Archive for September, 2009



Intellectual Approaches to New York Fashion Week

abby boots

Full disclosure: I didn’t really wear clothes until I started attending school. It was, you might say, a “short but liberated childhood.” And while I did experience the painful middle-school tensions to “wear cool clothes,” that phase is more about the social significance of the clothes than the clothes themselves.

In any case, “fashion” never really did it for me. I did, however, become fascinated with the concept of self presentation– the way that we all play a grown-up version of dress-up every single day, playing different characters for different situations. Even if we dress for comfort, we’re sending a message about our character and priorities (“I value comfort over other qualities”). Lately I’ve been embracing the “studious/androgynous” character [ripped jeans, ribbed tanks, sexy-librarian glasses].

So, right now it’s New York’s Fashion Week. Last year was the first time I really browsed through the runway photos (they were on the NYTimes home page)– at first feeling somewhat disgusted at myself, and then, funnily enough, feeling strangely inspired. It made me think about form, about art, about identity. And yeah, it made me think about what a big fuckin’ waste of money the fashion industry is. But still, the aesthetic inspiration does it for me.

It’s also, for the record, a fascinating social study. The way that the fashion industry is overly-associated with gay men, while many gay female runway models live in a strange “out/not-out” tension. Or the way that “[Designer X]‘s bold colors imply that this season, she is all about empowered women.” As though being empowered were a seasonal trend? I’ve also gotten into several heated debates about the unambiguously racist structures of many fashion photoshoots– the “supermodel in a 3rd world country” is an ever-popular theme.

In any case, here’s what I’m into from Spring 2010 (click to view full):

Commercialization of Childhood

Fascinating series about kid-targeted marketing.

Mile 39 of the Ink Marathon

A rainy day is a good day for blogging. Weather forecast says we’re in for a rainy week, so look for more frequent posts over the next few days…

Gems full

Gems c98dd5584ad1

Swisher Dark Purple (made by Noodler’s) is one of the few purple inks I think I could see myself using– at least, in color. It’s a blue-based purple with no shading, bright but not obnoxious. But how on earth does an ink bleed on Rhodia paper? Ah, yes, it’s a quick-drying ink, and such quick absorbency means that it will bleed. I’ll have to try this in a dry-writing fountain pen, and then get back to this review.

J. Herbin Encre Violette is, I know, only slightly different from Swisher Dark Purple. Yet for some reason I find it totally obnoxious, like a Barney purple. It’s nearly the same value as Dark Purple (i.e. equally dark), but less blue and more of a true purple. The smell of this ink, by the way, is nauseating.

Noodler’s Lermontov is from the “Russian series,” a set of inks which all have a strange, milky transparency to them. It’s as though they’re bright, even saturated, but still seem a bit transparent. Lermentov is a light purple leaning towards pink.

Noodler’s Akhmatova, also from the Russian series, is almost identical to Lermentov in brightness, saturation, and still strangely transparent. The only difference, of course, is that it’s kermit-the-frog green.

Levenger Gemstone Green falls into the same family as J. Herbin’s Vert Reseda, Diabolo Menthe, and Diamine’s steel blue. They are all true teals, and Levenger’s Gemstone Green is the darkest. Like other Levenger inks, it’s very saturated and has no shading.

Levenger Amethyst is like a darker, classier version of J.Herbin’s Encre Violette at the top of the page. Still a true purple, but deeper and more saturated– and, I would guess, more appropriate for Levenger’s clientele (i.e. conservative professionals).

Levenger Cobalt Blue is a true blue, which is something you don’t see often in inks. It doesn’t have the vitality of Private Reserve’s Electric DC Blue or PR’s Black Magic Blue, but it’s along those lines. To me, it just feels… basic.

Inky Gifts Are My Favorite Gifts

I mentioned a while ago that I received some beautiful new inks and nibs from a generous stranger on Fountain Pen Network. It’s funny how, even in an age of consumerism, humans still find ways to create gift communities. It’s almost as though it’s in our nature to share; we instinctually know that a gift creates a social bond where there was none.

On a related note, I highly highly recommend reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. He’s one of those rare writers that fully acknowledges that he is writing through a privileged [white, male] lens, and yet approaches a topic confidently, using that lens as a tool. I’m also lucky enough to be taking a class with him this semester, and have constructed some elaborate plans to pick his brain…

But okay, onward to the meat and potatoes of this entry, which is the ink comparisons.

A couple of notes: I find that scans never turn out color-accurate, so I tend to stick with photographs. I use two different dip nib to test inks: an italic that writes more like a wet fountain pen, and a round speedball that writes a bit drier. This allows you to see the way the ink might look in different pens. And remember to click any image or icon for a full-size view!

Also, there are more comparisons coming later (sheesh, can’t blow my load all in one entry…)

Oranges and Browns

Oranges Browns 3Oranges Browns (bottom)

Private Reserve Fiesta Red …is a name that implies a totally different color than you see here. Regardless, this is a subdued burgundy. At some point I’ll do a comparison with PR Black Cherry and some others. This ink is saturated, and has some shading.

Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm makes me want to get out the glow sticks and neon bracelets. Unlike Noodler’s highlighter inks, however, Dragon’s Napalm is still totally legible for writing, which is the reason why I love it. I just need to find an excuse to use it…

Noodler’s Cayenne has superb shading. I remember having to choose between this and Noodler’s Habanero when I ordered some inks a while ago: Cayenne is like a darker Habanero, but definitely not any less intense. I’m dying to try it out with some calligraphy…

Private Reserve Orange Crush is yet another ink that doesn’t seem to match its name. Still, this is a super sexy color, like burnt orange with a bit of shading. I’d feel comfortable using it for casual everyday writing.

Noodler’s FPN Galileo Manuscript Brown falls on the limits of the “brown” category; it’s a very light red-brown. In fact, out of all the inks I received, I’d compare it most to fiesta red (at the top of the page). Fiesta Red is a bit more purple, though, while Galileo Manuscript Brown leans towards auburn.

Noodler’s Swishmix Grizzly, for whatever reason, grosses me out. I have to admit that the name is eerily accurate; this ink is almost precisely the color of grizzly bears (look, I watched Grizzly Man one too many times, okay?). I could make other comparisons, though: ashy mustard? Desert sand at night? I can’t tell precisely why, but it feels a little washed out as an ink– even though it actually has pretty decent shading.

Noodler’s Beaver sort of bored me, unfortunately. I’d say that it falls into the red-brown family, though it doesn’t play up the red (like, for example, Waterman Havana Brown). I know a lot of professionals like to use this color. So, I guess I’ll never be working a desk job… [also, I realize that I spelled "burgundy" incorrectly in the writing sample]

Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan may be the only true brown ink that I own right now. I wouldn’t say that it’s boring, but it feels like a brown crayon or something. Compared to Beaver and Brown (ha), though, I’d say it has a bit of gold in it.

Noodler’s Brown is, first of all, a boring name. Like Noodler’s Beaver, it’s redder than Kiowa Pecan.

[P.S. Don't judge the dry time of those last two based on the smudge; I turned the page too early and the samples at the top had already had time to dry...]

more blues

Blues midBlues bottom

Caran D’Ache Blue Night isn’t blue. More like a cool greeny gray. It also isn’t likely to show up as dark as it does in the italic sample; it’s very washed out.

Mont Blanc Blue Black is definitely a professional ink (I suppose anyone buying MB’s has got to be a professional). It’s a warmer gray that CD Blue Night, but neither of them are what I imagine when I think of “blue black.” Not very saturated, but perhaps I’ll pair this neutral with a brighter color for some art.

Lamy Blue Black is.. slightly closer to the “blue black” category than Caran D’Ache or Mont Blanc. It’s a medium denim color, fairly saturated. I’ve seen some snazzy shading in other reviews, though there’s not much here.

Waterman Blue Black **NOTE** I received two samples labeled “Waterman Blue Black” –and they’re totally different colors. So, you may want to ignore this swatch and look elsewhere for reviews. You can see on the right side of the page that I swatched both vials and they’re totally different. From other reviews it looks like the lighter swatch is the correct one, so just ignore this.

Private Reserve Black Magic Blue is a very saturated royal blue. I’ll compare this side-by-side with Electric DC Blue sometime, but from my first impressions it seems to be a tad more purple.

Sheaffer Blue makes me want to drink tea out of fine china. It’s what we call “colonial blue” down in colonial Virginia.

Noodler’s Swishmix Tahitian Pearl is a very saturated, free flowing ink. Not for use in wet writers, I say! This was the only sample that bled through the paper, but that’s with a dip nib, so I’ll follow up on that statement.

Noodler’s Squeteague, even though I know that it’s a fish, always seems to appear as a rubber ducky in my head. In any case, it’s actually fairly similar to Tahitian Pearl, though a bit more teal and less gray. It’s also not as wet and has a bit more shading.


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