Go with the flow...
If you enjoy the feel of ink flowing smoothly while writing, you'll enjoy using a fountain pen. Although they've been around for a long time, the exact date and place when the first one was created are unknown. Historical references to writing instruments made with ink reservoirs date back to 974 AD in Arab Egypt, and during the Renaissance by Leonardo da Vinci.
Each fountain pen is made up of a barrel (the casing for the body of the pen), a grip section, a feed which connects the ink reservoir with the nib, the nib, a cap, and a converter or ink reservoir. A small slit in the nib is what allows ink to flow through it and onto the writing surface. This flow of ink occurs in part due to gravity, but mainly by a process called capillary action, which means that liquid will flow into narrow spaces, even if it's counter to gravity. It's similar, in effect, to the concept of wicking. This also explains why many refer to fountain pens as a "controlled leak".
Nibs are usually made of stainless steel, but some more expensive ones may use gold or palladium. The tip, which makes contact with the paper, is much harder than steel or gold. It's usually made of iridium, a very hard metal. Iridium can be ground into different sizes to make varied line widths, called nib sizes. Common ones include Extra-Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B).
Extra-fine nibs are good for tiny handwriting, razor sharp lines, and use less ink than broader nibs. However, they may feel less smooth and show less shading and the shimmer effect of specialty inks.
Fine nibs are comparable to most ballpoint and gel pen tips. It's the most popular nib size and since it doesn't use too much ink, the writing dries relatively quickly.
Medium nibs are a great option for beginner fountain pen users since there is less scratchiness than finer nibs; this size tends to write buttery smooth, akin to a gel pen.
Broad nibs are great for specialty inks to show them to their full effect. However, it uses more ink, which takes longer to dry. Also, such nibs may require high quality paper because feathering and bleed-through can result on papers not made for fountain pens.
Fountain pens are considered environmentally friendly since they're refillable. Most use pre-packaged cartridges or converters, which means you can use bottled ink. Some models are made with the ink reservoir built-in, so you can feed ink into the pen directly, without using a converter.
Fountain pens write very smoothly, which is enjoyable and makes for faster writing than a ballpoint pen. Also, using one requires less pressure, so it's more ergonomic and comfortable for long writing sessions and for anyone with a hand, wrist or forearm ailment. One of the reasons for the resurgence in the fountain pen's popularity is how personal it can be. There are an assortment of models, nib sizes, inks, etc. so writers and artists can express their personal style through their choices.
Here are two of our favourite fountain pens available at Figg Street Co. Browse our fountain pen collection to find YOUR favourite!
- Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen - The Kaweco Sport fountain pen dates back to 1911. The brand created a fountain pen that was compact when its cap was on, making it pocket-friendly. It was targeted to specific customers, including sports people, which is where it gets its name.
- Ferris Wheel Press Duck Duck Goose Brush Fountain Pen - Each fountain pen is handmade from copper, brass, and stainless steel for a well balanced yet substantial writing experience. Each intricate detail of the grip is now engraved to enhance the tactility and feedback of a design that is bold as brass.
Fountain pens are one of the most personal writing instruments out there. Their nibs make some of us think of calligraphy, especially when we're new to them. How do calligraphy pens differ from fountain pens? Find out next week!