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Pen Flexibility, Size/weight And Calligraphy



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Hello FPNers,

 

I'm all about vintage flex and want to use a rough adaptation of Copperplate for journaling and letters.

A while back I purchased a lovely little gold-filled ring top Wahl FP with a wet noodle #2 nib. The nib writes about a Western EF when not flexed, so I'd like to get a finer nib.

 

My question is: should I have the nib reground to a finer point for calligraphy purposes or should I get another pen entirely?

 

Will the small size of the pen make it harder to control for styles like Copperplate or Spencerian, or does the weight of the all-metal construction make up for it?

Control is fine with the EF nib, but I'm wondering if it will be harder to control with a needlepoint nib.

 

My big pen purchase goal for next year is to score a wet noodle Waterman 52. Would it be better to have the nib on a larger pen like that made into a needlepoint?

 

Thanks for any advice!

 

 

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Hi! Copperplate should be written with a dip pen in order to make the characteristic thick and hairline strokes. You can get several kits on Amazon or the best is the Copperplate kit on Paper and Ink Arts. The nib called the "Blue Pumpkin" is a good one to begin with. I also recommend Moon Palace Sumi Ink (in green bottle) to start because the consistency is good. Remember to rinse your pen on occasion and clean it well with a toothbrush when you are done. A Nikko G nib is also a good one!

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My question is: should I have the nib reground to a finer point for calligraphy purposes or should I get another pen entirely?

 

Will the small size of the pen make it harder to control for styles like Copperplate or Spencerian, or does the weight of the all-metal construction make up for it?

Control is fine with the EF nib, but I'm wondering if it will be harder to control with a needlepoint nib.

 

My big pen purchase goal for next year is to score a wet noodle Waterman 52. Would it be better to have the nib on a larger pen like that made into a needlepoint?

 

 

If it were my choice, I would not grind a vintage flexible nib. I would get another pen/nib. While grinding the nib is possible, the grinding involves lots of heat applied onto that nib, and that heat will severely affect the factory original tempering to that nib, loosing its original elasticity, flexibility, responsiveness, and perhaps some of its metal memory. Those grounded nibs also become very scratchy and much harder to control than a factory original ultra thin nib. A factory original ultra thin nib will serve you better now and it will provide for a smoother writing experience.

 

With flex writing, proper control of the pen and the flex nib is of paramount importance. The heavier, the longer, the thicker the pen, and the larger the nib size, the harder it is to control them. And the thinner and the more flexible the nib is, the harder it is to control them. I have never seen a professional calligrapher use an oversize pen body. They all use standard sized, thin or light pens as it is much easier to control them and to achieve those very desirable ultra thin lines.

Tu Amigo!

Mauricio Aguilar

 

www.VintagePen.net

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3525/4051556482_36f28f0902_m.jpg

E-Mail: VintagePen@att.net

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Thanks, Mauricio, for your export advice! I had no idea heat is involved in regrinding and I can see how it would do more harm than good.

I'd better let my 100-year-old pen stay the way it is.

 

I guess I'm just going to have to sell a kidney so I can afford a vintage needlepoint wet noodle. :bawl: That's why we have two of them, right??

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Hi! Copperplate should be written with a dip pen in order to make the characteristic thick and hairline strokes. You can get several kits on Amazon or the best is the Copperplate kit on Paper and Ink Arts. The nib called the "Blue Pumpkin" is a good one to begin with. I also recommend Moon Palace Sumi Ink (in green bottle) to start because the consistency is good. Remember to rinse your pen on occasion and clean it well with a toothbrush when you are done. A Nikko G nib is also a good one!

 

Thanks for your input! I have all the standard beginner Copperplate dip nibs and a Speedball oblique holder as well. Right now I'm just looking to spice up my handwriting with some Copperplate strokes and would like a fountain pen that has a nib as fine and flexible as possible.

 

Good to know about the Sumi Ink. I got really frustrated with Noodler's Black in a dip pen.

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If it were my choice, I would not grind a vintage flexible nib. I would get another pen/nib. While grinding the nib is possible, the grinding involves lots of heat applied onto that nib, and that heat will severely affect the factory original tempering to that nib, loosing its original elasticity, flexibility, responsiveness, and perhaps some of its metal memory. Those grounded nibs also become very scratchy and much harder to control than a factory original ultra thin nib. A factory original ultra thin nib will serve you better now and it will provide for a smoother writing experience.

 

With flex writing, proper control of the pen and the flex nib is of paramount importance. The heavier, the longer, the thicker the pen, and the larger the nib size, the harder it is to control them. And the thinner and the more flexible the nib is, the harder it is to control them. I have never seen a professional calligrapher use an oversize pen body. They all use standard sized, thin or light pens as it is much easier to control them and to achieve those very desirable ultra thin lines.

 

This isn't so much a concern if you have it ground down using non-mechanical abrasives (without a rotary tool, but instead with micromesh/mylar/Arkansas stone), right?

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I don't think heat should be such an issue. Welding the tipping would have caused the tines to heat up a lot. Also the slit in the nib is cut after the tipping has been welded which would also result in the tines getting hot. Griding the tipping by hand should not cause any problems IMO.

 

However, the tipping welds on vintage nibs are not all that strong and there is a very real chance of the tipping falling off during grinding operations.

 

- Salman

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I don't think heat should be such an issue. Welding the tipping would have caused the tines to heat up a lot. Also the slit in the nib is cut after the tipping has been welded which would also result in the tines getting hot. Griding the tipping by hand should not cause any problems IMO.

 

However, the tipping welds on vintage nibs are not all that strong and there is a very real chance of the tipping falling off during grinding operations.

 

- Salman

 

Heating is indeed a huge issue. Proof of it is several vintage flexible nibs that got damaged (at my request to grind them to a thinner point) by a professional doing it to a few of my nibs several years ago. At a pen show, Mike Masuyama disclosed the consequences to me before doing it. He even suggested I talked to Susan Wirth before he worked on my nibs. Susan agreed with Mike. I told Mike to proceed as I wanted to see for myself if those nibs were going to keep their factory original properties. They were both correct. The properties of those vintage flex nibs were lost almost in their entirety. Lesson learned ... and never forgotten. I will never do it again in any of my vintage flex nibs. Fast forward several years and after learning a lot more about vintage flexible nibs, it was obvious that heat alters their factory original elasticity, flexibility, responsiveness, smoothness, and their ability to be used as every day writers.

 

Welding the tipping takes about 1 second. Cutting the slit takes less about 3 seconds or less. Both of those operations are very fast. Grinding a nib takes a lot longer than that, especially if someone desires to make the nib look symmetrical and proportionate, instead of just grinding the tipping, which will make that nib look disproportionate (to the body of the nib) and with a funny geometry, looking more like a chisel than like a very thin point.

Tu Amigo!

Mauricio Aguilar

 

www.VintagePen.net

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3525/4051556482_36f28f0902_m.jpg

E-Mail: VintagePen@att.net

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This isn't so much a concern if you have it ground down using non-mechanical abrasives (without a rotary tool, but instead with micromesh/mylar/Arkansas stone), right?

 

Perhaps if you are doing some very minor grinding or final touch ups with those non mechanical options. Otherwise, if someone is grinding from, let's say, a broad or medium to XXF, that is quite a lot metal to remove not only from the tipping, but also from the tines of the nib. Then you have to work to smooth that tipping. If someone wants the nib to look symmetrical and proportionate, using a non-mechanical approach may take lots of time. Furthermore, the chances of damaging the nib are higher than the chances of getting right. Again, if it were my nib, I would not do it. I would rather seek for a thinner nib. Others might prefer to do it, regardless. To each his own!

Tu Amigo!

Mauricio Aguilar

 

www.VintagePen.net

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3525/4051556482_36f28f0902_m.jpg

E-Mail: VintagePen@att.net

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Heating is indeed a huge issue. Proof of it is several vintage flexible nibs that got damaged (at my request to grind them to a thinner point) by a professional doing it to a few of my nibs several years ago. At a pen show, Mike Masuyama disclosed the consequences to me before doing it. He even suggested I talked to Susan Wirth before he worked on my nibs. Susan agreed with Mike. I told Mike to proceed as I wanted to see for myself if those nibs were going to keep their factory original properties. They were both correct. The properties of those vintage flex nibs were lost almost in their entirety. Lesson learned ... and never forgotten. I will never do it again in any of my vintage flex nibs. Fast forward several years and after learning a lot more about vintage flexible nibs, it was obvious that heat alters their factory original elasticity, flexibility, responsiveness, smoothness, and their ability to be used as every day writers.

 

Welding the tipping takes about 1 second. Cutting the slit takes less about 3 seconds or less. Both of those operations are very fast. Grinding a nib takes a lot longer than that, especially if someone desires to make the nib look symmetrical and proportionate, instead of just grinding the tipping, which will make that nib look disproportionate (to the body of the nib) and with a funny geometry, looking more like a chisel than like a very thin point.

 

 

It might be the removal of the material on the tines that causes the properties of the nib to change and not the heat :-)

 

BTW - did Mike grind the nib by hand?

 

- Salman

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It might be the removal of the material on the tines that causes the properties of the nib to change and not the heat :-)

 

BTW - did Mike grind the nib by hand?

 

- Salman

 

Salman,

 

It is indeed a combination of both: Heat and the change of the structural rigidity of the nib by removing some material from it.

Mike used his grinding wheel machine on my nibs.

Tu Amigo!

Mauricio Aguilar

 

www.VintagePen.net

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3525/4051556482_36f28f0902_m.jpg

E-Mail: VintagePen@att.net

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If you are really just looking to get some copperplate-like character in your handwriting, and not looking to do calligraphy, a standard fine flexible fountain pen nib is fine. You’re just looking for shading in your normal writing. A dip nib is best for calligraphy, but you don’t need super thin hairlines for regular writing, and they could actually make your regular writing harder to read.

 

I say that as a big fan of using dip pens for everyday writing. https://thesteelpen.com

 

“When the historians of education do equal and exact justice to all who have contributed toward educational progress, they will devote several pages to those revolutionists who invented steel pens and blackboards.” V.T. Thayer, 1928

Check out my Steel Pen Blog

"No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly."

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post-135048-0-43738500-1509162077_thumb.jpg

Total cost $25

 

for the rest of you with advice...

post a writing sample.

Gold nibs are obsolete...deal with it.

Edited by Bordeaux146
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attachicon.gif IMG_0645.JPG

Total cost $25

 

for the rest of you with advice...

post a writing sample.

Gold nibs are obsolete...deal with it.

 

It was the aching in my hand caused by writing a page with a Noodler's Konrad or Nib Creaper that forced me into the world of vintage flex pens.

The issue for me isn't so much the degree of flex, but the ease of it. A decent test of both would require not just a writing sample but a video of one flexing the pen on a scale to show degree of pressure.

 

While I concur that there are some steel nibs out there that can out-flex most gold nibs (i.e., some vintage Degussa nibs and even Pelikan CN nibs :puddle: :puddle: :puddle: ), I've yet to find any modern steel nib that can flex as effortlessly as a vintage gold flex nib. I know that you can do a "flex mod" on the Noodler's nibs, but for the price of the equipment to do so (and all the mistakes I'd make learning a craft I don't have time for), I'd prefer just to get myself an original wet noodle.

Edited by TruthPil

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I've been learning and using a form of Copperplate since June.

 

I mainly use vintage FPs---mostly Wahl all-metal #2 wet noodles. While I can get quite fine lines, they're not as fine as the hairlines I get with a Nikko G-nib in an oblique holder.

 

Whether using a vintage FP or a dip-nib, I've learned how important it is to use an ink with enough nib-cling. So far, I've found Japanese inks (Iroshizuku and Jentle) to have the best nib-cling. Some Diamine inks are good too, but it varies by colour.

 

Though I'd never put it in a vintage FP, Herbin 1670 Rouge Hématite is excellent in a dip-nib, but Herbin's 1670 Emerald of Chivor has terrible nib-cling,and won't work at all in a dip-nib.

 

Attached are some handwriting samples: my "Gnus" poem (written under a pseudonym, with a #2 Wahl ringtop), and my observations on using a Nikko G-nib in an oblique holder from John Neal, Bookseller (written as I used it).

 

This penholder has a metal flange to hold the nib, and is very light and well-balanced. Penholders with metal flanges are preferable to a Speedball oblique penholder, because the metal flange can be adjusted to put the nib at the ideal angle. With a Speedball, you're stuck with what they give you, and it's usually not ideal for your specific nib.

post-29223-0-12557700-1509729941_thumb.jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

For flex writing, I do NOT use a fountain pen.

As a rightie, the standard tripod grip results in a diagonal stroke for the downstroke. This is hard on the trailing tine.

The "proper" grip to use a fountain pen or straight dip pen holder is awkward and difficult for me.

So, instead I use an oblique dip pen holder (like Larynxa above) with one of several nibs. The G nib is my standard nib.

And contrary to what I previously thought, I use any of my fountain pen inks with my dip pen. The nib just needs to be cleaned of manufacturing oils for the ink to stick.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

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This is hard on the trailing tine.

 

It sure is but with a steel nib there isn't much to loose since they can be bent back or replaced inexpensivly.

 

Riding the right tine will also give hairlines even though the tip might be larger.

 

Flexing a gold nib without proper technique would risk damaging it.

Using proper technique limits results and is cumbersome.

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  • 2 months later...

A Wahl ringtop with a #2 wet noodle nib sounds close to as good as you’re going to get, so far as I modified fountain pens go.

 

I’ve lately been amusing myself with a few ringtops with dip nibs, which are flexier than the wettest of noodles. A #3 gold dip nib fits nicely into something like a Wahl ringtop if the cap is long enough. I’ll also observe that a gold dip pen is a itself pretty cool thing to write with.

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I’ve lately been amusing myself with a few ringtops with dip nibs, which are flexier than the wettest of noodles. A #3 gold dip nib fits nicely into something like a Wahl ringtop if the cap is long enough. I’ll also observe that a gold dip pen is a itself pretty cool thing to write with.

Thanks for the tip about gold dip nibs. I've seen those massive gold dip nibs on eBay and wondered about them. They look to be amazingly flexible.

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There's been a slow appreciation of prices lately, but you can still get a bargain here and there. Some are flexier than others, but they were made for calligraphic writing and they can be a joy to use.

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