Archive for the ‘Japanese Pens’ Category

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Moleskine And Fountain Pen Ink

03/23/2014

Another test with Moleskine and fountain pen ink, but this time with italic nibs.

Noodler’s Blue Eel isn’t bad though the bleed-through limits writing to only one side of the paper. Noodler’s Black paired with a Pilot Prera and a Plumix medium italic nib performed so well that there wasn’t even a dot of bleed-through. No feathering to speak of either.

Writing with a wide nib on both sides of Moleskine paper? Shocking I tell you. Shocking!

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Clairefontaine 1951 Notebook And A Giveaway

03/09/2014

Clairefontaine paper is always fountain pen-friendly and the 1951 notebook is no exception. Exaclair sent the red, cloth-bound version for review, but what do you say when something is perfect?

The Back to Basics 1951 reintroduces Clairefontaine’s original notebook covers plus
  • 90 g pH neutral, acid-free paper
  • Smooth satin finish, white paper
  • Grained paper cover with front label
  • Vintage look and feel
  • Clothbound comes with 96 sheets, lined, in one size (A5)
  • Clothbound cover colors include black, violet, red, green, blue, turquoise
  • Also available in staple and wirebound versions

The Pilot Preras look and work especially well with the red cover and white paper. The images tell the tale.

My nibs and handwriting are large so the 0.8mm line spacing works fine though it might be a bit generous for some writers. When I wrote with extra-fine nibs and much smaller handwriting, I could write two lines in that space. Needless to say I got my money’s worth out of a notebook back then. I’m more of a paper snob these days and Clairefontaine’s smooth finish is just right for my stub and sharp italic nibs.

Easily one of the best notebooks on the market for FP nuts, the 1951 won’t disappoint. Want to give it a try? Clairefontaine’s U.S. distributor Exaclair is sponsoring a giveaway through An Inkophile’s Blog. Cool, eh? To enter simply post a comment below about how you would use a 1951 notebook and which color strikes your fancy. Please include your email address in the comment form so that I can contact you if you are the winner. This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only. The winner will be selected via Random.org. The contest closes at 6 pm PDT on March 17, 2014. The winner will be announced thereafter and will have until March 24, 2014 to claim the prize.

Comments are moderated to eliminate spam, so allow time for that step. Only one entry per person and duplicate postings will be removed.

My thanks to Karen at Exaclair for sending the 1951 to review and for sponsoring a giveaway. Let the contest begin!

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That Disappointing Prera Has Become A Fab Italic

01/26/2014

Pilot Pens get good marks and there are more than a dozen in my collection. However, the Prera has disappointed me three times over. All had fine nibs that were stingy at best despite trials with at least a dozen inks. The blue went to a new home years ago, but the ivory and the gray stuck it out only because I like the colors and the chrome furnishings. After a nib replacement and a bit of work, both pens are now on my desk and getting lots of use. Here is what happened to turn these lemons into precious pens.

My Preras were purchased when the model was first released. I paid less than $30 for each. They received very little time in my rotation because the nibs were far too dry. Skipping and hard starts made them unpleasant little brats. Hence, years in the pen drawer and no appreciation from me.

Three years ago I read that Plumix nibs could be swapped for the original Prera nibs and that the Plumix medium nib could pass for an italic. That sounded intriguing so I bought a Plumix at Target and affixed the nib to the ivory Prera. Indeed it was a medium italic, a very straight cut affair with no tipping material. However, the flow was still underwhelming, so back into the pen drawer it went.

Some time later, I attempted to open the slit. After making several scratches on the front of the nib, I could see the tiniest amount of light and gave it a fill. Performance was better but not fluid. Back into the drawer it went. A few weeks ago, I needed an italic for a project and with a sigh gave the Prera one more chance, this time with Noodler’s Black. Eureka! Finally, the right ink for the nib and oh my gosh is it now a fantastic writer.

Holding out hope for the gray Prera and having been emboldened by my success, I ordered a Plumix from Jet Pens and on its arrival immediately swapped the nibs. Performance was improved and I had another italic to boot. Again the slit is too narrow for the degree of flow that I prefer, but I will work on that when the pen is in need of a refill.

Here are two pens that could have gone to new homes since they were disappointing and unused. About half the pens I’ve sold or given away have later been missed. I don’t know what that says about my choices, but it does say something about impatience. There are other pens I’ve held onto in hopes they would become more to my liking in future. Wishful thinking to be sure. It’s not like they are going to heal on their own, but my pen preferences have changed over the years. So what was formerly a meh pen, can become a wow pen because my perspective has changed, the right ink has come along, an adjustment improves performance, or some other reason entirely.

The point here is to give a pen a fair test before deciding it is not for you. The other thing is that even for someone as unhandy as I am, addressing nib issues is not impossible. I’ve murdered a few and failure is just part of the learning curve. You might not want to risk a gold nib, but there are plenty of inexpensive steel nibs on which you can hone your skills or at least get past any initial qualms.

For info on repairing or adjusting a fountain pen, Fountain Pen Network is a good place to start. I have Frank Dubiel’s “Fountain Pens The Complete Guide To Repair & Restoration Revised Edition” and I’ve learned a lot from Nathan Tardif’s videos. Who is your favorite pen repair guru?

Note: Pilot Prera Fountain Pens and Plumix Fountain Pens are available at Jet Pens should you want to create your own Prera Italic or they offer the clear body Prera with the medium italic nib already installed.

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Pilot “New Brush” Pens Have Arrived

01/22/2014

The Pilot “New Brush” pen was reviewed last year thanks to Leigh Reyes who sent one as a gift. At the time, they were not available in the U.S., but Jet Pens now stocks them. So if my review piqued your interest, add one to your next order along with a refill or two just in case you enjoy the pen as much as I do.

Pilot “New Brush” fine in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

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Really Good Fountain Pens

01/02/2014

Comments and email queries often suggest subjects worthy of further exploration. Such was the case when a recent email cast my collection in the light of pens that hold up well and are worthy of recommendation. After restricting choices to pens that can be purchased online and whose nibs have not been modified, here are the models that made my list of

Really Good Fountain Pens

  • Platinum #3776 and #3776 Century – These pens rank at the top of my list. The build is slightly lighter than the Sailor pens I own, but that is good for my hand. No flow issues and the nibs are excellent. Someday I hope to get a medium for a real workhorse. It may not replace the #3776 music nib as my most used pen, but I would love to give it a shot at the top slot.
  • Lamy Safari and AL-Star – An entry-level pen that is one of my most durable and reliable writers. The extra-fine has been a staple here for years. I haven’t tried a fine or medium, but the broad might be a tad too wide and free-flowing for most people. The 1.1 mm can have an erratic flow, but the nibs are usually smooth. The nibs run a bit wider than most and they are quite stiff, but they are also easy to swap. Nibs come in stainless steel and black. The latter looks particularly sharp on a model with a black clip. Put one on a charcoal Safari to make a stealth model. Two of my Lamys have been so modified. The build is very good at the price which won’t matter if the oddly shaped section doesn’t fit your grip. My daughter and I found it to be comfortable after the initial sessions. The control afforded by the section shape is excellent and prevents slipping. That is a decided plus for me.
  • Pelikan M400 and M215 – These are very different pens, but equally well built. Both wrote well from the beginning. The M215 feels more sturdy, but it is a metal pen. I am extra careful with piston-fillers and run Noodler’s Eel ink through them from time to time to lubricate the plungers. The M400 was adjusted for extra flow several years ago and is now a terrific pen for long sessions.
  • Pilot Namiki Falcon – I have three of the resin model and that says a lot. The build is good and the section very comfortable for me. The nibs can be a tad scratchy, but a little use fixed that in one of mine. The other two were smooth from first use. The design is understated and puts the focus on what the nib can do. No flow issues with the supplied converter so the nib and feed are well matched.
  • Sailor 1911 and Sapporo – These pens have outstanding build quality. No flow issues and the converters are very well-suited to the nibs and feeds. My Sapporo is a fine nib and a nail. The 1911 is an extra-fine that is a bit soft. They are very different nibs, but both are very smooth.
  • Baoer Eight Horses – Not everyone has had the good luck I have had with a Baoer. However, I do have two that write remarkably well. This is a heavy pen, but well balanced. The build quality is excellent for the price. The converter even has a plastic ball to keep the ink flowing. I am not as thrilled with the Jinhao 750 which is made by the same company, but one of these days I’ll purchase a silver Eight Horses with a B nib if I can find one. That will make a full set.
  • Pilot Custom 742 – This one is a bit harder to recommend given my 742FA can be flow challenged. However, the build is excellent and the size perfect for me. I think it would be a terrific pen sporting a different nib. The FA is very smooth and does flex, but no ink so far has conquered the feed. There are five on my desk ready to take up the challenge so more testing is ahead. When I advance ink into the feed, it writes well enough with virtually no pressure. The slit is always inky, but this pen arrived used if not abused. Giving it the benefit of the doubt, I think it has an imperfect nib on an otherwise very nice pen.

The price range for these pens purchased new is $6 to over $300. Message boards are the best place to buy used, but eBay can be good for inexpensive pens like Lamy and Baoer depending on your risk tolerance level. If you want perfection, buy from a seller who tests the nib and who has a good reputation for standing by his wares. As careful as I am, one in four pens arrives in need of assistance. That really isn’t surprising considering how a tiny mistake in the nib can make a pen write poorly. Basically, don’t get your knickers in a twist if you get a stinker. It happens to all of us. Get help from the seller immediately. Most will make it right one way or another.

So that’s my list. Is there a pen you would recommend without reservation?

Really Good Fountain Pens

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That’s A Wrap For 2013

12/29/2013

Some items new for 2013 along with favorites from years past:

The List

The Images

Ink Comparison

Writing ink

Noodler's Lexington Gray and Kiowa Pecan
Drawing ink – Noodler’s Lexington Gray and Kiowa Pecan

Platinum Century Fountain Pen
Round nib fountain pen – Platinum Century B

Platinum #3776 Music Nib
Stock stub or italic exotic nib – Platinum #3776 music nib

Namiki Falcon SF
Stock flexible nib – Namiki Falcon SF on Rhodia paper

Levenger True Writer Kyoto Stub
Custom stub or italic – Levenger True Writer Masuyama stub

Pilot
Brush pen – Pilot “New Brush in Character” in a Stillman & Birn Epsilon Sketchbook

Paperblanks Journal
Most beautiful journal/notebook – Paperblanks Maya Blue Ultra Silver Filigree

Watercolor Tools
Watercolor brush – Isabey 8234 Petit Gris Squirrel Quill Mop #0 and #2, Daniel Smith 44-08 Kolinksky Sable #3 and #5
Watercolor tube paint – WN Scarlet Lake, Cobalt Violet, Permanent Rose and DS Green Gold
Watercolor pan paint – Jackson’s Genuine Carmine, French Ultramarine Blue

So that’s what’s on my list. What made it to yours?

Note: Reviews of Tomoe River paper, Paperblanks journals and Jackson’s Watercolors are in the works.

Note: Three programs emerged as incredibly useful, Evernote, Janetter for Twitter and MalwareBytes. Spotify is my choice for music and OmmWriter for distraction-free writing.

Historical Note: In 1884 Lewis Waterman developed the fountain pen. He took 10 years to perfect his invention.

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Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher Ink Review

12/07/2013

Last week Gentian sent a sample of Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher along with a chocolate bar, a pad of pen-friendly paper, a sample of Platinum Carbon Black, and some other bits and pieces. Wanna guess what got sampled first? The chocolate bar of course!

Now that the bar has been reduced to a wrapper, it is time to play with the ink. BBK is a bulletproof ink. An application of water smears enough color to prove the ink was assaulted, but the writing remains legible. That is useful for noting when your signature has received an unwanted attempt at tampering. It can also be used to create a wash of color when the water is applied with a brush. It is not a waterproof ink, but it will get you through a casual coffee spill.

Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher

The color is dark blue, very dark blue. Flow and lubrication are excellent. BBK  could make a stingy nib perform better, but it might be too enthusiastic for a wet nib. It was a little stubborn rinsing from the nib and suffers from mild nib creep though in line with comparable Noodler’s inks. The small degree of shading might be more attributable to how I use a pen rather than being a characteristic of the ink. Drying time is around ten seconds on Rhodia.

The writing samples show varying degrees of feathering. The dip pen on Rhodia shows the most, but the flow is more copious than a fountain pen. Performance on Moleskine is quite impressive considering there is no feathering along paper fibers, something common on Moleskine paper. The third sample is from an old notebook that is fountain pen-friendly. The feathering is only noticeable with a loupe, but there are very clean outlines with Waterman Florida Blue in adjacent writing. Some bulletproof inks do exhibit a degree of feathering. BBK gets good marks in comparison.

Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher is well-suited to Japanese pens with very fine nibs. Right now there are two Pilots and a Platinum clamoring for a fill. The nibs are so fine that this free-flowing ink might be just the one to make them happy. Me, too, for that matter.

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