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!)


Shangching CH said...

I have been looking at these pens for... a year now? Still have not purchased it. Part of reason is that I have so many dipping nibs already, can I justify getting more? The color gradient is defnitely one of the biggest attractions... back to the drawing board...
By the way, the practice looks great! Keep them coming!

On Fountain Pens said...

Oh you can do much more with these pens! Check out the colour gradients you can achieve with them

On Fountain Pens said...

And regarding guides for italic calligraphy, i'm not sure if you already know about the nib width ratio thing but you can watch this video for a quick note

Aisazia said...

I think you did good! It's not perfect but I definitely say it's a good try! I need to practice my calligraphy too. XD

GourmetPens said...

The gradient is super fun, and they're way easier than having to dip hehe. At least for this inexperienced user!

GourmetPens said...

omg that would take sooo much patience, but it looks awesome!

Peninkcillin said...

These are great pens but personally I prefer the 6mm to the 1.5mm. I have a 1.5mm italic nib on my Lamy. The 6mm is awesome for highlighting.

Don't know if you've seen my review of the Parallel but here goes...

GourmetPens said...

I've got the 6mm on my wishlist... I will likely pick it up in my next order! I don't highlight much, but I figure I should have the full set anyway!

I linked to your review, yours was one of the first I read :)

Peninkcillin said...

Oh thanks, I guess I missed the last part.

Ron Gilmour said...

Great post! I've been looking at these for a while and you just inspired me to go ahead and buy some.

Shangching CH said...

I bet the pens are just fun to play with. Thanks for the review!

GourmetPens said...

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do :D It's hard to go wrong with these, especially for the price!

Mary Collis said...

Awesome review! My planned Jetpens order has just ballooned!

GourmetPens said...

Yaay! I hope you will enjoy them :D (And share your work!)

Estivalia said...

the Parallels are my first calligraphy pens, and though they do have a learning curve (hello, smudging leftie here) those are some awesome pens. I love that you can refill the cartridges with fountain pen ink, liquid watercolors (I use a brand named Ecoline) or even the drawing inks by Rohrer & Klingner :)

And don't worry, I've been using them on and off for the padt year and my calligraphy doesn't seem to improve xD

GourmetPens said...

Whaaat liquid watercolors and drawing inks!! Done. I will totally try that. I guess that makes sense, since you can take it apart to clean.. weeee! I've been eyeing those drawing inks for awhile but had no "reason" to justify it. I will also update my "attempts" in a year. I'm sure it'll still be tragic LOL

Estivalia said...

Sorry to butt in, but I think the main difference between this and dip pens (and why you might need booth *enabler* ;) is than you don't need to re-dip the nib to get ink and so, don't run out of ink in the middle of every other other letter. It's a constant, smooth flow of ink :)

I still love dip pens for using metallic/pearlescent/pigment ink, and I look forward to adding a few more calligraphy nibs in the future :)

GourmetPens said...

Oh I haven't seen this before, thank you!

GourmetPens said...

Agreed, I'm still trying to master the art of dipping at the right times (and knowing how much ink to wipe off)... the fountain pens are so much easier to deal with for ink flow. But then I did pick up those new acrylic inks and they're BRILLIANT with dip nibs!!

JM said...

I own these parallel pens in every size. I cannot say enough good things about them. On good quality paper my letters are always crisp. The affordability of these pens has allowed me to eliminate frustrating calligraphy felt tips from my life. There is no end to color options if you refill cartridges with a syringe and have an addiction to sample bottles of ink! And, as an aside, Goulet sells them for $10 each. JM

Azizah Asgarali said...

I agree - the more I use them, the more I love them. I finally got the 6.0mm one and it may even be my favorite! They're so awesome - crisp and precise and easy to use. I always recommend them to readers who email asking for calligraphy pen suggestions!

CJ said...

hey i wanna also the same 6.0 mm one.... can u tell how can i get that???

Mariah Smith said...

Parallel Reviews (See what I did there? So clever.) <~~ THAT=awesome :) lol
Also, thank you for the review!!

Karen said...

Are they available in the UK.?

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