shark week: jinhao shark pen
Gray light creeps through the windows, thick clouds obscuring the sunlight. The humidity in the air feels like breathing underwater. Electricity almost crackles with every move. A stillness looms over the town like a blanket over your head, muffling outside sounds. Lightning strikes in the distance, thunder growls. Everyone is inside, waiting. Not daring to get caught in the storm.
I like the r/fountainpens group on Reddit. The community is full of lovely and helpful people. There is almost no negativity going on. After last week’s Noodler’s inks discussion, I am especially proud to be a part of that community. I didn’t follow it closely, but everyone seemed to keep it civil and respectful.
One of the favourite pens of this community is the Jinhao Shark. It generally gets posted as a “gift pen”, a sweet dose of penabling. I first ordered this pen in the same way as well. One of my friends is mildly interested in fountain pens, and I’ve been trying to lure her with cute pens and sparkling inks. Therefore I ordered a couple of Sharks, two to give to friends and two to keep.
For the above mentioned friend, the Shark was love at first sight. She thought it was the most delightful little pen. We talked about it for a while and when she wanted to ink it up, I brought her over to my ink stash. While going through my swatches she picked the J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor. I warned her about how shimmer inks can be finicky, but she insisted that she can handle it.
I think the real success of the Jinhao Shark is that it brings fountain pens to an accessible level. Most people seem to think that fountain pens are these fancy, expensive object that they should be afraid to handle. That it’s an expensive, snobbish hobby that only very stern people are involved in.
Shark is obviously a fun pen, you cannot argue with that shape and the colourful plastics. You don’t need expensive pens to enjoy it, even though some do end up there. It doesn’t have to have a high barrier of entry. Everybody seems to share the excitement about the Shark as well as the latest Visconti or Montblanc. The pens might be great, but this community is greater.
Anyway, I’ll stop gushing about the community and go back to the pen. I have been having a pink kick lately, so I ordered one in purple and one in pink. They used to have the super sheeny Diamine inks from the previous post, but I cleaned them out because there were some flow issues. The feed needed priming before writing and during writing. The line would get less saturated over time and start to loose it’s wetness and you had to prime it again. There wasn’t a consistent, smooth line. I also think that this is my unluckiness, at least by part, because all of my Chinese pens write inconsistently, whereas the other Shark’s that I gave out are okay.
At first I thought it was the fault of the inks, sometimes sheeny inks get finicky when they’ve been in a pen for a while. So I cleared out both and inked the pink one with Pennonia Vattacukor (Cotton Candy). The ink has never given me problems before, so I thought it would be a good chance for this pen. The flow issue ensues.
This pen also burps and leaks, even when it is left on the desk. To its full credit, the cap is nice and tight so it doesn’t leak anything -the nib didn’t get wet even for the photographs that I just put the pen in water. The nib does though. Don’t even think about taking it on the plane. The said friend did. It dumped almost half a converter’s worth of ink into the cap. Best packaged separately from any forms of ink.
It is hard to clean too. The ink seems to get trapped in the section when you put the converter in and turn it nib-down to write. This pen leaks everywhere, but the mess is nicely contained inside the barrel and the cap. It’s going to take a good while to clean, it is the one pen it took the longest for the water to run perfectly clean.
My last point about this pen is extremely personal to the way I hold the pen, but I think it’s worth a mention. I tend to hold the pen very close to the nib itself. In the Shark, the threads are between the nib and the section. So I hold the pen from the threads, similar to Gioia Alleria that I like. The section has a step down to the threads that sits against my finger. It’s not extremely uncomfortable, but it is also not particularly comfortable. I find myself pressing harder than usual with this pen due to the combination of nib issues and uncomfortable holding. This leads to cramps in my already strained wrist, so I haven’t been using this pen much. It’s an occupational hazard I guess, but I prefer my regular fountain pens that require no pressure to write. (In the photographs below, the first one is when I hold the pen from its section where the grooves are, and the next two are where I usually hold it.)
In the end, it boils down to one question: Would I recommend this pen to someone? I would give it to a friend that I can help troubleshoot if necessary, but for recommending it to a stranger as their first pen, I’d stay away from it. Pilot Kakuno with its cute smile and Lamy Safari with its bright colours is a much better bet for consistency that you need for your first pen experience. For now, I’ll keep these pens to penable more people in the future.
Thank you for reading!