Reviews:


I've been moderately interested in fountain pens for some time. A couple weeks ago, a friend posted raving about the Pilot Metropolitan. I have since found many people raving about its impressive price (~US$15) to performance. Now I have one of each nib size. With a Noodler's Konrad on the way, to see how I feel about flex nibs, and a bottle of Private Reserve Avocado, to try a nice shading ink with more color.

"Fountain pens operate via capillary action and require no pressure to write. This enables a relaxed grip, which leads to better pen control and lower levels of hand and wrist fatigue." - /r/fountainpens wiki

There is also an incredible world of inks. Beyond every color imaginable, there are variations in sheen, and shading (constant color variation based on ink saturation).

As handwriting practice, I decided to start writing out my main web page. Always room for improvement, but I'm having great fun with it. Can't wait to get that green black ink.

This may be the most fun video of fountain pen writing (not mine). The pen is modified, this much flex would damage (spring) most pens:

The best option for substantial flex from modern pens appears to be a Noodler's Konrad or Ahab, with a bet of metal dremmeled out of the sides of the nib.


For some time, I had been vaguely intereted in fountain pens. My favorite pens had been a Fisher Bullet Space Pen in chrome with a fine blue cartridge for daily carry, and a Pilot G2 0.7mm for when I didn't need something that fit in my pocket (maybe blue, maybe purple).

2016-01-19, a friend posted to facebook raving about the Pilot Metropolitan in Medium.

2016-02-01 I ordered one, in Fine.

I sat down with these three pens (Fisher Space, Pilot G2, Pilot Metropolitan) to try to decide if I actually had any interest in fountain pens. Fountain pens write less reliably (feathering and bleed through on cheap paper, difficulty laying ink down on very shiny paper), I'd need some tangable advantage. The Space Pen felt dry and not smooth. The G2 felt smooth, except rattly and imprecise every time it made contact with paper. The Metropolitan very precise, but kind of scratchy, until I began to learn to write with less pressure. Fountain pens require almost no pressure to write. Ballpoints / rollerballs / gel pens all require some amount of pressure to provide friction to turn a ball. Fountain pens flow from capilary action. Touch the paper as lightly as you can, and it flows. And the Metropolitan feels wonderful.

2016-01-29 I ordered HP LaserJet 24 lb (based on a recommendation for cheap paper from reddit), and a Brause Intro Calligraphy And Writing Set (dip pen - 6 nibs and a holder), and bought Winsor and Newton violet gouache for the dip pen.

I thought my second fountain pen was going to be a Kawco Liliput, for portability to match my Fisher Bullet Space Pen. And then I watched the Karas Kustoms video, and realized how well clipping my Metropolitan into my front jeans pocket would work. And that gives me so many more options. I was very excited about the Karas Kustoms until I realized they don't post (you can't put the cap on the back of the pen).

2016-02-10 I ordered a Pilot Metropolitan Medium, Noodler's Konrad Flex pen, Private Reserve Avacado ink, 5ml blunt syringes, and 5ml graduated centrifuge vials.

I originally got the Fine Metropolitan because more people seemed to rave about it (particularly Goulet). But in my search for an ink, I decided I wanted something dignified, but as distinct from what was possible with a ballpoint as possible. I decided to go for a green black, with good shading (variation in darkness) (hence the PR Avocado), and learned that for shading, you want a broader nib. Hence the Medium. The PR Avocado gives me some hard starts, which is about what I had expected.

I bought the Noodler's Konrad Flex to find out how I felt about flex pens. It feels scratchier than my Metropolitans, and I've had a lot of difficulty making use of the flex (due to lack of practice). Its cap gauged the paint in one of my Metropolitans, and it has caused a bunch of pulls in my jeans where the cap makes contact - it has a bunch of jagged teeth there. So I'm kind of grumpy about it. This pen, plus the Ease My Flex mod sounds like an ideal way to try out substantial flex, which I should probably do at some point.

2016-02-22 I ordered J. Herbin 1670 Emerald of Chivor ink, and Tomoe River paper.

The hell with dignity, there is one ink that is by far the most fabulous, and I need it. And all inks are by far their most fabulous on Tomoe River paper, so I need that too. Emerald of Chivor review from The Pen Addict, showing Tomoe River and Clairefontaine Triomphe. Clairefontaine Triomphe appears to be, other than Tomoe River, the best paper for fountain pens. It seems to be the same stuff as Rhodia, in a heavier weight, 90 gsm (same company, different brands). Rhodia 80 gsm (grams per square meter) seems to be a common standard for testing fountain pens. Tomoe River is designed to be thin and light for portability, so it's 52gsm. Its most common criticism is show-through (not bleed-through - nothing bleeds through it). I suspect if they made an 80 gsm version, fountain pen people would go nuts over it.

I've been hand writing my main web page.

I made myself a pocket notebook. I cut sheets of printer paper in half, folded those in half, then stapled them together.

What's next? I'm pretty happy with my Medium Metropolitan. I really like the size and shape for carrying clipped into my jeans pocket. I don't like that the grip tapers down, I prefer the consistently wider grip of the Noodler's Konrad. Given the taper, the slipperyness of the grip / section is annoying. I think I'd really prefer a little texture to the grip. Franklin Christoph 66 Ice pens are some really beautiful eyedroppers, but it sounds like eyedroppers inevitably burp up ink (from temiperature, and therefore volume, variation in the air in the reservoir), and they have no clip, which I want. The 02 has a clip. I still need to figure out if I can get some advantage out of daily use of flex nibs, and try a stub nib (for line variation that doesn't require work / skill). I should try more printing with my dip pen to get some idea of what a stub would be like. I don't have much interest in gold nibs - it sounds like all the material advantages are in steel. I'm vaguely interest in a Platinum 3776 Century, for around $70. I'm also vaguely interested in a Pilot 912. Ability to fully disassemble and maintain a pen, like to lube a piston, is important to me (you can't with the Mont Blanc 149). For any piston filler, I'd want a cap over the piston knob. And I want something that can post.

I thought about getting a couple Jinhao pens, because hey, they're cheap. But I've been consistently hearing that their nibs are a really unpleasant experience.