Friday, April 12, 2013

Sailor Calligraphy Fountain Pen

4/12/13 Private Reserve Velvet Black ink, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
Ever since I declared my moratorium on the Noodler’s Ahab fountain pen (which made it onto my Bottom 10 list of most annoying products) and its infamously high-maintenance flexible nib, I’ve been searching for other fountain pens that will render a similar thick-and-thin line. Some brands that have come up often are either hard to find (the Chinese-made Hero) or expensive (Namiki Falcon).
Neither hard to find nor expensive was the Japanese-made Sailor DE Brush Stroke Style Calligraphy Fountain Pen. With a weird bent nib tip (similar, apparently, to the Hero’s), the Sailor is capable of making a varying line width when the angle of that bend is manipulated. When I saw that Lynne Chapman uses (and loves!) one, I sent my $16.50 to (I’m taking Chapman’s USK workshop in Barcelona this summer. . . maybe she’ll give me some pointers on using it!)
4/12/13 Noodler's Lexington Gray ink, Zig markers
This morning’s sketch gathering at the Nordic Heritage Museum was my first opportunity to give the Sailor a whirl. Stupidly, I filled it with waterproof Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, thinking it would be a good pen to use when painting with watercolors. I sketched a wooden statue (right) with the Sailor, clumsily experimenting with different line widths, but mostly I got frustrated not being able to shade with washed lines. (I ended up shading it with Zig markers.)
After our museum visit, I stopped for a sandwich at Firehouse Coffee in Ballard, and I pulled out the Sailor to sketch the two patrons at the table in front of me (below). (Again, I kept wishing I could wash the lines.) I can see that it’s going to take some practice to control the pen’s varying line widths. (The first thing I did when I got home was to fill the Sailor with a water-soluble ink. I’ll give it another whirl at tomorrow’s sketchcrawl.)
4/12/13 Noodler's Lexington Gray ink
Before I left the Firehouse, I pulled out a trusty Lamy to sketch two more patrons in the comfy chairs (top). The woman talking on her phone kept looking up at me, and I was afraid she suspected what I was doing, so I sketched furtively in record time. I’ve gotten so used to sketching people in coffee shops, though, that I’m generally undaunted: It takes a lot of intimidation to make me give up a sketch. In fact, it just makes me a faster sketcher.

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