|7/4/15 Sketched from photo with Pilot posting nib |
and Platinum Carbon ink on
Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook
Ever since I discovered the flexy, ultra-fine line of the Zebra Comic G dip nib that I loved
using in my pen and ink class, I’ve wondered if a fountain pen equivalent
exists. My favorite Sailor fude nibs
turned upside-down will produce a fairly fine line – fine enough for most of
the sketching I do – but not fine enough for the kind of hatching I was trying
to reproduce when copying masters. I’d
given up on finding a Frankenpen body for the Zebra G – all my attempts were dismal failures – but I still wanted
a way to take that nib out of the house without the muss and fuss of dipping
into a bottle of ink. Furthermore, the Zebra Comic G is scratchy enough to
annoy me. Although I tolerate it, I prefer a smoother nib.
|7/3/15 ink, watercolor (Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with posting nib)|
The solution came serendipitously when I wasn’t even
searching. At a meeting of the Seattle Pen Club, a member happened to show me his Pilot pen with a “posting” nib (identified
as PO on Pilot’s product numbers). Before seeing it, I had heard that the PO nib
was designed to be used on very thin, rough or poor-quality paper – the kind
that would make most fountain pens feather and bleed to high heaven. Apparently
you could work newspaper crossword puzzles with this nib! Since I avoid writing
or sketching on paper like that, I didn’t pay any attention to the posting nib –
and also didn’t give much thought to what kind of nib was needed to write on
such paper. The answer, it turns out, is a very fine nib that’s also very
smooth (which keeps poor-quality paper from getting scratched and snagged, exacerbating
the feathering potential). Fountain pens with extremely fine nibs are easy to
find. But an extremely fine nib that’s truly smooth? That’s a rare treat!
You can see from my line-stroke comparisons that the Pilot
posting nib is quite a bit finer than my Sailor fude turned upside-down. It’s as
fine as the Zebra Comic G nib – but is much smoother to use. Of course, the
posting nib has very little flex compared to the G – the left-most vertical and
bottom horizontal lines in the samples were made while flexing – but my need
for flexing is minor compared to my desire for a fine, smooth line that I can
get without dipping into a bottle.
If I apply very little pressure to the posting nib, it feels
almost like a soft graphite pencil. In my sketches, I love the way I could draw
fine fur hairs on the koalas (above) and the downy head feathers on the baby robin (below).
From the front, the posting nib looks like any other nib.
Its distinctive characteristic can be seen only in profile: It curves slightly
toward the paper. I’m guessing that curve somehow affects the nib’s smooth
performance (although its claw-like appearance led me to expect the opposite!).
|Posting nib - front view|
|Posting nib - side view|
Contrary to what it was designed for, I’ve been using the
posting nib to sketch only on high-quality Stillman & Birn sketchbook
papers and my usual 140-pound Canson XL watercolor paper. It occurred to me,
though, that if the nib is intended for use with cheap, thin paper (newsprint,
for heaven’s sake!), it should do well with Moleskine, Field Notes and other
notebook papers that get panned continually for being “fountain pen unfriendly”
– papers that cause fountain pens to feather, bleed and otherwise misbehave.
Although I don’t intend to sketch in Moleskine notebooks, I decided to be
thorough and test that paper anyway. The pen line on the sketch itself showed
no signs of feathering and would have been acceptable. But the reverse side of the
page was the deal-breaker: Every time my pen point paused briefly while
sketching, a dot of ink bled through. My writing at the top of the page,
however, shows little bleeding.
|Reverse side of Moleskine notebook page|
So I have nothing but good things to say about the Pilot
posting nib. The only question in my mind is, Why is it so under-rated by the general
fountain pen community? Or perhaps not so much under-rated but under-discussed?
I read a lot of forum and Facebook threads by disappointed fountain pen users complaining
about the scratchiness of their fine or extra-fine nibs; I see a lot of requests
for recommendations on “very fine but also very smooth” nibs. Various
recommendations get tossed into the ring, but I rarely (ever?) see mention of
Pilot’s posting nib. It gets my top vote for “very fine but also very smooth.”
|The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 body is identical to the one with a Falcon nib.|
I can’t see using the posting nib exclusively for sketching;
it offers no expressive character in terms of line-width variation, which my Sailor
fude pens have taught me I can’t live without. But as I learned toward the end of my Epic Search, the ideal, perfect grail can be a combination of pens, each
doing what it does best. The Pilot Custom Heritage 912 with posting nib gets a
permanent slot in my sketch bag, right next to my beloved Sailor fude.
|6/28/15 Sketched from photo with Pilot posting nib and Platinum|
Carbon ink plus watercolor on Stillman & Birn Epsilon sketchbook