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Asa Nauka In Blue And Red Ebonite


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ASA Nauka in blue and red ebonite

Can a humble pen offer a homily in human imperfection? This is one of the questions that the ASA Nauka, turned by a penmaker in Chennai, India, makes me want to answer.

Lakshminarayanan Subramaniam runs ASA Pens, an online and bricks-and-mortar retailer offering multiple pen brands and at least 16 models specific to ASA. It is difficult to type the 16 letters of his first name, and even tougher to pronounce, so well take his lead and just go with L. In 2015, Subramaniam began collaborating with Joshua Lax, president of the Big Apple Pen Club in New York, to create a pen based on the Sheaffer Crest of the 1930s, and the Oldwin Classic of 2002, created by André Mora for the Paris company Mora Stylos.

The Nauka positions the cap threads next to the nib and then gracefully sweeps, unbroken, to the end of the barrel. The Naukas huge cap looks like the stub of a cigar. Nauka means boat in Hindi and Bengali, and I think the name refers to the sweeping sheer line of nautical architecture. Uncapped, its about the size of a Montblanc 149. The development of the Nauka is equally as interesting as its conception, because it relied on a prolific group of Indian pen enthusiasts who worked together to design, prototype, and market the pens first round of manufacturing. Im not all that interested in the minutiae of dimensions, but elegant photographs in a review by FPN contributor Sagar Bhowmick display them all.

I ordered a couple of Naukas, including one in a mottled Indian blue-red ebonite and another in a tasteful Conway Stewart acrylic material called Dartmoor. I had hoped the Nauka in Dartmoor would be gorgeous, and a joy to write with, and it is both. But what is remarkable is that the pen I have the most fun with is the humble, eyedropper-filled, ebonite model. This results partly from a gigantic 40-millimeter nib by Ambitious, an Indian company, with a black ebonite feed that supplies ink in reliably generous quantities. Whenever I write with it, at whatever direction or speed, however long its been sitting on my desk, the Nauka's medium nib -- more of a broad, really -- lays down a wet, glistening line of ink.

The nib and feed introduce what is most interesting about the ebonite Nauka. The slits that form the fins of the feed, for example, are irregular in length. Maybe theyre hand-cut, maybe theyre not, but theyre definitely not uniform. The gold-colored nib is imprinted with the words IRIDIUM POINT, wrapped around a circle. The letters are a little eccentric. I dont know, maybe there were too many letters to wrap properly around the circle. Maybe the Ambitious nib designers ran out of energy and were rushing to make a deadline.

And nothing about the rest of the pen is uniform, either, because this is a hand-made pen, made by a human being on a lathe. There arent all that many Naukas out there Im guessing 500 at the most -- but this eyedropper is different from all the rest. Mine is clipless, and I found a bronze ring in the shape of a lotus, the national flower of India, to serve as a rollstopper. If you squint, you can see imperfections in the ebonite, little dark spots about the size of an opening left by a pin. If you use a macro lens to shoot photographs of the barrel, you see marks left by the tools that created the pen. I can see one tiny nick in the cap, exactly parallel to the cap opening, and when I see that nick I can hear a curse from the lathe operator who realizes the need to spend more time to smooth that out. He Im guessing the operator is a he either smoothed out as much as he could without creating an even bigger divot in the surface, or finally said, screw it, this looks good already. Many of the lathes that turn ebonite pens in India are still foot-pedal operated, and I dont know whether ASA lathes are driven by motors or feet. But I know the humans operating those lathes had a lot more on their minds than a 1-millimeter-long tool mark.

In a wonderfully hopeful turn of phrase, the FPN contributor "sandburger" wrote that Indian ebonite is like wood, gloriously inconsistent, with the power to surprise and delight. I agree completely. There is much literature on the subject of human imperfection. Robert Browning wrote a poem called Old Pictures in Florence that, among other things, talks about lesser-known artists and how they contribute to the work of greater artists. The New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Janet Jeppson Asimov, widow of the science fiction author and biochemist Isaac Asimov, wrote an essay this year for The Humanist called In Praise of Imperfection. She writes that the imperfections of human brains actually improve the way we function. We learn more from mistakes than we do from successes.

When I was in university I had the good fortune to spend a few days in Venice, and one afternoon I was admiring the irregular lines of a gondola along a bridge where gondoliers were taking a break. The gondola, as you probably know, is an asymmetrical boat, because the single oar sticks out on the starboard side. The port side needs to be longer so the boat doesnt turn left all the time. And the gondola is heavier at the bow than at the stern, to account for the weight of the gondolier. If you look long enough at the polished black sides of a gondola, you see undulations and imperfections. As I was staring at one of these gondolas, hypnotized by the play of light and water on the shiny surface of the wood, I told a gondolier that it was beautiful. He responded that it was beautiful because in it you see the hand of the human being who made it.

This review originally appeared on Giovanni Abrate's website, newpentrace.

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Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter | Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers

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Awesomeness. Subbu Anna do really create marvel .. I have one matt black ebonite nauka with a black oxidized medium jowo nib which is my daily writer ..

 

As always your reviews touch heart and they highlight the bonds between a pen ,pen maker and a writer .. :)

ALWAYS LOOKING FOR INDIAN PENS .. IF YOU HAVE ANY KINDLY PM ME..

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Great review, lovely pen, and nicely done, indeed.

 

In the end, someone much wiser than me said, "I always judge a talk or what someone writes by the comments and questions they provoke."

Very nice....

 

“My tastes are simple: I am easily satisfied with the best.” - Winston Churchill

 

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Thanks for your review! It was a pleasure to read and I believe would have been a worthwhile read even if one had no interest in pens. It made me think of the book, The Spirituality of Imperfection."

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I have a Nauka in blue-black ebonite. It also has a few imperfections in the finish, but very slight, no more than what would result from a few months' normal wear. Mine has a Jowo B nib ground by Dan Smith at nibsmith.com to a 0.8mm stub. It is a very smooth and expressive writer with just a touch of italic character, and able to write fairly small if needed (down to x-heights of around 3mm.)

 

The Nauka is wonderfully comfortable in the hand, and Dan's grind and polish have made it a favorite.

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Nauka is a very beautiful pen. I have one in black ebonite and one in translucent acrylic. Both are very nice to hold and write with. But, the ebonite nauka is exceptionally comfortable to use. The slightly smaller size (the translucent nauka is bigger) also contributes to this.

 

This blue and red ebonite looks very nice. I actually wanted to get one as soon as I saw the pictures. But, asapens.in is down and could not order :-).

 

I don't know how many Naukas I will buy. It looks good in every material. :-)

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The nauka is one of my favourite pens too. I have and cherish 7 of them and am currently waiting for 2 more to be delivered. Of all of them, the one that i carry with me everyday is the one i love the most.

My now 8 month old doberman puppy cant bear me giving anything more attention than him. When he was about 2 months old he managed to nick my daily use nauka while i was not looking and put in small puppy bite marks on them. I had lost my cool that day but over time and use these marks have smoothened out are now only faintly visible. Looking back now I can laugh about the whole thing and that particular pen has become rather special to me.

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The nauka is one of my favourite pens too. I have and cherish 7 of them and am currently waiting for 2 more to be delivered. Of all of them, the one that i carry with me everyday is the one i love the most.

My now 8 month old doberman puppy cant bear me giving anything more attention than him. When he was about 2 months old he managed to nick my daily use nauka while i was not looking and put in small puppy bite marks on them. I had lost my cool that day but over time and use these marks have smoothened out are now only faintly visible. Looking back now I can laugh about the whole thing and that particular pen has become rather special to me.

 

Wow !!!. That is an awesome collection. Can you post pictures ?

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@dinuraj,

Will to that once I get the two i am waiting for. Subbu has promised to dispatch them this Wednesday, so hopefully I should have them with me by the weekend.

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Dr. Mukherjee, Setriode, Visvamitra, Behike, Jaime, Bill, BlueJ, Robert, FPWriter, Dinuraj,

Thank you!

 

Dr. Mukherjee, I really enjoy your posts, and love the ASA Monal story.

Bill, thank you for the book reference.

Behike, that's an intriguing point -- how can one evoke more questions from the reader or the audience?

BlueJ, none of my Nauka nibs have been customized ... yet.

Robert, how is the Ranga Model 8 working out for you? I really enjoy the Bock/Conklin broad nib.

Dinuraj, agreed with you on the Nauka design -- looks great in all materials. I know Mr. Subramaniam is working on the site issues. Your new shipment from Fosfor is amazing, and I want to hear more about all three pens.

FPWriter, it's fascinating that with seven Naukas available to you, your daily carry is the chewed-up one!

Visvamitra, the ink flow on this particular Nauka/Ambitious nib configuration is substantial. Do you find that most eyedropper pens do well with a drier ink?

Jaime, do you typically match ink color to pen color? This blue/red ebonite could go in several directions, and teal is working out well.

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter | Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers

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Hi Bob,

 

This is an Awesome stunner. I have to appreciate your sense of aesthetics here. You seem to manage to choose the best materials for your pens. All your Ranga's and ASA's end up being exquisite.

 

Congratulations on acquiring such a stunning beauty.

 

Regards,

 

Chaki

Click here to check out my reviews

 

Fosfor Rajendran | ASA Santulan | Ranga Sugarcane | ASA Sniper | Fosfor Heather | ASA I-Will | Hero Glorious | ASA Azaadi | Fosfor Islander | ASA Halwa | ASA Macaw | ASA Namenlos | ASA Bheeshma

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Prithwijijt, Thank you -- I take my design cues from you, and often the entire design! Boib

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter | Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers

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Hi Bob

 

Per your request, sorta.... :)

 

Roberthttp://i1132.photobucket.com/albums/m572/robertjwarren/Rango%20Demo%20Small%20Bamboo%20Conklin%20medium%20nib_zpsblgabj6t.jpg

It's a small world......but I'd hate to paint it. -Stephen Wright

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FPWriter, it's fascinating that with seven Naukas available to you, your daily carry is the chewed-up one!

Well thats the fixed daily carry. Everything else is on rotation.

I wish ASA would come out with a piston filler Nauka model, that would be just super.

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Is that the largest Ambition nib? How does it compare to a 149 nib?

Fountain pens forever and forever a hundred years fountain pens, all day long forever, forever a hundred times, over and over Fountain Pen Network Adventures dot com!

 

- Joe

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