Wishlist

Monday, March 7, 2011

A Blue Ink Review: Noodler's Blue Eel (Guest Review by Mary Lou Serafine)

A special thanks to Mary Lou Serafine for providing this review for us to post here. If you have a review, some cool pictures, or just an interesting story about the writing products that inspire you, let us know and we can share it with the writing community. ~ Brian and Rachel Goulet

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
Austin, Texas
March 4, 2011

15 comments:

  1. "Pen people were born worrying about moving parts" :) - what a delightful review! Entertaining and informative - thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Brilliant review! I don't own any piston-fillers, but I'm a sucker for blue. Your description of the shade is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Very entertaining review. I wonder if this is a good alternative to BSB.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @SherlyC, glad you like it!

    @Holly, I'm a sucker for blue too. This one's a good one.

    @Peninkcillin, it could be an alternative, but not a substitute if that makes sense. It doesn't have the 'punch you in the face' factor that BSB has, but it's still a vibrant and attractive blue.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A delightful review of a lovely ink color. I like blues and have more inks of this color than any other. I know very little about inks with lubricants, and don't have any, but it seems to be an additive perfectly suited to the types of pens I use and the way I like the nib to glide across the page. Is there any disadvantage to lubricated inks?

    Tim Guirl
    Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mary Lou SerafineMarch 8, 2011 at 11:39 PM

    Responding to Tim about whether there are any disadvantages to lubricated inks: I do not know of any, except that possibly---though not certainly---they could make "nib creep" more likely on some nibs. Nib creep is when you get a little smudge of ink on the top of your nib, coming up through the slit in the nib. I think it is harmless, some people even think it is charming. The question, though, is really hard to answer because I don't suppose anyone knows for sure what the long-range (I mean, really long range) chemical effects are of lubricating ingredients on the types of materials (which of course vary widely) used in fountain pens. That is, I don't know if there are experiments or data on it anywhere. Or, if anyone does know, I personally do not know about it. On the other hand, if you had a sticky piston, and you did not use some lubrication, and you kept on using the piston, that in itself could cause some harm---possibly the seal wears out, ink leaks behind it, or the piston mechanism breaks altogether. Myself personally---I have been using lubricated ink for about 2 years and feel good about it, based on how my pens operate. On the other hand, in vintage Parker 51's, where lubrication should
    not be necessary with their aerometric fillers, I use regular inks that are not known for being especially lubricating, like Parker Quink. Thanks for the important question.
    Mary Lou Serafine

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you, Mary Lou, for your kindness in taking the time to respond to my question. Your answer was helpful and eased my initial hesitation to try a lubricated ink. And now,too, I understand what 'nib creep' means. I hope that you will consider writing another ink review here some time.

    Tim Guirl
    Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you, Mary Lou, for your kindness in taking the time to respond to my question. Your answer was helpful and eased my initial hesitation to try a lubricated ink. And now,too, I understand what 'nib creep' means. I hope that you will consider writing another ink review here some time.

    Tim Guirl
    Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  9. A delightful review of a lovely ink color. I like blues and have more inks of this color than any other. I know very little about inks with lubricants, and don't have any, but it seems to be an additive perfectly suited to the types of pens I use and the way I like the nib to glide across the page. Is there any disadvantage to lubricated inks?

    Tim Guirl
    Seattle

    ReplyDelete
  10. @SherlyC, glad you like it!

    @Holly, I'm a sucker for blue too. This one's a good one.

    @Peninkcillin, it could be an alternative, but not a substitute if that makes sense. It doesn't have the 'punch you in the face' factor that BSB has, but it's still a vibrant and attractive blue.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Brilliant review! I don't own any piston-fillers, but I'm a sucker for blue. Your description of the shade is fantastic.

    ReplyDelete
  12. "Pen people were born worrying about moving parts" :) - what a delightful review! Entertaining and informative - thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Being a fan of Noodler's Blue ... the non-eel variety ... I'd be very interested in how this ink compares to the non-eel one, both in terms of colour (on my monitor the swabs appear very similar, but ... you know ...) and performance.  

    One of the things I like about Noodler's Blue is how well it doesn't feather, and when a thick, wet nib (italic, music, &c) lays down a line of it, it "stays put" and makes the writing stay crisp and legible.  Hopefully the eel version does the same? 

    ReplyDelete
  14. The non-eel and eel versions of Noodler's Blue are nearly identical in color. The eel will write wetter and take longer to dry, that's about it. The two look about the same on paper, perhaps the eel appears just a tad more saturated on paper because it writes wetter and a little more ink is getting on the page.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Dose this ink feather on cheap paper?

    ReplyDelete

Don't miss anything! Subscribe to our Weekly Email Newsletter!

Disqus for Goulet Pens Blog