Reflections of a Left Handed Writer

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens
Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The 10 year anniversary of Writer’s Bloc has got me reminiscing about my first fountain pen purchase way back in 2008. It was an inexpensive blue-black Platinum Preppy with a fine nib. At that time, as a left-handed writer who was constantly having issues with messy smeared ink, I was a little hesitant to try a fountain pen. Several years later my collection of fountain pens has grown to include a quirky variety and I’m still using that same Preppy fountain pen! Needless to say, my experiments with fountain pens were a resounding success and now I rarely ever pick up a ball point pen. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the classic fountain pen as a writing tool.

If you’re a lefty that’s considering whether or not to try a fountain pen, possibly you can relate to my past experiences recorded on this blog:

Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen
Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

In 2008, the same year I purchased my first LAMY Safari fountain pen, we were helping writers learn how to swap the steel nibs on their own LAMY fountain pens. This is such a great thing to know if you like to experiment or end up damaging a nib or have a nib that you just don’t care for. It’s a lot cheaper to just replace the nib on a LAMY pen that you already own than to buy a whole new pen (although buying new pens is fun too). Here are the instructions from our first lesson:

Noodler's Nikita Fountain Pen Ink & Eye Dropper Pen
Noodler’s Nikita Fountain Pen Ink & Eye Dropper Pen

Other experiments we were busy with in 2008 included converting cartridge fill fountain pens into eye dropper fill fountain pens. If you’re not familiar with eye dropper fill pens, their advantage is that the entire barrel of the pen becomes an ink reservoir! Kaweco Sport Classic or Ice fountain pens are ideal for this purpose. Check out our Pen Mods eye dropper fill edition and a tip from Noodler’s Ink:

Were you writing with fountain pens a decade ago? If so, what were you writing with? Over the years a good fountain pen often becomes like a good friend to those of us who love to write.

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens
Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens
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Fountain Pen Ink Art: Noodler’s Bernanke Blue

DSC00656If you’ve ever sketched with fountain pen ink perhaps you’ve had the same experience I’ve had – you’re almost done with your creation and then you accidentally smear an area of the sketch that’s not quite dry yet. Doh! I’ve been wanting to try Noodler’s Bernanke Blue fountain pen ink for drawing to see if this fast-drying ink would improve my odds of avoiding any smearing. My first experiment was a success! During the entire sketching process not a line was smeared anywhere in the drawing.

Noodler’s Bernanke inks are formulated with left-handed writers in mind. This ink is smear resistant even when writing over the words (or a drawing) with your hand. In addition to Blue, Noodler’s Bernanke Ink is also available in Black. It is not water resistant, so if you want ink that stays put when you paint watercolors over it, this would not be it. For general sketching purposes it worked great!

I used a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen with a fine nib and a Clairefontaine Graf-it Sketch Book with 90g paper to make this drawing of my canine friend Murray. By the look on his face I think he’s trying to say “What does a pup have to do to get some sleep around here?”

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Best Paper Notebooks for Left-Handed Writers

If you are left-handed you know what I’m talking about – the binding style and type of paper in a notebook can really make a difference as to how comfortable and functional your notebook is. Here is a list of five of my favorites:

1) Stitch Bound Notebooks. I love writing in journals or notepads with stitched binding! Many of these notebooks are able to open nice and flat which is great for when you’re reaching over the inside margins of the pages to write on the page on the right. There’s no wire spiral or metal rings to get in the way of your reach. In addition, the stitching keeps the pages from falling out.

Journals with sewn binding that I like to use include the Exacompta Forum Journal, Quo Vadis Habana Journal and Rhodia Webnotebook.

Exacompta Forum Journals with a Club Cover
Exacompta Forum Journals with a Club Cover
Quo Vadis Habana Journal in Black
Quo Vadis Habana Journal in Black
Rhodia Webnotebook with an Orange Cover
Rhodia Webnotebook with an Orange Cover

2) Side Staple Notebooks. This type of notebook is functional for the same reasons as the stitch bound notebook. It may not be as classy, but it is usually less expensive and allows for comfortable writing. A few of examples include the Clairefontaine Crok Book Sketch Notebook, Clairefontaine Side Staple Notebooks and Rhodia Side Stapled Notebooks.

Clairefontaine Crok Book Sketch Notebook
Clairefontaine Crok Book Sketch Notebook
Rhodia A4 Side Stapled Notebook
Rhodia A4 Side Stapled Notebook

3) Top Staple or Top Wire Notebooks. Top staple or top wire notepads work pretty well for a lefty. The only awkwardness occurs when writing near the top of the page where the spiral or staples are. This is the only type of wirebound notebook that I prefer to use for writing. To try: Rhodia Top Staple Notepads, Rhodia Top Wire Notepads, Clairefontaine Top Staple Notepads and Clairefontaine Top Wire Notepads.

Rhodia Ice Top Staple Notepad & LAMY Al-Star Fountain Pen
Rhodia Ice Top Staple Notepad & LAMY Al-Star Fountain Pen
Clairefontaine A4 Top Wire Notepad
Clairefontaine A4 Top Wire Notepad

4) Glue Bound Notepads. Most glue binding provides a nice flat surface for writing without any obstacles to get in the way of your hand. Sometimes, glue bound notepads tend to want to snap shut or their pages break loose and fall out when they aren’t supposed to. Of course, these problems are annoying to both right-handed and left-handed writers. A couple of glue bound notepads with tear-off pages that I like are the Leuchtturm1917 A4 Academy Pad and the Clairefontaine Triomphe Writing Tablet.

Leuchtturm1917 A4 Academy Pad
Leuchtturm1917 A4 Academy Pad
Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablet
Clairefontaine Triomphe Stationery Tablet

5) Non-Smearing Paper. I’m not sure if there is such a thing as paper that completely prevents ink from smearing as I write, but I do know that depending on what writing instrument I’m using, some paper stops ink from smearing better than others. Sometimes I’ll choose what notebook to use depending on what I’m writing with that day. Leuchtturm1917 notebooks include a nice quality paper that works well for me when I’m using Pentel Energel pens (I’ve found that I can write with Energel pens even though I constantly smear the ink of most other gel pens) or fountain pens.

Leuchtturm1917 Journal in Pink
Leuchtturm1917 Journal in Pink

Are you a lefty? What kind of notebooks do you love to write in?

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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.

Platinum Carbon Black Fountain Pen Ink
Platinum Carbon Black Fountain Pen 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.

Aurora Black Fountain Pen Ink
Aurora Black Fountain Pen Ink

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.

Noodler's Bulletproof Black Fountain Pen Ink
Noodler’s Bulletproof Black Fountain Pen Ink

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.

Noodler's Aircorp Blue-Black Fountain Pen Ink
Noodler’s Aircorp Blue-Black Fountain Pen Ink

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 La 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.

J. Herbin Vert Reseda Bottled Fountain Pen Ink
J. Herbin Vert Reseda Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

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.

LAMY T52 Black Bottled Fountain Pen Ink
LAMY T52 Black Bottled Fountain Pen Ink

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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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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