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Flex Nibs Vs Stub And Italic


40 replies to this topic

#1 jkrewalk

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:28

I appreciate the significance of a flexible nib. At the same time I cannot master the calligraphic experience. I guess I do not understand why people do not just choose a custom made italic or stub italic nib which creates the same type of writing experience without having to "work" at it or be skilled in the art of using a flexible nib.

Use a stub or italic and just write with it using your normal handwriting and your writing will automatically have the "flair" of a flexible nib without the work that one needs to master the use of a true flexible nib.

Am I missing something?

John
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#2 PaFitch

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:09

Look at some of the writing done with a true flex nib (JBB is one whose writing I have seen). No stub or italic matches what they write. But their skill level is superb and out of reach of many of us.

#3 Mickey

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:20

Are you missing something? Darned near everything, I'd say.

Writing one's normal hand with an italic nib just gives you the same handwriting with incoherently varied line widths, unless your normal handwriting happens to cleave to specific italic letter forms and proportions, which most cursive hands taught in the English speaking world do not. I don't know if poorly integrated line variation qualifies as flair, but I have my doubts. Learning to properly use an edged pen requires some study, but not an excess amount. The much recommended Fred Eager book is well worth acquiring and following. Personality does not come in a box, though it may be discovered hiding in the pages of a book.

A similar criticism can be applied to unschooled use of flexibly nibbed fountain pens, except that the relevant precursor hands are Copperplate and Spencerian. Consequently their descendants, which include the cursive styles formerly taught in US schools, fare a little bit better. The problem here is the writing geometry (paper orientation and line slant) taught after the middle of the 20th century are not well suited to showing flexible nibs to best advantage.

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#4 subbes

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:43

Lefties and italic nibs create some seriously odd results. Lefties and flex pens, however, have some innate advantages in terms of the direction we pull our downstrokes.


(Seriously. I'm not allowed near italic nibs.)

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#5 Brian K

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:46

I appreciate the significance of a flexible nib. At the same time I cannot master the calligraphic experience. I guess I do not understand why people do not just choose a custom made italic or stub italic nib which creates the same type of writing experience without having to "work" at it or be skilled in the art of using a flexible nib.

Use a stub or italic and just write with it using your normal handwriting and your writing will automatically have the "flair" of a flexible nib without the work that one needs to master the use of a true flexible nib.

Am I missing something?

John
Krewalk.com


Uh...yeah, you are missing something.

If you hold your nib at a consistent angle and have a legible handwriting you can use a stub or cursive italic nib and add some "flair" to your writing, but it most certainly will not be the same "flair" as using a flex nib. The beauty of edged nib writing comes from perfection, and repetition, of form more than anything else, IMHO. Flex nib writing, as far as I am concerned, allows for more freedom and fluidity than italic. I have done both and flex nib writing is easier for me. Some find italic writing easier. Both are nice but they are not similar enough (at all?) to say that one style of nib is good enough for both.

There are hybrids, so to speak. I have a Waterman 452 1/2 L.E.C. that was my great grandmother's and it has a 1mm left oblique stub with some flex. You can get some added variation of line width just by holding the edge at an angle. If you want more variation - flex it! Not exactly italic, not really flex writing, but something in between.
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#6 Margana

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:24

John, do whatever you like with your pens despite it all. I do not write in a fancy style but I do enjoy writing with flex and italic nibs. Flex nibs do require more thought and control so I've come to prefer italic nibs. While my writing may not look like calligraphy, it is pretty legible. Not only that but italic nibs make writing more fun and that counts for a lot. Frankly, I don't think you've missed a thing. :)
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#7 BillyL

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 08:09

You are correct, in that, flex nibs require more work and definitely more control. But, you're incorrect, thinking that the results of a flex nib and an italic nib are the same. Once you learn a classic italic alphabet, you learn the benefits and limitations of the italic chisel shape. A proficient italic writer can immediately tell what type of nib was used in a piece of writing.

#8 dickydotcom

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:13

Horses for courses: Flexible for Copperplate style of writing, stub or italic for cursive italic writing. (those being the most obvious variations but not exclusive.)
Decide how you want to write before choosing the nib to use. If you are just after an everyday handwriting that you have always done then buy a standard fine, medium or broad nib.

Dick D

#9 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:21

You need some of all nib flexes and shapes. Of course italic calligraphy I think requires a stiffer nib.

If you have learned a basic stiff nib calligraphy alphabet there is some six basic strokes that can be used to fancy up regular writing when using a easy full flex nib, with out going further and learning Copperplate or Spenserian.
I am not one to talk, I am so very lazy, I have made it to Q. :embarrassed_smile:

There are many styles of stiff nib calligraphy once one gets into it, Copperplate or Spenserian are different in how letters are formed because of the nib tip shape and flex.

Spenserian is the most ornate of all writing styles I have read, and it is a pure American style, invented by Spenser from Ohio in the @1860's.

Stubs and cursive italic will give you flare with out knowledge.
So can pre'66 German semi-flex, and maxi-semi-flex/'flexi' obliques. :thumbup:


With out pressure Semi-flex gives you a tad of flare on letters or parts of letters because the tine spreads a bit at natural pressure points, say the end of an n at the end of a word, or certain letters at the beginning of a word.
With much more pressure compared to other more flexible nibs, some wider strokes can be added to one's writing. I think that semi-flex is good for ham fisted writers.

What I call maxi-semi-flex/'flexi' nibs are for the slightly ham fisted writer. It flares more under normal pressure on certain letters or letter positions where a bit more pressure is normal in it requires 1/2 as much pressure as a semi-flex to 'flex'.
My personal definitions of 'flex' nibs rate normal regular flex, semi-flex and 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex, has a limit of the tines spreading 3 X a light down stroke. A hard mashed regular flex does that.
Semi-flex with half that pressure....so you need a semi-flex nib to know what that pressure is.
The maxi-semi, half of that.

I find that easy full flex/super flex, and noodles spread 4-5 X a light down stroke. The super flex requires half as much pressure as a 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex. A noodle half that pressure.
And require a light hand, and some knowledge to use.
One can get by with those 5-6 basic strokes from stiff nibbed italic calligraphy, if one is only wishing to add a bit of flare to one's writing. How ever much of the letter forming from italic calligraphy is not available due to the shape and flex of a sharp pointed flexible nib.

You have the rest of your life to learn more and more how to write. There is no hurry, no tests.
If that is too much problem, then stay with the "instant buy now fancier writing" of stub and CI.(German pre'66 obliques with some flex)

Sooner or later I am going to finish that stiff nibbed Calligraphy book of mine, and finally have a Hand.

There are lots of other fun looking scripts to go with stiff italic nibs too.

But I think one needs a Hand before going into Copperplate and Spenserian, and IMO...noobie's IMO, a stiff nib Italic Hand gives you the basic hand to eye coordination easiest.


Stub and CI are the automatic cars with great electronic stabilization...
Calligraphy, Copperplate and Spenserian are little light sports cars with six gears, one flings up and down the mountain twisties and doing drifting through the corners, with out all that electronic schnick schnack that takes the 'fun' out of driving.
(Yep bought my car to drift the corners. :rolleyes: )

One can take the time to learn, or not.
If one is not willing to learn, don't dis what you refuse to expend the time to master.

:headsmack: :embarrassed_smile: I should talk, I can write my name with my finger on my calligraphy book. :blush:

Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 19 February 2012 - 11:22.

German vintage '50-70 semi-flex stubs and those in oblique give the real thing in On Demand line variation. Modern Oblique is a waste of money for a shadow of line variation. Being too lazy to Hunt for affordable vintage oblique pens, lets you 'hunt' for line variation instead of having it.

www.nibs.com/blog/nibster-writes/nibs-germany & https://www.peter-bo...cts/nib-systems,

 

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#10 brunico

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 11:28

What Mickey says, but also what Margana says.

I use italic nibs simply because I learned to write italic. The form of the letters, the angle of the pen and the shape of the nib all go together. It's nothing to do with flair, as I see it: flair would be making exaggerated loops or adding hooks to ascenders, anything that embellishes a basic italic hand. And as Brian K says, a lot of it's about the elegant clarity of rhythmic repetition.

Nothing to stop you using an italic nib. But it doesn't work the same way as a flex nib (you don't 'lean into' a stroke, for a start, and the different results will be obvious) and the effect you get with an italic nib will depend more on pen angle. To me, handwriting with an italic nib held pointing straight up or left (as opposed to 45 degrees) looks odd because it distorts the historical letterforms.

#11 jkrewalk

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 15:54

John, do whatever you like with your pens despite it all. I do not write in a fancy style but I do enjoy writing with flex and italic nibs. Flex nibs do require more thought and control so I've come to prefer italic nibs. While my writing may not look like calligraphy, it is pretty legible. Not only that but italic nibs make writing more fun and that counts for a lot. Frankly, I don't think you've missed a thing. :)



Thank you very much. This is exactly what I was talking about! It is obvious that I have not studied calligraphy to the point where the others who have commented obviously have. They really know their stuff and I wish I had the time, patience, fortitude and skillsets to write beautiful letters with a flex nib. But I don't have any of these things. Instead, I am an everyday writer that notices a major difference in my handwriting - indeed a flair - yes a definite flair - in my wring when I use any of my wonderful Binder italics. Maybe my interpretation of the word flair and other peoples are different. Flair to me means my handwriting automatically becomes better with no extra effort on my part. I didn't have to learn a thing. People in the office notice it and comment things like "my what beautiful handwriting"! And I owe it all to an italic nib. The same writing with a normal nib does not come anywhere near the same results - it is almost boring by comparison (no flair).

The above being said I learned a lot from this post and now appreciate the difference better than before. But I do have to admit that learning what some of you know is way too deep for me. Maybe when I retire some day I might have the time to get into it to that point. But for now, I'll just stick with my italic nibs that make me wonderfully happy when write with them and leave the advanced flex skills to those of you who are able to do it. I watched a few videos on this last night and I envy those who can use a flex nib like that!!!!

Thanks to everyone for your comments!

John
Krewalk.com

Edited by jkrewalk, 19 February 2012 - 15:55.


#12 brunico

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 17:18

Maybe my interpretation of the word flair and other peoples are different.


Hi John,

I just meant that an italic nib and italic writing go hand-in-glove, so I don't think of the line variation as added flair, merely as something integral to the style (though you can write italic with a ballpoint, of course, which looks different but is still attractive).

People who don't write italic but try out my nibs do say it makes their writing look better, so yes, I don't disagree that it for some people it will add a certain flair. To me, an italic nib is normal, and pretty much what I think of as a fountain pen: so anything sold only with F, M or B strikes me as lacking. But that's just me.

The only flex nib I have is a Gillott dip pen. This doesn't add flair at all but merely emphasises my clumsiness at using it. :rolleyes:

#13 Brian K

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 17:55

Glad you are happy with what you have, John. My only thought of what you were "missing" was an understanding of the difference between italic and flex nib writing. Obviously you are not missing anything with your writing experience. Let's face it, most of the handwriting samples we see here in pen and ink reviews is poor to OK, not stellar. You do not have to write in a trained calligraphic style to enjoy it. I really enjoy flex writing but it is slow and time consuming relative to my normal handwriting, which usually walks the line between legible and otherwise :embarrassed_smile: . The fact remains that I enjoy putting ink on paper whether I am doing something fancy or just doodling to keep my hands occupied while my mind is elsewhere. Pen. Paper. Ink. Nothing more is needed for joy :cloud9: .

YMMV,

Brian
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#14 wpb

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 18:55

Flair to me means my handwriting automatically becomes better with no extra effort on my part. I didn't have to learn a thing. People in the office notice it and comment things like "my what beautiful handwriting"! And I owe it all to an italic nib. The same writing with a normal nib does not come anywhere near the same results - it is almost boring by comparison (no flair).


This is a fun hobby and to make it even more enjoyable you may want to be a little more critical of your handwritting.

For me, I need to be careful with stub/CI nibs because it's easy for me to become impressed with my handwriting when in actuality it is just as bad as without the stub/CI. In other words, it's easy to misinterpret "flair" for merely line variation. And others usually love line variation and can't see "through it" to the actual handwritting quality.

The first time I used a stub, I too was really impressed with my handwritting. Then I bought the Getty and Dubay's "Write Now" (cursive italic style) book and I realized that my handwritting really wasn't very good after all. I'm learning about spacing, letter size, slant, consistent ascenders and descenders, and on and on. It's great fun and it's not nearly as difficult as calligraphy.

So, you may want to really explore beautiful handwritting and be careful with being too impressed with line variation.

Again it's fun to challenge yourself and really improve your handwritting.

Just my two cents.

Bill

Edited by wpb, 19 February 2012 - 19:00.


#15 OcalaFlGuy

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 20:49

John I think I have another idea on the Flex/Italic "conflict".

I think alot depends on if you have strong artistic tendencies. Specifically perhaps those like drawing or painting.

Those people's ingrained artsiness and desires to be More Expressive likely gives them the patience and skill set to more quickly translate their expressions in forms that require practice, skill and eye hand coordination.

The rest of us are more interested in being able to write nearly as quickly and just as readable as before but with results with a bit more flair. For us, a CI or Stub is more our speed. Give us a Flex nib to use as we normally would use a pen and you get what Brunico stated below.

The only flex nib I have is a Gillott dip pen. This doesn't add flair at all but merely emphasises my clumsiness at using it. :rolleyes:


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#16 Mickey

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 21:51

John I think I have another idea on the Flex/Italic "conflict".

I think alot depends on if you have strong artistic tendencies. Specifically perhaps those like drawing or painting.

Those people's ingrained artsiness and desires to be More Expressive likely gives them the patience and skill set to more quickly translate their expressions in forms that require practice, skill and eye hand coordination.


I studied Italic to become legible. I started learning Spencerian as research (background details) for a book I'm writing and discovered I enjoyed doing it. Being "artsy" had nothing to do with it. I don't draw well and my painting is limited to walls and trim. Patience is the price of skill.

As for a "conflict," I don't think there is one. It's like lacrosse and rugby: played on similar fields, but, in some very important ways, two very different sports.

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#17 Koyote

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 22:01

I'm not into writing for writing's sake, so I don't use a flex nib. I do, however, find that a stub makes my scrawl look a bit nicer. So I guess on that count, I agree with the OP.

However, from what I have seen on FPN, a stub or italic does not give the same results that a skilled writer can produce with a flex nib. So, on that count, I guess I disagree with the OP.

#18 htom

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 00:11

Cursive, italic, flexible, brush, and drafting nibs will each produce different results for the same input strokes (pressure, angle, speed, ...); some of these results are good and some are not. Some of them can be combined, cursive-italic and cursive-flexible being the most common combinations. Some sets of glyphs are easy to create well with one or two of the kinds, while being difficult to nearly impossible with some of the others.

Each requires different skills to obtain the best results in its use (as does an icing bag and tip.)

You've probably been taught cursive writing skills with a somewhat heavy touch, and with those, a cursive-italic nib will appear to change your handwriting, and may work well for you. If you go to a wide italic (not cursive-italic) nib, or a flexible or brush, you may find the results probably not to your taste. With study and good practice, you can acquire the skills to use each of those kinds of nibs, and appreciate their differences.

Each has several common styles of use. Learn one well before you start trying to learn another that's close; it's easier to keep the muscle reflexes for technical lettering in one style with a drafting pen distinct from those for copperplate from those for Spencerian from those for business modern from ....

It's a great journey. Enjoy writing.

#19 iveyman

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 01:22

I think getting a stub nib with flex will give you the best of both worlds.

#20 MYU

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Posted 21 February 2013 - 02:10

Point blank, a stub nib (firm or semi-soft) will give you nice line variation without much effort. It's a more restricted variation than what you get with a flex nib. I actually find a stub nib improves my handwriting as the shape helps the pen keep a straight line.

A flexible nib takes more talent to use properly and artfully. Plus if you're not careful and apply too much pressure, you can ruin a flexible nib. You also need to be mindful of the ink you use. A thin ink will flow too quickly and result in not only line variation but also density variation. Too thick and it won't flow right, leaving a railroad track effect. So... it can be a bit tricky using them. I don't own one but plan to eventually, probably a Namiki Falcon. :happyberet:

Edited by MYU, 21 February 2013 - 02:11.

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