December hasn't seen too much in terms of pen rotation. The Pilot 74 was written dry in the middle of the month and I had to resist the temptation to ink it up again with Aurora Blue. The more I use this ink, the more I like it. Aurora Blue is about as close as you get to a perfect ink.
The Franklin-Christoph Model 20 Marietta had been filled with Diamine Autumn Oak and while I enjoy this ink, it is hard to write through a load out of orange in a timely manner. Letters were written and the ink was expended but it still took two months to go through a converter.
Next up is the Pilot Prera that has been outfitted with an italic nib from a Pilot Plumix. This pen has been filled with Noodler's Cactus Fruit Eel. If I had a hard time with orange, this hot pink / magenta is even more challenging. It is nice enough ink but I am finding it to be a bit of a hesitant starter with extended dry times on ink resistant papers. This could be due to it being very saturated with a high concentration of dyes. Maybe a 10% dilution would improve the characteristics.
Another Noodler's ink that I have been testing is Noodler's American Eel Blue. This ink is a nice bright blue colour and is highly lubricated. I loaded it up in a Noodler's Konrad outfitted with a medium JoWo nib and the writing experience has been really nice. Unfortunately this ink has the same problem as the Cactus Fruit Eel in that it is a very slow dryer on good papers. For regular office paper this isn't a problem but letter writing requires you to leave the pages out for a long time (like overnight) before folding. If you rush the process you run the risk of transfer to the facing side of the sheet. It's too bad because the feel of the ink is great. The pen, having an ebonite feed meant for a flex nib, tends towards the wet side and is always ready to write, even after being uncapped for an extended period of time. The downside of this is that it tends to leak a bit of ink into the cap and I have had to clean the section before use if I don't want to end up with inky fingers. At one point in the month I said nuts to this and threw the cap into the ultrasonic cleaner to get it good and clean. It has improved since then but it is far from perfect. If this pen stayed in a pen holder on my desk it likely wouldn't see this problem but it has lived in my Brasstown for the last month, going to and from work and into and out of the cold.
A pen and ink combination that is close to perfect is my Pelikan M605 with Waterman Mysterious Blue. A great pen with a great nib and a well behaved ink to match. What's not to love? Since this pen is a piston filler I have only been putting easy to clean inks into it. This has served me well and I have come to realize why these are the go to inks for people like Richard Binder and others; they just work.
One pen that has seen very little use this month is the Franklin-Christoph Model 65 Stabilis. It is loaded with Aurora Black which is a great ink, but being a desk pen, means that it doesn't get put into my shirt pocket; a prerequisite for any high use pen in my collection. I'll have to make a concerted effort to write with it in January. It really is a nice pen in the hand.
Finally two more pens were added to the load out during the month. First to enter was my Namiki Capless. It has been loaded with Pilot Mixable Blue Black, much darker than the standard Pilot Blue Black. It reminds me of Noodler's Air Corp Blue Black. This pen and ink will be my journalling combination for 2016 however I have ordered a fine Vanishing Point nib unit from John Mottishaw. I prefer medium nibs over fine but the 3.7 mm ruling in the Hobonichi Techo is a bit too small for a medium. Luckily I ordered the nib unit before the month end price hike. Shipping was still killer (US$30 to Canada) but I felt that it would be worth it for a nib set up by a nibmeister. We'll see if that proves true.
The second pen was a Lamy Safari with 1.1 mm italic which was inked with Diamine Red Luster shimmering ink. This ink was chosen to write out gift tags as well as thank you notes. It works well for this task but I can't see it getting much use outside of the holiday season. Now that we are rolling into a new year I will flush this pen rather than carrying this ink and pen combination forward. I was excited for the shimmering inks when they were released but I have gotten them out of my system now and I want to go back to my tried and true favourites.
With so many pens still containing last month's inks, I'm only going to add one additional pen to the rotation, my Sailor Pro Gear with medium nib. This pen has been loaded with Montblanc JFK Navy Blue. I'm still dialling in this nib with micromesh but the feedback is getting less. I am deliberately trying to creep up on the final smoothness because I really don't know what I am doing in this endeavour and I think much caution is warranted.
One final note, I have found that the bulk of the inks that I have tested over the last few months, while they worked just fine, haven't given me a compelling reason to choose them over the ones that are my favourites. The more time I spend with these new inks, the less time I get to spend with the ones that I really like. Because of this I think that I will be reviewing fewer inks in the future. I still have quite a backlog of inks to review so I'll focus on these rather than adding to the collection, but it will be at a reduced pace. Maybe I'll bring more pen reviews into the mix. Things evolve and focusses change.