Friday, February 4, 2011

Noodler's Nib Creaper Rollerball and Baystate Blue

So, I recently received another quickly-delivered order from The Goulet Pen Company (no affiliation), and in this order were two unassuming packages from Noodler's Ink. Those who are familiar with Noodler's will recognize the catfish artwork. The catfish represent the act of noodling, which, if you do not already know what it is, you should just read about instead of having me explain it. It is not only hilarious, but it is also something I will never, ever do.

Within this boxes holds one of the most recent/innovative offerings to the pen and ink community, while the other is one of the most infamous and revered. I am talking about the Noodler's Nib Creaper Rollerball, which I believe has only been around for about five months, but correct me if I am wrong. 

Below it is Noodler's Baystate Blue. This ink is easily one of the most beloved and hated inks due to its vibrant color and unfriendly characteristics, such as a pH of 8-9 (alkaline) and aggressive staining properties. I have had a chance to learn about what can happen from this ink via its cousin - Baystate Concord Grape, which has permanently stained a Lamy converter. The converter not only uses purples, even though it would probably be safe to use other colors, I am just particular about putting other inks in a converter that has been stained purple.

As you can see, there is an unconventional film that rests on top of the ink. I do not know what it is, but I am guessing that it is a result of how saturated the ink is. Something about the ingredient that provides such a great contrast means requiring a component that apparently has not diluted into the ink. 

These colors are not quite accurate. This image would lead one to believe that this blue is bluer than it really is. In real life, this ink has a fair touch of something I can only describe as a neon-violet/blue. Check out Brian Goulet's color-adjusted sample of Baystate Blue here. 

Using the Nib Creaper Rollerball was great in my Rhodia notebook. The ink, pen, and paper were harmonious, and the writing experience was about as good as it can get, especially with a rollerball. I also noted that the point of the rollerball was smaller than expected. I would say it is probably a .5, but this likely just depends on what sort of paper you use. One huge problem I had was that the pen did not work after the first day of using it. I tried cleaning it out, resetting the nib and feed, and adjusting the ball tip. Nothing worked. Fortunately I had ordered a replacement tip with the pen, which was only fifty cents, but even if the replacement parts are cheap, the pen should have worked a little bit better than it did. 

I also took a cotton swab and smothered the paper with Baystate Blue. Again, the camera I am using does not accurately portray how gorgeous this ink is. Right now I am using an 8.0 megapixel Kodak, and I hope to upgrade it soon, or at least get a work light like Chris recommended over at Pens 'n' Paper.

Closeup of the bottle. All of the artwork on Noodler's ink bottles are original and unique to that particular ink.

The Nib Creaper Rollerball comes in a clear demonstrator style. While I have not had a chance to see how long the ink lasts, it looks like it holds a pretty good amount.

The clip is a basic, functional stainless steel clip. 

These rollerballs are called stylographs in the fountain pen world. They allow you to use any bottled ink you would like, which opens the doors to having a lot more fun than any other rollerball you will own. And if you keep a ballpoint around just for carbon copies, you are less likely to need one with a stylograph. I wish more companies made them. 

The piston knob is covered by a 'blind cap.' Both the front cap and blind cap are threaded and twist firmly onto the pen.The motion of the piston is somewhat clunky, but you can always take it apart and add some silicone grease to loosen it up.

Closeup of the blind cap off of the piston knob. 

After the pen did not initially write, I cleaned the whole thing out with tap water. In my other demonstrators, this will get all of the ink off, but you can see that this cap is stained and shows the blue stain in the light. You could always use an ammonia solution to get the stains out, or rubber alcohol if you do not have ammonia. 

You may find quite a few different opinions out there, but you should know that this ink is worth trying, especially if you can dedicate a pen to it as I have with this Creaper. 


  1. I'm on the fence if I should get one of these. Two things are stopping me: 1) it seems that, while cheap, Noodler's has had some quality control issues with their pens and 2) I have more than enough pens already that are not fountain pens and I should go through those first.

    I would like to offer you a photography tip if I may. Try shooting in daylight, by using the natural light that shines through a window. If the light is too strong, a transparent white curtain or piece of cloth will help diffuse it. I find I get better results this way than using a desk lamp.

  2. Though I did have the initial problem with the rollerball, it is very nice to write with now. But I do agree with you on the quality control issues.

    As for lighting, yeah, it is an ongoing struggle with the way my house faces and the short winter days, which is why I need a new light source, be it natural or otherwise. Thanks for the tips.

  3. I find my nib creaper rollerball leaks through the tip into the cap a lot. I have always initially liked all four Noodler's pens I own (piston filler, aerometric filler, flex nib and rollerball), but always find a problem crops up within a few weeks (well, I haven't owned the flex nib long enough to see that happen yet). I own several Noodler's inks that I like, and I admire Nathan for wanting to make affordable entry-level pens, but he does need to work on the quality control, I think, or he's going to defeat the purpose of those pens: to bring more people into the world of fountain pens (and Noodler's inks). .

  4. Note Booker, Esq,

    I really hope I don't end up having the same experience as you did with your rollerball. You also have a solid point on the affordable pen element of trying to get people into Noodler's pens - it's not really affordable if you have to replace components or toss the pen out.

  5. As an update to this, Nathan Tardiff recently posted a video on youtube (Infinite Calligraphy) and at the end he shows that you can use tips from salvaged water-based ink rollerballs as replacements as well. Since the replacement tip market has dried up, this is a useful note.