• Carmen Milligan

Fountain Pens


I love writing with a fountain pen. It makes me feel fancy, old fashioned, bougie, and outside the norm, all at once.


Pens have come a long way since the quill dipped in ink. I can't imagine the mess on the writing surface, paper, and ink stains on the writer's hands.


There are very early mentions of pens that hold ink within a reservoir (937, to be exact). I'm sure the path to the fountain pens we use now was a long and arduous one, trying to find the best way to contain the ink, decide a reasonable amount of ink, sort out the flow without having overflow, and how to best refill. There was even an ink tablet available that you had to mix with water, then put into the chamber.


As a matter of fact, there are still a lot of ways to get ink to the pen, and that is interesting to me. There are plastic tubes that are filled and ready to be put in the cartridge and write, write, write. Then, when that ink is gone, you toss the empty cartridge into your local landfill and replace with a new one. There are also "bladders" available, where you dip the end into the ink and let it inflate with ink. Along these same lines, there are bladders that have levers. When the bladder is inserted into the ink, you move the lever to have it "suck up" the ink. Those are much more friendly to the environment, but still a bit messy. However, it allows you to use different types of inks and vary your colors.


I have started filling my own. To do this, I use an empty cartridge (the kind meant to throw away and replace), place a syringe with a very thin tube (like a needle, but not sharp), draw the plunger up in the syringe, and then dispense the ink into the empty cartridge. After that, I pop it back into the nib part of the pen, and I'm all set! For everyday writing and drawing, I like Platinum Carbon Ink in Black. A bottle will last a good long time, and, like I say before, I feel extra when I use it.


Right now, my favorite fountain pens are the Lamy and the Pilot Metropolitan. I find the German pen nibs are, by default, a little larger than the American nibs, so there is a bit of a difference in the Lamy EF and the Metropolitan EF. I like a pen so fine that it feels like it is scratching the page a bit. If I want a smooth feel, I'll go with a rollerball or gel.


More than you wanted to know? haha! Drop me a note and tell me if you have experience with fountain pens, your favorite, which inks you use, or if prefer another type of writing instrument altogether. Happy Writing!

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