Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Examined: How to chose your Fountain Pen

Thinking of trying a fountain pen for your sketching? Thinking of going back to the future?


You can load a fountain pen with exactly the correct ink for the job at hand or to match your whim of the day.

Besides, fountain pens feel luxe in the hand.

The nib is the key element. Where the 'rubber' (or the silver or the gold or the steel), as it were, meets the road. If you are on your way to a fountain pen, here's help selecting a nib size:

. A posting in the Fountain Pen network forum entitled Nib size perference. (Here is the front door to the whole Fountain Pen network suite of pages and forums. Wealth of knowledge here!

. The Tools and Materials page from Russ Sutler's online Book about Sketching that discusses nib sizes and fountain pens for sketching.

. A quote from Chose Your Pen: "There's the question of nib size: extra-fine, fine, medium, bold. The right size is determined by the size of your handwriting. If you write small, look for a finer point; a wider nib will make your letters illegible. . . . But a fine nib may feel "scratchy" if you have a light touch or if the angle at which you hold the pen is less than straight-on." 

So we could extrapolate from that line or reasoning to sketching: if you are gestural and loose, a medium nib would be good. If you are into fine and precise detail in your drawing, then maybe the fine nib would be the best.

. Here's a posting called Chosing a Fountain Pen, at a UK pen shop's site, that discusses nibs.

. Make a special trip to the nearest annual Pen Show. At one of these extravaganzas (and I do mean serious extravaganzas) you will find everything from a two-buck plastic disposable Japanese fountain pen to an Italian-made jewel-encrusted pen worth as much as your Mercedes. As well as all manner of vintage and antique writing pieces. Hobnob with dealers and collectors. Nib makers set up booths at the bigger shows. Have your nib custom made! Go nuts.

. Finally find a local fine pen store and try different nibs. The staff are usually pen fanatics and will be delighted to advise you on your selection. My two faves: Pen Haven, in Kensington MD, and Fahrney's, downtown.

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