Tag Archives: pens

Filling the pen cup

Well, yes, my exploration of fountain pens has continued. Belatedly, I realized I should do at least a smidgen of research before I spent any more money. Did so, and was promptly torn between delight at how easy it was to find useful information and regret that I hadn’t thought of this before I bought Pen #2. The fountain pen world wants to encourage newcomers, it seems: there are several “Fountain Pen 101” articles out there.

Not only did I find recommendations for good pens for beginners, I found some of those pens close to home. The art supplies store near me carries the Platinum Preppy in all its colors (seven) and nib widths (three), so I went to see what they were like in real life. Instant gratification ensued. I came, I saw, I scribbled, and I left with blue and green.

Also, these pens come with a stern warning: “Do not use this pen other than for writing.” (Guaranteed to immediately get you to think of all sorts of illicit things to do with said pen.) Now I have more dangerous tools to entertain myself with, along with my knitting needles. Who knew my hobbies were so hazardous?

Anyway, 24 hours later, I was back to get the remaining colors: pink, yellow, violet, and red. I’m not sure what I’m going to write with yellow ink, which isn’t the easiest thing to read, but how could I skip my favorite color? The store was out of the black one, which gave me an excuse to try two other beginner’s pens. The Pilot Kaküno is also a nice pen for the price, and surely everyone needs at least one pen with a winky face on the nib. (Maybe it’s intended for children. Or perhaps Pilot figures anyone’s first fountain pen should be friendly and unintimidating.) The Metropolitan, also by Pilot, has the pleasant weight of a metal body, and I can pretend to be a sophisticated adult while using it.

8 fountain pens

So I have gone from two fountain pens to ten in the course of a week, and all for a minimal outflow of money. I’ve found a nearby supplier and I’m keeping caught up on small writing projects like blog posts and book reviews because they give me an excuse to use the new pens. Ah, the joy of plunging into a new passion!

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The beginning of the fountain pen adventure

I now have fountain pens. Two of them. I wasn’t expecting this. I do like pens, and I’ll buy fancy ones—well, the inexpensive end of fancy, anyway—but my main interest is ballpoint pens. Fine point, no blopping, and if it’s comfortable in the hand, we’re good. And I’ll get the occasional rollerball, because, let’s be honest, black ballpoint ink is more like gray compared to a black rollerball, and rollerballs can have finer points. But that’s about as wildly exciting as I get.

I have owned a fountain pen before. It was back when I was in high school, and I bought it because the barrel was bright yellow, my favorite color. I remember it had cartridges, and that sometimes it leaked, and the leaking was enough for me to eventually get rid of it. And then years of increasingly better ballpoints followed, and I forgot about it. It certainly hadn’t been enough of a wonderful writing experience for me to want to pursue it.

Fountain pen lying on a page of writing

Someone else’s pen.

I did not set out to get the first of my two “modern” fountain pens. Last year, I ordered a ballpoint pen from a vendor, and when I opened the package, there were two pens inside. The fountain pen was a freebie, complete with a sampler-sized vial of green ink and a little device that I now know is called a converter, but with no instructions. I left it warily alone for months before curiosity got the better of me and I tried filling it.

(I should perhaps reassure everyone at this point that no permanent damage was done. The ink wore off my fingers in a few days and I didn’t get any on my clothes. No lasting damage. Also, after my first attempt to fill the pen failed, I came to my senses, went online, and found instructions.)

The writing experience was interesting. Look, I know ballpoint pens aren’t universally loved. They’re readily available and long-lasting, but a lot of people don’t like the amount of effort it takes to push them across the paper. But since they’re what I’ve written with for most of my adult life, they’re my standard for “normal.” And to me, rollerballs aren’t that different from ballpoints, although many of mine have points so fine that they feel scratchy when I write in cursive, and I save them for printing. This first fountain pen came with a fine nib, and was a bit on the scratchy side itself, but not unbearably. But the pen itself isn’t all that comfortable to hold. It has a triangular grip and it’s plastic, without a lot of weight to it. So I decided to buy another one. All in the spirit of experimentation, you understand.

I really like holding Pen #2. It’s metal, it weighs more, the grip is round. But the nib is wider than that of the freebie, and it’s annoying. Despite that reputation ballpoint pens have for requiring a lot of pressure to write with, I must be a light writer. I’m apparently not pressing the pen firmly enough to the paper, and Pen #2 is unforgiving of light writing—it just skips. My writing with this pen looks hideous. When it’s not skipping, the pen is putting out so much ink that only my heaviest paper stands a chance of keeping it from bleeding through, and even then it’s ghosting. Yes, I’ve started the search for a finer nib that will fit this pen, which means I’m going to be learning about fountain pens, and that wasn’t on the agenda for this year. Buuuut…I have purple ink. When I bought the second fountain pen, I bought purple ink cartridges to go with it. I love the colors that are available. I’m thinking to buy more green ink and refill the freebie pen. This is going to be what keeps me playing with fountain pens: all the pretty ink.


photo credit: insEyedout Studio via photopin (license)

My (pencil) cup runneth over

I like to write. I mean this in the physical sense: I enjoy pushing and pulling a pen across paper and leaving words in my wake. It must be something about writing itself, because moving a pen around on paper could describe drawing, and yet I’ve never really felt like making pictures with a pen. Just words.

Now to write, you need something to write on and something to write with. My paper supplies are almost reasonable, if you don’t look too closely at my stationery reserves or count how many blank books I’ve got stockpiled. I assure you, I’m working to deplete both. But then, there are the pens.

[pauses, sighs]

pens

Rest assured, about 60% of these pens were passed along to others after the picture was taken.

It’s the color. Well, it was the color, back in college when I started writing my papers in every color of pen I could buy: a different color for each idea. (Because before personal computers, writing a paper meant first writing it out by hand and then typing up the final version.) But that doesn’t matter much anymore. Over the years I’ve moved from many colors to blue and from blue to black. I’m delighted to report that I’m still capable of writing and creativity. Really, if this is a sign of maturity, it hasn’t been documented all that well.

Now it’s the feel of the pen that matters. A great pen has a near-perfect combination of width, weight, and texture. It writes without either skipping or blurping. It doesn’t magically come up with words, of course, but I figure, if I’m frequently picking it up it because it’s so pleasant to hold, there’s always a chance the Muse will consider this an invitation and drop by for a visit. The major drawback is acquiring enough pens to open my own office supply store—like my yarn stash, I suspect my pen stash will grow throughout my life. At least it doesn’t take up half a closet!