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.