Posts filed under Calligraphy Pens

OMAS Limited Edition Calligraphy Set Review

When Kenro Industries reached out to me last year about reviewing some products I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on beautiful pens like the Omas Ogiva Cocktail, Arte Italiana London Smoke, and Arte Italina ART? I had high expectations for these pens, and was blown away across the board.

What I didn’t expect from Kenro was the inclusion of the OMAS Limited Edition Calligraphy Set in my reviewer box of goodness. This is no ordinary calligraphy set mind you. This is where the big boys and girls play, and Omas has put together a package that is hard to beat for serious writers and fans of the Omas brand.

Image via Kenro Industries

Image via Kenro Industries

To get started, let’s discuss everything that is included in this kit. There is but a single pen barrel: The Omas Milord, limited and numbered as part of the 331 sets released. Along with the pen barrel, the four nibs included are the stars of this show. They are as follows:

  • 14kt gold – Broad
  • 18kt gold – Italic
  • 18kt gold – Fine
  • 14kt gold – Extra Fine, Extra Flessible

The pen and nibs are held in a soft Italian leather case that also holds a converter, ink cartridges, and an Omas notebook. Everything you need to get writing, all in one package. And what a package it is.

If you read any of the previous Omas reviews you know my thoughts on their nibs. I don’t think best in the business is an understatement. I have yet to use an Omas nib that hasn’t impressed, and the nibs in this set are no different.

The standouts in this set are the non-standard nibs: The Italic and the EF Flessible. They are both buttery smooth, with crisp lines from the Italic and wonderful line variation from the flex nib. You need to get these nibs in your hand one day to see how superior they truly are.

The stock Broad and Fine nibs are wonderful in their own right, but I would have liked to see even more variation in what is included in this set. It is a calligraphy set after all, so how about a finer stub and and even wider italic? Increase the variety and make this set even more special.

The idea behind the set is wonderful, the products are beautiful, but when putting the whole set in use in one sitting I ran into some roadblocks. The first is that it ships with only one converter. For a set that retails for around $1500 you could toss me a few more converters, right?

That brings us to the next issue. I have four nibs and I want to use four different ink colors. No problem, I grab three more standard international converters to fill with ink, along with the one provided. I have fun using all the nibs, swapping them in and out of the barrel as needed, writing a wonderful letter with amazing artwork. When it is time to pack up, I cap one nib in the barrel…and have three left with ink and converters in them.

If I am out and about and not at home, this is an issue because I cannot store those inked nibs back in the case cleanly. There is no way to seal them off, and rolling them up in the case will make a mess. I don’t want to clean them either because I have full converters and want to use them again tomorrow for more creative awesomeness. I’m stuck.

At home, I temoprarily solved this problem but putting the three remaining nibs and converters in a ziploc bag. An inelegant solution for an elegant product. That is fine in the very short term, as in a day or two, but any longer and the ink starts to evaporate.

It’s clear that this is a luxury set created for a luxury market. I’m good with that. Actually great with it because getting to use all of these nibs was a treat. But it is not a functional set in that it works as a portable calligraphy kit.

For the price, I would like four complete barrels in the set, even if you have to sacrifice on the barrel quality just a bit. The majority of the cost is tied up in the four gold nibs anyway, so why not allow the nibs to be in use AND stored at the same time a priority? That would be a big improvement in my eyes.

My thanks to Kenro Industries for loaning this, and all other Omas pens to me for review. I’ll miss them all when I ship them back this week!

Posted on February 1, 2016 and filed under Calligraphy Pens, Fountain Pens, Omas.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen Review

(This is a guest post by Nick Folz. You can find more of Nick and his work on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.)

The Inkiest Pen

The Pilot Parallel is one of those pens that will turn heads. It doesn't look like any pen I have ever used and it doesn't write like anything else either. It is mainly a calligraphy pen, and I must admit my ignorance and tell you that I am not really a calligraphy person, but more of an illustrator who's a fan of handwriting.

The concept is simple, the flat blade (I am using the 6mm model) drops a super thick line when pulling it perpendicular to the blade line, and a super thin line when pulling it parallel. The result is a line that can vary wildly and makes the special lines required if you are doing calligraphy. It comes with a pocket guide for some starter calligraphy, but the most fun I had with the pen is when I was pushing it in a wildly sloppy manner and getting unreproducible results.

Basics

This pen is not for looks: plastic body, plastic cap. The cap has a bit of a fin to it, screws on tight to the tapered, brush-shaped body. The nib screws into the body and takes ink cartridges. The pen can go through a cartridge in a few sittings, to be expected when you are laying down such a thick line. The nib is flat, built out of what looks like a folded over piece of aluminum, but is actually two parallel pieces of metal that have tiny, interlocking teeth at the tip. The pack it comes in has one black cart, one red cart, one converter (for cleaning) and a cleaning sheet.

The Ink Problem

Look, no one likes buying tons of cartridges, especially if their favorite ink isn't sold that way. Even if you do like the convenience of the cartridges, you are going to be burning through them. The solution is pretty easy, just body fill the damn thing. What you'll want to do if you are body filling the pen is grab some plumbing tape and wrap the threads of the nib section (not more than twice) to make sure you get a good seal on it. It will act as a gasket and, boom, tons of ink, no leaking.

I've seen it as a detail note on several ink reviews, "I'm testing this ink with a Pilot Parallel." There is good reason, if an ink has facets revealed through different volumes drying at different times (I'm looking at you Emerald of Chivor) and you don't have any fancy dip nibs, this pen should be your go-to. The ink supply is slightly inconsistent, leading to the variation of how much ink is dropped even on one stroke. Sometimes the top of a line will be super saturated and dryer at the end, sometimes the opposite. I actually like this about it and don't consider it a drawback. It lends itself to a more interesting set of lines in the end.

Pilot makes of big deal of being able to blend inks by touching the tips of two Parallel Pens together to make gradients. That would probably be cool, but I just have the one pen and probably wouldn't do it that often even if given the chance.

Where It Fits

Look, I'm a Pilot fanboy. The pen that got me into pens in the first place was the Precise V5, which will always have a place in my heart and messenger bag. I have long been a fan of their products and have yet to find a sub par item they make. The Parallel is no exception, it works wonderfully and besides some minor issues (leaky body when body filling which, admittedly, it is not made for, and some sub-par aesthetics) I would easily recommend this product. The problem is, for what? Outside of the calligraphy enthusiast, the ink tester, and the font fanatic, this pen would be hard pressed to find an audience among the office supply crowd.

When I got this pen it was the one I was most excited about, but found myself pulling it out, doodling for a few minutes and then switching to something else fairly quickly. So I tossed it into my bag and would often grab something else when I sat down to draw. The problem seems obvious: I'm an illustrator, not a calligrapher. But here is when I started clicking with this pen. I often add some lettering to an illustration near the end. Sometimes it's as simple as a thought bubble with a "!" in it. Sometimes it is someones name or a label. I would dig this out of my bag and it can do what no other pen or brush can do. I like the smooth, block style lines it can do but I LOVE the distressed, unruly script you can get out of it. I feel like a hat's off is in order for Pilot mass producing such a niche pen, and in multiple sizes. You can find the Pilot Parallel at JetPens in four sizes from 1.5mm to 6mm.

Pros:

Nothing else like it, at least that I have seen. Works well right out of the box. Comes with one black and one red cart, as well as a converter and a cleaning sheet. Also has a robust care and calligraphy tip sheet. Can be used many different ways, clean and crisp or loose and rough.

Cons:

Designed for carts and have to mod for body filling. Plastic body and cap, aesthetics not a strong point. Will use all your ink.

When I think of drawing utensils I also think of what verbs they give me. My pencil's verbs are Start, Sketch, and Erase. My roller ball pen's verbs are Line, Detail, and Finish. My brush's verb is Vary. My Sharpie's verb is Fill. What the Parallel really does that makes it worthwhile for me is it gives me a verb that my other pens could do, but not as well. Letter.

(Disclaimer: This product was provided for me free of cost but I am not otherwise being compensated for this review. The opinions contained are my own.)

Posted on September 2, 2015 and filed under Pilot, Pen Reviews, Calligraphy Pens.

Review: The Noodler's Flex Pen, Revisited

This review is by Kalina Wilson, who can also be found at geminica.com.


Not long ago I reviewed the Noodler's flex pen with mixed results.  I wanted to love it, but my pen just couldn't keep up a steady flow of ink. Thinking it was just a matter of proper adjustment I spent hours trying every bit of advice online, even carving into the ebonite feed, but the pen got no more usable. Instead of giving me a graceful, sweeping line I was ending up with awful chicken scratch because so much labor was involved in making the pen flow.


Img102 It must be concluded that at least some of these pens aren't very good straight out of the box. That's not too surprising - it's often the case with affordable fountain pens, and  the Noodler's is very affordable at $14.  At least the Noodler's Flex is made to be easily worked on, with easy disassembly and a workable feed. It's a great intention, design, and pricepoint, you can't knock that. Still, I was disappointed that I was spending more time fiddling with my flex pen than actually drawing with it.


Now to the GOOD NEWS.


In June, a few online suppliers received new shipments of the flex pens, and I picked one up in 'Vulcan Coral' from Goulet Pens.  


This one flows like a dream.  Straight out of the box! No struggle required, though I did wash the nib in soap and water as always.  I love sketching with this thing, and am already angling to grab another one next time they're on the market (that June batch is already long gone, but online retailers can put you on a list to be alerted when they're coming back). Flex nibs have a learning curve attached for those of us that aren't used to them, but now that I'm spending more of my time learning instead of cursing, I'm making some progress. 


Img103 Does this mean the new Noodler's flex pens are better?  Or is it a game of chance, since each ebonite feed is slightly different than the next?  Did I irrevocably destroy my first pen during my efforts to salvage it? Is my new flex pen made out of magic?


Who knows.  But I can tell you this - a functioning Noodler's flex pen is a thing of beauty, and a great sketching tool for artists.  It's a gamble but the payoff might be the pen of your dreams.



 

Posted on July 25, 2011 and filed under Calligraphy Pens, Fountain Pens, Geminica, Noodler's Ink.