Imagine-Spring-Pens-Inks-and-Stationery-to-Inspire-You-and-Lift-Your-Spirits Pen Boutique Ltd

Imagine Spring - Pens, Inks, and Stationery to Inspire You and Lift Your Spirits

Pilot Pens by the Numbers Reading Imagine Spring - Pens, Inks, and Stationery to Inspire You and Lift Your Spirits 17 minutes Next Flexing My Creativity with Pilot's Falcon Pen and Nibs
What do you think of when you imagine spring?  Living in Connecticut, I always looked forward to spring with great anticipation after the long months of darkness, cold, and ice. Not that winter didn't have its own stark beauty, but I was more than ready when I'd detect a very subtle change in the brown, bare branches of the trees around me, beginning in early March. The first to awaken were always the willows, and their long ropey tresses would take on a beautiful warm pale yellowish green that reminds me of Pilot Iroshizuku Chikurin ink. Seeing that first hint of spring was so stirring, it almost made me cry. Other trees would follow, each on their own schedule and with their own tiny new leaves and blossoms. I love that soft new leaf color, so different from the dark greens of summer.  That subtle but sure change in hue was a sign that my favorite season was returning, even if the air still felt cold, windy, and raw.


Emerging Color and Life

The longer days and slowly emerging colors always felt a little unreal at first, like spring was a distant concept, hard to remember or believe.  It was still chilly and bleak, but other signs of spring assured me that what I was sensing was real:  the first robins hopping around on my lawn; a cute little chipmunk newly surfaced from his winter hibernation, stopping to sit still for a moment on one of my stone walls; and, my very favorite... the frogs' song.  As the snow started to melt, usually right around the very end of March or early April, my heart would leap with joy when I heard the shrill ringing evening chorus of the spring peeper frogs' "meep! meep! meep!" and the wood frogs' low soft "quacking" coming from the wetlands near my house.

(My vintage Pilot Elite filled with Iroshizuku Murasaki Shikibu ink, TRAVELER'S notebook and clip.)

As the sleeping landscape began to thaw, I'd notice the maple trees tinged rosy with their tiny red buds high above, and happy Murasaki Shikibu purple, white, and yellow crocuses starting to pop up through the patchy snow; then, later in April, fragrant hyacinths in deep purple and clean white, and my favorite mauve magnolia tree and tousled white star magnolias, along with delicate pink weeping cherries, sunshine yellow forsythia, and soft fluffy white pear blossoms with their strange, intriguing, not-sweet smell.   All of this was very moving to me.  It seemed like an answer to a promise, a sign of hope, an assurance of warmth, light, and joy to come.

(These two photos:  ink experiments with Sailor Ink Studio 373452, and 573.)  

(Springtime colors:  my Sea Glass Esterbrook Estie basks in the warmth of sun and forsythia blossoms.)

Here in Maryland, the spring timetable still feels off to me, like things happen too quickly and too early.  By February 1st this year, crocuses had arrived and winter seemed ready to go. Our only snow storms had disappeared within days of falling, and there were no icicles, slippery driveways, or ankle-deep grey slush.  Spring almost doesn't feel deserved, like we didn't suffer enough to get here.  It's not yet April, but there are colorful flowers, bushes, and trees everywhere I look, and on my drive to work I'm surrounded by a corridor of white, with a fluffy cloud of blooming trees filling each side of the highway.  The famous cherry blossoms of Washington D.C.’s Tidal Basin reached their peak bloom by March 17, and many of the cherry trees in my city are almost finished blooming and already filling out with their new leaves.  I've lived here for three springs now, but I'm still adjusting, little by little. 

(The newest Estie, Winter White, reminds me more of soft spring blossoms than of winter's ice and snow!)

I struggled while preparing this blog article, because on the days I went out to take my photos, I started to be overtaken with the very beginnings of a head cold, and, although I was thrilled by all the beauty around me, I found that I couldn't concentrate at all when it was time to write.  My entire body felt like it was vibrating, and instead of focusing on the joys of spring, I was stirred by feelings of loss and separation.  When I sat in front of my computer, I had plenty of nice pen photos, but I didn't know what to do with them.  My brain felt numb.  I realized that spring is a complicated time for me now.  I miss the loved ones I said goodbye to in spring, and the land I felt so connected to.

Over the next week, my cold got worse, and at first I pushed myself to keep going, to get things finished and focus on making sure the next episode of our YouTube show came out on time.  Leila and I worked late and managed to finish the episode, but I was forced to rest for the next few days because I was much too sick to go to work.  It was kind of nice to be home on the one year anniversary of my father's passing, and to reset my mind to a state of peace and calm. I know this is an odd and bizarrely poetic blog article, but at least the words are flowing easily now.


Spring Inspiration

What pens do I most associate with spring?  There are a lot!  Besides the Esties I showed above, a pen that definitely evokes spring is the winner of our Battle of the Spring Pens on Instagram, the Montegrappa Venetia in Marshmallow. I paired this fluffy pastel concoction with Floating Cloud ink from Wearingeul, a Korean brand new to our store.

The second-place winner in our Battle of the Spring Pens was the Waterman Hemisphere in Colour Blocking Purple, a slim and elegant pen that comes in fountain, rollerball, and ballpoint.  It's the least expensive in Waterman's more elevated collection, so it makes a perfect graduation, Mother's Day, congratulations, or birthday gift, or a seasonal pick-me-up for yourself.  The Hemisphere comes in other Colour Blocking colors that are perfect for spring, too:  greenpink, and blue.  All the colors are a great match for Field Notes' new limited edition Spring 2024 notebook set, "Flora," named for the Roman goddess of flowers, the fertility of the land, and the coming of spring. These three original designs by Chicago artist, muralist, and designer Emmy Star Brown each feature different page styles inside:  one lined, one dot grid, and one blank.  I love that!  Each notebook in the set meets a different need. I also love that, instead of regular silver staples, these notebooks have glossy red ones to add an additional touch of vibrancy and joy.

The new Nahvalur Voyage fountain pen, "The Spring" is another clear choice for spring pens.  This beautiful piston filler from the brand formerly known as Narwhal is a swirl of shimmering dark and light greens intermingled with opalescent turquoise blue and accented by trim in that spring leaf color I love, a yellowish green that's very unusual to find on a pen! This pen truly captures the swirling of new life and excitement of dawning spring.  I posed it on the Wintergreen, Avocado, and Sky Blue Profolio notebooks from Oasis.

Along with Iroshizuku Chikurin, another ink that evokes that early spring green for me and would be perfect in this pen is Jade Green from Diamine.  I posed my Jade Green swatch card with Sailor Ink Studio 452, one of the purples that most exudes spring to me, especially with its touch of green sheen.


Cherry Blossom Frenzy

Here in my new home in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., there's nothing that beats cherry blossoms' association with spring, and that's particularly true in the pen and ink world, because spring cherry blossoms are so beloved in Japanese culture.  We carry many different pens and inks that pay tribute to the cherry blossom festivals around the world, including Sailor Manyo Sakura (which also has a lovely matching Professional Gear Slim fountain pen!), and Sailor Shikiori Sakura Mori and Yozakura inks.  I paired my Yozakura swatch with Sailor Shikiori Shito-Shito, a color inspired by the sound of spring rain, and I thought Sakura Mori was pretty with Sailor Ink Studio 670, a vibrant and intriguing chartreuse with a faint halo silver sheen in concentration on my swatch cards.

Pilot Iroshizuku's lovely Hana-Ikada (Flower Raft of Japanese Cherry) ink is also perfect for this time of year, if you like soft pastel shades, as is Robert Oster's Cherry Blossom, a darker and duskier pink.

The translucent Penlux Masterpiece Delgado limited edition Cherry Blossom demonstrator fountain pen features the soft warm pink of sakura as well, complemented by pink gold plated accents.  This pretty piston-filler even has some unique nibs to choose from, including stub and flex, and has both steel and 14k and 18k gold nib options.

A stunning and beautifully crafted pen on the cherry blossom theme is the limited edition Sailor Maki-e Sakura Nagare in King of Pen size.  The name "Sakura Nagare" translates to "Flowing Cherry Blossom," which describes the mother of pearl raden mosaic pattern on the pen resembling a river, with gold flakes, signifying cherry blossoms, flowing through.

Graf von Faber-Castell also pays tribute to the Japanese nighttime cherry blossom festival with their elegant Yozakura Guilloche fountain pen and ballpoint, in a soft pink with a lovely guilloche textured pattern that reminds me of fish scales.  They make a matching Yozakura ink in both bottle and standard international cartridge form, as well as a beautiful notebook and pen case.

This slim and sophisticated writing instrument features a smooth 18k gold nib, snap cap, and precious resin barrel engraved with the elaborate guilloche pattern followed by a manual polishing and hand-lacquering to provide an optical effect.  All the metal parts are rhodium plated.


Fun Pens:  Preppy, Kakuno, and Sport

Another way to enjoy cherry blossom season is with the Sakura Tatewaku (scattered cherry blossoms) pink Platinum Preppy!  The inexpensive Preppy is a great writer and features Platinum's special "Slip & Seal" mechanism that prevents the pen from drying out even if it is not used for a long period of time.  They can be refilled with Platinum cartridges, or you can purchase a Platinum converter and use bottled ink. I think many of the Preppy colors are perfect for spring!

(Featured:  Punilabo Chick pen stand, Sailor Shikiori Shito-Shito ink, Sailor Manyo Sakura ink, Yellow and Violet classic Preppy pens, along with Khimatsu (green) and Sakura Tatewaku (scattered cherry blossom) limited edition Preppy designs.)

A great alternative to the Preppy is the delightful Pilot Kakuno, in so many springtime colors I just couldn't choose!  This fun pen is designed for children or for adults who can use a little extra joy and whimsy in their lives, and features the same great nib used in the Pilot Metropolitan, but engraved with a smiley face, so it makes a cheerful and encouraging companion.  Since spring is all about new beginnings, it's the perfect time to present a young person with his or her first fountain pen and get them excited about our colorful and inspiring world!

(Featuring Punilabo Chick silicone pen case, Oasis small Line Friends "Sally" ProFolio Summit Notebook, Punilabo Chick pen stand, and an assortment of Pilot Kakuno fountain pens in seasonal colors!)

For young or new fountain pen users, seeing the smiley helps writers know they are holding the nib in the right direction, and the Kakuno incorporates some other helpful features, too. The plastic barrel and cap have a hexagonal shape to keep the pen from rolling off your desk, with an additional bump on the cap in case the pen starts to get away from you, plus a groove for easy removal.  The Kakuno refills with Pilot or Iroshizuku cartridges and can accept both Pilot's CON-40 and CON-70 converters.

The original series features three different smileys: 

  • Grey pens with colored tops = classic smiley face
  • White pens with colored tops = winking smiley
  • Clear pens with clear tops = tongue sticking out smiley 

The new translucent series features five new faces, and so you can pick your favorite or collect them all!

  • Translucent Blue = a mustache and tie design
  • Translucent Coral = a cheerful grin and necklace
  • Translucent Aqua = the timeless classic smile motif
  • Translucent Pink = an endearing grin and bow
  • Translucent Green = a cute pacifier face

    I also love the Kaweco Frosted Sport for cheerful springtime colors!  The fruity, translucent shades are perfect for this time of year, are inexpensive, and are great writers.  You can choose from Blush Pitaya (a starfruit), Fine Lime, Light Blueberry, Natural Coconut (not pictured), Soft Mandarin, and Sweet Banana. All have silver colored trim, and come in fountain pen, rollerball, ballpoint, 0.7mm mechanical pencil, and clutch pencil with 3.2 mm lead that can be sharpened.

    Kaweco's new Sport Collection special edition Apricot Pearl fountain pen is also perfect for spring.  It features gold-plated accents paired with a shimmering, translucent orange hue that shifts to a pearlescent green, depending on the light. This effect is hard to capture in still photos, but is delightful in person!

    You can get a converter that fits the Sport, or use standard international short cartridges, which are available from many different brands, including Kaweco's own cartridges, DiamineGraf von Faber-CastellMonteverdePelikanMontblanc, and more.  The mini converter doesn't hold a lot of ink, but it works extremely well, and I really like it! 


    Spring Beauty Ballpoints

    I don't usually focus too much on ballpoints, but ballpoints contain springs, so naturally I had to include a few favorites.  I love S.T. Dupont's smooth writing and luxurious ballpoints, and their newest shades drew my eye as soon as I saw them.  The Liberté in Lavender with palladium trim and Coral with gold trim are such beautiful choices for this line of elegant and weighty tapered pens.

    The D-Initial Ballpoint is a pretty option at a slightly lower price point, and the Pastel Vanilla with gold trim and Pastel Soft Blue with palladium trim are also perfect for spring.  I love them with our beautiful pen-friendly Kartos writing sets in LavandaRomantica, and Primavera.

    Visconti had a few ballpoints that stood out to me as ideal for this season, too:  the Self Portrait from Visconti's Van Gogh line, and Lavender from the Rembrandt collection. Slightly out of focus in the background is the soft White Rembrandt pen.  These three also come in fountain and rollerball, and the writing paper set featured is Kartos' lovely Romantica.  I love how the paper shimmers with gold in the sunlight!


    Fine Classics: Pelikan, Sailor, and Pilot

    I'm not going to go into depth about these pens, but I've written whole articles about Pelikan and Sailor already. The Pilot capless pens are an article that is sure to come in the near future!

    Just drink in these wonderful spring shades of your favorite pens, and see if anything inspires you.  They certainly inspired me!  I actually started wanting a Pilot Decimo, something I had never really considered before, after taking these photos and trying the pens.

    (Featured: special edition Pelikan Souverän M800 Green Demonstrator and special edition Pelikan Classic M205 Rose Quartz fountain pens, drowning in cherry blossoms!) 

    There are many Sailor pens that evoke spring for me, but these stood out when I was selecting subjects for my photo shoot.  I love the shimmering pastel melon shades in the new Smoothie Cantaloupe Pro Gear (the others in the Professional Gear Smoothie line are gorgeous, too!) and the interesting shades of lavender in the recently released Shikiori Sansui line.  Even though Nadeshiko and Kamoshika are supposed to represent autumn and winter, they feel like spring to me!  The rainy-day Kamoshika and uplifting Nadeshiko are like the "April showers bring May flowers" rhyme translated into pen form.

    Even though I can't visit my favorite mauve magnolia in Middletown, Connecticut anymore, I found a new one where I live now to pose these pens with, and that made me happy.  I love the petals when they are fresh and glorious in the tree, but they may be even more beautiful to me like this, degenerate and full of character, like a worn old mauve velvet chaise, faded silk, and bruised kid gloves.

    One thing I didn't have nearby in Connecticut, but I do now, is flowering quince, so of course I had to trim off a sprig to pose with the Pilot Decimos I'd chosen for this article.  I love all three of these colors and how their metallic finish sparkles in the sun! And, like ballpoints, Decimo and Vanishing Point fountain pens use a metal spring for their capless action, so naturally they are perfect for this spring article.  

    (Featured:  Pilot Decimo in PurpleChampagne, and White.  Light Blue is also a lovely color for this time of year!)

    (P.S. Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden is the best book about spring ever!)


    Festival of ColorsLove, and Spring

    During the second week I was working on this article, Pen Boutique owner Leena celebrated the Hindu holiday Holi at Pen Boutique, and I was exposed to a whole new palette of spring colors that I had never considered!  Leena, who is from Nepal, brought a beautiful array of traditional natural colored powders, called gulal, to share with us, so that we could smear them on ourselves and each other as we wished. Leila and I were very busy that day filming For Your Penjoyment, but we were excited to try the colors when we finished for the day.  Although we were tempted to playfully throw them at each other (as is traditional), we knew it would have messed up our set, so instead we each chose our favorites and applied them to our own faces. 

    That night, I read more about Holi and was very intrigued to learn that it honors the arrival of spring in India and Nepal.  It's a two-day festival and is celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month.  Hindus believe it is a time to enjoy spring's abundant colors and say goodbye to winter. It also honors agriculture, good harvests, and the fertile land.  I talked briefly to Leena about it the next day, and she told me that it's a time of renewal, for mending conflicts, and for letting down traditional barriers and having fun together. The bright colors reflect the spirit of Holi.

    I was inspired by Leena's gulal colors to find ink swatch matches in my collection, and, although I was struggling to finish editing our show with Leila that day, I'm glad I paused to appreciate a new set of spring colors, so different from the pastels most often associated with spring in Western culture.  I asked Leena if plants with bright colors like this are already blooming at the beginning of spring in Nepal and India, and she told me they are, and that Indian and Nepalese people love bright color in general.  I can get behind that!  I definitely prefer brighter ink shades to pastels, so, if you want an alternative to the pale, soft hues of spring, here you are!  These are just as valid, and evoke the joy, love, and new beginnings we all associate with springtime.

    Inks featured (clockwise from top):  Diamine YellowMontblanc Royal BlueRobert Oster Yellow SunriseDiamine SunsetColorverse Dan HongDiplomat OrchidSailor Ink Studio 831Anderillium Roseate Spoonbill PinkSailor Manyo YomogiAnderillium Blue-ringed Octopus BlueRobert Oster Bora Bora WatersPelikan 4001 Brilliant RedMontblanc Manganese OrangeIroshizuku Yu-yake3 Oysters Marine GreenIroshizuku Ku-jaku, and Diamine Aurora Borealis.

    Writing this spring blog article ended up feeling like quite a journey, but now that I'm finished (and almost over my cold) I feel ready to truly welcome this spring and enjoy all the new things it brings to me this year.  Every spring is a little different, but spring is always about light, color, renewal, hope, and the promise of beautiful days ahead.

    Happy spring!

    -Laura P.

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