Ask The Desk: Teal Pens, Dip Pens and Stationery

Zack asks:

I have been looking for a full-sized green/teal body fountain pen for the longest time. I haven’t seen many that are within my budget of <$200 that are to my liking. I was wondering if you have any in mind that could fit my specifications. Nib material is not important, but of course if 14k gold is within the budget, that is the best. I’d like to fill them with my everyday inks, which are more of a teal or green black colour, like Sailor Jentle Miruai, Noodler’s Air Corp and Cult Pens Diamine Deep Dark Green.

I have a couple that I’m choosing between, like the Karas Kustoms Decograph Green, or the Taccia Spectrum Forest Green, but I am open to more suggestions! Thank you!

Laura responds:

Zack! You are a man after my own heart because I love teal pens.  You are also somewhat in luck because the current Sailor Pro Gear Slim Special Edition Ocean ($200) is a teal pen right up your alley.  The next pen that came to mind is the Pelikan Classic M205 Aquamarine ($152).  Even with the color name Aquamarine, I think this one fits in the teal category.

Another completely different route would be looking into getting a custom pen made.  Many custom pen makers are happy to work with you and find the perfect color blanks (blocks of acrylic or other material that they turn into pens) for your perfect pen.  A few custom pen makers you could contact include Newton PensEdison Pen Co., or Woodshed Pen Co.  All have Instagram accounts you can follow to see what kinds of pens they make, and all can be contacted through their websites regarding custom orders, though some may have a wait list.

Editor’s Note: But you are right, the  Opus 88 Koloro Blue with Blue ($93), the  Taccia Spectrum Forest Green ($127) and the Karas Pen Co Decograph Green ($140) are all good options as well.

Russ asks:

I am interested to know which dip pen nib would you suggest I use with watercolor painting. I currently apply diluted watercolor paint with a Bamboo dip pen for outlining shapes on watercolor paper. Once the line has dried, I then apply water inside the shape. The clear water then activates the outline line and bleeds (vignettes) into the interior of the shape. This makes for very interesting paintings.

To see an example of one of my paintings employing this technique, go here.

I understand that no matter what nib I use I will need to refill the nib often. My concern is the fact that the pigment of even diluted watercolor will be thicker than standard dip pen inks. I also prefer a thicker line than the fine lines that stainless steel nibs produce. I can modify my Bamboo pen points if I want a thicker line. But, Bamboo pens wear out too soon. And, I don’t think a calligraphy-style (wide flat edge) nib would be the answer for the line boldness that I’m looking for.

I’m not looking for barrel-loaded pens. I am interested in dip nib pens that I can charge with diluted watercolor or colored inks on the fly. I may only need one color solution for an inch – then change color for another passage somewhere else in the painting.

So, which dip pen nib type would you suggest that would provide the best pigment ‘flow’ characteristics – and a slightly bolder line (if possible)?

P.S.: I know that a flexible steel nib can produce a wider line width. But, this would require a consistent pen pressure throughout the painting. If there was a nib that provided a naturally bolder line (without added pressure), this would be more comfortable and produce a consistent line width.

Thanks for your input. Any suggestions would be appreciated.


Jesi responds:

Thank you for sharing your artwork, Russ.  I enjoy your unique use of both watercolor and dip nibs!

My first thought after reading your question was to recommend that you look into Lettering nibs, either modern or vintage.  These nibs, which come in varying widths, are designed with two pieces clipped together.  The space between acts as a reservoir, holding more ink (or in your case, watercolor) and helping you to write longer with a more consistant flow.   Lettering nibs are often used for styles of writing like Blackletter that were designed with with quills in mind rather than the thin point of a fountain pen.

You can find these nibs in a huge variety of widths from .3mm up to 4mm.  Choices also include the shape of the tip: sharp, round, or flat.  Each shape will give you a unique line style that will add more fun tools for you to choose from.

For larger line widths, you can look into Poster nibs, Brush nibs or Automatic pens.  These give an even wider variety of choices.

Good luck with your artwork and please come back to show more in the future!

John requests:

I want to write letters to my friends and others using very good stationery. All of my letters will be written using fountain pens.
I don’t want to just peel off a page Rhodia and stick it in an envelope.
Let’s accept that elegance is more important than price, but functionality is critical.

Ana responds:

There are some great, simple stationery options available that will look good without breaking the bank. Original Crown Mill and G. Lalo are the “go-to” papers for letter writing in the stationery community. G. Lalo pads are available in half sheet and full sheet sizes for $12 and $16 respectively and Original Crown Mill paper is available in pure cotton or a laid finish in A4 or A5. Prices for the Original Crown Mill range from $14-$58 depending on the package configuration. Both companies offer envelopes to match.

Of course, we cannot forget Crane & Co. They are the classic American stationery company that makes boxed letter sheets with matching envelopes starting at $26 for a box of 20.

And last, let me plug the firm and say that Hallmark Gold Crown stores feature a selection of letter sheets and envelopes. I can’t guarantee all will be fountain pen friendly but I’ve had good luck with a lot of them. The flat cards are particularly nice. I recommend the cream or white cards or paper over the ones with a lot of color printed on them. Some options are even available for purchase on the web site.

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3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I love Kartos Italian-inspired stationery sets when I feel like being fancy. (Otherwise I pretty much use Tomoe River for everyone.) They’re sometimes found at independent stationery stores, but if you don’t have any in your area, a quick Google search will provide several online vendors. Great for fountain pens, and in the European sizes so I add plain pages for my longer letters!

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