A Little Flex Writing On Clairefontaine Paper


Visiting a couple of old friends over the weekend, a Canadian Waterman’s 301 Ideal 2A flex nib and Waterman Blue-Black ink, was an excellent reminder that the latest and greatest aren’t necessarily better than my earliest discoveries. My Clairefontaine notebook was impressed with the results as well.

My post on how to take advantage of a Clairefontaine notebook.


  1. Sorry, what’s a flex nib and what is it used for?


    • Good question. I must be getting lazy about explaining things. So apologies for that.

      A flexible nib bends slightly to allow more ink to flow and lines to become wider. Generally, the down stroke is wider than an upstroke or horizontal stroke. It is used for calligraphy and line drawings for the most part though some of us use flex nibs for ordinary writing. It adds a bit of flair, but it does take a bit of practice. Modern nibs labeled as flexible are often rather stiff. My Waterman 301 was manufactured in the 1930’s and flexes in a really lovely and dramatic way.

      I hope my simple explanation answers your questions. Let me know if you need more information.


  2. Yes, thanks. I have a Reform flex nib that feels like I’m writing with a feather. It drives me nuts.


    • Yeah, writing with a quill has its limits.😉


  3. Especially when it feels like the quill is wrong side up.


    • 😀


  4. I love the old flex nibs, especially the Waterman’s. They are just so pleasant. =)


  5. And flex pens are essential for Pitman shorthand (and any system that distinguishes heavy and light strokes). I’ve been looking for a Pelikan P470–the classic steno pen–for years.

    If you like the feel of a flex pen but find it hard to control you might try writing with a non-flex pen with several sheets of newspaper underneath the paper you’re writing on.


  6. Thanks for sharing your doodles and insights!


  7. I enjoy playing around with flex nibs, but given that they seem to require an unusual alignment of the nib (so that one is writing more up and down rather than at an angle), I don’t exactly see how they can be used for everyday writing. Can you clarify? Thanks!


    • Good question, Bryan. Depending on the flexibility of the nib, I use a very light touch for everyday writing. Pilot/Namiki Falcon SF nibs work well though they have minimal flex. My Waterman Pink Nib is too soft unless I really throttle back on the pressure. None of my flex nibs have unusual alignment as you suggest. They do need to be very smooth to make the various transitions necessary for flex writing. That smoothness can make them suitable for any use including drawing as many artists will attest.

      Which flex pens have you used?


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