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My Patreon campaign reached the $20/post milestone, which means that once a month, I’ll be taking and sharing six (or more) photos here on the blog. This month, I have some photos from an increasingly common ritual in my life.

I bought my first fountain pen, a Pilot Metropolitan, this January, and it sent me hastening down the rabbit hole of beautiful fountain pens and inks. I now have four pens, and a box on my desk contains no fewer than a dozen different ink samples to try in them–lush emerald greens, brilliant ruby reds, and, regal purples.

When swapping between such saturated inks, of course, it’s wise to clean out your pen, lest it get too comfortable with any one color. Every month or so, I fill a glass with water and spend a half hour carefully rinsing all the colorful residue from my writing implements.

I’m sure it would give me some amount of cred to claim to be over watching ink swirl in water, to have been around the block enough that it’s no longer a spectacle, but that would be a total lie. Every time I clean my pens, I’m captivated by the wispy trails of color in the jar, the way that such a tiny amount of ink can stain the entire cup. This month, as I was cleaning my pens and fretting over my monthly photos, I finally thought to capture some pictures of this, my favorite part of pen maintenance.

I’ve never before wanted to get a tattoo, but these days, there are two on my list: first, a small black ink drop, and second, a watercolor piece that contrasts flowing color with crisp black linework. What can I say? Something about ink and water speaks to me.