good bit of shading. I would place this ink on the bluer end of the teal spectrum.

Azurite
Looking at some swabs online, it would seem like this ink ranges from a bright ultramarine color to a very deep, dark blue with a lot of olive green shading. In our own swab, we didn’t see any of the green sheen appear, and the color was definitely more of a bluish purple.

Benitoite
Benitoite is a bit of a light blue-black, almost a blue-gray, that shades pretty well. Personally, when it comes to blue-black inks, I prefer ones that shade a lot, so this one seems pretty nice to me.

Beryl
Beryl is a vibrant fuchsia color that reminds me of bougainvillea. Another one of my favorites. Reminds me of Rose Cyclamen from J. Herbin.

Obsidian
Obsidian is the black ink of the line. If I had to assign a color to it, I’d say it has the tiniest hint of green or yellow. It definitely strikes me as a darker black than Lamy’s standard black ink.

Peridot
Peridot is a nice, saturated green color. In others’ swabs, it almost appears as a green-black, but for us, it’s quite bright. It looks similar to J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage.

Rhodonite
As many have noted, Rhodonite is almost identical to Lamy’s Vibrant Pink ink. It’s a bright hot-pink color with some mild gold sheen.

Ruby
Ruby is the red, but it seems less saturated than I would expect. It also doesn’t have a lot of shading on our swab.

Topaz

Topaz is a soft brown color that I would liken to Hazelnut Brown from Graf von Faber-Castell.

Okay, that's all of them! What do you think of this new line of inks? What's your favorite one? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Lamy Bronze Collection - First Impressions

This week, we received our Lamy AL-Star Bronze pens, ink bottles, and ink cartridges.



On first seeing the pen, it was lighter than we had assumed it would be! Bronze has a wide range of shades, and the body color of the pen is like bronze polished to a shine. The color really looks nice in the classic AL-Star metallic finish.




As for the ink, even more, surprises were in store… the bronze ink also was much lighter and more orange than we thought it would be. It shades nicely, and the bright color still shines through even in writing.




Overall, we’re really liking the look of this new set. They’re available right now, so check them out here!



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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December To Remember Contest!



At Pen Boutique we are running a December to Remember contest and we are giving away a lot of pens as a thank you to our customers who have made this a great year!

The prizes are amazing and you have opportunities to increase your chances to win with ways to do multiple entries. 

Win Prizes by entering into our December to Remember contest.  Improve your chances by opting into different media. Winners will be chosen in random by the app . 
  • 1st prize: Parker Duofold Big Red  Fountain pen - Medium point. ($690 value)
  • 2nd Prize Pelikan M200 Smoky Quartz  Fountain Pen - Fine with matching Edelstein Ink bottle($275 value)
  • 3rd  Prize Cross Century  II Fountain pen 
  • 4th Prize Diplomat Aero fountain pen 
  • 5th Prize  Sheaffer Calligraphy Fountain Pen Set ( 10 of them)



December To Remember - Fountain Pen Blast
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Mont Blanc Le Grand and Nib Selections - A quick view.



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Mont Blanc Le Grand
and Nib Selections
Blog by Tony Roman:

  When I first started buying “fine” writing instruments back in the 1980’s, I knew my first purchase would be a Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc had, and still has, a reputation for producing fountain pens of the highest quality, and there is the mystique of owning one. My first pen was a 144, followed by the Diplomat 149 model. I have used both of the models for many years now and they never fail me. So when the owner of Pen Boutique asked me to do a blog on Mont Blanc, I was eager to do so. This blog is on the LeGrand sized Mont Blanc fountain pen. I was lucky enough to be allowed to borrow the entire set of the Mont Blanc nib collection to write about: a total of eight pens, all identical except for the nibs on the pen. The pens range from extra Fine (EF) to Double Broad (BB), plus three special nibs: Oblique Medium, Oblique Broad, and Oblique Double Broad. I felt like a kid in a candy store - all 8 Mont Blancs to fill with ink and test out, wow! I’ll describe my experience with each nib, and I hope this might act as a guide for others thinking about which nib size might be best for them. But don’t go by my analysis alone, given the opportunity to visit the Pen Boutique store in person, please do so and try them all out yourself. So in order of size here we go:

EF: Extra Fine. The Mont Blanc extra fine nib draws a very thin line and is something that is too thin for my taste. But if you write in a very small font size or need to cram in a lot of notes in a small space, this is one to consider. Given that, it is narrow but not scratchy, as some extra fine nibs can be; it is very smooth. I noticed the ink flow is less than some of the other nibs which means you need to write a little bit slower. If you are a fast writer, this might not be your best choice.

F: Fine. I didn’t notice much difference between Extra Fine and Fine, a very subtle size difference and just a bit more ink flow. I think it has very close characteristics with that of the EF nib, i.e. light ink flow and narrow font. Still not my favorite, but that is my personal choice.

M: Medium. Medium is quite different in line thickness and ink flow. It has almost twice as thick of a line width as the fine and the ink flow is abundant. This nib size was much more to my liking and one that I think, if in doubt would be a great first choice. I have several fountain pens and many of them only came in Medium size (or that was all that was available) a such I am use to writing with the Medium nib and it is the yardstick against which I compare all other nibs. I like this nib.

B: Broad. If you are looking for something that makes more of an impression, perhaps signatures or accented notes, I would say the Broad nib is for you. I choose this nib size when ever I need to sign an important document. Since the Broader sized nib results in a thicker line width, it takes up more space on the paper. Something to consider. I also like this nib a lot and my 149 is this size.



BB: Double Broad. I have never tried a double broad Mont Blanc before, and I found this size nib especially pleasing. It draws a wider/fatter line so you can readily see the ink colors as you write. Also the thicker the line the larger the amount of wet text that is under your hand, so for me, a lefty, I had to be careful not to smudge the text as I wrote. The ink flow is wet for this size nib and I liked that, I could write fast and the pen ink flow kept up. Another great signature pen.

OM: Oblique Medium. By ‘oblique’ I mean that the nib is cut at an angle (approximately 15 degrees) rather than squarely cut across the nib. The Mont Blanc Obliques are properly called Left Obliques, because they are cut at the same angle your toes make across your left foot from little toe to big toe looking down at them from above. Depending on how you hold the pen and it’s angle with respect to the paper, this pen either works for you or it doesn’t. As it turns out, for the way I write, these Oblique nibs are perfect for me. I don’t have to think about how to hold the pen, my hand just does, and everything is fine. I found the OM made too thin of a line width for me (narrower than the regular medium (M)) and therefore I did not like it as much as the medium. But I did like how the obliquely cut nib adds character to my lettering, a thick/thin up stroke and down stroke adds a sculpted contour.

OB: Oblique Broad. This is one of my favorite nibs. It has a nice thick line with a more readily apparent thick/thin line variations as I write. The ink flow is abundant, which means I can write at a faster speed, yet very smoothly.

OBB: Oblique Double Broad. The last nib in the main Mont Blanc selection, it has more of the same positive characteristics as the OB. This means more line thickness bigger bolder lines. More ink means darker and larger text. If you like large text sizes and have plenty of paper, maybe you should try this nib. I like it very much and it is up there with the OB in my preferences.

So in conclusion, you can’t go wrong buying quality Mont Blanc pens. Month Blanc allows you to swap nibs for a period of time after your purchase (for no charge) if what you purchased was not to your liking. I suggest, if you live in the area of Pen Boutique (Washington DC, Columbia Maryland) drop in and try all of the nibs out for yourself and you will be amazed how different the nibs feel and the results they produce.

Looking at the photos, the paper used for this test was Tomoe River A4 (letter) size – white loose sheet (sku: TR_RURA4WL) and the ink was a wonderful Cobalt Blue from Graf von Faber-Castell.



Montblanc nib sizes ( Le Grand). PenBoutique.com


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Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Grand Re-opening - 7/14/2018


So we worked hard from Saturday June 30th to July 13th.  Every day was tiring and long.  We had contractors working everyday , fixing things.   All of the Pen Boutique staff put in some early morning  and late evening hours to get things done by Friday.

Around Friday we decided that we can re-open on Saturday July 14th.  It was still a work in progress and we sent out the information as part of our weekly e-mailer  that we are doing our re-opening tomorrow!

We did not think that turnout will be great since it was a last minute email - around 4 PM in the evening.   But to our amazement, many customers came and showed their full support! At one point of time we were running out of space and were thinking that even our expanded space will not be enough!

We are still having the Grand Re-opening sale for this week.  We are pretty sure you will love all the items on the sale.  We have special discount  plus free gift with purchase. So do stop by and check our new renovated location....  More space and more things to do :-)




The Graf Von Faber-castell shop in shop and also Montblanc shop-in-shop.  What to choose ?

The quietness before the storm.  We have the balloons and donuts.  We are set to open :-)

Yug is  helping the customer with the Sheaffer Ferrari fountain pen awesome deal.



Joseph and Deanna are customers and friend from 2004.  They have shown their support from the beginning and also have allowed us to involve in many of the non-profit movements. 


A customer from 2004 when I opened the Columbia Mall store.  Still supporting us and shows up to support every-time without fail. 

 Customers checking out the new wall of Montblanc with brick.  Totally mesmerizing.  After all he is the "greatest showman!" :-)





The end of the day employees took a selfie to mark this day!  After all the hard work, it is an amazing feeling to have a successful launch!
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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Renovation at our Columbia Maryland store.

Hello Pen Enthusiasts!
We have good news and bad news - The good news is that our Columbia renovation project is starting to make our store look like a store again!  The bad news is that the Columbia renovation project is still going on!  You know that old saying “The best laid plans…”  Well, that most certainly applies to our current situation.  The closing of our Bethesda location took longer than anticipated, but due to the dedication and hard work of our Montgomery Mall staff it finally got done.
Now that all of the displays have been moved to our Columbia location, the store is being set up to give you the best Pen experience possible.  We are excited at the prospects this expansion has opened to us and look forward to all of the new adventures in our future!
We are tentatively hoping to re-open our storefront by Friday, July 13th.  Despite warehouse access being limited, we are still shipping online and phone orders so feel free to purchase via our website or by calling in.  A limited stock of Pelikan Edelstein Ink of the Year Olivine bottles just arrived, so make sure to secure your bottle if you’re interested!
We look forward to welcoming you to our new store!


The Pen Boutique Team

---------------------------UPDATE 1 - JULY 10th 6:00 AM -------------------------------

Julio was working until 4:30 AM in the morning along with the movers to bring the furniture in.  It was not an easy task.  But the dedication of the Pen Boutique team, especially Julio is beyond amazing.  These cases are huge and the large truck was used like 3 times to bring the items to the Columbia store from Bethesda,MD ( a solid 45 minute drive).  

Unfortunately, not everything is rosy.  Couple of nice cases broke. 


------------------------UPDATE 2  - JULY 10th   1:00 PM --------------------------------------

We started from where Julio left off.  He left at 6:30 AM.  We were at the store at 8AM waiting for the help to arrange these huge furnitures.  We really respect these professional helpers.  They are strong and work tirelessly.  Compared to them we all have easy work  - especially with wonderful pen customers. We are actually living a passion and at the same time having business too.  Respect to these hard workers. 


At 8:30 AM they were finally here.  Now the daunting task of arranging this and even worse rearranging it after fixing it in  one place to make sure that all look ok.  Again big thanks to these professional helpers.  They are always smiling even when we ask them to rearrange.  Blessed to have these group.  So far here is the result. 




At 1:00 we all left to lunch.  Joe is not budging.  He wants to get through the orders from the warehouse.  He wants to stay back and continue to ship orders. So, we decided to bring lunch for him with his favorite Harmless coconut water. 


It is 5:00 PM.  It is coming along.  Wow, it is a tiring day.  Almost there.  Pretty positive that Manuel and co, are super tired with rearranging furniture like "nth" time.  But these guys still have a smile everytime.   

It is coming along.  I am pretty sure you will love this new set up - Leena.



---------------------------------------8/11/2018   9:00 AM ---------------------------

Another new day!  Let us hope we get this all done today!

Manuel and co are already here ready to work.  These are some hard working guys.  Today is mostly putting the shelves together, connect to plug and power up the cases. 

Then we have Maureen, Aurora , Joe and I here unboxing the pens from both Montgomery Mall store and the Columbia store.  Then we will be arranging it in the various cabinets and then displaying them.




---------------------- 8/11/2018  11 AM ------------------------------

Still with cabinets and installing all these cabinets.  Connecting power and more.  Phew.


---------------------8/11/2018   12 PM -----------------

Lunch time!  It is pizza for all. Still work to be done and then we need to ship also for warehouse orders.  Joe and staff on it and want to finish it before the day ends.





---------------------8/11/2018   3 PM -----------------------------

Finally it is coming through.  Lot of work to be still done.



---------------------- UPDATE 6 PM -------------------------------

Wow it is coming along!  Lots of hardwork  by the team.  Plus the pizza and the coke to pump up some energy.   We are working now on display.  Some more work to do on the cabinets but overall it is coming along.  Everyone is tired and I think we all will be sleeping like log today :-)




UPDATE :  Leena

----------------------------------- 7/12/2018 -------------------------------------------------

8AM

Here is another day and let us hope all will be done today.  It will unboxing and displaying.  Lot of work but I am pretty confident that Pen Boutique staff will overcome and should be done by the end of the day.


Julio and Joe looking at the pile and discussing how to get everything done.  Not an easy task.  These 2 are my pioneers and make sure Pen Boutique is at its best. 




Aurora and Linda displaying the pens.

-------------------------------------------------------------

1 PM.

Things are looking pretty good.  Aurora, Maureen, I , Linda, Yug, Joe, Julio are arranging pens.  Displaying them and we seem to be on a roll!

But it is pizza time!

See the smiles. Yeah good food and good company brings it.   Hard work and now it is chow time!

It may be that we are doing some serious stuff  but always there is room for fun!!!!  That is what makes us click! :-)




--- 7 PM --------

We are staying a bit late today.  There is still a lot to do, so tomorrow might be the day when we finish all and we should be set for Saturday for Grand Re-opening. 

Below are the pictures so far.  It was a tiring but fun filled day!  Thanks for all the customers who came to check us out and we will see you on Saturday!






--------7/13/2018   - FRIDAY THE 13TH     ----------------------------------------------

Yesterday was pretty tiring day.  Let us hope the staff has enough energy today.   I am dragging myself  and can see how tiring they must be.  May be donuts , some sugar can kick start them. 


9:00 AM 

------

All have showed up and seems like they are pumped up.  Seems like I may be the only one who looks tired.   All have worked hard and of course it seems there is always room for fun with pens in between to test it and admire them, revisit their features so that we can be ready for more questions.   But all in all, we worked throughout the day.   Here are some pictures.  I think we are almost there.  We should be open tomorrow.   It should be an exciting day. 








Julio going to his bike at the end of the day. 






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