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Beginner's Guide to Fountain Pens

Fountain Pens are the embodiment of preferring quality over efficiency, patience over haste, and a solid appreciation for old world style. They provide a beautiful approach for anyone to give some class to their signatures, hand written letters, calligraphy, or general writing.

This is the total beginner's guide to all things fountain pens from the anatomy to use, cleaning, and storage. 

 

1) Anatomy of a Fountain Pen

Fountain Pen Anatomy

a) The Nib

The nib is the part of the pen that touches the paper when writing. The shape and style of nib is important as it changes the amount of ink distributed and hence the thickness of the line you are writing.

Nibs can come in many different materials and styles and are ranked from extra-fine to extra broad.

Most fountain pens have replaceable nibs. 

b) The Grip

 The grip is the place where you hold onto the pen.

c) The Barrel

 The barrel is the back end of the pen and is a structural component and screws into the grip. The ink cartridge or converter is kept within the barrel.

 Fountain Pen in Everyday Use

 

2) Install the Ink on a Fountain Pen

There are two main options for putting ink into a fountain pen - using ink cartridges or using a converter with bottled ink.  

a) Cartridges

Cartridges are the most common and simplest approach to ink. They are a self contained ink package that slots inside your pen. They are highly recommended for beginners.

Cartridges cannot be re-sealed when partway full, so if you are looking to change colours frequently this can be a problem.

Once you have installed a cartridge it can take some time for the ink to fully saturate so it might not start writing straight away. It can take up to an hour to get completely filled.

Not all cartridges are compatible with all fountain pens - so make sure you have gotten the correct brand/type.

b) Bottles and Converters

 A converter is a refillable device that draws ink from a bottle. These generally come in either piston or squeeze converters.

Using ink bottles are preferable if you go through a lot of ink as they are cheaper in the long run. They also offer more colour options compared to cartridges.

 Fountain Pen Engineering

 

3) How to Hold a Fountain Pen

Hold the pen nib comfortable in your hand with the nib at 45 degrees from the paper surface. It is also critical to make sure both nib tines are in contact with the paper, so don't rotate the pen while writing.

Also keep in mind the pressure applied. Fountain pens require less pressure than ball point pens, in fact applying too much pressure can damage the pen over time.

 Fountain Pen Signature

 

4) How to Maintain a Fountain Pen

a) Cleaning

We recommend cleaning your pen every 1-2 months to remove any foreign particles, such as dust, that can clog your pen over time resulting in poor quality writing.

This can be done by disassembling your pen and rinsing it thoroughly with clean flushing water. The pen can then be placed in a glass of clean water. When the water changes colour from the ink then replace it. Keep replacing the water until all of the ink has been removed. 

 

5) Practice Makes Perfect

It can take some time for writing with fountain pens to feel natural. We always recommend practicing and experimenting with different nibs and ink colours. 

Try writing at different angles and different pressures to figure out how your unique pen writes best.

 Fountain Pen Premium

 

6) Frequently Asked Questions

a) Does Fountain Pen Ink take longer to dry?

Yes, generally this is true. There are some specially designed faster drying inks. The type of paper you are writing on also impacts on the drying speed. 

b) Do I need special Fountain Pen paper?

No, fountain pens will work on most normal paper. For best results, then fountain pen paper will improve your writing, drying time, etc. but it is not absolutely critical.

c) Do Fountain Pens write upside down?

No. Fountain Pens use gravity so writing upside down or even at a high angle is problematic.

2 comments

  • Hi Glenn,
    The nib size is really determined by what you intend to use it for. The size of the nib dictates the flow of ink and hence the thickness of the line that you will draw. A medium nib is ideal for multiple scenario’s – it is preferred for beginner’s as it allows the widest range of applications. The fine nibs produce a very thin line and the broad nibs produce a thick line. So in summary, it really depends on how you intend to use your fountain pen.

    Russ
  • How do I know which nib is right for me: fine, medium or broad?

    Glenn Boyd

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