Monday, May 25, 2015

Noodler's X-Feather ink review

I find it fascinating how a small, boutique ink maker like Noodler's can offer not only a vast range of colors, but also a large variety of specialized ink features. But perhaps that's the secret: a 1-man company like Noodler's can be a lot more flexible than a large corporation.

Today's special ink is X-Feather, an ink that is designed specifically to resist feathering on poor quality paper. Feathering is the process by which the ink spreads through the paper via the fibers. Different inks have different spreading "ability". In general it's considered a good thing to control this spreading as much as possible. This is where Noodler's X-Feather comes in. If I'm not mistaken, Nathan Tardiff (Noodler's owner) designed X-Feather with newspaper crossword puzzles in mind. We all know how poor quality newspaper sheet is, and generally we'd like to avoid using fountain pen ink on it.

Noodler's X-Feather with Pilot VP

I tested the sample (that I've been saving for a long time) in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib. The broad nib should make the test even more poignant, as thick nibs put more ink to the paper.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 90 ml / 3 oz
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

Noodler's X-Feather is a dark shade of highly saturated black. It looks a tad darker than Heart of Darkness and about on par with Private Reserve Invincible Black. Check out the comparison below. I included Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia just for kicks, despite not being a black ink.

Noodler's X-Feather vs PR Invincible Black vs Noodler's HOD vs Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia


You wouldn't expect much shading in a dark black ink, and that is true here, but X-Feather manages to surprise in a different way, by exhibiting a high amount of sheen.

Noodler's X-Feather Sheen

Yes, this is how the q-tip swab looks after it has dried up. Very cool. If I were to take a shot in the dark, I'd guess the sheen is part of the feathering-resist mechanism.


Here we are at the crux of the matter. Is X-Feather really resistant to feathering or is it just clever marketing? I'm happy to report that it does, indeed, do a good job at holding the line intact and tightly controlling any ungainly spreading.

I have tested X-Feather on cheap photocopy paper (see the sample at the bottom), on cheap and flimsy notebook paper, as well as on newspaper. In fact here's a close-up of the newspaper sample below.

Noodler's X-Feather on newspaper

Granted, the lines in the latter aren't perfectly sharp but I believe that's more of a paper issue, because the paper itself has an uneven surface. To me it looks like the ink is part of the print. Thus, I declare Noodler's X-Feather worthy of its name.


Interestingly, Noodler's X-Feather also does a great job controlling bleed, even on cheap paper. There is a little ghosting because this is, after all, a black ink, but it doesn't bleed. Once again, I believe this is a positive side-effect from the feathering resistance.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

Noodler's X-Feather flows very smoothly in the Pilot Vanishing Point. It's rather wet, but also feels thick and dense, almost like soot. If I didn't know better I'd say this is pigment ink.

Drying time

One thing that I don't appreciate as much as all the other features is the drying time. X-Feather takes around 1 minute to fully (more like 99%) dry on Clairefontaine 90g paper, which is pretty long in my book. That time drops down to about 15 seconds on copy paper. I suspect this is due to the fact that most of the ink stays on top of the paper instead of penetrating the fibers deeply. Again, all connected with the feathering resistance and the lack of bleed.

Smearing when dry

Kind of. You see, X-Feather is one of those inks that needs to be left to dry properly before even thinking about touching the paper. Even after it dries, I'd be very careful around shiny and good quality paper. On copy paper, you can still get it to smear a little if you rub it hard but that shouldn't be an issue in normal use.

Water resistance

As an added bonus, X-Feather is also water resistant. As you can see in the sample below, exposure to water for 1 minute left it virtually untouched. While this is not the headline feature, it's always nice to have.


Noodler's Ink has produced another hit with X-Feather. This ink wears its name proudly and does it good justice. It is also a pleasure to write with, being smooth and wet, and even offers excellent water resistance. The only things that keeps it from a perfect 10/10 are the long drying times and the possibility of smearing. However, these won't stop me from highly recommending it, especially if you need the unique feature of feathering resistance which, to my knowledge, no other ink offers as a main selling point. Even as a simple black ink, X-Feather won't disappoint. To top it all off, this special ink is priced the same as most regular inks in Noodler's lineup.

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Noodler's X-Feather on photocopy

Noodler's X-Feather on Clairefontaine


  1. A lot of good features going on there and, based on the sample shown here, a black ink that looks truly solidly black! :-)

  2. This is such a neat ink. It's one of the inks that I keep in stock and love it in the Parallels! Yummy. Great review!

  3. Thanks! I just realized, now that you mentioned it, that it should work great in the Parallels. You really don't want feathering with those.

  4. Yes, to be honest I think this could be the only black ink you need.