My colleagues at United Inkdom have asked me to be part of a meta review for the Pilot Parallel Pen. For those you who know my work, I tend to use automatic pens and there are very good reasons why I do and this review will explain why…
2 pens have been provided the 2.4mm and the 6mm. For background information, the price point is just over £8.00 per pen and the package contains a pen, pen lid, 2 cartridges of ink, a feed cleaner, nib cleaner and instructions.
I loaded up both pens, one with a red cartridge, the other with black cartridge and set about my testing. I immediately noted that these nibs are sharp which is ideal, as I like creating abstract lettering – the visual dynamic between the fat strokes and the hairline strokes is crucial for the visual effect. BUT, and this is a big BUT, the ink flow in the Pilot Parallel is slow and dry! For freeform lettering this is a killer blow. You will have to work slowly and use a very smooth paper to get any depth of colour using a Pilot Parallel! The red and black abstract alphabets are on smooth cartridge using the supplied inks – quite scratchy marks.
How could I improve the ink flow? I looked at the ink colour range provided and wondered if any other brands would work? I cleaned out both pens – which takes time – and eventually syringed some Diamine Shimmer colours into the cartridges. With some gentle persuasion, the pens worked much better. Even so, you’ll be lucky to experience any dramatic sheening as the ink flow is still a little on the dry side. The blue and pink abstract alphabets are on smooth cartridge using Diamine Shimmer inks – a smoother ink flow. Not as scratchy.
For traditional calligraphy and lettering these may be okay. For more creative art you will have work out systems to clean the pens quickly in order to change colours OR buy dozens of pens loaded with individual colours? The bottom line, is that the automatic pens are cheaper and far more dynamic in terms of fast action, variety of line width, density of ink and EASE of cleaning – allowing for great ink blending and sheening. Even the traditional dip pen and nibs are quicker and easier to clean for colour changing AND more cost effective too. I have no doubt that these pens are useful, and even a joy for some people, but the Pilot Parallel gets a big thumbs down from me.
UPDATE: Following advice from a commentator on Reddit I have just tried syringing ink straight into the feed. It’s now much wetter! Having completed a couple of very wet test strokes on scrap paper, the pen settles down quite nicely. The pragmatic thing to do is to put silicone grease on the threads of the section, and then eyedropper ink into the barrel. Even so, not the ideal way to use a brand new pen – a little messy! But it does work! Maybe Pilot should resolve the issue?
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