Notes:

  • I value what my customers have to say, and though hearing about a good experience obviously makes me happy, I learn the most from hearing about unpleasant or disappointing ones. So I post any reviews I find. Good or bad. 
  • If it suits you, don't forget to have a look at the Pinterest page or the YouTube channel!
  • These reviews are in roughly chronological order, beginning around the end of 2014. 

Sometimes I get emails from customers that read similarly to reviews. I post those HERE. And they are edited only for relevancy. That is, if someone starts talking about split pea soup, for example, I cut that. 

 

Leigh Reyes: "Desiderata: Are these the flex pens you’re looking for?"

N.B. I reproduced this post in its entirety because it has the most comprehensive discussion, photographs, and model choices I presented up until its point of publication. 

I first heard of this project when Pierre asked me and many others to answer a survey designed to help him come up with a flex pen. We heard back from him in May, when he emailed us looking for a focus group. By July 2014, he’d sent us pictures of his prototypes. Desiderata Pens opened in November.

Essentially, what Pierre did was fountain pen housing for the Zebra G nib. G nibs are used for manga, but in recent years have been widely adopted by calligraphy and lettering artists for their expressiveness and line variation.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Hey, that sounds familiar.” You’d be right. This isn’t untrodden territory. Ackerman Pump Pens have been around since 2007 or so, and the designs have gone through several iterations since then. What’s remained constant is the pump mechanism, which lets thicker media like India ink, diluted gouache, etc. to be “forced” to the nib.

Desiderata pen models have no such mechanism, and are really fountain pens with disposable nibs, meant to be used with fountain pen ink.

The Daedalus and Mercury models were interesting, but what made me curious enough to order was the one-off Woodglass. Part wood and part acrylic, it was a “wooden demonstrator fountain pen” that I couldn’t wait to try. I decided to add a Mercury in koa wood to the order, so I would have one to play with while Pierre finished making the Woodglass pens.

I am Groot

I am Groot

The Mercury design is long, more of a deskpen or an artist’s brush length rather than a standard fountain pen. I like it for drawing. The Woodglass is a stunner. It deserves to have a regular production run. It came with two section and trim options (black or white) and a choice of ED or sac. I’ve kept the sac version uninked, for now, and am enjoying the ED version. Both models have tiny studs on the cap that act like roll stoppers.

Mercury and Woodglass by Desiderata Pens

Mercury and Woodglass by Desiderata Pens

It works out fine, because the Mercury has a sac. I cheat a little – the nib and feed come out easily, so I just use an eyedropper to fill the sac to capacity.

The Mercury, section unscrewed from barrel

The Mercury, section unscrewed from barrel

Here’s a closer look at the nib and feed.

Zebra G nib

Zebra G nib

The feed is ebonite and looks hand-finished. Pigment inks (like my favorite Platinum Carbon Black) build up pretty quickly between the nib and feed, so regular cleaning (or even just swishing in water in between uses) is a must.

Ebonite feed (TDPC EDIT: now completely redesigned) for Zebra G

Ebonite feed (TDPC EDIT: now completely redesigned) for Zebra G

So here’s the Woodglass. The only difference between the Woodglass and the Mercury is the form. The nib, feed and section are the same. This one is currently inked with Pilot Blue Black, my new favorite ink thanks to its generous flow and water resistance.

Woodglass, eyedropper version

Woodglass, eyedropper version

This nib has been in the pen for about a week. Steel nibs do corrode, and need to be replaced often. You can often feel the corrosion at the tip – what used to draw extremely fine hairlines starts to bite into the paper too much.

Flush is flush (TDPC EDIT: now completely redesigned)

Flush is flush (TDPC EDIT: now completely redesigned)

I’m so tempted to keep this Woodglass uninked for future blog posts.

Woodglass, white section/sac filling  

Woodglass, white section/sac filling

 

Nikko G nibs don’t fit. Neither do Tachikawa G nibs. I’m sure pliers are the answer, but I don’t have time for that today. I’m more partial to the Tachikawa, to be honest. But the Zebra G is a lovely nib, too.

They look similar, but not to the Desiderata Pen Company ;)

They look similar, but not to the Desiderata Pen Company ;)

Scrub the nib and the feed with toothpaste to clean and prime both for use. Rinse very well – you don’t want any particles left in the feed channel that can obstruct ink flow. Don’t set the nib too deeply into the section. (The close-ups above show what I consider the “sweet spot” for ink flow to the nib.)

Pull out, pop back in (TDPC EDIT: Feeds now completely redesigned)

Pull out, pop back in (TDPC EDIT: Feeds now completely redesigned)

Certain inks work better than others. I’ve had a few flow issues with J. Herbin. Platinum Carbon Black is a nib killer but worth it for the brief moment that everything is perfect. (Seriously, if you use a lot of PCB in ink-and-watercolor-wash work, you need a Desiderata pen in your art case.) Pilot Blue Black flows out of the nib in eye-widening amounts and takes some getting used to – but I’m beginning to love it for drawing and calligraphy practice.

Because dragons and wood

Because dragons and wood

The sample demonstrates the kind of expressiveness and quantity of lines you can get with the pen. It’s good to not have to lose the rhythm of one’s drawing because of the need to dip every time the ink runs out. Dip pens do have the edge when it comes to the media that can be used (shellac, iridescent ink, liquid acrylic, and more).

Drawing sample

Drawing sample