Monday, March 7, 2011
A Blue Ink Review: Noodler's Blue Eel (Guest Review by Mary Lou Serafine)
Everyone knows the story. Nathan Tardiff started brewing up Noodler's ink to serve the burgeoning community of fountain pen aficionados. He made a company out of it and now he can barely keep the shelves stocked. Noodler's Blue Eel has nothing to do with the color of eels. Blue, blue --- I would call this an American bright blue --- is the color of the ink and the eel part refers to the slipperiness of the ink. It is lubricated. It makes pistons --- such as piston-fill pens, and piston-driven converters --- slide more evenly and, one expects, last longer, as friction between the piston and the barrel will be lessened. So, it seems, is the friction that arises between a nib and
the surface of paper. So Noodler's Blue Eel, it seems to me, makes a pen skate across the page, particularly on paper with a smooth surface. I found Noodler's Blue Eel to be a strong, bold blue, the
color of blueberries and white light, perhaps with a micron of turquoise. It is a joy to use.
Pen people were born worrying about moving parts. In the dark of night, we wonder, how many times can a piston work before it breaks? Converters: How many decades before they wear out? What if they stop making them? With Eel ink's lubrication I feel the same as when giving plant food to a plant: All is well. I haven't seen any scientific studies, but I believe this ink is good for my pistons and
I intend to use it often.
I filled three identical piston fillers --- all virgin Reform 1745's --- with three inks, to do a test: Noodler's Blue Eel, Waterman's Florida Blue, and Parker Quink Washable Blue. After a time lag too short to qualify me for a Nobel in physics, I tested all three pistons and found that the Blue Eel seemed smoother to me. In a dried out piston syringe I use for filling cartridges, it made what didn't work work, with one filling.
As to color, let's use Waterman's Florida Blue as the standard. Everyone knows it. It is round and blue and solid. By comparison, Blue Eel is brighter, more saturated. It stands out, hot. In a signature, it says, "This document was signed by a real person using a real pen and they intentionally signed this document." Parker Quink, as everyone knows, is similar to Florida Blue (some people say you
can't tell the difference), but I find it gentler and a more traditional blue in the sense that it could easily be a man's shirt color and you would say to yourself, "well dressed." Noodler's Blue Eel, by contrast, has more pizazz than that. It is not gaudy, nor does it stand out too much, but such a shirt should be worn in Hollywood.
Blue Eel is a definite ink. It has a seriousness to it that I think would be good for apologies, love letters, bills and invoices, every signature (particularly where blue ink is required), and places where
"I really mean it," should be communicated but not said. But you could also write a really funny joke with this ink.
Noodler's Blue Eel comes in a utilitarian glass bottle with no frills. It caps tightly and is on the tall and narrow side so that, as the ink gets used up, you still have a depth of liquid that is easy to
draw up into your pen. The label looks like a tiny water color of the Noodler's symbols --- the fish, an eel --- and I don't find those as interesting as others do, but you can read about their meaning in
various places around the web. And you get your money's worth. It's a full 3-ounce bottle, filled to the top so you have to be careful when opening it.
I personally believe that the lubrication in this ink is good for piston pens and converters and so can recommend it with a full heart. I have filled all ten of my piston-fills with it and find I sleep
better at night. At a minimum, the blue is gorgeous and can be used everywhere.
Mary Lou Serafine
March 4, 2011