Fountain pen writing has dominated the world of ink and paper for years. Aside from incredible sketches and excellent calligraphic signatures, fountain pens have also become a fan favorite for everyday writing.
In this guide, we cover all the reasons behind the popularity of fountain pens, how to choose the perfect fountain pen, tips to improve your handwriting, and how to take care of your pen.
Why Should You Start Fountain Pen Writing?
Did you know that fountain pens are an important part of French education? Despite the risk of ink bleeding, the learning curve of holding one correctly, and the steps to refill it, fountain pens continue to be the leading choice for many artists, schools, and calligraphers. Here’s why:
Fountain pens are the definition of sophisticated. They are used by artists all around the world for beautiful signatures and by students for handwriting improvement. They are also often gifted to show care and companionship. Fountain pens are as luxurious in function as they are aesthetically beautiful.
Fountain pens do not require a death grip on the handle or increased pressure on the paper to get the ink flowing. They are actually designed with an ergonomic body and sharp nibs so that every pen feels personalized to your comfort. The wrist is relaxed, which prevents hand fatigue and cramps.
Fountain pens are one of the best tools to improve handwriting and reduce heavy-handedness on paper. The nibs actually break in after a week or so and meld to your personal writing style. This enhances the comfort of handling the pen and makes the writing more legible, even for left-handed people.
There are several different sizes and shapes of nibs available for fountain pens, which covers the need of a diverse niche of artists. From calligraphers, comic artists, and sketch artists to people with cursive fonts and note-takers with looser handwriting, fountain pens accommodate everyone. There are multiple ink tints available too.
Fountain pens are available in a wide range of prices, and most of them are pricier than a standard ballpoint pen. However, many of them are made with detachable ink cartridges, so all you need to do is refill the ink. This way, you actually save money in the long run.
Most fountain pen inks are available in glass bottles, so once you’ve settled on your favorite brand and standard color, you can purchase a big bottle of ink, use it for years, and recycle it later. This reduces plastic consumption and pollution, which is better for the Earth.
Fountain pens, including the nib, can last a lifetime if they are properly maintained. They are quite sturdy and exceptionally durable. This also factors into the cost-effectiveness of the pen.
How to Choose a Fountain Pen
After going over the many benefits of a fountain pen, it’s only natural that you now want to purchase one. But before you zero in on just any fountain pen, here are some key points to prioritize when you’re in the market of choosing a fountain pen.
Material of Fountain Pen Nib
The nib of a fountain pen is its main functional point, so take care when choosing one. Fountain pen nibs are mostly made of steel. They are affordable, durable, and resistant to rust. Also, they glide well on notebook paper.
Luxury or novelty fountain pens may be outfitted with gold nibs and sometimes palladium nibs as they offer supreme durability, are incredibly responsive on paper, and provide better control of ink. This helps business owners sign quickly but legibly.
Tip of Fountain Pen Nib
Aside from material, the design of the pen nib also matters. You’ll find extra fine (EF), fine (F), medium (M), and broad (B) fountain pen nibs. The first two are generally designed for writers who write in a smaller font with a lighter hand, while the last two are designed for people with largely-spaced handwriting.
The extra fine and fine nibs also give left-handed people more flexibility with the positioning of the pen, which improves handwriting and prevents smudging. Broad fountain pen nibs are great for calligraphers and sketch artists that work on large canvases.
Size of Fountain Pen
Fountain pens are manufactured in varying sizes to cater to different hand sizes. Small fountain pens work for small, petite hands and vice versa. Experiment with regular inexpensive pens and settle on a size that feels comfortable. Then, find a complementary size in a fountain pen.
Weight of Fountain Pen
To find a fountain pen with the perfect weight, consider the use case and the pressure you generally tend to put down on a paper while writing.
For instance, if you have a heavy hand but need a fountain pen for long hours of note taking, go for a mid-weight or lightweight fountain pen. If you need one simply for signatures, a fountain pen with considerable weight may work well.
There are three types of ink filling mechanisms available for fountain pens.
A cartridge ink filler is a tube built inside the fountain pen. It fills with ink through the nib and is usually disposable. As convenient as it sounds, some fountain pens with ink cartridges do not have a wide variety of inks available aside from the company’s exclusive.
Fountain pens that use standard size cartridges can use cartridges made to the same international standard.
Some fountain pen users usually dispose of the cartridge ink filler and install a converter filler, which is also a tube that is filled with ink manually. It works well with all inks, does not cost much to replace, and is easy to clean.
Antique fountain pens are equipped with a piston ink filler that fills the pen with ink by turning a built-in spindle. It eliminates the risk of ink spills and works more elegantly than the other two.
Fountain pens are created in every color you can imagine, including the classic trio: black, silver, and gold. It is completely possible to find basic, affordable fountain pens as well as deluxe and novelty fountain pens.
Nowadays, manufacturers are experimenting with ombrè pen bodies and different patterns for a more eye-catching look. You can also engrave a name for a personalized look.
What to Consider When Using a Fountain Pen to Improve Handwriting
Fountain pens are provided to primary students all over the world to help them get a grip on hand lettering. This is mainly because the fountain pen nib tends to break in and provide a smoother writing experience. If you’d like to improve your handwriting using a fountain pen, here’s what you need to keep in mind:
Paper is produced in a variety of different sizes and weights. The most popular paper sizes are A4 and A5. The size dimensions are always labeled with an alphabet and a number.
Note that as the number increases, the paper dimensions decrease, meaning A5 paper is smaller than A4 paper. If you are in search of large-sized paper, you’ll have to jump the alphabet instead. Look for B4 paper (good for tabloids) or C5 (used for envelopes).
Aside from paper size, consider the weight of the paper. It is usually denoted by ‘gsm’, and the thicker it is, the better it’ll keep the ink from bleeding and transferring to the other side.
The best paper for fountain pens is A4 sized, made from cotton or a blend of wood-based pulp, and usually weighs 80gsm. This is a standard frame of paper and can be found in notebooks, notepads, and loose sheets.
Use the Right Tools
Once the right paper is secured, find a fountain pen nib that works for you. When you’re trying to improve your handwriting, it’s best to start by following the style you already have and eventually branch towards writing better.
So, if you have a small font or write in cursive, go for fine or extra fine nibs. They are delicate but durable and cover a small area with ink. Broad and mid-sized nibs will work if you have bigger handwriting. The surface is larger so the ink covers more space.
If you’re left-handed, use an extra fine nib with fast-drying ink to prevent smudging.
Position of Hand
One of the main reasons for poor handwriting is that the pen isn’t held correctly. Generally, a fountain pen is positioned at a 45 to 50 degree angle so that the pen nib glides smoothly on the paper and ink flows constantly — the same applies for left-handed people as well.
The thumb and forefinger are placed on top while the middle finger supports the pen from the bottom. If the pen’s scratching the paper, reduce the angle between the pen and paper.
Relax the Wrist
After the fountain pen is positioned correctly, start writing. You do not need to put a lot of pressure on the paper to get the ink flowing. Keep the wrist relaxed and let most of the movement be restricted to the arms and shoulders.
How to Take Care of a Fountain Pen
Fountain pens can last up to 50 years or even a lifetime, but there are a couple maintenance steps you need to do in order to complement a fountain pen’s durability. Spoiler alert: they are quite easy, and once you get the hang of them, they’ll become second nature.
The best way to keep the ink flowing consistently when the fountain pen is in use and maintain a nib that feels smooth on paper is to keep the fountain pen clean. Aside from wiping it down with a damp paper towel before a break, deep-clean the pen every month following the steps below:
- First, detach the ink cartridge from the fountain pen carefully.
- Rinse the fountain pen from the tip of the nib to the handle with water.
- If the ink cartridge is built-in, empty out the fountain pen by discharging the ink.
- Then, fill the pen with water like you would fill it with ink and flush it out in the same manner.
- Repeat the procedure until the water runs clear.
- Now, blow air through the ink cartridge or the nib into the fountain pen to release any residual water and dry it completely.
- With a paper towel, wipe off the nib and the fountain pen handle.
If the fountain pen nib is clogged with ink, here’s what you need to do:
- Take a small container and fill it up with clean water.
- Place a paper towel on the floor of the container.
- Remove the fountain pen nib from the handle carefully and submerge it in the water. The paper towel will keep it steady.
- Soak the clogged nib overnight or longer.
- Then, rinse the nib off with cold water until the water runs clear.
- Dry off the interior by blowing air and the exterior with a paper towel.
After the fountain pen is clean, it’s ready to be equipped with a new ink cartridge and write good as new.
Keep It Capped
Most modern fountain pens are equipped with a cap to keep the nib from splitting and the ink from bleeding. Make sure to keep the pen capped whether you’re taking a pause from work or storing it until later. This will prevent the nib from rusting.
Store It ‘Write’ Side Up
Always make sure to store the fountain pen with the nib facing up. You can get a pen holder to ensure it doesn’t fall and spill ink everywhere. If you’re traveling or packing the pen for school, store the fountain pen after emptying out the ink inside so the ink is less likely to bleed.
Pack in a Pouch
Whether you’re taking the fountain pen on a flight or storing it for later use, always make sure to seal it in a pen case so the nib isn’t exposed to rust. Plus, that way, if the ink bleeds, the spill will be contained. This also ensures the finish is well-kept.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you use a fountain pen daily?
Yes, one of the biggest benefits of having a fountain pen is that it’s good for regular writing in addition to calligraphy and comics. In fact, many students are required to use a fountain pen for note taking. They work well for rushed writing as well as making grocery lists.
Is it worth getting a fountain pen?
Absolutely! Fountain pens are ergonomic, meaning they keep the wrist relaxed while writing and prevent cramps. They are versatile, work well with different tints, and are quite pleasing to the eye. Fountain pens are exceptionally durable too, and, with the proper care, they are capable of lasting up to 50 years.
Why do fountain pens cost so much?
Fountain pens require meticulous engineering so that the nib is sharp, the handle is durable, and the ink filler is leak-proof. The 7-step process, from carving the steel and sharpening the tip to engraving the client’s name, requires high precision and can take a lot of time. This is why good quality fountain pens can be expensive.
Can fountain pens go on planes?
Yes, modern fountain pens are travel-friendly and portable. To ensure they are leak-proof, empty the ink cartridge and wipe off the fountain pen with a damp paper towel. Keep the ink and its cartridge in an airtight ziploc bag. This way, ink bleeds are kept under control.
How long do fountain pens last?
Fountain pens can actually last a lifetime if they are properly taken care of. In fact, they improve with age — the nib becomes easily broken in, which makes the writing process smoother. Only the ink cartridge needs to be replaced every 6 months. This ensures the pen doesn’t leak.
Can you use a fountain pen on notebook paper?
Yes, fountain pens can be used on notebook paper. Just make sure the paper is relatively thick or well-absorbing so the ink doesn’t transfer over to the next page or bleed out. It may need a second or two to dry on loose leaf paper.
Can you draw with a fountain pen?
Yes, fountain pens can be used for sketches and drawings. They offer more control over the types of lines created and allow artists to easily vary the thickness of strokes by increasing or decreasing the pressure on the paper. Also, fountain pens can be used with a variety of tints, which gives artists more freedom to draw. Plus, they prevent wrist cramps.
All in all, fountain pen writing is a wonderful way to improve hand lettering and draw great pieces. All you need to do is remember the tips above to choose the perfect fountain pen that’ll last you a lifetime.