Writing with a fountain pen is more than just an act. It is a skill that has been passed down for centuries, starting with quills and ink. The concept of fountain pens has since evolved, and we now have more modern versions of the pen.
Using a fountain pen is not as straightforward as writing with a regular ball-point pen. However, the ink delivery system in the ball-point pen is more reserved and controlled, making it easier for users.
Fountain pen enthusiasts need to pay a lot of attention when writing, or you will end up staining yourself and your writing surface. Let’s see how to hold a fountain pen like an expert.
Parts of the Fountain Pen
To better understand how to hold a fountain pen, let’s first look at the parts that make up the pen when looking at it from the outside.
The barrel of the fountain pen can also be referred to as the pen’s handle. The barrel is the upper body that houses the reservoir for the ink, and it is usually made with fine materials that give the pen a vintage appearance.
The reservoir or ink tank is the part of the pen that holds ink. The ink that flows out of the nib flows from the reservoir, and the reservoir can be either ink cartridges or an ink converter.
The feed is the component that comes after the reservoir, and it allows ink to flow from the reservoir to the nib. The feed divides into three parallel channels through which the ink gets to the nib, and the design limits the amount of ink that comes out with each stroke.
The nib is the metallic tip that the ink comes out of. The nib has a split down the middle, and the split ends in an air channel just above the nib.
There are different sizes of nibs, and the size of the fountain pen nibs determines the size of your lettering.
How to Handle a Fountain Pen
Using a fountain pen can be a wonderful experience, especially when you see the beauty of writing on quality paper.
Most times, people rush to get a fountain pen and start learning how to use it, but this is not a good approach. So before you get a fountain pen or try to write with one, there are some things you need to be aware of.
Get the Right Fountain Pen for You
All fountain pens are not the same, and even pens made by the same brand can differ. In addition, the sizes of the pen and the nibs can vary, so you need to know what works for you.
Here are some factors to consider when getting a fountain pen:
Your Lettering Style
Your lettering style refers to how your text appears when you write. It could be big or small fonts, bold or slim writing, and more.
If your texts are more of the slim and small type, it is advisable to go for a fountain pen with a small or fine nib. Fine nib fountain pens allow very little ink to flow out at a time, making it easier for you to make small lettering with bold fonts.
Also, fine nib fountain pens reduce the risk of flooding your paper with ink.
On the other hand, if you have big, bold handwriting, it is better to go for a fountain pen with a broad nib. This is because broad nib fountain pens allow a higher flow rate of ink at a time, and you have more ink to maximize with each stroke.
Before getting a fountain pen, you need to know what lettering style you’re used to and choose a pen that can perform that function. There are also several types and sizes of fountain pens, so be sure to get one that will suit your needs.
Your Hand Size
Another important factor that will affect how you hold your fountain pen is your hand size. You need a pen that you can hold conveniently, as it will make writing easier and reduce the risk of smearing your writing surface.
If you have big hands, it is better to get a pen that you can hold conveniently, such as a larger size fountain pen. A big-size fountain pen gives you more space and girth for you to hold.
If you have smaller hands, it’s better to go for a fountain pen with more finesse. A slim fountain pen or light fountain pen will make it easier for you to grip your pen when you’re writing.
The Weight of the Pen
The weight of the pen and the size of your hand go hand in hand. When using a fountain pen, it is crucial that the pen feels comfortable and natural in your hand. The pen’s weight can affect how your writing turns out, and if your pen is not comfortable, you will have difficulties achieving the desired effect.
It is better to go for a heavier or thicker pen if you have big hands. An example of a thick fountain pen is a 15mm barrel diameter.
Choose a pen that will feel comfortable in your hands and won’t affect your writing. You don’t need to get a slim pen if you have small hands. And if a slim pen works for those of you with big hands, then go for your personal preference.
Your writing speed is another thing to consider when getting a fountain pen.
If you have a fast writing speed, it is advisable to go for a lightweight pen, making it easier to maintain your writing speed. On the other hand, if you pair a heavy pen with a fast writer, it will take some getting used to, and you might spoil your text before you fully adapt to it.
If you have a slow writing speed, it is better to choose a suitable pen for this purpose. Slow writers tend to apply more pressure to the work surface, so you should get a pen with a nib that won’t damage the paper.
Nature of Characters
The type of characters you plan to write is another thing to consider. For example, if you’re writing regular English letters, you don’t have to lift your pen often, and it is more like you’re sliding over the paper. A broad nib fountain pen is useful for writing English letters and cursive.
It is safer to go for a fine nib fountain pen for other letterings like Chinese and characters that require more detail.
Holding the Fountain Pen
Once you’ve got the perfect pen for your taste, you can learn how to master holding a fountain pen.
Balance is very important for getting a perfect lettering experience from your pen. If you can properly balance your pen, understanding every other step will become much easier.
One trick to getting a perfect balance is writing with or without your pen cap.
Some people prefer to leave the cap on while writing because it adds a certain amount of weight at the other end, which counteracts the pressure you’re applying at the nib.
On the other hand, some people prefer to write without the cap and enjoy the more compact form of the pen.
There is no right way to achieve balance. You can also try writing with and without the cap on and stick to see which option works for you.
The grip on your fountain pen is crucial, and it needs to be appropriate. If there is a problem with your grip, it is possible to have an irregular ink supply, and you will end up with splodges on your writing surface.
The optimal grip for a fountain pen is the tripod grip. The tripod grip requires you to hold the pen between your index finger and your thumb, and the other part of the pen rests on the junction between your thumb and your index finger.
Also, the middle finger and the rest of your fingers will be curled under your index finger and rest on the surface you’re writing on.
Using the tripod grip ensures a continuous flow of ink from the nib, and you can keep writing without creating streaks on the paper surface. Also, the tripod grip makes it easier for you to write for a long time, and your hand glides effortlessly over the paper.
The angle is another important thing to note, and it contributes to how smoothly the ink will flow out of your pen.
A fountain pen operates by pressure. Air flows into the ink chamber through the air channel, and the air pushes the ink out via the three parallel channels from the feed.
If the ink is not flowing smoothly, you will notice that the paper feels dry, and the ink will not come out properly. To prevent the improper flow of ink, keeping your pen at a 45 to 50-degree angle is important.
Using the tripod grip, you can easily achieve this angle by holding your pen close to the nib. Holding your pen close to the nib, or the “sweet spot” of your fountain pen, makes writing easier and produces a neater effect.
Master the Movement
The next thing is to learn the right way to move your hand when writing.
Use Your Lower Arm Muscles
We’ve noticed that most people use their fingers and wrist more when writing, which causes cramps in their palms and fingers. Instead of using your wrist and fingers, it is better to use the muscles in your lower arm.
Your lower arm is more developed than your wrist in terms of muscle, and it can take more strain. So ensure that you‘re moving your lower arm and not just your wrist when writing.
For those already used to keeping their lower arm stationary, it will take some practice before you can switch to using your lower arm.
Also, try not to fiddle around with the pen, especially if you’re taking a break. Fiddling with your pen can cause you to move your hand from the “sweet spot,” and it can be frustrating trying to get that comfortable feeling back.
Easy on the Pressure
One advantage that fountain pens have over ball-point pens is that fountain pens don’t require pressure on the nib to release the ink. A ball-point pen requires pressure to be applied on the tip before the ink can flow out.
However, the ball-point of the pen is soft, and applying pressure to it doesn’t damage your writing surface. Fountain pen nibs are made from metal, and applying too much pressure can ruin your writing surface or paper.
The fountain pen design includes ink (which is already watery) that easily flows out when the nib is positioned properly.
With a fountain pen, all you need to do is move your arm over your writing surface using the methods we’ve discussed, and you’re ready to produce some beautiful letterings.
Learning the right way to hold a fountain pen starts with getting the perfect pen for yourself, understanding how to hold the pen, and then the proper way to move your arm.
Writing with a fountain pen is a luxurious and fun experience. You can learn and master the skill with just a little fun practice. Once you’ve learned how to use your pen, you will never forget the skill.