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Friends don’t let friends use Noodler’s-On Fountain Pens Pt2: I will address some of the disappointing and infuriating fails in my hand-writing world with regards to inks and papers.

I try to use my time on the positive things, so I will be sprinkling in fun finds here too.

Part of the premise in “On Fountain Pens” is to scratch a compulsive itch since there are loved ones in my life that cannot bear to listen to me ramble on excitedly or lash out in furious strings of words about things in my hand-writing world any longer.

I get it. I don’t, but for the sake of their sanity, I will lie and say I do.

This second in a series of “On Fountain Pens” articles is for all of those who have given great advice on what likes/dislikes, gobble-up’s/steer-clear’s in the engaging and fascinating Fountain Pen Universe (FPU) that has been intrinsic to my longhand writing, and it is also to all of those that, like me, can use good advice as they venture into new territory within the FPU.

Though it is the Fountain Pen Universe to me, there are lots of other folks that write by hand with brushes, gel pens, pencils, feathers, or hell, even good ‘ole ballpoint pens, and I think you will appreciate my thoughts on some of the fantastic and some of the abysmal stationery and paper notebooks I have been experimenting with recently.

If you have not read any of my non-fiction work before, I will warn you that I try to be a sarcastic sod and an over-the-top satirist when it suits me – it is all in good fun.

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?

Your paper, Romeo, belongs ground to a pulpy mass at the bottom of a recycling facility.

While I convey my feelings of utter rage, I do this as an educational exercise, because without many friends that write by hand and no real stationery stores close to me, I relied on an online comment – genius, that was – and burned myself to the tune of $24 plus shipping on one A5 Romeo notebook.

My ulcers ache with the thought that I spent so much money on paper I would not use to wipe my ass with.

Why is it so bad? How the hell would I know ‘why’? I did not make the stuff.

I picked up a 100-page-ish A5 notebook, wooed by sturdy paper boards and a hefty gsm, and an oh-so-nicely-slick surface.

Despite the thickness of the page and the gloss-coated surface, using fountain pens, Sharpie’s, or gel pens results in the worst feathering and ghosting imaginable.

All of your distorted words bleed through so much that reading a page written on both sides becomes a chore in discerning meaning from myriad Rorshachs.

And, like Alan Moore’s fabled character, Rorshach, he hurts.

romeo notebook, nassau fountain pen, vintage fountain pen, paper, stationery, ink, noodler's ink, noodler's

I now know a rather simple but important fact: if the paper is coated with some kind of garbage that makes it buttery to the touch, then writing on gloss will prove extremely difficult for fountain pens, because that nib is fighting against a gods-damned oil-slick.

And now that I have proven the Romeo notebook a steaming waste of money, to get some use out of it, it has become my exclusive testing pad for newly inked pens, of all kinds, and none of them write well on this shite.

Whew! I have been holding in that poison for far too long, Juliet!

Now, something positive.

I’m almost through with all the pages of the gods-damned Romeo notebook.

Seriously though, being positive: there are so many scintillating stationery and notebooks for less money, and some of them even have expensive upgrades for when it is time to jot down that novel on something special.

I will elaborate on these another day, but, for now, Clairefontane, MD Midori, Tomoe, and Hahnemuhle are all outstanding paper / notebooks to write with, to smell (my wife says that is perverted, do not judge her, please), and to draw in, with nearly any writing implement.

Staying positive, my new favorite ink is Diamine Night Sky.

It is, for me, the “Starry Night” of all inks.

Diamine Night Sky – and, at least to date, I have not been paid to endorse Diamine – is a deep blue so dark, it is nearly black, and yet, at times, it seems nearly purple too.

What an amazing ink!

It has a slight shimmer, but no sparkle or sheen, and the shimmer is so close to the original color that it appears to be molten, or liquid, and it ever so slightly moves with the eye, just like the night sky.

It is rather hard to explain it in terms of ink traits and that is the point: it kind of emanates midnight more than any color or effect.

To conclude this article, I wish to bash some of the very worst in inks and then speak positively again, so there is not a poison-induced suicide resulting from any depressing quips.

For anyone that does not already know, the Fountain Pen feed on Bluesky is absolutely wonderful – check it out here.

I have gotten some great advice there, such as this from prominent pen enthusiasts that warned us to steer WAY clear of Noodler’s fountain pens…all of them.

They are cheap and they do not write. Meaning they both A. do not write well and B. they often will not remain inked to write at all.

We take for granted that pens will write, but Noodler’s does not.

I have personally saved myself a lot of financial trouble, disillusionment, and heartache by not even attempting to write with a Noodler’s fountain pen.

And a lot of people profess to love Noodler’s, though I feel their struggles to prime and to clean their Noodler’s fountain pens would feel very different if they did not have to constantly struggle to actually use the pens.

Alas, I should have guessed that noodling around with their ink would take to me, like sun does a vampire, or a witch’s hat does to Laszlo Cravensworth.

To give myself a little more credit and a little less scrutiny, I will say that I read about the recommendation to avoid the pens, only.

And then I also read an article with a long list of recommended ink favorites, and among them were the Noodler’s Polar Black and the Noodler’s Blue.

Because of the inexpensive price ($14/3oz), I bought a bottle of each, as black and blue are my two favorite colors.

Not only did most of my fountain pens leak when inked with Noodler’s, but I just recently discovered something even more insidious: damage.

To clarify, Noodler’s inks contain a shit-ton – for lack of a better term – of lubricants.

What does that mean exactly? Well, they have put chemicals in the ink to allow them to have more flow from the feed and to more easily glide on the page while writing.

Some inks have them, and some do not.

Noodler’s has a shit-ton of lubricants, as I said, and whatever formula they have concocted leaks badly from even the sturdiest of Pilot Custom Heritage pens.

What really sets my teeth gnashing with anxious fury is that their inks are so bad, the leak goes beyond the feed and nib section.

It goes everywhere within the pen, coats it, and then it continually oozes out wherever your pen comes apart.

I purchased an inexpensive vintage Nassau Fountain Pen (90+ years old) in my forever search for wet noodles, and this lever-filler came with a new sac talced and installed.

The ink leaks from where the threaded section meets the feed section…a lot.

The bastards.

I dare not use any ink with sparkling elements or mixed color or crazy sheens in my vintage pens, because many are harder to clean and those additives make for a nice look on the page but they gunk up your pens.

I thought I had done well with plain old black and blue, but then my nib broke (the flexy gold-plated nib did not hold up) and the pen store I bought it from graciously offered to install a new nib for free.

I gave them the pen, clean of ink (I thought), and they let me know that whatever leaking mess that had infected my writing tool had also severely caked the inner walls of the sac with oily grime that was not coming off easily.

So, in theory, the lubricants would make the Noodler’s ink easier to flow from the pen, I thought, but whatever Mr. Hyde formula they have for a complex color of black, is in fact terrible for your pen.

If I had continued to use Noodler’s in it, that brand new sac would have not survived long, or any that followed.

And my poor Nassau fountain pen continues to leak, despite many a rinse.

I was and am pissed.

Noodler’s ink was a bargain, except that the three ounce bottles are going into the trash – I paid for garbage.

I may as well have used my cash to light a cigar.

There are so many gorgeous, straight-up sexy inks for not a lot of money to supplant Noodler’s, the Pilot Iroshizuku series are all stellar in every way, for one example, that I feel the fool for having fallen so easily for Noodler’s.

And there are many cool pen and stationery stores that will allow you to buy a bevy of ink samples in little vials for a precious few sheckles.

If you take one thing away from this article, remember this: Friends don’t let friends use Noodler’s.

Rant over.

Happy Writing, Friends!

Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Noodler’s-On Fountain Pens Pt2

by R.J. Huneke time to read: 7 min
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