• Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno (“Blue Pumpkin”)

    Thinking about trying out the Brause Steno nib? This review should help! In it, we’ll examine the pros and cons of the lovely “Blue Pumpkin” through text, photos, and a video review.

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock

    I first heard about the Brause Steno nib in Molly Suber Thorpe’s Modern Calligraphy book. I immediately wanted to try it based on its nickname alone: “The Blue Pumpkin”. You know us Americans … “pumpkin” anything, and we’re so there (especially around this time of year; but I digress). In today’s post, I’d like to discuss my experience using the Brause Steno with you, and hopefully help you to decide whether this is a nib that you’d like to add to your collection or not.

    First Impressions of the Brause Steno/Blue Pumpkin Nib

    When you first receive the Brause Steno nib, you’ll recognize why it’s sometimes referred to as “The Blue Pumpkin”. It’s a lovely, unique shade of blue, and its it has a round, pleasing shape that tapers to a tip. The shank says “Brause No. 361 Iserlohn”.

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    You’ll know you’ve got the right nib if the etching on the shank looks like this!

    If you put the nib into a holder and apply pressure to the tip, you’ll notice a medium flex. The tines of the nib spread apart, but not dramatically. This makes the nib ideal for beginners who may not have mastered the art of pressure exertion quite yet.

    Advantages of this Nib

    First of all, the Brause Steno is not a small nib, by any means, so it can hold quite a bit of ink! That means that you can write for a while before having to re-dip. If you’re used to using tiny nibs like the Brause EF66, you’ll appreciate that feature!

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    This is a nice, smooth nib that pairs especially well with sumi ink.

    Secondly, the shank size of this nib is just about the same as the Nikko G. That means that if you own an oblique pen that is fitted for the Nikko G, you can use the Blue Pumpkin in that oblique pen. In that way, you can introduce some variety into your calligraphy creation!

    Disadvantages of this Nib

    Before writing this article, I hadn’t used the Brause Steno nib for quite some time. As I tested it out with different inks, I remembered why! For some reason, it just doesn’t like thin inks (for example: walnut and iron gall). Try writing with one of those inks, and you’ll notice that the Blue Pumpkin almost immediately deposits all of the ink onto your page and refuses to write anymore.

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    You’ll notice that thinner inks tend to pool up when used with the Brause Steno nib!

    After I figured that out, I tried writing with sumi ink, which is fairly viscous. The nib responded very well to that ink! For some reason, the thicker ink managed to stay on the nib for a long time, no problem. I had the same experience with Bleed Proof White, which is also thick. I have seen calligraphers use this nib with thin inks, though, so the problem could very well be my lack of experience using the Brause Steno. However, some online sleuthing showed me that many other writers experience this issue as well.

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    Try to use the Brause Steno nib with fairly thick inks like sumi or India ink.

    Furthermore, the Steno doesn’t have an extremely fine tip. If you look at the comparison photo below of the Brause Steno versus the Nikko G, you can see that the Nikko G ends with a tiny tip that’s perfect for making hairlines! The Brause Steno is capable of creating fine strokes, but those strokes can never be extremely fine because the nib’s tip isn’t super tiny/sharp.

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    The Steno nib (left) has a thicker tip compared to the Nikko G (right).

    Video Review of the Brause Steno Nib

    It’s often easiest to explain a nib’s quirks if you can see them on video. So, I’ve prepared this short video to show you a few observations that I’ve made about the Brause Steno:

    (If you would prefer to watch this video on YouTube, you can do so by clicking here.)

    Why Try the Brause Steno Nib?

    Okay, so, now, you may be wondering when and why you might use a Brause Steno/Blue Pumpkin nib. Honestly — and this goes for any nib — there’s no need to try out this nib if you’re very happy with the nib(s) that you already have, thank you very much. However, if you’re looking for something different, especially if you want to move on from exclusively using the Nikko G, this is a good nib to try out!

    Calligraphy Nib Spotlight: The Brause Steno ("Blue Pumpkin") | The Postman's Knock
    I especially like using the Blue Pumpkin to write Beth Style calligraphy! Beth Style looks best when the upstrokes have a bit of substance to them, which this nib can provide.

    The Brause Steno nib is fairly flexible, cheap, unique-looking, and comes with its own set of challenges to master. So, really, it’s perfect for anyone who just wants to try out something new! There’s no reason to not give it a go, so try it out when you have a minute! Put it in your straight pen or slip it into your oblique, and combine it with some different inks. You may just find a new favorite ink/pen/nib combination in doing so! If you live outside the US, you can reference the Where to Purchase Calligraphy Supplies page to find a merchant who carries the Brause Steno nib in your country.

    I hope that you found this post to be interesting! I sometimes hesitate to write review articles because I feel that they can be a bit technical. So: please, let me know whether you enjoy this type of blog post or not! If you have any tips or questions about using the Brause Steno, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Your question or suggestion may help someone else to connect better with this nib!

    Thanks so much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week!


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