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Sheening, Shading, and Shimmer. Oh my!

One of the joys of using fountain pens is the wide variety of inks and ink properties that you can access, all in your favorite pen. The fountain pen community will often discuss three different ink properties which can provide color variation to your writing: Sheen (where the reflection on the top of the ink seems to give a different color than the ink base), Shading (where the ink changes in color saturation depending on how much ink pools up at various parts of your word), and Shimmer (where glitter is added into the ink to provide a sparkly / reflective finish to the ink).

Part 1: Sheen

What might you want to know about sheening inks? A few things: 1) The appearance you get from sheening inks is very dependent upon the paper you use. Tomoe River paper provides the most dramatic results for sheening inks. On an absorbent paper (like copy paper) you really won’t see any sheen. 2) Sheening inks are prone to smudging – as if they never really fully dried. This can be frustrating. 3) Sheening inks get their appearance in part from being highly saturated. You’ll want to be careful to practice good pen maintenance, making sure you use your pen frequently and flushing it out with water periodically (I’d do that between refills of a sheening ink).

What are my favorite sheening inks? Commonly recommended highly-sheening inks include: Colorverse Quasar, Gravity Wave, Supernova, and Andromeda, all of which are offered by Street Pens. Other inks which are known for high sheen include Diamine Majestic Blue, Maureen, and Robert, Organic Studio Nitrogen and Walden Pond, Robert Oster Fire & Ice, River of Ice, and (Robert Oster x Pen Addict) Fire on Fire.

Let me know if you’d like any more information on the Colorverse inks.

…Shading and shimmer sections to be added soon…

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Chapter 2: In Which a House is Cleaned and Piglet is Not

In honor and in the style of A.A. Milne, whose stories and poems have enriched so many lives. All Pooh characters are the property of the Pooh trust. I beg permission to include this, their newest adventure, here.

Pen: Jinhao 8802, Deep Sea
Ink: Pelikan 4001 Dark Green
Notebook: Clairefontaine Flying Spirit

Spring had sprung in the Hundred Acre Woods and all the animals were delightedly engaged in their springly pursuits: Kanga was taking a well-deserved break after a long week of spring cleaning, Roo was taking a break after a long week of uncleaning the same house (as any young creature is wont to do), Rabbit was drafting lists of directives, and Pooh Bear was attempting to attempting to determine just where the hunny bees had decided to build their hive this year.

You’ll remember, of course, that ever since the adventure in which Tigger discovered that Tiggers do NOT like honey, haycorns, and thistles but DO like strengthening medicine, Tigger had lived with Kanga and Roo. Kanga, grown tired of incessantly straightening up after Roo, decided that it would be just as well to take Roo outside for some jumping rather than hoping to constraint the hopping inside. Tigger generously offered to straighten up while Kanga and Roo were out.

Now then, TIgger set about the task with customary exuberance, bouncing around the house, picking up branches, oddly shaped leaves, and other miscellaneous toys. All was going swimmingly until Tigger was startled by a rapping at the door. Being rather distracted in the very middle of a bounce, and attempting to crane around backwards to see who was at the door, he happened to land on the edge of the washbasin, spraying the room with dirty, soapy suds.

“My oh my!” exclaimed Tigger as he opened the door to Rabbit.
“Do you have a teaspoon of nectar, Kanga?” asked Rabbit, before realizing that Kanga was Tigger.
“Why, hello there Tigger,” began Rabbit until he stopped short. “Oh dear, oh dear, whatever has happened to Kanga’s house?”
“I’m cleaning up!” Tigger said proudly.
“Perhaps you ought to try the other way around instead,” remarked the dubious Rabbit.
“It will take the Concerted Effort of Many Friends to fix this mess before Kanga returns. Now then, go fetch Owl to summon the others, Tigger, while I make a plan to rectify this situation.”

By and by, Owl, Pooh, Piglet, and Eeyore all gathered at Kanga’s house to lend their paws, wings, or feet to Rabbit and Tigger’s aid. Each animal received their appointed task from Rabbit and began at once: Pooh to gathering up all of the plates and bowls to put them in the highest cabinet, out of Roo’s reach, Piglet to scrub the wet floors clean, Eeyore to serve as a drying rack for the damp curtains (“A soggy job. I could have expected.”), Owl to dry out the floor with the wind from his wings, and Rabbit to supervise.

About then, Christopher Robin came by Kanga’s house to ask whether Roo might like to join him jumping across the stream. But, if it were possible, Christopher Robin discovered the house in greater disarray than either Tigger or Rabbit! For Pooh, being rather short and stout, had been obliged to stack the dishes rather precariously on the counters because he couldn’t reach the upper cabinets. Piglet had been so concerned with his own cleanliness after the scrubbing of the floors that he had to step out for a quick mud bath (“so as to get his own comfortable color again”) and had then promptly tracked said mud back into the house. Owl’s flapping had blown all of the dirt and leaves in the house, stirring up so much dust that Eeyore couldn’t stop sneezing!

“Silly old Rabbit,” Christopher Robin called out. “It might be that Kanga would be better off with a slight change of plans.”

Kanga and Roo, meanwhile, were enjoying a lovely day out in the meadow. Roo had been trying to catch up with the butterflies all morning for a closer look while Kanga contended herself with enjoying the beautiful flowers: delphiniums blue and chrysanthemums red. Every so often she would wonder how Tigger was getting along, but she was sensible enough to know that it was of no use to borrow trouble ahead of its time.

Christopher Robin had his blue bracers on and was quickly guiding the activities at Kanga’s house towards some sense of order. But by the end of the day, the house was still in minor disarray despite all of the help. Christopher Robin said that a good night’s sleep was called for after the day’s many exertions, so he and the other animals took their leave of Tigger.

When Kanga and Roo returned home at last, tired but happy, Tigger bounced up excitedly to them. “I cleaned up ALLLLLLL day!” he announced proudly.

Kanga glanced around the house and noticed that things were only slightly worse for the wear. She turned back, smiled, and said, “Thank you, dear Tigger.”

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Chapter 1: In Which Piglet Soars, and Eeyore Does a Great Thing

In honor and in the style of A.A. Milne, whose stories and poems have enriched so many lives. All Pooh characters are the property of the Pooh trust. I beg permission to include this, their newest adventure, here.

Pen: Pilot Custom Grandee, 14k Fine Nib
Ink: Waterman Tender Purple
Notebook: Clairefontaine Flying Spirit

One fine spring day, Pooh Bear and his dear friend Piglet were ambling about the Hundred Acre Wood, speaking of everything, anything, and nothing in particular.

“I have often wondered,” began Piglet.
“As have I!” interjected Pooh.
“I have often wondered”, repeated Piglet, “how it is that Eeyore can eat thistles even though they are so prickly.”

Pooh considered a moment, realized that considering was a Great Challenge for a Bear of Very Little Brain, and replied,

“Perhaps it is the thistles that make Eeyore prickly sometimes, himself! That’s why I eat honey,” added Pooh, realizing that it was just about time for a little smackerel of something.

“And Pooh”, resumed Piglet, “why do you suppose, speaking of eating, that Roo (who needs strengthening) won’t eat his strengthening medicine (not that I blame him), while Tigger (who is plenty strong already), loves it?”

“Why,” said Pooh, “perhaps it’s because Tigger, who eats the medicine, gets stronger while Roo, who doesn’t, gets Rooer! You have noticed Roo getting Rooer, haven’t you, Piglet?” asked Pooh.

“Yes, of course I have,” Piglet replied quickly, though he hadn’t at all.

Just then, Pooh and Piglet came across Rabbit, who was organdizing his Friends and Relations to maximize the efficiency of the domestic agridculture.

“Now we shall construct an irrigation canal along optimal principles to ensure that all the crops receive the necessary hydration!” began Rabbit earnestly. “The first principle is this:

  1. First principle: crops need hydration
  2. Second principle: hydration needs irrigation.
  3. Third principle: irrigation needs perspiration.
  4. See first principle.

After Rabbit finished expounding his principles and directions to his Friends and Relations, they all set to work digging the canal. The largest of the Friends and Relations shoveled dirt into a bucket, which the second-largest shoveled into a smaller bucket, and so forth down to smaller and smaller relations, shovels, and buckets.

After a while, Owl came flying by overhead and landed on a nearby tree branch to monitor the proceedings. At length, he wheeled down to the ground to consult with Rabbit.

“It seems to me that the ideal procedure entails improving the division of labor,” puffed Owl.
“And just what tails ought the lay birds use to dig, then?” rejoined Rabbit.
“Why, the optimal tails enjoined to their posteriors,” said Owl.
“Very well,” replied Rabbit, “I shall see that the lay birds use their own posterior tails instead of shovels,” for Rabbit was occasionally compelled to admit that Owl did make some impressive speeches now and again.

Now, as the day wore on and the canal grew deeper and deeper, Rabbit decided that it was time to assess whether the irrigation canal would successfully hydrate the carrots, radishes, and cabbages planted nearby. The smallest of Rabbit’s Friends and Relations had tiptoed home, while the next smallest simply fell asleep where she stood, for digging the canal was an Arduous Undertaking. So it happened, that, when Pooh and Piglet walked by, Piglet was the only animal of the proper size to be lowered into the ditch.

“You will do us all a Very Great Service if you will carry this bucket of water down into the canal,” said Rabbit. “It will be only the simple matter of climbing down this tree trunk, pouring the water in, and climbing back up.”

Piglet did always like a chance to do a Great Service for his friends, so long as nothing very scary was involved. So he picked up the bucket, balanced it carefully in his hands, and began climbing down the tree trunk, when suddenly,

“Oh bother!” exclaimed Piglet, as he stumbled over a branch.
“This is rather more difficult,” he admitted as water sloshed to and fro out of the bucket, “than I THOOOOOUUUUUGGGGGHHHHT….” he added as he slipped on wet moss and fell down to the bottom of the canal.

Piglet looked around at the deep, damp, dark earth all around him. Looking upward, he could see the silhouetted figures of Rabbit and Pooh peering down at him.

“How ever did you get down there so quickly?” asked Rabbit.
“I stumbled upon a way to get here,” replied the rather ruffled Piglet.
“Well,” continued Rabbit distractedly, “are the walls deep enough for adequate hydration, Piglet?”
“I don’t know about hydration,” said Piglet, “but I do know that they are much too high for me to climb out!”
“Never mind that.” Rabbit replied, “These things are bound to happen, you know.”
“But I wish they wouldn’t always happen to me…” complained Piglet.

Piglet tried to climb back up the tree trunk to get out, of course, but between the moss and the slippery bark from all the spilled water, he always slid back down, miserably, to the bottom of the trunk.

Eeyore meandered towards the gathering late that afternoon. “You’ll be pleased to know,” began he, “that for once, I have had a somewhat not awful day!” The thistles were fresh and tasty this morning, my tail has remained attached,” he added, spinning around quickly to try to steal a glance at his tail, “and, so far as I know, my house is still standing,” he said, remembering certain earlier times. “Indeed, you might even call it an Ideal Day!” he ended, as surprised as everyone else.

A honey bee buzzed by. Noticing something unusually sweet, it descended on Eeyore. “YOOUCH!” exclaimed Eeyore, raring onto his hind feet and kicking. Just as Eeore came back down to the ground, he happened to land on the top of the tree trunk that Piglet was laying down on, at the bottom of the canal.

“I say!” said Eeyore, “I know it couldn’t…” But before he could finish this thought, he turned to look upward to find the source of the odd squealing sound he heard. “Why, Piglet, is that,”


“you…” he moaned as Piglet landed squarely on top of him.

“I suppose it had to be inevitable; the suffering, that is. It always is, for me.”

But Piglet was so delighted to be free of the deep, dark, damp canal that he gave Eeyore’s leg a tight hug.

“Thank you, Eeyore! You have done a Great Thing for me!” Piglet cried. “I shall always be grateful for your kindness.”

“Well,” began Eeyore, but stopped when Piglet threw his arms around the old grey donkey’s neck.

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“Drink This, Not That”: Wet and Dry Inks For Your Fountain Pen

Have you ever seen one of these articles that tells you to “Drink This, Not That”, like the brazen recommendation to drink unsweetened tea instead of sweet tea? (Come on now! Don’t mess with this Southerner’s tea!) Just like you might perform better by drinking one thing rather than another, so too may each of your fountain pens prefer one ink to another.

Sometimes I’ll hear a friend say, “My pen feels scratchy; I think it must not be for me.” I happily pull out my jeweler’s loupe and look at the nib, but most of the time their nib is in perfect alignment. My first reply to them is, “What ink are you using?” Almost invariably, they’ll name an ink that I’ve found to be ‘dry’. Alternatively, if a friend complains about a pen that is gushing or writes a broader line than they like, I often hear that they’re using a ‘wet’ or heavily lubricated ink.

In the spirit of “Drink This, Not That”, then, I’ve put together this gallery of ‘wet’ versus ‘dry’ inks with similar colors. If your pen is feeling “scratchy”, give one of these wet inks a try! If your pen is gushing or writing too broadly, give a dry ink a try!

I offer many thanks to the fine bloggers who have swabbed up each of the great inks below! I didn’t take these pictures, so please follow the links below to each blog and support these bloggers in any way you can!

What are your favorite wet or dry inks? Any Jekyll and Hyde stories you’d like to share about a pen that went from ‘not so much’ to ‘Fantastic!’ because of an ink change?


Dry: Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Black (image from “The Harmless Dilettante“)

Wet: J. Herbin Perle Noire (image from “Refill my Ink!”)

Blue Black

Dry: Rohrer & Klingner Salix (image from “Seize the Dave“)

Wet: Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai (image from “Pens! Paper! Pencils!“)