Friday, May 11, 2012

The Konrad Flex Pen and “Rome Burning” Ink – A Preliminary Review

Noodler's "Rome Burning" ink and Konrad Flex pen
As mentioned in my last blog entry, I recently won a brand new ink and pen as prizes in the Noodler’s Ink 2011-2012 International Art Contest.

As I unwrapped the package and looked over my prizes I thought, “hmmm, I wonder how the pen will write?” The ink was less of a question for me. “Rome Burning” is a brown ink with a couple of tricks to it. I LOVE the theme behind the ink – as Noodler’s CEO Nathan Tardiff describes it – “ ‘Rome Burning’ has a bulletproof patrician core color of Caesar’s purple with the colors of the inferno that wash away from it with excess liquidity.” So it’s a brassy-brown with a golden-yellow halo (similar to the halos seen in “Swan in English Roses” which is red, or in “Blue Nose Bear” which is blue) which when washed turns into a bulletproof purple color. Very cool! Since the purple part of the ink is bulletproof it would be superior to use as a writing ink for secure documents like checks. (I currently use Noodler’s Bulletproof Black or Kung Te-Cheng for check writing.) But as I always evaluate my inks for drawing first and writing second, “Rome Burring” doesn’t really do it for me.
Golden Browns are not my favorite browns to draw with, I much prefer reddish-browns like Diamime Sepia (see The Search for the Perfect Brown.)  The fact that the initial color washes out to another color is interesting but not as valuable for my uses. Despite that, “Rome Burning” is a welcome addition to my ink collection and will most likely be relegated to the category of writing (and not drawing) inks. No shame there.

Meanwhile, what about the Konrad Flex pen? The one I received as prize is the “Red Mesa” color which is a lovely red tortoise-shell.

First impressions

The Konrad is a lovely feeling pen. The weight and balance are very good. It also looks very professional and sharp. It certainly looks like it costs more than its $20-$24.00 price. The Konrad has a lovely feature of a safety cap that screws on the back of the pen which prevents you from accidently twisting the barrel and letting out ink when you don’t intend to. When filling the pen you remove that little screw-on cap and can then twist the barrel to fill the pen. The filling mechanism is a slide piston fill converter that works very easily. 

Writing (ahem, Drawing…) -

This is a very smooth writing pen. One of the things I loved about the Ahab was the nib, which has a wonderful feel to it. It’s springy and well-constructed and makes a line with what I think of as “character.” The Konrad nib has a similar feel to it, but with the added bonus of being packaged in a medium-sized body. One of the things I like least about the Ahab is the size, which is really too big and heavy for my hands, especially posted. The Konrad is still a bit heavy for me posted but when unposted is a bit short.

Konrad pen tests
My biggest problem with the Konrad is the width of the nib. I much prefer a fine/medium width nib for drawing. My Konrad is most definitely a medium width nib. Although I prefer a medium nib for writing I find it a bit thick for drawing. Interestingly, the Ahab has a good nib width for me for drawing, as it runs thinner than my Konrad’s nib. I say “my Konrad” as I have no certainty yet that all the Konrads have exactly the same width nib. It’s quite possible that there is some variation in the nib width between pens. If there is, there could be a fine/medium width Konrad nib out there that I would find just perfect.

The nib flexes wonderfully and will produce a fine line with a very light touch. Perhaps that was my problem with the line width, I was applying too much baseline pressure. I suppose time and more experimentation will tell.
Summing up

So what do I think of the new Konrad Flex pen? Overall, I like it. It’s a lovely, smooth writing pen with a wonderful nib. It seems quite well-made and is very attractive. It’s a good starter even after a few days off. The line, though a bit thick for my tastes, might be made thinner with a lighter touch.

Will I use it for drawing? Absolutely! (Although I think I’ll switch back to another ink…maybe good-old Bulletproof black.) Am I happy to have it? Yes! Would I recommend it to other artists? Yes!

I am a complete pen snob when it comes to drawing pens. As a pen & ink artist, I have to be. So I am very picky about my pens. But I would certainly recommend this pen to both artists and writers. I think it might be the best flex pen that Noodler’s has yet produced. If you’re looking for only one affordable flex pen then I would recommend this one, especially if you’re a gal with medium/small-sized hands like me. It seems perfectly made for us!

Cheers everyone and I hope you enjoyed these reviews. :-)


  1. Very good review, Sara! (I like my Konrad, too...)

    1. Thanks Kate! Well I figure, a good review for a good new pen is only fair. :-)

  2. I enjoyed your review, and now want to try both the Konrad pen and more urgently, Rome Burning ink. I think it will be fun to experiment with the color changes. Thanks for the input!
    Raye Mayo;

    1. I'm glad my review was helpful to you Raye. I would be very curious to see what you make of both the pen and the ink. If you feel like it, please let me know what you come up with. :-)