Dec 17, 2008

Ackerman Pen Review


Ackerman Pen Review - 5, originally uploaded by apple-pine.

I love dip pens. It's one of those tool that will have to go with me on the island if I get to pick what art supplies to grab at the last second ;)

But these are really hard to work with in the field. Sharp end of the pen can be protected by a cap - but I usually loose them by the time I am ready to draw :) So pencil holder is my solution - but current one was knitted for me by a dear friend and gets damaged easily. More important - you have to carry a bottle with ink and it's always asking to be kicked, dropped or spilled in any possible way. I've looked at different solutions to prevent disasters but it gets harder when you have a little boy with you ;)

So - not that long ago I found that Richard Bell mentioned portable dip pen, did some research and decided to spend $25 plus tax and shipping on this experiment: Ackerman Pen.

Ackerman Pen Review - 1
Please click on the image above to see notes about the cap hole.

You can see main parts of the pen here:Ackerman Pen Review - 3
Click on the image for some additional notes.

Ackerman Pen Review - 4
Image above - pen with the ink container pushed in place, before I screwed the back part on.

In Short: The pen does use a real quill - you will get the flexibility and variety of the line, spattering and all the fun you usually have with the real pen! And it is portable - I took it on a few sketching outings with me and was able to use the pen every time. So in short - I would recommend it if you are up to experimentation.

A couple of tips and words of caution before you start experimenting:

First - allow some time for you to learn how it works. I am still playing with it - but I have some tricks to get the flow smoother and the mess smaller :)

- burping: gently (gently!) moving your pen back and forth holding in writing position but parallel to the ground (imagine that it's a dart and you are aiming ;)

- turning the pen so that your index finger does not press the ink release button when you get too excited (which happens to me sometimes - and it's a good sign ;)

- tilting the pen a little so that the nib touches the paper at a little bit different angle (imagine that you are making a really fat dot o nthe paper: do not move the pen but swish it a little between the index finger and thumb to find what angle will get your ink flow again;

- carry it in a zip-lock bag. With some paper towels. I also carry some wet wipes - half-inked fingers scary people less than completely black ;)

- store it head up.

- when opening the pen - make sure to turn the pen clip so that a little hole is visible - it's a vent and by opening it you are ensuting that there is no suction motion when you remove the cap - hense your ink does not run away.

- twist the pen clip to close the hole (vent) when you are done with the pen. Keep it that way!

Second thing is - it's a work in progress pen. My first pen was a pleasure to work with but it's cap would push all the ink out the moment I put it on - so it was not working as a portable pen at all. The second pen is much better bust still from time to time I end up with all (or most) of the ink i n the cap. Now it means just a mess - but I still can do some sketching. Another thing is that shipping took quite some time. The company is about 50 miles away from me - so at some point I was even thinking about stopping by :) May be summer was really busy season - but it took them about 10 days to ship me my first pen and about the same time before I got the replacement. BUT replacement was really much better attuned, there was no need to ship my original pen until I got the replacement and there was a pre-paid envelope enclosed for my shipment back.

I had a very nice conversation with Charles Ackerman and hoping to try more of his pens in the future ;)

Ackerman Pen Review - 2

12 comments:

Donn said...

Glad you were able to get some use out of it. Mine is completely useless, except as a dip pen.
Thanks for your tips, however. Maybe I'll try again.

Laureline said...

Nina, I was glad to read that you're using your Ackerman pen and mostly liking it. I ordered some pens from them and it took MONTHS before I got them--I was so disgusted that I haven't even used them. (Which is silly of me, I know.) The other observation I have is that with all the trouble you had to take to use the pen, you might just as well have taken a regular dip pen and a bottle of ink! I took a reed pen and ink bottle to Hawaii and sketched outdoors with them. It was do-able. Of course, you need baggies and papertowels, but that's not a deal breaker, for me, at least ;D.

Apple-Pine said...

Donn;
thanks. I think it's worth a try though I understand your frustration - I abandoned the pen a few times completely. But but since I see that I come back - it looks like there is something in it for me ;)

Laura;
Thanks! I know - communication with them is quite unusual...

I am all for using the good old dip pen and still do - when I get to go and sketch and do nothing else. But mostly a little monster of 2.5 years is with me - and, believe me, - things that he does to "just look" at my ink are indescribable! In fact I am thinking about starting a series of posts about how to sketch with a kid :) If I will have enough courage, of course :)

ClaireOKC said...

Wow - thanks for the review of the pen...am experimenting with some inky ideas for my watercolors and hadn't thought of Rotring in years.

Anonymous said...

I live in South Africa, I ordered a pen over a year ago.
After 3 months I received a brush pen instead of a manga nib pen. I emailed Charles Ackerman about the problem and he advised me to keep the brush pen and he promised to send a pen with a manga nib as soon as possible. Its almost a year and I have still not received the item or not a word from Charles. This is really disgraceful business practice. I advise people not to waste their time and money on investing on something they would not even receive.

Apple-Pine said...

whoa... sorry to hear that you did not get to try your pen and about this wait :( Too bad :(

Anonymous said...

I ordered a bunch of pens from Ackerman's site. Almost a month ans still have not received the pens. If I don't hear from him in a few days after sending and email and leaving a message, I will file a complaint with Paypal (since I bought it through them).

Apple-Pine said...

uuugh. Sorry to hear about this delay.

B2-kun said...

Thanks for posting such an informative and thorough review on this Ackerman pen. After reading the other comments, it is quite an easy decision not to bother trying it. No finicky sketching tool is worth the hassle of suffering the poor service and excessively long waiting periods described by your readers.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to say that for all my love of Ackerman's pens, I have had such terrible service from him for the past three years that it takes me half an hour to tell the stories. His service is a comedy of outrageous disrespect for customers, always couched in apologies and promises.
I've spent two years trying to get him to fulfill an order. Three years trying to get him replace a pen. Six months trying to get him to replace a defective cap. And more...
When his name comes up in art circles, other similar stories get told.
I wish we could buy the pens from someone else so that we could receive them.

Anonymous said...

never ever i will order there again! he even told me, that his mom died. ne next excuse was that he had a long weekend! sorry, but that guy is completly mad!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the useful comments. Can you please explain to me how to fill the pen with ink? The pen came with instructions on this, but I couldn't understand them. I have been removing the nib and using an eyedropper to drop ink into the pen, and then replacing the nib, but I can't imagine this is the correct way. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.