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Blog Review: An Inkophile's Blog

We’d like to take a moment to say happy birthday to Margana at An Inkophile’s Blog. Last month marked her third year exploring the shades and textures of fountain pen inks for her many fans.

Want to know the ins and outs of using online ink swatches to choose your colours? Need to know the right paper/ink combo for your journal? Looking for someone who shares your frustration with the mail system?

Then read her blog, and you'll find it all.

Over the years, she has brought us crisp, insightful reports on everything from Diamine Jade Green ink – meh, a little too light – to detailed comparisons of Rhodia and Moleskine notebooks (Rhodia works better with fountain pens). And, in between, we’ve gotten charming little gems like this one from March:

Blueberries display a gorgeous variety of colors from green to blue to purple any of which would be delightful shades for fountain pen ink. However, at present I am only searching for a one that hits the deep blue of the berry’s skin. My usual green-blue favorites just won’t do.

An excellent example of her passion for getting down to the nuances of ink performance came a couple of months ago, when she explored the differences in versions of Noodler’s Baystate Blue.

Margana reported:

One of my ink mates recently proved how much of an ink geek he is by noticing the difference between the first run of Noodler’s Baystate Blue and the latest batch. Intrigued I agreed to see for myself.

My written samples validate the observation. Feathering has been tamed sufficiently to give lines a clean look and eliminate the ragged edges. Now it is useful on a wider variety of papers…

… The color is a rich blue that flows very well but does dry slowly. In some ways it reminds me of the long-discontinued Parker Penman Sapphire. Not in terms of that ink’s iridescence but more in its saturated color. I found it a happy match to my daily journal, the Apica 6A10, in which I faithfully use a blotter, the best way to make a non-issue of drying time.

Accompanying were the usual detailed writing samples, demonstrating her findings in an elegant hand.

As part of our series of ongoing features about top-notch pen blogs, we sent Margana a few questions by email that we thought our readers might find interesting. The questions, and her responses, are below.

Q: What led you to establish Inkophile?

A: Writing a blog seemed the best way to keep a running record of changes in my pen world but I never thought it would bring in so many readers. That has been a bigger surprise than all the twists and turns to my pen and ink hobby.

Q: How long have you been fascinated with fountain pens and inks?

A: Since childhood fountain pens have intrigued me but ink only in the last ten years thanks to Pendemonium. That website was a revelation and the trigger for my obsession. I have never looked back.

Q: What was your first fountain pen?

A: When I was 14 or so, I purchased one of those one-size-fits-all inexpensive Sheaffer fountain pens. I had to flip it over to make it fine enough for my writing. Just a few days ago I found some margin notes made with it years later in a college literature book so I certainly got good value for money with that one.

Q: How much time do you spend on your blog each week?

A: Up to ten hours when inspiration strikes but life usually keeps my time far more limited.

Q: What are your top 3 favorite posts that you've written?

A: I don't have favorite posts though there is one with an image that is special. It is about turquoise ink and the image has shown up in a variety of places on the web so it seems others like it, too. http://inkophile.wordpress.com/2010/05/28/trendy-means-turquoise/

Q: What has been the most popular post with your readers?

A: Unfortunately Wordpress no longer offers that statistic but posts about Moleskine, J. Herbin, or Iroshizuku ink always get lots of interest.

Q: What pen and ink combo do you use most often?

A: Recently a Montblanc 220 with an oblique broad nib and Caran d'Ache Storm has competed with a Kyoto Levenger True Writer sporting a Masuyama stub nib and filled with Private Reserve Arabian Rose for top honors. Close behind is a resin Namiki Falcon with a soft fine nib and filled with Diamine Mediterranean Blue plus a Mink Brown True Writer with a Masuyama cursive italic nib filled with Diamine Chocolate Brown. Iroshizuku Ku-jaku is waiting in the wings for a summer fling with a black and rhodium Sailor Sapporo fine nib.

Q: Do you use your pens mostly to write, draw, compose music, or some combination?

A: My fountain pens are used almost entirely for writing but a few get pressed into service for drawing. More often one of my Pentel Pocket Brush pens will get employed for artistic endeavors. The expressive line-work with such a soft nib comes perilously close to addictive. However, I wouldn't want my fountain pens to feel neglected given they are capable of spewing ink in all sorts of directions when feeling slighted. Not a pretty sight so they are kept well-praised and in regular use.

Q: What can we expect from Inkophile in the near future?

A: No special plans. Just more of the same with links, musings, and a few reviews dominating my posts. Someday I may go afield and add some watercolor related posts. For now though ink, pens, and paper will do.

Margana also added:

Southern California is home now and has been for many years. It isn't the best place for a fountain pen aficionado as there are few retail outlets that cater to the hobby. Thankfully, online retailers have made it possible to explore inks and pens I never knew existed.

Writing was a major part of my life even before studying journalism in college. From writing newspaper and magazine articles to editing marketing copy and screenplays, the written word has been a consistent creative outlet for me.

Putting pen to paper is an elegant extension of the thought process and another creative joy. So Inkophile was the natural melding of two of my favorite interests. I also enjoy watercolor painting (both Chinese and western styles) and writing haiku but most often I turn to a fountain pen to exercise my creative side.

Geology, astrophysics, and marine biology are other fields of interest but don't get me started on science fiction unless you have a whole lot of time. From "Firefly" to "The Fifth Element" to the unique world of Doctor Who, I'm a fan, pure and simple.

Many thanks to her for the work she does on her blog, and for taking the time to share a little about herself with us.

We wish the Inkophile many more years of success.

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