it’s a new day: esterbrook estie nouveau blue
The carpet on the floor muffles your steps as you climb the stairs. Happy chatter comes from above you, accompanied by sounds of cutlery clanking. There’s a faint smell of fresh cooking. You climb another floor. The windows let in a faint light, a thin layer of clouds curtaining the sun. Your shadow falls step behind you, taking the steps one at a time as well. You climb another floor. The sounds of people chatting gets fainter and fainter behind you. When you reach the door, there is no bell, no knocker. You pause for a moment. Then, slowly tap your knuckles against the aged wood.
During my last exam week, my primary companion was the Esterbrook Estie Nouveau Blue with a fine nib and shiny gold trim. I had gotten this pen a good while ago, but hadn’t used it too much because it had another ink in it. I am not big on matching the pen to the ink, but it has to “feel” like a correct match. That was not, but Diamine Oxford Blue is perfect for it. As it turns out, a little matching never hurt anyone.
I had seen Esterbrook pens around before, but wasn’t tempted enough to buy one. Their JR launch of last summer was extremely tempting with fun resins and the smaller size, but they didn’t feel right at the time. I was looking for a bit more variety in my pen collection, and JR is a little too close to Pelikan M200. So, you might ask, what variety did the Esterbrook Estie bring to my collection? It has a regular #6 nib, a fancy resin, a cartridge-converter system and an ordinary size/shape. It brings me a story. It is the only pen I own that is made to honour someone, and that person is Alphonse Mucha.
One of my favourite art periods is Art Nouveau, and their ideology about making new art for a new era. In architecture, it is commonly reflected as using industrial materials (steel, glass, etc) and weave them into intricate botanical shapes. Victor Horta’s Hotel Tassel in Brussels is a great example. But in illustration, Mucha is the master. I first met his work on a coffee coaster. One of my parents’ friends had been on a trip, and he had brought back a set of coffee coasters. One of them had the lithograph that Mucha had done for Job cigarette papers. After a painstaking search on the internet searching for “JOB” and “Art Nouveau” , I had finally found what I was looking for. My current favourite print of his is “Summer” in the “Seasons” series.
So, this pen was sold to me by its story of Mucha. Yes, in part, but the pen itself has also played a big role. Estie has been on my radar for a while, but I couldn’t pick a colour, they’re all very pretty. I needed something exquisite. I needed something I couldn’t say no to. A blue and brown resin with a depth that I cannot take my eyes off. A nib that wrote great out of the box -according to glowing reviews.
I got the pen on Fountain Pen Day, because I’m always looking for a celebratory pen anyway. The pen arrived quick and with a lovely notebook. I opened the box, tried to take the cap off. I knew it was child-proof like some medicine bottles, but to be honest, I have never opened a medicine bottle that had a baby-proof lid. I thought, “How hard can it be? They’re only trying to make it proof to children, not to grown up humans.” I was very wrong. It was also Dennis proof. It took me a solid hour to open it for the first time. It took me a while to get used to, and I still have to consciously open it so I won’t forget to press down before turning. Great idea though, I like an interesting experience on a pen. Super satisfying to play around and fidget with as long as you can open the cap. The pen itself writes great, the weight and balance are perfect for my hand. I wrote three converters full, tens of hours in a week. Zero complaints. Well, maybe except that the resin is so pretty that I cannot take my eyes off it and turn it in my hand to watch the light hit all the chatoyant and less sparkly flecks.
The ink was a perfect match for this pen. It flows extremely smoothly, and shades just a little. I studied in Oxford for a very short amount of time, and due to my fond memories of the university and the city, I couldn’t pass it up once I learned of its existence. The downside is that apparently, I wasn’t the only one that liked this ink a lot. It was sold out everywhere, and for about a year I couldn’t catch it in stock. But once I managed to get a small bottle of it, I keep it inked pretty regularly. It’s just a little different from my regular blue-black or black inks, but that difference makes it so suitable for the task. Fun, but easy to read. The slight shading matches the flecks of the pen, and the reddish sheen keeps my writing shiny. And when you’ve studied for 18 hours a day, I learned that shiny becomes an important aspect of your writing. This beautiful combination proved to be perfect for exam week; comfortable and pretty enough to keep me interested. Sadly, they don’t allow fountain pens in exams, I had to switch to a ballpoint for that.
Now, my hand hurts from holding various pens and a mouse for so long. I want to clean everything out -looking at you the pair of Isograph’s that haven’t been cleaned in two years- and perhaps not hold a pen or a mouse for a day to give my wrist a much needed break. I’ll finish a book or the pile of articles I need to read. Oh… I need a pen to read the articles… Maybe the pen cleaning can wait…
Thank you for reading! This week there is only one post as I couldn't write during the exams. Photograph of the Tassel Hotel and Mucha illustrations are a part of the public domain, taken from Wikimedia Commons.