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.


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!
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