Posts Tagged ‘flexible nib fountain pen’

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Sunday Reads: Flex Nibs, Ink, And Stifflexible

07/22/2018

Pen links and other goodies…

Four years on, these writing tools remain favorites.

 

Clairefontaine, Stillman & Birn, Platinum #3776 Century Nice and Nice Pur, Conklin Durograph Stub, Iroshizuku, J. Herbin, Noodler’s Ink, Sailor Ink, Tomoe River paper.

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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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Namiki Falcon And J. Herbin Meet Clairefontaine

07/19/2016

A Namiki (Pilot) Falcon sporting a soft fine nib makes a lovely bridge between J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir and Clairefontaine French-Ruled paper. This isn’t calligraphy, but rather whimsical, swirly lettering that suits the way the nib likes to dance over the smooth surface of the paper. The ink provides proof that the pen and paper came together.

If you want the trio, Writer’s Bloc carries the pen, paper and ink. Nibs.com carries the pen and will modify it in amazing ways. John Mottishaw is their nibmeister and he may well be the best at his craft.

If you want to experiment with a flex nib but not tax your budget, Noodler’s makes fountain pens that will give you a sense of what it’s like to achieve thick and thin in the same stroke. Amazon offers the range in various colors though my clear Standard Flex is hard to beat when it comes to showing off ink to its best advantage.

 

So go have some flex fun filling lots and lots of pages, but don’t be surprised if it becomes an addiction. It’s a fat-free, guilt-free one and will even keep your hand out of the cookie jar while you doodle away. Cool, eh?

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A Little Noodler’s On Noodler’s Action

03/23/2016

This was a Noodler’s month with a gift of three Konrads and three inks from Luxury Brands USA. The little dears went right to work quickly doubling the number of fountain pens on my desk and adding some color to a sedate, black rotation.

Just a couple of days before the shipment arrived, I almost bought an 1820 Essex Konrad, but got sidetracked. Then I was lucky enough to receive one from Carol. Happy me!

Noodler’s labels are miniature works of art. Who needs a fancy bottle when a dramatic label can say so much more?

Playing matchy-matchy for initial matings was easy except for one ink. El Lawrence is truly an odd color. Some folks say it looks like dirty motor oil. With certainty it is a chameleon looking black to charcoal in some lighting conditions and very dark green in others. It is bulletproof, eternal, highly saturated, and slow to dry from a wide or very wet nib. Diluting it with distilled water seems a natural.

Experimentation with fine nibs was in order so the ink went into a vintage Platinum Karakusa EF that brought out its paler side. Even on cheap copy paper, El Lawrence from the narrow nib performed flawlessly revealing a medium charcoal tone to best advantage. With the stingy Plat nib, the ink dried almost instantly which makes it an option for my non-FP notebooks.

Berning Red is a good match for the December 25th Konrad Flex. The ink is eternal and bulletproof and red, red, red. Unfortunately, it feathered on some brands and grades of paper with the strong flow from the Konrad. A more narrow nib and dry flow tamed it as well as improved the drying time. I am a bit hung up on Noodler’s Park Red so Bernie will have to wait for access to the red ink slot in my rotation, but its time will come.

The Essex was a whaling ship out of Nantucket, Massachusetts, that was sunk by a sperm whale in 1820. The event became the inspiration for Herman Melville’s 1851 novel, Moby-Dick. It’s an interesting back story should someone ask about your 1820 Essex. The barrel is in the teal family, though more green than blue, and so is the Dostoyevsky ink. They are quite a pair with shading here and there, as well as outlining in a Leuchtturm1917 journal. However, the heavy ink flow produced bleed through and mild feathering in the journal though not on other brands of paper. Drying time was generally good but not in all cases. With a fine or extra fine nib, that should be less of an issue. This ink and pen combination is so pleasing that they might be mated for life.

Qufu is a city in China’s Shandong province and known for being the hometown of Confucius. The Qufu Jade Konrad Flex represents dark green jade nicely with its deep color and pale swirls.

The Qufu Jade had limited ink choices with only two green Noodler’s on hand. Army looked good with both the barrel and the cap colors so I opted for that one. It’s the brighter green version that Beth Treadway sent last year. Rumor has it that the original drab yellow-green version has been reissued so if your Army doesn’t match the Qufu colors that might be the reason.

As for fit and finish, the Konrads had no manufacturing defects and the pistons slid smoothly from the first twist of the knob. All of the nibs were properly aligned and wrote well at first contact with paper. Note that two received a water bath before being filled and experienced no flow problems. The third did not get a bath and clogged after a half page. Oops.

The Konrad is made from a cellulose derivative and is biodegradable, not that you would allow yours to wind up in a landfill. But it does make the pen light-weight. Even with the cap posted on the end of the barrel, the balance is good creating a comfortable writing experience.

All three pens are rated flex. However, it takes some effort to produce varying line widths. Writing with normal pressure yields a fine-medium line. Over time it may take less effort to flex the nib, but I have found that trying to make the pen flex beyond a certain point will thereafter widen the unflexed line width. The nib isn’t as narrow as an Esterbrook 9128, but it is more smooth and useful for general writing than many of the lower-end vintage flex nibs.

Noodler’s pens have a distinctive odor that usually dissipates over time. The Essex is slightly less fragrant than the other two, but all three are much less powerful than pens from a couple of years ago. Leaving an empty pen uncapped for a time should hasten the reduction of the odor.

These latest Konrads are a great value and Noodler’s ink is no less. Add a little distilled water and that 3 ounce bottle will last ages. Whether you flex your nib or not, it’s hard to beat this bang-for-the-buck duo.

Thank you, Carol, for sending the pens and inks. My desk is now remarkably colorful and so is my writing.

 

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Review: Platinum #3776 Yamanaka Fountain Pen

10/11/2015

Carol at Luxury Brands sent a Platinum #3776 Century Yamanaka for review several months ago and it has been a joy in every respect. But then I am a sucker for a clear demonstrator with silver furnishings and a nib that makes writing a pleasure.

The Yamanaka was designed to “reflect the image of a ripple of the brilliant” Lake Yamanaka near Mount Fuji. It’s a beautiful medium sized, light-weight pen, well balanced and comfortable in the hand. The textured effect reminds me of rain on a window pane and makes this pen very stable in the hand. No slipping whatsoever. Posting makes it slightly less well balanced in my smallish hand. For most users that won’t be an issue.

Loaded with Platinum Mixable Silky Purple, this is one of the smoothest nibs I have ever used. With practice, the soft medium nib will produce a very fine line to a bold 0.8 line. Typical of modern soft nibs, a little effort is necessary to achieve that range. However, it is good enough to create flourishes and a unique signature. When flex writing isn’t needed, the nib offers a hint of feedback and yet a nice grip of the paper. That makes it excellent as a daily writer.

The pen is a relatively wet writer so the line is just a little wider than a typical Japanese nib though not so wide as a Western nib. Throttle back just a tad and the line can be better controlled. Even an extra fine line is possible. Loaded with Platinum Carbon Black, it would make a useful pen for drawing expressive lines whether doodles or something more artistic.

Some users claim that matching ink and pen brand can produce ideal results. Filling the Yamanaka with Platinum ink might have made a believer out of me. All I can say is WOW! Match made in heaven and my little sample bottle of Silky Purple won’t last long. In addition, the ink is gorgeous in the transparent barrel though any colorful ink will look jewel-like.

Like other Century pens, this one can rest uncapped for several minutes without the nib running dry. Brand or color may contribute to how long ink will remain fluid. If you tend to pause while considering what to write next, this could make writing a much more enjoyable and relaxed experience. If you are a casual user, the Slip & Seal cap keeps ink from drying out even when stored for extended periods of time. No burps or hard starts either.

While I like the soft medium nib, it won’t suit everyone. My experience with a Platinum medium nib has been no less satisfying and I think it’s a size many writers could enjoy. It is a little less free-flowing so the line is a bit more narrow. Both pens make excellent daily writers.

Such perfect timing. The Yamanaka review is ready to post and the pen is in need of a refill. The breeze is gently tapping the shutters against my window and the lighting at my desk is as good as it gets. Time to close my laptop and put the pen to best use writing a long overdue letter. Life is good!

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Fountain Pens And The Long, Hot Summer

06/22/2014

My fountain pens have grown annoyed with me. They get filled with colorful inks and then languish in the summer heat for lack of use. Even after winnowing the abused few to only five or six, they get far too little playtime to remain content. In fact since acquiring a laptop, and more recently finding my enthusiasm for writing in a journal on the wane, fountain pens do not get their due.

To shake things up over the summer, I’ve dedicated a lined, Clairefontaine notebook to exercising fountain pens. Nothing special save filling pages with alphabets and nonsense though I intend to explore styles of calligraphy as the days progress. Italics and flexible nibs will get the most time in hand since they need extra practice. First up is a Namiki Falcon SF with Diamine Teal. The Waterman pens are sure to follow.

Do you change your routine during summer beyond modifying your ink wardrobe? How do you keep things fresh in the sweltering heat?

Note: The stone is from the River Jordan and quite accustomed to summer heat. In fact it remains cool no matter what goes on around it. Food for thought.

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Noodler’s Pen And Ink Make A Happy Duo

01/28/2014

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.

Noodler’s Creaper pen and Apache Sunset ink at Amazon.

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