Left: quick sketch of a dog using the Noodler's Flex Nib fountain pen, filled with Platinum Carbon ink. (I'm working in a Japanese school exercise book and the paper is really that grey.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.
In February I read that Noodler's was selling a Flex Nib fountain pen. Nina Johansson, on her excellent blog, posted that she had purchased one. Her post was accompanied by lovely sketches executed with the pen, demonstrating a wide variation in line thickness.
Nina also mentioned The Goulet Pen Company. I tried to purchase a Noodler's Flex Nib locally but when there were none to be had I went to the Goulet website and signed up for the email notification list. They were out of stock and were going to send an email when they had more pens. Since they run their sales for this high-demand, short-supply item on a first come first serve basis I strongly suggest that you go and sign up there (or at another vendor that sells then as I think several companies are doing this).
Note: On June 6, which was Goulet's sell date I followed their instructions and went to their site just before 1 p.m. EDT. I created an account and got ready to order. I started my order at 1:01 p.m. The site moved VERY slowly from order form to order form, and calculating the mail cost was a limbo I frankly don't want to relive. Obviously there was a lot of traffic on the site at that time. My order went in at 1:09 EDT. Friends ordering slightly later told me that mail calculations took upwards of 20 minutes.
You can read additional comments about using this pen in Nina's second post about the Noodler's Flex Nib.
Artist Cathy Johnson has also purchased this type of pen and on Artist's Journal Workshop she has posted lovely sketches of people (sketched with this pen of course). Her range and control of line quality is also beautful.
In the hands of these two talented artists I think you can begin to see the range that is possible with this pen.
How Do I Like the Noodler's Flex Nib Fountain Pen?
I'm torn. It's a lovely fountain pen and it is great fun (really great fun) to sketch with it. But it SMELLS!
Readers of my blog know that I'm sensitive to a lot of smells. Plastics of certain types are the worst for me. This pen's body is made with a "vegetal resin." It smells like some of the toys of my childhood (Nina helped me narrow it down.)
Left: Detail of the dog's face showing thick and thin lines. Note that the thinnest lines are also broken. This is because you can work so fast with this pen that you get ahead of its ability to deliver ink. When I am making quick strokes such as those beneath the dog's nose, I'm working at a speed where the ink flow gets interrupted. The obvious remedy for this is to slow down a bit, but I happen to like the way the line breaks up, adding more texture. I see this as more "functionality" and versatility. If that isn't to your liking in your sketches you can simply slow it down a bit. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
When I hold the pen in my hand I can smell the barrell 15 to 20 inches away, near the paper. It's subtle at first, but the smell builds, and brings on a headache—FOR ME. (Also I don't seem to suffer from or be blessed with [depending on your view point] nose fatigue.)
After 10 minutes of working with this pen I have to stop using it. By then my hand has absorbed the odor and I have to wash my hand to clear the odor (not always possible in the field). I worry about carrying the pen into the field in case its odor transfers to my other writing implements.
Because of the odor I haven't sketched much with the pen. I just wish I could use it more. So far I find that I'm still more focused on varying the pressure than actually drawing. Since I haven't been able to go somewhere and immerse myself in sketching without noticing the smell it remains a lightly used pen.
It's too bad because I've NEVER found a commercially made, unaltered, fountain pen that is this flexible. Only dip pens are more flexible in my experience.
Sigh. I've filled it with Platinum Carbon ink. This is one of Dick's favorite black inks and he always has some on hand I can "pilfer." I have found that the ink dries pretty nearly waterproof on most of the papers I've tested it on. I can wash over it with watercolors almost immediately, with little noticeable bleeding. (If you wash with clear water you can see a little bit of bleeding on some papers, but nothing a good wash of color won't hide.)
Sigh. If it weren't for the smell this would be the perfect sketching and writing pen and it would never leave my hand.
If smells do NOT bother you, I recommend you spend the $14.00 and purchase one of these pens. You will really enjoy it.