Tuesday, January 1, 2013

dip pens: an over-review

Dip pens! According to the title of this post, this will be a dip pen overview/review. I cannot promise that either will fulfill your desire to know more about these pens, but hopefully this will be a good place for you to launch!

I would like to clarify that, in the circumstance of this post, I'll be referring to dip pens for comic/manga pens - basically, Japanese nibs.  I don't have experience with other kinds of nibs (I don't use dip pens as often as would necessitate a huge supply/a lot of experience). If you're looking for information on other nibs, such as Hunt, Google is your best friend!

The first pen nib holder I got was the Deleter, a bright yellow wonder. It's a pretty simple little thing with a nice and wide grip without it being too wide so that it's uncomfortable.

It's a versatile holder in that the "socket" can accompany many different kinds of nibs. This is something I really like! It means that I can use different nibs with the same holder. The paint is starting to peel a little where it meets the little socket for the nib.

The second was the Tachikawa Model 25 which for some reason I greatly prefer. It's probably the aesthetics. It feels nice in the hand, which makes me think that it's a little bit wider, and it looks nice, too. The gold lettering looks lovely against the wood grain. For a little bit more, you can get the Model 36 in pink or white, which have the same look but have a grip. The most expensive is the Model 40, as it includes a cap. I don't really need a grip or a cap, so the Model 25 was a good choice for me. There's also the Model 17 but it's skinny and you can only use it with one type of nib, so I don't care for it.

There are tons more holder models made by the brands. If you can, I would really suggest you get holders that aren't built specifically for one type or brand of nib. If you ever want to expand, you won't have to buy another holder!

There's a pretty wide array of nibs you can get. Since I was looking specifically on JetPens for things, my nibs were condensed to a few basic types: Spoon, G Model, Mapping, School, and Japanese. Here's a handy chart for which brands have which models:
*The Zebra "Tama" is a spoon model.
But what does this mean? If you've got some time to read, this is a really good thread that got me started with these nibs. I only have experience with the G Model and the Spoon models, so I'll talk about those ones more.

Oh! I really need to mention. If you buy dip nibs for the first time, always get it ready for use! Dip nibs come coated with a kind of oil or wax or something that keeps them from rusting. You'll want to burn off this oil with a flame, or wash it off, or stick it in your mouth. I usually light a tea candle and get the oil off. If you don't do this, your nib might not work the way you want it to!

pretty good flex
The G Model is what you might call a "standard" pen, but it can vary from brand to brand in regards to flexibility. I own the Deleter brand G Model, which is moderately flexible. Unfortunately I haven't been able to try any others, but I hear good things about the Tachikawa and Kuretake brands.

Like I've said before, I don't have a lot of experience with these kinds of nibs, and they can be a little difficult to get used to. They aren't tipped, and you have to write slowly. Writing too quickly with a nib like the G Model can mean that you send little drops of ink flying everywhere, or dig the point into the paper. What I like to do before I use the G Model is take out some scrap paper and get some practice in before I start doing whatever it is I'm doing; it makes my life easier and also keeps my handwriting from looking too much like a six year old's.

The spoon model (which I got from Deleter as well) is, I think, much more forgiving when it comes to writing. I don't have a heavy hand, but I am a lefty, which often makes writing angles awkward. The spoon model isn't named because it looks like a pointed spoon; rather, it has a little dip at the tip of the nib, which makes writing smoother. I would compare writing with a spoon model to something much more like a fountain pen - or maybe a rollerball. They often have less flex (at least, mine does), but they're easier to control.

Woof! That's quite the post. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them! I'll try to add more information as I remember it.

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