How to Use a Fountain Pen
The art of writing by hand is slowly dying with emails, text message, and chats becoming the norm. Yet, there is a certain pleasure that comes from reading a well-crafted, hand-written piece of paper that cannot be replaced. The act of writing that engages so many of your senses – the smell of the ink, the look of the paper, and the soft sound of your pen grazing the paper as the words form under your hand – transforms even a simple to-do list into a meditative experience. Writing with a fountain pen instead of a ballpoint pen heightens this experience even further.
While fountain pens are not used as often these days, they still symbolize a certain sophistication and give your handwriting an elegance that you cannot find with any other writing instrument. Using a fountain pen is, thankfully, an easy art to learn. We’ve put together a few tips on how to write with a fountain pen to help you get started.
Choosing a Fountain Pen:
A fountain pen is meant to fit your hand perfectly which is why they come in varying sizes and thicknesses. Use the Goldilocks technique to find what is just right. Hold the pen in your hand and see how it fits and choose one that feels comfortable – not too thick or thin. It shouldn’t feel too heavy or too light either. If you have smaller hands, choose a smaller pen or a lighter pen. Eventually it will feel like an extension of your own hand."
Nib sizes and materials vary too. Medium-sized nibs are typically best for everyday use. Varying nibs sizes are great for calligraphy too.
Filling Your Pen with Ink:
Fountain pens have different filling systems depending on the brand, their age, and a whole bunch of other factors. A common mechanism is ink cartridges. They are easy to use and non-messy. All you have to do is replace a cartridge with a fresh one and your fountain pen is ready to use again. The biggest limitation with cartridges is that they are often brand specific so you may not get as wide a range of ink colours to choose from. Using a cartridge converter can help you draw ink straight from the bottle. A cartridge converter is great for the environment too as it cuts down on single-use plastics.
Hold the Pen:
Take the cap off and hold the pen in your dominant hand, pinching it gently between your forefinger and thumb. The side of your middle finger should rest against the barrel of the pen and your other two fingers act to stabilize your hand against the paper. Keep your hand rigid at the wrist and let your arm and shoulder do most of the work.
Touch the Nib to Paper:
Unlike ballpoint pens where you just press the tip to paper and go, fountain pens require a little more care. Pressing too hard on the paper can break the nib of your fountain pen so remember to use a light touch. Fountain pens work with gravity so pressure is unnecessary. The nib should face away from you and hold the pen so that the nib is at a 40 to 55-degree angle to the paper. You’ll find the sweet spot that works for your hand and your pen easily.
You can either keep the cap aside while you write or “post” the cap on top of the pen as you write. Try both methods and see what works for you. Some people prefer the added weight of the cap as they write. Remember to replace the cap when you’re done writing so that the ink doesn’t dry out inside the pen. Store the pen with the nib upwards so that the nib doesn’t get saturated with ink while it isn’t being used or use a pen case to protect it from scratches and temperature changes.
If you want to see how it’s done, check out this video that covers everything from the basics to calligraphy.
Taking care of your fountain pen involves cleaning it on a regular basis and changing nibs as they are worn out – but that’s an entire topic by itself and we’ll tell you about it soon.
In the meantime, check out our range of fountain pens in Toronto, Kaweco Pens offer multiple thicknesses and prices to suit hands and pockets of all sizes while the Platinum #3776 fountain pens are pens for life.
If you’ve never used a fountain pen before, we suggest you give it a try. Our friendly assistants (and fountain pen aficionados) at Blesket Pens, Toronto will be happy to help. If you can’t make it here, you can browse products on our online store too. We offer Free Canada Post ground shipping/expedited domestic purchases over $39.99 (before taxes) in Ontario and Quebec and ship all over Canada and the U.S.
If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call, reach out on social media, or send us an email!