A few thoughts on Noodler´s flex nib pen
So, I have been drawing some with the Noodler´s flex pens I got, and I have a few thoughts on this new tool. The text is long, so if you are not into fountain pens, just click a link in the sidebar and go somewhere else to enjoy yourself. : )
First of all, this pen is still absolutely wonderful to draw with. Fabulous. I love the variety in line width it offers, and how easily it flows on the paper. It feels very smooth, no scratching or strange behavior ever. (Mind you, I have only tried it on very smooth paper so far, in a Moleskine sketchbook, so I am not sure yet how it behaves on a bit of texture.) It is a great drawing tool, and I know I am going to use it a lot.
I had Noodler´s Fox red ink in one of my two pens, and had a few incidents with that – there are a few red ink blobs in the lower left corner of the drawing above to prove it. I´m not really fond of the Fox red ink, it´s a bit ’stickier’ than the Lexington gray I use otherwise, and I think that´s what made these problems occur. It seems the ink in the nib dried a little when I didn´t use the pen for a few days (stored with the nib up), and when I tried to – perhaps a tad violently – start it up again by drawing with a bit of pressure, it suddenly flooded and ink ran out on the drawing. The Lexington gray dried a little too, but the pen was never hard to ’start up’ again, I just drew a few lines with it and it was ok. The red ink seems a little trickier. Hardly the pen´s fault, really.
I am very used to my Lamy Safaris, and as I wrote in my last post, I am a bit harsh with them sometimes. I often draw with more pressure with them to get a bit of variety in line width, and I had to really readjust my drawing habits to avoid tormenting the Noodler´s pens in the same way. The flex nibs are much more sensitive, and I often had a too wet nib in the beginning, before I realized I was pressing too hard. Once I got the hang of it, the flex pens behaved extremely well.
There is always ink in the nib of a fountain pen, but sometimes some of it ends up on top of the nib, ready to make a mess if you don´t watch out. On the Lamys, I simply wipe that excess ink off with a paper towel with a ‘pulling-out’ movement. I did the same on the Noodler´s flex nib:
Oops. (No worries, it´s not blood, it´s Noodler´s Fox red ink.) The flex pen couldn´t take it.
The first time this happened (yes, I did it again later, how stupid is that?) I panicked a bit – partly because I thought I had ruined the pen, and partly because my white desk at work wasn´t exactly looking pristine anymore – but then I remembered this video over at Goulet pens´ Ink Nouveau blog. These pens come apart completely for cleaning, and you can adjust the nib the way you want it, since it is detachable from the pen and the feed:
I simply have to stop wiping the nib off the way I did, and all will be well. After cleaning, the pen is easy to put back together, and this one works just fine now. : )
A few other things:
The Noodler´s flex pen as a whole is rather small, very slim and very lightweight. It doesn´t have that heavy, sturdy feel to it that many other fountain pens have. With the cap posted it feels nice and balanced, without it it is more like holding any plastic Pilot roller ball or the like. It is more goodlooking than cheap Pilots, though.
I carry my Lamy Safaris with me every day at work, I usually clip them onto the neckband of my t-shirt. They get shaken, stirred, dropped and borrowed but never leak, and never cause any problems. (The only really bad thing that can happen is dropping them on the floor without the cap on, but luckily the nibs are easy to replace…) I have tried to use the Noodler´s flex pens the same way, but they can´t really take this kind of abuse. They are more sensitive than the Lamys. Either the ink dries up a bit in the nib, or it suddenly flows a little too much. Now I just carry them in my pen case, and use them only for drawing, not for every day work use.
And then there´s the surprising ’smell issue’. I read a few reviews on this pen before buying it, and some people thought it smelled funny. I have never had a pen that smelled before, but this one actually does. It has a bit of some sweet plasticky smell when you put the pen under your nose, but it´s not disturbing at all in my opinion. One person referred to ‘vomit’ to describe the smell, but honestly, he or she must have had something else than the pen close to his/her nose… Using the pen in a normal way, i.e. on a paper, with your face far above it, will cause no problems unless you are extremely sensitive to smells.
On the whole, I love this pen. It´s not an everyday durable workhorse in the way that the Lamy Safaris are, but it is definitely a fav drawing tool. It has already won a permanent place in my pen case, along with the Lamys. I am sure there are ‘better’ flex pens out there, vintage or expensive ones, but for $14, honestly, I don´t think you can get anything as great as this little pen.
17 x 13 cm, Noodler´s flex pen with Noodler´s Lexington gray and Noodler´s Fox red ink on small Moleskine Sketchbook spread.