Things I’ve Been Up To

Hello again, all. I bet you’ve been on the edges of your seats, wondering what I’ve been putting out recently. Well relax! Unclench! The time has come to find out…

I’ve been keeping myself busy with a few found lines and some foreign languages just to mix things up. Here are a few of my favorites.

Head Boy

The Head Boy of our student council actually said this out loud. It made sense in context – he was talking to a history teacher about Stalin’s practices in Soviet Russia, but still… I had to write it down.

Ray Bradbury

Another student of ours came across this line quite a while ago, and I resolved to write it out. I did it once before, but the result was mixed. Nice text, terrible-looking attribution. She’s about to graduate, so I thought I’d make it look nice. Bradbury is popular in our program, so it’s great to see a student appreciate him.


My very-nearly-second year lit class is reading Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” right now, and we had a couple of lessons on the story of Phaethon. Like a lot of the stories in that book, there are lessons that we still need today. In this case, be careful with dad’s car. Out of curiosity, I looked up the original Latin and decided to write it out. In Romans, of course. If it had been Biblical Latin, however, I would have used Uncial. Why? Because.

One translation of the epitaph is:

Here Phaethon lies who in the sun-god’s chariot fared.
And though greatly he failed, more greatly he dared.

Franklin Roosevelt

It was FDR’s birthday the other day, so I thought I’d finally do the line that everyone has on their list somewhere. I like how it turned out.

However, it always reminds me of a discussion I had a while ago with a friend who hates FDR thanks to Japanese internment in World War 2. I wanted to reply with, “Yes, but…” and then I thought about it. How the hell do you “Yes, but” Japanese internment? Simple – you can’t. But I can accept that Roosevelt was flawed, and that his good parts were really good.

Okay, one more:

Mark Twain

I love Mark Twain. I mean, he has a point, right? He certainly does.

Anyway, that’s a few of the things I’ve been working on. Hope you’re enjoying yourselves!

Last Ink Drops of 2015

For a variety of reasons, I got behind in trying out my new Ink Drop inks. Totally my fault, and has absolutely nothing to do with my being the sole survivor of a pre-apocalyptic suburban paradise lost in the wasteland of post-nuclear Massachusetts. Nothing.

First, November:

2015.11 Ink Drop Limerick

These were some lovely inks all around. I don’t have a lot to say about each one individually because, frankly, they all work. The Kiri-Same is a nice one to have, as a good grey ink is tough to come by sometimes (unless you dilute sumi, which is a perfectly fine, if a bit trial-and-error, option), and while the Autumn Oak is a great vibrant orange for calligraphy – up there with Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Iroshizuku’s Yu-Yake – it’s probably not one I would load up a pen with. Just as a personal preference, seeing as how my words don’t feel very orange to me. Yours might, so go for it.

The limerick, by the way, came from Ranjit Bolt’s book, A Lion Was Learning to Ski, all a bunch of amusing limericks.

Now, December’s a little different….

2015.12 Ink Drop

First, you may notice that I didn’t do a limerick. That’s because, even with Ranjit Bolt’s help, I just couldn’t find any that I really wanted to write out. So I went to another resource, my growing collection of abecedaries. This one is the group of fictional companies. I alphabetized them, numbered them, went to and used whatever came out.

Now I can see what Goulet Pens is up to this month, via those clever dogs at De Atramentis – Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, with some red and green to round out the five. Nicely done, although at least two of these inks gave me some trouble when I first did this.

The first time I tried this, the Gold came out really heavy, so the second try required a bit of a lighter hand with the dipping. Once that was taken care of, though, it came out looking quite nice. The Brilliant Red is more pink than red, really, so I probably won’t use a lot of it. Outside of my sarcastic Valentine’s calligraphy, I don’t have much use for pink.

The biggest troublemaker here, of course, is the Frankincense. All that feathering on what is pretty smooth paper. Kind of absurd, but it might not be too bad a problem if you’re using a fountain pen – especially a finer-nibbed one. If I want to use this again, I’ll have to be a bit more careful about loading on the ink. The other De Atramentis ink, Myrrh, seemed to work just fine, and the Vibrant Green is great.

So there’s two months in one. Lucky you!

Ink Drop for October 2015

It’s time again (a little late, actually) to look at a new set of inks thanks to Goulet Pens and their Ink Drop service. This month’s selection was dark and spooky, as would be expected, so let’s take a look!

Ink Drop Limerick 17

A couple of things to note at first – the Fraktur variant is one that we’re practicing over on Reddit. It’s a bit different from the one I usually do, but it came out looking quite nice. If you’re interested, the miniscules are here, and the majuscules over here so you can try for yourself.

You’ll also note that this set of inks is very friendly for everyday use. You probably won’t get any funny looks for using these to write notes at work or mark exams or whatever you put them in your fountain pen for. So if that’s one of the metrics by which you look for inks, there you go.

Noodler’s Nightshade is a red-black ink, to the point where I’d say it’s more sepia than anything else. It shades a bit with a broad edge, but in an ordinary pen it should work just fine.

Noodler’s Heart of Darkness really does deserve the name. It’s black. It’s Joseph Conrad sailing through the untamed wilds of Africa on top of the flagship of the Haggunenon star fleet black. Really not much more I can say about it other than if you’re looking for a black ink, this one’s got you covered.

De Atreamentis Fog Grey is – much in the spirit of how Sahara Grey back in August is really green – not really all that grey. It’s blue. Sure, it’s a slate blue and a lovely one at that, but if you’re hoping to write pale, fog-like letters that seem to emerge from the mist to rest above the page, well… It’s blue.

Private Reserve, I must say, does some fine blue inks, and this one is one of them, even though it’s on the purple end of the blue spectrum. Their blues – and this is no exception – have a vivid quality to them that I like.

Finally, Waterman’s Mysterious Blue is quite nice. I’m not sure it really qualifies as “mysterious,” as there’s very little mystery about what it is. I don’t know the process for naming inks, though. Maybe the Chief Ink Namer at Waterman was binge-reading Sherlock Holmes stories when the Chief Ink Mixer dropped a bottle of the stuff on her desk and said, “Name this! Now!”

Stranger things have happened.

Anyway, to sum up – a nice selection this month, suitable for all your writing needs, whatever they may be. And as a final point, I’d like to point out that this is an original limerick, as the internet has been disappointingly bad at producing limericks of quality. Thank Grodd for rhyming dictionaries…

Ink Drop Limerick for August 2015

Once again, it is time for the Ink Drop – thanks to the fine people at Goulet Pens. Let’s see what this month has to offer!

Ink Drop Limerick 15


First of all, Edward Gorey was awesome, no doubt about it. Going to have to see if he did more when Halloween comes around.

The Faber-Castell Stone Grey is quite lovely. It’s got a wee bit of pink to it in large quantities, but on a small scale, it’s a solid dark grey. The second ink is an outright lie – It’s called Sahara Grey, but there’s no way in any kind of world that this ink is grey. It’s green – in fact it’s really close to J. Herbin’s Vert Olive, just with a little less yellow. The name aside, it’s a good pale green, and in a broad-nib pen it would probably work just fine.

Faber-Castell’s Moss Green is green. Mossy enough, I suppose. It’s got a little bit of blue to it, but it’s green through and through.

Little more needs to be said about Apache Sunset – it’s a fan favorite for a lot of fountain pen holders and calligraphers who deign to use fountain pen ink. It shades from a pale orange to a deep red, and always looks good. I have a nearly-full bottle of the stuff. Can’t go wrong with Apache Sunset, I always say…

And the Burnt Sienna is a good reddish-orange, as the name implies. And what probably doesn’t show in the scan, but I can see it in person, is that there’s a greenish sheen to the edges of the heavier letters – the “h” in “he’s” stands out best from where I’m sitting.

So, some good inks this month, and I think I can find uses for all five. As for the limericks, if you know any good ones for future Ink Drops, let me know in the comments – but keep them clean!

Angels and Demons

I do sometimes enjoy organized lists of things, and I’ve had these in my Evernote for a while now.

So there’s the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition, to which I was introduced through Alan Moore’s utterly amazing series Promethea. One large part of it is the organization of the spiritual world through a “Tree of Life” known as the Sephiroth which depicts the ten celestial spheres which surpass this poor, mortal world. Within the Kabbalistic traditions, each of these ten worlds is highly detailed in many ways, and each one is governed by an angel. So I decided to write them out.

Angel 01 - Metatron Angel 02 - Raziel Angel 03 - Tzaphkiel Angel 04 - Tzadquiel Angel 05 - Kamael Angel 06 - Raphael Angel 07 - Haniel Angel 08 - Michael Angel 09 - Gabriel Angel 10 - Sandalphon


Now because the Kabbalah is big on organization, it should go without saying that where there is a map of God’s creation of the spiritual universe, there must also be the opposite – a shadow map of sorts that describes the inverse of what God wants for Creation. Enter the Qliphoth – the Tree of Husks which represent our obstacles to God, and each of these ten worlds is ruled by a demon. So I wrote those out as well…

Demon 01 - Satan Demon 02 - Beelzebub Demon 03 - Lucifuge Demon 04 - Astaroth Demon 05 - Asmodeus Demon 06 - Belphegor Demon 07 - Baal Demon 08 - Adramelech Demon 09 - Lilith Demon 10 - Nehema


So there we go – some interesting names and titles and a whole metaphysical universal superstructure barely appreciated even a bit. I fully expect to see some annoyed people in the comments, so remember – it’s all in fun. Enjoy!

Spring has finally arrived

Quotation - Henry Rollins 01
Coming from Rollins, though, it sounds dangerous.

I did this for our Reddit Spring/Easter contest. As of this writing, the contest is still undecided, so I guess I can cross my fingers. There’s some good competition, though…

EDIT: I won!

The effect here was done with gouache, a medium I’m slowly getting the hang of, and it was done by carefully, meticulously… tediously going from color to color within each letter. I mixed the gouaches a little more watery than usual so as to encourage blending, and then just tried to be as quick as I could. I think it worked nicely. I used the same techniques for these two as well:

Quotation - Pablo Neruda 02
You can never go wrong with Pablo Neruda
In case you’ve forgotten what this is all about.

Finally, in further celebration of the season, I went out to Osaka Castle to see cherry blossoms and did a little calligraphy en plein air. I wanted a quotation with some kind of flower reference, and I had this one hanging around.

Instagram - Mark Twain 03

The script, in case you were wondering (and I know you were) is a variation of Uncial as found in the Vespasian Psalter (8th century-ish). It’s a difficult script, and I still have a lot of practice to do, but I like how this turned out.

So enjoy your spring, everyone – here’s to new beginnings and hope trees full of blossoms.