Hi! I'm Junee - a left handed fountain pen lover from Singapore. I am a video editor by profession but fountain pens and inks are my passion. Alt. Haven is where I publish my reviews.
Hello everyone! I'm Junee Lim - founder of Alt Haven
My journey toe tipping into the the world of fountain pens and inks began 3 years ago when I first discovered the Pen Addict podcast through the 5by5 Podcast Network. The hosts Brad and Myke are knowledgeable, entertaining and discuss all kinds of stationery each week. It was their links to recommended products in their show notes that got me purchasing in the first place, where I eventually went from baulking at Retro 51 prices online to accepting that Kaweco Ice Sports are affordable purchases :P
From then on it was a straight hop, skip and jump into the deep end. I've since amassed quite a number of pens and inks, along with a blog (Alt.Haven) that reviews them all.
For this AMA you can ask me questions like:
Ask me anything and I'll try to answer!
NOTE from community manager: This AMA session is scheduled to go live on 12th September from 8pm to 10pm! If you have any questions you can post them first and Junee will answer them once the AMA begins. Remember to subscribe to this thread by clicking the button below so you will get updates on answers! It's a community discussion so please be nice! Rude/tasteless/vulgar comments will be moderated/deleted.
EDIT: This AMA has officially ended, a huge thank you to everyone for your support! I believe we've learnt quite abit from Junee today :) If you have more questions you can still post them and it will get answered over time. Do watch out for more AMAs from Grouphunt in the future!
Thanks for this, I wanted to ask you few questions.
I have enjoyed reading your honest review about pilot myu. Thanks
I am glad you enjoyed my review of the Pilot Myu.
I love listening to podcasts, watching US and UK dramas, reading sci-fi and fantasy books and Japanese manga. I love playing console games but I haven't got my own PS4 yet since my PS3 died last year.
Yes! The Sailor My First pen set is the one. However from what I have seen on SFPL, someone had a better experience than I had. I didn't regret buying another Pilot Metropolitan after giving away my first but that just because I had plenty of other pens to use.
I remember I had to take penmanship classes back in secondary school for a year. I got a left handed nib then. I remember I found it hard to use and difficult to write. Now when I buy pens, I do not request for a left handed nib even if they are available. For me, I am a left handed side writer, left handed nibs do not make a smoother writing experience for me.
Music nibs are nice and juicy! I do not write music notations so if I were to get one, it would be a great pen to fill with shading inks and watch the ink come to life in that nib. Hmmm.. maybe I should get a music nib pen of my own... You are giving me ideas...
I would either use a more absorbent paper. I do that if it is for my work notes. Since I only read them and I don't keep them around once I am done with them so they can look ugly and dull.
What I can do if I do not want to compromise on paper is to tilt the paper anti counter clock and turn my hand such that I am writing it slightly hooked hand. I only do that when I am writing to my penpals and I am lazy to wait for the ink to dry.
Of course EF or F nibs are my best friends but I do not want to use inks that are too dry though that might help with the dry time. I prefer my inks wet.
Thanks for the detailed reply. It's always interesting to hear how others handle the same issues I have, as I used to be a left-hander side/overwriter, before fountain pen usage made me switch to an underwriting style.
Incidentally, I predominantly use Sailor inks (outright favorites, in fact) in my pens as well, and prefer pens that give wetter lines, which isn't too great even using the hooked-hand writing style.
Just as a guideline, what would be an example of a more absorbent paper?
Also, not much love for stubs/italics?
Field Notes have absorbent paper. Fountain pen inks would feather, bleed through and do all sort of things that you wouldn't want but it works for me as my work note book. I write on both sides regardless of the bleed through. Nobody gets to see the ugly stuff but me. Field Notes' paper differ from notebook to notebook. I am referring to their limited editions ones. I have tons of notebook to work through so I don't actually have to buy any for now.
I do have one stub from TWSBI. Maybe it's my writing angle or maybe I tend to rotate the nib as I write. Sometimes the nib would just skip. I am quite sure it isn't the nib or the ink because this only happens when I overstretch my fingers without moving my fingers. The writing experience isn't all that great either. Maybe it's because I never tried another brand's stub or italics. Do you have anything to recommend?
Ah, I see. One brand I should avoid then.
Regarding the stub, I have the TWSBI 1.1mm as well, and it skips fairly often, mostly on the push strokes (while in that hook-hand position). I didn't have the same issue with the Pilot Music nib (was actually surprised how smooth it wrote), so that's a possible choice.
Other than that, I haven't tried many factory stubs/italics before. If I had to recommend something, I'd say something from Franklin-Christoph with a Masuyama ground Cursive Italic (and probably drop a note to specify that you're a left-hander/and if you hold your pen at a high-angle; they have their own nib tuner who does additional adjustments).
I use a left-oblique CI I ground myself for line variation of that sort, but it gives only the right thick/thin lines when writing under the line.
What's your favourite fountain pen that you love to use on a daily basis?
What type of nib would you chose for caligraphy,if you are doing caligraphy?
Hi Aurora, I have quite a number of pens, to make sure they do not get neglected I rotate them. I have a few favourite daily writer pens though. It is just too hard to just pick one. I love my Lamy 2000, Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black, Pilot Murex and of course the Nakaya Decapod (might be because of the new-ness).
I do not anything close to callgraphy but I do sometimes try to do some copperplate. I use my Pilot Custom Heritage 91 with the soft fine nib to do that. I am not good at it but I still keep at it. Currently it is inked with the J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor.
I've recently been looking into curating my inks properly. There are so many characteristics of inks that we can look at. What are some of your favourite characteristics that you find attractive in ink (e.g. lots of shading? Sheen? Wetness? etc.)?
I guess I must like the colour. If that isn't an issue, the first thing it has to shade. if it doesn't, I usually find them boring. Wetness is another factor. If it is too wet and the dry time takes forever i probably wouldn't use it often. Sheen is nice to have but not a must have. I usually use EF or F nibs. So I don't usually see much sheen unless the ink's sheen is obvious even in the finer nibs. The latest one I've encountered that like that is the Akkerman Shocking Blue.
As for pens.
Pilot Metropolitan White Tiger - F
Pilot Custom Heritage 91 - SF
Pilot Custom 74 - F
Pilot Myu 701 - F
Pilot Murex - F
Pilot Kakuno - F
Lamy Safari (Yellow and Matte Black) - EF / F / M / 1.1
Lamy Studio - EF / F / M / 1.1
Lamy Logo - EF / F / M / 1.1 (FOR SALE)
Lamy 2000 - EF
Lamy CP1 - EF 14k
TWSBI Mini - 1.1 stub / F / EF / M / B
TWSBI Diamond 580 RB - F
TWSBI White Mini Rose Gold - F
TWSBI Eco White - M
Sailor ProColour 500 - F
Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black 21k - F
Kaweco ICE Sport - EF / M
Platinum #3776 - M
Nakaya Decapod - SM
Franklin Christoph Model 66 - EF
Deccan Advocate Jr. -M
Dollar Fountain Pen - F
Delta Journal - F
Visconti Van Gogh Starry Night - EF
And 26 pens
Wow this is an amazing insight! Just curious, do you have specific use cases for each pen/ink or is it mainly for collection purposes?
No specific pen and ink pairs. I may avoid inking the more precious ones with Noodler's inks but the rest are fair game. I try not to have pens that are purely for collection purposes. Though I have a rule - I don't sell anything that is a gift from someone. Anything that I bought with my money can be sold if I found I've fallen out of love with them. Or they are just not a right fit with me.
I keep a running list of the inks and pens I own.
Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo
Pilot Iroshizuku Ku Jaku
Pilot Iroshizuku Kon Peki
Pilot Iroshizuku Chiku Rin
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin Ryoku
Pilot Iroshizuku Tsuki Yo
Pilot Iroshizuku Ama Iro
Pilot Iroshizuku Shin Kai
Pilot Iroshizuku Take Sumi
General of the Armies
Emerald of Chivor
Eau De Nil
Bung Box Blue Black
Bung Box L'Amant
Bung Box Piano Mahogany
Kobe #31 Kaigan Grey
Jentle Oku Yama
Jentle Yama Dori
Treves - Turquoise
That's 35 bottles of ink
How the pen write and how the pen looks. Which is more important?
What is your favourite brand of pen/ink?
How much have fountain pen affect/change the way you do things? (never use ballpoint, more careful with the way you handle your bags as you have fp in them etc)
I think the way the pen looks have to appeal to me in some way before I would consider buying it. After all I would be hard pressed to even want to bring the pen out if I didn't like the way it looked. However the looks is what make me pick it up, the way it writes is what make me keep it in the collection. I have sold good looking pens that don't quite work well for my hand.
Favourite brand of ink is definitely Sailor! I've just did a list of my favourite inks and it was overwhelmingly Sailor inks. As for pens, it is a little all over the place. I look Lamy pens for the modern simplistic design but not so much for their nibs. I love the way Nakaya pens are like little pieces of art that you can use but I can't be buying too many of those. I love the way Pilot pens writes but design wise they are nothing special or stunning. It is little hard to pin down on a specific brand but I do know I prefer Japanese pens over European ones.
I have stopped using ballpoint totally unless the situation warrants it, like during voting. I still use a marker to write on cardboard boxes when I send things out. Pen cleaning has become a thrice a week routine. I still treat my bags as roughly as I used to. So far my pens have held up well through all my torture. I guess the biggest change is where I spend my money. I would reserve them for pens or inks. In the past I would buy other things, like games, software, camera lens, clothes and bags and other expensive stuff.
What is it about a fountain pen that would make you jump in and buy it, regardless of the price?
I guess the Nakaya is one good example. It is a very expensive pen. What pushed me over the edge was the fact the nibmeister was there to tune the nib on the spot for me. Otherwise I would have put off the purchase till next year or if I travel to Japan. I am usually tempted by sale and deals. Otherwise I would splurge more often when I am overseas. When the notes do not have Yusof Ishak's face, they all seem like monopoly money to me. Haha!
Of course the pen must look good and write well!
what purchase do you regret the most? (pen/ink)
what advice would you give to someone who's just started their journey into FPs?
The Sailor My first fountain pen set is something i regretted buying. Though it is not expensive, it was a horrible, horrible writing experience. In the end I gave it away. As for inks, they do not cause me much grief if I found I didn't like the colour. Usually what I do in those case is to put them up on Carousell and sell them.
I would say gird your loins, you are in for a potentially expensive journey (though not as bad as photography). It is a hobby that has plenty of rabbit holes. You might start the journey with fountain pens but you might venture into calligraphy and pick up dip nibs, or deciding to sew your own leather cases and sleeves. In general, save money and buy the good stuff. You will waste less money that way. Where possible try the pen in person before throwing money down for it.
Hi Junee, glad to have you with us! I'll kickoff the session with a few questions, as usual:
Thank you for inviting me to do the AMA. My grail pen, well I have purchased it last month at Aesthetic Bay. I guess that kind of breaks the definition of a grail pen. If I have to choose one I would really want to get a Nakaya A fox with the harvest moon.The Nakaya pen is as much as a piece of art as it is a fountain pen.
I don't think pursuing fountain pens did influence anything about my work. However I do think my passion for photography did help with my blog. My trusty DSLR and prime lens help me take nice photos for my pen and ink reviews.
I would have to say the Nakaya Decapod is definitely the product that had the most impact on my fountain pen journey. It is my most expensive pen to date. it definitely widen the threshold of how much I would pay for a pen. It also open my eyes to the higher end pens. I seriously doubt it would be my first and last Nakaya pen.
Realistically I would love a custom pen made of a pen blank of my choosing. Maybe something from http://www.muttblanks.com/lava-explosion.html (Lava Explosion #3). However if price wasn't an issue I would love to get a Visconti Divina Elegance in blue.
The Nakaya writes smoothly with a slight touch of feedback. I got it in a soft medium nib. The medium is just nice for me, any finer it would set my teeth on the edge when I write with it. The nib isn't too soft such that it bends even when I don't want it to. I have this problem with my Pilot SF nib. The Nakaya's SM nib is just the right balance for me.
Hey Junee! Thanks for taking the time to do this.
What's some of the things you're coveting / would like to hunt right now?
I read on your blog that you recently acquired the J.herbin anniversary inks. How'd you get them and which one of the series is your favorite?
What's next for your blog Alt Haven? Any plans to turn blogging into a career? ;)
Realistically I would really like to get a custom fountain pen made from a pen blank of my choosing but that would be quite a while away. I would like to do a hunt for the new Nock Co pen cases. They have not released it. Look out for a hunt of that once they are out!
I got mine from Fook Hing - your friendly fountain pen and ink supplier! I must say Emerald of Chivor is my favourite. The sheen, shading and gold dust!
I'm actually planning my end of the year blog posts. I do not have plans to turn the blog into a career though but I wouldn't say no if events do turn out that way. Currently I hope to be able to sell ad space to at least cover hosting costs. I fear by turning a hobby into a career, it might put me off the hobby. I used to write for fun, till I tried doing it to submit to publishers. It wasn't so fun after that. Maybe I wasn't that committed to making writing a career though.
Hey Junee - thanks for this! I do understand the struggle between turning your hobby into a career, many of my friends have mentioned the same train of thought.
Looking forward to more posts and the Nock Co hunt! I heard down the grapevine that Brad from Nock Co might be doing an AMA here in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for that! :)
Also, to be a little off fountain pen topics a bit, what are some stuff about you that you can tell us about, but we probably don't know about yet? :)
I wanted to be an author when I was younger. I joined SP's Media and Comm course and thought I could be a reporter first before turning to fiction writing. Turns out I didn't enjoy reporting much and I couldn't write for nuts. I fall into video editing totally out of a series of coincidences. I totally credit my lecturer for leading me into this industry. I am still in the industry all thanks to her initial push to give her contact a call which landed me my first job. Here I am, ten years on. I feel so old, 10 years in the working industry...