We all know why we read or write blogs like these. We fountain pen people all suffer from penvangelism; the compulsive need to get everyone around us to know about the joys of fountain pen writing. And we all want to acknowledge the quirks that come with using fountain pens as “normal behavior”. Apart from the quirks, there are quite a number of legitimate reasons for using fountain pens. I kept it to six in this post, but more reasons will no doubt follow.
Feeling connected with what you are doing
The connection many of us have with our fountain pen(s), is a very intimate one. Whether you use your pen at school, at work or at home, the minute you put that nib on the paper, it is your brain, your hand and the pen working together. Capturing the essence of a lecture, of your plans or thoughts is so much more intense with that pen forcing you to slow down and be connected to what you are doing there and then. It is almost like meditating while being productive in school or at the office or contemplative while journaling or writing a journal, a letter, a note or even a shopping list.
Individuality – treasuring what makes you you
A fountain pen is an ideal tool to express your individuality. You choose your instrument, your nib size, the ink. Your handwriting makes your pen a completely individual instrument. Whether your write in print, stick and ball, cursive or calligraphy, the ink line you put down there and then will never be repeated anywhere else at any time. Even if you work in a conservative environment, you can choose which shade of chic blue black you ink up your pen with. Using an ink that cost more than your boss’s socks can be somehow gratifying. Why not dazzle those colleagues with the brightest and heaviest sheen in an otherwise very respectable blue or express your closet alternative streak with the darkest of black inks. It’s all up to you. As a teacher you might want to shake up grading papers with a purple or orange instead of a red. Or just use the bloodiest of reds there is…
Treasuring the craftsmanship
Fountain pen design and production still involves a large human component. The process for designing a new pen, whether high end or mass production, requires a team of people deciding the pen’s purpose, audience, characteristics. As long as there are fountain pens, there will be people who know all about nibs and feeds, tuning, ink filling systems, cebloplasts, celluloids, precious resins, wood, precious metals. Even when the first fountain pens are churned out by a 3D printer, there is still a person determining how the pen will look and function. The craftsmanship may shift to new and digital processes, the principles of how a fountain pen works will remain largely the same. It is all about controlling that ink leak into a beautiful line on paper.
Supporting small makers
Even as we sadly see fountain brands disappear, the number of small makers appears to be growing. There are quite a few independent pen turners out there either making a viable business for themselves or earn a few pennies through an out-of-control hobby. I don’t know about you, but I am all for supporting small businesses and mom-and-pop enterprises. The great thing about the internet is that you don’t necessarily have to stick to local makers, you can order your pen from anywhere in the world. Now if only import duties would be a little more considerate of small makers… Nevertheless, I really enjoy using an instrument that was lovingly crafted by an enthusiast who turned a pastime into a means of living and who will turn our money into new ideas or development of their product.
There is something for everybody
There is a pen to suit all tastes, life styles, budgets, purposes. You could be a student, refilling your Preppy until the nib has worn down to a stub, or an artist using the finest of nibs to cross-hatch your shadows, or a business person signing that all important deal with a Montblanc 149, or a new mom keeping a journal with a Hello Kitty fountain pen, or vice versa… it is all good! You could be all about the minimal and never be parted with your Lamy 2000 or be all about the steampunk and write with a pen that looks like a prop from Lemony Snicket’s. That pen is your pen and it helps you to achieve your goals.
You can make it your own
You can make that pen your own, not just by choosing the brand, material, nib size or ink color. You can have the nib tuned by a nibmeister into the tool that brings out the best in your handwriting. Or, if you are a bit of a tinkerer like myself, you can venture your own tinkering. I suggest starting out with pens like the V-pen in the picture above or getting a Noodler’s fountain pen, which where designed with the pen tinkerer in mind. Ruining a nib that will only cost you a couple of bucks to replace is actually a lot of fun. You can try your hand at making your nib write wetter or drier, grinding it into an italic or architect nib shape (more about that in a future post).You do not need to be an engineer to go about tinkering, and there are plenty of YouTube videos out there with every day users sharing their experiences with fountain pen tuning. All at your own risk though. Just promise me you will send that precious pen/nib to a legit nibmeister to get it done. Although a lot of them started out right here. With putting that V-pen to the Dremel…
What are your reasons for using fountain pens?