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In this week’s Q&A, I’m talking about mailing pens, Omas vs. Pilot flex nibs, and why pens have hard starts. Come hang out with me!
I want to send my sister a fountain pen through the mail. Is it safe to send if it’s inked or should I clean out the ink?
- I see this a lot, as you can imagine people are sending us pens all the time for returns, exchanges, etc
- it’s always best to clean/empty before mailing
- half the time, ink’s getting all over everything when it’s shipped inked up
- sometimes it’s perfectly okay though, it’s a roll of the dice
- just clean it, it’s the nice thing to do 🙂
Can you recommend some workhorse pens with great grips for comfortable long writing sessions between a 40-100$ range?
- this is going to vary a LOT from one person to another, to the point of my recommendations being almost meaningless
- generally, larger-gripped pens are more comfortable to hold
- however, heavier pens are less comfortable, so look at pens with big grips and light weight relative to their size
- you’re looking at big resin pens, not metal
- this is part of why people like brands like Edison, Bexley, Omas, MB 149, Pelikan m800/1000, Delta Dolce Vita
- Conklin All-American, Noodler’s Ahab also fits here
- these pens range widely in price, but generally you pay more for these larger lighter pens
- softer/springier nibs usually help too, which means gold nibs (higher price)
How does your Custom 74 look after so many years? Could you please zoom in so that I can admire it?
- pretty darn good!
- I do take pretty good care of my pens, but I don’t baby them
- I keep my Custom 74 in a sleeve or case whenever I’m not writing with it
- you can see macro shots of it in the Pilot Custom 74 Quick Look video I made last week
- the blue and black ones are the ones I carry around, the blue I’ve had for over 4 years
- see my Pilot Custom 74 First Impression video (with the same pen!)
After listening to your comments about the OMAS Arte Italiana Vision EF, I was curious how the super-soft Pilot Custom Heritage 912 FA nib compares with the OMAS extra-flessible nib (not that I have an extra five Benjamins to drop right now, but just wondering for future reference).
- great question, as both are REALLY soft
- similar springiness, but very different writing responses
- FA nib on Pilot spreads less, it’s quite to flex but doesn’t go out as far
- FA ink will break up quickly, it’s made to be help more upright and done in shorter strokes, more for Japanese writing than American or European longhand
- Omas nib flexes “deeper”, will flow ink broader (to the point where you can spring it if you aren’t careful)
- Omas nib is overall larger, so it has more leverage, too
- for me, the Omas is easier to write with, but you have to write with a lighter hand
In general, what makes 1 pen a hard starter and 1 an always reliable starter and does brand or price factor into it at all, or perhaps ink as well?
- I hesitated to take this question because it’s so broad, could be a variety of reasons for this
- generally, it’s the nib and how it’s tuned
- yes, certain nibs/brands/models are known for being more or less reliable than others
- hard starting could be several things, pinched tines (dry writing), splayed tines (wet writing), baby’s bottom (smooth but skippy)
- always good to clean a new pen
- ink can influence it, different inks react differently with each pen
- price can be a factor, as you’d expect you generally see fewer issues with more expensive pens, but it depends
- I think so, I have it inked in my Custom 912 stub nib (similar to the VP)
- no doubt the maintenance will be a little higher with this ink
- it seems to flow well so far, I’d expect the same for the VP
- the VP stub will release before Emerald of Chivor, so it’ll be August before you’ll be able to find out
- the “best” is really whatever looks good to you
- the most important thing with a stub is that you have it at the proper rotation within your hand
- the angle of the ground tip in relation to the paper doesn’t matter as much, and will depend on your hand angle
Which popular inks are easy to clean? Recently I just noticed how easy it is to clean a pen with Noodler’s purple martin. One rinse and it was gone. Comparing that to some other inks I have, I was amazed! Can you give a list of comparison based on your experience? Thanks!
- many conventional (non-permanent inks) are going to be considered easy to clean
- some of the easiest I’ve used are J. Herbin (non-1670), Pilot Iroshizuku, Rohrer and Klingner, and various others from lesser saturated brands like Lamy, Sheaffer, Waterman, etc
- conventional Noodler’s definitely fit into that
- regrettably this isn’t of the parameters on the Goulet product reviews, though we do have water resistance, dry time, flow, saturation, and shading as individual ratings on our inks
I’m a big fan of Waterman ink, I like how it’s so well-behaved and never seems to have any issues no matter what pen I put it in. That said, the colour selection is somewhat limited. Can you recommend equally well-behaved inks in other colours (specifically orange, pink and grey)?
- here are a few for you to try out:
- Orange: Apache Sunset, Pilot Iroshizuku Yu-Yake, J. Herbin Orange Indien
- Pink: Diamine Hope Pink, Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji, Rohrer and Klingner Solferino, Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, Noodler’s Saguaro Wine
- Grey: Diamine Graphite, Pilot Irozhizuku Fuyu-Syogun, Noodler’s Lexington Gray
Is there a way to know (other than trial and error) whether a given sort of paper would affect the color of my inks?
- fortunately/unfortunately no, trial and error will pretty much be needed
- part of the beauty of this hobby is that there are so many varying factors that can allow you to fine tune your writing experience
- it allows for constantly new discovery of new facets of inks, pens, and paper!
- that said, it can be frustrated if you are looking for consistency
- the up side is that there might be some inks you aren’t as crazy about that you discover on some papers look awesome
- other factors at play besides JUST pen, ink, and paper include: writing angle, writing pressure, writing speed, nib size, and more
What methods do you suggest for “hard starting” pens? And what exactly is “baby’s bottom”? Can anything be done about it?
- could be a variety of factors, it’s always good to clean the pen first just to make sure it’s working right
- inspection of the tines is always a good next step, see Goulet Loupe video for reference
- baby’s bottom is when a nib is ground with the edges of the slit too rounded, which prohibits capillary action from drawing the ink down far enough to reach the paper
- pen will write really smooth, but hard start and skip a lot
- it can be smoothed out, a hit on micro mesh will pretty much take care of it, see my Micromesh video for my method
QOTW: Where do you use your fountain pens more, at work or at home? – (53:45)
Thanks so much for spending time with me this week, I really appreciate it! Be sure to check here if there are any old Q&A’s that you missed.