Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Brush Pen Review: Sailor Fude Nagomi Standard Model in Warbler Green- Honzukuri Hair

This is a pretty special calligraphy pen.  First of all, it's got a name so long it's a little like trying to talk around a mouth full of marbles, a name that might require a bit of unpacking.  This pen, the Sailor Fude Nagomi Brush Pen - Standard Model - Honzukuri Hair - Uguisu (Bush Warbler Olive Green) Body, is made by Sailor, a Japanese pen company.  The pen itself was designed by the calligrapher Ryofuka, and the Standard Model refers to the color choice of the pen's body (Standard Models are based off traditional Japanese colors, Ryofuka Models are colors chosen by Ryofuka).   The Honzukuri hair refers to the synthetic fibers that make up the brush itself, and Uguisu is a reference to the specific color of the pen's body.  So we're talking about an olive green nylon bristled brush pen produced by Sailor and designed by Ryofuka to more closely emulate traditional calligraphy pens.  Although that doesn't sound particularly unusual, I really think this pen is something special.

Before we get to the pen and packaging, I should state that this pen was sent to me care of Jetpens for the purposes of review.  There were no strings attached, no special requests, just that I review the pens, which I'm plenty happy to do.  Whatever I write here is my unbiased opinion, based upon years of art and illustration experience, as well as years of reviewing art supplies for this blog.  If you're interested in having me review pens for you or your shop, please email me the details and we can talk shop.

I've had some difficulty finding Sailor (other than fountain pens) products in the US, but Jetpens carries a pretty decent selection of them.  I'm already a big fan of their Mitsuo Aida pen, which I've reviewed before, so I was really excited to get my hands on the Nagomi with the Honzukuri Hair.

The Packaging

The packaging reminds me a little of skin care packaging- it's calm, elegant, and a lady is smiling at me from the corner.  The package is fairly minimal- a thin, self sealing plastic envelope with a piece of paper inside in addition to the pen.

The package is written entirely in Japanese, but there're a couple things even I can understand- the size of the pen tip (large) and the suggested method for holding the pen.

The instructions, neatly folded within the slim plastic packaging, demonstrate the correct way to hold a brush like this.  I'll be ignoring those instructions, calligraphy and inking are not always one and the same, and I don't have the practice necessary to ink the way I want to while correctly holding this pen.  I'll have to just hope that this well designed pen works just as well when held improperly as it does when held correctly.

The Pen Itself

The Sailor Fude Nagomi is simply a lovely, well weighted pen that twirls easily in my fingers.  It's a little longer than other fude pens I've used, with beautiful contrasting contouring once the cap is removed.  It's designed to be held a certain way, but let's face it, I've never held a pencil, let alone a pen, correctly in my entire life, so all I can do is hope that the contouring doesn't fight my grip.  This isn't the fault of the pen, but the fault of the artist, namely, me.

The bristles are nylon, the warbler green elegant, and this definitely feels more like a legitimate calligraphy pen than the other nylon bristled pens I've used in the past.  By comparison, those are rough, stocky, utilitarian and a bit ugly, even the Pentel Kirari.  This pen is classy, and it encourages me to wax poetic, even on this fairly straight laced art process and art supply review blog.  The olive green plastic body is flecked with bits of gold glitter, and there's gold foil writing on the body of the pen.  The body itself has a bit of heft, especially when compared to my Pentel Kirari (that has a brand new ink cartridge, by the way), and I can't help how much of that is ink and how much of that is well planned designed.  This pen feels less like a disposable fude pen, and more like an actual art tool.

For this initial test, it seemed like the Nagomi Honzukuri Hair Brushpen handled tight curves quite well, but seemed to quickly fuzz out into drybrush for larger turns.  I'm personally not a fan of drybrush, but I know many, many artists who really enjoy it, so the Nagomi Honzukuri Hair brushpen might be something you guys want to check out for yourselves.  Of course, I didn't want to make any real decisions until the field test.

Of course, since I am testing a brush pen for this review, I had to pull out another brushpen for comparison.  I grabbed my Pentel Kirari, which, let's face it, is just a pink Pentel Pocket Brush, which seems to be the traveling artist's standard.  In my opinion, the Nagomi Honzukuri Hair brush seems to be much better designed than the Pentel Pocket Brush.  The Nagomi balances so well in the hand, especially considering it's a disposable brush pen.  The Nagomi is much longer than the Kirari, and compared to the Nagomi, the Kirari is stumpy and awkward.  The Nagomi's brush is smaller than the Kirari's and the grip is contoured to better fit in the hand.  The Kirari doesn't come with a clip, but it does come with a little knob on the cap, to prevent the pen from rolling when the cap is in place.

The Field Test

Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for you, the Sailor Fude Nagomi is VERY prone to drybrushing, but even that it does elegantly.  It handles controlled, tight spirals with ease, but larger swirls quickly break up into white noise, at least in preliminary tests.

When inking, however, this pen REALLY holds its own.  Rather than giving me white noise and dry brush, the pen holds together well, giving me a huge variety of beautiful lines.  This pen is seriously a joy to ink with- if you're like me and you DISLIKE the tendency to drybrush that comes from other nylon bristled brush pens, I seriously recommend you give the Nagomi with Honzukuri Hair a shot.  It definitely took me by surprise.  Just keep in mind that just like with any nylon bristled brushpen, tight corners can cause the pen to flick.

If you ARE looking for that soft drybrush effect, try inking looser and faster with the Nagomi.  I tend to ink fairly slowly and tightly, which gave me the controlled lines I wanted.

The Verdict

Even if the inking style isn't my cup of tea (and it is, by the way), I am most definitely interested in seeing more of the Sailor Fude Nagomi line.  It seems that all of the pens in this line, regardless of tip type, are equally well designed, and I can't wait to get my hands on more of them.  I simply love the Sailor Mitsuo Aida's nibs and ink, and I'm excited to see more fude pen offerings from Sailor.  Sailor products can be a bit difficult to find in the US, but Jetpens carries a decent selection of them, and they carry the Fude Nagomi line, so if you're as intrigued by these pens as I am, you should get to ordering!

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