Cornucopia of Delights

It has been a tough couple of months under lockdown., though there are aspects I don’t mind at all. I’m generally quite happy pottering about at home and have more than enough to occupy me. At this time of year, however, I should be off trading at Historic Fairs virtually every weekend. Unfortunately, pretty much everything has now been cancelled for the rest of the season. I am not going to see my fellow traders and friends,. The loss of my main income stream has been a huge blow. I even miss camping out, particularly since the weather has been so wonderful. I do have a small amount of work coming in, but it isn’t enough to compensate. All this is enough to get even the most stoic soul down.

Enter the lovely John Garnham, who very kindly sent me an amazing pen to cheer me up. I was totally gobsmacked – it’s completely and utterly gorgeous! See for yourself:

"Colorshift" pen from John Garnham

Told you, didn’t !? How breathtakingly lovely* is that?!

*many, many other adjectives sprang to mind, but if I started down that route, you might for forgiven for thinking this was a Thesaurus entry.

John is a fellow member of the FPUK (Fountain Pens UK) Facebook group and makes pens in his spare time. Being a maker myself, I place high value on hand-crafted items, so I was genuinely delighted to receive this. There is something very special about receiving a unique piece, that has been made by an individual, rather than mass produced in a factory.

The Pen

The body and cap have been made from material imported from the US called “Colorshift” and it certainly does that! At the same angle, the body and cap look the same. Change the angle and the colours change and shift, altering from a shimmery, minty green, through blues to a hint of purple and even a touch of brown. It is not unlike Labradorite, which is why I have included a couple of pieces in the picture above. (It also happens to be one of my favourite minerals.) The pen section is made from vintage white OMAS material from their Arte Milady range and has a Moonstone quality to it. So I included one of those too, though it has become a little lost on the white background. The nib is a Bock Fine with just a little flex – perfect for my preference!

The pen material is incredibly light and it doesn’t post, so if you like a bit of weight in your hand, this is probably not a pen for you. I used to prefer heavier pens, but I now use  lighter pens when drawing, so I’m quite comfortable either way. The material does feel very pleasant in the hand, though it is quite hard to concentrate on writing when you just want to stare at it to see the colour change!

The Ink

The next step in test driving the pen was agonising over the ink. Well, to kill a number of birds with one boulder, I hadn’t really given the Sailor Studio #162 ink a proper outing and I had been sent some FPUK journal paper that I had completely forgotten to include in my last review, so I thought I’d include mini reviews of those here as well. It was a tough decision not to go with a shimmer ink for possibly better match. I had half an eye on Diamine Shimmer Peacock Flare,  but I am loathe to use shimmers in any really nice pens as they tend to be difficult to clean out.

The Sailor ink has some interesting colour properties. Beginning with a light sage green and, if laid down more generously than a Fine nib will permit, a darker green with hints of purple and grey. emerges It seems an appropriate choice for the colour shifting nature of the pen, albeit not the nib. I have had issues with the Sailor Studio inks with fine nibs before. Perhaps it is the colours I have chosen, but they don’t come out very strong on the page. I thought initially that they were rather too dry for a fine nib, but I now believe that they are simply too pale and need several layers. Anyway, see for yourself:

Sailor Studio 162 test

The Test Drive

The pen is lovely to write with, though I think this nib needs a darker or wetter ink, unless you are quite heavy handed, which I am not. I’m certainly not going to hold my choice of ink against the pen. A bit of additional pressure and the ink will give the desired effect thanks to the slight flex in the nib, which does suggests that a wider and wetter nib would be a better combination to do the ink justice. That is also my excuse for the poor handwriting, as I had to go over bits that came out very pale initially and then press harder than is comfortable for me.

As you can see from the “blob” test, the ink, when laid down in sufficient quantity, is a lovely match for the pen. The Sailor Studio range is quite extensive. My choice was from the light toned end of the range quite deliberately, as I bought it for art work rather than writing. The inks are numbered with three digits, beginning 1, 2 or 3, with 1 being the lightest in tone. I’d recommend the higher numbered inks for everyday writing. Though at £12.99 for 20ml, they are quite expensive and probably best saved for more artistic pursuits, which will show off the colours to greater effect.

The Paper

All of which brings me to the third part of the review, the paper. A few sheets of this were kindly sent to me by Scribble from his FPUK Custom notebook, which was made exclusively for the FPUK group by Rob de la Porte of Made For Ink. Fortunately, other notebooks are available from Rob, so you can get your hands one. The lovely pen-friendly paper  stood up very well to my abuse. It’s good quality, 85gsm paper that won’t let a fountain pen user down. There was only a little ghosting from the blob test and where I had scribbled over the same spot repeatedly, which is quite impressive.


In summary, I’m feeling rather good about my cornucopia of delights. The pen is stunning. The ink is a lovely colour match, though would be better suited to a fatter nib. The paper is none too shabby either, performing well despite my flooding and scratching. If you want to fill your boots, or indeed, your cornucopia, here’s where you may be able to find the goodies…

Pens by John Garnham**: FPUK Facebook Group

Paper/Notebooks: Rob de la Porte of Made For Ink and Personalised Stationery

Sailor Studio Inks: The Writing Desk

**John periodically makes very small runs in a particular (and always stupendously desirable) colour or material and offers them for sale on the FPUK group. They are, without exception, utterly beautiful, and very reasonably priced. You do have to be extremely quick off the mark to get your hands on one though. I haven’t managed it yet, so I feel even more privileged with this pen as John informs me that he will not be making any more like it. Alhough, I am sure he could be persuaded 😀



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