Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Noodler's Ink

Mum's lounge

sofaSunday, 25th February, 2007
Noodler'sWE'RE CELEBRATING my mum's birthday (89 tomorrow) today and, after a few days concentrating on writing my Walks around Newmillerdam, this gives me a chance to experiment with the Noodler's 'Bulletproof' Black Ink that I've just bought. The results, as you can see, are pretty similar to the Nan-King Indian Ink that I was using the other day but the big advantage is that Noodler's can be used in a fountain pen - in this case an old Rotring Art Pen with an extra-fine sketch nib - without clogging.

I wouldn't use a dip pen and ink bottle in my mum's lounge - far too risky! The watercolour is from my credit-card sized box of Winsor & Newton artist's watercolours, applied with a Pentel Waterbrush (you squeeze the water out on your palette, again less hazardous than having a pot of water on the table when you're in your mum's lounge).

Art Pen

I have a filler that fits the ArtPen; I'm not sure if Rotring still make these but the pen takes a standard cartridge so it should be easy to find one that will fit it.

Quick on the Draw

I was recommended to try Noodler's by a reader in Pittsburgh who'd seen my February 1st diary about my search for a waterproof ink.

'I've been using it for drawing and writing for over a year now,' she tells me, 'and love it. (I'm left-handed and tend to drag my fist through whatever I'm writing... this dries fast - my hand stays clean!)'

' is the link I've used for US purchases, and I've been satisfied with them. I see via Google that there is now a UK store:'

The UK store were temporarily out of stock and they kindly put me in touch with who had stock coming in this week from the USA.

Noodler's is unique in that the pH neutral, water-based ink reacts with cellulose in paper to become permanent. It's lightfast and, the manufacturer's claim, it can't be erased once it has dried (in fact Noodler's are offering a $2,000 for anyone who can manage to do it). Apply it to any other surface or mix it with any other ink and it loses these properties. You shouldn't use it in a vintage casein pen as this type of plastic was often cellulose-based, so it might cause staining.

So why 'Noodler's'? 'Noodling' is fishing for catfish without any fishing tackle . . .


Champion "noodler," or handfisher, Lee McFarlin holds a giant flathead catfish.


'First practiced by Native Americans, noodling takes place during the warm summer months when catfish spawn in the southern and midwestern United States.

Depending on the region, the sport goes by many names. In Nebraska, it's known as "stumping." In other places it's called "grabbling," "hogging," "dogging," "graveling," or "tickling."

In Oklahoma, the pastime is known as noodling, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary, describes "a stupid person." Coincidence? Perhaps.'

National Geographic website

Photograph from National Geographic website, courtesy Lee McFarlin

There's a drawing of a catfish on the bottle; noodling in this case is represents an equal contest and fair play (between man and nature) at a fair price (it's nearly £10 including postage for a 3oz bottle here but when you consider what it does even that is pretty good value).

Iraqi IndigoInky Fingers

So it's a good example of American enterprise and ingenuity . . . but Noodler's are perhaps a tad too patriotic for some tastes.

A drawing journaller friend writes:

'I haven’t tried it because I don’t like this: . . . ' (Iraqi Indigo, right)

As we passed through Dallas and Philadelphia airports last year, Barbara and I saw American GIs in desert camouflage fatigues waiting for flights and I can understand why Noodler's would want to express their support. I hope all those young men and women got home again safely but - as with all wars, I guess - I think that there should be a large questionmark after that 'V'.

My journaller friend writes: 'I use Platinum Carbon Ink in my fountain pens (Sailor 1911 XF, sometimes Namiki Falcon Fine, both very fine pens) with no problem. It’s a nice deep black and waterproof when dry. I am able to put a watercolor wash over it after just a minute of waiting.'

Carbon InkThe Platinum ink uses very fine carbon pigment to achieve permanence, so it is recommended that you clearn out your fountain pen more frequently than you would normally do.


Russell's Stutler's Sketchbook (who isn't the drawing journaller I mentioned, but who does use Platinum Ink in his Tokyo sketchbook).