How to Flush a Fountain Pen using a Monteverde Mini Converter

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The Monteverde Mini Converter is a handy little tool to have around when you want to flush out a fountain pen with water to clean it. The supplies you will need are: a glass of cool or room temperature water, a fountain pen or rollerball pen that uses standard international ink cartridge refills (the Mini Converter is compatible with most of these type of pens) and the Monteverde Mini Ink Converter.

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Attach the Mini Converter to the feed of the pen and push the black plunger down.

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Immerse the nib or tip of the pen in the water and pull the black plunger on the Mini Converter up to draw water into the converter. Push the black plunger down to expel the water back into the glass.

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Repeat the above step several times, drawing water into and then pushing it out of the converter. Replace the water with clean water as many times as it takes for the water to remain clear as you draw water in and out of the converter.

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When the water is all clear you’re done with the cleaning.

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Push the black plunger on the Mini Converter down to expel the water. Remove the converter from the pen and dry off the pen feed and nib with a soft cloth. Let the pen dry overnight if you wish. Attach a new ink cartridge to the feed of the pen, wait awhile for the ink to seep into the feed and you’re ready to write – easy!

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Fountain Pen Basics: What size of nib should I get on my first fountain pen?

(LAMY fountain pen nibs)

When choosing your first fountain pen you may notice that they are outfitted with a variety of nibs. The most common nib choices are extra-fine, fine, medium and broad. Other types of nibs include soft fine, BB, stub, italic, calligraphy, music, left-handed and more.

When you pick up a ballpoint or rollerball pen to write, not much thought is given to the way you hold the pen. Pretty much no matter which way the pen is oriented in your hand, the pen will write – assuming you are not out of ink of course! Fountain pens are different. Most of them need to be held correctly, with the nib oriented in the right direction, in order for the pen to write well. Depending on how coordinated you are this can take a little practice.

Nibs that are in the middle of the nib size spectrum are often the easiest to write with because they will usually write even if the fountain pen is not held exactly right. We would recommend a medium nib as a good choice for a beginner, or if your writing is small, a fine nib. Left-handed nibs are often medium-fine in size, so they are also a good choice for a beginner that is left-handed. However, a left-handed nib is not essential for a left-handed writer.

Something to keep in mind is that nib sizes are not standardized. For example, generally German-made nibs are broader in size than the equivalent size of Japanese-made nibs. This does not apply 100% of the time though, sometimes there are exceptions. A couple of popular brands with German-made nibs are LAMY and Pelikan. Pens with Japanese nibs include brands such as Platinum, Sailor, Nakaya, Pilot and others. Japanese extra-fine and fine nibs may seem very very small compared to the tips on the ballpoint and rollerball pens that Westerners are used to writing with.

These recommendations are based on our own personal writing experiences. If your first fountain pen does not have a medium or fine nib don’t let that hold you back from enjoying the satisfying experience of writing with a fountain pen. With a little bit of practice and experimentation you may find there is a place in your pen case for nibs of many different sizes! If you are an experienced fountain pen user, what nib size recommendations would you like to pass along to a beginner?

(Platinum President Fountain Pen nib)

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Fountain Pen Basics: What kind of bottled fountain pen ink should I buy?

(J. Herbin fountain pen ink – Bleu Nuit)

You have a fountain pen (or pens) and you are ready to move beyond ink cartridges into the world of bottled fountain pen ink. Buying bottled ink is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than using cartridges, offers a plethora of color options and special ink qualities, and in my opinion is a whole lot more fun. Some fountain pen ink bottles are practical and utilitarian, while others resemble fancy perfume bottles straight off the shelf from Nordstrom.

When purchasing your very first bottle of fountain pen ink which one should you buy? Every writer that uses a fountain pen will have their own favorites and preferences when it comes to ink. The purpose of this post is to give you some general guidelines and suggestions based on my own personal experience with using fountain pens.

Some suggestions for your first bottle of fountain pen ink:

1) Make sure the ink is for fountain pens. Do not use any other kind of ink because it can clog or ruin your pen.

2) It is not necessary to buy ink that is the same brand as your fountain pen.

3) Choose a bottle design that does not easily tip over.

4) Bottles with a wide mouth are easier to use for filling your pen.

(Pelikan 4001 fountain pen ink – Brilliant Red)

5)  Buy ink that is washable. It’s easier to remove from your hands, clothes or carpets if you have an accident.

6) It is not necessarily better to buy a “gourmet” ink. The higher price of some inks can just mean they have fancier bottles or are imported from a far away place.

7) Avoid inks with special or unique qualities at first, and wait to try those inks until you are a more experienced fountain pen user.

8) It may be best to steer clear of blue-black ink to begin with. Some inks of this color can react badly when mixed with other ink.

If you are experienced with using fountain pens, what would you recommend to other writers making their first purchase of bottled ink?

(LAMY T52 fountain pen ink – Black)

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Fountain Pen Basics: Simple cleaning in 60 seconds or less

One easy way to keep your fountain pen working smoothly is to give it a simple cleaning about once a month.

1) Take off the cap and unscrew the barrel of the fountain pen.

2) Remove the ink cartridge. If it still has ink in it, remember to put the cartridge somewhere safe. Perhaps open side up inside a shot glass?

3) Hold the feed and nib section of the fountain pen with the nib pointing down under cool running tap water. Continue to do this several seconds until the water runs clear.

4) Use a paper towel to blot the water off the fountain pen nib and feed. It’s okay if ink is still inside the feed and comes out of the nib onto the paper towel.

5) Insert the ink cartridge into the pen, screw the fountain pen back together and put the cap back on. That’s it – you’re done!

(Woodpecker White Oak Notebook and Waterman fountain pen)

Simple and effective for most situations.

For a more thorough cleaning, you can try this fountain pen cleaning solution.

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Fountain Pen Basics: Using a Converter and Bottled Ink

(Noodler’s Ink in the Habannero color)

You’ve purchased your very first fountain pen and discovered that you really like it! Now you’re ready to take the next step and expand your fountain-pen-related daily writing arsenal. What is the next step?

Many writers love to use bottled fountain pen ink instead of cartridges, because bottled ink comes in a huge variety of ink colors with a variety of ink qualities. For example, Noodler’s Ink is only available in bottles and there are over 100 different kinds to choose from. Besides all of the gorgeous ink colors, there are also inks that are water resistant, forgery resistant, bulletproof, fluorescent, lubricated, fast drying and freeze resistant. In addition, using bottled ink is less expensive and produces less waste than cartridges. When purchasing a bottle of ink for your pen make sure that the ink is specially made for fountain pens – this is very important! Other types of ink can clog or ruin your precious pens. For me, the excitement of trying out a new bottle of ink is one of the most enjoyable things about writing with fountain pens.

(Standard International Ink Converter by Pelikan)

If you have a fountain pen that uses ink cartridges, and you don’t already have one, you will need to get an ink converter for your pen so that you can use bottled ink. If your fountain pen uses standard international ink cartridges, then there’s a pretty good chance that a standard international converter will fit. However, if the pen is pocket-size, you may need to get a mini converter so that it fits properly inside the barrel of the pen. Other fountain pens require proprietary converters which means they need converters that are the same brand as the pen. Some brands have more than one style of converter, so you need to make sure you get the right one for your particular pen. Here’s the list of suggested beginner fountain pens from our previous blog post and their matching ink converters:

LAMY Al-StarLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY SafariLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY VistaLAMY Z24 ink converter
LAMY Joy Fountain PenLAMY Z24 ink converter
Kaweco Classic SportMonteverde mini converter
Kaweco Ice SportMonteverde mini converter
Pelikan Pelikanostandard international converter
Pelikan Pelikano Jr.standard international converter
Platinum PlaisirPlatinum converter
Platinum PreppyPlatinum converter

Once you get the ink converter, you attach it to your fountain pen the same way you would attach an ink cartridge. Here are a couple of helpful articles to read:

How to install a LAMY ink converter

What is a fountain pen converter?

(Pelikan Pelikano fountain pen with a standard international converter)

Ink converters have different types of filling systems. All of the converters mentioned in the above list, with the exception of the mini-converter, have piston filling systems that fill by twisting the top part of the converter. Here are some instructions on how to use this type of converter:

How to fill a fountain pen with ink using a piston converter

How to use a LAMY fountain pen converter (video)

When changing ink colors or brands it is a good idea to clean both your fountain pen and converter. A simple way to do this is to fill your fountain pen with cool water the same way you would fill it with ink. Once the converter is full of water, twist the knob on the top of the converter to empty the water. Repeat these steps until the water runs clear. If needed, you can use a
fountain pen cleaning solution. It is also a good idea to wait until both the converter and the fountain pen are dry before refilling with ink.

If you haven’t already tried using your fountain pen with premium writing paper now would be a good time to try it! We would suggest starting with Clairefontaine or Rhodia. Both of these brands are adored by writers who regularly use fountain pens.

If you are an experienced writer that uses fountain pens please let us know if you have any other tips you would like to share with those who are just beginning to use converters and bottled ink. What’s a great bottled ink to get as a first purchase? Any favorite inks you’d like to suggest? Happy writing!

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