Category: Pen Thoughts

Open Crumb, Hooray!

This journal entry was written last week. It’s about the first time that I was able to achieve a sufficiently open crumb in my country style sourdough bread.

I was so excited when I sliced into it and found this. While I was reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, I was so fascinated about the chapter on fermentation. These little pockets of air contain a smell that the mouth translates for the brain into flavor. Retronasal olfaction is our ability to smell food that’s already in the mouth.

For this bake, I changed a few things. I increased the hydration of the dough to 76.6%, lengthened the autolyse to a little over 3 hours, and did my stretch and folds according to how the dough looks like instead of following a rigid s&f schedule. I also sprayed water into the dutch oven before popping it in.

It tasted marvelous. I can see what Michael Pollan meant when he wrote about how an open crumb is more flavorful. I really enjoyed this bake.

I bought a small oval banneton so that I can try a batard shape next time. I’m super busy this week so I’m going to schedule my next bake next week, during my Thanksgiving break. Can’t wait!

The Path to Better Bread

Today’s journal entry is about the process of learning about baking country-style bread and how understanding each step is better than following a recipe closely.

The more I understand about the process, the more I could edit it and get better results. You can’t really follow every recipe down to the scheduling because different kinds of flour will have different characteristics. There are so many variables involved aside from that; like the temperature, and the strength of your sourdough starter among others. The best recipes I’ve tried are those that encourage you to get your cues from the smell, appearance, and texture of the starter and your dough. There’s so much more to learn and I’m enjoying the baby steps that I’m taking.

I think that more than eating the bread that I make, I enjoy the learning part of it more. I consider myself a lifelong learner, which is what I enjoy most about reading. If anything piques my interest enough, I would probably attempt to learn it by myself. Michael Pollan’s books have been very influential for me because he has a way of translating his  intellectual curiosity into a set of organized ideas which he tests on his own and shares with others in a very accessible language. I was encouraged by the fact that he was also the kind of person who struggles with following a recipe, but understanding the process every step of the way helped so much more than any recipe could.

While the pandemic is raging outside, I guess it brings me comfort that I can focus my energy and attention on something useful and beautiful.

Pain Perdu

I’m trying to revive my all-food journal again. I keep trying to compile food journal entries in one place but my mind keeps wandering and I keep writing about different things. I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, and I finished reading his other book “In Defense of Food” a few weeks back. His books inspire me to be more circumspect about food and to enjoy the process of cooking, especially now that we’re always home. Hopefully I can write more about it.

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.

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:

Additive Pen – Double Helix

I’ve been so curious about this pen since I first saw it online, so when Everything Calligraphy offered to let me try it out, I immediately said yes. The pen came in this nondescript cardboard box and I admit that I forgot to take unboxing photos because I was so excited to try it. I inked it right away and took the photos below after the pen had been cleaned.

The pen came in this plastic tube, which I think is secure enough for transporting the pen. There’s a syringe with a blunt needle and a little container of silicon grease. I was surprised that the pen was so long. Here’s a comparison with other pens that I have. It’s 6.69 in long when capped and 5.9 in long uncapped. I’m not too crazy about the fact that the cap isn’t the same size as the barrel, it kind of sticks out when the pen is capped. It is quite easy to forget about the cap when you’ve inked the pen, it just looks so interesting.

The double helix is not your usual demonstrator. This pen is an eyedropper, with two reservoirs that form the double-helix. It’s certainly a looker. I also really liked the section on this pen, it’s long, smooth and comfortable to hold. It’s also not too heavy, so it’s great to use for long writing sessions.

The finial has the double-helix design stamped on it. I think that looked pretty cool.

The nib (Jowo) has no logo on it, just the simple filigree on the sides and the nib size.

This pen is 3D-printed, and the inside of the barrel looks textured. A bit like frosted glass. It smells strongly of nail polish. I inked this pen three times, with three different colors, just to see how it will hold up. I used Vinta Maskara, Sailor Ink Studio 123, and Parker Blue Black.

The nib is a #6 Jowo steel nib. It’s smooth with a hint of feedback and it’s a moderately wet writer. It’s not soft but it is a smooth enough writer to make the writing experience pretty enjoyable. Here’s a video of the writing sample:

It was a bit difficult to get the ink flowing in the double-helix. I read the instructions and it did indicate that you might need to add a surfactant to make the ink flow easier. It’s pretty easy to do this, I learned this little trick from Mona (of FPNPh) a few weeks ago and it really helped my dry-flowing inks to flow better. Anyway, all you need to do is to dip the tip of a toothpick in dishwashing liquid, then dip that in the ink that’s inside the pen. That’s all it takes. Don’t mix in a drop of the dishwashing liquid into the barrel. Just dip the tip, screw in the nib unit and shake it a bit. Et viola, it flows! I’ve had to do this little trick to two out of three inks that I tried. The Parker ink didn’t need the surfactant to flow, but it’s noticeably less flow-y than the other inks that had surfactants added in.

I admit that I was nervous about cleaning the pen. When it comes to demonstrators, you kind of have to be ready for the fact that you can’t keep it pristine for long. The double helix design of the pen made me wonder if the barrel would stain too terribly. I followed the cleaning instructions on the slip of paper that came with the box and it worked like a charm. All I had to do was rinse out the barrel (that was easy enough, the ink just flowed out without issues) and then fill it with isopropyl alcohol. The instructions called for 99% isopropyl but I used just 70% isopropyl, it worked just fine. I didn’t even need to soak it too long. According to the instructions, don’t leave it for longer than 4 hours. I just left it in the barrel for less than 30 minutes. Gave it a vigorous shake while covering the opening with my thumb, then emptied the barrel.

I repeated this two more times and left the barrel to dry. There were no stains left by the end of the third rinse. I’m not sure I would be brave enough to use Baystate Blue on this, though. I’m pretty happy that the stain washed out relatively easily.

Overall, I think it’s a pretty interesting design, which comes with its own pros and cons. It does write well and holds a lot of ink. It’s fun to watch the ink sloshing around, I found myself flipping over and over just to watch it doing that, lol. I think it’s a pretty cool concept and design. It’s certainly an interesting way to challenge our perception of what a fountain pen should look like.

Additive Pens are available in Everything Calligraphy.

A Timeless Gem

My journal entry today is about Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, which I’m rereading for a book club I joined. I’ve read this book several times when I was younger but the last time I read it was many years ago. I decided to refresh my memory and read it again, and instantly I was swept away to a different time and place. It’s so wonderful. I remember again why I loved this novel when I was young, it’s so pure and wholesome, and everything about it warms my heart. This sketch in particular is about one of my favorite parts of the book, when they were just beginning to make friends with Laurie. Jo went to visit him while he was sick and brought some blancmange that Meg made, and of course Beth sent the most sensible gift of all, her kittens.

I am halfway through the book and I’m reading slower so I can savor it longer. Of course I’ll need to reread Little Men and Jo’s Boys after this. Reading about Marmee made me miss my mom, though. She’s the same beacon of warmth and light, and her presence is sorely missed. I’m glad she instilled in me the love for books, and especially picked out Louisa May Alcott’s works to introduce me to the wonderful world of the March sisters.

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.