Opus 88 Fountain Pens
Our newest pen line is Opus 88, a Taiwanese brand I'm pretty excited to share more about, especially because we've been waiting for so long to finally get our shipment in. They're great looking pens, but what's most interesting about them is that they feature the Japanese style eyedropper filling mechanism, and each pen comes with an eyedropper - I'm a big fan of eyedroppers.
The Picnics are on the left (pens that are all one colour) and the Koloros are on the right (the pens with opaque and translucent bands). These are Jowo nibs, and they write more on the wider/wetter side, even though Opus 88 is an Asian company (often Asian, or more particularly Japanese, nibs tend to write on the finer side).
And how to fill! The most exciting part. Of course for myself, I chose the translucent brown Picnic. You remove the grip section, and eyedropper directly into the barrel.
It's not a western style eyedropper, which is basically just an empty barrel, like Franklin-Christoph, Edison, Kaweco, etc., where you use an ink syringe and put ink directly into the back of the barrel. With these type of barrel eyedroppers, you can sometimes get problems with flow, like burping excess ink, particularly if your feed and nib aren't a great fit together, and particularly nearing the end of your fill. In order to alleviate problems with flow and pressure, Japanese style eyedroppers have a shut-off valve on the end: these look like it could be a piston, where you twist the end and a piston moves up and down to draw up ink, but it's not. When the shut off valve is completely closed, there's a seal inside the barrel that seals off the ink supply from the feed of the pen, which is good for bumpy situations, airplane travel, etc. When you're writing, and you need access to the ink inside the barrel, you need to release the valve by twisting it open slightly. With the valve closed, you should still be able to write quite a bit, as there will be ink in the feed, but for more consistent flow, and for longer writing sessions, you should twist it open. In the above picture, you can see the seal part that closes down to block the ink supply from the feed. It's loose when you remove the grip section, so ink can come in around it to fill the barrel.
Here's a writing sample of the broad - wet! What a delight.
I've been enjoying my own Opus 88 since last week, and carrying it around in my pen roll and backpack. As always is the case, it's nice when you've got a pen or two with a large capacity - there's nothing worse than running out of ink in the middle of a meeting or writing out and about in a cafe. It's the ongoing Sophie's choice of the pen world: cartridge/converter pens allow you to change inks more frequently, but piston fillers or eyedroppers give you enormous capacity. I have both, but in a pinch, I tend to grab pens with more ink. There's also a demonstrator Koloro that was out of stock when we received our first order, but we're planning on getting it the next time around. You can check our Just In section for new products, especially as sometimes we get something small, like an additional colour or nib size for something we already carry. More and more products are coming as we come into the fall.
***We've had a couple of surprisingly cool days, and with a phone call from Caleb's kindergarten teacher and school around the corner, fall is really upon us. It's my favourite season, of course, but this one is filled with a lot of change for us. In other news, we've also been going through some internal turmoil with Chicken: the age old indoor/outdoor cat debate.* At the old shop on Carlaw, where our doors led directly to courtyards with trucks and cars, Chicken was vaguely interested but mostly too scared to venture out. After we moved out and into an apartment that had a rooftop terrace, we had let Chicken out onto the terrace, which has tall fences, but then (shockingly, I know) he leapt the fences and started climbing around over rooftops.
This being our first experience with this, Jon climbed the fence and retrieved him, but of course, over time, and with a three year old also opening doors, Chicken sneaked his way out several times after. After a while, Jon gave up "rescuing" Chicken, mostly because Chicken is extremely agile and sort of a jerk about being rescued, although we held a general party line of keeping him indoors. We tried our best, but the couple of times he did escape, he always came back, lurking around the glass, meowing, and rubbing himself contentedly on us after being let in. Soon, however, his boldness increased, and he returned with a mouse, and then a small bird. Who knew he was such a hunter after all! Having been duly educated about the plight of birds, after reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, we doubled down, and the security measures tightened. This sometimes meant locking him in the bathroom when we were opening and closing the doors a lot (setting up to eat outside, doing laundry, etc.), but Chicken, having tasted freedom, was not one to be content inside. There was this wretched meowing at the door, seeing everyone, including the dog, outside enjoying the fresh air and sunshine but him. At night, he would be scrabbling around, meowing, attacking, chasing. He would pace back and forth at the door, miserable and meowing loudly, accusingly, all a sort of pathetic scene. You would sit down on the couch with a nice cup of tea, and then these white paws would come batting out, latching onto your pants, and then an entire cat body would come swinging out after. Then one day I came across someone who was explaining that she let her cat out every night, and every morning, her cat would be at the door. I finally determined that his quality of life wasn't the same if he wasn't allowed out and the very next day Caleb shouted from the upstairs window: "I see Chicken across the street!" I thought he was imagining things or just being silly, but there Chicken was, across the street, his back fur up and literally hissing at a large dog, who was lunging and barking at him, restrained by his leash. Egads. Having recently stumbled across this article regarding our city's increasingly smarter and craftier and larger racoon population (“The largest raccoon recorded over the two-year project was 15 kilos, roughly the size of a coyote”), along with all the other myraid dangers that present for a cat that really doesn't know what's good for it, I'm somewhat reluctant to encourage this roaming, and yet, I would hate for Chicken to be an unhappy prisoner of his home. Who knows what the future will hold.
*Previously being dog people, I didn't realize this was even a debate.
Hi there, I’m so sorry to say we typically do not do repairs that are not on modern pens through manufacturers of pens we currently carry. If they are vintage pens, I would suggest bringing your pens to the Scriptus Toronto Pen Show in the fall, or finding someone specialising in your pen brand through fountainpennetwork.com. Hope that helps, and good luck!
Great idea! Definitely something to look into. Want to Chicken to be happy and safe!
Indy Clause said:
We used to let our indoor kitty onto the porch, which we wrapped with (pause for laughter) chicken wire. Is there a way you can rig something up for Chicken? (Excellent cat name, by the way.)
Ken Bowes said:
Have been a visitor to your store for years..three locations! Have a male cat one year old who could be a related to your cat. His name is Ted, and he’s now one year old. His colours are very reminiscent of your cat…but mine has been indoors (( West Toronto Junction ) ever since he arrived from Toronto Humane Society. Unfortunate that nobodyat THS took the time to describe how a cat coming to a new home will investgate every cubic inch of space therein, and a good idea to order new doors to keep him away from shelves with small, fragile items!
Dennis Henry said:
Hello. I am a fountain pen aficionado and I have several that are in need of repair. I am wondering if you do repair. I am already on your mailing list and I enjoy looking at the wonderful pens and other products that you carry. I have my eye on one of the Platignum that you have on your web site.
I must visit your store sometime soon.
Hi there! Thanks so much for reading, and for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it. I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying the blog!
We had every intention of keeping Chicken an indoor cat, but he only needed a little taste of the outdoors! I don’t know if Chicken is willful – he certainly will not do anything he’s not interested in doing, but he’s not very good at convincing other people to get his way (maybe because we have a dog who can definitely bark and push around if he wants something!) so instead he’s incredibly sneaky, laying in wait for just the right moment to slip out the door. I wish Chicken had at least a little more scaredy cat in him, I’m always worried he doesn’t know what’s good for him…or maybe I’m underestimating him??
Perhaps you could try walking Chicken on a harness/leash and take him out with Super? I know it sounds strange but this way he could get his outside fix minus the hunting and you would be assured that he would be safe with you.
Hmmm I’m beginning to like these Opus pens more and more. Must resist the temptation though!
You’re story about Chicken made me chuckle as my cat is exactly the same in his endless desire to be outside. But he is not street smart, and doesn’t make friends with other cats. Unfortunately ‘curiosity killed the cat’ is always the thought that comes to my mind when he is outside!
Maybe you could check with a local cat rescue organization for tips on how to train an indoor/outdoor cat into becoming an indoor-only cat?
Benoit Hamelin said:
Super interesting about Chicken. My wife and I own a ginger cat, going by the name of Caramel, who’s a total Chicken doppelganger, and has a similar personality. Caramel spent many months with extensive outdoors privileges, sometimes roaming for 3 days at a time before showing back up. We had to curtail this suddenly when a neighbour came to us complaining about Caramel perusing his flowerbeds for relief.
The first months, Caramel was loudly adamant as to his intentions of going outside, but as winter came, the sharp cold wind coming in when we opened doors reminded him that being housebound is actually not that raw a deal. Then, in order to sweeten that deal even further, we were able to install a large(ish) metal cage in the backyard, where we take our cats for lazy afternoons and evenings in the sun and shade.
tl;dr — It will get better, just stick to whatever guns you need to.
Hello :) I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now – just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading these posts about your family and stationery and life at the shop. I’ve added a great many inks and pens to my wishlist/collection since (+1 for the brown Picnic, so pretty!!).
And poor Chicken! Our cat is a completely indoor cat, not only because it is safer for her where we live but also because she is a complete scaredy cat and has been terrified of outside and birds and cars since she was a kitten. She’s so wilful, though, that I can only imagine what an ordeal it would be to try and stop her if she made her mind up to go out. I hear there are cat leashes and harnesses for safer outdoors adventures, though not sure how that would go down with my cat so I’ve never tried haha.
Liz M said:
I think it’s genetically mandated for Male cats to roam and mine was no exception! It was terrible and he kept one eye open for chances every day. My female cats, however, all wanted to keep their place at home and if a door opened they were not eager to jump out. They liked to look out but they did not WANT out. Good luck for your little Chicken, he’s very cute!