Create Calligraphy-Style Quotes with a Noodler’s Flex Pen and Organics Studio Inks

This blog post was written by our own Andrea Goulet Ford – she is our Content Lead, social media/marketing strategist, and Brian’s big sister!

Don’t you just love a good inspirational quote? I know I do. One of my favorite hobbies is writing quotes in a pointed pen calligraphy style. It’s not perfect. It’s probably barely even calligraphy. But it’s a true expression of me. Isn’t that what the fountain pen hobby is all about anyway?

When I found out we were adding the Organics Studio brand to our ink selection, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on their “Masters of Writing” line. I started by inking up some Emily Dickinson in a Noodler’s Ahab Flex pen and researching some of her quotes. Here were the results:

And of course, once I started, I couldn’t stop…

There was Walt Whitman

Edgar Allan Poe

Jules Verne

Sir Isaac Newton

L. Frank Baum

Mark Twain

F. Scott Fitzgerald

and Jane Austen

The paper I used was 24lb HP Laserjet, which is the same paper we use for our invoices. Overall, I found the ink dried quickly and had very little spread. The high saturation was great for making the quotes pop off the page and the flow with all the inks felt glorious in the Ahab — not too wet and not too dry. Normally, I use a much heavier bond paper, carbon ink, and a dip pen to create my quotes. Using the Ahab was much faster and I was able to completely lose myself in my writing. Before I knew it, I had almost thirty quotes (and very inky hands)! If you want to see all the quotes, head on over to Facebook or Pinterest.

The only ink I didn’t like for this project was Charles Darwin, which is a quick drying ink. It spread too much to get the fine lines needed for that calligraphy look. It would probably be great for a lefty who doesn’t care about line variation, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re trying to write with flair.

If you’re interested in learning how to write in this style, I’d recommend checking out Molly Jacque’s class called Introduction to the Art of Modern Calligraphy over on Skillshare. That’s where I learned most of the techniques I implemented here.

So, how about you? Have you given your flex pen some love lately? Or maybe you have a favorite quote that you’d like to share? Let’s keep the conversation going in the comments.

2017-10-11T13:05:11+00:00 March 4th, 2014|Tips & Tricks|21 Comments
  • Michael

    Awesome! Love Organic Studios inks.

  • Dave

    What a great post. Thanks for the beautiful examples and thanks for the skillshare link.

  • Thanks, Dave. I LOVE Skillshare! 🙂

  • Thanks, Michael. This was my first time writing with them, but I'm definitely a fan now!

  • Gail M.

    Love the inks! I'm so glad Goulet Pens is carrying them now! Totally smitten with the calligraphy and the quotes you've chosen to showcase the colors! Wonderful post…I'm feeling very inspired to pick up my Ahab again, but I might have to do a little shopping first!

  • Thanks, Gail! The colors are all so beautiful it's hard to pick a favorite. Luckily, we have samples of all of them! 🙂

  • Tom Scott

    Excellent calligraphy and well chosen quotations! Well done! But curse you, now there's a whole new set of inks I must buy. I've never got the hang of flex nibs, but many of those colors scream for a nice wide italic or stub. Thanks.

  • ha ha! Thanks, Tom. I didn't get the hang of flex nibs either, which is why the calligraphy class came in handy. The basic idea is to have no pressure on the up stroke and heavy pressure on the down stroke. That and practice, practice, practice. Luckily, having pretty colors makes practicing much more fun! 🙂

  • Winnie Dolderer

    I love your writing and the fun whimsy feel of it. I have not tried calligraphy yet but ordered an Ahab Flex from Goulet and it is on its way here as I type this. I really want to learn, so thank you for sharing the class info. The pen looks like nothing I saw on Goulet pens? Did you use your Ahab, or get that setup in addition to learn? Thanks!

  • Indira

    Thanks for sharing the quotes and your work. I really appreciate that it isn't perfect, just you. It's fantastic to see what the Ahab can do! I am definitely going to check out the Skillshare class. "Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure" – George Edward Woodberry

  • Thanks so much, Winnie! I went through the class first using all the traditional calligraphy equipment that the teacher recommended, which we don't currently sell at Goulet Pens. Once I was really comfortable with the techniques, I used the Ahab. There are pros and cons to each method. With the traditional calligraphy equipment, I'm able to get a much finer line and much more flex then I ever could get with the Ahab. (I attached a photo to this comment of a quote that uses the traditional equipment so you can see the difference.) But with the Ahab, I don't have to dip my pen every other letter. Because it's a fountain pen, the ink just flows, which is fantastic for getting into the grove of the composition.

  • Winnie Dolderer

    Thank you so much for the information. A reason to try both!

  • I'm so happy to hear you say that, Indira. I was pretty nervous putting my work up here for everyone to see (and critique!) I'll have to add your quote to my wall! I've got quite a collection going right now… here's a pic of the wall behind my desk at work.

  • Khranos Lucror

    That's very lovely writing; I have to say I like it more than "true calligraphy"! I'll be sure to check out the linked site, my writing could use some flair every now and then.

    However, I'm just curious, is your Ahab modified in any way? I've had an Ahab for a little bit over a year now, and have never had much luck with it. It skips more often than I'd like, making flexing a very short-lived endeavor. It might be the inks I've used, but I've seen things such as slitting ribs in the feed, or using a dremel to wear the tip a bit for easier flexing, and I wasn't sure if things like that were used for the pen which wrote this.

  • Yeah, I was surprised when I inked it up. Then I looked at the label and saw it was a quick drying ink and that explained it. You might want to check out Sir Isaac Newton. It's a similar color and it had nice flow. I haven't tested the waterproofness of these inks though, so I'm not sure how they compare to Noodler's Bullet Proof on that front.

  • Thanks, Khranos. I've always liked the look of modern calligraphy, too.

    I actually used 3 different Ahabs to get this project done. They were all lying around Drew's office, so I checked with him and he said that all he did was put some new nibs on there and heat set them. If your feed is too tight, which it sounds like it may be, heat setting may help you out.

    Here are some resources to help you:
    In this video, Nathan (the pen's creator) demonstrates how to heat-set a feed on a Noodler's Konrad at the 22-minute mark (skip ahead). The process is the same for the Noodler's Ahab.
    This is a long, in-depth video on the Konrad. Nathan again demonstrates the heat-setting technique, and describes why the Konrad was designed the way it was. This is a very informative video, even if it is a long one.

    Now, it's important to mention that I don't think that using an open flame is the best idea. You can accomplish the same thing using simmering water to soak your feed for 30 seconds to a minute. It's much, much safer this way – those feeds are easy to melt!

  • Tom Johnson

    Andrea, this is wonderful! Thank you so much. Have you used the Pilot Parallel pens? They seem like they would perform truer to standard calligraphy dip pens but provide the flow of fountain pens. I do love the look that nib flex gives to writing though, and enjoying how it can add flair to my handwriting, but I need to practice, practice, practice to get it WRITE. Thanks for the link too. Have you ever done anything like this on vellum paper?

  • Hey, Tom! Pilot Parallels are fantastic if you're interested in calligraphy. Rachel did a video a few years ago about how you can use them to create a shifting color affect ( Sooo cool! I think it's one of the best pens to get if you're new to the hobby. If you use a Lamy for your daily writer (like I do with my CP-1) they have several pens that have italic nibs that are really easy to swap out. That's actually how I got interested in the hobby!

    One thing to keep in mind is that Parallels are italic or stub nibs, so they work best for Gothic-styled calligraphy as opposed to the style I used here which is loosely based on Copperplate, which uses a flex nib. But no matter which style you go with, practice is key. Plus, don't be afraid to get your hands dirty. 🙂

    As far as the paper, the smoother the paper the better. I haven't worked with vellum myself because I prefer working with a heavier stock, but I know a lot of calligraphers who really like using vellum. I've been writing with these inks on a Rhodia dot pad this week and it's been performing great.

  • Indira

    After watching Nathan's videos on heat setting and fine tuning the pens I bought a few different sets of Speedball dip pens. The sets have several different nibs in all shapes and sizes. I don't know what to expect from most of these. The smaller nibs are similar in size to my creaper's nib. Now I just need to work up the courage to try to heat set them. I'm just getting the hang of setting the nib and feed in place so this is going to be the next goal.

  • Emily

    I just wanted to say I LOVE your writing samples and the quotes! So inspiring! I do a little of this sometimes, but I am always so harsh on myself, I usually am not satisfied with the outcome. But your samples are perfect – not because they are without flaw, but because they are full of character! (Although I personally see no flaw in your work, I know how easy it is to demean one's own work!)
    You have inspired me to practice writing calligraphy more consistently!
    Thank you for sharing your gorgeous art work!!!

  • Gwyneth Swann

    All the writings and words are wonderful. I like purple the most. ; )