25 11 2009

You be the judge…

Sorta stands out, doesn't he?

The crime has been committed...

Caught at the scene...

The guilty party...

Remember kids…only YOU can prevent nefarious malfeasances towards unsuspecting inks.

(Noodler’s Firefly is SO cool, isn’t it?)


Spell with Flickr!

1 10 2009

Spelling with photos is always lots of fun, but it can be time-consuming to do it if you’re shooting on your own. Locating the right words, cropping them appropriately, and arranging them all takes some time. But, if you want to shortcut it, take a look at this neat little web app from Eric Kastner. No, it’s not your original work, but it’s a whole lot quicker letting Flickr handle it!

Spell with Flickr

letter B R A letter S letter S i23 letter N letter G

letter A D Educational Brick Letter D letter S

letter C H a53 R Art letter C t38 E R

Vintage Italian: Tibet Extra

29 09 2009
(Some of you may have already seen this, as I’ve posted it elsewhere; I’d forgotten that my original intent was to put it up here!)

I really love blue pens. Many of the “keepers” in my current collection are blue pens (Cedar Blue “51”, Conklin Duragraph, Pilot VP, blue-striped M805, Levenger True Writer, etc.). So, when this strange lapis blue pen called a “Tibet-Extra” came up for sale back in February/March 2009, I was keenly interested. Sadly, I missed out on it because my message was too late. I was heartbroken about it, and since I wasn’t sure who picked it up, I was pretty sure that I’d never see it again. I saved the pictures on my hard drive so I could still have something to reference if I ever ran across another one, but I was pretty sure that this one was long gone.

Never say never…

About a month or so ago, I saw a post in the Fountain Pen Network’s Marketplace that advertised an old flat top that I had originally restored and re-ground and sold, along with a bunch of other pens for sale. Curiousity got the better of me, and I clicked it. I was pleasantly surprised (shocked, actually) to see that same Tibet-Extra on sale again! Needless to say, I wasted no time in laying claim to it. It arrived a few days later, and it’s time to do the review.

First Impressions
This is a gorgeous blue & white lapis blue pen. For its age (which I’d estimate at about 70-75 years), it’s in remarkably good shape. The nickel-plated clip and capbands are in reasonably good shape and they’re nice and tight, and the celluloid body is in great shape with only minor wear marks. The color is also very nice, and it hasn’t discolored much at all. The hard rubber section (?) is still a deep rich black. All in all, it’s beautiful.

The Tibet-Extra is a very traditional Italian shape, complete with lots of classic Italian design elements that you’ll still find in many modern Italians today. See the pictures for a handful of close-ups of these.

Triple capbands and very thin caplip
Black celluloid discs on top & bottom
Button filler
Compared to an Italian of similar vintage, the Black Star. Note the similarity of the disc on the cap, and the thin caplip.

The shape is really very nice, and extremely comfortable. It’s not quite a torpedo-shaped pen per se, but has some swell around the middle (strangely, it seems to have taken the shape of its new owner!). It feels great in the hand, and although I’m more comfortable using it posted, it’s not horrible to write with un-posted. It’s about 5″ tall capped and 6″ posted. It’s also nice and lightweight in the hand; it weighs somewhere in the 20-ish gram range when full of ink.

The original nib on this pen was a steel ABT #4 with some flex to it. As the pen needed a little work when I got it, though, I opted to switch it out since I already had it apart. I took out the nib for a variety of reasons, but mainly it was because as a lefty, I can’t use flex nibs as easily as a right-hander. It was more comfortable to put in something more rigid. Right now, it’s sporting a two-tone 14K Sheaffer’s Lifetime nib from an old Balance that was a basketcase when I got it. If I can determine who manufactured this pen (I’m guessing it might have been Columbus, but I wouldn’t swear to it), I might look for a period-correct nib, but for now this Sheaffer’s Balance nib is working out just fine. It’s very firm, quite smooth, and flows quite generously. Thick, saturated inks work pretty well in this one. Might be a good pen for Noodler’s HoD.

Note the profiles of the section, and how closely they match up with each other.
*Update: Not too long ago, I swapped the Lifetime nib out in favor of a better-fitting 14K Eversharp Skyline (rigid M).  Haven’t had the chance to take some new pictures of it, though!

Filling System
Button filler, which I have restored with a general cleaning, new pressbar, and a new sac. When I got it, the pressbar had pretty much fallen apart, so I replaced it and fitted it with a new sac. Works great!

Cost and Value
No idea what this one is worth, but I’d imagine I’d have a hard time replacing it for the $100 I paid for it. I’ve done a fair bit of looking on the web in some of the various nooks & crannies where you might find vintage Italian information, and nothing has turned up. The original seller also noted that this was the only Tibet he’d ever seen, and I know he’s been collecting for many years longer than I. I doubt I could replace it for double my investment, if one could be found.

Vintage Italian pens are great ways to have a lot of fun in this hobby. They had some great designs, interesting takes on the design elements that they borrowed from other manufacturers, and many of the vintage Italians that show up on the open market today make terrific writers even though they don’t say Omas, Visconti, Ancora, Aurora, or any of the other big names. Many of these pens bring up more questions than they provide answers (as regarding origins, anyway), and that’s part of the big fun for me.

Fun with Field Notes!

12 08 2008

Got an email from Field Notes this afternoon that was advertising some of the places that Field Notes show up, so I decided to take a couple of minutes to surf up their site to see if there was anything new out there for consumption.

No new products yet… 😦

But, they did give me this, from their Fun ‘n’ Games section.

The Field Notes Grand Prix.  What a fantastic way to waste graph paper!  Click the picture below for the full story.  You can get rules here and here.



14 05 2008

A friend of mine turned me on to this.  Impressive, huh?  (Maybe a little creepy in parts, too.)

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Attempting macro photography

20 03 2008

This past weekend, I was able to take advantage of some spare time and some late-day light filtering through a window that I hadn’t noticed before (the light, not the window…).  Grabbed the camera and a couple of pictures that turned out a little better than I’d expected they would.  What do you think?  Leave thoughts, feelings, and suggestions in the comments!





Here’s a few other ones I’ve taken fairly recently that I liked.  Hope you do too.





Be inspired by something today.

Adventures in babysitting…

22 12 2007

Looking after my 4 year-old nephew tonight while the great blizzard of Christmas 2007 happens all around us, and I had this great learning experience that I wanted to share with you.

Dylan is a bright kid; he’s really sharp.  At 4, he’s reading and writing pretty well (ambidextrously, I might add – sort of weird to watch a kid wield a pencil with both hands equally well), and his curiosity is inspiring. 

Well, tonight, like many nights, we started with the plastic and magnetic letters, and spelled out lots of words (a few nonsense words just for fun…let me know if you know what ‘BGJPBDMBUT’ means).  Then things got interesting.  He decided that he wanted to start writing and dragged out some copy paper and some colored pencils. 

I had another idea.  I went into my office and grabbed the Levenger Graphiti Grip pencil that recently found its way to my doorstep, and said, “Dylan, gimme that colored pencil…try this!”

And away we went!  It’s now been about 25 minutes and save for dropping it once (this is a fairly hefty pencil), it hasn’t left his hand…and his penmanship has noticeably improved!  Neat stuff!  Here’s a couple of pictures, just for fun. 




You know…this kid’s handwriting is better than mine some days!

I know that some of you may have some munchkins about Dylan’s age, or nieces and nephews about that age.  I know it’s nothing new to many of you, but if you’ve got access to some of these big-diameter pencils, you might consider throwing one in the stocking.  I know that those of you on the other side of the pond can get the Lamy School pens and pencils which are really great, and there’s a handful of other companies that are making similar products over here.  I wish more teachers picked up on this and used bigger pencils with their young kids. 

(No, I’m not suggesting that you drop $46 on a big ol’ pencil for your munchkins…but this DOES prove, to me at least, a theory.  Little hands need big pencils.  It helps penmanship.)

These pencils are pretty hefty, but they’re really nicely made, and the cherry insert really feels nice in the hand; my guess is that over time, it’ll probably develop a very nice patina.

By the way, have any of your kids learned the “Backwards ABC’s” song?  The one that ends up, “Now I’ve said my ZXY’s…bet that’s not what you expected!”  This is hilarious! 

(And not only that…neither Kara nor I can actually get all the way through ’em!)