What is a Flex Nib Fountain Pen?

Pilot Metal Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen - Burgundy
Pilot Metal Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen – Burgundy

A flex nib (or flexible nib) fountain pen has a special nib design that allows the tines of the nib to curve and spread apart when pressure is applied during writing. The nib’s flexibility produces varying line widths that can add character and beauty to handwriting or calligraphy.

The shape of a flex nib is different than that of a regular fountain pen nib. The flex nib tines are longer and thinner to allow for more flexibility. Flex nibs must be used carefully! If too much pressure is applied to the nib during writing this can cause permanent damage to the nib.

The degree of flexibility varies among flex nibs. True “superflex” or “wet noodle” nibs are no longer manufactured and exist only in vintage fountain pens. Flex nibs found in modern fountain pens are considered to be “semiflex.” These have less flexibility but are easier to use and more durable than their vintage superflex cousins. To get the most flex out of a modern nib, an expert nibmeister can be hired to modify a nib to create a more flexible writing experience.

Noodler's Ahab Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen - King Philip Purple
Noodler’s Ahab Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen – King Philip Purple

When writing with a flex nib you will need to practice, take your time and write more slowly than you would with a regular fountain pen nib. The fountain pen ink you choose to use will affect your writing experience since ink properties vary, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different inks. Noodler’s Ink has created a couple of inks specifically designed for use with a flex nib: Black Swan in English Roses and Black Swan in Australian Roses. Be sure to get yourself some good quality paper such as Rhodia or Clairefontaine.

Some examples of modern semiflex nib fountain pens include:

Writing with a flex nib fountain pen is a great incentive to improve your penmanship. Do you use any flex nib fountain pens? What are your favorites? Do you have any tips you’d like to share with those considering buying their first flex nib fountain pen?

Namiki Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen
Namiki Falcon Semiflex Nib Fountain Pen
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Retractable Fountain Pens: LAMY Dialog 3 vs Pilot Vanishing Point

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Gun Metal Gray w Black Trim
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Gun Metal Gray w Black Trim

Thinking of buying a capless, retractable fountain pen? We’re comparing features of two popular models, the LAMY Dialog 3 and the Pilot Vanishing Point, to help you decide which fountain pen is best suited for your pocket!

Opening/Closing Mechanism

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Blue Carbonesque
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Blue Carbonesque

Vanishing Point: One click of the button on the top of the pen makes the nib appear or disappear. This can easily be done with one hand. When the nib is retracted into the pen body a protective shutter mechanism closes over the tip.

LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen - Palladium
LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Palladium

Dialog 3: Grasp opposite ends of the pen with each hand, give the barrel a twist and the nib smoothly glides out the bottom or retracts back into the pen. When retracted, a protective ball valve closes over the nib.

Clip

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Yellow
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Yellow

Vanishing Point: Stationary clip mounted near the nib end of the pen. When clipped to a shirt pocket the nib points up to reduce the chance of any leaks, and when writing the clip points away from your hand.

LAMY Dialog - nib, clip, palladium

Dialog 3: Movable clip mounted near the nib end of the pen. When the nib is advanced the clip recesses slightly into the body, creating an ergonomic writing experience. Once the nib is retracted the clip can be lifted and secured to a bag or pocket. This design is a great example of genius German engineering!

Nib

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Blue Carbonesque
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Blue Carbonesque

Vanishing Point: 18k gold compact hooded nib in either gold or rhodium finish. Extra-fine, fine, medium or broad.

LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen - Matte Black
LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Matte Black

Dialog 3: 14k gold, bi-color gold and rhodium finish. Extra-fine, fine, medium or broad.

Filling System

Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Black Carbonesque
Pilot Vanishing Point Fountain Pen Black Carbonesque

Vanishing PointPilot/Namiki IC50, IC100 ink cartridges or a Pilot CON-50 ink converter (included).

LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen - Matte Black
LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Matte Black

Dialog 3: LAMY T10 ink cartridges or a LAMY Z26 ink converter (included).

Body Material & Weight

Vanishing Point: Metal, 1.1 oz.
Dialog 3: Metal, 1.69 oz.

Pen Colors

Vanishing PointBlack Matte, Gun Metal Gray, Blue Carbonesque, Black Carbonesque, Yellow, Desert Orange, Copper Red, Mountain Blue, Tropical Purple, Valley Green, Red, White, Black, Blue, Raden, Chrome and more…
Dialog 3: Palladium, Matte Black

Pen Size

Vanishing Point: Pen length when nib is retracted: 5.5″; Nib extended: 5.4″; Diameter (not including clip): 0.5″.
Dialog 3: Pen length when nib is retracted: 5.5″. Nib extended: 6.2″. Diameter (not including clip): 0.5″.

Do you use a retractable capless fountain pen? If so, what do you like about it?

LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen - Palladium
LAMY Dialog 3 Fountain Pen – Palladium
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Which Gray Fountain Pen Ink Looks the Most Like a Pencil?

If you’d rather write with a fountain pen, but want your writing to look like it was done with a pencil, which gray fountain pen ink should you choose? Pencil lead varies in width and softness/hardness making your writing appear darker or lighter in color. Also the kind of paper you’re writing on and how hard you press down on the pencil can influence the appearance of the line that is produced. Fountain pen ink is similar – the results vary depending on the width of the fountain pen nib and the paper you are writing on.

Writing done with a variety of pencils
Writing done with a variety of pencils

The color of writing produced by pencil in our test turned out to be a warm shade of gray. Two fountain pen inks that are also warm shades of gray are Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Kiri-same Autumn Shower/Scotch Mist and Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray. Lexington Gray is a dark shade of warm gray and Scotch Mist is a medium shade.

Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink
Noodler's Ink Lexington Gray
Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray

Three other gray inks that are cool shades of gray are: J. Herbin Gris NuageOMAS Gray Fountain Pen Ink and Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun Old Man Winter/Rigor of Winter. When placed right next to writing done in pencil these inks have more of a “silvery” appearance (they are not actually metallic) because graphite pencil lead produces a warmer color of writing. On their own, away from any actual pencil, these inks still do have a pencil-y appearance.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink
Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink
Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink

We’ve scanned some samples of writing done on Clairefontaine French ruled paper in both pencil and ink for you to compare. What do you think? Are there any of your favorite inks you’d like to add to this list?

Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison
Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison
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What Pen & Ink Should You Use For Signing Legal Documents?

A friend of mine recently got a new position at her company that involves signing multiple legal documents during each business day. She needs to use either blue or black ink and wondered what fountain pen and ink I would suggest. Being a fellow stationery addict, she wanted something much more interesting, and more fraud resistant, to use at the office than a ballpoint pen.

Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher Fountain Pen Ink
Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher Fountain Pen Ink

The first fountain pen inks that came to my mind were the Noodler’s Warden’s Series of inks that are among the most advanced fraud resisting inks in the world. The Warden’s ink fraud-proof qualities are special since most fountain pen inks on the market are not waterproof or fraud resistant. According to the Noodler’s website these inks resist “all the known tools of a forger, UV light, UV light wands, bleaches, alcohols, solvents, petrochemicals, oven cleaners, carpet cleaners, carpet stain lifters, and of course…they are also waterproof once permitted to dry upon cellulose paper.” In addition to these characteristics they even resist “potential tools of the forger that have not yet been observed in general use by law enforcement.” The Warden’s Inks come in 3 oz bottles (no cartridges) and are available in these blue and black colors:

Noodler's Bad Black Moccasin Fountain Pen Ink
Noodler’s Bad Black Moccasin Fountain Pen Ink

The next thing I thought of was that I wouldn’t want to use my most expensive fountain pens at the office, unless I could somehow put a 24-hour guard on them and made sure they never left my possession. Even well-meaning coworkers have been known to borrow a nice pen and misplace it or forget to return it. Besides the thought of using a less expensive pen at work, if you are using your fountain pen frequently you want something that is durable. The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a great choice. It currently sells for less than $15.00, has a metal cap and barrel that won’t crack and it comes with a converter so that you can use bottled ink. You can’t do much better than that! Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen color choices include:

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pens
Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pens

My second choice for an office fountain pen would be a LAMY Safari with an ink converter and a medium nib. Usually signature lines on documents give you a fair amount of room to sign, so a medium nib should make your signature look great. It also prevents you from accidentally poking through the cheap paper you will probably be signing on. Speaking of cheap paper, you may experience some ink bleed-through and feathering when using a fountain pen on poor quality paper. Even though this might be the case, I still personally prefer to use a fountain pen. LAMY Safari standard colors include:

LAMY Vista Fountain Pen
LAMY Vista Fountain Pen

Another thing to think about – are the documents you are signing a single copy or do you need to press firmly to produce multiple copies? In my friend’s case, she is only signing single copies so a fountain pen is just fine. If you are pressing firmly to produce a duplicate copy (or copies) a fountain pen will not work. In this instance you’ll need to go with a roller ball pen or something similar. If you’d still like to use the Noodler’s Warden’s Ink, there are a few roller ball pens on the market that fill with fountain pen ink. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper ink converter if you need one. Some examples of roller ball pens that fill with fountain pen ink are:

Stipula Bon Voyage Speed Ball Pen - Sapphire
Stipula Bon Voyage Speed Ball Pen – Sapphire

Of course, the requirements for each work environment will vary, and this blog post is not meant to be legal advice. Do you need to sign legal documents at work? What kind of pen do you use? If you use a fountain pen in the office, what kind of fountain pen & ink do you choose?

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Off-Black is the New Black: Fountain Pen Ink for Your Office

Do you need a conservative color of fountain pen ink that is suitable for an office environment? Are you tired of plain old blue or black ink and want to write with a more interesting, yet subtle, color of ink? Off-black fountain pen ink may be just the ink you’re looking for!

Noodler's Ink Nightshade
Noodler’s Ink Nightshade

Noodler’s Ink Nightshade

Depending on what paper color you choose to write on, Noodler’s Nightshade ink can seem to take on different hues. I would call it a dark purple-brown-black and especially love to pair this ink with cream colored paper.

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Poussière de Lune

J. Herbin Poussière de Lune, or Moondust Purple, was created to mimic the color of the night sky when only the crescent moon is glowing in the dark. We could describe it much less poetically as a purple-black color.

J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Cacao du Bresil Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Cacao du Bresil

The brown-black color of Cacao du Bresil ink will make you think of a delicious piece of dark chocolate. Well, at least that’s what it makes me think of, but it doesn’t take much to make me think of chocolate.

Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut Fountain Pen Ink
Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut Fountain Pen Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Yama-guri – Wild Chestnut

Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut ink is another brown-black ink color, named after the natural beauty of the dark brown shades of the fruit of the wild chestnut tree.

Noodler's Ink Red-Black
Noodler’s Ink Red-Black

Noodler’s Ink Red-Black

Noodler’s Ink Red-Black ink is black with a punch of red added to it. Or is it red with the mystery of black added to it?

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Ink Gris Nuage

J. Herbin describes Gris Nuage ink (Cloud Gray) as “a light gray resembling a cloudy sky at sea slightly darkening before the storm. This color also represents the journeys taken at sea by J. Herbin when traveling to India.”

There are many types of gray ink to choose from, so go ahead and pick your favorite brand or shade:
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Kiri-same – Autumn Shower/Scotch Mist
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Fuyu-syogun – Old Man Winter/Rigor of Winter
OMAS Fountain Pen Ink Bottle – Gray
Noodler’s Ink – Lexington Gray

Noodler's Ink Sequoia
Noodler’s Ink Sequoia

Noodler’s Ink Sequoia

Noodler’s Ink in dark Sequoia green might bring to mind a vacation spent in a peaceful forest. I can already smell the pine needles… now get back to work!

Noodler's Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black
Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Ink Air-Corp Blue-Black is one of our favorite shades of blue-black with a hint of teal. We have found this to be a great multi-purpose ink that works well in all sorts of pens including roller balls that refill with fountain pen ink.

Other shades of blue-black fountain pen ink to try:
Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Shin-kai – Deep Sea
Noodler’s Ink Blue-Black
Noodler’s Ink 54th Massachusetts
LAMY Blue-Black Ink
Pelikan Edelstein Ink Tanzanite

Do you write with ink colors other than blue or black? What’s your favorite color of  fountain pen ink for the office?

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