Posts Tagged 'Calligraphy'

Quick and Dirty Pen Review – Noodler’s Flex

Oof, apologies for the lack of posts this week! I’m leaving my job and preparing for yet another big move. So there’s lots of reflection and a long to-do list on my part, but not a lot of blog-productivity.

Luckily, when my brain needs a break from job searching, I have the new Noodler’s flex nib fountain pen to play with. I bought this from Goulet Pens, and you can read Brian Goulet’s own review here. The unique thing about this pen isn’t a spectacular flex nib or beautiful design, but that’s it’s priced at $14.

Flex nibs for $14 just doesn’t happen, frankly. This is mainly because it’s incredibly difficult to mass-produce a flexible nib– it usually involves some hands-on work. Thanks, Capitalism, for leaving us with only vintage pens and expensive customizations as options for a flexible nib! And as far as I know, nobody’s quite sure how Noodler’s is producing these so cheaply. Brian’s hypothesis involves Oompa Loompas, and I’m just hoping that the secret is something like “patience and devotion to the craft” rather than, say, any exploitation here or overseas.

Although the flex factor isn’t drastic, this cute little nib definitely qualifies as a flex nib– as opposed to the nib on my Aurora Ipsilon, which most pen geeks would say “has some spring to it.” The difference is that when you’re writing regularly, the Noodler’s nib still responds to the slightest pressure change– whereas with the Ipsilon, you have to think about pressing down for flex.

Well heyyyy there. Hopefully you can see from my mediocre calligraphy skills that this flex is legit. In fact this is probably a great first pen for somebody wanting to get into calligraphy without the mess and supplies of a dip pen.

I tried to include three different writing styles so that you can see how this nib will work for varying handwriting. I saw the most shading on this third part, probably because I was writing faster and therefore the nib put down less ink on each letter. Compare this to the calligraphy, above, where I was writing more slowly and the ink color is fairly dark throughout. If you happen to write in all caps, a la The Pen Addict, you’ll get a bit of shading but will probably be annoyed by the responsive nib making lines widths inconsistent.

P.S. Credit goes to Rhodia No. 14 for the writing surface 😉

In the News – InkGeek / ArtGeek Version

» 50 best blogs for watercolor artists (via Web Design Schools Guide)

» The Lost Art of Letter Writing (via The Guardian)

» Reading, Writing and Revelation (via Ode Magazine)

» I’m utterly infatuated with the watercolor-calligraphy hybrid on this wedding invitation. I think I want to get married just for the crafting possibilities.

» The New York Times came out with their 100 Notable Books of 2010. Yummy reading.

» Um, On the off chance that you someday need to know how different types of paper affect the waterproof-ness of waterproof inks, read this thread!

» General Inquiry: Has anyone ever bought a fountain pen from Etsy? They’re always so beautiful; I just want to read a review first…

» Also, look at this beautiful watercolor!*

» Russell Black is a watercolor artist based out of Utah. I love the way his bright, blocky style works with the softness of watercolor.

Russell Black

» I’ve been seeing Marion Bolognesi linked a lot around the internet over the past week. (I wonder what caused the sudden jump on the hip-meter?) I first caught her work a few months ago; she’s got that great fashion-vibe.. and super technique when it comes to facial features.

Marion Bolognesi

Can you tell I spent a few hours on Etsy yesterday? As a rule, I rarely let myself browse Etsy because I can easily waste an entire day browsing instead of oh, say, actually creating something. But it’s good to indulge every once in a while, and thus the linkage love.

Sigh, I should open up a shop myself one of these days… it can’t hurt to try, right?

From Pictographs to Pixels

Photo by Bryan Rierson Photography and Brian Allen

Finally, my two primary interests united! Artsy inky stuff + cultural studies = my dreamy future. And last night I got a good dose of both when I attended a talk by Brian Allen called “From Homer to BFF: about how we express ourselves.” The event is part of a series hosted by hosted by CU Libraries Scriptalab and the Colorado Book Arts League, which resulted in a diverse audience: from hip graphic design students and aging papermakers and letterpress printers.

I was familiar with most of the cultural aspects of the presentation (Socrates’ anxieties about changing from an oral culture to a print culture, for example), but I really enjoyed Allen’s take on it. He talked about letterpress printing as a profession where men are allowed to be creative and artistic in a socially acceptable way. (Gender commentary gets you brownie points in my book.)

And he focused on the ways that printers and calligraphers have responded to a digital age– which is just a smaller version of how every oppressed group (whether racial, cultural, or professional) has developed strategies and adaptations for survival. See Gloria Anzaldua for further reading.

I also appreciated that Brian wasn’t totally against digital technology, given that so many craftsmen and women are. What is important, he concluded, is that we help digital technology to make good choices. And that we engage our own hands in the 3D world at the same time.

Still, while I was musing how to incorporate this into my professional future, I had to concede that is harder for women to get into this profession. Women are more commonly book artists and calligraphers, but printing is still a boy’s game. Ah, well. Yet another thing to add to my Badass Professions for Women list (which, so far, includes glassblowing, pen turning, and being a pilot).

J. Herbin Redux

I was pretty excited about some new J. Herbin inks when I made this quick post. So I was obviously a little embarrassed when the Quo Vadis blog decided to feature them in a post… yikes.

Anyways, after reviewing the Kalligraphie pad recently, I decided to revisit that concept and came up with this:

My Current Collection of J. Herbin Inks. And yes, I know Perl Noire is misspelled 😦

The thing about dip pens… is that they always show an ink to be more saturated than it really is. So I tried to smoosh them around a bit (professional terminology) to show their real range of color. When used in a fountain pen, these inks will write in the color that you can see in the smear.

The other thing about dip pens… is that they require a really saturated ink. They’re best used with India Ink, not fountain pen ink, which is less viscous (read: more watery). I’ve had some luck using Private Reserve inks in dip pens, but on the viscosity scale of fountain pen inks, J. Herbin is by far the least saturated, least viscous ink. So making this page was a total drip-disaster. That’s why there is some pretty uneven line work here…

I find that I use J. Herbin inks a lot with brushes, which I really enjoy. And of course, in pens. I currently have two pens inked with Cacao du Bresil, actually.

A Date with J. Herbin

National Handwriting Day

According to Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association, “The purpose of National Handwriting Day is to alert the public to the importance of handwriting. According to WIMA, National Handwriting Day is a chance for all of us to re-explore the purity and power of handwriting.”

I’ll start with the critique before I move on to the good stuff: I hate that National Handwriting Day is created and sponsored by the writing instruments industry, not teachers and writers and schools. Like Valentine’s Day and most other random holidays, this one was created for economic reasons. Shame.

So, I don’t know if I like when industries stake claims “purity and power,” but I will tell you why I like handwriting.

  1. It makes me slow down my thoughts. This isn’t always a good thing, especially when it’s important to get all my thoughts on the page and my hand can’t keep up with where my mind was going… Nonetheless, it allows for the sort of visual brainstorming that aids the creative process.
  2. Patience is a dying virtue. It’s true– writing a letter to a friend demands more time than writing an email. But by writing a letter, I’m also saying that this friend is worth more of my time. I think our relationships today could use more of that attention.
  3. Handwriting helps process information better than typing. I don’t really have the time to find scientific studies backing this up, but I know I’ve seen them somewhere… At least in my experience, I get far more out of my classes by taking handwritten notes. Students who use laptops don’t process information in the same way.. and much of the time, they’re fucking around on youtube anyways.
  4. Writing instruments are sexy. Okay, yes, I’m a little biased here– but just take a look at the Nakaya website, or the images on Pencil Talk, and it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s something aesthetically fulfilling about pens and pencils.
  5. It takes discipline– in a good way! I know that I sound like an ornery old man with a shotgun when I rant about my generation being too privileged, “not knowing the value of manual labor,” etc., but in all seriousness, I do think this is connected to our mental, emotional, and social health. I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about prescription drug abuse* on my campus, and wondering how any of us would have survived a hundred years ago, when we had nothing but discipline to get us through school. Having good handwriting takes practice and discipline– which are always good things (in moderation of course).
  6. It’s beautiful (duh).

Here’s a page from the Fountain Pen Network with handwriting links.

*…which is a whoooole ‘nother post.

Art Therapy in an Exacompta

Page 1 copy

A few weeks ago I had a crisis involving Very Big Questions (you know, the kinds about Life and Love and The Future). I spent some time in ink therapy and came out with this.

This was in my 2nd Exacompta journal. I’ve found that I’m doing far more art than I did in my first one, which is good.


Art adventures, literary hangovers, rural politics and other songs worth sharing.

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