This week, Pen Boutique owners Leena and Raj asked me to write about autumn! Autumn is a tricky time of year for me. While almost everyone I know adores fall, I have very ambivalent feelings about the season. I treasure spring, I appreciate winter, and the long, warm summer days and soft velvet nights make me happiest of all. But when the days grow shorter and I feel a chilly nip in the air, I am sad. I don't want to say goodbye. Until a couple of years ago, I lived in Connecticut, and although I loved the blazing fall colors, I also hated suddenly being cold and losing the sun.
Moving to Maryland made me finally get it. No, the colors aren't as bright as they are in New England, but the slowness and gentleness of the season makes up for it. Now I understand why my friends and family love fall: here in Maryland, it's the perfect season for long walks outside, for sitting in the sun drinking hot coffee, for campfires on the patio, for reflections on the lake, for bright orange and red leaves on the drive to work and in the trees surrounding Pen Boutique. Autumn means I can get out the scarves and leather gloves I bought in Venice, and switch to inks like Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki, Anderillium Colossal Squid Dark, Robert Oster Velvet Crush, J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie, and Sailor Ink Studio 873.
As I thought more about what I should write concerning autumn and pens, I realized the feelings that autumn evokes in a fountain pen lover are better captured in photos than in words, so I spent most of my blog time this week trying to convey those emotions and desires that fall arouses in our souls. As I chose the pens, inks, and accessories that felt the most autumnal to me, I really started to appreciate the more subtle side of this season. Usually I go for bright colors, but when I spoke to customers about their fall favorites, many of them mentioned loving inks and pens in murkier shades I wouldn't have considered. No, I'm not switching my allegiance from bright oranges and fuchsias to browns and grays, but I can see that there's room for all kinds of autumnal appreciation, and some people really dig the gloomier and spookier side of fall. Both of fall's personalities are exciting in their own way, and I had fun challenging myself with my fall pairings. I hope you will get inspired, too!
When I think of October, I think of Macbeth. Okay, I'm a little weird, but we knew that already. But every October, I love to listen to Verdi's exciting opera inspired by my favorite Shakespeare play. After all, it has witches, a ghost, and enough other scary stuff to make your blood run cold. When I saw the way the sun was hitting this corner of my house yesterday morning, I scrambled to capture that fleeting interval before it passed, because I knew the angle of the sun would be slightly different the next day, and different again still as the season crept on. I didn't get quite the angle I wanted, but almost. The Aurora Ipsilon in Autumn Orange that I'd brought home was perfectly lit, and glowed with vibrant color. What a pen! I'd never realized quite how beautiful it is. I quickly stuck my own Royal Tangerine Sailor 1911 and Lilac Lamy AL-Star in a cup to balance the photo, but the Aurora is definitely the star. This pen comes in rollerball and ballpoint as well as fountain, and we have it on sale in all three versions. It's a great pen with a mid-range price, so it's a perfect fall pick-me-up.
Next, the perfect spot to highlight Esterbrook's brand new Estie Raven caught my eye. This pen was going to be released the next day, so I took the time to make a video for Instagram while I admired the matte black pen, handsomely trimmed with glossy black nib and clip. The combination of blacks catches the feel of the enigmatic bird, with its sleek dusky feathers and extremely clever glossy eye. I was blown away as I spread out the matching blotting paper designed by German artist Anne Nossack. Her artwork is absolutely stunning, and each raven image got me more in the mood for a glass of cognac and fireside Edgar Allen Poe.
One of the most exciting features of this release is the innovative button piston mechanism, exclusive to the Raven edition. The button is hidden beneath the Estie's end finial. As Esterbrook describes it, "With a gentle press, you can effortlessly fill your pen, ensuring a mess-free and convenient writing experience." I used to have some vintage pens with this feature, and I think it's extremely cool that Esterbrook has introduced a modern version in their new Estie! This version of the Estie Raven also features an ink window so you can check on the level of your ink.
I paired the Estie Raven with Sailor Ink Studio 737, an intriguing dark, decadent purple with bright green sheen. Fountain Pen Pharmacist describes it as a "hauntingly beautiful purple" in her lovely review. This mysterious pen is also available with the Estie's traditional cartridge/converter option, in rollerball, or in ballpoint.
In a nearby corner, I took my cover photo for this blog, including an array of some of the most autumnal pens I had brought home: three Kaweco Sports, one of the many striking orange-and-black Diplomat Aeros and Eloxes (do click on those links to see all the choices... Diplomat may be the ultimate Halloween pen brand!), the Benu Skulls and Roses pen, and our store exclusive Montegrappa Venetian Lagoon, which I fell in love with last fall.
The photo features some wonderful ceramic pumpkin dishes I borrowed from my friend Carolyn, as well as my nice black Yak Leather 12 Pen Case, which I use to transport pens to and from the store for blogs.
The Kaweco Sport comes in so many great colors, and my customer Mikele mentioned that she loves her Macchiato Sport inked with Sailor Maryland for fall, but I chose Grey, Bordeaux, and Fox Red. Later I played around with Sailor Maryland and some other inks I wanted to try with these pens, but I'll show you that a bit further down the page!
The Skulls and Roses pen (which comes in both fountain and rollerball) from Benu is perfect for this time of year. It's a little too goth for me, but I have to admit it definitely looks cool. My partner-in-crime at Pen Boutique, Leila, loves Benu pens and owns a lot of them. She tells me they are wonderful writers!
As you may know, the founders of Benu are Russian, but they put themselves at risk by their strong moral opposition to Putin, and moved their operations to Armenia when Russia invaded Ukraine. We have started to carry more and more beautiful Benu pens recently, including another one of my autumnal picks, Tiger's Eye, which is breathtaking when the sun hits it!
At Leila's suggestion, I paired this pen with Monteverde Copper Noir, a brilliant matchup.
Another similar Monteverde ink that Mikele raved about is Fire Opal. She told me that Diamine Rustic Brown is one of her all-time favorites, and is "a classic," but she recently discovered Fire Opal and it's her new favorite, even better than Rustic Brown. Mikele is really into brown inks and pens, so she should know!
Benu's newest release, Hallowed Harvest, is perfect for this article, but we hadn't received it yet when I was doing my photo shoot. We will have it in stock tomorrow and its release day is October 15th, so, by the time this blog comes out, you will be able to order it. I'm pretty sure it will sell out fast, though!
[Update: I was able to quickly snap a photo on Saturday at the store, before publishing this blog. This pen is beautiful and the sparkly parts look like they are lit from within! I paired it up with an orange Girologio Repurposed Leather Writing Mat and green leather Oberon Design Tree of Life large journal cover. This oak tree cover design is perfect for autumn and also comes in saddle and chocolate. I love the pewter oak leaf/acorn clasp.]
Our store exclusive Montegrappa Venetian Lagoon is one of my favorite pens in the store, and the first pen that comes to mind when I think about autumn. Last year, I used it to draw the leaves in this fountain pen ink painting I did for my dad's birthday. He loved it, and hung it in the alcove by his chair. After being exposed to sunlight all year, the colors aren't as intense anymore, but that's okay. The painting is still there and makes me think about how much I loved my dad.
Here's Venetian Lagoon in the wild. Incredibly beautiful.
Another pen that leaps to mind when I think of fall is Esterbrook's Oktoberfest Camden, which is available both as a fountain pen and rollerball. This stunning pen came out last October, and its warm, rich shades always make me smile when I see our displays in the store, but this pen is another one that comes alive in the sunlight. I had a lot of fun with Oktoberfest this afternoon. First I inked one of the fountain pens with Monteverde Pumpkin Cake, which I thought was a perfect match for its deepest colors. My customer Danelle pairs her Oktoberfest with Jacques Herbin Cornaline d’Égypte, a gorgeous shimmer ink with beautiful shading that matches this pen's glowing amber tones.
Next I took the Oktoberfest Camdens and a black and orange Diplomat Elox Ring with a 14K gold nib out for a little Oktoberfest treat in the center of town. (The Elox pen is also available with a stainless steel nib.) Okay, I know bratwurst or schnitzel would be a more traditional Oktoberfest food, but I had a cinnamon cupcake, and it was delicious. The porter was for the Diplomat. I mean, it is a German pen, after all.
Finally, I had to see the Oktoberfest pens in the direct sun! I knew they would look amazing, and they did not disappoint. Wow.
Later, I got creative with the Diplomat Elox, and paired it with some seasonal looking Field Notes notebooks in Amber, Moss, and Aqua that my colleague Joy picked out for me to use in this article. Thank you, Joy! My neighbor is remodeling his house, so I took advantage of the 1930s-era exposed paint he'd uncovered earlier in the week. I think it's a pretty interesting combination! I recently got a green Elox Matrix, and I love mine. It's a very smooth, wet writer with a nice weight. I thought this metal pen would be too heavy for me, but I write with mine unposted, and it feels just right. If you like heavier pens, give the Elox or Aero a try.
The Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Red is a wildcard, but this ink was very strongly recommended to me by a customer this past weekend. He told me he is crazy about it, and that he'd bought three bottles at the DC Pen Show, which inspired a whole bunch of other people to also buy bottles after he told them why he loves it so much. He says the color isn't really red at all, but is "a little bit pink, a little bit orange" and has extremely interesting glossy sheen. The way he described it made it sound like the kind of color I'd love, and reminded me of Mercurochrome. I wish I'd written down exactly what he said about this ink, but the store was too busy, so I didn't have time. Regardless... he made it sound so intriguing, I knew I had to try it.
I ran out of time to write with Pelikan 4001 Red, but you can see it in this photo that I took of some Sailor inks I was also experimenting with. The three round dots and accompanying spatter are 4001 Red, not Yodaki. Yamadori and Yodaki were recommended to me by customers, and Ink Studio 737 is the ink I mentioned above as my pairing for the Esterbook Estie Raven. In this lighting, it was a great match for the Bordeaux Kaweco!
Another intriguing ink color I tried, on Mikele's recommendation, was Sailor Rikyucha. She told me it was "murky" and "evokes fall." This one is fascinating! Mikele keeps a Rikyucha cartridge loaded in her brown Sailor Compass.
During my autumnal inks discussion with customers Mikele, Natalie, Danelle, and Aaron, Danelle showed us her Mnemosyne notebook comparing Sailor USA State Delaware in different pens. (Her notebook is the dot grid B5.) Your choice of pen and nib has a huge effect on the way your ink will look, and this is the perfect example!
Mikele was disappointed because, when she tried Delaware, it looked like a rich magenta, and she wanted it to be a strange green like Danelle's first example. I advised her to try it in a fine nib pen, which would concentrate the ink and produce more intense sheen. In Danelle's fine TWSBI Diamond 580, you are seeing almost all sheen, and hardly any of the underlying color.
This led me to think more about other autumnal Sailor State inks, and I decided to try Delaware at home, along with Massachusetts (which is inspired by New England autumn leaves), Maryland (inspired by the Black-Eyed Susan, a flower I always associate with the coming of fall), and Virginia, a deep red with lots of green sheen that I had enjoyed when writing another blog article. Massachusetts was the perfect match for the Kaweco Fox Red fountain pen!
The other three inks are equally impressive. Maryland has beautiful shading and weird blue sheen, Delaware shows as a gorgeous magenta with green sheen, and Virginia's deep red shines with a strange chartreuse sheen. I love them all!
I also brought home some traditional fall favorite inks from Diamine, but I didn't have time to try them. As you can see, most of our trees here are still green. I bet they look pretty different back in New England!
My choices were Ancient Copper (one of my all-time favorites), Autumn Oak, Rustic Brown (Mikele's old favorite), Sunshine Yellow (Joy picked this one, and I love how the bottle lights up!), and, of course, Pumpkin.
Incidentally, if you liked that green 1930s paint, here's some more, along with my Oasis Notebooks seasonal picks. I love Oasis Notebooks, and these two are a little bit spooky! (Well, only if you want them to be.)
Yes, I tried to make this article balanced and show the shadowy side of fall, but I can't resist bright colors and delicate beauty. I couldn't possibly leave the lovely Platinum Autumn Leaves fountain pen off my list of quintessential fall pens. This beautiful pen allows you to experience maki-e without breaking the bank, and is decorated with shimmering Kanazawa maple leaves in shades of orange, gold, and green. It comes with a 18K gold nib and is an incredible, fine writer.
I paired it with my own bright red Write Pocket Ledger Notebook, which I love because the small size is so portable, and the firm back allows me to use it anywhere. I also love the heavy fountain pen friendly paper, and that Write is a local brand, from Baltimore, Maryland.
Momiji (Autumn Leaves) ink from Pilot Iroshizuku would be a lovely match for this pen!
My final inspiration came from Faber-Castell and Graf von Faber-Castell. Browsing in the store for ideas, the beautiful texture of the Faber-Castell 3D Leaves fountain pen caught my eye, and I was pleased when I discovered its name to see that my instincts had been correct. This pen also comes in ballpoint and rollerball.
The Faber-Castell Opart Ambition in Autumn Leaves is also perfect for right now, and the two make a handsome pair in the late afternoon light of my neighbor's kitchen window. I love both pens' graceful lines and interesting textures.
These extremely elegant guilloche pens are meticulously made and feature 18-carat gold nibs. They look perfect on black, cognac, and orange Girologio Repurposed Italian Leather writing mats. (I also used a red Girologio mat in some of the other photos in this article.) From front to back are India Red, Cognac, and Burned Orange. If you click on the color names above, you can see the matching cases, inks, pencils, ballpoints, and rollerballs.
I included a lot of variety in my autumn picks, so I hope you saw something that fired your imagination and that will help you enjoy this season, whether it's already a favorite time of year for you or one that you need to ease into. Remember, even though the days are getting shorter and colder, you can always curl up with your pens, inks, and notebooks, and let them inspire you!
I love comments on my blog! Please leave comments if you like the articles, and, if you have any questions about this article, or any of the other blog articles, you can e-mail support @ penboutique.com. Thank you!