Author: Pao Alfonso

Parker Duofold Junior

My husband’s early anniversary gift to me arrived today. It’s over a month early, but I don’t mind. 🙂 It’s a Parker Duofold Junior in jade green. It’s the first Duofold in my collection. I believe this double-ringed model is a streamlined version, which was released sometime in 1928. Aside from the design clues, I can’t pinpoint exactly when this was made because the markings on the barrel have already rubbed off. You can see how the barrel has become discolored due to its age. The material looks very similar to my Sheaffer Lifetime Jade. It’s really almost the same. The discoloration is also the same color.

I like how small it is. It’s just a bit longer than a Sailor Progear Mini, it fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. The girth is that of a full-sized Duofold, though. It also has a nice heft to it. I like the section, it’s short but comfortable, and it flares a bit at the end.

The pen uses a button filler. It’s my first time to use one so I had to search on Youtube how to actually use it. It wasn’t complicated at all. I also liked that it was easy to fill and clean. The nib was a bit stiff and writes somewhere between fine and medium.

The nib has the  double line along the tine that I like, although the point is a bit shorter and wider than full-sized vacs.

The clip still uses that little ball at the end instead of the iconic Parker quiver of the later models.

It’s impressive that this pen is about 90 years old and is still usable. I’m grateful that we have people like JP (who helped my husband source this pen) who repair these marvelous vintage pens so that we can continue to enjoy them until now. I’m really happy with it. It’s awfully cute!

I have a small collection of pocket pens that I’m currently trying to grow. I have Kaweco Liliput, KawecoSport, Sailor Progear Mini, and Parker Vacumatic Debutantes. I didn’t even know that there were Duofolds this small! When I did my little research earlier to find out more about this pen, I found out that there are even smaller ones than the Duofold Junior called Vest Pockets. Oh my goodness, they’re adorable. I’m going to put that in my wishlist.

Overall, I’m really happy with my anniversary pen. I will enjoy using this daily. 🙂

Women Leaders

Today’s journal entry is about women leaders and the quality of leadership that they brought to their countries during the time of pandemic. I think one thing that this pandemic did was to shine a very bright spotlight on how poorly certain leaders are doing during these times. Leaders cannot bully, bribe, or brag their way around a pandemic. One also cannot fake empathy for the people. At least  not for long. It’s interesting how a handful of women leaders brought a markedly different approach to the pandemic. They harnessed data, encouraged research, reacted quickly, and brought an undeniable warmth and steadiness whenever they addressed the people. Meanwhile in the Philippines, our president can hardly get through a single press briefing without using foul language, which his supporters passes off as sincerity, lol. Anyway, I thought it would be great to make a journal entry about these remarkable women and their response to the pandemic because it will definitely be part of history.

Keeping an Art Journal Through a Pandemic

To say that the past few days have been difficult would be the understatement of the year. It’s been brutal on everybody, and harder for some than for others. It’s hard to fight off the existential dread that has been eating away at many of us these past few weeks. We’re almost at the middle of the third week of lockdown and though things are settling down a bit at home, it’s not always comforting to look at the news and see what the government is doing (or not doing). You look at how other countries are responding to the same existential threat and you see very clearly how much our own government has neglected us for years. You don’t really notice it if you’ve worked all your life to not need anything from the government, but when you’re put in a position where your life depends on it, things can get pretty bleak. I started documenting COVID19 around end of January, at a time when I was still wondering I’m overreacting to it (turns out I wasn’t). My husband and I were cautious about this novel virus, at a time when not a lot of people were taking it seriously yet. Then there was a lull in the local news about it, and things went back to “normal” for a time. Then the mad rush to get food before the “enhanced community quarantine”. It seemed like all of a sudden, reality spun out of control and we were struggling to secure our food supplies, herding our little family home, keeping out an invisible enemy while trying to make sense of the government’s haphazard, wildly-swinging policies about the lockdown.

I can still remember the last time I was outdoors. My husband and I were rushing to buy groceries at 6:50PM, making it through the door just 10 minutes before SnR closed. Then rushing home just a few minutes before the 8PM curfew, nervous about how we’re going to get my brother-in-law home from Quezon City when cities are closing borders. It’s like waking up to a new, dystopian version of your world. It’s very disconcerting, to say the least.

To keep calm and to help myself process what’s happening, I’ve begun to write more focused entries on the pandemic, hoping that I will be able to read them a few months from now and marvel at what we all went through.

Continue reading “Keeping an Art Journal Through a Pandemic”

Ink Swab: Vinta Romblon 1582

This next Vinta Ink from their Pamana collection is called Romblon 1582 (Black Onyx). The name is derived from the province of Romblon, which is the marble capital of the Philippines. The name was given by Spanish chronicler, Miguel de Loarca in 1582. This is a nicely saturated, wet-flowing black ink with blue and gold sheen. The combination of the sheen on Tomoe River paper looks a bit reddish, though, as you can see from the photos below. Some people may ask why fountain pen users would even think of getting different kinds of black inks when black is black is black. The answer to that is simple, black isn’t just black. There’s a color bias even for black inks, and of course there are differences in saturation and they way they look when they’ve dried on paper. This particular black ink looks like a warm shade of  black, although a closer look will show that the base color itself is a cool shade of bluish grey. The sheen gives it a layer of complexity so that it looks warm under certain kinds of light and cool in others.

This ink is pretty wet-flowing, but it dries fast (about 10-15 seconds on Tomoe River paper, using a medium nib). I think it’s pretty well-behaved. I love that Vinta came out with a black ink that’s great for daily use. For people that like to use fountain pen ink for art, you’re in for a surprise once you add water. The ink explodes from black to pink and teal. It’s so cute. Of all the Vinta Inks that I used for art, this is the easiest to use. That’s worth considering if you’re interested in making art journal entries.

Here are a few close ups of the writing sample:

Continue reading “Ink Swab: Vinta Romblon 1582”

Ink Swab: Vinta Pamana 2018

The next ink I tried in Vinta’s Heritage collection is Pamana 2019 (Heritage Brown). The color’s name is to commemorate the first anniversary of Vinta Inks and their commitment to sharing Filipino culture to the world through their products. The dark, reddish-brown ink reminds me of the color of pear wood. It has a very subtle greenish-silver sheen to it, but the sheen isn’t what you’d call very noticeable. The shading is gorgeous–dark orange, red, dark brown. It’s a warm color, and nicely saturated too so it’s great for daily writing. While wet, the ink is decidedly dark brown, but it lightens to its reddish shade after a few minutes. The flow is a tad wetter than moderate, and it takes about 15-20 seconds to dry with a medium nib.

Here are a few close ups of the writing sample and a comparison with Fortaleza and Damili:

Pamana will be available at Vinta Inks soon.

Ink Swab: Vinta Fortaleza 1797

The next ink from Vinta’s third collection that I tried is Fortaleza 1797. The name is from the Miag-ao Church in Iloilo which is also known as a Fortress church. The color is a distinct ochre and was constructed in 1797 using materials such as eggs and limestone. This church is a UNESCO heritage site.

Oh my gosh, look at it.  Needless to say, this ink is a lot prettier in person. Brown ink fans will certainly love this one. This is a lovely shade of brown with hints of  yellow, orange, and some red. There’s no sheen or shimmer on it, just good old fashioned shading, and boy, what gorgeous shading. The longer you look at it, the more fascinating it is. The shading on this ink runs from dark brown to orange to some warm, butterscotch yellow. The effect is quite eye-catching, as if the letters are glowing a subtle shade of light orange.

The flow is moderate, but again I would recommend that you use it with a wet writer to really see the gorgeous shading on this ink. It’s saturated enough to make it more than comfortable to read. It’s not waterproof, and if you like to use fountain pen ink in art, this one’s pretty fun to mix with water. Here are some close ups of the writing sample:

This one’s also going on my to-buy list, obviously.

Fortaleza 1797 will be available in Vinta Inks soon.

Ink Swab: Vinta Damili 1572

I received some samples of Vinta Inks’ new collection and I must say, the colors are pretty interesting. This is one of my favorites. It’s called Damili 1572. Damili is a term that refers to the art of red clay pottery popular in Vigan. A very apt name for the terracotta red color of this ink. The color reminds me of MB’s Red Fox. I think it’s really pretty and vibrant. I tried it in two pens, it flowed wet in one and a tad dry in another. I suggest using it with a wet-writing pen so that you can really appreciate how vibrant the color is. It dries pretty quickly too, about 10-15 seconds with a medium nib on Tomoe River paper. It’s the shade of a bright, red-orange tomato. So cute! I love the expressive shading on it too. There seems to be a light silvery sheen on it but I wouldn’t say it’s too noticeable.

Here are a few close ups of the writing sample.

The third collection of Vinta Inks will be available for preorder soon.

Parker Vacumatic Debutante Emerald Green

Here’s the newest addition to my pen family. What a beauty it is. It’s a Parker Vacumatic Debutante in Emerald Green and it’s in near mint condition. I have to admit I’ve slowed down significantly in buying pens recently, focusing more on using and caring for those that I already have. I’ve shaved down my wishlist to just a handful of pens that I still want to buy at some point, but I already decided that I wouldn’t be acquiring any more pens that aren’t in my wishlist. This specific pen is in my very short wish list, so I picked it up when a friend told me about it.

There’s not a lot of discoloration on the barrel, you can still see through it. The celluloid rings are clear and pearlescent. It has a blue diamond on the clip and a striped jewel of the same celluloid material on the cap. It also has a chevron and diamond cap band. It’s amazing that something this pristine-looking was made in 1939, just a year before my maternal grandmother was born. This pen has a speedline filler, which was discontinued in 1942 because the metal was used for the war effort.

It says a lot about how vintage pens are made. They can still be enjoyed decades after not just as relics from the past but as writing implements. Here are a few more photos of the pen’s details:

Rampage

Yesterday’s journal entry was about my thoughts on the book I’m currently reading, “Rampage: MacArthur, Yamashita, and the Battle of Manila” by James M. Scott. It’s hard to read this  book continuously. Honestly, it gave me nightmares, the same way that reading books about the Holocaust gives me nightmares. I wrote about how I felt while reading the excerpts from journals and survivor accounts. To think that some of the people living during that time are still alive. I recall back in my college days, one of our professors took us to this home for the aged in Quezon City. This home was different though because the occupants are all former comfort women. We sat with them individually, listened to them, kept them company. This book has graphic descriptions of the human cost of war, and knowing this, one would hope that world leaders would give it a lot of thought before even considering provoking one again. Knowing history is quite different from learning from it, I suppose.