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Posts Tagged ‘Jinhao’

Looking at Things Sideways

Posted by Dirck on 18 August, 2017

To mark the completion of the novel’s* first draft, how about an entry in the old style?  I started the week with a film, so I’ll end it with a ramble.

Last week, I was able to hang a new page up on the site, giving a very brief profile of the Jinhao X750; you may click on it, but the gist is, “It is a fountain pen of modern manufacture and low cost, which is slightly heavy.”  The reason I had this item in my hands is that a client who had sent some other pens to be looked at admitted a curiosity regarding the architect grind; this pen whose loss would not be a great cost to the world could travel with the others if I thought I could make the alteration.  Since I have also been nurturing a small curiosity regarding this grind, I agreed.

“What is this architect grind, then?”

Ah, right.  It is, in essence, an italic grind rotated ninety degrees.  Here’s an artist’s(?) conception of an italic point:

The image had other things in mind than the illustration of the style of point, of course.

An architect grind, then, has the slit running parallel to the tipping’s contact area rather than perpendicular, so the wide strokes are lateral and the narrow ones vertical– the opposite effect of an italic.  “Architect” gets its name from a preference of Frank Lloyd Wright, or so legend has it for this sort of variation.  This possible-legend also allows one to nicely avoid the earlier names for the shape, because some people object to “Hebrew nib,” others to “Arabic nib,” and still others to “Semetic nib.”  Humans can be a mysterious and complex bundle of prejudices and antipathies, eh?

This drawing I did for an entirely different reason shows the difference between a regular (top) tipping and an architect modification.  That different reason was “someone has done something to the point of this Lamy Studio which is why you’re having trouble with it.”

In any event, I have been contemplating the theory of this grind for some time, but never committed to it.  Because it requires a large vertical component, any point that’s going to be amended needs a pretty big dollop of tipping if there’s to be appreciable line variation, and I haven’t had a pen with the requisite blob that I was willing to commit to the transformation.  Yes, I’ve got a couple of Jinhaos of my own, but the curiosity to perform the operation was not quite strong enough to give me a shove.  When someone else offers a pen to me, though… well, that changes things.†  And what of the result?

Success, although it’s not one I’m tempted to follow up any time soon.  Among the theoretical ponderings which were borne out by this experience was a likely down-side; what I might call “scratchiness” although it’s really more of an enhanced harmonic feedback.  You see, with an italic pen moving on a wide downstroke, the sharp sides of the slit follow the movement of the pen.  On the narrow side-stroke, the presentation of the slit to paper is like a round-pointed pen’s– just a miniscule gap in the otherwise smooth face of the tipping.  This is enough to cause a lot of discomfort to the writer if the tines come out of alignment, which a lot of pen makers try to avoid through their flirting with the baby bottom problem.

The rotation of the slit relative to the long axis of the tipping turns the preceding on its head.  On the down-stoke, you still find the sharp edges of the tipping following the movement of the pen, and that’s as smooth as a knife being drawn across leather, but then on the cross-stroke, the length of the slit in contact with the surface of the paper just about the same as the width of the mark being made.  That’s a lot of chances for the relatively sharp edge of the slit to catch on irregularities of the paper.  It’s not flat-out scratching, but you are very aware of the pen passing over the paper.

I honestly don’t see a way around it, either, without losing the line variation.  In the example above, the downstroke is about 0.3mm wide, and the cross-stroke about 0.8mm.  The latter is limited by how much tipping there is to start with, while the former is a function of how close to a couple of tiny little razors I dare to make the tipping.  It was a little thinner during an intermediary step of the grinding, but it also would hardly move side to side.  There’s a similar math which goes on in the choice between italic and stub, adjusting the roundness of the contact surface for more writing comfort at the expense of some of the distinction between vertical and horizontal… but without the extra variable of the contact surface having a trench in it.

I can understand why some of the people who offer this grind state a preference for uncommonly chubby starting nibs– with a 3B you might get a broad enough cross-stroke that a 0.5mm vertical would be thin enough, and that might be round enough to see the slit over the ripples and proud fibres.  Starting with a Jinhao’s not-very-big medium point is not ideal.

The other issue with this grind, as far as I’m concerned, is that it makes a serious demand of consistency of the writer.  With most points, even italics, one has a range of pitch angles to touch the paper with…

The original caption of this image admits that it is a result of… well, basically obsessive thinking about a topic.

…while an architect grind, if you wobble around in your pitch, you lift the most of the tipping off the page and lose the variation.  Unlike an italic, you’d still get a mark, but it would be very thin because only one corner of the flat edge will be touching the paper.  This isn’t a huge problem, as most of us are pretty consistent in this aspect of writing, but if you’re pursuing an architect grind, you should know that it takes on extra importance.  You should also make sure whoever is amending your nib is aware of your preference– if you like to hold the pen well at the back and hit the paper at 30º but the grinder assumes everyone is comfortable at 60º, there’s apt to be unhappiness, hard words, and the expense of a new point for the pen.

Unless it’s a Jinhao.  Those things are cheap.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Valiant TD
Today’s ink: Jentle blue-black

*A little something to add to the Freudian slip file; the initial typing of “novel’s” saw my fingers emit “marvel’s.”  I am not consciously aware of believing the novel to be any more than reasonably good… at least at this stage of its existence, but we have some evidence that I may be inwardly bloated with pride.

†An aside– because this was something I had never attempted, the amendment was done without charge; the pen was not dear, and we both knew that destruction was possible, so the most this would cost was the replacement of a pen you can have for $4.23 on one side and a quantity of wasted minutes on the other.  Success saw me convert theory into skill, which is payment enough, while the pen-owner had a desire satisfied (and, in an email since, sufficiently so to express contentment).  Consideration, in the legal sense, flows without any cash involved.

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Smart Guys Use Fountain Pens

Posted by Dirck on 14 April, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I find myself with a day off today; some sort of religious observation, I think. In anticipation of people looking in here needing more than the usual amount of diversion, I’ve got a longer than usual Friday film. It’s newer, too, so the contest that’s mentioned is something you could actually pursue (if you hurry!).

Anyway, enough introduction; here’s an interview with a man who is in many ways an excellent role model.

“I love me some flexible nibs.” Fine words to live by, gang, although I’m not so opposed to a firm point as he.

Today’s pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Quink Black

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Arbitrary Odometer Reading

Posted by Dirck on 30 December, 2016

I’m actually lounging at home right now.  However, since we do like to have end-of-year wrap-ups, I’ll offer the following:

  • I still quite like fountain pens, even if I’m not so overt and vocal about it as once I was;
  • I can use inks other than Diamine any time I want, really, it’s totally under control;
  • I do not at all like knee-displacing, but apparently am pretty good at recovering from it;
  • This has been a pretty good year for my creative aspect, as revealed by the stats at close of play yesterday:

2016inreview

Some will point out that these numbers fall well short of the novel I mean to have done in rather less than a year… and I have also noticed that.  However, nearly 190 of those first draft pages are the novel in question, and the completed word-count was done between spasms of first-draft writing.  It’ll be fine, I’m sure.  Oh, I should add to the year’s roster of accomplishments, in the light of the fact that I keep track of stats like that– I’ve avoided involuntary commitment again for the whole year!  What lunatic could wish for more?

Since it is also Friday, here’s a film which has zero connection whatever to the changing of the calendar.  It does, however, suggest a human urge to leave time-resistant artifacts.

Today’s pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Quink Black

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The End of the Growing Season

Posted by Dirck on 19 August, 2016

I believe I’ve mentioned that there is a fairly rural bent to the rhythms of my home province, which is generally a good way of remembering where food comes from, although there is a price to be paid in pick-up trucks and country music.  We hear much of crop projections (good year for wheat, you market speculators), and how well things have grown.

All of which is very, very tangential in its connection to this:

Happily, my wife is in favour of a fuzzy fella.

Today’s impeccably groomed pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s fur-free ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

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Posted by Dirck on 11 August, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 8 August
  • 9 August
  • 10 August
  • 11 August
  • First draft of “Palindrome” and of “Screening Process.”
  • First draft of “Screening Process” finished.
  • Second draft of “Palindrome.”
  • More second draft.
  • Two and six manuscript pages, respectively.
  • Ten pages (thumps chest, Tarzan-wise).
  • 950 words typed
  • 868 words.
  • 60 min.
  • 60 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 50 min.*

*Some of today’s writing time was devoted to enjoying a large chocolate chip cookie, my prize to myself in the wake of what I will call a tentative acceptance of one of my stories.  I phrase it thus because until the actual publication, anything may go wrong; the acceptance is phrased in definite terms, but still… I’m trying to keep excitement down to a pitch where it doesn’t blow the ears right off of my head.

When the story appears, which I’m told will be before the end of September (and in a smooth-running world, a good deal sooner), I will certainly be festooning this place with links, so all may share in my glee.

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Posted by Dirck on 4 August, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 2 August
  • 3 August
  • 4 August
  • First draft of the “Palindrome.”
  • …in which I am attempting to be…
  • …clever possibly beyond my powers.
  • Seven manuscript pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • Eight more.
  • 60 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 50 min.

But what of Monday?  It was a long weekend; perhaps not true where you are (I know Newfoundland was business as usual, to add to its other small woes), but such was the case here.  Pens were not idle, the e-Motion and the final dregs in the now-resting OMAS going into long-delayed correspondence, but that’s extracurricular.

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Ventriloquism!

Posted by Dirck on 29 July, 2016

That’s what it’s called when a dummy speaks, right?

I thought, in lieu of the usual Friday Film Feature, I’d recount a tale by way of making up some of the entertainment-of-visitors deficit I’ve run up on this blog.  A tale of a lost pen.

A humorous tale of a lost pen, I should say; let the smelling salts stand where they are.

I had intended to use today’s pen on Tuesday, but it was not where I expected to find it.  This was slightly distressing, because one of the few habits I have that is reliable is returning a pen to the in-battery facility; a small correspondence box with a drawer for a half-dozen pens in its base, which itself rests in a profoundly rustic Welsh dresser which came to me through my parents’ protracted move.  Since this pen doesn’t sit comfortably in the drawer, it gets to sit on top of the inks which take up the space one is meant to stick letters in the box.

I didn’t even have to open the glass doors on the top of the dresser to establish that the pen wasn’t where it should have been.  But of course, one does, and roots around.  Did it get in behind? No.  Down the side?  Nope.  And that was it for the easy possibilities.  We then start the unhappy game of I put it down somewhere foolish.

Our house is… cluttered.  My son builds railways on all horizontal surfaces.  We haven’t yet finished the integration of crap from the parents’ house with our pre-existing crap.  We have to use plastic containers full of Lego, roughly shoe-box size, to keep the insane diabetic cat off items of furniture we don’t want her to mistake for a litter box (if we’re not sitting on it, then it’s a litter box).  Setting down a pen without attending to where one sets it, even a relatively large pen, makes for problems.

So, when not attending The Regular Job and not otherwise engaged in cooking, washing, or cleaning up after the flippin’ cat, I was peering under things and into corners, all to no avail.  I was becoming resigned to the idea that the pen would not be found until the slow campaign of making the house a place for living in (insane diabetic cats already with 14 birthdays on the clock can’t last forever…) removed whatever it was hidden by.  This wasn’t a devastating blow by any means, as (i) I’ve got plenty of other pens to fall back on and (ii) this one cost less than burger at McKing&W.  I wasn’t happy, as I’d hardly had any use out of the thing since its recent arrival, but I could cope.

Coping only had to struggle on until this morning, as it turned out.  It turns out that it was in the pocket of a shirt worn on Sunday.  Not much worn* either, which is why it got hung up rather that chucked in the laundry… unlike the shirt from Saturday, which I had roused out of the hamper and given a pat down, because my search was wide-ranging if unscientific.  Hooray!

Some minutes of pointless self-castigation then followed.

There was something to learn from this incident.  Not that I have all too human failings in the areas of retention and looking after my stuff– that has, alas, been well-known for a long time.  It is the simple and happy discovery that the cap seap on this pen is very good indeed; almost a week standing point-up, but not a moment of hesitation when I opened it up to start writing this morning.  Not bad for a pen that costs the same as a ride on a city bus.

Today’s inexpensive, elusive pen: Jinhao 159
Today’s ink: Herbin Éclat de Saphir

*”Not much worn” meaning duration of contact with me since last washing.  It is, in all honesty, profoundly worn and is a “Weekend when I don’t expect to interact with others” item of clothing.

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Would You? Could You?

Posted by Dirck on 20 July, 2016

Not too long ago, I was working on a Montblanc 149, the burly gargantua of that company’s expensive output.  It actually hung around my place for about a month, because paradoxically it took longer to arrange an in-person handing-over to a local client than it would have to pop it in the mail.  I’ll digress for a quick explanation– it was her grandfather’s (an early ’60s version, if I’m understanding the signs correctly) and she was on a fence about whether it was worth the cost of getting it running again, because sending it off the the company’s quite able repair service costs rather a lot.  Getting me to free a stuck piston?  Less so, although since I lack the tool to dismount the point, the piston could still do with lubrication.

In any event, I was able to do a little semi-illicit writing with what is for many a Grail Pen, the summum bonum of pen collection aspiration.  I learned two things from the experience.  First: I have no problem whatever writing with an oblique stub.  The slight angle of the tipping hardly called for any amendment of my usual approach to a piece of paper.  Good to know.

Second, and even more important: had I the resources to lay my hands on a Montblanc 149, I would devote them elsewhere.  This is not (just) because I incline to agreement with the position that the pen is unjustified in its expense– indeed, “if I had…” dismisses that head entirely, since it implies all other material needs and wants are dealt with.  It is a nice pen, pleasing to look upon, impressive of dimension… and that’s where it falls down for me.

It’s too damn big.

The raw diameter of the section is such that I never felt comfortable in my grip.  Perhaps, over months of devoted practice, I would lose that sensation of not having closed my fingers sufficiently around it; it is said, after all, that a wider item is easier on the joints than a slender.  However, I’ve got plenty of moderately-sized pen at my command right now.  Those months of dedicated practice would be to gain an end I already have plenty of means to realize– physical enjoyment of the task of writing.  I’m already there, so why make the journey?

In light of this realization, I open the door of speculation.  If not the Montblanc, what of other modern Brobdingnagian pens?  Interestingly, my dear OMAS Arte Italiana is almost as wide, but apparently the tiny fraction of difference is sufficient that I don’t get the same almost-cramp from using it.  It is thus not impossible for me, having unearthed a hoard of pirate dubloons (very sneaky pirates of the 17th century would travel 2,500 km inland to hide their chests), to go out and buy huge pens meant to impress.  But… as much as I like my Pelikan M600, I don’t know that I’d bother taking two giant steps up the Souverän ladder to the M1000.  Pockets are only so big.

One final item to ponder before I wrap up for today.  Almost the moment I had formed my opinion about the Montblanc, I went and bought a Jinhao 159.  Eventually a quiet moment will beckon, and I’ll have time to add this pen and its maker to my site, but for the moment let me sum up what would appear on a model profile for the 159: it’s a loving reproduction of the Montblanc 149, but for a different clip and a missing ink window… oh, and it’s a lot heavier.  I apparently haven’t got my powers of insight turned up quite far enough to sort out why I would do this to myself.  Even if the Jinhao cost a grand total of $3.00, shipping included, and is thus well within my means… well, see above and it’s heavier, which is never an inducement to me.

Until something better appears, I’ll cling to the ring-buoy explanation of satisfying curiosity regarding build quality.  For $3.00, it’s a pretty good pen….

Today’s not at all widebodied pen: Parker 180
Today’s ink: Lamy Black (gotta get through those cartridges!)

 

 

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How’d It Go?

Posted by Dirck on 4 July, 2016

Pretty well, for a vacation only from work.  Let’s get that checklist from the last entry:

  1. Throwing out stuff I should have thrown out when clearing out the parents’ house instead of letting Nostalgia shove me around;
  2. Throwing out stuff so my son won’t have to do item (1) in 35 years;
  3. Committing small acts of home repair as a proof of good intention to the house;
  4. Small acts of sympathetic magic in hopes of convincing wealth to shower upon my household (already begun, as you may note from the roster of “Rich Man’s Pens” that are showing up in my rotation);
  5. Getting my son as much locomotive time as possible in celebration of his birthday– there’s a steam engine and an archaic diesel within reach;
  6. Submitting more stories to more markets;
  7. Please, please, please some writing, because the boy’s at school still for almost the whole period that I’m not and I should have time even with the previous chores standing in my way.

On items (1) and (2), about a bag from each column.  This was balanced out by the importation of yet more track and rolling stock for my son’s toy train empire (his birthday, after all), which I should not complain about.  He also got books about actual locomotives, which pleased him at least as much as the toys, and that makes for a happy pappy.

(3) was… well, nothing new broke.  Status quo is a win in that department.  Item (4) has a similar result, and since I’m aware that there is indeed plenty of “how much worse can it be?” in the realm of household economy, I’ll not complain aloud.

That steam engine referred to in (5) is apparently laid up for the season, but…

OgLoco OgStation

…there was some fun had, even if things were a little overcast.

I will admit failure on point (6), mainly through distraction on the other points AND some repairs done for local clients, but as far as (7) goes I will offer the threatened large and oddly formatted progress report:

Writing Attempted Amount Written Pens Used (no particular order, and not just on the writing) Inks Used (likewise)
  • First Draft of “Swimmer’s Build”
  • First Draft of “Final Girl”
  • Second Draft of Choose Your Own Hideous Fate project
  • 12 pages and done.
  • 22 pages, also done.
  • about 3,000 words

That’s actually less time spent on writing than I hoped, but an encouraging outlook as far as being able to get anything like that done at all when I’m (sort of) in command of my own schedule.  Hooray!

Speaking of writing things– there’s some pens there without links, aren’t there?  I’d best get down to business on that….

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The Stubbening

Posted by Dirck on 11 May, 2015

I’m sure we all remember back in ye aulden tymes of this screed of mine when I made a noise about the modern urge to mess with point geometry.  You’ll also note that the noise was referent to vintage pens, so when I explain what I got up to this weekend you mustn’t shout “Hypocrite!” too loudly.

There is, indeed, the dust of a lot of tipping littering the cavern floor in my Grotto of Hunched Squinting.  An aside– I’m thinking of hiring an Igor to take over some of the hunching for me, although the squinting is built into the task.  A client recently left a couple of pens with me.  One, a Jinhao 159 (that company’s Montblanc 149 look-alike) had nothing wrong with it. but he thought he’d like it made over into a stub, or perhaps even an italic.

159Vaunt01

Click upon for closer examination

Since removal is relatively easy and replacement is ridiculously difficult, the stop awaiting client examination is a 0.7mm stub, which I’ve indulged in my trick of leaving as a fine round tip on the reverse.  By “my trick” I don’t mean to claim it as my own, as others have done it– it’s just something I like when a stubbing is in the offing.  There’s plenty of tipping left, but I’m at a point where it has pretty much parallel sides the rest of the way down; if this isn’t broad enough, then we’re bidding farewell to the tipping and heading for the land of italic pens.  Even this won’t get a much wider line– I figure at the place I’d have to stop for fear of the feed tapping on the paper, it would get up to 1.1mm at best.

The other pen he left with me definitely had something wrong with it.  Rather than describe it, I’ll get you to make your own visual aid.  First, press you hands together in front of you, as if in prayer or preparation for a dive.  Now, fold your fingers together, leaving only the index fingers pressing against one another.  Imagine these fingers to be the tines of a pen, with the uppermost joint the tipping.  Finally, slide the tip of the let index finger down to press right into the middle of the pad of the right.  This was the state of the Parker Urban I was handed, and the client’s description is understandable and understated: “It’s really scratchy.”  I don’t honestly know how ink was getting down that all the way to the tip.  I think another use of the word stubbed might well be applied to that poor point.  There was a limit to how much remediation I dared do to stressed tipping like that, too; it’s now writing again, thanks in large part to a removal of some tip material with the abrasives.

While I have all the articles of grinding laid out, I decided to cast a die as far as my Faber-Castell gift of recent delivery.  I mentioned that I had gotten a bold with an eye to amendment, but was hesitating in the face of how very smooth and delightful all that tipping was.  I won’t say that I don’t have some regrets.

Not visible; a vandal's tears of remorse

Not visible; a vandal’s tears of remorse

You’ll note that there’s two “post-work” samples.  The problem of doing a lot of point-grinding, with the attached hunching and squinting, is that one begins to have I want to stop doing this replace I want to do a superior job of this as the guiding principle.  That initial sample came out to the satisfaction of a guy who wanted to stop peering through magnifiers and stand with the vertebrae in the stack natural selection intended.  If that sounds like it’s not going to be satisfactory to a less afflicted person, you’d be quite right.

I emerged from the Grotto, and over the loud crackling of my spine asked my wife to give the pen a try.  “That’s a lot more pressure than it should need,” she said, after a couple of false starts.  I married well.  Indeed, I’d arranged to produce a sort of baby-bottom effect, and the darkness of the first sample is a result of my unconscious spreading of the tines to overcome the problem.

I did not instantly fly down the stairs to address the matter.  I had lunch, went shopping, took my son to a birthday party, made supper, watched Miyazaki Hayao’s latest and possibly final work, slept for several hours, ate breakfast and then sauntered back to the Grotto.  I’ve left the point in more of an italic than stub configuration, and my current regrets at the loss of that smooth, smooth blob is underlined by the very narrow lateral strokes of an almost-sharp edge, because there was a lot of household stuff to see to yesterday and I wasn’t going to rush the job.

I don’t think I’m quite done with this one.  The owner isn’t entirely satisfied.

Today’s unamended pen: Parker 50
Today’s ink: Chelpark black

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