Friday, June 29, 2012

Review: Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens: 1.5 mm, 2.4 mm, 3.8 mm

At some point, I think every avid stationery fan looks at their handwriting and wonders, how can I improve this? For myself, I have been curious about and awestruck by calligraphy. Since there are many entry level calligraphy pens on the market (depending on your idea of entry level anyway), I really did not know what to pick. Fortunately I follow Gentian who is obviously a calligraphy master so I had a little chat with her about the pros and cons of various calligraphy pens. I was considering the following:
In the end, I selected the Pilot Parallel calligraphy pens!
Pilot Parallels
Stickers label the nib sizes. Don't lose them!
Pilot Parallel Nibs
Very cool nibs though.
Pilot Parallel Nibs
The packaging is very simple, not that you would expect much for $12.00 apiece. Along with the pen, you get two Pilot ink cartridges, a metal cartridge for flushing the pen (not for filling with ink - it may not produce a tight seal enough to prevent leakage!), a nib plate cleaner, and a little set of instructions and an introductory guide to calligraphy. In fact, for the price, this is a lot of stuff. The guide has proven to be more useful to me than many calligraphy books I have looked at! It's simple and straightforward, just what this beginner user needs.
Pilot Parallel Guides
The guide is great and simple!
Pilot Parallel Nib Cleaner
Nib plate cleaner.
Pilot Parallel
The rest of the parcel.
The Pilot Parallel pens are all kind of cheap/thin-feeling plastic, except for the metal plates that make up the nib. Again, for the price, I expected this and it does not make the pen write badly! Therefore, I overlooked this in my decision process. They are long pens that taper to a rounded point at the back, and have a threaded cap with a little wing on them. I'm not sure why they are so long, and it kind of annoys me when I'm trying to fit them into my pencil case, but it does not affect the pen's weight for writing. The cap cannot be posted, but the length of the pen compensates for that.
Pilot Parallel Tops
Very pretty pens! es. I have ink all over my fingers and somehow, on my hand.
Ink flow in these pens is good, consistent, and wet. It doesn't flow too much, and seems to be well adjusted for when the nib is in contact with paper. I love wet fountain pens! The ink flow of these is ideal for my tastes.
Pilot Parallel Tip
Close up of the detail. 
A very interesting feature of these pens, and something that helped convince me to pick these over the other choices, is that the ink can be blended from pen to pen to produce a very neat and unique gradient. Instructions to do this are on the pamphlet, but basically, you take two pens and touch the nibs together to transfer ink. The resulting gradient is really neat.
Pilot Parallel Lines
Check out the gradient! It's not very exciting with just red and black but you can get this awesome pack of mixable colors!
Another nice feature of these pens is that you can use the nib as per usual to achieve lines of 1.5 mm, 2.4 mm, or 3.8 mm. You can also turn the nib on its side and use the corners to draw very thin, delicate lines. To be able to have thick calligraphy lines and thin little lines from the same nib is really cool. This is another thing that convinced me to pick these pens over the others.
Pilot Parallel Side
Side view. 
Apparently the Pilot CON-20 and Pilot CON-50 converters will fit this pen. I do not have a Pilot CON-50 to test this out with, but I do have a Pilot CON-20, and it fits just like the cartridges.
Pilot Parallel Converter
A CON-20 converter will allow you to refill with any of your own inks!
To play around, I followed the guide that came with the pens. It's very easy to understand and straight forward - just what I needed. At first, I just messed around to get used to the pen, the ink flow, and the nib. Then I settled down and took me time and concentrated. Despite my best efforts, I still produced choppy letters that were uneven and not uniform. Practice makes perfect, I hope. It sure is fun to look at the page after and think, I did that?? Even if it's not perfect, it's still really cool.
Pilot Parallel Samples
Please don't laugh. I was trying. 
I have learned that good quality paper can improve the performance of these pens. They write okay on "normal" paper, although the ink feathers and bleeds because it's so wet. With smooth, ink tolerant paper, the lines are crisper and cleaner, and the overall look of the lettering is superior - in this case, I used my Rhodia Reverse Book.
Pilot Parallel Practice
Kinda pretty...
Pilot Parallel Practice
Wow. What a disaster. And a failure.
Pilot Parallel Practice
A wee bit better, right? I did some letters with the flat of the nib, and others with the side (hairline letters).
Pilot Parallel Practice
It looks cooler in person, I swear.
Pilot Parallel Practice
I had fun doing the last set of letters!
Pilot Parallel Gothic
I have to work on consistency and uniformity. And alignment.
Pilot Parallel Gothic
Yeah... still needs a lot of practice. 
Pilot Parallel Italic
Italic... pretty and fairly simple.
Pilot Parallel Gothic
Gothic was more difficult and more time consuming, and clearly needs the most work. 
Parallel Reviews (See what I did there? So clever.)
AltecGreen via FPN
Diana Trout

JetPens - $12.00

I am very happy with these calligraphy pens. I think they are so easy to use, easy to clean pens that produce lovely, clean lines. In my opinion, they are a good price for all the things you get in each package, and for what you can do with them. I highly recommend these to beginner calligraphers, although I suspect there are a lot of professional calligraphers who would recommend these as well, especially given their price point. I am going to pick up the 6.0mm Parallel pen as soon as possible.

**A portion of these pens were purchased using a generous sponsorship by JetPens, but all opinions are my own! (Even if I wasn't sponsored, I'd have bought them anyway!)


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