Welcome to the Obsidian Palms

It’s been years since I’ve had anything close to a blog but I’ve got stuff to say and I need somewhere to say it.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic. I really just needed another outlet to geek out about some of my favorite things: Fountain pens and writing. And puns!

If you’re coming in from the Facebook group, you already know what to expect, only now I’ll get to elaborate more on some things.

If you’re new here, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Hugo Esteban Rodríguez Castañeda (always make sure there’s an accent on the i) and I’m a writer and educator hailing from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. I received my undergaduate degrees from the University of Texas at Brownsville/Texas Southmost College and my master’s of fine arts from the University of Texas at El Paso. Since 2015, I’ve published one book and have 20 poems, stories, and essays strewn around the internet in places like The Airgonaut, The Acentos Review, Picaroon Poetry, Neon Mariposa, Mathematician Transmission and the Texas Poetry Calendar. When I’m not working or writing I’m listening to my Audible collection, going on walks with my dogs, painting, owr writing letters.

I also really like stationery.

About two years ago, which really feels like five years ago, thankyouverymuch, Covid, I figured that I needed a hobby. I was 31 and I felt I needed something “Grown up” to spend money on. I immediately ruled out a car collection because, I’ve never been one for cars. To me, the car gets you from point A to point B and that’s it. People ask me stuff about models and engines and I’m like “yeah my car’s the black one over there”.

I didn’t have enough time to start building a game collection and I had heard horror stories about the hundred-plus games backlog some of my friends had on Steam.

I loved the Black Library books, but wargaming had a very steep admission price.

So I thought — alright, I’m a writer. What are some things that could be connected to the writing aesthetic?

Coffee? Sounds great but I didn’t have the palate. Three years in a call center and you find yourself being able to appreciate coffee that tastes like diesel fuel.

Alcohol? I needed to have the proper dry bar set up at the house but we didn’t have that many people over to warrant creating something like that. I did want something pretentious but I didn’t feel like I had quite the palate for it.

So I went back to square one. What is something I’ve always liked?


Specifically, notebooks and pens.

Never pencils or mechanical pencils…that’s been a texture thing for me. I associate mechanical pencils with fragility and pencils with that red welt on my middle finger that popped up after every scantron in high school.

But pens? I’ve loved them. My mom practiced medicine in a small office in front of my grandpa’s house when I was young. So naturally, we’d have a LOT of pens that had the names of pharmaceutical companies boldly displayed on their side–usually a monogrammed Bic Cristal.


So I filled the first half of so many notebooks with scribbles and ideas and drawings and I just loved the way pens felt on paper.

And then I had my own notebooks, for school, for journaling. And even as I got older I’d still compulsively buy and get gifted notebooks that I’d use sparingly or sometimes just stash and keep around. My current journal, for instance, is a gift from two years ago.

So I found myself browsing reddit one day, thinking about maybe exploring this stationery option. I discovered Bullet Journaling, which for the ADHD mind is a godsend, but I needed notebooks to start with.

I thought I knew notebooks. I thought. It was in Reddit that I saw really how much I didn’t know. Everyone kept talking about gsm/s and whether or not something was FP friendly.

It intrigued me curiosity. Some google rabbitholes later and I found myself exploring tons of fountain pen videos.

It looked so cool and so after a week of vacillating, I went ahead and got myself my first fountain pen (pictured above) and I haven’t looked back.

It’s weird but….I feel like this completes my writer’s aesthetic.

And so I thought I’d start with an ink that just came here today: Diamine Writer’s Blood, a collaboration between Reddit and the good people over at Diamine.

So here are a few ink swatches I’ve made with this ink.

I’d love to apologize about the messiness but it’s my first time doing a full-blown panel like this. Mountain of Ink has some fascinating swabs (and they’re my go-to for swatches)

I’m partial to darker inks and this fits the bill quite nicely. I was journaling with it earlier and it’s a little bit of a wet writer on my Diplomat Magnum F but not to the degree some my other inks are. Here’s how it looks like compared to my other red inks.

And here’s how it’ll perform on different types of paper.

From left to right: Mead notebook paper – Office Depot version, copy paper, Rhodia, Clairefontaine Triomphe, Leuchturm1917 and Tomoe River.

The ‘tests’ I ran the ink through featured different types of paper, a quick scribble with a glass dip pen, a drying test (the 5, 10, 15, 20 marks), and a water test to determine how it’ll handle with water on it. Now if I flipped them on their back…

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The Clairefontaine took the most punishment and remained unchanged on the other side because it’s better paper, but the ink didn’t perform too bad on the regular old notebook paper either,

I think looks best on the Leuchtturm but I’m partial to slightly off-white notebooks. I don’t conduct tests on Moleskine because honestly Moleskine is wrapping paper with an incredible marketing arm. It’s not fountain pen friendly and it’ll ghost like crazy so if you take notes on one side of the paper and you’re trying to have something super legible on the other side you’re out of luck.

I do recommend the ink. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens.

A proper blog schedule will follow in my next update.

Published by obsidianpalms

Hugo Esteban Rodríguez Castañeda is a writer and educator hailing from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. He is the author of “…And Other Stories” (2018, La Casita Grande Editores) as well as other short stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in places like The Airgonaut, The Acentos Review, Picaroon Poetry, Neon Mariposa, Mathematician Transmission and the Texas Poetry Calendar. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso's MFA program and hus fiction has been recommended as part of Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net slates and was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50. He is currently a reader for RUBY Lit and occasionally freelances as a content editor for a publishing company. A fountain pen enthusiast, he lives in Northwest Houston and is most at home at coffeehouses, shopping malls, and mosh pits.

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