Tag Archives: Noodler’s Flex Pens

Ink Review: Noodler’s X-Feather

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Noodler’s X-Feather: fountain pen ink designed to not feather on most types of paper, including cheaper copy paper.

Noodler’s X-Feather Ink is a black ink with a specialty in not feathering.

People generally try to avoid feathering because it just doesn’t look very nice. We want to have nice, clean, crisp lines without any of the fibres around the paper soaking up some of the ink. On certain types of paper, or with extremely small writing or fine details, feathering can sometimes mean your writing is illegible, although these are in extreme circumstances.

The three factors that determine how your ink looks (in feathering as well as everything else) are paper, pen and ink. If you find a certain type of pen or ink or paper that you really like, you can experiment with the other factors to find your just-right combination.

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An example of feathering – usually a result of the combination of paper and ink, especially frequent with really “wet” or broad nibs.

Fountain pen writers are often on the hunt for “fountain pen friendly” paper, although this usually comes with a higher price tag. Good brands include Rhodia, Quo Vadis, Japanese Life Stationery and G. Lalo, along with many others. This paper often has a higher gsm – grams/meter weight, meaning it is a little thicker but also denser. However, thicker paper does not mean it is going to be fountain pen friendly.

The example above is on Hilroy spiral-bound school notebooks – terrible paper. This is the $0.49 notebook you can get at Staples at back-to-school season. The writing was done with a Jinhao 126 and a Fine nib – not a pen that writes a very wet line! Paper that is newsprint or cheaper copy paper is often great for the more oily ink of ball-point pens, but not good for fountain pen ink.

Some good fountain pen paper also has a higher cotton content, or is vellum paper (plasticized cotton), meaning it is more ink-resistant – rather than absorbing the ink, the ink sits wet on the surface of the sheet until it dries.

In my opinion, it is generally the paper that is the biggest factor in how much an ink feathers, though of course, there are certain inks that are terrible with feathering and some inks that do not feather very much or at all.

As well, the wider or wetter your nib, the more ink you lay down. When that happens, the paper fibres around your line will start to absorb the lines, resulting in something that looks a little hairy.

One example of an ink designed especially to avoid feather is Noodler’s X-Feather.

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Writing Sample of Noodler’s X-Feather with Noodler’s Ahab Flex on Rhodia 80gsm paper.

Often calligraphers or writers who like really wet nibs will go to this ink because it allows them to lay down a lot of ink without it feathering.

For this writing sample on Rhodia Paper, I used the Ahab Flex.  Because it’s a flex nib, it will definitely lay down a lot of ink for the wider lines.

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While X-Feather is known for its anti-feathering property, it’s also a dark, saturated black that is a great black on its own.

I do find this ink to be a black ink – a dark, almost creamy, saturated black with very little shading. Even with the flex nib, you can hardly see any shading, at all. While it’s still a liquid ink, it almost seems like a little bit of a thicker ink, leaving a crisp line.

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Writing Sample: Noodler’s X-Feather on Rhodia Paper

Of course, on the Rhodia Paper, which handles most inks very well, has no problem at all with the X-Feather. In fact, you might have a difficult time finding an ink that does feather on Rhodia Paper, although I’m sure it could be done.

It has a slower dry time: feathering often speeds up the dry time by absorbing the ink into more of the paper – since this doesn’t feather it takes a little longer to dry.

The real test is on the lower quality paper. Below, I tried the Ahab Flex with X-Feather on the same Hilroy paper as the example of feathering above. If you look really closely, you can see the paper trying to pull the tiniest particles of ink, but even on this paper, X-Feather does an admirable job.

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Even on lousy spiral bound school notebooks, X-Feather looks great!

IMG_4145  While on the Rhodia paper there was no bleed-through at all, on this paper, there was definitely bleed-through. However, I think you would have time with any sort of ink pen on this paper, as it is thin, fibrous paper.

If you’re someone who works in an office with copy paper or you’re a student looking to take notes without having to purchase high quality paper, this is the ink for you.

You can take a look at more details about the ink here.

You can also see a cool drawing using the ink here at: Leigh Reyes

How to Fill a Piston Fountain Pen with Ink

Using the Noodler’s Nib Creaper Piston-Fill Flex Fountain Pen, which we just did a review on here.

We just got in our Noodler’s Pens (and a few new inks!), and we figured we could take some pictures on filling the Nib Creaper as we inked it up for testing.

The Creaper is a piston-fill or piston-filler fountain pen.

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For piston-fillers, you don’t need a converter or cartridges (as the pen has the “converter” built right into the pen barrel”) so all you need is a bottle of ink. Here, we’re using J. Herbin’s Poussiere de Lune.

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You can see the piston rod through the clear barrel – it moves up and down to draw ink into the barrel of the pen itself.

ImageStep 1: Twist the back of the pen so the piston rod is all the way down. It’s like a syringe, so as you twist the rod back up, ink will be sucked up into the barrel of the pen.

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Step 2: Submerge the nib and the lower part of the grip section into the ink bottle. Don’t be afraid to get the pen inky, as you can wipe it off easily. If you don’t submerge the nib far enough into the ink bottle, you’ll end up drawing air into the barrel.

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Step 3: Twist to draw up the piston rod and ink. You will probably get a small air bubble because there is air in the feed to begin with. If you want it as full as you can get, try emptying the ink and drawing it up again a few times. Generally speaking, piston-fill pens hold much more ink than cartridges or converters, so you’ll get quite a bit of ink.

ImageStep 4: Wipe off any drops of ink.

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And off you go! Because you drew ink up through the feed, your feed should already be wet and should write without too much hesitation or skipping.

Noodler’s Nib Creaper Flex Fountain Pen Review

We are pretty excited to get our Noodler’s Pens in because they’re our first flex nibs! We have the Noodler’s Nib Creaper, sometimes called their Standard Flex Fountain Pen.

Noodler’s Ink has really changed how people use and think of fountain pens – first creating much more affordably priced inks in a whole range of bold, vivid colours. The historical and political contexts and unusual labels have revolutionized the culture of fountain pens and inks.

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Noodler’s Nib Creaper has a flex nib that can also write like a regular fine/medium nib.

The Nib Creaper Flex Fountain Pen was the first pen to make flex nibs accessible to everyone – fountain pen users, artists, sketchers, calligraphers and others have all jumped on board. Previously, those who wanted flexibility in their pens to give them line variations often had to use dip pens or much more expensive and fragile vintage pens. Some semi-flexible nibs are also available on modern, higher-end Japanese pens at a much higher cost.

Since its introduction and in part because of the popularity of their first pen, Noodler’s has also made two additional models (the Ahab and the Konrad) as well as introduced a Nib Creaper Rollerball. Noodler’s Nib Creaper Fountain Pen is $14.00, and their Ahab and Konrad are $20.00.

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The Nib Creaper has a pen clip to prevent it from slipping or sliding around.
Available in a variety of colours.

The whole concept of the pen is great: these pens are made to be used. The feed and nib are friction fit, which means you can pull them out and put them back in. This is really nice for cleaning – you can rinse them off and make sure there’s no ink left in the fins of the feed, but it also means you have a lot of room for adjustment.

If you have a really wet, lubricated ink that is leaving too much on the paper, you can move your feed closer to the tip of the nib. If you want greater ink flow, you can move the feed further back. These pens were made to be tinkered with and tested, especially as you find your favourite inks with different properties.

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Nib Creaper in Black Pearl – the barrel has an ink window so you can see how much ink you have left.

The pen has a twist off cap that can be posted, and while it has an ink window to let you see how much ink is left, the demonstrators are pretty popular as well. The Nib Creaper’s piston mechanism can be completely disassembled for cleaning. While Noodler’s makes a huge variety of colours, in our shop it’s currently available in Clear, Black, Black Pearl, Truk Lagoon, Hudson’s Bay Fathom and Gray.

The flex nib is something you will definitely need to play around with to figure out exactly how much pressure you need for line variation. On sites like the Fountain Pen Network, there are topics around how you can modify the nib to increase flexibility or flow, but as you write with it on your own, you’ll find its limits. It will write quite a thin line with minimal pressure.

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You can write like a regular fountain pen (top) or add a little pressure on your down strokes to get great variation – and the feed will keep up!

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The Nib Creaper’s piston fill mechanism means you can get a ton of ink in it.

It holds quite a bit of ink, but it also uses quite a bit of ink when you’re flexing. I haven’t had any railroading on it so far because the feed keeps up with it so well. When the pen first came out in 2010, some of the initial reviews had some problems with the feed, but Noodler’s has made adjustments based on the reviews, and most of the Nib Creapers seem to be writing pretty well since then. Of course if you have any problems, you can definitely call or e-mail us to get some advice on how to adjust your nib.

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Our writing sample was done on Rhodia 80gsm paper, and J. Herbin’s Poussiere de Lune ink.

You may also want to play around with the smoothness of the nib – these nibs can have a little bit of tooth when you first get them, but as with any fountain pen, the more you write, the smoother it will get.

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With a little practise, you can use line variation to add some character to your writing.

When you get any of the Noodler’s Pens, I strongly recommend you give it a good flushing before you fill it with ink. There may be some residual oils from the manufacturing, preventing the water-based ink from flowing smoothly. A good flush, thorough flush will resolve most flow issues. You can use an actual pen flush, water and dish soap, or a water and ammonia solution (9:1).

When you’re cleaning the pen and removing the piston, you can also use a dab of silicone grease to help the piston slide smoothly up and down the inside of the barrel, and also preventing any ink from leaking behind the piston, although you shouldn’t have any problems without the grease.

Some say that this is not the best pen for those brand new to fountain pens because of all the tinkering you can do, but I think if you’re willing to get a little ink on your fingers, this is a great pen. It’s durable and affordable, and you can learn everything you’ll need about how to clean a pen properly, how to adjust the flow, how much pressure to use just by playing around with the pen. You also can write a pretty consistent, fine line without any pressure, making it a good pen for everyday writing as well.

If you have never used a flex pen before, or if you are super with dip pens, but want something a little more convenient or portable, and something you can use for everyday writing, you can check out more details on the Nib Creaper here.

Other reviews:
Fountain Pen Network: Wallylynn
Penpal from Southern Colorado
Youtube – Cathy Johnson