14 Inks To Match Your Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star Fountain Pen

LAMY Al-Star Blue-Green & Matching Fountain Pen Inks

LAMY Al-Star Blue-Green & Matching Fountain Pen Inks

Looking for a blue-green shade of fountain pen ink to match your brand new Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star? We’ve got 14 suggestions for you! These colors range from bright to muted and from light to dark. Some shades of ink are more blue and other shades are more green. We chose a variety of inks to accommodate the variety of tastes fountain pen users might have. Of course, a photo on the internet isn’t going to give you an exact representation of the actual color. It’s helpful to look at the colors side by side to give you an idea of how they compare. Our list shown in the photo includes:

Left column, top to bottom:

Right column, top to bottom:

If you’re not the matchy-matchy type and want a contrasting color of ink that looks great with the Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star our first choice would be blue-black or navy blue, especially Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black fountain pen ink. Black, gray and even dark brown inks are a good match too. What color of fountain pen ink do you like to use with your Blue-Green AL-Star?

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Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a very affordable recent addition to Pilot Pens available in the USA. The current manufacturer’s retail price is less than $20.00, making it an attractive choice for a first fountain pen, for a pen that you might leave at the office or even for taking notes in class. To help you decide if this pen suits your personal taste, we’ll take a closer look at some of its features.

The first thing you might notice about this pen is that both ends of the pen are tapered making it rather cigar-shaped. The back end of the pen is tapered slightly more than the cap end to enable the cap to be securely posted while you’re writing. The body and snap-on cap are both made of metal for long-lasting use without cracking.

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is available in three different matte finishes: black, silver and a champagne gold. All of these colors come with a silver colored chrome clip, trim and nib and a smooth black ABS plastic grip. The middle part of the pen body is accented by a wide glossy band that is either plain or subtly decorated with dots or a zig-zag pattern.

The Metropolitan comes equipped with a medium tip steel nib. When I compare the line width this Japanese medium nib produces to the line width of LAMY’s German steel nibs, it is somewhere in-between a LAMY fine nib and a LAMY medium nib. Not as fine as the LAMY fine, but not as broad as a LAMY medium nib. The nib on my Metropolitan proved to be a nice smooth writer and the ink flow is generous with Pilot’s black ink. The nib is engraved with some fine lines and says “Pilot M Japan” on it.

The Metropolitan does come with both an ink cartridge and an ink converter which is unusually generous for a fountain pen in this price range. The squeeze style converter allows you to fill this pen with bottled fountain pen ink instead of just using Pilot ink cartridges. The drawback to this style of converter is that it does not fill with a large quantity of ink and since it is not clear you can’t see what your current ink level is. You can purchase a clear piston-style CON-50 Pilot ink converter if you decide you want to upgrade. Or you can even refill your empty ink cartridges using a blunt tip needle bottle. This pen uses proprietary Pilot Namiki ink cartridges and is not compatible with standard universal cartridges. Since the body of this pen is metal, it is not suitable to be converted to eyedropper fill.

This fountain pen currently comes packaged in a contemporary black Pilot gift box that fits inside a black heavy stock Pilot sleeve. This is also very generous for a fountain pen of this price.

The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen approximate weight and sizes are: 0.9 oz, 0.5” diameter, 5 1/4″ capped, 4 3/4″ uncapped, 5 7/8″ posted.

(Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Writing Test)

After writing with the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen I feel that it really offers outstanding value and quality for a bargain price. The pen is well constructed, writes smoothly and currently comes with extras such as an ink converter and nice gift box. Are any of you writing with the Metropolitan? Would you recommend this as a beginner fountain pen?

(Here’s my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen.)

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Choosing Your Fountain Pen Ink Color Online

(J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Vert Pre)

As you’re shopping online for a new bottle of fountain pen ink, likely the ink color samples you see on your computer, tablet or smartphone have a big influence on what you decide to purchase. Can you trust what you see on your computer monitor? Do you ever wonder how the ink samples are made?

When we first started producing samples of fountain pen ink colors for our online store, we used a special color calibrated computer monitor and made careful adjustments with graphics software to make sure the color sample looked as close to real life as possible from our viewpoint. The flaw in this method is that most shoppers do not use color calibrated computer monitors. As a result, the ink color samples look different to each shopper because each shopper uses a different monitor or smartphone to view the samples. Since then, we have intentionally purchased computer monitors that are a variety of different brands so that we can compare and see what our shoppers might be seeing. Even so, it is not possible with current technology to make sure that each one of you sees a completely accurate sample of each ink color when you are shopping online.

Other retailers have made ink samples that don’t even display real ink swatches or handwriting at all. Graphics software is used to pick the color and then a computer font that looks like handwriting is used to create a “handwritten” color sample. This also has disadvantages. When you look at the color variations in the ink samples below, can you see how it would be difficult to decide what part of the sample it would be best to pick the color from? A computer generated color sample does not give you any idea of the shading or opacity of the ink. Plus, it still does not change the fact that each of you are using different computers and smartphones that each display colors slightly differently.

If you are a regular shopper at Writer’s Bloc, you may have noticed that many of our ink color samples look like this:

(Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts bottled fountain pen ink sample)

We decided to come up with a standardized way of creating our online fountain pen ink samples so that you might be able to discern some of the ink’s characteristics before you decide to buy. Each sample is handwritten with the actual ink, in the same calligraphy style, using a Brause dipping pen with a Steno nib. The “swish” above the handwriting is made with an inked cotton swab and goes from left to right so that the heaviest ink application is on the left and the lightest on the right. The paper used is always bright white 90g Clairefontaine French-ruled paper. (Note: the ink photos on our website that include the ink bottle or cartridges in the photo are meant to give you a general idea of the ink color and are NOT meant to be the primary color sample for the ink.)

What are some of the advantages of this method? Clairefontaine is known as one of the best papers in the world for writing, and it performs exceptionally well with fountain pens.  This paper is very good at eliminating or reducing writing problems that are common on low-grade paper such as ink feathering and ink bleeding through the paper. By the way, if ink happens to bleed or feather while we are making our samples, we do not retouch the samples or re-write them to try and get rid of the feathering – we just use them the way they are to help you discern the character of the ink. The Clairefontaine paper is a bright white color so it does not detract from the color of the fountain pen ink.

Why use French-ruled paper and not blank paper? The lines on the French-ruled paper help you to see how opaque or how transparent the ink is. Can you see the lines on the paper through the ink sample? For example, Noodler’s Eel Polar Black ink is very opaque:

And J. Herbin’s Vert Pre ink is more transparent:

The Brause Steno nib allows you to see what your writing might look like using a fountain pen with a fine to medium size nib. The Steno nib is a flex nib, so the line width in the samples varies. The cotton swab generated “swish” above the writing helps you to see what kind of shading the ink might have. Noodler’s Ink Habannero has some nice shading to it:

To prepare the color samples for our online store, the ink samples written on Clairefontaine paper are simply scanned, cropped and re-sized. That’s it. They are not retouched or enhanced by graphics software in any other way.

Even though we have a standardized system for creating our ink color samples, each of you will see the color a little bit differently depending on your own personal monitor or screen. Each of you will be writing on different kinds and colors of paper, using different nib sizes and you all have different handwriting. This too can affect the way an ink looks as you write with it. Our wish is to give you the most realistic online ink samples possible to help you choose your fountain pen ink!

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When is a standard ink converter not a standard ink converter?

(Pelikan standard universal ink converter)

Not too long ago as we were trying to use an ink converter in a new fountain pen we made an interesting discovery. Not all “standard” fountain pen ink converters are created equal. I’m not talking about the filling mechanism, quality, appearance, length or ink capacity, I’m talking about the part of the converter that attaches to the pen. One would assume that all “standard” converters would be able to attach correctly to all pens that take “standard” cartridges and converters, but this simply is not true.

(Monteverde standard international ink converter)

Take for example the standard ink converter made by Pelikan. It is a good price and has a slightly larger ink capacity than some other standard converters, but it does not attach correctly to all pens that take standard converters. I grabbed my collection of school fountain pens and did an experiment. I tried to attach both the Pelikan and the Monteverde standard ink converters to each one of them with varying success. Here are the results:

Type of Fountain Pen Pelikan Converter Monteverde Converter
Pelikan Script X
Borghini ?
Unknown X
Plumink
Pilot Vortex X
Maped
Waterman

✓ = fit correctly
X = did not fit
? = was not sure

Even though both of the “standard” ink converters, particularly the Pelikan, did not fit all pens equally, short standard universal ink cartridges worked in all of the pens.

(J. Herbin standard universal ink cartridges)

Our conclusion?  If you don’t want any surprises, if possible, buy an ink converter that is the same brand as the pen you plan to use it in. For the most foolproof results stick to short standard universal ink cartridges since they seem to be able to fit into all “standard” fountain pens.

Have you had any similar experiences with fountain pen ink converters?

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Fountain Pen Basics: What essentials do I need with my first fountain pen?

If you’re thinking of buying your first fountain pen, you may be surprised to discover just how many choices of styles, brands and inks there are for this traditional writing instrument! It may seem overwhelming to figure out what you need as you sift through the huge variety of fountain pens and accessories available to the modern writer. What basic essentials must you have to begin writing with your first fountain pen?

(LAMY Safari fountain pen in charcoal with a black nib)

(1) A fountain pen. It is not necessary to buy an expensive pen with a real 14K gold nib to begin your new writing experience. Something as simple and cheap as a disposable pen can be sufficient to help you get the feel for what writing with a fountain pen is like. The refillable Platinum Preppy fountain pen is a very popular choice under $5.00. There are many other pen choices in the $50.00 or less category that can even last a lifetime. Generally, most (but not all) pens in this price range have steel nibs and cartridge/converter filling systems. Just like regular pens, fountain pens come in a variety of nib sizes, often ranging from extra-fine to broad. If you’ve never used a fountain pen you’ll probably find that either a fine or a medium nib is the easiest to begin writing with. Here is a short list of some suggested beginner fountain pens:

LAMY Al-Star
LAMY Safari
LAMY Vista
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen
Kaweco Classic Sport
Kaweco Ice Sport
Pelikan Pelikano
Pelikan Pelikano Jr.
Platinum Plaisir
Platinum Preppy

(2) Some ink. If you are a beginner, ink cartridges are the easiest way to refill your fountain pen. The most important thing is to make sure the ink cartridges you get are compatible with the fountain pen that you buy. Standard international or universal cartridges fit many types of fountain pens, but not all fountain pens. Some fountain pens require proprietary cartridges, or in other words, ink cartridges that are the same brand as the fountain pen. Here’s the same list of beginner fountain pens with suggested compatible ink refills:

LAMY Al-Star – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Safari – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Vista – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen – LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
Pilot Metropolitan – Pilot Namiki Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges
Kaweco Classic Sport – short standard international cartridges
Kaweco Ice Sport – short standard international cartridges
Pelikan Pelikano – short standard international cartridges and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Pelikan Pelikano Jr. – short standard international cartridges and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Platinum Plaisir – Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack
Platinum Preppy – Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack

Our blog includes articles that are very helpful in explaining ink cartridge use:

Crash Course in Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges
Pelikano Fountain Pen Cartridge Tips

Also worth mentioning – once you start writing with fountain pens you will notice that the kind of paper you write with will matter more than it did before. The type of paper you use will definitely affect your writing experience. To find out why, take a look at this blog article:

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are left-handed and have noticed that some fountain pens come with left-handed nibs, this article might answer some of your questions:

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

So that’s basically it – a pen and some ink are all you really need to try out a fountain pen. If you discover that you like fountain pens and want to expand on the basics, what comes next? This will be the subject of a future blog post.

What was your first fountain pen? Was it love at first write, or did your taste for fountain pens develop slowly? Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to get their first fountain pen?

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Refill Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges with a Blunt Tip Needle Bottle

If you own a fountain pen that has a cartridge filling system, you can easily refill your empty ink cartridges or ink converter using a blunt tip needle bottle. (Update: a NEW style of blunt tip needle bottle is now available.)

  1. Put some ink into the needle bottle – a small funnel can be used to make this easier.
  2. If you are changing ink colors it would be a good idea to clean your fountain pen and rinse out your empty cartridge with water first. A blunt tip needle bottle filled with clean water is a good way to rinse out ink cartridges. You may want to let the cleaned pen and ink cartridge dry overnight before you refill them.
  3. Insert the blunt tip needle through the small opening on the end of the cartridge down towards the bottom of your empty cartridge. This way as you fill the cartridge the air will naturally come out the top and not form too many ink bubbles.
  4. Gently squeeze the needle bottle and fill the cartridge or converter not quite to the top with ink.
  5. Put the refilled ink cartridge into your fountain pen and you’re finished!

I’ve heard that some people use a dab of glue from a hot glue gun to reseal the cartridges so they can take extra ink cartridges with them. If you decide to give this a try, be aware that it’s not foolproof. You may want to carry the ink cartridges in a plastic zip top bag to prevent any accidents.

There are many advantages to using a blunt tip needle bottle to refill your empty fountain pen ink cartridges:

  • Bottled ink is much cheaper to use than ink that comes in cartridges.
  • Since the empty cartridges can be re-used many times before discarding them, there is less plastic waste going into the environment.
  • Ink cartridges usually can hold more ink than a comparable ink converter.
  • The needle tip bottle can hold lots of ink and it doesn’t need to be cleaned after each use like a syringe does.
  • The blunt tip needle is safer to use for refilling than a sharp tip syringe.
  • The plunger on a syringe can be hard to control leading to small ink explosions, but the bottle yields to very gentle pressure.
  • You can fill the needle bottle with your own custom ink color and use it to create your own custom cartridges.
  • You can fill cartridges with ink that isn’t available in cartridges such as Noodler’s and Pilot Iroshizuku.

The little wire in the cap of the blunt tip needle bottle isn’t completely necessary, but it does serve a couple of useful purposes. Since the wire goes into the needle when the bottle is capped it helps to prevent any clogs and it also helps to prevent leaks if the bottle tips over. If the little wire in the cap comes out, you can gently push it back in.

Do you ever refill empty fountain pen ink cartridges? What method do you use? Do you have any tips that you’d like to pass along?

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Crash Course in Fountain Pen Cartridges

When I first got my pink Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen I was very nervous about putting the cartridge in. I didn’t want to push it so hard that it ruined the pen, but I also wanted to make sure it was attached securely so the ink wouldn’t leak and ruin my purse. After getting some feedback I realized that I wasn’t alone in my fears, so I decided to share what I’ve learned about fountain pen cartridges to help others calm their fears about putting their pens together.

First of all, the tension that you feel when pushing the cartridge into the pen comes from the stopping device at the top of the cartridge, meant to keep ink in prior to assembly. In the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen Cartridges this is a small metal ball, in standard cartridges (like J. Herbin Universal) it is a tiny glass ball, and in LAMY cartridges it’s just a thin layer of plastic. When you push the cartridge in you are not only attaching it to the pen, you are pushing the stopper device in and starting the ink flow.

The way to put cartridges in is fairly simple: slowly and gently while ensuring a firm attachment. Put it in straight on and start pushing gently. When you feel the tension from the release of the stopping device it should be just about in, and a tiny extra push to secure it won’t hurt.

Once the cartridge is attached to the pen it takes a little while for the ink to flow through the feed to the nib. Allow your pen to sit for awhile before you try to write with it. If the ink doesn’t seem to be getting to the nib, let the pen rest with the cap on and the nib pointing downwards. If you’re still having trouble getting it to write you can run cool water over the nib or pull the cartridge out and put a couple of drops of ink on the nib to encourage the ink to flow.

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