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Category: Fountain Pens

Fountain Pen 201: Indie Pen Makers

Posted in Fountain Pens

Happy Fountain Pen Friday, and welcome to another issue of Fountain Pen 201. This week, I’ll be discussing indie pen makers.

When I discovered indie/small business pen makers, I was amazed by the options opened up to me. For the most part, it’s ruined me for large manufacturer pens. Right now, 8 of my 20 pens are from indie makers, and I’m expecting 3 more.

My Pen Collection
Starred pens are from indie makers.

How I Got My Grail Pen

Posted in Fountain Pens, and Stores

Nearly a year ago, I wrote about the DC Pen Show and shared my favorite fountain pen story: how I got pen #19 of 88 of the Stipula Etruria Prisma 88 limited edition. It’s been my favorite pen story every since, but it has now been dethroned by the story I’m sharing with you today. Allow me to tell you the full story behind my acquisition of my grail pen.

Stipula Leonardo da Vinci olive wood
Stipula Leonardo da Vinci olive wood limited edition (photo from Rakuten). Photo modified to be more true to life.

People With Pens: Cameron Yorke

Posted in Fountain Pens

Fountain Pens – My lifelong love affair

fountain pen

Fountain pens, to me, are the epitome of style and class. A page of written prose looks so much more elegant when written with a nib, no matter what width, style, type or colour.

My first experience goes back to the age of eight when I received my first fountain pen at primary school, with which, back then, it was compulsory to learn to write. My first attempts at mastering handwriting with a fountain pen were dismal to say the least, and I still have memories of huge ink blots all over my initial exercise book pages, of which no amount of blotting paper could clean up.

Being left-handed it was doubly difficult for me as my hand would rub across the page, following the written word, meaning I would invariably end the day with smudged words and an inky left palm. I very quickly learnt to angle my book, positioning my hand above my work so as to at least leave something legible at the end of the day.

People with Pens: Wendy Van Camp

Posted in Fountain Pens

Fountain Pens in the Creative Process

I love fountain pens.  Sometimes I think I’m the ambassador for using these pens in life.  I’ve introduced them to my friends, to my husband, and to many of the writers in my circle.  Making converts everywhere I go.  What is so great about them?  Well, for me, they not only make the writing I do easier, but they help me when planning my short stories and novels.

I discovered the fountain pen back in 2013.  At that time, fountain pens were not cool.  To use one invited stares and derisive comments.  The pens drew me because my cursive writing had fallen into disuse and was unreadable.  I took up journaling to counteract this, reasoning that if I wrote one entry a day in cursive, my penmanship would improve.  The more I wrote with the ballpoints, the more my hand cramped.   I googled about writing and learned that fountain pens need not press onto the page as you write. You hold them at an angle that is more comfortable for the hand.  You could write more words and for a longer time with a fountain pen than with a ballpoint.  I had to try it.

The inexpensive Chinese model I bought to find out if I would like writing with a fountain pen was easy to write with.  I loved the feel of the pen in my hand, the myriad of ink colors to choose from, and that I could select different nibs to change the way my words looked on the page.  I went from using a standard medium nib to a fine nib and to an italic nib, which is a smoother version of a calligraphy stub nib.  It was fun!  I became hooked on the pens as a hobby.

Fountain Pen 101: Cleaning & Filling

Posted in Fountain Pens

Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101 and happy Fountain Pen Friday. This week, I’ll be discussing cleaning and filling your pens. However, because videos can explain cleaning WAY better than words ever can, I’ll be linking to videos for a decent portion of this post. I’ll also provide you links to good pen cleaning supplies. NOTE: The prices listed below are in USD and don’t include tax or shipping.

Cleaning is one of the down sides to fountain pens, especially if you can’t disassemble the pen. However, it is vital to preserving the quality and prolonging the life of your fountain pen.

As a rule, you should thoroughly clean your pen every time you change inks or before you store your pen for an extended period of time (think more than 2 weeks without use). If you are simply refilling your pen with the same ink (some people always use the same ink in a specific pen), then you should clean your pen every 1-2 months.

Looking for something specific? Jump around this post with these links: Tap Water vs Distilled Water | Pen Flush | Ultrasonic Cleaner | Good Tools | Cleaning Instruction | Tips & Tricks

Regalia Writing Labs Semiflex Nib Review

Posted in Fountain Pens

If you’ve been reading my Fountain Pen 101 series, you’ve seen a couple of shout-outs to Regalia Writing Labs. Beyond being a genius with nibs, Ralph Reyes, the creator, is a really nice guy.

He offered a limited run of “Full-Flex” nibs a few months ago, and Jim was lucky enough to snag one. It was absolutely amazing. Check out this fabulous flexibility. I wasn’t even putting much pressure on it.

Full Flex Writing Sample

So when Ralph announced a Semiflex nib was coming, I turned on post and story notifications for his Instagram account and eagerly awaited the start of the sale. I was lucky. I got my hands on a nib, as did Jim. It took a while, but our nibs finally arrived on Monday.

Semi-Flex Nib Packaging

Ralph did an amazing job with the packaging. I felt like I was getting a piece of jewelry. And I loved the custom seal.

Fountain Pen 101: Ink Reservoirs

Posted in Fountain Pens

Last week I covered ink, this week I’m covering it’s holders, namely ink reservoirs. The reservoir is what makes a fountain pen a fountain pen. Without one, it would be a dip pen. Essentially, there are two categories of ink reservoirs: removable and built-in.

The ratings you’ll find below are averages and based on my opinions. Each pen is different, and every person has different preferences, so don’t discount a pen just because of a rating; research it first. Ink capacity is rated ★☆☆☆☆ (least capacity) to ★★★★★ (most). Ease of cleaning is specifically for cleaning the reservoir itself, not the entire pen, and is assuming you do not disassemble the pen at all (e.g. removing the nib unit).

If you want video instructions or step-by-step photo instructions of how to utilize some of these ink reservoirs, check out these guides: JetPens | Goulet Pens

Fountain Pen 101: Nibs

Posted in Fountain Pens

Another Fountain Pen Friday, another Fountain Pen 101. Welcome back! This time I’m covering nibs. Let me start out by saying that this is an introduction to nibs. I’ll cover nib customization (yes, that’s a thing) later.

Overview

Your average fountain pen is going to be available in one of the following nib sizes: Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B), Double Broad (BB), and Stub (usually 1.1mm or 1.5mm, although 1.9mm does exist). You do occasionally come across Oblique nibs (similar to a stub, but cut at an angle), but they’re far less common and typically found on specialty pens.

Some pens, especially from indie pen makers, utilize standard #5 or #6 nib units from Bock or Jowo. That means you can purchase other nib units of the same size and manufacturer and swap them out. It’s like giving your pen a mini makeover.

Jowo Nib Unit
A Jowo nib unit. Photo from Nibs.com

Something to keep in mind when selecting a pen is the origin of its manufacturer. Japanese nibs tend to run 1-2 sizes thinner than Western nibs. So if you like a M Lamy, you’d probably want a B Platinum. JetPens (yep, them again) have a great post on the various nib sizes and differences between Japanese and Western nibs.

Nib width comparison
Comparison of Japanese and Western nib widths. Photo from Pentorium.com

Fountain Pen 101: Where to Start (with Pens)

Posted in Fountain Pens

Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101, and happy Fountain Pen Friday! This week, I’m taking a look at what I think are the best pens with which to start your fountain pen journey. This one is rather long, but I wanted to give you a good overview of each pen.

If you’ve never touched a fountain pen before, I’d suggest trying out the Platinum Preppy or the Pilot Metropolitan. They are both solid pens, with far more benefits than detriments. Another good pen, although a “step up” price-wise from the Preppy and Metropolitan is the Lamy Safari. It’s another solid pen that’s unlikely to let you down.

EDIT 2/12/2021: Since writing this post, I’ve changed my mind about the Safari being the best “step up” pen. I’m leaving the review below, because it’s not a bad pen by any means. However, there are two pens that, in my opinion, beat it out for top “step up” pen: the TWSBI 580 series and the Kaweco Sport series.

I’m leaving out the disposable Pilot Varsity, because, although inexpensive, it abandons the best parts of fountain pen use: changing inks and re-usability.

I’ll be rating each of the three pen on reliability (in terms of writing), appearance, durability, ink (both the availability of cartridges and the converter quality/style), nibs, and ease of cleaning.

I also took a look at several major retailers to see who offers the best deal for a “starter pack” of pen, pack of cartridges, and a converter. Prices listed below are in US dollars with the total price first, and the price of standard shipping to Maryland, United States — included in the total price — in parentheses.

Fountain Pen 101: Anatomy of a Pen

Posted in Fountain Pens

Welcome back to Fountain Pen 101. Before I really dive into the meat of this series, I want to cover the basic anatomy of a fountain pen. I’m just going to cover the parts I’ll be discussing later. If you want an in-depth look at all of the parts, I suggest you check out this post on the Goulet Pen Co. blog.

Open fountain pen

Cap: This one’s easy. Most pens have a cap. Those that do, it’s important to keep them capped when not in use, so the nib doesn’t dry out. Some people like to post the cap when using their pen (like in the photo below), but not all pens are postable. It depends on the body.

Fountain pen with cap posted

Body/Barrel: Another easy one. The “official” term is barrel, but I doubt anyone would be confused if you call it the body. If you’re using a cartridge or converter pen, this is the part you unscrew to get to said cartridge or converter. Depending on the shaping of the body (if it’s tapered or not) you may or may not be able to post the cap.

Fountain Pen 101: Why Fountain Pens?

Posted in Fountain Pens

Welcome to my inaugural Fountain Pen 101 issue! I’ve had a handful of questions about fountain pens on my various social media accounts, so I thought it might be helpful (and fun) to provide an introduction series. This 101 series is intended to provide you with all of the information necessary to make your first (informed) fountain pen purchase and/or prepare you to use a fountain pen you’ve been gifted. Stay tuned for a 102 series that will guide you through this rabbit hole you’ve discovered.

Down the rabbit hole

I’ll be posting weekly on Fountain Pen Friday (yes, that’s a thing), but you might want to subscribe to avoid missing a post. Before I go any further, I’d like to take a moment to say this won’t be an objective, all-informative series. I’ll be including what I’ve learned so far in my 1.5(ish) year journey down the fountain pen rabbit hole, including some very subjective information/analysis.

I decided to start with the simplest question: why fountain pens? But before I answer that, I’d like to take a step back and address a larger question. Why write?

The benefits of writing vs. typing have been well-documented, and are easy-to-find. Writing improves memory/recall, sharpens critical thinking, and pen/pencil and paper are easier on the eyes than digital screens.

Now, imagine how much the benefits improve when you enjoy writing. Ballpoint/Rollerball/Gel pens have come a long way. The writing is smoother, there are more color choices, and the pens are prettier than they ever have been. But fountain pens give you a completely different experience that really brings joy to writing.

Benefits

So what are some of the real benefits to fountain pens? Keep in mind, this list is not exhaustive, it’s an overview of what I consider to be the biggest perks.