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What's This Obsession With A Flexible Nib?

flexible nib handwriting

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69 replies to this topic

#21 The Good Captain

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 18:55

I sometimes think that it's sad that so many people seem to really dwell on the look of their writing. personally I think that the words - that is the content - are more important than how they look.

Of course, it could just be my narrow opinion.

And as long as it's not in black ink...


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#22 KBeezie

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 19:15

I sometimes think that it's sad that so many people seem to really dwell on the look of their writing. personally I think that the words - that is the content - are more important than how they look.

Of course, it could just be my narrow opinion.

And as long as it's not in black ink...

 

We'll just kill off cursive then... :P

Whatever-Floats-Your-Goat.jpg

 

While the content is important, I see absolutely no harm in someone trying to find a nib that fits their personal preference and improves the usage of their writing style, especially if it's spencerian or copperplate which is where a flex/soft nib shines. 

 

Besides, if words are not written in a way that can be read, then it does not matter what is written, because it cannot be read. (which sadly is sometimes the argument for people who wish to do away with cursive). Either way handwriting is important, and a flex nib may encourage some people to play around to improve it. 


Edited by KBeezie, 27 July 2014 - 19:24.


#23 Waski_the_Squirrel

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Posted 27 July 2014 - 19:27

A flex nib is fun. I like using my Noodler's pens because they make writing fun. Their flex serves absolutely no practical purpose.


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#24 kidde

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 01:49

I can't say I haven't fallen prey to the myth of flexible nibs. What I can add to the conversation is my personal realization that flex is somewhat akin to horsepower. If you lust after it you can't stop until you have every iota available to you. To some that is EMF to a Noodlers, to others it is a wet noodle. Is an 8 second Neon practical? Is it fun? The answers are "no" then "yes". No one needs them, most can't use the performance (cars and pens) but the grail isn't generally obtained anyway.
I have a few things I collect that aren't practical (1911's aren't pens to me). That doesn't matter. We just need to know that it isn't about what others think, what we think and feel is what is really important.

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#25 chad.trent

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 15:39

I love the look of skilled handwriting done with a flexible nib. There are many on here who do a flexible nib justice. I am not one of them. My handwriting is bad enough with a regular nib.



#26 Tinjapan

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 16:01

It's a symptom of an age in which people believe they can buy personality at Neimann Marcus or that the acquisition of a flexible (or edged) nib automatically makes one's handwriting better, more interesting, thus proof that the former scribbler is now a person of substance and discernment. No other effort is required. This is canard. With a few notable exceptions, the 'flex writing' I've seen on FPN is wretched, blobby, and undisciplined looking. J. Fred Muggs with a Guanerius del Gesù is not a plug in replacement for Pinchas Zukerman.
 
I spend about 20 minutes a day on penmanship, and though my handwriting is still nothing to write home about, it is not for lack of effort. (I learned the rudiments of Round Hand before purchasing my first flexible pen.)


While I agree that practice, practice, practice is the key ingrediant, the tools are also important. While my current handwritting is nothing to write home about, the vast improvement in my penmanship IS something to write home about!

Before starting with fountain pens 2-3 years ago, my cursive handwriting elicited either of these responses, "What the £€!?<>?!# does this chicken scratch say!", or "You must be a Doctor." and sometimes both! Now, in my mid forties, for the first time in my life folks are complimenting me on my penmanship! Well, a compliment for me anyway, they say it is "legible", "easy to read". My cursive was so bad that I have written almost exclusively in print or block letter style for over twenty years. Using traveler's checks has been a nightmare, my signature never looks the same way twice.

The difference, the fountain pen and sloped writing surface. The ball point pen does not suit me. I can't write with one. Fountain pens I can, and it seems the more flexible the better! I have some Victorian era pens and holders, some are very long, narrow, high gold content nibs that are like writing with a feather. These are wonderful!!! But I make no effort to flex them, they do so ever so subtly as the nib glides on a layer of ink.

That is why I love the flexible nibs. Folks can actually read what I wrote when I use one!

#27 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 16:12

Writing with a super flex nib, one that spreads it's tines 5-6 or even 7 times a light down stroke, requires work, to develop the skill.

One learns by drawing letters as practice.

One must practice...or it's an air guitar.

 

I don't. I do have super-flex nibs, nice to write with, but I'm not trying to do much....to dammed lazy.

I really enjoy the less flexible of the nibs with some flex...semi-flex and 'flexi'/maxi-semi-flex...they give me some flair to my normal Rooster Scratch.

 

I do suggest working the way up the Flex ladder, but most want to jump into the deep end of the pool with out their water wings. Instant gratification....

Opps!!! gee that nib is sprung....from doing constant Olympic spits.

Do read Richard Binder's article on how easy it is to spring a nib.


Edited by Bo Bo Olson, 28 July 2014 - 16:16.

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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#28 balson

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 19:35

a nice smooth firm nib can be an absolute pleasure to draw and write with, but a flexible nib can draw and write in a way that few other modern pens can.  

 

it is kind of a novelty item in many ways.  there are many other ways to get the same kind of marks from a writing tool.  a dip pen has superior performance for flexibility with the added inconvenience of dipping, dripping, and splattering.  a brush or brush pen can get that rich line variation in any direction incredibly easily, but these also have the problems of dipping, scumbling, and being much harder to control.  

 

i like flex pens because they have that rich variation of line with an ease of use and portability that i don't find in other writing/drawing tools.  in my opinion the most useful flex pens are the ones that will write normally most of the time and then flex when light to moderate pressure is applied.  



#29 Berelleza

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 19:54

i don't feel inky today. it's a matter of mood.


Edited by Oldtimer, 28 July 2014 - 19:55.


#30 pajaro

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Posted 28 July 2014 - 20:21

I think that flexible writing looks old fashioned, neither good nor bad.  I recognize the virtuosity in it, and I don't think I particularly like it generally, although some former members have made it look very pleasant. 

 

I don't like using a flexy nib. 


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#31 ToasterPastry

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 00:25

fpn_1406593473__handwriting_sample_07-20


Edited by ToasterPastry, 29 July 2014 - 00:25.

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#32 I like mango cheesecake

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 00:49

So I can write like this guy:

 

https://www.youtube....MolEvB5EqA


Edited by I like mango cheesecake, 29 July 2014 - 00:54.


#33 Tinjapan

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Posted 29 July 2014 - 01:45

So I can write like this guy:
 


Ah, very nice! But, his writing is not only because of his pen. I have the same pen and nib and I can not write like that...yet.

#34 pajaro

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 05:44

I was just reading a thread in the Waterman forum about Waterman pens with flexible nibs.  Apparently the cost of a really good one is $800 to $1500 or more, unless you are a Sumgai.  Considering all the hoo-ha about flexible nibs and the insinuations that nothing else produces legitimate line variation, I think it is well deserved and that the hollerers ought very well to pay through the nose.  The ones that really like it and aren't such blowhards have my sympathy that it costs so much for those pens, but the others who put down cursive italic nibs, not so much sympathy.   


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#35 krz

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:06

For everyday stuff I don't need flex, but for sketching or having fun with ink you just can't beat 'em.

 

@ToasterPastry I like the Moore Maniflex nibs too. I can carry those around as my main daily jotter (and often do) and give me a little flex to sketch with.


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#36 Tootles

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:21

Well I have had my Zebra G for just one whole day and I have found that it is a lot of fun. Do I need to justify it? No. Do I think that writing with a flex nib is acme of all writing? No, although I appreciate the art of it. Overall I guess it would be nice one day to have a real old pen with a genuine vintage flex nib, but it's not worth getting all heated about. And these Zebras are just fine for exploring the world of flex. A $1 for the nib, $4 for a holder. What's not to like?

 

If I have any small criticism it would be directed at those that automatically think more expensive = better skills. I get this all the time in my sport (badminton) from guys chasing the latest in technology for rackets on the belief that in some indefinable way the object itself will imbue them with greater powers. All tosh of course. At our level, once you get to a certain price point anything more expensive/exotic gives negligible returns on performance.

 

On the other hand there are some breathtakingly expensive, beautiful and at the same time amazingly functional pens out there, or so I am reliable informed. But it is not a catch=all formula IMHO.



#37 JonSzanto

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:22

Ah, Mr. Toaster Pastry, managing to get the collective juices flowing! 

 

For myself, with only roughly half your length of time investigating pens, I have enjoyed gathering a range of writing instruments, not for what I can do with them in an ongoing activity, but that I have representative examples of the differing manner of nib behaviors. I don't *need* multiple flex nibs, just enough of them with variety to be able to ink one up to do with it - or approximate - what it was intended to do.

 

As others have said: fun.

 

I hope hope hope to make it to the next Saturday gathering, but we shall see how life is going (difficult at the moment). I've nearly doubled my Moore family since we last met, including the last of the 3 striated 94-A pens, a lovely *stickered* grey/brown with another wicked nib. I swear, the Maniflex is my favorite nib of all time.

 

So far. :)


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#38 Fox Point

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 06:44

I like flex because it is truly efficient variation - I can write a decent line width to letter height 2.5 cm header, 0.8 cm sub headings, 0.5 cm body and then write BETWEEN my relatively close set lines with 0.15 cm high lettering. As much fun as it is to flex in drawings, to me its true value is in having one pen that can do everything. Especially if the back of the flex nib is more stable and can handle frantic jotting with rather less care. I currently don't have a flex pen that is tipped finely enough to do what I describe - I have to use two pens, one with an xxxf reverse side, and it is just plain annoying to constantly change pens in the middle of a fast-paced lecture. Flex for modern convenience!

#39 paulmcmanus

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 14:53

I bought an elbow dip pen with a handful of Gillott 303 nibs at Christmas and spent an hour or so a day over the holidays scratching the hell out of a beautiful pad of cartridge paper. Very slowly I started to be able to reproduce fairly recognisable letters. I also found that I really enjoyed the focus it took to sit at a table and do nothing but move the nib across the paper, increasing and decreasing the pressure.

 

A month or so in I thought I'd like to see if I could achieve the same kind of results with a vintage flex. I bought a couple of Waterman pens and while they were fun, without the angle the elbow pen gave me, I wasn't able to get anywhere near comparable results. Perhaps because I started with the Gillotts (which are finer and more flexible than any fountain pen - even the Falcon with the Mottishaw modification, which I also have), I now very rarely take the flex fountain pens out at all. I probably spend at least five or six hours a week with my dip pen. Does that count as an obsession? I don't know. I prefer to think of it as a useful tool for relaxation, something I can use to help me step away from the constant noise of everyday life. And would I like to be able to write well enough with my flexible nib to send people letters? Of course I would. There is a value in anything that has taken time and patience and skill to create. I would like, one day, to be someone who had that patience and skill.


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#40 Sandy1

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Posted 31 July 2014 - 16:16

I like flex because it is truly efficient variation - I can write a decent line width to letter height 2.5 cm header, 0.8 cm sub headings, 0.5 cm body and then write BETWEEN my relatively close set lines with 0.15 cm high lettering. As much fun as it is to flex in drawings, to me its true value is in having one pen that can do everything. Especially if the back of the flex nib is more stable and can handle frantic jotting with rather less care. I currently don't have a flex pen that is tipped finely enough to do what I describe - I have to use two pens, one with an xxxf reverse side, and it is just plain annoying to constantly change pens in the middle of a fast-paced lecture. Flex for modern convenience!

 

Hi,

 

For such extreme line-width variation, I've taken to using a very inexpensive Sailor DE fitted with a Fude nib.

 

Bye,

S1


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