If you’ve never owned a reasonably high quality fountain pen before you might need a little bit of assistance to get the most from your writing experience with it. Most of you reading this will have owned a cheap fountain pen when you were a child or teenager; far too young to appreciate what it takes to really enjoy using a fountain pen. Back then fountain pens just meant a lot of spilled ink and frustration and even as adults it won’t do any harm to follow some of our tips on using a fountain pen properly.
1. Cartridges First
There’s a huge temptation to dive straight in with bottled in when you first get your new fountain pen but that can be a big mistake for a number of reasons. Firstly you need to know in advance which ink will most suit your fountain pen – not all inks are created equal. And secondly using the wrong type of bottled ink with a good fountain pen can ruin it. It’s for those very reasons that using ink cartridges in your fountain pen, for the first little while, makes absolute sense.
2. Experiment With Nibs
If there is no other single, and quite huge, advantage to using a fountain pen it is that you can customize your writing style by simply changing the nib on your pen. You can choose a narrow nib for more precise writing or a broad nib for more sweeping strokes of ink that resemble calligraphy pens, or if you want to create text in an italic style you could experiment with a “stub” nib instead. You’ll need to test a few different types of nibs to find the one that best represents your writing style but you’ll also have the reassurance of being able to create an entirely new writing style for you by just changing the nib on your pen!
3. Cleaning and Storage
When you first get a new fountain pen you open the presentation box with reverence and care – this is an investment for you. But all too often the luster of the new pen wears off and it’s left lying in a drawer until you next choose to pick it up and use it. The problem with doing this is that it’s a perfect way to cause your pen to clog up with dried out ink and start causing you problems. Before you put any fountain pen away, for the period when you don’t intend using it, please make absolutely sure that you drain it of all residual ink; just doing that can resolve most fountain pen issues.
It’s also important to clean your fountain pen roughly ever 4-weeks or so and this simply involves removing any pieces of paper or fiber that have been caught in the ink feed channel inside the pen. Ideally you would clean your fountain pen thoroughly and drain it of residual ink before you store it in a dedicated fountain pen storage case in that same drawer. Carrying out a simple and regular cleaning and maintenance routine on your pen will extend its life and its usefulness to you dramatically.
4. Experiment With Ink
Choosing to write with a fountain pen means that you’re not longer stuck with just writing in black or blue ink, as you are with ballpoint or rollerball pens. In fact if you can think of a color you’ll find a bottled or cartridge ink that matches it, so why write in boring navy blue when you can be doodling in turquoise or in shades like “Winter Persimmon” or “Autumn Shower”? It’s the experience of filling a fountain pen from bottled ink and then writing with it that simply can’t be recreated by using any other type of pen, maybe with the exception of using a quill and a pot of ink like an ancient scribe from antiquity.
It’s important to understand that not all inks are created equal and you should avoid using “Indian” ink in your refill pens and stick to inks from companies like Noodler’s, Sheaffer, Waterman and Lamy for example.
The main thing to focus on when using your fountain pen is to have fun and enjoy the experience of using a pen that will improve your writing and your penmanship and help you renew your love of writing or even just doodling on fine vellum paper. Excited yet?