Saturday, 6 April 2013

Fountain Pens & Me

Hi All,

I thought I'd share this with you all. Some of you may have seen my mini rant on Facebook about fountain pens and the fact that I really can't write with them, despite being a fully grown adult, who was made to use a fountain pen at junior school.

About 6-12 months ago I bought myself a cheap Pelikan fountain pen to try to get some practice in and learn to write with a fountain pen - preferably legibly.... I bought a Clairefontaine exercise book as I'd heard that they are great quality paper and have a great line layout that is perfect for writing practice. I thought that I'd finally get that "Eureka!" moment and be away - clearly I was a tad over-optimistic.

I was lying in bed writing a few weeks ago and mentioned to my other half (many would say my better half) that I find it tricky to write with thinner pens as I find it harder to grip them. At which point he pointed out that if I didn't hold the pen so close to the nib then I would find it easier, and that this was probably the reason that I couldn't write with a fountain pen - aha!!!

Being a bit obsessed with all things stationery I obviously decided that I should get myself a new fountain pen to try out this theory and see if I could make myself hold the pen higher up the shaft (*snigger* - yes, I am that childish) :o)

Having seen many people write about their Lamy pens, and having spied one in Office World I decided to treat myself to a pink Lamy Nexx.

It has it's own little Lamy case

Huge lid!!!

Next to my pink Pelikan

 First up was the Lamy (blue ink) and I did manage to hold it without too much of a problem, and then I gave the Pelikan (pink ink) another go and it wasn't too bad.

Although the Lamy is more comfortable for me to hold, it was feeling a bit scratchy. I tried writing more upright as that tends to be my style when I'm writing more neatly, but the Lamy didn't like that too much. The Pelikan on the other hand was actually quite happy with upright writing.

However, although it worked, my writing looks like that of a small child just trying to do joined up writing for the first time (my tendency is not towards joined up writing which probably doesn't help).

Then I added some writing with my BIC, just because I can use it comfortably and don't even have to think about it.
ARC by Staples
 I then moved to try out the ARC paper and the Lamy was a lot less scratchy to use on here than on the Clairefontaine, which I was very surprised about. After a few minutes though, my arm started to hurt... so back to the Pelikan, where the letters seem to blend together. I tried writing bigger, I tried writing smaller and can only conclude that from first attempts that this is hard, maybe I am just not designed for fountain pens.

This morning I was browsing through the FF for Philofaxy Fans group on FB when I saw a link for the Palmer Method of writing circa 1935 (thanks Gemma for posting that) and had a quick read. It is full of exercises to improve your penmanship, and the first part is all about making sure that you are in the correct position for writing for the correct muscles to have free movement for correct writing. It was all a bit confusing at first read-through (that's what happens when you skim-read instead of paying attention), but I think it could help me significantly improve my writing, so I will add it to my list of things to do.

I would love to dive in straight away (as I so often do), but I know that I would be better waiting and planning all my tasks so that I can give myself proper time to dedicate to the cause.

Maybe one day I'll even fall in love with joined up writing and fountain pens, then I can have super posh looking journal pages that I won't be ashamed for people to see :-)

Do you use a fountain pen? And do you have any tips that may help me?



  1. I have found with fountain pens that it's a question of getting the right sized nib. The pens with the slightly larger nibs can really make even average handwriting look amazing. Using very thin nibs makes my handwriting look messy at best. I have a Pentel fountain pen and sometimes it amazes me that what I've written looks so nice.

    1. I think I need to try to master the technique and then work on finding the perfect one for me :-)

  2. The trick is also to write using your ARM not your hand. A lot of people write and make the pen move by moving their fingers, but a lot of calligraphers say that you should hold the pen comfortably and then move the pen across the paper using your arm/shoulder (does that make sense?). It takes a bit of getting used to but stops you getting a cramped hand!
    Good luck with the fountain pen practise!

    1. I think that's what the Palmer Method is based around, although I'm still kinda confused by the exercises on it. I'm going to sit down one evening and get my posture correct and see if I can get anything remotely smooth looking just starting with the first drills :-)

  3. Nothing quite beats a Parker x x

    1. Never tried one... in fact, I don't think I've seen them over here. I may get one of those when I'm in the UK next, but only if I manage to learn to write with a fountain pen first.

  4. I bought a Lamy but never got along with it, in the end I gave it to my Son, I now own a cross, i'm better with this but still not perfect tbh I wish i'd never bothered as my Filofax paper or any other paper I use doesn't cope with a fountain pen, I tend to just use it for letter writing now :-)

    1. That's a good point - a lot of paper seems to be totally incompatible with fountain pens, so is it really worth my while trying to learn to use one? Hmmm... :o)

  5. I just recently bought a fountain pen - a Cross Beverly -I think - it has a nice weight to it and writes very smoothly. I haven't used a fountain pen in many, MANY years, but as I hear and see the art of letter writing and handwriting in general begin to disappear, I gravitated to it. It's so elegant. I then bought an inexpensive semi-calligrahpy pen - and I just LOVE it! It has a broader nib (as mentioned ) and it is SO cool! I use it for all journaling, etc. - then HAD to buy some new inks (Pelikan violet and turquoise) and I am having a ball!! Just ordered a Lamy to try out.

    It's true about the position of your arm and the fact that you have to move the pen as if it is a part of your hand and arm. You won't grip the pen so tightly. Angle of the pen (fountain) is also important. It takes some practice so keep trying! I am sure you will get the hang of it and develop your own style! Best of luck!

    1. Thanks :-) The thought of journalling with a fountain pen and it all looking beautiful in years to come (and possibly writing letters too) has made me want to really improve my handwriting, so I guess I just need to practice... although there may be a bit of a delay as I´ll be running out of time to get my 101 things in 1001 days done :-)