Monday, March 5, 2012

Adventures in Writing Part 2

Today is Howard Pyle’s birthday. For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he was an extraordinary “golden age” illustrator who was, among other things, quite masterful with pen & ink. In his honor, I have chosen today to give my new Namiki Falcon fountain pen a test run.

I was most interested in the Falcon as it has a unique nib. It appears to have a “beak” that curves down to the paper. It is also made of 14 karat gold which gives the nib added spring, allowing for some flexibility of line. As this was my first gold-nibbed pen I was curious to see how it differed from the steel nibs in my other pens.
Namiki Falcon nib with its "beaked" shape
Here it is in its box. As both Pilot and Namiki are the same company, the presentation boxes are similar. Although I have never been overly impressed by pens coming in “jewelry boxes,” I have to admit to something of a thrill seeing it presented so nicely when opened.

My new Namiki Falcon
This is a black resin pen with a SF (fine) nib. The resin pen is very light and I really like light-weight pens. I find them much easier to hold for long periods of time. The filling mechanism is similar to my Parker Sonnet and was easy to use. I have filled it with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black, an ink I know very well.

I began with a test page of practice strokes. I found that the pen holds a line very well, perhaps the best of all my pens. It also is light enough to “skip” well, very important for gradations of line in pen & ink. I liked using it posted (with the cap on the back of the pen) as I thought the balance was quite good that way. Without out it being posted, I felt that the pen was too light.

Varying line widths can be achieved with the Falcon by pressing straight down with it and not flexing it at all to the side. Although not as flexible as a true flexible nib pen (Noodler’s Nib Creaper Flex or Ahab for example) it is still flexible enough to create a variable line.

Scribbles and other miscellaneous marks felt good. Then I tried some stippling. Stippling is a mainstay of pen & ink work. Back in the day when I used “regular” pens, as my old illustration teacher used to call them, we would choose a nib like a crow quill, stick it into a nib holder, and stipple away.  I was curious how the Falcon, with its unusual nib shape, would handle stippling. I found it to be quite excellent. I also did comparatives while I was at it with several other of my most popular “working” pens. Of them all the Falcon and the Noodler’s Piston Fill fountain pens performed the best. Bless the little Piston Fill, it really does perform well. :-)

But back to the Falcon. Preliminarily, I have found that it writes quite smoothly and its delicacy and consistency of line makes it a most excellent choice for pen & ink work. The nib in some ways reminds me of a crow quill. The crow quill created really fine lines that led to quite delicate work. The problem with it, as I recall, was that it never held enough ink and would quickly run dry. Not so with the Falcon. With its ink reserve inside it’s likely to produce quite a few marks before needing to be refilled. ;-)

Next test for the Falcon is a real piece of artwork. I’ve got that under way now and will post it here when complete.

P.S. For those of you who might be interested in those sorts of things, for paper I was using a Stillman and Birn Epsilon sketchbook.  

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