One of the first aspects of this fountain pen lark to interest me was flexible nibs. These nibs give more width on the downstroke when pressure is exerted. I soon found that not many nibs are made with flex these days, especially cheaper pens. Noodler’s Nib Creaper, and their larger Ahab, are exceptions. Other low-price options are F.P.R. Dilli or Guru pens from India, or getting lucky with a vintage pen from eBay. (The Jinhao X450 is advertised as flex but is firm.) I got my Creaper from Pure Pens here in the UK for £12.50.
I really like this pen. After a few week’s use, the Creaper proved itself as a smooth writer that leaves a fine line or a pretty thick line when pushed into flexion. The flex and flow are adjustable by moving the feed and/or nib in/out of the pen. The nib and the hand-made ebonite feed are easily pulled out together for adjustment. I wish all fountain pens were like this.
I didn’t get printed instructions with my pen, but the splendid Azizah at gourmetpens.com sent me a copy of the diagrams that come with the Ahab. There is a useful video by Brian of Goulet Pens. Basically: feed out=drier. Nib out=more flex. Tip of feed nearer to nib tip=less flex and drier. The ink is also a variable!
The pen is very light so I find it’s better capped and it’s also on the small side. The length is almost conventional, but the thinness makes the pen seem small: a compact appearance. The silver ring on the grip matches the trim on the cap. I’m impressed with the design which makes it disappointing that Noodler’s give little information on their web site. Standard Flex Pen The Nib Creaper was known as the Standard Flex Pen.
The colour of Creaper I chose was the Maximilian Emerald Green Demonstrator. Demonstrator in pen terms means see-through! The translucent models are attractive to me because the ink inside can be seen clearly, hanging about, not going near the nib when you want it to. The whole width of the barrel is used for ink storage, although less than an inch of barrel exists between the feed and the piston. There are thin windows here that are transparent, like the slits on a zoetrope. The rest of the barrel is occupied by the piston control and its internal screw.
The steel (?) nib is similar to the F.P.R. Dilli in that the gap between the tines extends all the way up the nib, which you might suppose gives the possibility of enormous flex. It does, but since steel is harder than gold some pressure is needed whereby the tines separate and dig into the paper. The amount of flex increases with usage, so eventually the digging decreases. The nib also railroads (see pic) which can be minimized by matching a wet ink with a greater flow. Like flex itself, used in calligraphy, railroading also has artistic possibilities so it’s not a completely bad thing. And of course, if you are not intending to write in copperplate, then the Creaper can be used as a normal pen. Any slight flex you unintentionally induce can only make your handwriting more decorative.
Smell? I don’t normally sniff pens—maybe old paperbacks—but the recycled material called vegetal resin that Noodler’s use has put some people off. The smell was slight. After a few months it’s almost gone. I thought it was an OK scent, maybe like a warm photocopier if you remember them. Eno should write a song called Creaper Smell.
Back of the nib – no. Some pens can be used upside down but despite the generous amount of tipping material on the Creaper nib it’s scratchy when used this way and the line left on paper is not much finer. This is not “as designed” of course but sometimes it’s an option.
I put this pen in my pocket and I patted my pocket. It’s insanely good value for what you get: flex, compactness, smooth writing and a hand-cut feed made of hard rubber, not plastic. Another keeper.