Tactile Turn is a one man shop run by Will Hodges. Will did very well received bodies for ballpoint and gel refills in the past and recently crowd-funded the Gist, his first fountain pen, after .
After some technical difficulties and the resulting delays (this is a Kickstarter project, after all) the Gist is in the hands of backers and I have been using mine for some weeks now.
The Gists big appeal is the mix and match approach to the materials that you can get it in. Body, finial and grip can be machined either from a black polycarbonate or one of several metals.
The pen is 13cm long when capped and only 11,5cm when uncapped. Unposted it is very short and not comfortable for me to write with. Fortunately this pen begs to be posted, which gives you a very comfortable length of 15,5cm. The cap posts deeply and securely, and the polycarbonate material with the ribbing is very durable so it probably won’t leave any marks. I usually don’t like posting my pens but I have no trouble doing it here.
The polycarbonate body with the stainless steel grip section add up to 25 grams including the cap. This is a very light pen, although the metal body variants will no doubt be considerably more heavy.
The overall shape in combination with the black polycarbonate body and the metal grip section is very reminiscent of the Lamy 2000, a timeless design that has stood up to 50 years of progress and new design languages.
The cap screws on, which is a blessing and a curse when it comes to pocket pens. On the one had it stays capped securely and you won’t ever reach for it just to notice that the bare nib is leaking ink into your pocket. On the other hand you can’t just pull off the cap to jot down a quick note, either. I guess I never understood the appeal of pocket pens. There are pens that I am comfortable carrying in a jeans pocket, but they aren’t necessarily pocket pens.
The grip section is long and comfortable and you can grip the pen as low or as high you want to and be comfortable. The machined groves give the section an nice texture that won’t get slippery even during long writing sessions. The threads for the cap are wide and flattened out at the top. They feel like a continuation of the ribbed body pattern and you don’t notice them at all when writing.
Every Gist in existence has been made by one person. Will Hodges is the entirety of Tactile Turn, and I can’t even imagine how stressful it must have been to fulfill so many pledges for such a successful project. And the pen feels well made. The threads are precise, there is no wiggle. Sometimes it seems like the cap sits a little crooked on the pen although the threads are machined well. Maybe it’s an optical illusion.
The Gist uses a cartridge/converter filling system. It comes with a supplied converter and the system works well. The converter looks a little lost and as if it has too much wiggle room in the section, but once you screw the barrel back on everything is tight and secure. I have had no reason to test the Gist with another convert since this one does it’s job well, but be advised that I have heard that most standard international converters are too long for the barrel. The one that come with the pen looks kinda short, so take good care of it, it might not be easy to replace.
A fountain pen is only as good as its nib. You can have the best barrel design, the pretties celluloid or acrylic, golden trim or Sylvester Stallone for promotion and testimonials…
If your nibs don’t work, your pen doesn’t work.
The Gist uses Bock nib units.
I hate Bock nib units.
Bock doesn’t stamp their nibs with the nib grade, they never start well for me and the titanium nibs that they offer are so finicky and inconsistent…
I got my Gist with a titanium nib unit. I made that choice before I had received my first titanium nib in the Namisu Nova. This one isn’t any better than my previous experience.
I don’t know what grade I got. Again, the nibs aren’t stamped, and with a titanium nib I just can’t tell! I’m pretty sure I ordered a fine. One day the nib is so wet that it writes closer to a broad, the other one its dry and won’t start when I begin a new word. The tines get knocked out of alignment by just looking at them disapprovingly. Which I do pretty much constantly!
At some point I just gave up and screwed in a steel nib that I got with my Namisu Nexus. They don’t perform well, but at least they are consistently annoying.
I really want to like the Gist. And some days I do. I guess it’s just not for me? I like the look, because I like the look of the Lamy 2000, but I like the Lamy better. I like that it’s pocketable, but I don’t really need a pen that I can carry like that. I like that it is hand made, but then again, there are other pens that are hand made that are just more exiting to me.
And the nibs…
I can tolerate the steel Bock nibs that I got some time ago, but they are not great. The titanium is nice in theory and to play with, but it is a hassle. A pocket pen I expect to perform immediately when I get it out. The steel nibs barely ever do that, and forget about the titanium.
So should you get one? If you have experience with the Bock nibs and like them there is nothing that speaks against it. For me though? This won’t see much use…
What others thinks about the Gist
SBRE Brown has a video on every pen in existence, and that is why we love him so much.
Ed Jelley did a great job capturing the unique design aspects of the Gist in his pictures.
Azizah over at GourmetPens loves the pens and gives them a glowing review that you should read right now.
Matt did a review on PenHabit recently. His videos are a delight, check them out.