I thought I would start the new year with a Van Dieman’s Ink called Morning Frost. It happens to be an appropriate ink color for today as it’s been snowing all morning and into the early afternoon.
There’s plenty of shimmering particulates at the bottom of my bottle. It almost looks milky! I give my bottle a thorough shake to get the shimmers swirling. I wait 30 seconds before dunking my nib and feed into the bottle for a fill.
I have to say this is my favorite gray shimmering ink color to write with. My writing sample is readable.
The shimmering particles are still in my pen. It took a day for it to settle down and flow out of my nib. I can see some shading with this ink.
My swatch shows this ink’s personality the best. Plenty of shimmers show up on my swatch card even when I added a bunch of water. The shimmers stayed in place and did not move to the edge as most shimmering inks do.
Based on my swatch card it appears Morning Frost has a teal-like underlying color. It’s one of those it looks like green undertone, but it’s definitely not blue. There is also a bit of blush undertone when water is added and when I look past all the silvery shimmers.
Besides using this ink color for writing, I enjoy using it for my pen & ink sketches.
Ink: Van Dieman’s Ink Morning Frost (shimmering) from their Tassie Seasons (Winter) ink series
Pen: Conklin Duragraph Exclusive Brushed Titanium with Rose Gold trim and Omniflex nib
Journal: GLP Creations with Tomoe River Paper (68gsm). Stillman & Birn Alpha.
(Edit: I forgot to mention I purchased my journal for $5 + tax. I need to remember that not everyone is familiar with some of stores I have access to).
I was at my local “Five Below” store and came across this journal/notebook. I was rubbing my hand across the paper (because that is what fountain pen folks do) to get an idea how smooth this paper was. I decided to give this notebook a try with my fountain pens and inks.
Here is the front cover with a cool looking design.
Here is the back of the cover.
This journal is 6.875″ x 10″ and about 3/4″ thick. This notebook contains 240 pages of lined paper. The front and back cover appears to be made of thick cardboard.
Overall, it feels like a chunky journal especially with the double wired spine.
Here is my test page written with some of the Diamine Inkvent calendar inks and my fountain pens with wet nibs. The shading and shimmers definitely appear on this paper.
Upon closer inspection, I can definitely see the shimmer from Vintage Copper and the sheen from Stargazer and Ruby Blues with this paper.
I can also see the shading from Candle Light and Raspberry Rose. Winter Spice is showing off a bit of shimmer.
I like how this paper shows off the ink’s color and characteristics. Hardly any feathering on the paper.
Here’s the backside of my test page. No bleed through at all. I was surprised even writing with my Stub 1.1 nibs. I would have expected to see “dots” where my nib stayed on the paper a bit longer.
I like the wider spiral on this journal. I have no issues flipping pages back and forth. Have you ever had a spiral notebook that was difficult to flip through?
I like the stiff thick cardboard covers that protects the paper in this journal. Also, I like how I can fold the pages back and can write on one side of the page at a time. The stiff cardboard provides a nice sturdy surface to write on.
For the price and the amount of pages in this journal I think this is a great buy.
Pen: Conklin Duragraph Brushed Titanium with Rose Gold trim and Omniflex nib.
Inks: Various inks from Diamine 2021 Inkvent Calendar
It’s a bright blue ink color with a bit of shading.
My swatch card shows a lovely coppery sheen.
Depending on the lighting, it could also be a rose gold sheen.
Here’s my Conklin fountain pen with rose gold trim. It could be my pen picks up some of the rose gold sheen. Still, quite an amazing color for a standard ink.
For use in my artwork, I would lessen this intense blue color by adding water.
At first, Thunderbolt looks like a regular blue ink color and I thought I would do a quick blog post for this morning. I am apparently wrong about this. This is a bold blue ink that leans a bit towards purple. The color reminds me of Robert Oster’s Dragon’s Night (purple leaning blue). It also reminds me of Diamine Kensington Blue. Thunderbolt sits somewhere in between these two colors.
The sheen is stunning in this blue ink. Upon further inspection, I can see a combination of copper and rose gold. I believe it’s the sheen that is making this standard blue color appear more interesting and lively.
Ink: Diamine Thunderbolt (standard)
Pens: Glass dip pen. Automatic pen. Conklin Duragraph Exclusive Brushed Titanium with rose gold trim.
I’m happy to see a few bright ink colors in this Diamine calendar. Peach Punch is a standard ink with some shading. To me, it’s truly a peachy color. I paired this ink with my Conklin All American in Sunburst Orange.
This is one happy color!
I was sorting through my swatch cards to see what I could find to compare this color to. Strawberry Shortcake was the closest color I had. Just for fun I pulled my FWP Definitely Peachy swatch because it had “peach” in the ink name.
Side note: You can see how light the FWP ink is. Their lighter colors do not work well with my pen & ink art techniques. Adding water to the ink on paper would dilute the color and make it lighter. The light color FWP inks might be better suited for painting directly onto paper.
So far, I’m finding all of the Diamine Inkvent colors are wonderful to use in my artwork. This bright color also creates a lovely ink wash.
Ink: Diamine Peach Punch (standard)
Pens: Conklin All American Sunburst Orange with Stub 1.1 nib. Automatic pen.
Here is a blue ink color called Storm. It’s appropriately named and has lots of shimmers.
From the bottom of the bottle, the shimmering particulates appear to be green.
I took this picture a minute after I created my swatch of color using my Automatic pen. I added a bit of water while the ink was still wet and watched the ink and shimmers dispersed in several directions.
My writing sample shows plenty of shimmers and shading with this ink. Do you see the mistake I made in my writing sample?
I was so thrilled with this ink’s shimmer that I wrote the wrong number for the day. It should be “Day 9” and not Day 5. Ooooops!
My swatch shows predominantly green shimmers. There might be another shimmering color in this ink as well. Are you seeing any other shimmering colors in their swatches?
From another angle my swatch card shows lots of inky goodness.
Here’s a comparison between Day #4 and Day #9 ink colors. Very uniques colors.
Storm produces a lovely ink wash.
Just when I thought I had all the blue ink I could possibly need, this one shows up in the calendar. It’s a beautiful dark blue color and I enjoy seeing the green shimmers and some shading. This ink also has some pinky undertones. Yes, it’s on my wish list for a regular size bottle. 🤩
Ink: Diamine Storm (shimmer) 💙
Pens: Conklin All American Lapis Blue with Omniflex nib. Automatic pen.
Here’s another standard ink from Diamine called Raspberry Rose.
I would say this is a perfect raspberry ink color. There is some shading and a bit of sheen. The ring trim on my Conklin pen matched the ink nicely.
Here’s a close up of my swatch card that shows a greenish sheen. This is a gorgeous ink color.
I tend to gravitate towards this red-purple range of colors and have plenty of swatches to compare. This range of colors is perfect for writing and for sketching.
Raspberry Rose is another fabulous ink that creates a beautiful ink wash.
Remember the poinsettia sketch I did a few days ago? I used this ink color for the main petals.
This might be replacing my fave Diamine Amaranth ink. Raspberry Rose is a tiny bit lighter than Amaranth, but they both have a similar green sheen. I would definitely purchase this ink after I finish off my bottle of Amaranth.
Ink: Diamine Raspberry Rose (standard) 🥰
Pens: Conklin Duragraph Matte Black with Rainbow trim and Omniflex nib. Automatic pen.
Journals: GLP Creations with TRP (68gsm). Stillman & Birn Alpha for the poinsettia sketch.
Here are my currently inked pens. I’ve been doing well in keeping my goal of having a handful of pens inked at one time. Sometimes a pen friend will ask a question and I’ll immediately ink up a pen to show the writing experience. So far, I’ve managed to keep variety of different ink colors available for my personal writing.
Here’s the list of ink colors:
The Rohrer & Klingner inks are fast becoming one of my favorite ink brands. Their ink colors are vibrant and stunning and they make beautiful ink washes.
Some of you might remember I received my first Benu as a Christmas gift from my Hubby. I fell in love with the beautiful colors of my Bora Bora. The turquoise tropical blue color with silver and gold shimmering particles reminded me of the Caribbean. The medium nib writes smooth and wet and handles shimmering inks beautifully.
Edit: Here’s a tidbit of information. I was doing some research on Benu pens and found that the cap threads are square. So, naturally I unscrewed the cap from my Benu and took out my trusty loupe to see the threads on the body of the pen. Yes! I can see the squared off threads which would normally be rounded in most fountain pens. This square thread form shape has the lowest friction and it is hard to fabricate in a pen design. It’s also the most efficient thread form to screw a cap on.
Besides using my Benu for writing, I also enjoy using it as a tool to sketch with in my pen and ink wash artwork. That says a lot about this pen. I know I mentioned this before, but I could write for hours with this pen. Yes, it fits in my hand and has a nice long grip/section. It’s lightweight and sometimes I felt like I was holding a pencil. I naturally gravitated towards using it to sketch with.
I sketched my first Benu using my fountain pen inks and a bit of iridescent watercolor to bring out the sparkles in my pen.
I was keeping an eye out for another Benu called Tropical Voyage and eventually added that one to my collection. Can you see a theme developing? There’s actually two themes: tropical pen names and the lovely shades of blue.
In my art journal I now have a page devoted to my Benu artwork. I originally had planned to sketch my Everyday Writers or EDWs on this page, but my Euphorias were so colorful and beautiful it was inevitable to have a page dedicated to them.
As I was typing up a draft of this blog post, I received my third Euphoria. I was torn between the Big Wave and the glittering Vodka on the Rocks. I wanted to keep with my tropical theme. After much thought, I decided the Vodka was a bit over the top with all that glitter and too sparkly for me. Can you believe that? Too sparkly for me? Hahaha!
So here’s my Big Wave and all it’s beautiful shimmering tiny particles. It reminds me of a frothy shimmering surf. Be sure the click the arrows in the picture to see the slideshow.
Naturally, I had to do a quick sketch of my pen. I decided to do a test sketch to see how the ink colors and iridescent watercolors play together. I wanted to make sure I could capture the glittering frothy surf.
Here’s my writing samples from my Euphorias. All three are filled with shimmering inks.
Here’s what the page from my art journal looks like:
Here’s another picture to show off the glittering sparkles:
My process of integrating my fountain pen inks and iridescent watercolor paints has greatly improved since my first Benu pen sketch. I do the initial sketch with my inks and let them dry completely. I add the iridescent color(s) and gently apply the sparkling wash over the areas. I try not to disturb the paper too much, otherwise I will lift the ink and move it around on the paper and get a mix of unwanted colors.
Bora Bora Sketch:
Pens used: Conklin Endura Abalone with JoWo Omniflex nib. Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Enchanted Ocean and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Carbon Fire, Heart of Gold, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor used: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Aztec Gold
Tropical Voyage Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphorias Bora Bora and Tropical Voyage with Medium nibs. Conklin Duragraph Matte Black with Rainbow Trim Goulet Exclusive LE (JoWo Omniflex nib). Platinum Prefounte 05 Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Arabian Nights, Golden Ivy, and Tropical Glow. Robert Oster Sydney Lavender, Blue Moon, and Thunderstorm.
Big Wave Sketch:
Pens used: Benu Euphoria Big Wave with Medium nib. TWSBI GOs with Stub 1.1 nibs
Inks used: Diamine Starlit Sea. JHerbin Bleu de Minuit. Robert Oster Blue River, Carbon Fire, and Thunderstorm.
Watercolor: Daniel Smith Iridescent Pearl White and Pearl Shimmer
Two weeks ago, I had cleaned all of my Everyday Writer (EDW) fountain pens. It didn’t take long before I started to fill them again with different inks. This time it was mostly with shimmering inks.
Notice in the picture, I have eight EDW pens inked at one time. This is a personal restriction I have placed upon myself. Not to go overboard and have 30 EDW pens inked at one time. I used to do that when I first started out in this crazy rabbit hole. The thought of cleaning 30 pens was overwhelming. It took me awhile to clean 30 pens and at the same time I kept filling my pens with ink. The 30 pens would drop down to 20 and then back up to 30 again.
Last year I set a goal for myself to create good habits. One of them was to only have 10 EDW pens inked at one time. This of course did not include my pens that I use for my artwork. Change is good, right? So far, it looks like it’s working!
For those of you following my RO Rose Gold Antiqua shimmering ink adventures, I have paired that ink with my TWSBI Diamond 580 RGII pen. For the second time, this ink has clogged my pen on Day #2. If you remember, my first pen that I paired with this ink clogged as well on Day #2. That was with the Platinum Procyon with a medium nib.
I’m now beyond Day #2 and my TWSBI and Rose Gold Antiqua ink are playing nicely together.
If you’ve noticed, I am no longer calling my currently inked pens EDCs or Everyday Carry. They are now my Everyday Writer or EDW pens.
Looks like I need to create a writing sample with all my currently inked pens I use strictly for my artwork. I better get to it!
Paper used: Rhodia #16 Paper Pad Blank. GLP Creations Journal with Tomoe River Paper Lined.
Note: I wanted to let you know that I have been updating this post. I will continue over the next few days as I uncover additional information, add a few more pictures, and additional writing experiences from the nibs I have. Enjoy!
For the last year and a half, I’ve been doing some research and looking at affordable modern flex nibs for fountain pens. A few of my pen-friends have inquired or looked for information and reviews about flex nib pens, but I’ve mostly held off from forming an opinion or making any recommendations. Until now.
When a pen manufacturer labels their nibs with the word “flex” it conjures up images of doing fancy line variations while writing. Many folks feel the need to flex their nibs right out of the box not knowing what the nib can actually do and not do. There are limitations to how far a nib can flex and that depends on the nib material used and how the nib is cut/designed.
My Calligraphy Pointed Dip Nibs Experience
Let me step back a bit. Before I ventured into the fountain pen rabbit hole, I was using pointed dip pens for my other rabbit hole calligraphy adventure. I learned and practiced with using Zebra “G” dip nibs to create the line variations: heavy pressure on the down strokes and light pressure on the upstrokes. My heavy pressure would cause the tines of the nib to split allowing more ink to appear on the paper. On the upstrokes, the tines would spring back and normal ink would appear on the paper.
This was a great learning experience for me as I got to know how a dip nib feels and how much pressure to apply. The pointed dip nibs are disposable because they will eventually corrode which is why I was looking for a better fountain pen nib solution. Okay, back to our regularly scheduled post.
Back to the Fountain Pen Modern Flex Nibs
My first experience with fountain pen flex nibs was when I uncovered a fairly young boutique fountain pen company called Fountain Pen Revolution (FPR) based in Texas. That was back in July of 2019. I purchased a Himalaya pen in a pretty Peacock color with a #5.5 Ultra Flex nib. Shortly after that I picked up a Himalaya in Saffron Orange with a #6 Ultra Flex nib. Both had hard starts when the nib hit the paper. I flushed and clean the nibs. Still had some issues. I contacted FPR who referred me to a video and I learned about heat setting the nib and feed.
I was able to get both pens writing for a bit. Then I started having hard starts all over again. I sent pictures to FPR who then suggested I needed to push the nib further into the section. Another heat set with the nib and feed. I was still having issues with the Himalayas. That was getting old.
During this time a friend of mine, “M”, had gifted to me her two Noodler’s Ahab. She had the pens inked with of course Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Black Swan in Australian Roses. Both pens wrote beautifully, but I never tried to flex the nibs or even thought I should. I was thankful for “M’s” thoughtful gift and enjoyed the pen and ink combination.
I’ve read mixed reviews about the Ahab fountain pens. Similar issues with the FPR pens. Plus the Noodler’s pen line had an interesting odor that was hard to get used to or get rid of. My Ahab’s still have this distinguishable odor almost two years later.
My next pen adventure led me to a few Conklins including the beautiful Duraflex Elements in Water and Fire. The Duraflex (omniflex) nib on the Fire wrote brilliantly, but the nib that came with Water was a dud. It did not write at all.
Conklin JoWo #6 Omniflex Nib
In the Fall of 2020, Conklin came out with their JoWo Omniflex nibs. I loved the look of this new nib. Plus with the JoWo branded nib I knew this would be a nice writing experience. I ordered the Goulet exclusive Endura Abalone with Chrome trim and the new Omniflex nib. This turned out to a be an awesome combination!
You can see from the two previous pictures how much different the Omniflex nibs look.
This new nib is a stiff steel nib and I knew right away it might flex just a tiny bit. It does. About less than double its normal line width. I did not buy this nib for the “flex” that folks normally think of. I wanted this nib for the writing experience. The feel of the nib bouncing across the paper while I write. The springy-feeling when the nib goes up and down on the page.
I knew of this “bouncing” and “springy” experience when my friend “M” let me use her Pineider gemstone pen for a few minutes. This was a beautiful writing experience and especially with a gold nib. Pleasurable writing was the first thing that came to mind as I handed the beautiful gem back to her. Thanks “M” for sharing your lovely and beautiful pen that made a lasting impression and set the bar for what kind of nib I wanted.
Franklin-Christoph 14k Extra Fine Flex Nib
At the end of 2020, I treated myself to a fancy gold nib from Franklin-Christoph. I had this nib on my radar for a few months and when I saw they had a few in stock, I ordered one. I wanted to pair this grail nib with my Esterbrook Estie OS Sparkle. My grail pen was needing a grail nib. Hahaha!
I had issues with hard starts with this beautiful gold nib and my Estie Sparkle. The hard starts would happen on the first down stroke when I started to write a sentence and sometimes a few words later. It was a consistent problem with this gold flex nib. I cleaned and flushed the nib. Filled my pen with a wet ink (Sailor’s Sailor) and still had issues with the hard starts. It felt like something was starving the nib. I was not going to give up on this nib.
A lightbulb went off in my head. Maybe it’s not an ink issue at all, but something about the pen that I was using and preventing the flow of ink. I pulled out my Opus 88 Omar and swapped the Opus nib unit for the F-C 14k Flex gold nib unit. I filled my Omar with Sailor’s Sailor. Guess what? This combination wrote brilliantly.
I believe the problem I was having with my Estie was the converter filled with ink that could not keep up with the nib and basically starved the nib. Not enough ink flowed out. With my eyedropper (Omar) pen, the ink gushes out perfectly and keeps up with the nib as I write.
Same nib. Same ink. Different pen. Writing beautifully.
Franklin-Christoph #6 HPS Extra Fine Flex Nib
After the holidays, I had been watching and waiting for another Franklin-Christoph nib to appear in their inventory. I managed to snag their steel nib called: #6 HPS Extra Fine Flex nib. This nib reminded me of the FPR EF Ultraflex nib in appearance. I had a gut feeling that this F-C nib would be the affordable modern nib that actually works. Plus I read their nibs go through a multi-step testing process before it goes out the door.
Of course I needed to include a writing sample with this steel flex nib. I filled my Opus 88 Omar Tainan Blue with Rohrer and Klingner Verdigris blue black ink.
As you can see, the steel flex nib kept up with my handwriting. The ink flowed flawlessly through the nib and feed. No hard starts at all. I was able to flex this nib comfortably and without any hesitation. With that being said, this nib does not flex like the Zebra G dip nib or other calligraphy dip nibs. There is a difference in the thickness of the nibs with the Zebra G being thinner and lighter and disposable.
While I’m discussing the Zebra G nib, I did some research on some calligraphy dip nibs inserted into fountain pens. Desiderata Pen Company is known for this. They call their pens “vintage style flex” with modern design. It looks like a great idea, but you’ll end up replacing the Zebra G nibs frequently because they do corrode and wear down from use and I’m not sure how difficult it is to change out the nibs. Also, they are limited to the pen material/style. Right now, you will not see all the lovely resin designs and colors that are available for regular fountain pens. FYI. I haven’t seen any sparkly stuff. Hahaha! I’m starting to see more videos on their pens and it’s an interesting concept and I’m sure this idea will continue to evolve.
Based on my personal experience so far, it looks like an eyedropper pen works beautifully with both Franklin-Christoph flex nibs. If you want to do calligraphy writing with a fountain pen, you need a pen that has a wet nib and feed and it doesn’t hurt to use a wet ink as well. It’s also why I believe an eyedropper pen will work brilliantly as the ink will flow straight to the feed.
Update: I do want to add that I have purchased a second HPS #6 EF Flex nib that I upgraded on my F-C #31 Candystone pen. I used a converter with this pen and steel flex nib combination. Beautiful writing combination and no issues.
I have to add a note about Franklin-Christoph’s nibs. When purchased separately on their website, the nib comes with its feed and screw-in nib unit or collar/housing. This screw-in nib unit is a generic JoWo nib unit. That means it will fit other fountain pen manufacturers pen models (e.g. Esterbrook, Retro 51, Opus 88 Omar (#6) and Picnics (#5), etc). Just need to make sure you are matching the correct nib unit size with your pen. I also recommend double-checking with the pen manufacturer to make sure your pen uses JoWo nib unit.
So, am I out of luck by not having my grail pen with my grail nib? No. I’m curious by nature and will continue to figure out how to make this pen and nib combination work.
I’m extremely happy to have fantastic modern flex nibs in my collection. They each serve a different purpose. If you are interested in flex writing with the line variations, I do recommend the Franklin-Christoph #6 HPS Extra Fine Flex nib. I was pleasantly surprised how well it wrote and without any issues. No need for heat setting the nib and feed at all. That’s a huge plus for me.
For true Calligraphy writing with all the glorious flexing to get some of the finest thin lines and brilliant wide lines and let me include beautiful flourishes, I will still go with my pointed dip nibs (e.g. Zebra G, Tachikawa G, and others) with an oblique dip nib holder. Yes, there is a bit more you have to do for maintenance and setup and of course dipping frequently and writing slowly. For me, there is something wonderful about spending the time to create beautiful writings.