Saturday, September 13, 2014

Product Review: Super 5 Fountain Pen and Ink

9/9/14 Platinum Carbon ink, Pentel brush pen, Inktense water-soluble colored
pencils, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
One of the gifts I received in my Urban Sketching Symposium swag bag this year was a Super 5 fountain pen. Made by a German company, the sponsorship was arranged by USk Development Director Omar Jaramillo, who helped fill all the pens individually during the symposium with the participant’s choice of ink. Apparently for many participants, it was the first fountain pen they had ever used.

To evaluate it fairly, I have to use the pen for a while longer – I haven’t even used up the converter of ink I received in Paraty – but so far, I’m not overly impressed. It’s a bit heavier than I like (the body is plastic and metal), and the nib is sometimes skippy. Its idle time, especially, has been disappointing: Just a few days of nonuse renders it skippy.

8/28/14 Super5 pen and ink, Pitt Artist Pen, Moleskine watercolor sketchbook
But – and it’s a huge but! – the ink it’s filled with is fantastic! Among several colors, I chose Sepia, a very dark, almost-black brown. I had assumed the ink was water-soluble. I used it at my first workshop, Simo Capecchi’s “The Sketched Reportage,” because I thought it would be fun to try out swag products while at the symposium. The day turned out to be rainy, and at some point while sketching, some rain splattered on a sketch – lo and behold, the ink was waterproof! Not only that, it dried very quickly – just as quickly as Platinum Carbon, if not more so. (Sketch at right is a detail to show the ink color.)

I’ve been looking for a waterproof brown ink for a long time. I’ve tried Platinum Sepia, but it’s too pale and reddish for my taste. (Don’t talk to me about Noodler’s inks . . . don’t even say the name if I’m in the room!) So this new Super 5 ink is verrrry interesting to me.

When I inquired, Omar said that the company is quite new – its logo was still in development as the symposium was gearing up – so finding the ink in the U.S. might be a challenge. But you know me – I’m always up for a challenge, especially if it involves hunting down an art material. Stay tuned.

Some of the swag I received at the symposium.
As long as I’m talking about symposium swag (thank you, all sponsors!), this photo shows what I brought home. Not all of what I received made it home – some items I tried and gave away there, and others were consumed (edible products, not art materials). I probably won’t review anything else I received, but two things are worth noting:

The Moleskine watercolor sketchbook is the “new” kind (the one that watercolor divas like Liz Steel and Shari Blaukopf are looking askance at), and I used it for almost all my symposium workshops and activities. My watercolor painting skills are such that the paper made no difference to me – I’m sure I could live with it. My complaint is with the landscape format, which I hardly ever have use for (although the linear, process-driven aspect of Simo’s workshop actually made good use of the format).

The second item worth noting is the small lime green book at upper left. Handmade by Laloran, it’s a beautifully crafted, Japanese-style, accordion-folded sketchbook with a very subtle impressed Paraty symposium logo on the cover. It was delivered later than the rest of the swag (I visualized the artisan frantically assembling all of them on her kitchen table the night before, trying to get hundreds of them done in time!), and I didn’t get mine until the symposium was over, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to fill it with any symposium sketches. But I wanted to mention it because it was so delightful to see a handmade book among the swag!

Edited 12/3/14: Ayumi (below in comments) just let me know that the inks are now available at Goulet is also carrying Super5 fountain pens.


  1. That sepia ink sounds interesting. Let us know if you find a source for it. Right now my 'brown' requires that I dilute Noodler's Polar Brown and add a tiny bit of Noodler's Black to it. The dilution does cause it to flow better and, it seems, be more waterproof (suspect this is cuz the ink soaks into the paper more) but what a pain to have to mix it.

    Cheers --- Larry

  2. Can you tell me more about the Super 5 brown ink? I've been looking for a solid brown, permanent ink. When I search on Google, THIS post is the second non-ad one that comes up!

    Search finds the pen on Amazon. It's made in Darmstadt, not far from where I lived in Germany. The info says, "For use with standard short ink cartridges." So it doesn't have a converter?

  3. We were given a converter during the marathon ink distribution (a huge line of symposium attendees waiting for a couple of volunteers to fill converters with the color of their choice), but the pen came with only a cartridge. I'm still on the hunt for the ink!

  4. If you still look for those inks, please try Gouletpen
    Hope it is useful

    1. Thanks, Ayumi! I shop at Goulet all the time but never saw these!

  5. Thanks for the link Aymui and for adding it to your post, Tina! The pens themselves are pretty good, but the fine stub nib is really the reason I wanted to carry them. It's rare for a company to do less than 1.1mm stubs! The inks are what really were exciting though, for exactly the reasons you laid out. I've found that artists and sketchers love Platinum Carbon and the De Atramentis Document inks, and these are much like those. They're a new brand and I think they're really going to pick up speed quickly :) Thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog, Brian! I just ordered some samples of the other Super5 colors!


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