Is the Pelikan Twist fountain pen the best budget Pelikan pen? We test it to find out because it’s a great pen to hold and write with. It’s very likely one of the best ergonomic fountain pens for beginners. We’ve covered other beginners fountain pens before and this Pelikan pen is a great addition to that list at a different price point. Watch for comparisons with the inexpensive Hauser INX Jazz fountain pen and for more tips on how to test a fountain pen for writing and drawing.
Reviewing the Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen
Vishal: Hello and welcome to Stationery Test Drive, where this week we’ll be looking at the Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Vishal: And now to the matter at hand, something that’s not really made for drawing but has caught our eye and that’s this – the Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen. As you can see the twist is very apparent. It comes in a bunch of colors. We have many of these, which we have acquired and given as gifts and foisted upon many people we know, just so that we could actually see them. I first came across them online somewhere, instantly fell in love, ordered them and I was not disappointed. They are unusually unusual and unusually good fountain pens. But Samir why don’t you tell us a bit more about Pelikan and the fountain pen itself?
History of the Pelikan Company & The Classic Pelikan 4001 Ink
Samir: I think we’ve spoken quite a bit about the fountain pen before you can check out our episode on the Hauser INX fountain pen. Pelikan itself is one of the pioneers in the fountain pen business. They started all the way back in 1832 and strangely enough for the first 100 years of the history of that company they were only manufacturers of ink. And of course they continue to be very popular for the famous Pelikan 4001. You’ll be familiar with this bottle.
Vishal: It’s an iconic design, it’s something that we’ve all grown up with. Almost as the ubiquitous idea of a fountain pen.
Samir: And this particular ink or this family of inks started only somewhere in 1896 or 98. So it was almost 100 years of just making inks. And they produced their first fountain pen somewhere in 1929. But since then they have been quite the ubiquitous brand. I remember when Vishal and I first started using fountain pens in school, I’m sure one of us had a Pelikan Pen.
Vishal: Yes, I think we had Pelikans and then later Sheaffers and Parkers kind of came into the flow. But I remember that if you weren’t using one of the bog-standard Hero’s or cheap chinese fountain pens, you aimed to get a Pelikan. And also you aimed to get a Pelikan because of this wonderful ink.
Samir: Because you thought that okay if the ink’s this fine then maybe I should get the same fountain pen.
Vishal: Yeah, so I’ve always loved fountain pens. I loved using them for other than just the uses or as writing implements. But this one because of the twist, it’s designed in a way that it sits in your hand in a very specific way. And it is ambidextrous, which is the genius of the design.
What we do here on Stationery Test Drive is the three of us, who are artists and calligraphers and designers, not really well known for our handwriting and penmanship, especially the artists and the designers of us, we leave neat handwriting to computerization.
Samir: And, Minjal.
Vishal: And, Minjal. Minjal is a calligrapher. But we each come up with artwork and Minjal why don’t you show us your your test drive for this week? That is beautiful and lovely and I am jealous and it’s wonderful!
Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen Calligraphy
Samir: Color variations are beautiful.
Vishal: So you used the Pelikan Twist on this one, do tell us about it.
Minjal: For any kind of lettering or calligraphy that is not broad-edged calligraphy, fountain pens actually work really well. Now it is a great looking pen. But I preferred the Hauser because for someone like me this pen is, firstly, well it’s a little hard to open up. Not hard, it’s really difficult to open and I have really small hands. So this is not the easiest pen for me to hold, not the easiest to write with, it’s heavy!
Vishal: I’ll tell you the trick here. Most pens you separate the top from the bottom, in this case the way it works for me best, is you grip the top and nudge the the body away!
Minjal: Okay! That works! That works!
Samir: Stationery Test Drive – Teaching you new tricks all the time!
Minjal: I didn’t use the Pelikan ink, I used the Ecoline inks which are my favorite inks, we have to review them. I had three different colors, three different ink bottles open at the same time. I was dipping the nib as I wrote and this is the result.
Vishal: So you did not fill this into the cartridge? It has a very thickly manufactured barrel. So, this particular fountain pen doesn’t actually take a lot of cartridges or converters, you have to be careful as to what you can put in here. So you just took an empty pen and dipped it in inks?
Minjal: Yeah that’s how I actually prefer doing most of my writing with the fountain pen. I don’t usually use cartridges.
Vishal: I think you mentioned this in your test drive of the Pilot Parallel Pen, which was our first episode.
Samir: It’s very interesting to see that you were able to do this with a fountain pen that’s not really designed for that. Pilot Parallel Pen is designed to be dipped to some extent.
Vishal: And we geeked out about this in our Hauser episode as well. About the felt, capillary, comb and things like that. But I’m sure all those mechanisms are there, to take ink and disperse it in a clean and clear way. Things that are not clean and clear actually brings us to what I did, which is a bit more chaotic.
Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen Comic Illustration & Doodling
Vishal: And I used this pen, I used a Sheaffer teal ink which I love because it goes quite well with the turquoise pen, I find, visually if nothing else. I’ve never been known for my handwriting, I’ve been chastised for it by several teachers growing up and chastised myself for it when I can’t legibly interpret anything I’ve written after two months, if I ever look at my notes.
But what I somehow have ended up doing is taking notes in many of the meetings that Samir and I go to when we are working as designers out in the world. And very often a page of mine will be a bunch of notes, but also because of the way my brain works I kind of need to keep my hands moving in order to concentrate more. I know that sounds counter intuitive, but if you ask me to sit still I am not listening to you, that is pretty much guaranteed. However if my hands are moving, if I am doodling in the margins or drawing things very often, I’m probably listening to you better than even you think you are. That’s why frequently in meetings, Samir will be talking, the client will be talking, I’ll be off in the corner either doing strokes like this or patterns or little doodles of myself or funny things that the client says.
Sometimes if the client is brave enough I’ll actually show this to them, if I think their egos can handle it. But very often not, on the rare occasion. In some ways we like our clients that way, we also select for our clients that way. If they can stand that, they can stand anything and we do like people who have a sense of humor about themselves.
Minjal: Vishal do we see you in a comic very soon?
Vishal: Yes, I’ve discussed this on previous episodes, I am working on comics where a version of me appears. This version of me is a newer one, with a more of a receding hairline, which I think is just appropriate as I get older. Samir what did you end up doing? You don’t take notes in meetings?
Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen Figure Sketching & Handlettering
Samir: I try not to take notes in meetings because then it forces me to remember things I don’t want to! But this is what I ended up doing. I tried to use it to sketch, mainly. Because that’s what I have been doing with most of the pens we’ve been using. But I quickly realized that writing is where this thing really shines.
Vishal: That is the asterisk that I was bringing up before, that while it is a great pen to work with, that work I would suggest should involve some kind of writing rather than some kind of drawing.
Samir: Yes, I mean this is clearly where it shines.
Vishal: Yeah, I mean you can use it for the odd types of squiggle here and there. By contrast, we have tried out the Hauser INX Jazz which was a very cheap pen, but it was fantastic for drawing. And in that episode I talked about the ability to draw a circle with a fountain pen or a spiral. And this one is okay with it, but there’s a certain resistance that is not great and then it gets pronounced over time. So it’s not a great pen for drawing, it’s perfectly fine on down strokes and you can get short strokes out of it but that thing you look for as an artist where you’re trying to pull long curves or even do short, repeated patterns, you’re not getting the same kind of control that you would out of a cheaper pen like the Hauser.
Samir: And I think this pen is just not meant to create a lot of line variation, which is the other issue when it comes to drawing.
I’m just curious as to how much this bleeds on this paper? Minjal, this paper you’ve used for the test is clearly something that’s made for writing and calligraphy?
Vishal: Minjal, you told us about these pads before?
Minjal: This is the Rhodia Pad, roughly 60 to 80 gsm, very smooth paper.
Samir: And clearly this paper takes great to this pen. On the other hand, a regular A4, probably 70 gsm copy paper can be quite terrible with this pen. It just does not work anywhere as well as the the cheaper Hauser pen.
Minjal: And you used the Pelikan cartridge, the Pelikan ink?
Samir: No, Vishal and I both used the Sheaffer teal ink.
Vishal: Which is a very nice ink because in some ways it kind of dries. If you want a consistent color out of it I would suggest dipping it, but if you want to get this nice variation, where it starts out like a darker blue and then settles on a teal, it’s a nice ink.
Samir: And it’s a nice little difference from the usual royal blue that we’re used to.
Vishal: But yeah this pen – it’s beautiful to look at, isn’t it? You just want to keep this on your desk. It is quite literally a conversation starter. I’ve taken this into meetings and put this on a desk and the meetings have kind of ground to a halt as we talk about this pen with like-minded stationery heads.
I’ve given it as gifts to people, it’s not a cheap pen, it’s not an expensive pen. And as people who make things with this stationery as test drivers, we enjoy using these things. We don’t just buy them for ornamental gift-giving or like we said to just sit on the desk somewhere.
If this pen was absolutely horrible to actually work with I would never have bought any more of them or suggested them to anyone and you would not be seeing this episode. Because these are good pens, it’s just not good for drawing.
Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen vs. the Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen
Samir: Yeah. I think, we said this about the Hauser INX Jazz Fountain Pen, which was a very inexpensive pen. And, a great starting pen, in that if you are a student and you have never used a fountain pen before, that’s a great inexpensive way to get into fountain pens.
Vishal: It’s very forgiving.
Samir: The Pelikan Twist is exactly the same, but at a completely different price point. This is a great starter pen if you’re a kid especially or you have a kid who’s never used a fountain pen before and you have some money to spend on a good fountain pen so that they can learn to write with a fountain pen, I think this is actually a good one.
But for general use, the way we use it, where it’s kind of an illustrative instrument, no it doesn’t really work very well. But I think a lot of the ergonomics of it are designed to make new users hold it in that particular way because ultimately we all end up with our own quirks as to how we hold pens. And if you’re going for a very good handwriting formal style, then the way we end up holding a pen is often wrong, quite simply. So this pen in some ways is almost a training pen.
Vishal: We spoke in a previous episode about each tool having a pace of its own. This pen certainly has a pace of its own, you can’t rush it and if you don’t rush it, then it rewards you.
Minjal: I think the other thing is we’re all just so used to using gel pens and ballpoint pens, it’s good, once in a while to get back to good old fountain pens. And like Vishal mentioned, you are able to slow down, you can’t just rush through your writing or sketching and maybe that is a quality that all of us need to really work on. Maybe just slowing down is important.
Samir: I think part of the reason this is a good training pen is exactly what you’re saying, that you have to slow down to write well with it. You can’t scribble with it. And I don’t know how it is these days in school but when we were in school and at some point forced to use a fountain pen, the idea was to make you slow down while you write. Other other than the fact that this is not a good drawing instrument any other negatives, Minjal other than the muscle workout?
Vishal: Let’s fix that issue. Let’s make sure the the body of the pen is away from you, and use your thumb to press in. It’s like unsheathing the Katana Sword. As ostentatious and overloaded as that sounds, literally the pen is mightier than the sword in this case because it is very satisfying.
Hats off to the engineers who put in those six little notches on the closure which perfectly make this a nice tight thing. It doesn’t need to be this tight, it doesn’t need to be this shape, but it’s a marvel. I love opening this pen, I love the sound it makes, the sound it makes when it closes. This pen should almost come with a vertical holder that lets you keep it that way on a table, or one of those magnetic things that keeps them floating.
Minjal: Coming back to the writing part of it, I believe the Hauser has a finer nib. The Pelikan nib is very thick, so you can’t do that all kinds of lettering styles with it, it’s quite bulky.
Vishal: As someone who sometimes writes in all caps, for legibility of my own kind of thing, I like this thicker pen.
Samir: But do you feel that the finer points have more of a flexible variation?
Vishal: We mentioned the flex in our Hauser episode. And the flex is basically because fountain pens have a cut in the middle, when you press down the two parts flex apart and you can get variation. Whereas in this one there’s no variation at all. It’s very even, and it’s almost not built to do that.
Samir: To the point where I actually tried this, which I had tried with the Hauser as well, drawing it the other way around and it doesn’t actually change that much there either.
There’s just not enough of a difference between those two lines, even though I used the nib in two different ways. So in some ways it’s a marvel of engineering that they’ve managed to make it so consistent.
Vishal: It’s consistent and it’s a wonderful gift. I would say if you know anyone who likes fountain pens, I think it just looks great and is a great gift. It looks great in lighting, it looks great on camera. It’s not great for drawing, find other ones, we’ve tested the Hauser which you can literally buy 20 pens for the same price and it’s good for drawing too.
Samir & Minjal: But if you want to treat yourself a little, and add to your pen collection, feel like superman for a day or just take some time out and find some quiet time and write slowly with a pen, this is a good choice.
Vishal: This is a very good choice and another very good choice you can make is to subscribe to the Inky Memo newsletter, which you can find at inkymemo.com. And it’ll be in your inbox with wonderful tales of the history of stationery and the people who make them.
Another good idea is to follow us on social media at the links that are in the description and also on screen. We will be back next week and every week hopefully with more stationery test drives, more varied artwork and calligraphy and lettering and doodles with new tools and old tools and fun tools.
Check out our entire back log of episodes, we’re at well over a dozen episodes and we’re continuing right now. Write to us in the comments or drop us a message on social media. Tell us if you’ve picked up a pen like this, what you’ve used it for, show us what you’ve used it for?
We always love to see what people are getting up to with these sort of things because we are a test bed of three, a test team of three and we always love to see what other people are doing. So find us and show us your work and put some twists into your life. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: I’m Minjal.
Get the Pelikan Twist Fountain Pens
1. Pelikan Twist Shine Mystic Fountain Pen in Folding Box – https://amzn.to/3DEBhKd
2. Pelikan Fountain Pen Twist Deep Blue with 2 Cartridges – https://amzn.to/3Jb84rd
3. Pelikan Twist Fountain Pen Mint Green – https://amzn.to/3J45vr2