Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Ah Seng portable dip pen holder

Ah Seng from Straits Art Co. (in Singapore) likes creating and tinkering with art tools. He made this dip pen holder for me after we were talking about a more portable holder for steel dip nibs. Presently, the portable japanese Tachikawa dip nib holder I own has a plastic cap, but it comes off easily when bouncing around in my bag. That's not good for the nib because nibs are fragile. So this dip nib holder he made solves that problem. He designed and made every part himself!


The front section is made of brass giving the pen pretty good balance since it makes the pen heavier toward the front and lighter toward the back. The barrel is made of wood. And it is lacquered. It is light because he hollowed it.


It has a nice size for carrying around. It's 14cm long (without the nib) 


The back has his signature, Ah Seng.


It has a wooden "thing" on the end so you can snugly fit most dip pen nibs. And it won't wobble.


 The brass section can slide out from the barrel (snug fit, secured with a brass ring) and inverted...


...so the nib can be stored safely while you are outdoors and want to keep it quickly while travelling. The only downside to the size of the barrel is that it cannot take extra-large nibs or nibs with a bulging reservoirs. G-nibs and nibs with similar sizes are fine.

The ends of the brass section looks similar. But they fit different kinds of nibs.


This end fits crowquill type nibs. It looks like it has a rubber lining plus a wooden rod inside. It also gives the nib a snug fit into the pen.


This is how it looks like when both ends are fitted with their respective nibs (just for show).


I really like this dip pen holder. Right weight, balance, and it works well. Great for sketchwalks or bringing a dip pen out to a cafe to draw. The workmanship is not at the same level as $600 fountain pen with flawless urashi. But it is great for artists who want good useable art tools held with ink stained fingers.

Drawing with a dip pen has it's advantages over a regular pen. The expressions you get with a flex nib on a dip pen is pretty amazing, considering that dip pen nibs are cheap (less than $2). The only troublesome part is carrying a small bottle of ink with you. But if you are doing outdoor sketching or if you are in no hurry, that's really not much of a issue. In contrast a fountain pen with flex can cost a lot more and yet may not flex as wide or as easily as a dip pen nib. Though I still love fountain pens with flex nibs! Those have it's own advantages.


Ah Seng accepts requests for customised dip pen holders like these. It's a service which is not advertised. But you can approach him about it. Best to get a quotation from him before you ask him to make one and give him some specifications if you are particular. Each hand-made dip pen holder he makes takes a lot of work and time. And price varies depending on the complexity of design and materials used. His price range is $50 and up. He customises things like these as a passionate hobby and not as a full-time professional service, just to manage expectations. The design of the dip pen holder he made for me will probably be different for the design he makes for you because he likes to improve and tinker with the designs. Give him his creative freedom! Overall, I love hand-made innovations that work well. So I would recommend his services. If you're interested in ordering one from him, the contact for Straits Art Co. is http://www.straitsartco.com.sg/