Author: Pao Alfonso

Ink Swab: Vinta Nakar 1934 (Mother of Pearl)

The wonderful people of Vinta Inks sent over a sample of their ink for the Manila Pen Show. It’s called Nakar 1934 (Mother of Pearl). I am today years old when I learned that the Filipino word for mother of pearl is actually “nakar”, probably based from the word nacre. It’s a beautiful shimmery grey ink and it’s unfortunate that it’s a bit hard to photograph the beauty of this ink. It has a purplish tint to it, and it appears to be on the warmer side when viewed in artificial light, but on the cooler side when viewed in natural light.

It has expressive shading on both the medium and 1.5mm nibs that I tried it on. The color does remind me of mother of pearl, especially when you apply water on it. Those who like to use fountain pen ink for art will find this ink color very interesting. Here’s a chromatography of the ink:

The ink has silver shimmer, but for me the shimmer appears pearlescent. Perhaps it’s reflecting the different color components of the ink? Here are some close ups of the writing sample:

I’ve been using it for a few days on two pens (Lamy Studio 1.5mm nib, Tactile Turn Gist Medium nib) and so far both pens still flow well. But, as always, I would advise to only use shimmer inks in pens that are easy to clean, and don’t leave them unused too long in order to avoid clogging. There are only a few bottles of this ink available in the Manila Pen Show this coming weekend.

Overall, it’s a very interesting color. It looks like dark graphite when used with a medium nib, but I suggest using it with a wide nib to really see and appreciate the unique characteristics of the ink.

The Most Intimate Form of Abuse

Today’s journal entry is about how infidelity is also abuse. How many times have I encountered women who say that their husbands have cheated on them repeatedly but “at least he never abused me”. I feel punched in the gut every time because I see the family unraveling before my eyes. Men and women who cheat on their spouses inflict a very intimate form of violence on their family. It takes a very calloused heart to be able to look at the people one supposedly loves and not be moved by the hurt he/she has inflicted on them.

“Do not look for healing
At the feet of those
Who broke you.”
Rupi Kaur

Fun with the FPR Himalaya

Lettering is not my cup of tea, but I really enjoy looking at people’s outputs especially on Instagram. It’s not so easy as it looks, apparently. I’ve resolved to try and push myself out of my comfort zone in my art journal and include practicing lettering. The quote in the photo of this entry was written with an ultraflex FPR Himalaya (ebonite). It doesn’t make very thin hairlines, but the flex if very pleasant to play with. If you’ve bought one of these before, you probably already know that it can be a little temperamental, and you might need to heat set the nib and make sure the nib and feed are properly positioned so that you get consistent ink flow, but once you get it going, it’s a lot of fun to use. I’m looking forward to more lettering experiments in the future.

Manila Pen Show 2019


It’s so exciting that the pen community in the Philippines has grown so much in the past years. I joined Fountain Pen Network Philippines in 2014 and at that time, I can already see the beginnings of a bustling community and the influx of vendors that support the hobby. Today, we even have locally-made pens and inks! How awesome is that?

This year’s pen show will be on November 16 and 17, at the Holiday Inn Makati. Local vendors who will take part in the pen show include: Calibre, Cross, Everything Calligraphy, Faber-Castell, Gav ‘n Sav, Guia’s Vintage Pens, Inks by Vinta, Kasama Pens, Lamy, Noteworthy, Pengrafik, Peter Bangayan, Scribe, Shibui, and Troublemaker Inks. There are also nibmeisters onsite to help members with pen tuning and repair needs–JP’s Pen Spa and John Lim. There will also be vendors from other countries like Aesthetic Bay (Singapore, ooh I wonder if they’ll bring Nakaya pens with them), Atelier Musubi (Singapore), Newton Pens (USA), Pengallery (Malaysia), Pierre Cardin (Hong Kong), Regalia Writing Labs (USA) and Straits Pen (Singapore). We’re very happy that they will travel all the way here for us. It’s going to be a lot of fun! If you’re a fountain pen enthusiast, or if you have a loved one who is, this is the event to attend this year.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the pen show because I’m spending time with my family that weekend (it’s an important weekend for us), but I’m encouraging pen lovers to go because it truly is the highlight of the year. There will be pens (vintage and new, of different brands), inks, paper, accessories, and you’ll get to spend time with people who love the hobby. It’s gonna be a blast!

Prosperity for Prosperity’s Sake

Today’s journal entry is about greed and how the world is filled with dragons of all sizes, jealously guarding caches of gold, big and small, for the sake of possessing. Many churches in particular have focused on appearing “blessed” or prosperous in lieu of actively taking care of the poor and vulnerable while fulfilling the Great Commission. Too many pretty buildings, too few charitable acts. Too far removed from the example of Jesus.

Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves. ~Horace Mann

Ink Swab: Vinta Bodabil (Harlequin)

I recently received a sample vial of Vinta’s new ink called Bodabil or Harlequin. Apparently it’s not part of a new collection, which I heard is already in the works (yaaaay!). Anyway, Bodabil is a fun purple ink with green sheen. I used a Lamy Safari Dark Lilac with an F nib for the writing sample above and at first it looked really dark, almost black. The purple color shows up more prominently after it dries. Like their popular sheening inks (Dugong Bughaw, Sandugo, etc), this one has a very pronounced sheen. I really like the combination of purple and green.

The flow of the ink is a little bit wetter than moderate. I’d say it has a good flow and has no problems with clogging up even my fine nibbed Lamy. There’s minimal shading, though you can see that the darker parts are almost black in color. Some of the red component of the ink can also be more pronounced in some spots. I used it with my Lamy Studio with a 1.5mm nib and the shading and sheen is even more beautiful. It’s pretty on photos but I think it’s even prettier in person.

Using a fine nib, it dries up after about 20 seconds, which isn’t bad for a sheening ink. It’s also not waterproof. People who like using fountain pen ink with water will find this ink quite delightful because it washes to a generous purple while leaving a bit of outline on the paper.

Overall, it’s a rich purple ink that’s flows well and is easy to read. Suitable for daily use or for art journal entries. I think it’s a great addition to the Vinta Inks family. Here are more close up photos of the writing sample: Continue reading “Ink Swab: Vinta Bodabil (Harlequin)”

40th Birthday Journal Entry

I turn 40 tomorrow. Yesterday, I spent the whole day with my family, sharing a simple celebration. I felt that the way we celebrate my birthday was exactly how I wanted it because it’s so me. Simple and no-frills. Honestly, as long as I’m surrounded  by the people I love, I’d be happy with anything. I have much to write about turning 40, so I kept my art page to also a simple food doodle (foodle?) about all the unhealthy things we ate haha.

Children of Crisis

Today’s journal entry is about this book that I just recently started reading, Children of Crisis. This series of books is a social study of children in the United States written by child psychiatrist Robert Coles. The first few chapters focus on Ruby Bridges and talks about how children adapt to extreme changes in their environment. He wrote about Ruby’s drawings and his conversations with her and  her parents. Ruby Bridges, at the age of 6, was the first child to desegragate the all-white  William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana. Her parents did not expect such opposition towards a little girl going to school, and certainly did not expect that she would be alone in there due to the boycott.

I’ve only read a few chapters but it’s a very interesting and insightful read. I can’t wait to read more.

Each and every one of us is born with a clean heart. Our babies know nothing about hate or racism. But soon they begin to learn – and only from us. We keep racism alive. We pass it on to our children. We owe it to our children to help them keep their clean start. ~Ruby Bridges

A Quiet Saturday Afternoon

I had such a wonderful day today. It had been a long week, but before this week, I had been sick for most of August. It feels good to be able to sit up for hours and read or write. Today is beautifully calming for me. Nothing beats the smell of old books, vintage celluloid, coffee, and rain. I loved the sound of the soft patter of rain outside the window, and my husband in the living room, watching TV. The cat walks to my study and the living room, quietly keeping tabs on both of us while we’re not sitting together, just walking back and forth, napping here and there.

Sometimes we take such things for granted, but it’s a gift to enjoy this kind of peace and quiet, and even more so when you enjoy it at home with people you love.

A Sea of Umbrellas

Today’s journal entry is about the recent protests in Hong Kong. No matter what you think about what the protesters are fighting for, it’s hard not to feel impressed at the show of force of the people. Activism in general is often misunderstood as unwanted disruptions, but many of the things that we enjoy today are thanks to the people who rejected the status quo and fought for equality, freedom, better treatment.

“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”― Leonardo da Vinci