Soubriquet: Briar Ebonite
Soubriquet: Briar Ebonite
BACK STORY: A few years ago, I decided I wanted to make a really big pen. I had been getting comments from customers wanting something with more girth than my other pens, and I started out by making some truly hideous, beastly prototypes. Going off the fact that I have fairly large hands, and that some of these big pens I was making weren’t comfortable to me, I quickly deduced that bigger isn’t necessarily better; They can look impressive, but unless the design is careful, most big pens tend to look big, and I don’t think that’s right. Something you hold in your hands shouldn’t look…anything, it should look neither big nor small, it should just look right. So, though I have a few of those giant pens rattling around the shop, that is where they will stay.
The Soubriquet was the evolution of my desire to get it all into a single pen: a larger pen that doesn’t look or feel “large”, an ink window, a shape that shows off layered materials well, an option for surprising color combinations, an easy filling mechanism, and the right clip. By and large, I’ve hit just about all my requirements:
CLIP: I’ve been selling optional clips off and on for the Precession model and some Chiaroscuro model pens since late 2017; With the Soubriquet, I wanted the clip to be standard.
People were asking for clips ever since the release of the Daedalus in 2014, and it took this long to get them because overwhelmingly, I was learning that it was more important to get the right clip than just **a** clip. Most of the time when you buy a pen, you either don’t notice the boring stock clip at all (because they’re commonplace) or you do notice because it’s outstandingly good (Parker® arrow) or outstandingly bad. (Ask me in person.) And for all the effort that goes into making them, you need to do them just right or not at all.
I needed something firm, accommodating, durable, easy to install and remove and which didn’t strongly affect the pen’s assembly.
The clip is made of 304 stainless steel for springiness, hardness, and durability. It won’t rust on you over time, you can bend it within obvious limits without springing, it will open up and hold onto jeans, a shirt pocket and plackets, and there is no coating to rub off.
It goes into the pen cap through a single hole, and is held in place with a single screw, the wire is thin and round, making it as visually unobtrusive as possible. It may sit slightly left or right of axial parallelism with time and use, but it’s not coming out or going anywhere, unless you take out the screw. Simple, effective.
SHAPE: I had to develop a way of repeatedly reproducing contours and tapers for this pen, and I built a special machine that only does pen tapers. Sure, CNC can do this in a snap, but I wanted something inexpensive, flexible, and easy to program. It took a while, but the result allows me to keep costs down and production high enough to get you pens that aren’t burdened with the need to pay off expensive equipment and complicated programming software.
The tapered-to-a-rounded-point barrel shape was a way to enlarge girth without adding bulkiness or back-weighting the pen. The neck of the grip section is as large as is comfortable for most hands, but for those who like an even bigger grip section, the bell shape and extra long taper gives you a reference point to slide up from so you can find the diameter you want without forcing you to hold the pen in some location that’s not your preference.
High pitch triple-start threads with a rounded profile makes gripping the pen pretty much anywhere easy and comfortable. The threads don’t feel sharp because they aren’t. I designed a custom tool that gives the threads a rounded profile, so you can squeeze the threads as hard as you want, and you won’t feel a corner or a sharp edge.
MECHANICS: About the hardest thing to do in this pen was locating the ink window (where present). Having the clear section where it is strongly curtails construction options. The thread unit and the grip section have to be precisely fitted with perfect concentricity for attachment to a clear shaft running the full length of the barrel.
The blind cap at the end on some all-wood versions is turned from a single solid piece, the wood is carefully threaded, and then turned and finished to size.
There are two hard stops for capping the pen. One on the barrel, one on the end of the grip section. Machined to a tolerance just less than the maximum deformation of the cap material, so upon capping the pen, you’ll hit a clear, obvious stop that’s very secure with no danger of damaging the pen.
FILLING SYSTEM: It’s a piston vacumatic, so you unscrew the blind cap, immerse the nib up to the section, and press the button repeatedly until the pen is full. You can fill it with one hand! I’ve wanted that in my pens for years. I actually started doing sac-based vacumatic fillers of my own design in small runs back in 2015, but I was never completely satisfied with the feel of the push button. These are smooth and comfortable.
Essentially, a spring loaded piston pushes air out of the ink reservoir through a breather tube in the ink feed faster than ink can escape, and through repeated cycles, you can displace all the air in the pen with ink. It holds about 1.5ml and there are no ink sacs to wear out. If you ever get around to wearing out the Buna-N o-ring, send it back to the guy who designed it (me), and you shall be taken care of.
NAME: For a pen that fulfilled so many design requirements, I wanted a name that addressed that. At first I was stumped, but using my prototype all the time and taking it everywhere, meeting new people who saw it and used it, I thought about how we can know a person without knowing their name; a name can be significant, but the presence of a name, and the knowledge of a name are not, so, Soubriquet.
Cap length: 2 ⅝
Cap diameter: .6
Barrel length from section edge to tip: 4 ¼
Thread unit to section edge: 1
Minimum diameter of grip section: ⅜
Barrel overall diameter: 17/32
Capped length: 5 ¾