Aren't fountain pens a lot of work?
While there is more to the care of a fountain pen than others, it isn't all that much more. Some of what one reads online goes quite overboard and can actually be very harmful. Once you have the hang of it, filling a fountain pen and cleaning it can be done in very little time with very little mess. Check our instructions on filling and cleaning to learn more.
How do I fill a fountain pen?
Most of the world's fountain pens fill using what is called a cartridge/converter system. This means the pen can use either individual ink cartridges or a converter that allows the pen to be filled using bottled ink. Cartridges connect to the grip section of the pen and snap fit into place. The snap sometimes is heard as the seal on the cartridge is broken when pushed into place.
The converter fits onto the grip section in the same way as the cartridge. With the converter attached to the grip section, hold the converter at the top with two fingers, just below the twist mechanism. The other three fingers should fan outwards like a lady drinking high tea so as not to get inky from the ink bottle below. Dip the fountain pen nib into the bottle of ink. You will need to have the nib submerged completely into the ink as the fill hole where the ink enters the pen is located at the base of the nib where the grip section meets the feed section, the apparatus that sits behind the nib. Twist the converter in a clockwise direction to draw the ink from the bottle into the converter. Lift the pen up from the ink bottle and dab at the nib and grip section with a paper towel or tissue to remove excess ink. Check to make sure there is a tiny air pocket in the chamber of the converter. If the size of the air pocket is large you may expel the ink back into the bottle by placing the nib back inside and twisting the converter knob counter clockwise. Repeat filling instructions and the converter should have a greater fill of ink. Reassemble grip section to the barrel of the pen and enjoy writing!
How do I clean my fountain pen?
The cleaning of fountain pens is one of the most misunderstood aspects of fountain pen ownership. If done regularly, the cleaning of a fountain pen is simple, quick, and easy. We recommend cleaning your pen after every other fill of ink if you use the pen regularly. You should also clean the pen if changing ink colors. If you have a collection of pens and plan to switch to another pen after a fill of ink has run out we recommend cleaning before putting the pen away. Nothing is worse for a pen than to have them sit with dried up ink inside for long periods of time!
All you will need is your pen, a paper towel or tissue, and some water. Pay no attention to those online who have recipies for "pen flushes" or sell "pen flushes". If you are the original owner of your pen all you need is water. Vintage or second hand pens may require such flush mixes and more if they are very dirty or clogged.
One way to clean your pen is to dip the nib end into a cup of cool water. Next, twist the converter to draw water into the converter, then twist counter clockwise to flush the water back out. Repeat this until you are satisfied there is no longer much ink color being expelled from the pen. Press the paper towel or tissue to the nib to draw any remaining water from the feed and grip secton of the pen. If there is little to no ink coming back onto the towel, sit the pen aside to dry.
A second method is to remove the ink cartridge or converter from the grip section and hold the nib, facing down, under some gently running, cool tap water. At first a great deal of inky pigment will be seen running through the feed and nib. Once this clears, remove the nib section from the stream of water, hold a paper towel around the nib, place your lips to the back of the grip section and blow through it to expell the water from the nib and feed. You'll notice the towel is very inky. Repeat this process until there is little to no ink tint emerging onto the paper towel.
If done regularly, either of these methods you choose will occupy a mere minute or two of your time once you are familiar with the process, especially when using modern fountain pen inks like those from Diamine.
What is the best pen?
We are often asked this question. The truth is there is no one best pen model or manufacturer. If there was one best pen, that is the only pen we would stock! All the pen models and manufacturers we sell have all been scrutinized by us for quality of build and performance. Everyone has different needs both in terms of what fits and works well in their hand and what, where, and how the pen is to be used. Let's address some of that here:
Fountain pens: Fountain pens are often seen as the epitome of what a pen should be. The nib itself immediately garners the attention of others. There are over one hundred different ink colors available, enabling the user to make their writing stand apart from the world of ball pens. Using bottled inks in fountain pens is a truly green technology - nothing gets thrown away. Writing with a fountain pen causes the user to alter and slow down a bit as they write, which helps to improve penmanship. Although fountain pens do require some care and cleaning the others do not, they are reliable writing instruments. Issues of leaking are largely a thing of the past, l
Rollerball pens: Rollerball pens are an excellent substitute for fountain pens especially when the pen will be needed to write through multiple layer forms. The pressure required for such writing is not suitable for fountain pens. With a rollerball, the ink output mimics the appearance of fountain pen ink for dark, rich color.
Ballpoint pens: Do not pooh pooh the ballpoint! Ballpoint pens have earned a bad reputation due to the poor flow of ink in early pens as well as the fact that most associate the ballpoint with being disposable. Today's good quality ballpoint pens write very smoothly and dependably, and their styling is equal to that of the best fountain and rollerball pens.
Regardless of which type of pen you are considering, one aspect of what makes each pen right for you is how it fits in your hand. Everyone's hand is unique. People prefer pens of different weights, girths, and balance. The other factor is whether the pen is appropriate for the task and time. Journaling or the signing of a multi-million dollar contract seems the perfect place for a luxurious fountain pen while warehouse work would be more appropriate for a ruggedly constructed ballpoint.
What is the difference between ballpoints and rollerballs?
A ballpoint refill type uses an oil based paste ink that is deposited to the page as the ball rolls it out. Ballpoint ink is smudge free and ideal for left handed writers who fret over getting ink residue on their hand as it passes over the line of text they've just written. Ballpoint refills are generally very efficient supplies of ink, allowing far more writing to be done before the ink runs out as opposed to rollerball refills. Ballpoints are able to write on most any surface and paper, including coated papers. They are also ideally suited for applications requiring extra pressure, such as two- and three-part forms.
Rollerball ink (traditional rollerball or gel ink) is a more liquid ink that deposits a darker, more fountain pen-like inky line on paper. Like fountain pen ink, the ink can smudge immediately after writing, making rollerball ink problematic for some left handed writers. Because it is a more liquid ink, rollerball and gel inks are not well suited for writing on coated papers. Rollerball refills will run out of ink much faster than ballpoint refills. It is not unusual to need three rollerball refills to do the same amount of writing as one ballpoint refill.
Frequently Asked Pen Questions
If you have questions about pens - especially fountain pens - you are not alone! Others have asked us as well! Hopefully we have an answer for you here. If not, please give us a call and we will be happy to help you one on one!