Posts Tagged ‘apica’

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Noodler’s Blue Nose Bear Ink – The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

11/01/2011

Whether or not you are a Noodler’s Ink fan, it’s certain Nathan Tardif comes up with some of the best names in the business. Occasionally provocative, frequently amusing though often not descriptive. With so many color choices, the latter is not surprising. Unfortunately, The Blue Nose Bear has issues that a cute name can’t hide.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear On A Paper Towel

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear On A Paper Towel

The beautiful color is blue-slanted teal with hints of turquoise that shades nicely from the flexible nib for which it was developed. There is even a bit of outlining, a rare treat with an ink this dark. So promising but BNB has a frustrating flaw. It feathers even on Rhodia paper. Bleed-through can be significant though the amount of flow that attends flex writing can make formerly well-behaved inks show through anything but the heaviest paper. BNB performance might be better with a dry-writing fine pen. But if you really want to flex your nib, expect one-sided paper use.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Bleed-Through Sample

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Bleed-Through Sample

Just to round out my impression of other characteristics, flow, lubrication, and drying time are all good. The Esterbrook 9128 handled very well with BNB. A more free-flowing flexible nib might have gushed but the Estie was just right.

Unfortunately, the feathering produced indistinct outlines. That mushy look would not be ideal for correspondence or business use. So that relegates it to use in a journal or for personal notes or practice with a flex nib. My Apica A610 was not amused at the feathering and was insulted that I compared the result to the mess Moleskine makes with some fountain pen inks. I was forgiven as soon as I switched to a Namiki Falcon SB with Stipula Verde Muschiato. Whew!

To avoid preconceptions I do not read opinions before I order an ink that I plan to review. If I had, this one would never have made it into my shopping cart. Don’t get me wrong. I am a fan of Nathan. To put things in perspective, I’ve tested in excess of 30 Noodler’s inks and this is only the second one that disappointed due to feathering. (If you must know Pushkin was the other.) Depending on your tolerance, that might be an acceptable failure rate and waste of money. $25 at retail for two bottles of ink isn’t a disaster but two bottles of ink I love would have been a joy.

So skip the leaky diaper effect and find a better fit for your flexible nibs. This is one bear that can stay in the woods.

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink on Apica

Noodler's Blue Nose Bear Ink on Apica

If you want a detailed review, Dizzypen did it up right with lots of scans as proof.

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The Ink Blotter, A Dirty Little Secret

12/27/2010

If the ink blotter seems like an old fashioned idea, think again. It is the easiest solution to slow drying, too much wetness, “where did that blob come from” problems that you ever met. Really.

 

Blotting Paper with Pelikan M215 and Apica Journal

Blotting Paper with Pelikan M215 and Apica Journal

My 6″ x 3″ blotting paper has been in use for at least four years. It is very heavy paper and resides in my daily journal between the most recent passage and the facing page. It serves as a bookmark plus I never have to wait for ink to dry, handy when you think about what gets written in a journal. Should someone walk up behind me, I can slam the book shut instantly without fearing a mess when I return. Two disasters averted!

Before my work space became inundated with bottles of ink and stacks of paper, a small but very cute rocking horse resided on my desk. These days I would never find her so I sweep the side of my hand over the blotter paper if I want to continue writing. Pentrace has a good article on how to use a blotter if you want more details.

Once you get the hang of it, which will take a matter of seconds on practice paper, even the most slow-drying inks can be tamed. I have a Pelikan M215 cursive italic that lays down a luscious swath of color but it is often inconvenient to let dry naturally. The blotter makes the writing tidy and as close to instant drying as this nib will ever get.

As if collecting ink and pens wasn’t engrossing enough, there are collectors of rocker blotters and even those who collect blotting paper. To be sure there are some gorgeous antique ones that turn up now and again. Ebay can be a good source but so can Pendemonium. Modern ones are available like this simple design from J. Herbin and are carried by a variety of retailers.

J. Herbin Rocker Blotter

J. Herbin Rocker Blotter

Art supply stores stock felt-finished paper but it is not as absorbent as blotting sheets from a fountain pen purveyor. J. Herbin offers light-weight paper measuring 3 ¼” x 1 7/8″ that appears malleable enough to bend around its wooden rocker. Pear Tree Pens is due to release its own heavy-weight blotting paper in January. I suspect this one will be more similar to the blotter in my journal.

J. Herbin Blotting Paper

J. Herbin Blotting Paper

Whether you want the full-on experience of the rocker blotter or the simple ease of heavy blotting paper tucked between pages, this is one dirty trick every pen user should have to hand. It even works on those untidy gel pens that spew dabs of ink at unwelcome intervals. Not that you would ever use such an instrument but just in case…

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Inkophile’s Favorites for 2010

12/08/2010

Some new, some old, here are a few of my favorite things…

  • Rohrer & Klingner Ink – Two colors have been in my cabinet for years so this was not a brand new find. However, when Pear Tree Pens began to offer it this year, I started to expand my collection and am happy to report R&K has earned several places in my regular rotation. Solferino, Verdigris, Alt-Goldgrün, and Magenta are my current favorites but Morinda and Blau Permanent are not far behind. The palette is a well-round offering with something for every need. At $12.50 for 50ml the cost is in my acceptable range especially considering the quality.
  • Iroshizuku remains the ink that tops my guilty pleasures list. For color and performance this one is hard to beat. Ku-jaku joined my collection this year and instantly won a place on my favorites list displacing several turquoise and aqua inks.
  • J. Herbin Ink continues to be my mainstay. There isn’t a dud in the bunch plus they are exceptionally easy to clean from a pen. Lie de Thé is my favorite and most-used brown with Poussière de Lune in my rotation nearly as often.
  • A sample of the Rhodia dotPad (courtesy of Karen at Exaclair) quickly earned a place in my paper arsenal along with anything from G. Lalo now that I’ve tried various weave samples from Jean Elie at Pen and Co.
  • For calligraphy or flex nib practice, Clairefontaine French-ruled paper rules here. Thick, juicy ink lines dry slowly but it is definitely worth the wait.
  • This was a lean year for me when it comes to new pens but a Noodler’s Fountain Pen was a nice addition to my collection. I am fond of ebonite so that added to its appeal.
  • Courtesy of the generous Peggy Love (who also insured I have a lifetime supply of Apica Journals), I got my hands on a trio of Levenger True Writer Rollerballs with Fiber Tip refills. They won’t replace my fountain pens but they certainly are convenient and very easy on my hand. These pens are useful for writing situations that include frequent stops and starts since they do not have to be capped as quickly as a fountain pen. I have enjoyed filling pages with doodles and even managed a bit of line variation by playing with the angle at which the nib contacts the paper. A girl’s gotta have fun, you know?
  • An old favorite has taken up residence in the number one position in my rotation and it isn’t a fountain pen. Shocked? Well, sometimes you’ve just got to go with what’s convenient and a mechanical pencil is hard to beat. No uncapping, no flow issues, no muss, no fuss. While I only use it for notes to myself, that is what I write most often so why not use the best tool for the job? Besides anything that works on a Post-It gets high marks from me. After trying several mechanical pencils, I’ve concluded that my old Autopoint Jumbo All-American Pencil, with a 0.9mm HB lead, is just right. Because the wide lead does not dig into paper, it erases easily. Unlike my other MPs, the lead has never broken. Not once! While that is in part attributable to the chunky lead, it is also a result of the design of the pencil. Years ago I bought the ivory and the red. The former blends in while the latter stands out. Both are winners in my book.

 

Inkophile's Favorite Products for 2010

Inkophile's Favorite Products for 2010

 

So that’s my list of new or rediscovered items for 2010. Unlike in years past my regular rotation remained the same led by a Sailor Sapporo, a 1911 and a couple of Pilot Pocket Pens. The Pilot 742FA and Montblanc 220 OB are off for repair so we shall see how they work out on their return in January. There is one Lamy Safari with a custom cursive italic nib that is always inked with Montblanc Racing Green. It remains my #1 writer though I wish the nib had a snazzier body. Two Namiki Falcons with soft fine nibs are always close at hand and a Levenger True Writer is usually inked as well. That makes my core rotation total seven pens, give or take a True Writer or two.

Inks come and go but I am consistently pleased with Waterman Blue Black in my vintage pens especially those with flexible nibs. At the price point and with its easy availability, WBBk is an excellent match for pens that go through a volume of ink. It is also a good one to include with a gift pen. It won’t cause damage and it writes well from any nib. If the recipient loves it, a new bottle can readily be found.

Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Quo Vadis Habana, and Apica continue to be my favorite brands of paper. Triomphe and G. Lalo are excellent stationery though often I use a lined Rhodia pad for casual letters. For variety I have a few pads of Japanese paper that are lovely with even the roughest nibs. Lastly my stock of the long discontinued Exacompta Black Block is waning so I don’t use it as often as I would like though it has a softness that suits me perfectly. If you run across this one, do let me know. I would love to add a few tablets to my reserves.

So that’s my list of favorite things. Rumor has it that Santa just might have on his sleigh one of the new Noodler’s flex nib pens with a bottle of Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. Yeah, I know. That’s a mouthful but can you picture that pair? The demonstrator (clear) model with plum ink should be lovely. Hopefully, it gets delivered to the right home. I don’t think any of my neighbors would appreciate this dynamic duo but I could be mistaken…maybe…

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So What’s The Deal With Iron Gall Ink

10/19/2010

Iron gall ink is old. Really old. Traces of it have even been found on the Dead Sea Scrolls. It has been around that long but does it belong in your fountain pen?

Iron gall became the ink of choice during the Middle Ages and was common well into the 20th century. Made from iron salts and tannic acids from vegetable sources, the blue-black is the quintessential vintage color.

Originally used with tools like reeds, quills, and later dip pens, these inks fell out of favor with good reason as fountain pens and modern formulations emerged. Not only do iron gall inks have a reputation for damaging pens but writing surfaces as well. In other words, those old formulas did not play well with paper.

Recent inks are less risky because they contain only small amounts of the offending components. Diamine, Montblanc, Lamy, and Rohrer & Klingner offer blue-black colors with R&K adding a purple version as well.

That iffy reputation made me reluctant to risk pen damage. However, when Pear Tree Pens offered an appealing discount on ink, I couldn’t refuse.

For the past week I’ve tested the two made by R&K. The colors are excellent for conservative uses and the properties are in line with some of my favorite brands. Flow, drying-time, coverage, show-through and bleed-through all measured well for me. There is some question about how light-fast these inks might be but I haven’t used them long enough to have an opinion. If you like shading, both Salix and Scabiosa are lovely.

Some people use iron galls with good success though others report these inks can do serious damage to pens if maintenance isn’t regular. Then there are those pen users who report no issues despite infrequent cleaning but I suspect they use their pens often enough to prevent ink drying out in the feed or nib. Or perhaps they are exceedingly lucky.

Despite those good reports, I find it hard to make a full-fledged recommendation for what is likely a high maintenance ink. It is worth noting that the companies that offer them are top-notch so that is an endorsement of sorts. Thus if you practice careful pen hygiene, you might enjoy Salix or Scabiosa in your regular rotation.

Using these Rohrer & Klingner iron gall inks has been a bit like tapping into history. In fact one of them could be just the mate for that vintage-looking leather covered journal I’ve been considering. Hmmm…

 

Rohrer & Klingner Salix and Scabiosa Inks

Rohrer & Klingner Salix and Scabiosa Inks

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Namiki Falcon Meets Diamine Ink

07/13/2010

Namiki Falcon nibs come up often in pen discussions so here is a closer look at one of my favorite pens. The pen works well with all of my inks so this is intended as no slight to other ink makers. It just worked out that both Falcons have Diamine in them.

Namiki Falcon

Namiki Falcon

There is a difference between my two Soft Fine (SF) nibs though the samples don’t reflect the sharpness of the finer of the two. It is only evident when writing with it. The nib doesn’t drag exactly but may catch on laid or textured paper. Otherwise it works well on my usual selection. In this case an Apica 6A10 Note Book shows what a Falcon can do. However, a less absorbent paper like Rhodia or Clairefontaine will produce a finer line. Triomphe is a great stationery for the Falcon as are all the Japanese papers I have tried.

Are you interested in line variation? The Falcon offers a little of that but only with effort. Though the nib will soften slightly with use, it is tiring to produce much variation unless I limit instances of it to the occasional stroke and my signature. However, it is fun for a flourish here and there.

As an all around pen, the light weight and comfortable balance make the resin model of the Namiki Falcon a very good choice for long sessions. If you are so inclined, it is really fun for doodling and drawing where a little variation makes for lively line work. Check out Mattias Adolfsson for some serious inspiration.

Namiki Falcon with Diamine Violet

Namiki Falcon with Diamine Violet

All things considered the Namiki Falcon is a versatile pen that is always in my rotation and one I very much recommend though with one caveat. It may not be suited to heavy-handed users. The fine nib might get sprung with too much pressure.

Otherwise, it’s a terrific pen in the over $100 category. Used ones can be found for less but may not be as satisfactory if the former owner worked it too hard. As in everything purchased used, “you pays your money and you takes your chances.” If you prefer new pens, Oscar Braun Pens carries both the acrylic and the metal versions. Stateside, that’s the place to start.

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Rohrer & Klingner Morinda

04/19/2010

Morinda is another lovely ink from Rohrer & Klingner. Not an easy color to describe nor was it easy to scan but it is very easy to like even for someone who is not overly fond of red ink.

Color is always #1 but some inks don’t make it easy to write about their best attribute especially when different lighting conditions give them a dual nature. Morinda has some of that quality. In artificial light it is red with a hint of pinkish-orange. However, in natural light it resembles the color of clay bricks. It is somewhat similar to J. Herbin 1670 but less saturated. A wide nib can bring out more depth of color if your favorite fine nib makes it too understated.

Regardless of the pen or paper employed, there is nothing bright about Morinda. Its muted color may lend it to a greater range of uses than the more common true or blue red quite simply because it is more subtle. A page in my Apica 6A10 journal was comfortably legible when I looked back at it, something I wouldn’t say about bright red inks. Most often true reds fairly shout at me on later inspection. Morinda is far more polite.

Due to the ink’s medium saturation and a mild degree of transparency, paper color shows through and slightly influences the final look of the ink. I rather like the harmonious effect produced from the color blended of ink on a compatible paper.

As for other characteristics, Morinda has good flow and coverage. It also dried fairly quickly. Though not a particularly lubricating ink, the Lamy Vista 1.1 mm used in the test moved smoothly across Office Depot 24# inkjet paper. I did not observe any shading but found that quite suitable to the color. There was no bleed-through or show-through on the papers tested. An occasional uneven letter edge appeared on cheap paper though not pronounced enough to be deemed offensive. Frankly, the paper was likely the greater culprit. On better paper performance was excellent. All in all there is a great deal to like here.

While I have little need for red ink, Morinda will make me look for a reason to use a red ink. Isn’t that just the way with a quality product?

Rohrer & Klingner Morinda Ink

Rohrer & Klingner Morinda Ink

More at Everyday Correspondence and my ink comparison.

Ryan from Pear Tree Pens sent the sample used for the review. Thanks for making the introduction, Ryan!

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Noodler’s Ink #41 Brown

04/09/2010

Did I ever mention how much I like brown ink? Next to black I find it to be the most versatile of colors. Conservative enough for business, elegant enough for correspondence, and perfect at giving nature drawings a vintage quality. So any announcement of a new brown gets my attention and Noodler’s Ink #41 Brown proved no exception.

Noodler's Ink #41 Brown

Noodler's Ink #41 Brown

Named in honor of Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, the color is a deep, dark sepia. No flash but a rich color that shows subtle shading with the right nib. The color leans yellow rather than red though not pronouncedly so. That makes it a neutral brown that won’t be mistaken for black. Excellent on any cream or buff paper, it will also work on colors like those of G. Lalo Verge de France Pistache or Rose stationery.

Coverage is consistent and the flow is excellent. In fact my Pilot Elite Socrates pocket pen worked as well with #41 Brown as any ink it’s ever met. On Rhodia paper drying time exceeded 10 seconds for the wettest dots but on the more absorbent Apica 6A10, it dried significantly faster. For those of you keeping track of such things, #41 is archival, bulletproof, eternal and pH neutral, all of which means your writing will out-live you and likely most of your descendants.

The color is similar to Sailor Deep Rust Black, Iroshizuku yama-guri, and Diamine Chocolate Brown so #41 might be redundant if you already own one of those inks. But if you don’t, The Pear Tree Pen Company amongst other retailers currently offers #41 Brown at $12.50 for a 3 oz bottle. That’s 89 ml which sounds like a veritable bargain for anyone who uses lots of ink and has a penchant for a truly versatile brown.

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