NOTE: UPDATED 1/2018!With Inktober arriving in a week, pens are an appropriate tool to review!
(BTW, yes I am doing the challenge — I love it — but
I don’t use the prompts. I just draw every day in ink!)
I’ve drawn my favorite pens, the ones I reach for, walk from desk to home to bed, the ones I love the feel of, that flow well. I will talk about a few others that are keepers but…
know that there are amazing artists who will disagree with me and love that which I tolerate or hate! (Thinking about Cathy Johnson and Noodler’s flex pens.)
My priorities in a pen are that it WORK. That is 90% of it.
I’ve had some pens that didn’t work at all, that had to be fussed with constantly,
and so they went to other homes. I hate fussing. I am all about the drawing.
If possible, I want them to be beautiful.
Being a former architect, designer and artist, I love beauty!
I love a well-designed object (see WORK above), though it is more than that.
I want them to be able to post for the times I use them outside my studio.
My favorite pen is the Lamy Al-Star. Reliable 100% of the time;
it only clogs if I abuse it — mostly by letting let the converter go dry unintentionally;
then I need to clean it. It feels good in my hand and is gorgeous!
I bought a converter, which is a must for me as I want waterproof inks for sketching with watercolors. I can easily change my nibs in a flash, meaning I only have to have one pen and I have all this nib variety. How cool is that for traveling? I confess to have it in several colors. Pen pig. I use this one exclusively with Diamine Ancient Copper.
The Lamy Joy (below) didn’t make my favorite list, but it is a good pen,
much better than the Safari. I’m not as thrilled with the feel of it in my hand,
and the colors/design are not as beautiful.
UPDATE: I now love my Joy….
I’m not sure why, but I’ve not had luck with the Lamy Safari with my inks.
Clogging constantly… drove me nuts.
My husband loves his with their cartridges… Me, not so much.
Mitchell bought me a gorgeous Jinhao as a memory of my first pen show.
I’m not a purple person, but this cobalt blue violet is stunning.
I said I’d never own another Jinhao (a dirty word in my studio) BUT
the dealer buys them and retrofits them and tweaks them with lovely Goulet nibs.
Mine has a 1.5 stub, and I love it. It is juicy and if I turn it I can get quite a thin line,
above, or flatten it and it is a good calligraphy pen.
I am still trying out colors but think I’ll chose the Diamine Regency Blue, above.
UPDATE: I now convert my own, as it is easy if you have
a little bit of technical ability. I used a Jinhao 750
and I like stubs so I bought Goulet’s stub nib! Yay!
*sigh* Still in love with my first purple PEN!
If how often you reach for it is the way you decide which is your favorite pen
(the one you can’t live without), then the
Platinum Carbon Pen with waterproof cartridges is my favorite.
A total workhorse. My first was the fine point,and I used it and used it and used it with no clogging then one day it stopped. I panicked, wondering what had I done?
I wet it and wiped it and babied it and then realized I had an empty cartridge!
I have it in both sizes, have the desk holders on my studio desk, and then have
two with cartridges for holding brown ink. I really love this pen!
The big downside is the dang pen doesn’t post! Really, how stupid is that?
Most of us are using our pens in the field and then you really want to post
so you don’t lose the pen. I haven’t done this, but Cathy Johnson
has solved the problem of the non-posting pen by cutting the tip off until it posts!
Another workhorse that rarely clogs and can hold a ton of ink is the
Platinum Preppie, in three sizes, including a truly extra fine.
I convert it to an eyedropper using O-rings and silicone grease
from Goulet, and have them filled in several ink samples to for play!
At under $4 these are also great to give as starter pens.
The Pilot Metropolitan is also a favorite: inexpensive, comes with a converter at $15.
You can buy a better converter (Con-20 another squeeze converter — or Con-50),
but the squeeze jobber (bladder) works fine! Gorgeous bright colors or
an elegant subdued color with a bit of patterning around the band.
I admit to having them in several colors to match ink.
Downsides: You can’t easily swap out the nibs, and there is no stub nib.
I am fond of stub nibs, and like the option.
UPDATE: Now we can buy them with stubs! Yay!
I also have found they are fussy with some inks, and can’t get the hang of what makes them fussy. Daily I use a bronze with Super5 Australia ink (waterproof, left above.)
UPDATE: Wit the stub I find no problem, so perhaps the sluggishness is in the fine point.
The Pilot Parallel is not quite a
fountain pen — it is unique! I have it in
the 1.5mm and 2.5mm, and larger than that would not suit me. I highly recommend
the video by Rachel Goulet to see the capabilities of the pen — I use it in the most mundane manner, that is, for lettering.
Downside: The pens often feather on cold press (rough) watercolor papers.
Sometimes I am okay with that look, sometimes not.
Noodler’s Ahab, the pen I hate even after I replaced it with a Goulet nib, and filled it with De Atramentis Tobacco ink. $23 + $15 for the nib….
I’m not a fan of Noodler’s inks or pens.
I’m not sure if it the nibs themselves or perhaps it is Noodler’s are just too fussy for me.
I also feel like the body is cheap — it FEELS cheap in my hand.
It’s a big pen, so for small hands (mine are medium) that might be a problem. If you want to try a flex nib, at least you know you can swap it out for a great nib if you hate it.
UPDATE: I tossed my Noodlers as the body was sort of disintegrating after 2 1/2 years…
Next for me is that I am going to learn dip pens!
I am adding this great set of test trials by Susan Bronsak. She diligently compared the pens and inks she had on hand — and it is a nice way to see the inked lines.
I may have to do this sometime. A good way to break in a journal!
Goulet also has a page called the Nib Nook, and this is great if you are determined to compare sizes because you are looking for a very bold or very fine nib.
Want to know more about taking care of your pens?
Goulet has 22 videos called Fountain Pen 101:
Just for fun:
Pens banners / samples as described.
Painting is in a Fabriano Watercolor journal, so not my favorite, using a
Platinum Carbon pen, Super5 Dublin ink, and Daniel Smith watercolors.
Drawings ©D. Katie Powell.
My images/blog posts may be reposted; please link back to dkatiepowellart.
As my Patreon supporter, you will have
access to some content not on this website,
sneak previews, goodies, discounts on classes.
I will teach architectural sketching,
art journaling (art+writing), creativity, watercolors.
That annoying loud-mouth editor/critic in your head? GONE! How great would that be?