Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Pink of Pink Pens

If I consent to be seen with a pink rollerball pen it will have to be the Uni-Ball Eye. Its appearance is dull opaque grey and metallic with two discreet window strips that reveal the colour and level of the ink within. Oh, there is also a pink-rimmed hole on the cap. OK, I can live with that. And I forgot to mention the fluorescent pink tip of the pen. That gives it away. But anyway. I am prepared to disregard these drawbacks (as far as appearances and rollerball pens go) because the Uni-ball is a smooth writer – good flow of ink, good saturation and actually dries a bit darker than expected.

The Uni-Ball was one of some thirty pink pens sent to me by Cult Pens and despite being overwhelmed by all this pinkness I was prepared not only to try to convince the male population to “pick up a pink pen”, elaborate on atheist pink and open the dictionary for the meaning of pink but also to try all pens with an open mind. There were guilty pleasures during the process. The Uni-Ball Signo goes overboard with the pastels and the scents and the sparkles – solid, opaque, wet lines of pink goodness which has the Pen Addict in the throes of nostalgia. It feels like I’m eating jelly-babies – I hate them, I love them, I can’t stop.

The Pentel Slicci 0.7 was surprisingly pleasant to use despite being very slim and very light and well... pink (you can see all the pink through the clear barrel). 0.7 is just right for me but for the extra fine line addicts there is also a 0.3, if you are so inclined.

PILOT G-2 07 is a retractable rollerball which features a garish pink plastic clip and rubber grip but performs really great, though the clip apart from pink is also annoyingly interfering with my writing. The G-2 XS is the mini version – at half the size.

And finally ZEBRA SARASA 0.7. Same features as the PILOT with the exception of a less garish pink grip. But what a pink ink: dark and handsome, ripe, serious yet playful. If I disregard the exterior this pink is a winner.

From top: Uni-Ball Eye; Zebra Sarasa 0.7; PILOT G-2 0.7; PENTEL Slicci 0.7

More Pink Pens and inks on Suite101.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Lamy Safari Joy

Pick of the day: Lamy Safari, straight from the pen of talented Alissa Duke, whose work I follow on flickr.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

In the Pink of Health

PINK v. To prick or pierce with a sharp object. Probably before 1200 pungen; from Old English pyngan borrowed directly from Latin pungere. See “pinking scissors.”

And thus the Dianthus plumarius is named pink due to the frilled edge of its petals and in 1592 Shakespeare will have Mercutio exclaim “I am the very pink of courtesy” and Romeo reply “Pink for flower.” By the 18th century pink means the most perfect condition of something, the finest example of excellence, the height, as in “the pink of health.” It also becomes a noun that means pale red or light crimson. Pink, as we know it, is born.

Chambers Dictionary of Etymology: PINK light red color, 1573; a garden plant of various colors; of uncertain origin.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Pink is for Pink Invisible Unicorn

Can you disprove its existence? It is pink, it exists, yet it is invisible. I speekah the truth: it is the Atyou Spica glitter pen by Copic. It is non-toxic and acid-free like any Invisible Pink Unicorn should be. It is sparkling and glittering – its name translates into “twinkling like stars” – and it can write for over 360 yards – twice the length of ordinary pens – a miracle that bears evidence to its divinity. Respect the Speekah by keeping it in a supine position lest it shall cease dispensing its divine pigment ink. Spica's ink is archival so that its invisible marks can be preserved to eternity. Do write, ye faithful, and watch your writings disappear into pink invisibility.

Divine provider of atyou Spica : Cult Pens
Colour tested: Blossom

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

How to Pick up a Pink Pen if You Are a Boy

One for the ladies? Think again. As the whiff of bubblegum emanating from Uni Ball Signo Scents wafted towards my nose, I pondered on pink. Pink has been asked for and pink has been received. Kind donor of pink: Cult Pens. Some thirty rollerballs and gel pens in various shades of pink from Baby Pink to Bubblegum and from Pastel Pink to Fuchsia made Palimpsest wear sunglasses and swallow an indigestion tablet – and ponder over the significance of pink.

What was the cultural shift that transformed pink into a ladies’ colour – sweet, girlie, soft, sensitive to the point of sickening syrupy nothingness? What was it that made it unheard of for male babies to don pink rompers? And can pink pens be restored to the male population? With names such as Pastel, Angelic, Sparkling, Baby Pink, Bubblegum, Strawberry Scent and Twinkling Like Stars can a Macho Grrr be attached to a Pink Pen? How to pick up a pink pen if you are a boy?

1. Think Grrr, think masculine, think British Empire: Imperial masculine power, East India Co., male middle-class adventures in exotic lands, masculine colonial aggression and the masculine duties of the military and governance. And all this “grrr” sitting comfortably in a land of Salmon Pink: 

2. Think Kids. Handsome in pink Victorian, Edwardian and Georgian boys sported garments in shades of pink, while their female siblings were dressed in blue (a Virgin Mary blue with its connotations of loyalty, grace and elegance). 

3. Think War. “What is good for?” Good for pink. Admiral of the British Royal Navy Louis Mountbatten invented a  shade of pink – consequently named Mountbatten Pink -  to be used as a naval camouflage colour in 1940. He had the entire flotilla painted with a mix of medium grey and Venetian Red thereby confusing the Germans during Operation Archery. The Japanese Kamikaze even painted pink flowers on their death airplanes: sakura blossoms.

4. Think Sport. The Giro d’ Italia is sponsored by the (pink) La Gazzetta dello Sport and the winner wears a pink jersey (maglia rosa). Italian football team Palermo is donning pink shirts.

5. Think Fox Hunting. Show your manliness by “donning your pinks”, that is the scarlet hunting suits of fox hunters. Don’t forget to pop a pink pen in your pocket, if only to take notes in a Smythsons’ Games Book.

6. Think Money. The Financial Times is in salmon pink.

7. Think Wrestling. Bret Hart (pictured), Canadian wrestler, five times WWF champion, two times Intercontinental champion. Can you handle his pink? Grrr.

Pick a Pink Pen. It’s manly. Promise.

Pink Pens from Cult Pens

Images: British Empire maps from British Empire and Mappery dot com; Vintage Kids from the Mary Evans Picture Library; Mountbatten Pink from darkroastedblend; Fox Hunting pinks from Antique Maps and Prints; Bret Hart from InfoBarrel

To read: Peggy Orenstein, "What's wrong with Cinderella", The New York Times Magazine, 24 December 2006; Jude Stewart, "Pink is for Boys: Cultural History of the Color Pink", Step Inside Design Magazine, 2008. 

Added on reader's request

Thursday, 13 January 2011

A Close Encounter

I transcribe from Thomas Mann The Magic Mountain as prescribed by Nemo of Mobilis Ink Mobili: A close encounter with a pencil:

Pencil used: California Republic Palomino HB
Sharpener used: Dux
Times pencil was sharpened: Six times
Notebook used: Hand*Book 130mgs Large, Cadmium Green
Book used: Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. H.T.Lowe-Porter, Penguin Books, 1988, pp. 122-3.

Monday, 10 January 2011

William Faulkner, his Pen, his Ink, his Pencil

Maybe stop being careful, stop being organized. Maybe follow your stream of consciousness, perhaps that’s the key. Maybe do it like Faulkner. William Faulkner who in October 21, 1918 announced to his mother “I have a fountain pen now” and then went on to fill it (or some other similar) with blue ink, then green ink, then black ink – without carefully cleaning the writing instrument before refilling – just went on refilling and writing on – so that the archivist who looked at the manuscript of Absalom Absalom! would delight that “the color of the ink shifts gradually as the fountain pen was filled with blue, then green, then black ink. The subtle shifts in colors, the colors of the pasted fragments and the crossed out and reworked  pagination allow one to speculate on the chronology of the manuscript. Faulkner’s struggle with certain passages is evident.” Yes. Fill my fountain pen with an array of inks one following another and see where this gets me. Let others determine my chronology and my struggles from the colour of my ink. And then write on the wall. With a pencil. And then declare like Faulkner “I’ve got to feel the pencil and see the words at the end of the pencil.” And then write so small and so illegible that like Faulkner I will have to type my work – often 13 hours’ worth – at the end of the day. Switching then to a typewriter, wear it down (like Faulkner) and use another and then another – an Underwood Universal Portable, a Champion, a Noiseless, a Junior. And then with a pencil (like William Faulkner) write the outline of a novel (like Faulkner with a graphite pencil and a red grease pencil) on my wall.

After Faulkner has finished writing “A Fable” his wife had the wall repainted over the outline. Using photographs as guide, Beverly Lowry writes in NY Times, the outraged writer redid it and afterward, shellacked the wall for permanence and posterity.

Thinking of Home: William Faulkner's Letters to his Mother and Father, 1918-1925, W.W.Norton & Co. 2000; Karen Pavelka, "Treating Manuscripts from the William Faulkner Collection", The Book and Paper Group Annual, vol. 13, 1994; Robert Hendrickson, American Literary Episodes, New York 1990.

PS. Faulkner has bought a fountain pen for his dad. It has been suggested by Pendemonium that at the price of $7.50 it might have been a Parker Duofold.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Sharp as Poured Ink

The silent earth looms blackly in the dawning

Sharp as poured ink beneath the grey

Mists spectral, clutching fingers

William Faulkner to his father, 9 September 1918