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Pen material preference?



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OutlawJosey

Without intentionally choosing it, I've found that my preferred pens all have metal bodies. And I have to admit, when I look at some of the more expensive luxury-line pens, I think "you want me to pay that much FOR SWIRLY PLASTIC???" There must be something special about non-metal materials that I'm not savvy to. I'm curious -- do other folks have preferences for the base material of their pens, and if so, why?

For me, metal feels more "natural" (in general I prefer building materials that are wood, metal, or stone vs. a material that's manufactured) and plastics/acrylics/resins have connotations of being disposable for me -- like they're not made to withstand the test of time. That's probably just my own bias, though...I'm open to actual facts that prove me wrong! What are the pros/cons of other materials that make you love them?

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ethernautrix

My favorite is Nakaya's tame-nuri urushi finishes (urushi over ebonite).

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Fleekair <--French accent.

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PatientType

Why choose? I have a few of each genre. 

I like silver pens. They're substantial and elegant.

I like the plastic/acrylic pens. They inspire mood.

The urushi pens are amazing whether one chooses those with stark simplicity or those that have hand-painted designs or images.


 

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mizgeorge

I like all sorts of pens, with metal being my least favourite. Ebonite is probably my favourite - I love its warmth and feel in the hand - followed by celluloid and acrylic/resin in its various forms. Wood is nice, but not all - the staining annoys me too much on some grains. Some of the 'brushed' rubberised finishes are nice in the hand too. I have a couple of ceramic pens that are nice.

 

I find most metal is too cold unless it's covered in a good amount of something else, which can make it too heavy for lengthy use.  The only exceptions seem to be anodised aluminium pens, which I seem to mind less - perhaps it's because they don't get that metallic tang that I can almost taste as well as smell. Oh and silver, ideally nice and aged, that manages to always feel more organic than brass or steel.

 

The thing I like least of all are polished metal sections - which are enough to completely put me off almost any pen, including many of those widely admired by others.

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inkstainedruth

True, MuddyWaters.  I do have a few metal pens (the "best"/most expensive one being a sterling Ciselé Parker 75 -- but a lot of them are too heavy for me.  I also have a few vintage pens with metal overlay over BHR -- the filigree overlay on the MOrrison ringtops is particularly attractive (I have two of the gold filled, and finally got my hands on a sterling overlay one, but haven't had a chance to get it checked out yet.

The best feeling ones are ebonite (there's a warmth to ebonite that other materials just don't have).  The best looking ones are some of the vintage celluloid pens, like my stash of Parker Vacumatics.  

My problem with a lot of the modern acrylic pens (especially the ones that have threads of different color through them is that there's a sort of "sameness" to them.  I've seen some really attractive Alumilite ones, but don't own any of those.

Urushi?  I don't touch those -- I'm just too allergic to poison ivy.  Although I've seen some really beautiful maki-e pens, those are all "Admire them from a distance" for me.

My experience with rubberized grips has not been good -- the rubber disintegrated on both of my first pens (a couple of Parker Reflex pens).  I haven't had the Penetia long enough to see how the rubber-ish inlays on the pen hold up.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I don't care for metal grip sections and metal body pens tend to have them. So it's my least favorite material type.

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OutlawJosey
1 hour ago, mizgeorge said:

[...] I find most metal is too cold unless it's covered in a good amount of something else [...]

This is super interesting to me. I see a lot of talk about "warmth" of the pen when reviews address the material, but I don't really understand first-hand what that means. I do have some non-metal pens for comparison (TWSBI, Moonman, Jinhao) but I don't experience them as warmer or colder than my metal pens. My acrylic pens aren't space heaters, and my Karas Kustoms pen doesn't suck the heat from my fingers like it's a bag of frozen peas -- it's room temperature like everything else in my house. When people talk about the "warmth" of a pen, what does that actually mean? I'm guessing that everyone's pens are at ambient temperature.

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Hi Outlaw,

 

I enjoy the warmth and tactile bond one gets with ebonite or celluloid; however, I love the maintenance-free swirly acrylics  :D and metal bodies. 

 

- Sean  :)

https://www.catholicscomehome.org/

 

"Every one therefore that shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father Who is in Heaven." - MT. 10:32

"Any society that will give up liberty to gain security deserves neither and will lose both." - Ben Franklin

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Turquoise88

I understand the appeal of natural materials (plastic not being one of them). Generally that’s where I’m at as well, but not when it comes to fountain pens!

 

I like pocket pens in metal (like the ensso “minimalist” and the Loclen “tiny”, but generally, I prefer metal more as an accent because, as others have noted,  if a lot of the pen is metal it feels too cold and heavy to me. I also don’t care for most pens that have metal caps with a body of a different material unless the caps are minimally engraved because the lines and cross-hatching seems too fussy or cheap to me. Also metal caps tend to dent. That said, I certainly wouldn’t turn down a solid sterling silver Yard-o-Led if someone wanted to gift it to me 😉

 

There are lots of alternatives to resin/plastic — like ebonite, wood, rubber (mostly in vintage pens), shell, horn, etc.  I enjoy the variety and mix of materials.

 

Really it’s a matter of personal preference — and it’s great that there are so many options and designs out there to choose from!

 

 

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A Smug Dill
7 hours ago, OutlawJosey said:

I'm guessing that everyone's pens are at ambient temperature.

 

The surface of your skin isn't at ambient temperature, though, and so heat will flow from your skin to the pen's surface. Different materials will require a different amounts of energy to warm up to your skin's temperature, and the finish can also affect the aggregated area of the contact surface(s), which in turn changes the rate at which heat will be drawn from your hand; and of course some materials are also more apt to quickly spread the heat to other areas not in direct contact with your skin and dissipate it, and so will stay colder for longer.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

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TheRedBeard
9 hours ago, OutlawJosey said:

This is super interesting to me. I see a lot of talk about "warmth" of the pen when reviews address the material, but I don't really understand first-hand what that means. I do have some non-metal pens for comparison (TWSBI, Moonman, Jinhao) but I don't experience them as warmer or colder than my metal pens. My acrylic pens aren't space heaters, and my Karas Kustoms pen doesn't suck the heat from my fingers like it's a bag of frozen peas -- it's room temperature like everything else in my house. When people talk about the "warmth" of a pen, what does that actually mean? I'm guessing that everyone's pens are at ambient temperature.

 

Hi OutlawJosey,

While I also personally prefer metal or metal-based pens, I do agree with MuddyWaters (please, see his earlier comment above) on quality of the material and entire pen built that matters.

If you can, please, try a few different pens of more upmarket brands and better manufacturers than the ones you mentioned, and then you will probably see a difference ;)

All the best is only beginning now...

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Karmachanic

Matte Ebonite, celluloid,urushi, followed by edel PMMA (plexy, Lucite, Perspex, acrylic)

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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Material doesn't matter so much for me although I no longer readily go for metal options because of the weight.  I realise that I prefer lighter pens.  Of course, I don't mind a smaller metal pen.  For instance I very much enjoy the brass and aluminium versions of the Kaweco Sport.

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Detman101

Anything is good as long as it's not that hellspawn sewer-sludge demon-buttcrack material that Noodlers makes it's stinky pens with.
Their pens are gag gifts...some kind of sick joke-challenge...

"How long can you stand using this pen that smells like a cows buttcrack!?"

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inkstainedruth

Which is funny, because I've *never* noticed the odor of the Noodler's "vegetal resin" that people complain about (and have complained about for the better part of a decade).   And I'm the one that my mom used to have smell the roast beef in the fridge to make sure it hadn't been around too long and was starting to go bad....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I'm with OutlawJosey regarding materials in general. My house is full of stuff to please the eye, and you will find very little plastic because it degrades the view. :) However, when it comes to pens I don't mind being more traditional. I don't much enjoy new pens, so most are some kind of plastic, although I do have a gold Parker and it's fine. Metal does have permanence and also develops patina which is desirable if, like me, you don't appreciate the look of "new".

 

I think for those of us who sometimes look down on plastic, it's worth actually looking into what material we're actually looking at. Many plastics have an interesting history and unique tactile and visual qualities, including the way they acquire patina. It's easy to just call something "plastic" in the older sense of "cheap", but if one can't actually name the material, that comes off a bit shallow. (I'm referring to my own history and habit here.)

 

As for the smell of the Noodler's Charlie pen, that is indeed quite strong for me, but it does dissipate after a while. In that case the plastic actually is "cheap" though, and the smell to me is acrid chemical and not at all organic or rural, but then  I'm not as intimately familiar with a the finer points of a "cow's buttcrack" as an earlier poster appears to be.

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corgicoupe
23 hours ago, OutlawJosey said:

This is super interesting to me. I see a lot of talk about "warmth" of the pen when reviews address the material, but I don't really understand first-hand what that means. I do have some non-metal pens for comparison (TWSBI, Moonman, Jinhao) but I don't experience them as warmer or colder than my metal pens. My acrylic pens aren't space heaters, and my Karas Kustoms pen doesn't suck the heat from my fingers like it's a bag of frozen peas -- it's room temperature like everything else in my house. When people talk about the "warmth" of a pen, what does that actually mean? I'm guessing that everyone's pens are at ambient temperature.

True. The pen is at ambient temperature (68-73 DEGREES) but your body is at 98.6+-, so the heat will flow from your hand to the pen. Metal has a larger heat transfer coefficient and will therefore feel colder.

Baptiste knew how to make a short job long

For love of it. And yet not waste time either.

Robert Frost

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I prefer pens intricately carved from the bones of my enemies.

And I didn't have the heart to tell her why.
And there wasn't a part of me that didn't want to say goodbye.

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jchch1950

Every material has advantages over the others. I don't buy any more celluloid pens after a series of bad and very expensive cases of celluloid pens that decompose and destroy  cherish writing instruments .

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