Late last night the urge to refill the Noodler’s Standard Flex Pen struck. Apache Sunset hasn’t seen daylight for a long time, so this was a good opportunity to revisit an ink that has an outstanding reputation for use with a flexible nib. I was not disappointed.
Posts Tagged ‘Apica 6A10’
Look who danced across a page in my journal. I swear it’s Gene Kelly in rose-colored Sakura Pigma Brush Pen strokes, but I could be mistaken. Who do you think it is?
Most often, pens, inks, and paper are great fun to use. Other times they can be stinkers. Almost as bad are the ones that are unpredictable or unreliable. Such is the case with a few of the products often mentioned on Inkophile and now is the time to put out some caveats.
YMMV hasn’t been attached to every post or comment but perhaps it should. For now this entry will suffice, but it will also earn a permanent presence in the sidebar. Any updates will appear as a post first with relevant info added to “The Good, The Bad, And The Rest” listed in the Pages section.
- Fountain pen nibs are so easy to get wrong with just the tiniest manufacturing error. Some retailers check the nibs before sending pens off to new homes. That can be helpful, but I don’t always want a pen to flow as generously as other users. So that doesn’t always work for me. If you want to tweak a nib to get the perfect tip and ink flow, find a nibmeister who understands exactly what you want. You might want to put him/her to the test with a pen of no importance first or with one that has a replaceable nib should you be less than enamored with the modified one. If this is the right person for you, then send a pricey, special pen. However, any modification carries with it the potential for damage, but if you want a special nib, it might be worth the gamble.
- Lamy 1.1mm nibs are inconsistent. The flow can be perfect, stingy, or anywhere in between. Perhaps because the nibs can be swapped, they slip into position incorrectly causing erratic flow. Be prepared to adjust the nib should you encounter a stinky one. Note that the fine nibs in my collection have flowed well without adjustments.
- Levenger True Writer – rings, nibs, collars. The decorative cap ring has come loose on my older TW fountain pens but can be reattached with a spot of glue. More recent models have that issue less often. There was a time when some of the nibs were inconsistent. A new pen like that should be returned to Levenger. Another option is to send it off to a nibmeister and have it modified. I did that with a disappointing broad nib and now have a terrific stub. My biggest frustration with TWs is that too many of the collars have cracked. That is the part that holds the nib in place. If it is loose, the nib wobbles and that makes for a less than satisfying writing experience. At some point the collar may break entirely resulting in a leaky, useless pen. At least three of my TWs have hairline cracks so I am a bit jaded on this issue. I will continue to buy this model because the size, weight, and looks are just right for me but I will treat them gingerly in hopes they will last forever.
- Pelikan piston fillers. In my experience, these are high maintenance pens because the piston mechanism can stop working. Then it’s off to the shop for a tune-up. Meh.
- Apica 6A10 – mild feathering along some fibers like Moleskine paper produces and significant feathering on some pages. For me it is worth using because the texture is soft and soothing to my fatigued hand, plus the color is not light-reflective even under bright lights.
- Staples Sustainable Earth Sugarcane paper. This is an inconsistent paper that I use regardless. Sometimes ink spreads far beyond the letter outlines but with the right ink and a fine nib, it’s good stuff.
- Private Reserve ink and that sour odor. The smell is very off-putting but it doesn’t come with all colors. None of my other inks have this problem so I’m placing the target on PR alone.
- Any fountain pen ink can spoil or grow mold. Always check before filling.
- Ink stains from Namiki Blue and Iroshizuku syo-ro on Esterbrook barrels, and from Private Reserve Arabian Rose on a Levenger converter. I use all three inks more carefully now.
- Photos and scans lie. So do monitors. Take all color rendering as approximate or at best, relative. Even things that are black can be misrepresented as gray.
There is one other thing worth mentioning. In my experience BlogSpot/Blogger is horrible for posting comments. I can only do it anonymously and at that there are issues. So if your blog is hosted there, please don’t think I am ignoring you. It’s the platform and nothing more.
Noodler’s hit the mark with the Ahab model. It’s attractive, chunky, and sports a stainless flexible nib for around $20. What’s not to love about that?
Dick Egolf of Luxury Brands USA sent an Ahab’s Pearl for review. Its silvery, pearlescent white color and stainless appointments make an attractive and neutral pen. Headed into spring it’s a great match for seasonal colors but it’s just as good with the rest of the spectrum. Absolutely every color works well with it.
According to Peyton Street Pens the Ahab “is made of a celluloid derivative and is technically biodegradable and formed from a “renewable resource.” Given the material, care in cleaning is recommended. However, if you don’t let ink dry out in the feed, a rinse with cool to lukewarm water is all it takes to make the Ahab ready for a new ink.
The Ahab is larger than the Konrad but has the same slightly flexible nib. Previous remarks about it apply. The upside is that employing a light touch, the nib is stiff enough to be used like a normal fine nib. Put a bit more pressure on the nib and the line turns broad. That makes it versatile.
The downside is that the nib is too stiff to make supple lines easily. It improves with use and, for writers new to soft nibs, this is probably a benefit. It is easy to bend a really flexible nib too far and either release a flood of ink or overextend a nib causing damage. The Ahab nib should stand up to that learning curve quite well. Another benefit is that the Noodler’s nib will adapt to your hand as you grow accustomed to it. Use it enough and you will become a team. Use it rarely and you may enjoy the outings less. Reaching full potential will take a little effort.
The Ahab’s pump filler is simple and easy to use. The instruction sheet explains the process. The pen has a significant flow of ink which indicates the filler is a good type for the nib. No restrictions, skips or railroad tracks which is not something all flexible nib pens can boast.
On the Rhodia Bloc No 16 tablet, it deposited so much ink that I had to leave it for a bit to dry but I’ve experienced longer drying times. However, unlike some inks that dry slowly, I couldn’t feel a layer of ink when I ran my finger over it.
Without flexing, the amount of ink on Apica 6A10 is just right but it is very free flowing when flexed. Too much ink resulted in some fuzzy edges but that’s happened with other combinations on Apica in the past. Anticipate some trial and error when looking for a good combination. If your Ahab doesn’t flow as freely as you would like, the ebonite feed can be adjusted according to the included instructions.
Initially, my daughter thought the Ahab’s Pearl smelled like cheese and the Konrad Tortoise like baby powder. A couple of weeks on my desk and the Ahab is now fragrance free. The Konrad is less aromatic but still mildly scented.
The Ahab comes in a variety of colors so it’s easy to find one that suits your favorite Noodler’s ink. Not that an Ahab won’t match well with another brand but the degree of lubrication with the Noodler’s inks I tested was a pleasure.
At around $40 for the Ahab, a bottle of ink, tax, and shipping, this is one sweet deal.
When it comes to writing in my journal and especially when writing to a friend, bold or stub nibs are my preference. But sometimes I just gotta flex and the Platinum Century Fine Flex is coming along nicely in that role. With Iroshizuku fuyu-syogun on Apica 6A10, the hairlines are fine and the down-strokes are wide in contrast. It still takes a bit more force than I would like but there is decided improvement with each use. It may not be vintage flex, but it’s plenty of fun regardless.
Once in a while the ink, pen, paper matching game produces an instant success. Such is the case with Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts ink, a Lamy Vista with a 1.1mm calligraphy nib, and an Apica A610 notebook, my daily journal. The slightly gray paper is a perfect backdrop for the dark blue-black ink. It is slightly soft and makes a comfortable surface for the italic nib. The ink flow is good but not copious so writing is smooth with good coverage. Plus the whole combination is very pleasing to the eye.
I thought there were no holes in my regular rotation. It appears I was mistaken.
Caveat: The Apica notebook is a favorite of mine but the paper isn’t consistent enough to recommend without reservation. I’ve just started my tenth so certainly I like them. However, about half of the journals had at least a few pages that resisted ink to a slight extent. Not a deterrent for me but it can be annoying.
If you experience hand or wrist pain, a fountain pen could make your life easier. There is no need to press down even slightly when the pen, ink, paper combination is in harmony. That reduces stress and drag making it possible to write longer and more enjoyably. But which products will produce this writing experience?
Inks that flow well or do a good job at lubricating the nib can make a huge difference. Even so there is a need to match the ink to the nib to keep lines neat. Does that sound complex? Tackle the pen first. That may be all you need to improve your writing experience. Find one that glides smoothly but not so much that it gets away from you. If possible, test a pen before you purchase it. Pen shows offer a huge variety with knowledgeable vendors to guide you. Many pen shops are accommodating but make sure the salesperson understands what you want. If you wind up with a stinker that cannot be returned, work with a professional to get the nib adjusted. If all else fails, sell or trade for a more suitable pen. What doesn’t work for you might well be the perfect pen for someone else.
If you want to experiment, an economical option would be to buy a single Lamy Safari and try a variety of their replacement nibs. The wide range from EF to 1.9mm is fun to explore and eventually you will find a sweet spot. For me it’s the 1.1mm though it did require some practice to become a favorite. Be sure to purchase a converter so you can easily try any ink. Cartridges can be used but need a syringe to fill them. The Kaweco Classic works only with carts but they do offer many nib sizes. It has a more traditional grip than the Safari that will suit some of you better.
Once you have a pen that makes writing enjoyable, experiment with a variety of inks. Over the summer my rotation was quite limited and revealed some standouts that improve nib performance including Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses, Ottoman Azure, and Eel Blue, Diamine Mediterranean Blue and Violet, and Iroshizuku ku-jaku. Many inks improve nib performance like Private Reserve Tanzanite so don’t feel limited.
Paper is the last thing I choose since most of what I have on hand is fountain pen friendly. Reducing drag is helpful so I go for very smooth paper preferably lined. Most anything from Clairefontaine and Rhodia will do. Much of what comes from Japan is good and my Staples Brazilian filler paper is working out nicely as well. Note that very smooth paper may slow drying time with some inks. Again, it will take experimentation to find the perfect match.
Of course, there is an exception. My daily journal is an Apica 6A10 that isn’t super smooth but rather a tad absorbent. It has a “soft” surface that cushions the nib and for me that works extremely well. It isn’t for everyone and the occasional sheet of paper will resist certain pens and inks. I can live with that in my journal since the writing rarely gets read. The size and form factor suit me perfectly so I’ll stick with the Apica but with reservations for anyone else.
Good quality paper helps but is less essential. Besides sometimes you just have to write on junk paper and grin and bear it. That’s a whole lot easier when the pen in your hand already makes you happy.