Author Topic: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?  (Read 7022 times)

Offline Karen Gray

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #15 on: August 29, 2016, 05:00:16 AM »
As @AndyT says, I use the ornate oblique holder from Scribblers. I love it. It was absolutely what I needed. I would prefer a slightly wider grip mind you but I like the length and other than it being a little on the thin side (no thinner than a uni ball pen) it's perfect - AND cheap.
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Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2016, 06:16:17 AM »
I have a carrot gold leaf and resin holder from Curious Artisan, and I love it.  I do have other holders (including several Yokes and Unique Obliques), which I also like quite a lot, but I've been using this one tons lately.  I'm very happy with it.  One caution is that the resin holders tend to be a bit fragile, and I had it arrive broken.  But Lenny was great about sending out a replacement immediately.  I would be very careful not to drop it, but I would imagine this goes for other maker's resin holders too.

I hope you don't mind, but as a penmaker who uses a lot of resin, I'd like to defend my products (and those of other penmakers) and say that, no, this doesn't necessarily go for other maker's resin holders. 

I'll explain  ;)

....there are basically 3 different types of resin which penmakers use. 

Firstly, there is acrylic resin, which is what the vast majority of commercially available pen blanks are made from.  This is very strong - I've had mine thrown against a wall (with force) and then onto a concrete floor (not on purpose - I polish my pens on buffing mops on a lathe, and occasionally it whips them out of my hands) with no ill effects whatsoever. 

Secondly, there is polyurethane resin.  This is what many people who cast their own pen blanks use (you'll sometimes see it referred to as 'alumilite'- which is a US brand of polyurethane).  It's a little bit more flexible than the acrylic, but still just as strong (it too has withstood the throwing against the wall and floor test).  It's an expensive product, but just about the best there is if you want to be able to cast your own blanks.

Thirdly, there is polyester resin.  This is also used by people who cast their own pen blanks.  It is widely available and cheap (about a quarter of the price of polyurethane resin).  It is very brittle and fragile, and would be very likely to break if dropped.  I made a couple of trial pens out of it, but wasn't satisfied with the strength, so it's never had the lathe 'test'.  I haven't sold the pens I made from it, as I don't think that they are of good enough quality.

As far as I know, and have seen, most of the penmakers out there are using either acrylic or polyurethane resin for their pens, and so are producing pens which are strong and durable.  The fact that your pen broke, and that on the Curious Artisan website it does warn against dropping the pens as they are fragile, leads me to believe that they are made from polyester resin, rather than polyurethane resin. 

Sorry for the slightly technical post, but I just wanted to point out that not all resins are the same, and that most resin penholders will withstand years of use, and occasional abuse, with no ill effects.

If anyone is ever unsure of what a penholder is made from, don't feel shy about asking the penmaker - most will be happy to explain the benefits of the products they use - believe me, I could talk for hours on the differences between different types of resin....but I'll spare you all any more  ::)  ;D
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Offline silvereye

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2016, 07:50:57 AM »
I wonder if resin is very different from acrylic because Brians pens look fairly sturdy?

Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2016, 08:12:55 AM »
I wonder if resin is very different from acrylic because Brians pens look fairly sturdy?

Well, I don't know the actual science, but from my understanding acrylic is just another type of resin; they are not two different things. 

As I said above, there are 3 different types of resin used by penmakers - acrylic, polyurethane and polyester.

Brian, myself, and several other penmakers use acrylic resin for some of our pens.  They're generally produced by plastics companies and bought as 'pen blanks', so you'll often see the same design/colour used by several different penmakers.  As far as I know, no one is using acrylic resin to produce pen blanks from home.

I, as well as several other penmakers, also use polyurethane resin, which feels slightly different to acrylic resin, in that it is slightly flexible.  It is still very strong, and the benefit of polyurethane is that it can be used by the 'hobbyist' to produce unique pen blanks - although it is expensive and a little more difficult to use than polyester resin.  Some penmakers will therefore cast their own, others will buy them in from individual makers.

Polyester resin is another resin which can be made by the hobbyist, and again there are makers who sell pen blanks they have made with polyester resin.  Polyester resin is cheap and easy to use, but also produces very brittle, weak, blanks.  Generally these are intended to be used by penmakers who are producing things like fountain pens, where there is an internal metal structure which gives the pen strength.  The problem with using them for dip pen holders is that there is no such internal structure, so the acrylic is much more likely to shatter or break if the pen is dropped.

In a nutshell -
Acrylic resin = good
Polyurethane resin = good
Polyester resin = not so good

I told you I could talk for hours on the subject  ;)

« Last Edit: August 29, 2016, 08:22:13 AM by melanie jane »
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Offline Inked botanicals

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2016, 09:19:58 AM »
Well, I find it so interesting so you can write as long as you want @melanie jane !!

By the way, I have one of Melanie's holders, a blue wooden one, and I love it. It is thinner than usual and I find it so pleasant to write with. About its quality, it is good enough to pass my own life test: I tend to have quite a lot of accidents when writing, so all my holders have dropped several times, been adjusted a lot, even they have been bathing on ink spills a few times. Not all holders can follow that way of life! But Mel's holder is good and clean as new! I use it a lot, you can see it often on my Instagram photos!
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Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2016, 09:43:46 AM »
@Inked botanicals Thanks Alba!  I'm glad it's still serving you well  :)
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Offline dancingfish

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2016, 07:03:10 PM »
I have a carrot gold leaf and resin holder from Curious Artisan, and I love it.
...
 One caution is that the resin holders tend to be a bit fragile, and I had it arrive broken.  But Lenny was great about sending out a replacement immediately.  I would be very careful not to drop it, but I would imagine this goes for other maker's resin holders too.

I hope you don't mind, but as a penmaker who uses a lot of resin, I'd like to defend my products (and those of other penmakers) and say that, no, this doesn't necessarily go for other maker's resin holders. 
...
If anyone is ever unsure of what a penholder is made from, don't feel shy about asking the penmaker - most will be happy to explain the benefits of the products they use - believe me, I could talk for hours on the differences between different types of resin....but I'll spare you all any more  ::)  ;D

I don't mind at all Melanie; thank you for the education!  I really appreciate learning more about the materials, and their pros and cons, because it helps me as a buyer.  I do love my gold leaf holder, as it's beautiful, but I think I'll avoid polyester resin holders in the future, and it's good to know that the other resins are more durable.   :)

Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2016, 08:03:13 PM »
@dancingfish that's great.  I'm glad that you're still happy with your penholder, as I don't want you to think that you bought the wrong thing - if you love it, it's the never the wrong thing! 

However, I also agree with you that it's great for buyers to have a few facts to help them make a decision.  And in defence of penmakers, I'd say that I doubt that any of us went into this with any great knowledge of materials - I knew absolutely nothing.  It's definitely been a steep learning curve for me, which has involved a lot of trial and error (not to mention expense!). :o
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Offline silvereye

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #23 on: August 30, 2016, 03:13:08 AM »
Is it right that polyester resin is called for in order to make transparent resin designs? Just wondering.

Offline AndyT

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2016, 05:56:52 AM »
Is it right that polyester resin is called for in order to make transparent resin designs? Just wondering.

No.  Acrylic is used for some lenses, and as it happens I have a block of purple and white rippled acrylic to hand which is, ahem, clearly transparent.  ;)

Not sure I've ever seen polyester sold as pen blanks which wasn't opaque, come to think of it.

Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2016, 06:44:03 AM »
All 3 come as clear and transparent.  Certainly many of the manufactured acrylic pen blanks available have some clear in them.  Polyester and polyurethane resin for hobbyist casting also comes in clear - but the clear polyurethane is very expensive, which is one of the reasons many people use polyester - it's several times cheaper.  But Andy is right, for some reason commercially available polyester blanks are usually opaque   ::)

@AndyT  Are you going to make a pen out of your purple and white rippled acrylic?
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Offline AndyT

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2016, 08:58:12 AM »
I don't know what I'm going to do with it, Melanie, like a lot of the odd bits and pieces of materials which accumulate over the years.  It makes a pretty good paperweight for now.  I did buy it for razor scales in the first place, but it was an inconvenient length.

Offline darrin1200

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2016, 09:13:43 AM »
There are pros and cons for working with either resin. Both are 2-part resins. I have never actually used Polyester Resin (PR), but I did a lot of research on both,  before choosing Alumilite.

While PR is brittle, it requires no special equipment to work with.  You simply mix the two parts, then pour into the mold (carefully to avoid bubbles). It is then left out to harden. The amount of hardener added is critical "to the drop" because it can strongly affect the cure time and its brittleness. This is a very popular resin when casting items in it such as stamps or feathers wrapped around tube. It does harden clear. There are a couple of different brands, and I have heard that some are more brittle than others. Silmar 41 seems to be the preffered choice.

Allumilite is my prefered choice, for its machinability as well as its durability. I like the allumilite for its translucense. I also mix pieces of wooden burl in my blanks. However, it does require special equipment. The alumilite hardens very fast, it is almost impossible to pour it without little air bubbles. If left out, the allumilite would harden before the bubbles could float to the surface. To countetact this, the full mold is placed immediately into a special chamber, and presurized to 60psi. This pressure compresses the air bubbles until they are so small they essentially disappear. This is not your pressure cooking pot from the kitchen, these pots are designed for high pressure. I saw a picture once of a  pressure cooker someone tried to use. Luckily they knew it was risky and stood far away when they pressurized it. It looked like a bomb went off inside it.

Each resin has its own pros and cons. I think the PR has worked well in casting pen blanks, because generally penmakers use a brass tube to reinforce there pen. This essentially helps to support the material used, wether it is resin or wood.

I haven't used my alumilite for a calligraphy holder yet, but it is high on my ToDo list for September.

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Offline melanie jane

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #28 on: August 30, 2016, 09:41:12 AM »
Darrin, yes my experiences are similar - I only wish that I could get Alumilite in large quantities over here in the UK (I can get Alumilite White, but not Clear).  Instead I've had to go through the lengthy and expensive process of trying out various clear polyurethane resins, to find one which suits my purposes.  Fortunately, I think I've found one with a long open time, so I can use a vacuum chamber, rather than a pressure pot, to remove the bubbles.  (I have the equipment for both, but am happier using the vacuum, for the reasons you stated).
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Offline ash0kgiri

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Re: The Curious Artisan - Oblique holders worth the price?
« Reply #29 on: August 30, 2016, 12:04:35 PM »
A month back I got my first and only oblique holder from PIA. Im loving it as compared to the straight holder. But few concerns I have still not managed to solve. My nib catches on the upstroke and its very irritating. I'm not able to figure out the source. If its a nib (I use Gillotte 303) or paper (Blit 100gms) or my oblique holder. Since I had to order these from US I had to keep it under budget so I had no option but to go for the cheapest one. And until I use another one I would be able to compare the two. :(

-Ashok