I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the Ackerman Pump Pen, but in my search for a “compactible” pen to draw with I found these guys. I love dip pens nibs for the flexibility they have when moving them around the page, and the varying line width in a single stroke. But they’re messy buggers and you also have to carry a bottle of ink with you if you plan to sketch outdoors. As much as I would love a fountain pen (only coz they look so cool and shiny) the nibs are too stiff and line width too fine to give me the depth and flexibility that I like. I could embrace them but I feel their limitations may change my style and approach to drawing. In my search I came across the Pump Pen and it seems to answer my prayers.
So without further ado, here is my first review of the pen. I say first review because I only took time to see if it worked, and have not taken it with me on a sketch outing or used it on any artwork. So I guess you could say I just took it for a spin around the block. Therefore my review may seem a little harsh, but I’m hoping, and I’m also quite confident, that once I get the hang of it, as I did with my dip pen & nib, I will settle quite comfortably into using my pump pen.
Essentially it is like any other modern pen, with the body acting as the reservoir for the ink (and yes, it can take Indian ink – BONUS!). The nib is basically your own nib, in my case, the Hunt 101 Imperial, the same nib I would use for my dip pen. And sitting underneath it is a feeder that comes with the pen or nib unit.
Firstly, I waited a looong time to receive it. I dont know much about the company but when I ordered the pen there was a backlog of orders. I think it was a case of a small home grown business taking off BIG time. Which is a good thing for them, and I hope they have sorted out all that yucky business end of things by now.
I bought a pump pen that came with a Manga G nib, and a Hunt 101 Nib Unit (for my Imperial nib). I’m not sure if I should have “dicked” around with the feeder underneath the Manga nib as I couldn’t get it back in the pen – but the instructions said I could remove it when filling the reservoir. But once I did that the feeder kept slipping out and interferring with the actual nib. I stabbed myself in the finger too trying to fix it, and I think I have given myself a 2mm tattoo! So I gave up on that one and attached my Hunt 101 Nib Unit.
I’m not the greatest at reading instructions, so after attempt No. 3 I slowly read the very simple instructions on how to fill the reservoir. You stick the pen in the ink bottle and twist the bit on the end of the pen to draw the ink up. Not hard in itself, but it was a little impractical, especially withdrawling jet black ink from a little bottle that is coloured black from the ink (W&N 30ml). I couldn’t see if the entire nib was sitting in the ink, so had to keep taking it out to see if it was working. They do tell you once the bubbles stop appearing on the nib then it is full. It took a couple of minutes to do this, but I’m sure this is one of those things I will get use to.
Once filled with ink it works a treat. The pen’s design is something I’ll have to get use to as well. If you are thinking of buying one I would suggest spending one morning messing around with it, and I mean MESS-ing around with it. The pump action is the equivalent of re-dipping the pen back into the ink bottle – you squeeze the green “pump bit” with your thumb to release more ink. So, when the pen runs a little dry, you squeeze and more ink flows out. This however, can cause it to initially blob out and drip over your paper. So I would suggest not to “pump” it over your artwork and have a bit of spare paper handy.
All in all it worked pretty well. It’s quite funny, because I didn’t have to constantly dip into a bottle and as it felt like I was holding a normal pen, when the ink flow would stick, I wondered what was going on. But that’s what would have happen with my normal dip pen anyway. So unfortunately it still has some of those annoying traits common to all dip pens! I did notice the flow was a little more stickier when my pen was hanging upside down.
Below you will see my, ahem, drive round the parking lot with the pump pen with all its bangs and bumps. If you would like to see the actual hand drawings closer visit my Hands Study page here. I did 15, 30, 60 second etc sketches. Which might account for the ink sticking. I had to stop/start my stupid timer all the time. For the three pages shown I filled up the pen twice. Which means if I wanted to take it out with me all day I’d still have to take my ink bottle with me OR buy another pen…
Overall I do like the pump pen, which is why I would like to review it again after I’ve had the chance to use it in my normal capacity. And also to see how it goes travelling filled up. So hopefully that was helpful to anyone interested in these pens or dip pen alternatives.
Stay tuned… (Added later > to read my second review, please click here)
I think your review was very helpful! I hate using india ink with a brush, and never got the hang of using a dip pen, so this might be just the thing I need – thank you!
Thanks, Juliet and everyone else for your feedback. I’m testing it out some more this weekend, so we’ll see how it holds up.
Great post, think I’ll have to try these!
My own experience with this pen was negative. It never did perform well and I sent it back. It took six months of reminders before I received a refund. Am much happier with the Noodler’s flex pen available from Goulet Pens and the Lamy Safari.
Thanks for the feedback, Paula. I’m sorry it didnt work out for you. What kind of inks or paints did you use? I’m taking it out around town today which will be the true test. Otherwise, it worked fine at home at my desk I suppose in controlled conditions. Fingers crossed!!
Interesting post, very similar to me with a new pen…ink over my fingers!
Thanks for the review! I too love the flexibility and varied line width of a dip pen, and am constantly trying to find a portable alternative. I’m experimenting with the Noodlers Flex nib pen now, and it’s a decent choice, but tends to be a little inconsistent. Thanks again, and great sketches!
Hi even sketchier,
I’ve heard of the Noodler Flex Nib and have held off buying one. I still dont feel it is what I’m after. I took my pump pen out for a day of sketching with mixed results. I’m going to use it for the next International SKetch Crawl, so will review the pen again after that event. I like your blog – love the pomegranates! will head back and read your post on Pitt pens, as am looking at buying the black Manga ones for a project I’m working one.
Meegan, Love your pen and ink work. Very expressive. Thanks for visiting my blog and your comment on my Zentangles. If you would like to learn more check out Zentangle.com If you are interested you can find a CZT(certified Zen teacher) in your area to take a class or order their Zentangle Kit and learn on your own. Deborah
How long did it take? It’s over two weeks for me.
I think I’ll just start carrying my dip pens and ink bottle to starbucks. I have used them a long time and haven’t had a major screwup in decades.
It took close to four-five months. I had to email them once or twice. I’d like to here your thoughts on it once you do receive it. Yeah, I still carry my ink bottle/s and dip pen around with me. And like you I haven’t had an accident with them yet (touch wood!).
Hope you dont have to wait too long, and thanks for dropping by.
The pens are a nice idea, but the manufacturer/seller is a horrible flake. I sent him money for a pen back in May, and three months (and several emails) later have not received any product. I hope you learn from my mistake and hold onto your money.
Yeah it can be very disheartening experience from our perspective when something we’re really looking forward to can go arse up. Hopefully they can learn from this – soon! Thanks for stopping by!