The Stipula Splash hit the market in late 2014 with the marketing materials focused on the fact that it was a piston-filled demonstrator pen with a mini “V-flex” nib with an MSRP of $79 USD from the Italian pen manufacturer.
The box it arrived in was a sturdy, red-colored cardboard box with a magnetic flap to keep it closed. Inside was a faux-velvet pad with a strap to secure the pen in place. The space beneath the pad housed the manual which detailed how to care for and fill the pen in both English and Italian. The packaging was nothing particularly special, but it was perfectly adequate for keeping the pen safe on its journey. Though, I do feel the box may have been a tad larger than necessary and the strap securing the pen does not do the best job at preventing it from sliding around.
Appearance and Design
The pen is lighter than I had anticipated. The plastic material out of which it is constructed feels very light-weight and potentially fragile. While the body might be able to take some hits, the cap feels particularly vulnerable to cracking if mishandled. I ordered the Stipula Splash in the lovely Bordeaux color scheme. The cap and grip section are the only colored parts of the pen as the barrel is clear, the piston is transparent, and the piston knob is polished metal. Personally, I wish the piston knob was a matching shade of Bordeaux to balance out the appearance of the pen. The Stipula leaf logo sits in relief on the flattened top of the cap which gives way to a simple, but sturdy, clip. There is one single metal band wrapped around the cap near the base and looks to be made of a cheaper material than the rest of the metal on the pen. Once posted, I find the pen looks much more appealing with the beautifully clear barrel sandwiched between the colors of the cap and grip section. Although the piston knob is solid metal, the relatively short length of the pen helps prevent it from feeling back heavy when it isn’t posted. However, posting the pen adds a comfortable length but also tips the scale towards making the pen uncomfortably back-heavy. The nib is very small and is split down the center to allow for flexing of the steel tines and is adorned with a simple repetition of the Stipula leaf logo that is subtle and elegant. One thing that could double as a pro or a con is the lack of long threads for the screw-on pen cap. It only takes 1/2 a turn of the cap to remove it. While this does raise some concerns about the pen uncapping itself if one were to carry it in a pocket, I can appreciate this design as it does make uncapping and re-capping the pen effortless and allows me to start writing quickly when I need to. Though I have heard complaints about leaking, I have not seen any such issues with my version of the pen. It can hold a good amount of ink, but due to the way it is constructed, I was unable to completely fill the reservoir with ink normally.
Although this pen has been touted as housing a mini-flex nib, the small size of the pen and nib means any significant flexing requires a lot of pressure when writing. This becomes somewhat of an issue due to the fact that the nib itself is rather scratchy. Attempting to flex the nib makes me feel like I am going to tear into the paper at times. That being said, the amount of flex possible seems to be similar to that of the Noodler’s Ahab steel flex (even though the Noodler’s flex nib is much larger). I ran into a lot of railroading while attempting to flex this nib even after some minor adjustments, but the feed and nib keep up wonderfully with normal writing. As the ink reservoir gets low, the pen starts dropping more ink while writing. This may become a nuisance if the ink you are writing with is already quite wet or if it has longer dry times. After spending some time with the pen, I found that I became used to the (incredibly) narrow sweet spot where the nib doesn’t feel so scratchy and I have had a rather pleasant experience writing with the pen normally (as in not flexing the nib). The grip section is tiny, so if you have larger hands or prefer larger pens, this is definitely not for you. The good news is, the threads do not get in the way or feel uncomfortable.
As you can see, the nib lays down a nice wet “fine” line with normal writing. As I attempt to flex the pen, I occasionally run into difficulties where the feed becomes rather inconsistent in how much ink it is laying out (sometimes too much, sometimes to little). That being said, the amount of flex possible is rather nice but it simply requires too much pressure for it to be a comfortable experience.
The Stipula Splash seems to accomplish a multitude of things with the mini-flex nib, the “demonstrator” style ink reservoir, the piston filling mechanism, and the small compact size. They manage to fit a lot into a small package, but for the price I would expect this pen to feel a little more solid in the hand. I think this is a case of “jack of all trades, master of none” where the Stipula Splash comes with lots features, but none of them really stand out as exceptional (and some of them are just plain disappointing). That being said, I honestly don’t think it is a terrible pen, but I do think that Stipula is asking for a lot of money for what you get.
Nib material: Steel (v-flex)
Filling mechanism: Piston
Overall Length: 126 mm
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