Back to Black


It’s been a long summer and life is now starting up on the other side of the break. Back to the desk, a little writing, and a few reviews.

Needing to test a pen without ink prejudice, I decided to bring out my old bottle of Noodler’s Black. Several years ago NB was one of three inks, along with Noodler’s Legal Lapis and Parker Quink BBk, in my business rotation. For a couple of 1940’s Parker “51” fountain pens, those inks worked beautifully in my Moleskine journals but there were other benefits at least to the black. Its lack of color helped me focus on the words and screen out thoughts about the ink. It also allowed me to judge a pen’s performance without considering aesthetics like shading or outlining, quite useful when I am undecided about a nib. Yesterday was one of those days.

The pen in question was a Leonardo Black Lacquer Calligraphy pen intended for Chinese calligraphy. The nib turns up and allows for a variety of line widths. A review of the pen is on my To Do List but for now suffice it to say it is not for everyone but it is great fun for a change of pace.

The bigger point (Ha!) is that using Noodler’s Black allowed me to focus on the nib and the writing without being swayed by the beauty of the ink. Noodler’s has a good degree of blackness to it though the Leonardo can make it shade from charcoal to black. More importantly the writing flowed unhesitatingly from my thoughts to the paper. That is good. Very, very good. I wrote until the letters blurred and I could no longer be certain the letters were sitting on the paper’s lines, there being multiples of them by day’s end.

When was the last time you wrote that intensely? The black made me do it. I swear it did. So if you haven’t tried it lately, grab a fill of black and see if your thoughts don’t embellish the written word far better than the color of your ink. I dare you!

Leonardo Calligraphy Pen Meets Noodlers Black Ink

Leonardo Calligraphy Pen Meets Noodler’s Black Ink


  1. Great review and your point is something I hadn’t consciously thought about when I’m using black ink but is definitely true. I focus on the words, rather than whether the ink is too dark/light, or how pretty it looks, or how my “k” looks cute in purple but not in turqoise. That I’m actually trying to express a thought is beside the point when using a colored ink.


  2. […] remarks from 2009 on Noodler’s Black in a calligraphy pen. Leonardo Calligraphy Pen Meets Noodler's […]


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