2. Variations on the following:
What if you're out of stock of what I wanted? When will you have it again? YOUR STORE IS EMPTY! MY MONEY IS BURNING A HOLE IN MY POCKET, AND YOU'RE NOT GIVING ME ANYWHERE TO PUT IT!!!!!!!!
How often is this FAQ updated?
Last update: July 25, 2018.
What if you're out of stock of what I wanted? When will you have it again?
I'm always working on making products better, making them more efficiently, so when there are gaps in availability, that's why. Sign up for the mailing list! That way you'll be sure to hear about when items are available again.
But, if something is out of stock, I cannot guarantee when–or even if–I will continue making or restocking that item. So, if you see something you like, get it while you can. Because there isn't continuous manufacture and there is a lead time in production, sell outs can occur.
In this one-man show, these pens are made by hand, in-house, by one person: me. If you can't buy something at a given moment, just sit patiently and try not to send me too many excited, panicked emails. (One is welcome.)
A "I really like X, would you consider making this in the future?" email is fine. An "OMG, why don't you make more pens? Why can't you reach into your secret pouch and pull out more of what I want? What's TAKING YOU SO LOOOOOOOOONG!?!?!??!?!" email makes me sigh and shake my head.
How are you doing this?
I've successfully designed a system that allows the user to insert a flexible, disposable steel dip nib–the Zebra G–into a fountain pen, allowing dipless, free-flowing writing with the security of an ink reservoir in a modern pen design.
Why should I buy a fountain pen designed around a disposable nib?
Desiderata Pens are built around having this functionality, but a Desiderata provides you with an easy-to-use flex option. You're not obligated to get a steel flex nib as the primary writing point. But if you want flex, the main nib I use (Zebra G) is easy to use, very flexible, and comes at a cost low enough that you don't have to worry about breaking the bank if you break the nib.
Thanks to my proprietary handmade feed design which keeps up with high flow nibs, and my nib collars, you can get a pen with your choice of stainless steel (or maybe gold!) nibs and you have the option of simply unscrewing the nib unit from the grip section, and screwing in another one that you might want.
My pens are all accept the screw-in nib unit for the industry standard "JoWo #6". (JoWo is a company that makes nibs for pen manufacturers around the world, and #6 is their indication of its size.) And if you have an existing nib unit that you either bought or had customized, you can use that as well.
So, if you want daily, unrelenting usage of a tried-and-true workhorse nib AND easy use of one of the best flex nibs in the world, order a pen with a steel flex nib, and get a stainless steel nib–which you can swap–to go with it, and you can really have the best of both worlds all in one pen.
Still not convinced?
If you want a fountain pen that gives you high performance writing capability, and you don't want to be anchored to an inkwell, or spend huge amounts of money, and you don't want to feel bad about accidentally breaking a vintage pen, this is your best compromise.
As a fountain pen user interested in flexible writing, I scoured the market for years to find that there is no single, perfect, stainless steel option. As of this writing (2018) there are still no ideal options. Here are the [updated since 2014] options I did find:
- An inexpensive modern incarnation of a stainless steel flex pen.
I love the company that makes these. Know who I'm talking about? What's the problem? Performance. Compared to what dip nibs or flexible gold nibs can do, the same flexion requires a lot of pressure, or extensive user modification, but–though I've seen good results–it is a time consuming, and potentially frustrating process for someone primarily interested in writing and not tinkering/modifying/engineering. I've been there, done that, and threw in the towel. Personally, I'd much rather build something that I want rather than try to modify something else.
Second most common option:
- Vintage flex pen.
These can work quite well, but their main issue stems from being both out of production for a long time, and being, de facto, in low supply, and as such, they can be very expensive. Especially the good ones. They are also often highly demanded by collectors, driving the price up further. Because parts are no longer made, if you drop or break it, most likely the only way to have it serviced is to send it to one of a small few reputable pen repairers. You pay for that specialty, and the lead time for such repairs can be huge (I've heard 8 months quoted). And knowing this, you have to treat the pen with kid gloves. This might not be something you want.
Furthermore, let's suppose you decide to buy a vintage pen, you have three options:
- Go to a reputable dealer (of which there are several) and pay for a hand-picked, refurbished or repaired fountain pen that does exactly what you want to be able to do, and pay the premium price.
- You can go to an auction platform, and, hoping to find a bargain, start buying vintage pens sight-unseen until you find your gem. And once you've found it, sell off the ones you didn't want.
- Start going to estate sales, garage sales, and old stationery stores hoping to find your new favorite pen.
I did all of those things, and at the end of the day, I found some pens that I was happy about, but I also burned a lot more money and time than I am comfortable admitting.
I figured I couldn't be the only person who didn't like that route, so I started this business hoping you'd appreciate the chance to avoid that hassle.
- A modified permanent nib.
When I say "permanent nib", I mean nibs made of non-consuming materials, so stainless steel or gold.
There are a few craftsmen/artisans/nibmeisters/geniuses who have become adept at taking existing non-flex permanent nibs and modifying them (cuts, grinds, reshaping, etc.) through dark magic to achieve increased flexibility.
This is outstanding development, but the fundamental problem is the same as from the first example, above: the time and money that goes into doing the modification does two discrete things: It increases the cost of the item (because the dark magician wants to be paid for his/her time) and it increases the value of the item (because lots of time and dark magic went into its creation).
Your new, modified nib can't just be replaced if you drop it, spring it (over flex it), flush it down the drain when cleaning it, or if it gets lost or stolen. (Flex is new to many people, and these caveats are a significant source of flex nib casualties.) A new one would have to be re-fabricated, just for you. And you buy the nib, and the work that goes into the nib, and if this is your second one, like it or not, you've materially increased the cost of your pen. Repairs and replacements add up every time.
Technically, such a nib can be replaced, and this could be an option for you, but you owe it to yourself to compare the cost of a modified nib with the cost of a replaceable steel nib (approx $2 each and often, much less) and do a projection of what you expect might happen over the entire lifetime of the pen.
(Quick napkin math: Posit you get your steel nibs at $1 each, and you can get two weeks out of one (not hard if you take care of it); If you damage an $85 modified stainless steel nib, that's equivalent of over three years of usage with the steel.)
Still, why should I pay money to buy a pen that uses disposable nibs?
Suppose you get your super high performance fountain pen with a flexible permanent nib. (You could go vintage, or buy a modern pen with a non-flex permanent nib and either have it specially modified, or get a nib that's already been modified.)
There is a learning curve to using such a nib; In the right hands, one of these pens can create stunning work. In the wrong hands, they're surprisingly easy to destroy. (Again, been there, done that.)
Here are some useful comparisons.
- Rare, super flexible Waterman 7 with pink nib wet noodle: >$600
- Modified steel flex nib (just the nib alone): $70 and up
- Desiderata Flex Pen: Starts at $85.
- Vintage Pen: ONE nib choice.
- Desiderata Pens: Multiple interchangeable nib units. See below.
- Desiderata Pens: 21 day return/replacement for defects in writing function, and lifetime support, repair, replacements, help and other pep talks from the guy who designed and built the damn thing himself. (Me.)
- Vintage Pen/Modified nib sellers: No returns or warranties to speak of; You buy it, you own it, good luck.
Can I read the manual?
What are your nib choices?
Zebra G. This is a terrific starter nib for someone who has used a modern semi-flex steel nib and wants to get their feet wet and see what a flex fountain pen can really do. It has the mildest learning curve and greatest flexibility (double entendre) of all the nibs I've tested. It's chrome plated for extended life. An all-around great nib. Flex from about .2mm to 2.5 mm comfortably and you can push it to about 3mm at the most. I've pushed mine further, but at some point, the nib starts to peel too far away from the ink feeder.
Pilot Extra Fine. This is a smooth stainless steel nib that writes with a line width that's about .2mm wide. Not flexible.
JoWo #6 F. This is a smooth stainless steel nib that writes with a line width that's about .4-.5mm wide. Not flexible.
Nemosine .6 Italic. This is a smooth stainless steel nib that writes with a line width that's about .6mm wide. Not flexible.
Affordable flex?! These prices seem a little high to be called "Affordable"
Affordable/inexpensive when compared with pens of comparable performance (flexibility, ease of flexion, quickness of returns, smoothness):
- Vintage flex: $120+
- Binderized Namiki Falcon: $245
- Desiderata flex: $85.
I originally went into business to make pens that were even lower cost than I offer, but running a business and making creative objects don't necessarily self-align the way one might expect. I make the pen bodies, the feeds, and except for the consumables (o-rings, sacs, screws, springs, nibs, etc.) all the other internal parts.
I started out making all the parts of my pens by hand with a tiny little lathe in my office, and my hands were tired all the time. Now I've got a much bigger office, and my hands are less tired, and I can offer better quality, much more consistent pens (and feeds). That was not a cheap endeavour, but right now, if you purchase a pen, you'll be getting the best quality, handmade-in-America fountain pens with the greatest variety of writing point options and filling systems at the lowest price available.
Remember, I love fountain pens too; I can stand behind my work because I know what's out there.
For the wooden pens, the biggest issue with cost is labor, as these have the most parts and the most arduous finishing process. Unlike with hardly any other medium, there are no shortcuts, and the process can't be rushed.
Premium woods such as Cocobolo, Ebony, Lignum Vitae, etc. are very expensive/hard to come by, and pens made from them must have that reflected in their prices.
Do you own or have you ever owned a vintage pen?
Of course! In addition to other less flexible pens, I used to have a Waterman 12 eyedropper, a couple of Waterman 52s, Mabie Todd Swans, a Blackbird, a Moore Maniflex, a Waterman Commando, and for five glorious hours, I was the highest bidder on Ebay for a Waterman 7 with pink nib until I got out bid by double.
Do I still own any vintage pens? Just a couple. I sold the others to start this company!
I came across a few broken Watermans once and cobbled the parts together to make a Frankenpen I pull out from time to time. I still keep that. However, I find that I don't use it much because my Desiderata pens work just as well, and I won't feel thunderstruck if one of them gets lost or damaged.
How do your pens perform?
Check out my YouTube Channel, there are writing samples by various users.
Ok, you've sold me on one of these pens with disposable nibs. How do I take care of it and how long do I have before I have to replace it?
If you want to get the most out of your pen's nib, there is no substitute for pulling the nib out and clean it after each use, like a dip pen. Do that, and your nib could last for months. This is the whole story. It gets a bit in the weeds, but it's the truth.
This is a sample of how much flex I got before I sprung the nib. This is a $3 nib, so no harm done. Imagine if this had happened with a vintage gold nib!
Can I use other nibs in it?
Besides the obvious JoWo #6 screw-in nib units
Yes and no. Each section/feed was designed to fit a specific nib (or set of nibs I list), and other nibs may fit, but I only guarantee success with the nibs I cite. If you damage your pen by forcing a non-sanctioned nib, that is at your peril.
My attitude is: I designed this to work a certain way, and I don't like using products for a purpose other than that for which they were designed. This is not a tinkerer's pen. That said, once you buy it, it's yours.
The Zebra G nib and section can handle: Nemosine and Goulet nibs. (Other #6 nibs will probably fit too, but I can't guarantee that because I probably haven't tested every single one available.)
You can wiggle a Brause Rose nib into the Zebra G nib unit, but you'll need to heat set it (ask me how) and it might feel a little loose. If you have an interest in that nib being offered as a more permanent option, let me know that, too.
The Pilot XF requires a different nib collar (that I make) for best fit.
Can I get a replacement feed/section?
Sometimes. I've been making changes and improvements over the years, and depending on the pen you have for which you need a feed, I may not be able to guarantee that any nib I send you will fit appropriately. Email me and I'll work with you.
How do the nib and feed fit into the pen?
How do I take care of the pen body?
- An ebonite pen: Keep it out of the sunlight to minimize fading.
- Acrylic: Hold onto it. Keep it out of the sunlight so the clear doesn't yellow.
- Galalith: Hold onto it: Don't soak it in water.
- Wooden pen care.
What is the feed made of?
My handmade flex pen feeds are ebonite, others are plastic.
How much ink can it hold?
Quite a bit. Pens with sacs can usually hold about 3ml. Daedalus eyedropper holds about 3.5-4ml. For more details, if it's not on the pen's product listing, please email me, and I'll let you know.
What kind of ink should I use?
Fountain pen ink. India Ink, for sure, will clog the feed after a few minutes. (But it's a great few minutes!) If that's what you want to do, do so knowing this, only do writing one session at a time, and just be prepared to clean it out every few minutes. If India Ink is a big deal to you, email me, and we'll talk.
If the flex nib is being used without flex, then nearly anything can work well. An unflexed nib here is like an extra fine firm nib, and you have a lot of freedom. For flex, I bought some of this Canson artist's stuff at a Michael's. It is 96gsm and though it has a very strong texture, (not super smooth) it handles every ink with aplomb; Baystate Blue included. No feathering. But it is unlined. Tomoe river can take anything as well, but as of this writing, it is also unlined. Fabriano recycled paper is affordable, and wonderful for shading, but it's not terribly smooth. My personal favorite, the gold standard, is Clairefontaine. Schin Loong used Rhodia to great success.
Inks? This is a personal choice, and it depends on what you want to do with your pen. That is, variety is the spice of life. And as such, you can't ignore Noodler's Ink. If you're drawing and are using huge swells, or going very fast, you need a wet, viscous ink that will stretch across the tines to avoid railroading and keep up. Noodler's BBH, or probably any lubricated ink of the same company should do just fine for you. One user is very happy with platinum Carbon Black, but in my experience it can be a little hard starting. The Iroshizuku inks I have work great. (Kon Peki, Ku Jaku.) If you're interested in just flex writing or calligraphy, provided you watch the ink stream across the tines and gauge your speed accordingly, most fountain pen inks will work. If you are interested in shading inks, you'll need to make sure your nib/feed is arranged so that you get less ink flow, otherwise shading won't have much of a chance to happen. The same setting that will enable shading will also encourage railroading if you go too fast. That's the nature of what you're doing–you just want to reduce flow to the nib enough to allow shading, but not so much that you get railroading. It's a fine balance that depends on your writing style, the ink and the paper. You may want to experiment.
In my experience, "wet" inks (like those mentioned above) work fine, dry inks (fountain pen friendly iron galls such as Salix and Scabiosa are the ones that come to mind at the moment) are great for getting the best "hairlines", but they might want to railroad a bit more than others. Key point: watch the ink work while the nib is flexing.
Users have had reported great success with:
(Not a conclusive list)
- Noodlers: Black
- J. Herbin: Lie de Thé, 1670 Rouge Hematite
- Sailor: Oku-yama, Yama-Dori
- Akkerman: Shocking Blue
- Waterman: Tender Purple
- Montaverde: Café
- Iroshizuku: Yama-Budo
Users have reported problems with these:
- Waterman Mysterious Blue (abrupt caesura)
This is a Fountain Pen Network thread devoted to inks for flex pens, and I think it's really helpful.
Where do you ship, and what shipment methods do you use?
Have a look here.
Do you take PayPal?
As of December 2016, yes!
Do you accept custom or preorders?
Not right now, but write me an email. "Never say never" they say.
How are your pens made?
Very carefully by me. They are produced using a system I call "small batch processing" which you could say is a delicate cross between "mass production" and one-off custom manufacturing.
The pens that I make are machined, not injection molded or cast.
Production is done manually, that is, not computerized (CNC).
The feeds I make are machined out of ebonite.
All design, engineering, development, customer support, fulfillment, purchasing, and production is done by me.
What are your ethics policies with regards to rare/endangered woods and sustainability?
The exotic woods in the pens I carry were purchased once, in a large quantity before the opening of my company. At the time, I bought them trusting that I was buying sustainably harvested woods from a respectable source, however, after further research, I discovered that one wood, Zebrawood, was on the IUCN threatened list. I exhausted my supply of that, and didn't buy that wood again.
I have spoken with the distributor of the woods I bought (not the retailer, but the people they buy from) and they informed me that:
1. They have a strong interest to ensure the species they import are legal to obtain in the country of origin, and legal to sell or trade in the country of sale because:
2. The Lacey Act of 1900 and the amendment in 2008 make it possible for the US government to prosecute for selling product that is legal to sell or trade in the US, but illegal to obtain from the original country. This affects them, and anyone else who deals with exotic woods.
I love Ebony, Cocobolo, and other foreign woods, and I want them to be available forever. The distributor let me know that when his people are offered suspicious opportunities like Ebony at $8 a board foot (!) for example, they don't take them because:
1. Again, buying CLEARLY illegally obtained product could lead to them losing their import license and effectively ruining them
2. More importantly, it's unsustainable; purloined wood contributes to the eradication of a wonderful species of wood that no one wants to see go extinct
I have good cause to believe that the woods I bought were obtained legally and sustainably. I did my best to get to the bottom of the story about where my woods come from, but I didn't see the tree get chopped down, and I didn't see the farm whence it came. So just to play it safe, once I exhaust my remaining supply of the exotic woods I have that are listed as endangered or threatened, I will not be buying any more of these woods.
If this matter concerns you, I encourage you to do research on the wood you're interested in. Believe it or not, but in many of the cases of a species' endangerment, export is not the main cause–it's a combination of:
- Deforestation resulting in a reduction of the species' natural habitat
- Unsustainable local removal for building projects
- Black market cutting/theft like that Ebony at $8 per board foot, for example.
New to fountain pens. Correct nib for copperplate? Spencerian? Ornamental Penmanship?
I strongly recommend you spend some time on IAMPETH.com and get a sense of how serious you are/might be, and email me. There is a bottomless well (or Tower of Babel, if you prefer) of time and effort you can spend on this kind of thing.
How do you suggest I clean a nib?
Could you have a look at this YouTube Playlist? There are videos on how to do exactly that.
My package should have been here by now! Where is my package?
I don't leave boxes sitting around my shop. Once the mailing labels are printed, I box them, and put them in the mailbox or take them to the post office. If it's been a LONG time (10 days for Int'l Priority, 5 days for Int'l Priority Mail Express), and your order still hasn't come in, call this number: 1+ (800) 222-1811 and we might be able to get a refund. But don't hold your breath. USPS does high volume, and they treat this issue like an insurance company. Have you ever tried to get money out of an insurance company?
If the tracking info isn't being updated, I don't have much I can tell you, and I don't think they will either, sadly. I might be able to tell you if any other packages I shipped that day arrived, but that depends on what other orders shipped that day.
USPS is great, often, but that doesn't mean that it's perfect, or that there aren't delays from time to time. Why even use USPS? For the weight of packages we deal with here, costs are prohibitive everywhere else.
If you want to try opening a claim for the guaranteed service not being delivered, you can try here:
USPS has a time frame for when a claim can be filed. Unfortunately, if the tracking data hasn't been updated by the postal worker on the floor (if I take them into the post office, they get scanned because I can see the worker do it, but if I put them in the mailbox, they might not get scanned by the carrier, and likely you'll have no tracking info for days and days and days, and then mysteriously, the package arrives at your door) we're both at the mercy of the mail system.
How do I email you?
I notate the company contact information near the bottom of the About page, right before the "Subscribe" box. I'm sorry for the rigmarole. It's just active spam avoidance.