March 19th, 2013
One day, I reached to the side pocket of my backpack, seeking for the fountain pen I have owned for four years. To my horror, it had vanished.
I turned up bag upside down. Searched my jacket pockets. Searched my desk. Traced my steps.
Nowhere can it be found.
My hand is itchy. My sketchbook looks too empty. I realized that my wallet will suffer soon, because I want a fountain pen, and they – at least the one of decent quality – are never cheap. But hey, I can try a different pen this time. I am not a student anymore, and I just got a part time job, so maybe it will be ok for me to a bit relax about the price.
Is it strange to mourn for the lost of a pen yet excited for the prospect of a new one?
Actually, why would someone lust after a pen? For those of us in a generation dominated by digital technology, fountain pen is not a daily tool anymore. They are also appear ridiculously expensive to us for a reason.
For this generation, we write a lot less. Most of us is good with a pack of Bic ballpoint pen. But for those of us who have writing or artistic hobby, that’s just not enough. Bic pen are cheap for a reason. They are designed to be dedicated for casual light writing, to be toss around, and not intended to last. Their line weight don’t change, nor do the change the matter. Their ink flow don’t change or leak if upside down, but their construction is fragile and flimsy because of the cheap plastic material. They are not designed for heavy amount of writing, so it is just a cylinder shaped, hard plastic pen where long term writing would result in a sour hand. People buy them in packs, because they lost, breaks, taken, and run of writing power in packs. People probably never think about the life span of a Bic pen, because they don’t have life span. People don’t cherish them – and they don’t need to, because it was never designed for that intention.
Fountain pen, technical pen, and other artistic pen are different. In the case of fountain pen, it writes smoothly, its line weight varies, and I can even change ink color and nibs. Because of its more flexible nibs, I can write for a much longer time and quicker without hurting my hands. I don’t worry about it breaking, since it tend to be of a sturdier construction. Since I can change ink cartridges, the pen last a really long time instead of getting throw away the moment it’s done. I wouldn’t deny that it is much more expensive than a pack of Bic pen, and that most people would probably never need that quality of pen in their life for this era, but for me who journals and draws, it is a cherished pen.
And so, a few week afterward, when I slowly settle into my new job and I finally have some income, I decided to have my parents drive me to Flax Art for a new pen after a family lunch outing. Unfortunately, the store don’t have my old pen:
Actually, the store associate don’t even know the pen, which is slightly disappointing. I had a Sheaffer No Nonsense, which was an old classical student pen. But hey, I should be grateful that the store still have a fountain pen department.
He eventually recommend me me to use the same brand of pen, especially since I needed a student budget pen. I took a look and immediately find the sets of pen he displayed attractive – especially the blue one. I ask him to let me hold it, and after a try, I know I like it right away. Just like my old Nonsense pen, it is just a cheap-end fountain pen, but its build is definitely different. It is made of metal, so it got a nice smooth texture combine with a little weight. It also give it a sense of classy-ness. The slim body also helps – it is not as thick as my older pen. The pen cap, unlike Nonsense where the cap is open by twisting, snaps on and off with a nice click. Classy… I like it!
Here a picture:
The pen is known as Sheaffer VFM. I keep misspelling it though – why don’t they use a easier to remember name? No one would forget a name like Nonsense.
… Although VFM does sound great deal more professional than Nonsense, which does give any non-fountainpen-fan the urge to giggles.
The pen is pretty nice for a student-budget pen. The only few problems are that, unlike my old Nonsense pen, it only have one nib choice (instead of letting me change different size nib, including ones good for calligraphy), its cap keeps falling off the end of the pen when I am writing, and …. it uses INTERNATIONAL INK!?
I had to stop myself from banging my head against the wall. Really, Sheaffer? You have manufactured and designed your pen to fit your own company-designed ink cartridge, and now you suddenly change to international ink cartridge design fountain pen WITHOUT a warning on the label? I have over 10 ink cartridges, and they are pricy too.
In addition, because I neglected to remember that I do practice calligraphy on occasion, now I have to get a calligraphy pen because Sheaffer didn’t design this pen to be nib-exchangeable.
Alas, the pen is great if I am just taking notes and working with my journal/sketchbook. The ink flows fine, the pen feels good in my hand, and it is easy to use – didn’t realize how inconvenience it is to having constantly twisting pen cap of Nonsense until I got my VFM’s snap-able pen cap.
Now I just to wait another month since… well, budget, budget.
I have way too many hobbies (glances at my transaction history in my Mint app account). Calligraphy pen, please wait for me in a month…