Friday, July 1, 2011

Laughing Out Blue

Among the fountain pens that I keep inked and lined up ready for use is a Lamy 2000, a pen I consider to be a hallmark in design and stripped-down functionality. The design is simple and inarguably beautiful in its uncluttered matte black and silver. It writes every time in a smooth and flowing line and cleaning, filling and maintenance are all trouble-free. In 1966, when Gerd Alfred Müller handed over to production his designs for the Lamy 2000 a new star joined the ranks of fine writing instruments.

A detailed review of the Lamy 2000 appeared here in March of 2010, shortly after receiving the pen as a gift from longtime friends. I was smitten with the pen from the very beginning, but the months since have deepened my liking and appreciation of Müller’s design. Unfortunately, a stupid accident on my part interrupted regular use of the 2000, and caused it to be sidelined for some time. As a part of his minimalist design, Müller used a small cap ring with two tiny ‘ears’ protruding slightly from the lower barrel as a means of holding the cap on. This cap ring is only visible as two silver ridges hardly noticeable at the grip point of the barrel. The pen unscrews at that spot, separating nib and feed from the upper barrel. At a time I can’t remember, I lost that small, thin cap ring when I had the pen apart for cleaning—a piece so tiny I failed to notice its absence. I reassembled the 2000 and laid it aside. The next time I picked it up the cap fell off in my hands. It took a while but I finally figured out the problem was that missing cap ring. With a cap forever falling off, I decided to give the pen a rest until I could get a replacement cap ring.

A new cap ring arrived yesterday from a friend in Japan and put my 2000 right back into action. (Anyone in the US with a similar problem, try here.) Simple part, simple fix and now the pen is laughing out blue. I looked through the bottles of Iroshizuku and settled on Tsuyu-kusa, a color too long out of circulation around here. More often than not blue inks don’t light much of a spark for me, but there are a few that fit the mood at times and the Iroshizuku Spiderwort or Dayflower is one of those. About the name, the Japanese tsuyu-kusa is literally ‘dewflower’ but the blue spiderwort is a good match for the color and some use that flower’s name. I have an idea that the ink blenders at Pilot might have chosen the name from a passage in Japan’s classic, The Tale of Genji — “It was true then: he had after all the shifting hue of the dewflower. She had heard about that. She had heard, albeit in general terms, that men were good at lying, that many a sweet word went into the pretense of love.” The dewflower, or dayflower, with its bright blue petals open at dawn and wither at dusk, making it a suitable analogy for fleeting affections. The pretty plant is quite hardy and can often be seen thriving along roadsides.

The Tsuyu-kusa and the Lamy 2000 sample is a selection of four tanka poems by Tawara Machi from her collection, Salad Anniversary.


  1. The Lamy 2000 (fountain pen version) I looked up on their site listed a price of $175. Very sleek design, yes. And this caught my eye: "The Lamy 2000 is so revered that it is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art and has won countless design awards." Like my little yellow Lamy so much I may have to add more pennies to the piggy for a future purchase.

  2. Such a beautiful color of blue. I have a Lamy pen (certainly not as precious as yours) and will see if I can find a blue ink such as that.


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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America