Posts Tagged 'Noodler’s'

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 ūüėČ

Autumn Ink Reviews


Me in leaves, long long ago...

I’ll tell you one thing that ¬†I miss about the east coast: a real Autumn.¬†Colorado definitely has a “transitional period” of some kind, but it’s kind of spazzy, weather-wise. Although I’m missing the golds and reds and oranges of home, the one highlight in Colorado is the¬†bright yellow wash of Aspens in Fall.

I embraced the season instead by ordering some autumn ink samples from Pear Tree Pens. (A good excuse, right?) I can honestly say that I’ve never ordered anything from Pear Tree Pens except for their ink samples– they should play it up more. Like: I wish I could get larger-sized samples. Sometimes it’s difficult to suck anything up out of those tiny jars, especially with a larger nib.

I also wish I could get samples of the forebodingly-priced Iroshizuku inks… anybody want to split a bottle with me?

Noodler's Cayenne, Noodler's Habanero, Noodler's Apache Sunset, Rohrer & Klingner Goldgrun (with J. Herbin's Vert Olive for comparison), Noodler's Zhivago, Noodler's Burma Road Brown (V-mail series), and Rohrer & Klingner Solferino

Above, the samples are tested with two dip pens (an italic and a flex), which isn’t going to match how they’ll look in a regular fountain pen. I also got a sample of Noodler’s Bulletproof Black which is not shown above, and Vert Olive is there only for comparison.

Here’s the overview

Noodler’s Bulletproof Black. Tested in TWSBI Diamond, F nib. I’m pretty devoted to Aurora Black, but I needed a waterproof black ink and this one seems to be the standard. I can see more shading than with other black inks, but I also noticed that it’s the only ink that doesn’t feather on regular paper. I’ve used it in the office Moleskines and in my new leather-covered sketchbook with absorbent art paper, with no feathering or bleedthrough. Haven’t tested the waterproof-ness yet, so I’m planning a full review later.

Rohrer & Klingner Goldgrun. Tested in Pelikan M400, F flexible nib. I don’t know if I can say much about its behavior, because my Pelikan’s flex nib is very wet writer, which throws off the test. The color is a perfect match to the White tortoise exterior, though…

Goldgrun (top) compared to Vert Olive (bottom)

Goldgrun is much more subtle and muted than J. Herbin’s Vert Olive, which appears almost lime in comparison.

Noodler’s Apache Sunset. Tested in a Parker 45, M stub nib and Parker Vector, F nib. Ah yes, one of many ethnically-named inks which rely on our cultural stereotypes of color-associations. Juuuust sayin’. Nonetheless, word on the street is that Apache Sunset has some of the best shading around. Which is why I tested it in two pens, though I still think I’m not really highlighting its shading capacities. I wish I had a Pilot Parallel…

Drastic shading, Noodler's Apache Sunset

But you can still see the variation even in these two pens: the Vector, which is a much dryer writer, and the Parker 45 stub nib.

Noodler’s Habanero. Tested in Aurora Ipsilon, F nib. I’ve actually tried this ink before; I just wanted to compare it to Cayenne and Apache Sunset. It’s a beautiful bright orange with good wet flow and is more opaque than other oranges, like Herbin’s Orange Indien. It has excellent shading, although it’s hard to see in my Aurora’s fine nib.

Noodler’s Cayenne. For whatever reason I didn’t fill up a pen with this color! So, um, raincheck?

Noodler’s Zhivago. Tested in Lamy 2000, F nib, and Pilot 78G, B italic nib. A lot of people complained that you can barely distinguish Zhivago from plain old black, and ¬†this is generally true for fine nibs. In my Lamy 2000 F nib, the subtle variations in shading can only be seen close up (I’m interested to try it in a dry writing fine nib, though; because the wet-writing Lamy 2000 makes many inks appear darker). However, this well-flowing ink is pretty damn smashing in my Pilot’s B italic nib. It’s like a black, but a black with character. Click on the image below to view the shading full-size. And I love ¬†beautiful subdued colors like this one: a mossy green almost-black.

Zhivago, compared in two pens

Beautiful Neutral: Zhivago and Burma Road Brown. Notice the crazy feathering on Burma Road Brown!

 

Noodler’s Burma Road Brown (V-mail series). Tested in Lamy Safari, EF nib. Another lively neutral color, Burma Road Brown is a dark sandy brown, like very faded letter.¬†With regards to ink behavior, my first impression was that, hey, this ink is, um, really different from other inks. The first clue: it actually bled through Clairefontaine paper. (Wha..?) So then I tried it on regular crappy paper, and… zero bleedthrough. And zero feathering. Even in a Moleskine. (Wha…?) …Okay, there was bleedthrough in the Moleskine. But no feathering! Which is a pretty huge accomplishment. Like Bulletproof Black, I’m going to follow this up with a full review.

Rohrer & Klingner Solferino. Tested in a Lamy Al-Star, 1.1 italic nib. And thus we move from subtle neutrals to, um, blinding neon purple. Granted, Solferino becomes slightly less vivid after it dries, but only slightly. But I’m pretty fond of this color already: it’s great for calling attention to things in my planner, and it matches Daniel Smith’s Quinacridone Violet, which I think is pretty cool.

 

Mixing Up Summer Inks

Impending college loans have put me in a super-frugal state of mind. I haven’t bought any new inks in a while– but I have had some fun this summer mixing up remnants of the inks that I had.

The result? A veritable rainbow. Makes for very exciting writing.

Summer Inks on a Rhodia Dotpad

Survey, from top to Bottom

I. Aurora Black is a staple in my ink lineup. It’s not waterproof, which is unfortunate, but it’s just so. smooth. On the sexy end of the smooth spectrum, really.

II. I mixed this green– a combination of J. Herbin Vert Olive and Levenger Gemstone Green –for the first time in May, when I was writing a paper on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. It’s a wonderful dark olive green, professional and not too yellow.

III. This was a spastic mixing experiment, but I’m really pleased with the green-gray result, which is now in my Pelikan M400. I started with an anonymous dark blue that kind of resembled PR’s Black Magic Blue, and then added a lot of J. Herbin Vert Olive and J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune.

IV. I love J. Herbin’s Diabolo Menthe, but it’s totally impractical for writing. I added a few drops of PR’s Electric DC Blue, which darkened it to a lovely aqua blue and also made it flow better.

V. I’ve used this mix for a while to create the perfect mid-tone blue; it’s a combination of J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche and PR Electric DC Blue.

VI. I think I officially prefer to mix my own Burgundy’s, rather than buying them. I literally combined a ton of leftover samples of various blues and reds –and came up with this wonderful purply-wine color.

VII. This bright red started with¬†Noodler’s Golden Brown, which I combined with a sample of Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm, to which I added J. Herbin Rouge Carobier and J. Herbin Rouge Opera.

VIII. Diamine’s Poppy Red. Enough said.

IX. I wanted a good summer peach color, so I started with J. Herbin Rouille d’Ancre, and added some Diamine Poppy Red and J. Herbin Orange Indien.

Mile 39 of the Ink Marathon

A rainy day is a good day for blogging. Weather forecast says we’re in for a rainy week, so look for more frequent posts over the next few days…

Gems full

Gems c98dd5584ad1

Swisher Dark Purple (made by Noodler’s) is one of the few purple inks I think I could see myself using– at least, in color. It’s a blue-based purple with no shading, bright but not obnoxious.¬†But how on earth does an ink bleed on Rhodia paper? Ah, yes, it’s a quick-drying ink, and such quick absorbency means that it will bleed. I’ll have to try this in a dry-writing fountain pen, and then get back to this review.

J. Herbin Encre Violette is, I know, only slightly different from Swisher Dark Purple. Yet for some reason I find it totally obnoxious, like a Barney purple. It’s nearly the same value as Dark Purple (i.e. equally dark), but less blue and more of a true purple. The smell of this ink, by the way, is nauseating.

Noodler’s Lermontov is from the “Russian series,” a set of inks which all have a strange, milky transparency to them. It’s as though they’re bright, even saturated, but still seem a bit transparent. Lermentov is a light purple leaning towards pink.

Noodler’s Akhmatova, also from the Russian series, is almost identical to Lermentov in brightness, saturation, and still strangely transparent. The only difference, of course, is that it’s kermit-the-frog green.

Levenger Gemstone Green falls into the same family as J. Herbin’s Vert Reseda, Diabolo Menthe, and Diamine’s steel blue. They are all true teals, and Levenger’s Gemstone Green is the darkest. Like other Levenger inks, it’s very saturated and has no shading.

Levenger Amethyst is like a darker, classier version of J.Herbin’s Encre Violette at the top of the page. Still a true purple, but deeper and more saturated– and, I would guess, more appropriate for Levenger’s clientele (i.e. conservative professionals).

Levenger Cobalt Blue is a true blue, which is something you don’t see often in inks. It doesn’t have the vitality of Private Reserve’s Electric DC Blue or PR’s¬†Black Magic Blue, but it’s along those lines. To me, it just feels… basic.

Inky Gifts Are My Favorite Gifts

I mentioned a while ago that I received some beautiful new inks and nibs from a generous stranger on Fountain Pen Network. It’s funny how, even in an age of consumerism, humans still find ways to create gift communities. It’s almost as though it’s in our nature to share; we instinctually know that a gift creates a social bond where there was none.

On a related note, I highly highly recommend reading¬†Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. He’s one of those rare writers that fully acknowledges that he is writing through a privileged [white, male] lens, and yet approaches a topic confidently, using that lens as a tool.¬†I’m also lucky enough to be taking a class with him this semester, and have constructed some elaborate plans to pick his brain…

But okay, onward to the meat and potatoes of this entry, which is the ink comparisons.

A couple of notes: I find that scans never turn out color-accurate, so I tend to stick with photographs. I use two different dip nib to test inks: an italic that writes more like a wet fountain pen, and a round speedball that writes a bit drier. This allows you to see the way the ink might look in different pens. And remember to click any image or icon for a full-size view!

Also, there are more comparisons coming later (sheesh, can’t blow my load all in one entry…)

Oranges and Browns

Oranges Browns 3Oranges Browns (bottom)

Private Reserve Fiesta Red …is a name that¬†implies a totally different color than you see here. Regardless, this is a subdued burgundy. At some point I’ll do a comparison with PR Black Cherry and some others. This ink is saturated, and has some shading.

Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm makes me want to get out the glow sticks and neon bracelets. Unlike Noodler’s highlighter inks, however, Dragon’s Napalm is still totally legible for writing, which is the reason why I love it. I just need to find an excuse to use it…

Noodler’s Cayenne has¬†superb shading.¬†I remember having to choose between this and Noodler’s Habanero when I ordered some inks a while ago: Cayenne is like a darker Habanero, but definitely not any less intense. I’m dying to try it out with some calligraphy…

Private Reserve Orange Crush is yet another ink that doesn’t seem to match its name. Still, this is a super sexy color, like burnt orange with a bit of shading. I’d feel comfortable using it for casual everyday writing.

Noodler’s FPN Galileo Manuscript Brown falls on the limits of the “brown” category; it’s a very light red-brown. In fact, out of all the inks I received, I’d compare it most to fiesta red (at the top of the page). Fiesta Red is a bit more purple, though, while Galileo Manuscript Brown leans towards auburn.

Noodler’s Swishmix Grizzly, for whatever reason, grosses me out. I have to admit that the name is eerily accurate; this ink is almost precisely the color of grizzly bears (look, I watched Grizzly Man one too many times, okay?). I could make other comparisons, though: ashy mustard? Desert sand at night? I can’t tell precisely why, but it feels a little washed out as an ink– even though it actually has pretty decent shading.

Noodler’s Beaver sort of bored me, unfortunately. I’d say that it falls into the red-brown family, though it doesn’t play up the red (like, for example, Waterman Havana Brown). I know a lot of professionals like to use this color. So, I guess I’ll never be working a desk job… [also, I realize that I spelled “burgundy” incorrectly in the writing sample]

Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan may be the only true brown ink that I own right now. I wouldn’t say that it’s boring, but it feels like a brown crayon or something. Compared to Beaver and Brown (ha), though, I’d say it has a bit of gold in it.

Noodler’s Brown is, first of all, a boring name. Like Noodler’s Beaver, it’s redder than Kiowa Pecan.

[P.S. Don’t judge the dry time of those last two based on the smudge; I turned the page too early and the samples at the top had already had time to dry…]

more blues

Blues midBlues bottom

Caran D’Ache Blue Night isn’t blue. More like a cool greeny gray. It also isn’t likely to show up as dark as it does in the italic sample; it’s very washed out.

Mont Blanc Blue Black is definitely a professional ink (I suppose anyone buying MB’s has got to be a professional). It’s a warmer gray that CD Blue Night, but neither of them are what I imagine when I think of “blue black.” Not very saturated, but perhaps I’ll pair this neutral with a brighter color for some art.

Lamy Blue Black is.. slightly closer to the “blue black” category than Caran D’Ache or Mont Blanc. It’s a medium denim color, fairly saturated. I’ve seen some snazzy shading in other reviews, though there’s not much here.

Waterman Blue Black **NOTE** I received two samples labeled “Waterman Blue Black” –and they’re totally different colors. So, you may want to ignore this swatch and look elsewhere for reviews. You can see on the right side of the page that I swatched both vials and they’re totally different. From other reviews it looks like the lighter swatch is the correct one, so just ignore this.

Private Reserve Black Magic Blue is a very saturated royal blue. I’ll compare this side-by-side with Electric DC Blue sometime, but from my first impressions it seems to be a tad more purple.

Sheaffer Blue makes me want to drink tea out of fine china. It’s what we call “colonial blue” down in colonial Virginia.

Noodler’s Swishmix Tahitian Pearl is a very saturated, free flowing ink. Not for use in wet writers, I say! This was the only sample that bled through the paper, but that’s with a dip nib, so I’ll follow up on that statement.

Noodler’s Squeteague, even though I know that it’s a fish, always seems to appear as a rubber ducky in my head. In any case, it’s actually fairly similar to Tahitian Pearl, though a bit more teal and less gray. It’s also not as wet and has a bit more shading.

MORE Ink Tests & Reviews, plus Bonus Side Notes

I’ve had another set of ink samples sitting around for a few weeks now, including three new J. Herbin inks that I received in my Rhodia Drive giveaway prize. It’s always frustrating to color-correct scans, so like last time, I offer some slightly more color-accurate photos.

The last time I ordered ink samples, I stuck pretty safely to a range of neutral colors. Maybe it was the winter weather, because I definitely branched out when ordering these in late May. They’re not all exactly functional, per say, but I’m planning to use them for colorful handwritten letters this summer.

For all of these tests, I used a dip pen, first with an italic nib and then with a rounder nib
(underneath). The rounder nib is a better demonstration of how this ink will appear in a fountain pen. All of these were tested on Clairefontaine bright white paper. As always, click on the images to view a larger version.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage: Ohh, I’m obsessed with this ink! This isn’t one of the bottles that I received from Rhodia Drive, but I wish it was. Compared to other grey inks (such as Noodler’s Lexington Gray), this is a cooler gray ink– the color of clouds on an overcast day. Gris Nuage is also a true grey ink, not a diluted black, and has beautiful shading. View more photos of this ink here and here.

Private Reserve Electric DC Blue: As my writing sample demonstrates, this is a very sexy ink. I tend to hate navy blue and blue-black inks, but I would definitely use this as an everyday color. It’s professional, in the sense that [*warning: mildly sexist remark*] a sexy high-heeled secretary is professional. View another photo here.

Private Reserve Blue Suede: I have to compare this to some of the blue-black inks that I already have, because it seems to fit into that color family. It’s also probably a tiny bit more green than it appears in this picture. Some shading.

J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe: Okay, this color is totally indulgent and I have no idea when or how I’ll use it, but gee is it summery. It reminds me of those chemical-laden cocktails that they serve at bars with blacklights. I was a little nervous ordering this one; most of the reviews that I saw said that it barely showed up. But for me, Diabolo Menthe is definitely legible, at least on Clairefontaine bright white paper. It also has beautiful shading– perhaps I’ll use it for calligraphy. See some of those reviews here and¬†here.

J. Herbin Vert Reseda: Reviewers of Diabolo Menthe claimed that Vert Reseda was a darker, more legible version. This was one of the three inks that I received from Karen Doherty at Exaclair, for the Rhodia Drive giveaway. This ink is also a bit more green than it appears in the photo, with no shading. On the bright white paper, it’s not only darker than Diabolo Menthe, but also more green– it almost resembles the “jungle green” crayon.

[*side note: is most of my generation going to remember specific crayon colors, even into adulthood? Remember “macaroni yellow”?*]

Private Reserve Shell Pink: This may be to be too light for dry-writing fountain pens. For thicker nibs, especially italic nibs, it has beautiful shading. For a pink ink, it’s not too pink. In fact, it’s rather tasteful– not at all like that sexy high-heeled secretary.

J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre: I try to avoid pronouncing this ink’s name, as I’ve only studied German and Spanish and would probably butcher it. This is another one of the full-size bottles that I received in the Rhodia Drive giveaway. It’s more coral than I expected, but not too orange. I was a little afraid of Biffybean’s “band-aid” description, but I think with the right paper it’ll look quite nice. No shading, though.

Noodler’s Ottoman Rose: Another sexy color, very saturated. It’s probably a bit darker than it appears in the photo, and has no shading. I decided on this ink instead of the other “rose” inks out there, such as Sheaffer’s Persian Rose and Private Reserve Arabian Rose.

[*Side note: I’ve been uncomfortable with the Orientalist tradition of ink-naming every since I began to explore fountain pen inks. It’s understandable (if not excusable) for ink manufacturers a hundred years ago, but it’s absolutely unnecessary and somewhat offensive for modern ink makers to promote Orientalist discourse. In other words, why is it that deep red/rose inks are always “Persian,” “Arabian,” or “Ottoman,” while an “English Rose” colors tends to be a faded/dusty pink?*]

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune: This is the third bottle I received in the Rhodia giveaway. Of the inks that I already own, I’d compare it most to Noodler’s Nightshade (which I swatched below to compare). It’s definitely lighter, and more purple than Nightshade, and I think I like it less. Interestingly, it feels like a more “feminine” ink to me than the Shell Pink– not in the good way. Read more reviews here and here.

 

Noodler’s Habanero: I wanted an orange with heavy shading, and I was torn between this ink, Noodler’s Cayenne, and Noodler’s Apache Sunset. For all three inks, reviews seemed to depend primarily on the pen used. I was expecting more shading, though I’ll have to try this in one of my italic-nib pens and see if it makes a difference.

Noodler’s Tiananmen and Waterman Havana Brown: I included these swatches to compare with Habanero and Lie de The. I reviewed them originally in this post.

J. Herbin Lie de The: I was really jonesin’ for J. Herbin’s Cacao de Bresil, but I like this ink! It’s almost the color of a nutshell after being buried under leaves, or of tea with milk (thus the doodle). Some other reviews have noted a slight green undertone, which makes it distinctive from other neutrals. It has some slight shading, and I wonder if it will come out more with a different pen. This would be a great letter-writing ink, especially on some nice parchment. Read more reviews here and here.

Ink Sample Tests and Reviews

Browns full pageMy ink samples have provided some good art therapy during exam time. Luckily, exams are over and I finally have the free time to post some ink reviews. I ordered:

+ Noodler’s Tiananmen Square
+ Noodler’s Golden Brown
+ Noodler’s Nightshade
+ Private Reserve Black Cherry
+ Waterman Havana Brown
+ Omas Sepia
+ Diamine Blue-black
+ J. Herbin Vert Olive

I tried to scan the test pages, but the colors were so inaccurate that I decided to just take photographs. Note: click on any images to view larger!

Clearly, I prefer neutral inks. They’re much more versatile, and a good neutral ink can be just as interesting as bright turquoise. I tested all 8 inks with a dip pen because I didn’t want to take the time to flush my fountain pen 8 times in a row. Of course, a dip pen gives a much more saturated sample, but they’re all still accurate. I’ve already tried three of these in my Lamy Safari (fine nib) over the past month, and they’ve written only slightly lighter.

browns

Noodler’s Tiananmen is a deep wine red. Somebody on FPN described it as “dried blood red,” which I suppose is accurate. It’s definitely dark, but it’s rich enough that it won’t easily be mistaken for brown. It has good flow and some attractive shading, as you can see below:

Tiananmen Cherry shading

Private Reserve’s Black Cherry is certainly more brown than Tiananmen, but seems to be a true dark maroon. It may be one of those rare colors that actually resembles its name: black cherries! Has visible shading, but less than Tiananmen.

Waterman Havana Brown is a rich chestnut brown with lovely shading. This is a very popular brown, probably because it’s not too red or too yellow. This is a classy color, an ink that says, “Why, yes, I own many leather-bound books.”

sepia shading

Omas Sepia is quite a dark brown, almost identical to Waterman Havana but with less red. You can see in the above picture that it’s the ink with the least shading in the set of samples.

golden brown shading sample

Noodler’s Golden Brown: I love this ink! It’s the color of crystallized honey, or desert sand. I thought at first it would be too light for everyday use, but it dries to a lovely shade that fully legible. I’ve had this ink in my Lamy Safari for the past week and I love it. You can also see from the above image that it has the most shading of all the inks that I ordered– it’s even visible using my fine nib in my Safari.¬†¬†

Cool Colors

I seem to have ordered far more warm inks than cool ones...

Noodler’s Nightshade is a shade that seems to vary widely depending on the paper and pen. When I first tested it in my exacompta sketchbook, it was a beautiful dusky eggplant color. I was excited because it seemed like it would be a good alternative to black without being too flamboyant. However, when I inked my Safari with this shade, it appeared much lighter and more transparent.¬†

Diamine Blue-Black is a dark turquoise with some shading. It’s one of the lightest blue-blacks out there, but it’s certainly still a lovely color.¬†

J. Herbin Vert Olive needs to be used on an absorbent paper to be legible; it’s another ink that dries darker and becomes easier to read. It’s a great “pop” color in my repertoire of neutrals.


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