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Howdy, Readers! I haven’t been blogging for 2 months now – what a mess! In today’s post I’m going to introduce something pretty exciting: a very flexible nib on a modern pen! I hope this makes up for the lost time and lost pen-love on my blog!
Those familiar with fountain pens may know that flexible nibs are great for writing really nice cursive calligraphic styles, such as the Copperplate style. The tines of the nib are bendy, thus the term “flexible”, or “flex” in short. When you apply pressure onto the nib, the tines bend, spread apart, and a thick line of ink is laid onto the paper. We are able to find a number of such nibs in vintage pens, which are definitely the more popular choice, because – there isn’t really isn’t much of a choice. Modern flex pens tend to be expensive and there aren’t a lot of options to choose from.
One alternative to put a flex nib on a modern pen, but once again, you’ll need to search for the right nib in order to fit the pen that you like so much! There are also options to get the nibs modified (or “modded” in short-speak), and the nibmeisters are usually located in faraway places (at least, respective to Singapore geographically…). But the good news is, we have a new budding nibmeister specializing in flex nib modification in Singapore!
Introducing… our very own local self-taught talent: Urner!
Urner is a really nice guy. Some time ago, he gave me this Noodler’s Creaper with a modded Noodler’s flex nib implanted in it for me to try out. But with all my business travels, packed weekends, and the like, I haven’t had the chance to try it out until today! Sorry, Urner!
The ink had dried out in the pen, but I tried to put some water into the barrel and write a little. I couldn’t get a proper ink flow and my words kept railroading. If you don’t know what railroading is: it is when you flex your pen and the ink that comes out forms two lines instead of one solid, fat line:
I noticed the nib was not flush with the feed, so I decided to dismantle the entire pen and give it a good scrubbing. Indeed, some ink gunk that dried up on the feed had managed to push the nib away from the feed a couple of micrometres, causing the bad ink flow. Lesson learnt – clean out your pens regularly!
By the way, if you wanted to know how to dismantle a Noodler’s Creaper, it’s really easy. Just gently pull out the nib and feed together and you get an open front of the pen. Regarding the piston side, just unscrew the piston all the way and it comes off in no time. No need to use much force – don’t risk breaking it!
After cleaning them up with soap water, I put them back together and filled the pen up with Sailor Jentle Yama-dori ink: a nice dark teal colour.
Then, I made some flexy strokes onto my trusty Clairefontaine square-lined notebook – it wrote so much better this time!
I have a long way to go before writing really beautiful cursive, but this pen is going to help me get there *highly charged positivity*. No kidding, there really isn’t anything more you can ask for from this nib. Even the line thickness spans from extra fine, to extra broad. That’s the great thing about a specially modded nib!
You can see in the picture below that the sides of the Noodler’s original nib have been shaved off to make the nib slimmer and more sexy-flexy:
The only thing is that the nib is a wee bit scratchy for a lefty. But then again, for lefties, non-scratchy nibs that are this ultra-fine are few and far between. I’m pretty satisfied with this modified nib, and if you want one too, you could check out Urner’s Etsy page:
Here’s a picture of the Noodler’s Creaper in green and flexy style:
OK, the TWSBI Diamond pens are not very new pens but I’m reviewing them because of their popularity. Yes, TWSBI pens are pretty popular for their pretty designs and reasonable prices. Here I will review the TWSBI Diamond 580 and the TWSBI Diamond 530, the only two TWSBI pens which I have at this moment.
For those who didn’t know what TWSBI is: it is a Taiwanese fountain pen brand, and I think you can pretty much count on Taiwanese brands to provide good quality products. The name TWSBI is created in an interesting way – TWS is the backward initials of sān wén táng “三文堂”, which is Chinese for “Hall of Three Cultures”, while BI is the Chinese pinyin of 笔 (pen). Pretty grand! In English I suppose the most instinctive way of pronunciation would be something like “twis-bee” (rhymes with frisbee), thus the frequent misspelling of “Twisbi”.
I have two TWSBI pens, the 580 and the 530. The 580 is the improved version of the 540, which in turn is the improved version of the 530. I don’t have a 540, but many who do have mentioned that there hasn’t been much noticeable difference between the 540 and the 580. The Diamond 580, however, has had some slight modifications to the original 540 design, intended to improve the durability of the pen.
First, you may notice that there is an additional metal sleeve at the nib unit to reinforc
e the plastic section and prevent cracking, and some say, provide some grip while holding the pen. To me, I’ve been taking care of my TWSBIs very well, so it hadn’t made a huge difference. Also, I don’t hold all the way down to the metal part, so in terms of grip, I didn’t feel any difference.
There is also a metal trim ring added at the piston end of the pen and the inner metal sleeve removed, also to reinforce the plastic barrel and prevent cracking. Likewise, I hadn’t experienced any cracking of my pen, so it did not make a huge difference to me, but it is comforting to know that it should be more durable and will minimize any cracking accidents that might occur.
The caps of the 2 pens have also had a difference in the clip. In the old Diamond 530 clip, the metallic bevel runs constantly throughout it, while for the TWSBI Diamond 580 clip, the bevel ends in a Y-shape, making it that very slightly more appealing.
It kind of reminds me of expensive cars and their elegant metallic trims.
All TWSBI Diamond pens have screw-on caps, and they close very firmly indeed. Both the 530 and the 580 caps open up with 1 1/4 revolutions (approximately), so you don’t need to spend ages unscrewing them just to jot down a couple of words! The only downside I can think of is that the caps do not have something like a click-to-tell-you-that-it-is-fully-closed mechanism. While many screw-on caps don’t have such a thing, the TWSBI Diamond caps in particular could be further screwed tight by brute force, which I dare not experiment with, for fear of cracking the whole thing. It thus makes one unsure of whether this amount of tightening is actually sufficient to seal the pen or not.
Coming to the nib: I like the TWSBI nib due to its nice design, and on it there is the TWSBI logo engraved. The TWSBI logo looks really nice on the nib itself although I don’t like it in red at the top of the cap. The splash of colour seems to make the pen look slightly cheaper and less elegant, if you know what I mean. It may have done better using a more subtle colour instead.
On the TWSBI Diamond 580, the nib size is engraved in the middle of the base of the nib, below the TWSBI logo (left, EF). On the TWSBI Diamond 530, the nib size is indicated on the side of the nib (right, M). I suppose many pens have the nib size indicated in the middle, like with the Diamond 580, so it is easier to find it, while putting it at the side (like with the Diamond 530) makes it more subtle. I don’t really have a preference on this, it is hardly important to me.
Even though I had an M nibbed 530, I had gotten it ground into a 0.7mm stub by one of my fountain pen mates when I bought it from him about 2 years ago. I can’t really use this nib to judge the writing quality of the TWSBI nib. However, with the EF sized 580, you could experience some feedback due to the fineness of the nib. This, I am fine with, but when it comes to scribbling things down quickly, you wouldn’t want so much feedback on the nib. That could be sorted out by smoothing it out, but I choose not to touch it for now.
Overall, the TWSBI Diamond pens can be everyday writers in my everyday carry pouch. They are reliable, sturdy pens with large ink capacities, allowing you to write more between refills. What’s more, being a transparent pen should help in ensuring a thorough wash when you change inks! I do recommend everyone to have at least one of these. They’ve also come up with the TWSBI Mini, which is the pocket-sized version for those who prefer smaller pens.
Other than a pen addict, I am a colour addict as well, and nothing can be more fulfilling than to receive a sponsorship from Stabilo in the form of COLOURFUL PENS. Hey now, look up! You wouldn’t want to miss this set of Stabilo point88 mini goodies!
I’ve done a review of the Stabilo point88 before right here, so you already know my opinion on it way before this review. This “mini” version of the point 88 is pretty much similar to the “adult” (hehe) version of the same, but the awesomeness is now packed in a little sporty-looking plastic bottle.
Note: you cannot put water (or ink, if you prefer) into the bottle and drink from the mouth at the top. Tried and tested, by yours truly. It just won’t work. Don’t try it at home (especially with ink).
In it is a bundle of 18 differently coloured point88 minis. Just look at the wonderful colours available…
If you observe the tag that comes along with the bottle, it actually shows all of the 18 colours in a nice sequence. So I arranged the pens in the same sequence and it looks pretty cool:
Stabilo seems to favour more of the cool colours, so you see more blues and greens in the series, and only a few hues from the hot range of the rainbow. My preferred colours are actually everything except for green, so I expect to use a good 75% of the available colours there! Well, actually the greens are pretty nice too:
Look at the top row of colours! Bright, hot, vibrant. The second row of colours are just perfectly matched (pinks and purples). The third row of blues are cool, and then there are one too many of the greens, but that’s alright, I can try drawing nature stuff with them. The colours you see here are slightly enhanced and contrasted, as the lighting in my room where I took this picture isn’t so good. For instance, on paper, the yellow and leaf green are pretty bright and less legible. The colours in the orange column (second) are less glaring on paper than on this photo as well. But overall the hues are quite representative of what you’ll get in real life! Which is pretty awesome, isn’t it?
I bought a clip-on macro lens for my phone camera so I decided to show off what amazing things it can do. Actually, there’s nothing particularly amazing, but just check out the high zoom level on a written word by this pen. No feathering of ink! It shows through a bit on the other side of lousy A4 printing paper, but does not bleed through. Great for writing on both sides of the sheet! Nope, I did not test it on tissue paper.
I also zoomed in on the pen nib. I never really know what material such nibs are made of. But it looks like some plasticky thing. It’s imposed on a metal tip, which gets a little tarnished over time, but that’s no big deal.
Sadly, I couldn’t find my old “adult” point88. I think my mum took them when I wasn’t looking and just didn’t return them. But I found my Pen 68 which I placed over the set of point88 minis to show you how much the difference in lengths of the pens is. In short, this Pen 68 is able to span across all 18 of the point88 mini pens, with some leftover length at the ends for about 3-4 more pens!
Some numerical dimensions of the poin88 mini:
Length capped: 11.8 cm
Length uncapped: 10.8 cm
Length posted: 13.2 cm
Diameter: 0.75 cm
If you’re one of those who has a pencil case that doesn’t fit long pens and rulers, this may be a great writing tool to bring around. But who needs a pencil case, since these minis have already its own sporty bottle to store them! Just hook them to your bag while you’re on the go!
By the way, if you’re living in Singapore, or intending to give a friend who lives in Singapore a nice little treat, I’m offering 3 promotional codes for a 10% discount off your shopping cart when you shop at Stabilo Shoppe’s website. They only ship to Singapore for now, that’s why I’m opening this giveaway up to those living in Singapore only.
It’s easy to do this: Send me an email with the subject “I want to shop at Stabilo Shoppe”, tell me your name, where you’re from, and what you would like to buy from the website, and I will reply the first 3 eligible entrants with your promotional code (which will be valid until 31 July 2014). This giveaway ends July 17 2014, or after all 3 promotional codes have been emailed out, whichever comes earlier.
Good luck and good fun!
Oh me, oh my! How lucky I am to find this beautiful tiger of a pen: the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen. I went on a visit to a pen shop as I hadn’t been there for a long time, and I really hadn’t planned to buy anything at all that day.
I mean, really.
But well, maybe my subconscious had actually thought, “How nice it would be to buy a nice, new, inexpensive fountain pen, eh? How about that?” so when I browsed up till the Pilot section of the shop, this nice little pen totally caught my attention. I had to request to touch and feel it. Actually, up to this point, I hadn’t imagined what the price of this pen would be like, as it looked moderately premium and felt pretty solid and decent in the hand. When I flipped the price tag over, I was stunned. It was just a mere twenty-odd Singapore dollars! How can this pen pop up just like that, how can it read my subconscious mind, knowing that I wanted a nice, new, inexpensive fountain pen? How?
I actually hesitated for a moment before getting this pen. I set it back down on the glass display top, and stared for a long time at its other-coloured counterparts. There are Purple Leopards, Brown Snakes, and this one and only White Tiger. Then there are other non-animal prints like dots, circles and all that. Seeing how the White Tiger seemed to be the most unique pen in the display case, I decided to pick that design. Another important reason is that I really like white pens. I guess at that time, there was no better choice!
The next step was to decide on the type of nib. The sections of the Pilot Metropolitan are all the same black type, so I could really choose any available nib (plus section) I wanted. The White Tiger originally came with an M nib. Then I noticed that another pen comes with an F nib, and I thought I should just get that one. Finally, as this pen came out of the box with a CON-20 converter which I really dislike, I got a CON-50 one to go with it.
I like how the nib is tapered gradually so the overall nib part is long and sharp. The design on it is really simple: it has the words “Pilot <F> Japan” to indicate the brand and the nib size, and a series of parallel strokes in threes along the two tapered sides of the nib point. Even though simple, it gives a little bit of character to the nib.
Being a Japanese F nib, the line that comes out of the pen feels more like an EF. It is somewhat scratchy sometimes, I’m not sure why. I suppose it is because of dust and other gunk being trapped in between the tines. Out of the box, the nib actually doesn’t feel all that much scratchy, although there is some feedback. It is not easy to get very fine nibs to be very smooth.
Here’s a writing sample:
For me, F or EF nibs are good for writing not too quickly or heavily, as brisk and firm strokes increase the amount of feedback and scratchiness you will experience. These may be good for casual writing, drawing or sketching. I wouldn’t use this for signing either, as I like my signature to have thick lines made by a B nib or an italic or oblique nib. Also I tend to sign quickly, so the quick strokes won’t be comfortable with a needle-like point like an F or EF.
Some numerical information of the pen:
Length capped: 13.9cm
Length uncapped: 12.7cm
Length posted: 15.3cm
Diamater at widest point: 1.8cm (which is where the base of the cap is)
The pen body is slightly tapered at both ends, the thickest point being somewhere around the middle, where the cap opening is. It is overall medium-light – not heavy at all, but not too light either. It is middle-heavy and the cap comes off by pulling and not twisting. If you post the pen, the weight of the cap is added on to the top end of the pen and kind of balances the weight distribution across the whole body. I’m not crazy about posting caps, so I don’t, and personally I am comfortable with the weight being more concentrated in the middle of the pen.
There is also a strip of design running around the middle of the pen, where the cap ends and the body starts. On my Pilot Metropolitan, the design is of grey tiger stripes, that’s why I call it the “White Tiger”!
This is a nice and elegant pen which is very worth its price. I do encourage everyone to get a pen like this. This will make a very good beginner’s pen as well, due to its low cost.