Posts Tagged ‘calligraphy nibs’

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Duke Guan Yu Calligraphy Fountain Pen

07/31/2016

Pen enabler extraordinare, Leigh Reyes, has written about the extra long Duke calligraphy nib for ages and of course she can do things with it that are both amazing and beautiful. When I saw one on eBay recently, resistance was futile.

History

Meet the Duke Guan Yu Calligraphy Fountain Pen. It has the Chinese warrior Guan Yu holding his weapon, a guan dao named Green Dragon Crescent Blade, on the cap. Also on the cap are four Chinese characters, “Zhong, Yi, Ren, Yong” for “Loyalty, Righteousness, Humanity, Valor.” Guan Yu was highly respected and eventually became revered as a god. Though Guan died in 220 CE, he continues to be honored and worshiped.

Form

The Guan Yu feels very well built and sturdy in the hand. It is mostly metal with chrome trim and weighs a substantial 40 g. The length is 145 mm closed, 125 mm without the cap, and 165 mm with the cap posted to the barrel. The balance is good so it can be used comfortably without the cap. Unlike many pens, the cap clicks onto the end of the barrel for a secure fit, ideal for those who like a long pen. However, posting the cap may overbalance the pen in a small hand. On the plus side, not posting the cap allows for a free range of motion that can produce a variety of line widths.

The barrel is a greenish turquoise like the green dragon for which the guan dao blade was named. GYT is engraved on the band along with three Chinese characters.

The logo used on the cap and clip is a crescent blade rather than the usual Duke crown. The whole design is thematic, consistent and very attractive.

The pen accepts International cartridges and comes with a screw type converter. Flow was inconsistent at first but settled nicely after a few practice marks. Writing was at its best following a fresh fill of the converter. At the very end of a fill, the pen skipped at times. Consider that an early warning that it’s time for more ink.

Nib

Sometimes this design is called bent nib or fude. Whatever you call it, the Guan Yu has a particularly long tip that makes my other Asian calligraphy nibs look puny in comparison.  It is capable of producing a stunning 4 mm line while writing a 1 mm line or even thinner when held at a more upright angle. That makes it suitable for writing as well as sketching. Hold it too upright and it will skip so it does have its limits.

Noodler’s Lexington Grey is a good match since it is more subtle than black and shades nicely enhancing line depth and variation. Just the thing for a very wide nib.

The pen has an overfeed, a strip of metal that goes over the front of the nib. It’s the first one I’ve used on a fountain pen though some dip nibs come with the enhancement. It’s designed to keep ink flowing to the nib and prevent skipping when a strong flow is needed. Given the amount of ink required for a 4 mm line, the overfeed is a a wise addition. It isn’t pretty, but it is useful.

The nib has a little flex to it probably from the length of the tip rather than by design. It takes a bit of effort to bring out the flex, but with a little practice, it is possible to mildly vary line width. I found that property more useful for drawing than writing.

Writing

The blue-green barrel closely matches Noodler’s Dostoyevsky so I used it for the first fill. A dark ink would make a very strong statement from such a wide line. Pale or pastel inks would show more substance. Dostoyevsky struck a nice balance between the pale and the dark.

If used slowly for a thick line, the paper becomes critical. Drying time can be significant on a coated paper. Rhodia worked well despite the heavy flow though there was some ghosting and a few dots of mild bleed-through. Midori Traveler’s Notebook with Tomoe River paper showed heavy ghosting and significant bleed through. Experimentation will reveal good matches of ink and paper for this very wide nib.

One note about using this calligraphy nib. Mine does not lend itself well to writing in the Chinese style of holding the brush upright. The more contact the nib has with the paper, the better the flow and the wider the line. A western style hold will produce a very broad line. The lower the angle, the better.

The Duke Guan Yu is an eye-catching pen and might get some remarks from co-workers or fellow patrons at a coffee shop. However, this is a pen that makes writing more fun than serious. It would be perfect for a doodle journal or to decorate paper margins turning something ordinary into something elegant. Then write in the center with a standard pen.

My Guan Yu came from an eBay seller in China. If you prefer Amazon, I found three offers: here, here and here. The Duke 209 Calligraphy Bent Nib has a smaller tip so look closely if you want the same nib I purchased. Leigh has the Confucius model with an extra long nib in a bamboo design. There is a black Confucius model as well.

This might not be a go-to pen, but it sure is a kick to use when you just want to play around with ink and pen in a bold and color filled way.

 

 

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J. Herbin 1670 “Caroube de Chypre”

06/23/2016

Coming at the end of July…

Folded pens are available from John Neal Bookseller.

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Nemosine Singularity Fountain Pens

09/26/2015

Nemosine Pens may be a new name to you, but it has been around for a few years. Unlike its competitors, the company has staked out the under 1.1 mm italic nib as a unique part of its offering. For as little as $14.99, is it a bargain or a waste of pocket change?

The box states

  • precision nib made in GERMANY
  • pen body made in TAIWAN
  • inspected and packaged in USA

So the pens are of mixed heritage. The box also announces a “3 YEAR PERFECTION WARRANTY.” Apparently they really like putting info in ALL CAPS including the company name, NEMOSINE. The packaging amounts to a simple white, cardboard box that contains the pen, instruction sheet, and some cartridges to get things started. Given the price point, this is an economical presentation that suits the product.

The two Singularity pens I purchased arrived in perfect condition. The company has misnamed the magenta since it is most certainly purple. The aqua is more accurately named and a very attractive color at that. Both have silver-colored furnishings and stainless nibs. Neither has any obvious flaws though they haven’t been in rotation long enough to know whether they will endure the test of time.

The size is very comfortable for me and the design is quite pleasing in the transparent, demonstrator style. There are other colors available. The Singularity feels sturdy, but lightweight. The cap screws on solidly which makes this model a likely prospect for a carry pen. In addition to the visual treat of seeing the inner workings, the level of ink is always on display. This feature makes a demo a very easy travel mate. Grab and go, you know?

Sometimes small things can make a big difference. The convenient piston converter contains a tiny plastic ball that breaks the surface tension and keeps the ink flowing into the feed. This is a plus and something all converters ought to include.

If you really want to load it to the max, this model can be converted to an eyedropper-filler with a smear of silicone grease. Get the sort used on fountain pens for best results.

Isn’t that an attractive nib? It really elevates the pen’s appearance over anything else in its class.

The Singularity comes in extra-fine, fine, medium, broad, 0.6 and 0.8 calligraphy tips. The 0.6mm nib is quite sharp making it an italic. It does not glide, but it can add character to letter forms. A lubricating ink will improve its performance. The sweet spot is on the small side, but in line with the nib size. This could make the 0.6 a challenge for someone who rotates a pen. It isn’t an insurmountable problem, but something to consider. However, the nib size is very well suited to grid paper and performed admirably with Noodler’s Purple Martin in a Midori #002 Traveler’s Notebook.

The 0.8mm is smoother and is not quite as sharp so it is closer to a stub. The sweet spot is larger, but so is the line. It’s an all-purpose size for me, but then I do like wide nibs. For someone who wants to explore stubs, especially with little investment, this is a good entry pen.

The two pens are twins in one regard. They are chatty with the 0.6 out-squeaking its sibling. Paper and ink can influence this trait so an ink that aids flow will reduce the chatter at least on a very smooth paper. I used to live with a Society Finch who thought a squeaky, chattering fountain pen was signalling an invasion. He would harass the offender until it went silent. I am not so sensitive and find the sounds to be inoffensive.

The weakest aspect of both pens is the flow, but I have found that to be true with other entry-level italics including the Lamy and the TWSBI Eco 1.1mm nibs. The Singularity flow is sufficient to keep up with the nib’s width and rate at which it puts down ink and neither pen has failed to write. However, at times the line isn’t as filled in as it should be or the outlines as consistent as one might like. Writing at the right pace for the flow will achieve best results.

For a brand comparison, the Nemosine nibs are more narrow and have more consistent flow than the Lamy 1.1mm. The Lamy broad nib is smoother and wetter than the Nemosine, but it isn’t crisp like an italic. Lamy pen has a unique style while the Singularity has a more traditional design.

For another comparison, I like the look of the Singularity better than the TWSBI Eco and the 0.8 stub is at least as good if not better than the Eco 1.1. Flow is more inconsistent with the Eco than the 0.8 stub, but ink can play a significant part and some brands and colors will be more helpful than others. Paper is a factor, too, and slightly absorbent paper pulled just enough ink from the Singularity nib to produce relatively clear, clean lines. Isn’t that a neat trick!

At the price point, there isn’t much to lose. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the Singularity and will get plenty of use from these low-end gems. As proof, the aqua demo with Diamine Marine earned its second fill in only a matter of days. From the standpoint of eye-appeal, it’s a happy-looking pen and is sure to follow me everywhere. Next thing you know, it will be begging for a matching journal and myriad accessories. My inexpensive pen could become a rather expensive hobby. At least I will have an abundance of color to show for it and that is always good for an inkophile.

xFountainPens offers the lowest prices I could find on the Nemosine Singularity and carries replacement nibs as well.

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Two Giveaways And A Few Links

03/30/2014

My talented friends Mia, Gentian and Leigh have been hard at work and it shows…

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