Posts Tagged ‘Noodler’s Fountain Pen’

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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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Another DIY Notebook For Fountain Pens

07/22/2015

Re-purposing binders and notebooks was covered recently, but a new idea has emerged in the last couple of days that deserves mentioning.

For some reason, pretty paper sneaks its way into my shopping cart whenever I hit one of the crafts stores or stationery shops. Recently, this very attractive pad of scrapbook paper managed to follow me home. I had no use for it at the time, but realized this morning that folding the sheets in half would make them fit perfectly into a checkbook cover. But would fountain pen ink work on the coated stock? Remarkably well to my surprise. The paper is textured which allowed some of the ink to appear to feather, but a smoother scrapbook paper might not. I wasn’t offended by it regardless. Even a Sharpie worked beautifully and there was no bleed-through whatsoever. So you can write on both sides of the paper and even over the printed designs. Does that not open all sorts of possibilities?

This is how I put it together. The package of Jodie Lee Designs Nature Garden Collection 6″ x 6″ Paper Stack contains 48 sheets and retails for $5.99. Sales and discounts can reduce that to much less. Since both sides are usable and they get folded to create four pages each, that’s 96 blank pages and 96 decorated pages on which to write. All it takes is a checkbook cover to protect it and a rubber band or 1-2mm elastic string to hold the pages in place. Make sure there is a little tension when the band is placed in the crease. If not, the paper will fall out too easily. A second band around the outside will hold it together and even secure a slender pen or pencil just inside the edge of the cover.

Another way this can be assembled is with vellum between the pages for a very fountain pen friendly paper and more room to write. The decorated pages will show through as a soft background to your musings. Torn edges might be especially nice and vellum does that very well.

Has your checkbook cover seen better days? Use washi tape to strengthen edges and cover worn areas. it’s all part of personalizing your notebook.

If you like the scrapbook paper idea, but are a Midori fan, the 12″ x 12″ pages can be cut to fit the Traveler’s version. The elastic band will hold the pages together without having to bind them together. Simply adding a few pages here and there inside a Midori would add a little color and interest.

For less than $5, I put together a new journal with some very pretty paper that works with wide nibs and fountain pen ink. I’d say today was a day well spent.

 

 

 

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How Did This Happen?

11/16/2014

Times certainly have changed. My rotation of mostly black pens has been invaded by demos sporting jewel toned inks. How did this happen?

The term demo or demonstrator comes from pens with clear barrels that were used years ago to reveal or demonstrate the inner workings of a fountain pen. Stores might have had a few, but not customers. In the past ten years or so, clear pens have become available from a few manufacturers and have caught the fancy of many collectors.

I used to avoid demos thinking the potential for stains would make them high maintenance and only good with low maintenance inks. While that may hold true for some pens, those in my collection tolerate a variety of inks and have shown no signs of staining with normal pen hygiene.

The Lamy Vistas don’t get much use due to inconsistent flow so they are semi-retired. But thanks to the generosity of Luxury Brands USA, a Platinum Nice M (pink gold), a Nice Pur B (rhodium), and a Noodler’s Ahab Flex have nudged aside more mundane black pens. With three grades of nibs, I hardly need anything else. Well, except for the Platinum #3776 music nib. When I want a bold line, nothing is quite as sweet.

Seeing colorful ink at a glance is a gentle reminder of what’s in store when a pen is put to use. The Nice is inked with Waterman South Sea Blue and the Ahab is inked with Noodler’s Apache Sunset. The Pur is awaiting a fill. What do you think would be luscious from that broad nib pen?

Demos haven’t overwhelmed my rotation so far, but the more somber black pens aren’t happy to be displaced. Do you suppose they will be exceptionally well-behaved to maintain their dominance? Now wouldn’t that be a nice turn of events.

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Fountain Pen Day

11/07/2014

Many aficionados are marking Fountain Pen Day by posting images of their favorite pens and/or written remarks about the day. Some especially lucky ones will win prizes in the many giveaways ending today. All of us will enjoy using our pens just as we do every day of the year.

Besides putting a few to use, I’m giving fourteen neglected pens a thorough cleaning before going into storage for a well earned vacation. That will leave two Platinums, two Reform 1745s, one Noodler’s and a Lamy on my desk. After a good cleaning the Platinum #3776 music nib will return to active duty. That’s more than enough variety to keep this fountain pen lover happy.

Do you have plans for Fountain Pen Day?

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Noodler’s General Of The Armies Ink

10/18/2014

Noodler’s Ink has a new release with a split personality. General of the Armies is dark green when wet, but blue when dry. If your pen has an inkvue window or it is a demonstrator, this ink will confuse your senses. For an audience, it looks like a magic trick so make the most of it. Thank the ink wizard, Nathan Tardif, for the admiration you will receive.

As for other inky qualities, it is well-behaved on a variety of papers. No shading with the Noodler’s Dixie #10 Methuselah Ebonite on absorbent paper, but it did shade nicely on Rhodia.  No feathering, show-through or bleed-through on any paper except to a mild degree on Moleskine. The color is green-blue when dry and not highly saturated. Like many inks from Noodler’s, it does not budge when smeared with water. Frankly, what more could you ask from an ink?

Thank you, Carol, for the ink and pen. Luxury Brands U.S.A. has been a good and supportive friend to this blog. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

 

 

 

 

 

Available at Amazon and many other retailers.

 

 

 

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What’s Your Opinion Of Pen Brands

09/02/2014

You already know pens are not created equal. Those of us who write about them can only comment on the brands with which we have experience and that can be a limited pool given the number of pen manufacturers. If your favorite brand never gets mentioned at Inkophile, it is because I have never used a pen from that line so it would be helpful to hear your opinions to see what my collection might be missing.

Contemporary pens get frequent posts because readers can purchase the same model easily. Vintage pens get less attention because they are more difficult to acquire and have unknown backgrounds. Some have been well maintained or fine tuned by a nibmeister. Others have been abused if not mauled. Even a NOS (new old stock) pen may have been stored in inclement conditions causing stress to plastic bits and rubber sacs. But if there is consistency amongst multiple pens, remarks are in order.

With the exceptions of some obscure manufacturers with discontinued models, this is my list of pen brands.

Contemporary:

  • Platinum – Very good build quality. Nibs are consistently excellent in the #3776 line. The music nib is tops in my book both for shape and flow.
  • Pilot – Very good build quality. Nibs are good and offered in a substantial variety of sizes and shapes. I do not recommend the Custom 742FA due to significant flow issues. The resin Pilot (Namiki) Falcon is a mainstay in my rotation, but it does need use to achieve a reasonable degree of softness. Quite worth the effort in my opinion.
  • Sailor – Excellent build quality. Feels very solid. Nibs are very firm and come in few choices. A bit overpriced, but I’ve never owned a bad one.
  • Pelikan – Excellent build quality. Very smooth nibs. The piston filler is easy to maintain. This is my favorite European pen.
  • Waterman – Good build quality. Limited nib choices but solidly built.
  • Rotring – Very sturdy.
  • Sheaffer – Good build quality with limited nib choices.
  • Levenger True Writer – Disappointing build quality. Half my collection shows damage with only ordinary use. Some nibs are very good. Others not so much.
  • Lamy – Very sturdy. Some of the nibs are outstanding.
  • Kaweco – Good build quality. I can only comment on the medium nib which is smooth and flows well.
  • Retro 1951 – Good build quality. Very rigid nib that flows well.
  • Noodler’s – Build quality in line with price. Nibs are good to very good. The flex improves with use.
  • Jinhao – Disappointing build quality. Nib is decent.
  • Baoer – Good build quality especially at the price. Nib and flow are acceptable. This is the best of the Chinese pens I’ve tested.
  • Hero – Decent build quality. The nibs I have are fairly good but the ink flow is erratic requiring adjustment to be useful.

Vintage:

  • Waterman – Endures the test of time admirably. The pre-WWII flex nibs are the best available.
  • Pilot – Some very attractive pens. Elite short/long pens are risky as the plastic sections even NOS can develop fractures. The fine nibs can be scratchy.
  • Sheaffer – My experience is with the Touchdown model. Excellent build and nibs.
  • Parker – Vacumatic and ’51’ models are outstanding. Nibs are very good.
  • Pelikan – Have owned a dozen of the M200 to M400 models as well as a few others. Excellent build. Well-cared for nibs can be superb.
  • Reform – Average build quality. Can’t comment on the nibs since mine have been modified.
  • Montblanc – Disappointing build quality. Mine fell apart. The nib is fabulous – smooth and loaded with iridium.
  • Esterbrook – Some have held up well while others have not. The 9000 series nibs are good with the finer ones being scratchy.
  • Wahl-Eversharp – Good build except the levers which can become loose defying repair. The stub nibs are especially sweet.

These are general observations and individual pens may perform better or worse. I’ve used too many brands to remember them all, but these are the ones in my current collection as well as a few I have sold or given away.

Vintage pens are a chancy lot so no recommendations. However, the Parker ’51’ carries less risk due to its workhorse construction. I’ve owned a number of them and only one had a stinky nib that was in all likelihood greatly abused by a former owner. Pelikan piston-fillers can need a tune-up so look for ones have been repaired recently or are functioning well at purchase. That makes Waterman, Parker and Pelikan my top three vintage brands. If you want a truly wonderful experience, buy from someone who specializes in the pen you want. That doesn’t exclude eBay where guys like Rob Morrison sell fantastic pens at auction. Just look for a depth of knowledge and rave reviews. You’ll pay more but won’t have a pricey repair just to get enjoyment out of your new/old pen.

Contemporary pens are easier to recommend – or not. The Japanese pens are consistent winners as are the Pelikan and Waterman. I only have experience with one new Sheaffer, so am a little reluctant to give it a wholehearted recommendation though I found nothing wanting in the one Sheaffer sent for review. If you can work with the grip, the Lamy is good though the calligraphy nibs can be flow challenged. Noodler’s can be good, but the flex nibs need time to reach full potential.

So that’s my list. Consider it opinion to be tossed out if it doesn’t mirror your experiences.

Now what is your favorite brand of pen and how would you evaluate its build and nib?

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Another Really Good Fountain Pen – This One From Noodler’s

01/05/2014

After watching a few Nathan Tardif videos yesterday, I pulled out a Noodler’s Standard Flex pen that was languishing in a drawer. Following Nathan’s lead, I filled it with Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses to impressive results.

Noodler's Flex Pens

Noodler’s pens come in three sizes of which the Standard is the smallest. The Ahab is the largest while the Konrad is in between. One thing I’ve discovered in the past year is that with the added pressure needed to get those lovely wide lines, a smaller pen works quite well for me and often better than one with a chunkier girth. Consequently, the Standard that I purchased when it was first released has become an excellent size for flex writing even though in the past, it seemed too narrow. One of these models will suit your hand and all come with flexible nibs.

The piston filler works smoothly and the cap screws on tightly. It has a solid feel to its construction and should last a long time. I have the clear version also known as a demonstrator or demo. Years ago clear-bodied pens were used to demonstrate the inner workings. Admittedly it is fun to see that, but the real treat is seeing the color of the ink. For the Standard demo, Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Golden Brown or Black Swan in Australian Roses are beautiful as well as perfect for flex writing.

The nib is stainless and can produce significant line width. The writing sample shows what can be done with very little effort. Note the lack of railroading even when I write rapidly. This is a very well-tuned pen and required no adjustment to achieve excellent results.

The only caveat is the odor. After two years, the cellulose still has that characteristic scent though it has faded considerably with time. The fun of writing with such a flexible nib overrides my dislike, so the Standard Flex will become a regular participant in my rotation. Rubbing my fingers over the stainless steel faucet at my kitchen sink seemed to reduce the mild odor that lingered after a brief session. That trick works on things like onions and garlic, too.

For the connoisseur, the nib isn’t as supple as a Waterman’s Pink Nib, but it is very affordable and easily replaced if lost or damaged. This is the flex nib I would take on the road whether to the neighborhood coffee shop or on a cross country jaunt.

For the newbie, this is the least expensive pen to explore flex writing. Just go easy with applying pressure. Learn the pen’s limits so the tines don’t get damaged when you go for that 1.o mm line.

Forget the low-priced junk on eBay and pick up a Noodler’s Standard Flex pen. At $16 or so, it’s a steal.

Grab one at Peyton Street Pens, but read the cleaning info at Noodler’s Ink. Cellulose can get damaged if cleaned incorrectly.

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