If you aren’t already using a fountain pen, you may be wondering how to hold one.
I was at the car wash yesterday and signed my receipt with a fountain pen, at which point the lady behind the register asked if she could see my pen.
I was hesitant because I love my fountain pens and handing them off to someone can give me the same feelings I had when people reached out to grab my son’s cheeks when he was an infant. I used to either grin and bear it (elderly people) or intercede and say something like, “he’s sick and you don’t want that.” The truth was, I just didn’t want a stranger touching my baby.
Well, I’ve been to that car wash many times over the years and it’s always the same lady at the register so I handed it over. She asked what kind of pen it was as she held it upside down and scribbled on a paper while it refused to write.
As I positioned it in her hand, I knew it was her first time using a fountain pen and so I explained what one is, how to hold a fountain pen correctly, and how the ink feed works. If she’d positioned the nib correctly, having the writing angle correct to the paper I’d have answered with the brand.
Well I didn’t have time then to discuss how using a fountain
pen will improve your writing and how much easier they are on your hands and
wrist, but I do now. I wish I'd have to known how much easier fountain pens are on your hands years ago. I could've prevented many hand cramps!
Most people that are new to using a fountain pen aren’t sure how to position the pen and automatically hold it almost vertically as you would a ballpoint pen. This position doesn’t allow the sweet spot on the nib proper contact with the paper so it will skip if it writes at all.
When using a fountain pen, position the pen at about a 45-degree writing angle with the metal part of the nib (where the brand is stamped on most pens) slightly facing you and the black or plastic nib feed with the ridges facing down toward the paper.
Because most fountain pens have rounded iridium-tipped nibs, they will also write when the vent hole in the nib is centered between your forefinger and thumb (or when you’re looking at the nib in profile instead of the face of the nib.) After some use, the rounded tips wear down a bit so there’s a sweet spot specific to the person using a fountain pen most.
When the lady at the car wash held my pen vertically to drag it across a paper I was holding my breath because I didn’t want her to drop it on its tines. When it didn’t write a continuous line, I grabbed her hand and positioned it so she could write a word with it. Once I did, I saw the happiness in her eyes, the same feeling I got my first time using a fountain pen.
I’m sure she’ll be buying her first fountain pen soon and we’ll add more fountain pen users to the market. I love fountain pens; I take more time forming my letters, which makes my handwriting better. They are much easier on your hands than a ballpoint because the simple friction of the nib touching paper causes ink to flow where a ballpoint requires pressure with the paper to cause the ball to roll and deliver ink to the paper.
When using my fountain pen on my handcrafted journal with heavily fibered pages, I think back to what it must’ve been like to write in the 1800’s. The pen just glides across with my thoughts until I hit a strand of heavy fiber from the plant used to make the paper and I lift the nib up over it.
I could use modern smooth paper and do most of the day, but there’s something romantic about using paper created with the same process they used to make it back when fountain pens were introduced.
The lady at the car wash said she’d been asking her boss for a “nice pen like this” for a while but he didn’t know where to get them and she asked me where to buy one. That question set me back a second because I only buy them on the Internet, there aren’t any fountain pen stores for 35 miles.
Wherever you buy them, using a fountain pen and learning how to hold a fountain pen correctly is easy and with just a few minutes of practice will be second nature. You’re sure to enjoy them more than a standard ballpoint because you don’t have to push to get the pen to write.
If you’re looking for a great beginner fountain pen or want to check out an article on my first fountain pen, click those links. Of course there are also reviews of the best fountain pen brands in the left navigation bar too, I keep posting as I get more pens to review.
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