Fountain Pen Basics: Getting Started with Your New Fountain Pen

Congratulations! You have your first fountain pen! You’ve excitedly opened the package, what comes next?

First, take a careful look at the pen and the nib. Does everything look as it should? Is anything bent, cracked, damaged or scratched? If it seems that there is any damage to the pen, now is the time to contact the seller and arrange to return it. If the pen comes with an instruction booklet and warranty now would be a good time to read it.

Next, you’ll need to fill your pen with fountain pen ink. If you are using ink cartridges be sure to press the ink cartridge onto the pen firmly to break the seal on the cartridge and allow the ink to flow into the pen. It may take a little while for the ink to flow from the cartridge into the nib so you’ll need to be patient. If the ink seems to need a bit of coaxing you can put the cap on the pen and store it with the nib pointing down to allow gravity to help the ink along. You can also run a bit of water over the nib to help get the ink flowing. Here is a helpful article on using fountain pen ink cartridges:

If you are using an ink converter or have a piston fill (or other type of filling mechanism) fountain pen, then putting ink in your fountain pen will be different than using ink cartridges. Here are some helpful tips and instructions:

Once the pen has been filled with ink and is ready to write, you’ll need to think about the way that you hold the fountain pen. With a ballpoint or roller ball pen you can hold the pen in pretty much any direction or at any angle and it will usually write. Fountain pens are a little different and can take a bit of getting used to. The flat, top surface of the nib should be facing “up” and the pen held at about a 45 degree angle in relation to the paper. How you hold the pen can make a huge difference in the way it writes! Some fountain pens, such as the LAMY Safari, have ergonomic grips designed to help you with proper finger placement. However you personally hold a pen, it may take a bit of experimentation before you get it just right.

Hold a fountain pen at approx. a 45 degree angle to the paper - similar to this drawing which is likely a dipping pen.

Hold a fountain pen at approx. a 45 degree angle to the paper – similar to this drawing which is likely a dipping pen.

Often, this is all the information you need to get you started! If you’re having a lot of trouble getting the ink to flow smoothly or your writing skips then you may need to clean the pen. Brand new fountain pens sometimes have an oily film on the feed or the nib and cleaning the pen will fix this problem. Here is a blog post to help you with this issue:

Another thing worth mentioning if you are new to the world of fountain pens – you may have to change the type of paper you are writing on or try different types of ink before you find the combination that is ideal for your personal use and for each individual pen. If the ink seems to be an issue, try filling your pen with the same brand of ink as the pen. If the paper seems to be an issue then we would recommend trying out some paper such as Rhodia or Clairefontaine that pairs well with fountain pens.

If you continue to experience issues with your pen that can’t be fixed by holding the pen correctly, a good cleaning or by switching the brand of ink or paper you’re using, many fountain pens come with a warranty and can be returned to the manufacturer (or their distributor) for repair or replacement. They have experienced “nibmeisters” that are ready to offer help. It is a good idea to contact the manufacturer and follow carefully their instructions for sending in your fountain pen. Check out our FAQ webpage for a list of some fountain pen manufacturers USA contact info.

If you haven’t purchased your first fountain pen yet, but you have been thinking of getting one, this blog post will help:

For many, writing with a fountain pen is a deeply satisfying experience that should be enjoyed for a lifetime. How did you feel when you got your very first fountain pen? Do you have any tips or experiences you’d like to share?





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Top 10 Fountain Pen Inks

There is a fountain pen ink for every color of the rainbow and each of them has its own special characteristics. Fountain pen ink comes in cartridges or bottles that encompass designs from utilitarian to a piece of art that begs to be displayed. A writer could spend a lifetime experimenting and writing with the plethora of inks currently available. So how did these fountain pen inks make our top ten list? Some of them are best sellers, some are staff favorites and others have their own qualities that make them special. We have chosen to list the inks by price, from most expensive to least expensive (this is not to say that whatever is the most expensive is the best). Certainly, our top ten list will be different than yours, so please share with us your favorite inks!

Pilot Iroshizuku Bottled Fountain Pen Inks

Pilot Iroshizuku Bottled Fountain Pen Inks

1. Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink – Most Beautiful Bottle

Pilot Iroshizuku ink comes in a glamorous modern and sophisticated oval-shaped bottle. This heavy glass bottle even has an indentation on the bottom of the interior to help you use the ink down to the last few drops. Add to this the wide range of colors that express the beauty of nature in Japan and you’ve got a stylish winner! On our list, the runner up in this category would definitely be Pelikan’s Edelstein ink.

2. Platinum Carbon Black Ink

Platinum Carbon Black ink is a favorite of artists that create art with a fountain pen. It is pigment based rather then dye based which makes it very water-resistant, fade-resistant and heat-resistant after it dries. It is often used for drawing along with a watercolor wash.

Pelikan M205 Duo Yellow Highlighter Ink

Pelikan M205 Duo Yellow Highlighter Ink

3. Pelikan M205 Duo Yellow Highlighting Ink

If you’re tired of tossing away dried-up plastic highlighter pen carcasses you can refill them instead using Pelikan M205 Duo fluorescent highlighter ink. You can also use this ink with the classic Pelikan M205 Highlighter Fountain Pen or create your own long-lasting refillable highlighter using a fountain pen + highlighter pen! Check out the D.I.Y. instructions:
Pen Mods: How to make a long-lasting refillable highlighter pen
D.I.Y. Highlighter Recharging

OMAS Sepia Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

OMAS Sepia Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

4. Omas Sepia Fountain Pen Ink

Omas Sepia fountain pen ink has a modern formula but a vintage, old timey-wimey appearance and it looks fabulous on cream colored paper! The interesting bottle design allows you to tip the bottle on its side while filling your pen with ink which helps a lot when the bottle’s ink level is starting to run low.

5. Aurora Black Fountain Pen Ink

Aurora Black ink is our top choice for a friendly, easy to use ink that is a deep, dark, intense black color. It comes in both Ink cartridges suitable for Aurora fountain pens or in bottles so that you can use it with just about any fountain pen.

6. Noodler’s Bulletproof Black Ink

Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink is a great daily workhorse that is suitable for a wide variety of situations. It has “bulletproof” qualities which means its resists the effects of water, bleach and light. This made in the USA bottled ink is more economical and environmentally friendly than ink in cartridges which many writers appreciate.

7. Noodler’s Aircorp Blue-Black

Noodler’s Aircorp Blue-Black is Alex’s favorite ink to use daily in any sort of pen including rollerball pens that use fountain pen ink and even in pens where the ink flow tends to be a bit on the dry side. Instead of being a regular black or standard blue color it is an interesting shade of blue-black.

J. Herbin Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

8. J. Herbin is the Lefty’s Favorite Ink

Being a left-handed fountain pen writer presents its own set of challenges. Ink must dry quickly or be smeared all over the page! I’ve successfully used a wide variety of ink without smearing by pairing it with the right paper and a fine or medium nib. I must say though that J. Herbin┬áLa Perle des Encres is the ink I always go back to. Love the variety of colors, I can use most of them without smearing and the bottle has a nifty pen-rest.

9. J. Herbin Vert Reseda

J. Herbin Vert Reseda turquoise ink is Alan’s all-time favorite ink color! He loves this color of French green.

10. LAMY Black Fountain Pen Ink

LAMY T52 Black fountain pen ink is a best seller for many reasons: it is easy to use in any pen, it is low maintenance and good for beginners, the price is economical and black is the the most commonly used color of fountain pen ink. It comes in a cool bottle that includes a handy small roll of blotter tape and it is also available in cartridges for LAMY fountain pens.

We’ve shared our list – now tell us what your top 10 fountain pen inks are!

Pelikan Edelstein Fountain Pen Ink

Pelikan Edelstein Fountain Pen Ink

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