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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