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April 24, 2013

Writer's Bloc Top 10 Fountain Pens

What are the top ten fountain pens? Anyone that writes with a fountain pen could likely come up with a unique list of their own ten favorite pens. Our list of the top ten fountain pens was created by considering several different factors including our own employee favorites. These fountain pens, as well as others that we choose to make available in our shop, are all carefully selected based on their individual strengths. We decided to number the pens in our top 10 list based on their current price – from the most expensive to the least expensive. See if any of your favorites are listed here:

1) Aurora Optima Demonstrator Fountain Pen – Alan says that writing with this pen is like driving a high performance European sports car. The quality and materials are beautiful and it is a joy write with. He especially loves the character of the nib which he describes as solid and somewhat toothy allowing him feel the “road conditions” as he writes.  Alan also loves fountain pens with a clear body so that you can see all of the parts and inner workings of the pen. The hidden ink reservoir feature has bailed him out near the end of meetings when he is running out of ink.

2) Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen – This is another favorite of Alan’s. He is a fan of extra fine nibs and loves the performance of this Japanese fine nib. He likes pens that are not too heavy and for him it has the right balance in his hand and is the perfect writing weight. His favorite Custom 74 colors include Clear and Orange and he says Smoke is a good choice if you like a less clear and more solid looking pen.

3) LAMY 2000 Fountain Pen – Alex says one reason to love the LAMY 2000 is its sleek modern Bauhaus design with its hooded nib and interesting Makrolon body and cap. Superficial reasons aside, this is a great pen to write with!

4) Namiki Falcon Fountain Pen – The Namiki Falcon is outstanding for the reason that it comes equipped with a modern 14K semi-flex nib that gives a soft, flexible feel to your writing experience. It allows for variation of stroke width while you write or draw and really shines when it is paired with ink that has good shading. Alan says that with his Falcon the ink flow is absolutely superb!

5) Pelikan M200/M205 Classic Fountain Pen – This Pelikan fountain pen has a legendary piston filling system and at its price point it is a great first step into the world of piston fill fountain pens. It is consistently a best seller and Pelikan has been in the business of creating high quality fountain pens for many years. This particular pen has a steel nib, but you can upgrade to the Pelikan M400/M405 if you prefer a gold nib. Pelikan offers special limited edition colors of the M200/M205 such as this sophisticated taupe color!

6) Stipula Bon Voyage Fountain Pen – The Bon Voyage fountain pen was specifically created to be eyedropper fill and even comes with an eyedropper for easy filling. When capped it is a compact pocket size and if you happen to be nervous about carrying an eyedropper pen in your pocket you also have the option of using short standard universal ink cartridges. It can easily be converted to a rollerball pen by removing the fountain pen feed (just unscrew it from the barrel) and replacing it with a rollerball feed. This Stipula has some pretty cool features that you can’t find on just any fountain pen!

7) LAMY Safari Fountain Pen – If fountain pens were to have a popularity contest it is pretty likely that this guy would win. I would venture to say that a plethora of writers that regularly use fountain pens have at least one LAMY Safari in their pen case. It’s a favorite everyday writer and its price makes it accessible to students and professionals alike.

8) Platinum Plaisir Fountain Pen – This is Cher’s favorite everyday “purse” fountain pen. She loves the special cap that prevents ink from drying out in the nib. The durable anodized aluminum body has a pearlized finish that comes in several fun colors such as sports car red and pale violet. As a left-handed writer she also appreciates that the grip is suitable for lefties and that the fine nib is the ideal size for her – the fine line of ink dries quickly and it is not too “pokey or scratchy” for her strange lefty writing position.

9) Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen – Great pen, great price. Need we say more? Makes a thoughtful inexpensive gift: it’s less than $20.00, the nib size is easy to write with even for beginners, it’s made from durable materials and it comes with a stylish Pilot gift box.

10) Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen – The lovable Preppy fountain pen is so inexpensive it is an easy introduction into the world of fountain pens. For a disposable fountain pen it offers amazing quality! It comes in seven colors and Platinum designed it so that it can be refilled or even converted to eyedropper fill. 

That’s our top 10 list! What’s yours? What fountain pens would you put on your top 10 list? We’d love to hear about your favorites!

March 27, 2013

Monteverde Cartridge Refill for LAMY Fountain Pens Review

(Monteverde Ink Cartridges for LAMY Fountain PensBurgundy)

Monteverde took it upon themselves to broaden the selection of ink cartridge refills available for LAMY fountain pens by creating their own version of a LAMY T10 ink cartridge.

The ink inside these cartridges features Monteverde's Ink Treatment Formula that is described as offering the following benefits:

  • Drastically improves ink-flow quality
  • Extends cap-off time
  • Automatically cleans fountain pen feeders
  • Lubricates and protects the ink feeding system from corrosion and clogging
  • Improves ink drying time on paper

LAMY produces T10 ink cartridges in only seven colors including black, blue washable, blue-black, turquoise, red, violet, and green. Monteverde’s LAMY-compatible ink cartridge lineup includes eleven colors: black, blue, blue-black, turquoise, red, purple, green, brown, burgundy, fluorescent orange and fluorescent yellow.

(LAMY Safari with a calligraphy nib)

Pick up a LAMY Safari with a calligraphy nib and some Monteverde fluorescent orange or yellow ink cartridges and you’ve got yourself a long-lasting highlighter pen. I personally really like Monteverde’s highlighting ink colors because in my opinion they are softer than some of the screaming bright highlighter inks out there.

(Monteverde Fluorescent Yellow Highlighting Ink Sample)

We noticed a very interesting feature of these Monteverde ink cartridges: one end of the cartridge fits into LAMY fountain pens and the other end fits into fountain pens that take standard international ink cartridges. These cartridges are longer than your usual standard international ink cartridge though, so due to their extra length they will not fit inside the barrel some fountain pens that use this type of cartridge.

Here is a photo of my blue Plumink fountain pen (left) and my lime green LAMY Safari fountain pen (right). They both are using the exact same Monteverde cartridge refills (which happen to be almost empty when I took this photo). If you look closely you can see that the exposed ends of these cartridges are different, depending on if the cartridge is installed in a standard international refill pen or a LAMY T10 refill pen. Dual purpose ink refills!

So far I’ve been very happy with this ink and it has been well behaved on the paper and in pens that I have used. Have you used Monteverde ink refills for LAMY fountain pens? If so, what do you think of them? Have you tried using them in fountain pens that use standard international refills?

February 13, 2013

Pen Mods: How to make a long-lasting refillable highlighter pen

Today’s blog post will teach you how to make your own long-lasting highlighter pen that can be refilled with ink and reused many many times. We will talk about two ways to do this, both methods using pen parts from Platinum Pens.

You may wonder why we are doing this since the Platinum Preppy highlighter pen is designed to be refilled and reused and the felt tip can even be replaced when it wears out. Preppy pens are very economical, but they are not meant to last a life time. Sooner or later, the cap and/or the body of the pen will crack making the pen useful only for parts. In contrast, both the cap and the body of the Platinum Plaisir fountain pen are made of durable anodized aluminum that will not crack. As a bonus, the Plasir has an attractive pearlized finish that comes in seven different colors.

(1) The first pen mod is the easiest, most foolproof way to create your highlighter. You will need both a Platinum Preppy highlighter pen and a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen.

Take both of the pens apart by removing the caps and unscrewing the grip section from the pen barrel.

Take the grip section of the Preppy highlighter, screw it into the barrel of the Plaisir fountain pen, add your ink cartridge and you’re done!

(2) For the second pen mod you will need a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen, a Preppy highlighter replacement tip and something rubbery and soft that gives you a good grip. Preppy replacement tips can be purchased separately, or if you buy Platinum highlighter ink cartridges you get a replacement tip along with them in the same package. For this demo I used a wide rubber band to give me a good grip, but other things can be used such as that rubbery drawer liner stuff etc.

First remove the pen cap. Using the wide rubber band or rubber drawer liner, get a good grip on the base of the fountain pen nib and carefully pull it out of the grip section along with the skinny plastic piece that it is attached to. A couple of notes about this: the amount of effort it takes to remove the nib seems to vary from pen to pen, and be warned that this may or may not remove some of the color coating that is on top of the Plaisir fountain pen nib.

Firmly insert the highlighter replacement tip into the Plaisir grip section, add your ink cartridge and you’re good to go. Voila! A good looking, durable and refillable highlighter pen. The felt tip can be easily replaced if it wears out using Preppy highlighter replacement tips.

What kind of ink should you use to refill this pen? Highlighting ink that is designed for use in fountain pens would be an excellent choice. A very light color of fountain pen ink would work as well.

What kind of ink refills does it take? You can use the Platinum brand of ink cartridges or you can use a Platinum ink converter if you would like to use bottled ink. Another idea is to rinse out your empty Platinum ink cartridges and use a blunt-tip needle bottle to refill them using bottled ink. This pen is not suitable to be eyedropper filled since the barrel of the pen is metal and may cause a negative reaction when it is in constant contact with ink.

What kind of refillable highlighters do you use? Do you have any highlighter pen mods you’d like to share with us?

January 30, 2013

Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Review

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a very affordable recent addition to Pilot Pens available in the USA. The current manufacturer’s retail price is less than $20.00, making it an attractive choice for a first fountain pen, for a pen that you might leave at the office or even for taking notes in class. To help you decide if this pen suits your personal taste, we’ll take a closer look at some of its features.

The first thing you might notice about this pen is that both ends of the pen are tapered making it rather cigar-shaped. The back end of the pen is tapered slightly more than the cap end to enable the cap to be securely posted while you’re writing. The body and snap-on cap are both made of metal for long-lasting use without cracking.

The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is available in three different matte finishes: black, silver and a champagne gold. All of these colors come with a silver colored chrome clip, trim and nib and a smooth black ABS plastic grip. The middle part of the pen body is accented by a wide glossy band that is either plain or subtly decorated with dots or a zig-zag pattern.

The Metropolitan comes equipped with a medium tip steel nib. When I compare the line width this Japanese medium nib produces to the line width of LAMY’s German steel nibs, it is somewhere in-between a LAMY fine nib and a LAMY medium nib. Not as fine as the LAMY fine, but not as broad as a LAMY medium nib. The nib on my Metropolitan proved to be a nice smooth writer and the ink flow is generous with Pilot's black ink. The nib is engraved with some fine lines and says “Pilot M Japan” on it.

The Metropolitan does come with both an ink cartridge and an ink converter which is unusually generous for a fountain pen in this price range. The squeeze style converter allows you to fill this pen with bottled fountain pen ink instead of just using Pilot ink cartridges. The drawback to this style of converter is that it does not fill with a large quantity of ink and since it is not clear you can’t see what your current ink level is. You can purchase a clear piston-style CON-50 Pilot ink converter if you decide you want to upgrade. Or you can even refill your empty ink cartridges using a blunt tip needle bottle. This pen uses proprietary Pilot Namiki ink cartridges and is not compatible with standard universal cartridges. Since the body of this pen is metal, it is not suitable to be converted to eyedropper fill.

This fountain pen currently comes packaged in a contemporary black Pilot gift box that fits inside a black heavy stock Pilot sleeve. This is also very generous for a fountain pen of this price.

The Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen approximate weight and sizes are: 0.9 oz, 0.5” diameter, 5 1/4" capped, 4 3/4" uncapped, 5 7/8" posted.

(Pilot Metropolitan Fountain Pen Writing Test)

After writing with the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen I feel that it really offers outstanding value and quality for a bargain price. The pen is well constructed, writes smoothly and currently comes with extras such as an ink converter and nice gift box. Are any of you writing with the Metropolitan? Would you recommend this as a beginner fountain pen?

(Here’s my Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen.)

January 02, 2013

When is a standard ink converter not a standard ink converter?

(Pelikan standard universal ink converter)

Not too long ago as we were trying to use an ink converter in a new fountain pen we made an interesting discovery. Not all "standard" fountain pen ink converters are created equal. I'm not talking about the filling mechanism, quality, appearance, length or ink capacity, I'm talking about the part of the converter that attaches to the pen. One would assume that all "standard" converters would be able to attach correctly to all pens that take "standard" cartridges and converters, but this simply is not true.

(Monteverde standard international ink converter)

Take for example the standard ink converter made by Pelikan. It is a good price and has a slightly larger ink capacity than some other standard converters, but it does not attach correctly to all pens that take standard converters. I grabbed my collection of school fountain pens and did an experiment. I tried to attach both the Pelikan and the Monteverde standard ink converters to each one of them with varying success. Here are the results:

Type of Fountain Pen    Pelikan Converter   Monteverde Converter
Pelikan Script X
Borghini ?
Unknown X
Plumink
Pilot Vortex X
Maped
Waterman

✓ = fit correctly
X = did not fit
? = was not sure

Even though both of the "standard" ink converters, particularly the Pelikan, did not fit all pens equally, short standard universal ink cartridges worked in all of the pens.

(J. Herbin standard universal ink cartridges)

Our conclusion?  If you don't want any surprises, if possible, buy an ink converter that is the same brand as the pen you plan to use it in. For the most foolproof results stick to short standard universal ink cartridges since they seem to be able to fit into all "standard" fountain pens.

Have you had any similar experiences with fountain pen ink converters?

December 19, 2012

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)

December 05, 2012

Trending Taupe

Taupe is a neutral color that is frequently used in the world of fashion, interior design, graphic design and elsewhere. According to Wikipedia the word “taupe” comes from the Latin name for the European mole and was originally used to describe the average color of the actual animal. Today, the word taupe is used to refer to varying shades ranging from grayish-brown, tan, rose taupe and more.  It is also the most popular color for leather sofas! The color taupe also appears in the world of notebooks, ink and fountain pens.

In 2012 Pelikan created a special edition M205 fountain pen in the color taupe that will only be available for a limited period of time. This sophisticated color subtly stands out of the crowd of traditional black fountain pens. It’s definitely on my want list!

For a matching ink color, I would fill my Pelikan M205 fountain pen with J. Herbin’s Cacao du Bresil fountain pen ink which I would call a dark brown taupe color. For a contrasting ink color, I would choose Tanzanite from Pelikan’s Edelstein Ink collection. This blue-black ink would be a nice complement to the classy taupe body of the fountain pen.

Leuchtturm 1917 created one of their thoughtfully designed lined journals with numbered pages with a taupe cover. The soft ivory color of the paper in this journal really makes a brown shade of ink pop on the page.

Even hipsters like the color taupe as evidenced in this funky retro design “Doing Good and Feeling Good” Write Now journal from Live Inspired.

If you prefer a journal with bright white paper, there are a limited number of taupe Quo Vadis Habana Journals available while they last. The Clairefontaine paper in the Habana journal works great with fountain pens.

To top it all off, I would paint my nails with Opi “Over the Taupe” nail polish. Yeah, that’s right, even my fingers would match my fountain pen, ink and journal.

Even my cat Rori has a taupe chin and taupe spots!

I’m afraid that once I buy the Pelikan M205 in taupe I will also need to get a matching Fiat 500 in my favorite color they call “punk grey”. Think of how good I will look driving this car!

Do you have any favorite products or designs in the classic color of Taupe?

November 21, 2012

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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November 07, 2012

Fountain Pen Basics: Simple Cleaning

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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October 10, 2012

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!

September 26, 2012

Fountain Pen Basics: What essentials do I need with my first fountain pen?

If you’re thinking of buying your first fountain pen, you may be surprised to discover just how many choices of styles, brands and inks there are for this traditional writing instrument! It may seem overwhelming to figure out what you need as you sift through the huge variety of fountain pens and accessories available to the modern writer. What basic essentials must you have to begin writing with your first fountain pen?

(LAMY Safari fountain pen in charcoal with a black nib)

(1) A fountain pen. It is not necessary to buy an expensive pen with a real 14K gold nib to begin your new writing experience. Something as simple and cheap as a disposable pen can be sufficient to help you get the feel for what writing with a fountain pen is like. The refillable Platinum Preppy fountain pen is a very popular choice under $5.00. There are many other pen choices in the $50.00 or less category that can even last a lifetime. Generally, most (but not all) pens in this price range have steel nibs and cartridge/converter filling systems. Just like regular pens, fountain pens come in a variety of nib sizes, often ranging from extra-fine to broad. If you’ve never used a fountain pen you’ll probably find that either a fine or a medium nib is the easiest to begin writing with. Here is a short list of some suggested beginner fountain pens:

LAMY Al-Star
LAMY Safari
LAMY Vista
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen
Kaweco Classic Sport
Kaweco Ice Sport
Pelikan Pelikano
Pelikan Pelikano Jr.
Platinum Plaisir
Platinum Preppy

(OMAS universal fountain pen ink cartridges in blue)

(2) Some ink. If you are a beginner, ink cartridges are the easiest way to refill your fountain pen. The most important thing is to make sure the ink cartridges you get are compatible with the fountain pen that you buy. Standard international or universal cartridges fit many types of fountain pens, but not all fountain pens. Some fountain pens require proprietary cartridges, or in other words, ink cartridges that are the same brand as the fountain pen. Here’s the same list of beginner fountain pens with suggested compatible ink refills:

LAMY Al-Star - LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Safari - LAMY T10 fountain pen refills 
LAMY Vista - LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
LAMY Joy Fountain Pen - LAMY T10 fountain pen refills
Kaweco Classic Sport - short standard international cartridges such as J. Herbin or Omas
Kaweco Ice Sport - short standard international cartridges such as J. Herbin or Omas
Pelikan Pelikano - short standard international cartridges such as J. Herbin or Omas and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Pelikan Pelikano Jr. - short standard international cartridges such as J. Herbin or Omas and Pelikan 4001 Giant universal cartridges
Platinum Plaisir - Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack 
Platinum Preppy - Platinum fountain pen ink refills 10 pack or 2 pack

Our blog includes articles that are very helpful in explaining ink cartridge use:

Crash Course in Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges
Pelikano Fountain Pen Cartridge Tips

Also worth mentioning - once you start writing with fountain pens you will notice that the kind of paper you write with will matter more than it did before. The type of paper you use will definitely affect your writing experience. To find out why, take a look at this blog article:

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are left-handed and have noticed that some fountain pens come with left-handed nibs, this article might answer some of your questions:

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

So that’s basically it – a pen and some ink are all you really need to try out a fountain pen. If you discover that you like fountain pens and want to expand on the basics, what comes next? This will be the subject of a future blog post.

What was your first fountain pen? Was it love at first write, or did your taste for fountain pens develop slowly? Do you have any suggestions for someone who wants to get their first fountain pen?

August 15, 2012

Protect Your Precious Pens!

Do you own at least one or two high-end writing instruments such as fountain pens? Have you been bitten by the pen collectors bug? (As far as I know there is no simple cure for this.) Or are you just particular about being organized and keeping your pens in perfect condition? If you usually only use one or two pens at a time, what do you do with the rest when they are not in use? What’s an effective way to carry the pens you want to use? Thankfully, previous generations of pen collectors have designed attractive and practical solutions for writers who adore pens.

Besides being attractive, many pen cases are specially designed to keep objects, including other pens, from bumping, scraping and scratching your writing tools. Pen cases help to keep your pens safe if they should fall from a desk. Leather pen cases are much classier (and less nerdy) than a plastic pocket protector for carrying pens in a shirt or jacket pocket. They can keep your pens organized at home or in your purse or briefcase. Pen cases give you the satisfaction of knowing that your writing instruments are being given the greatest of care.

(Aston Leather Single Pen Slip Case)

If you like to carry around a single writing instrument there are several styles of cases designed for a solitary pen. A very simple case for a single pen is a basic, unlined leather pouch. This kind of pen pouch is an affordable way to experience the benefits of protecting your pens. These simple pouches also come in a larger size for carrying two pens, but they do not prevent the pens from touching each other.

(Aston Leather Quad Pen Case)

Another style of pen case is the type that has individual pockets for each pen, kind of like the fingers in a glove. These cases often close with a flap that slides under a strap. As each pen is placed in its own pocket, the clip is often placed outside of the pocket to clip the pen securely inside. These pen cases come in different sizes to hold different numbers of pens – typically they hold anywhere from one to four pens.

(Aston Leather Double Pen Hard Case)

A similar kind of case is the leather pen box or firm case. This type of case has slots that the entire pen, clip and all, slides in and out of. They often have a flap that tucks into a pocket or under a strap to keep the case closed. Aston Leather makes it easy to get the pens in and out by allowing the top part of the hard case to open up. These cases often hold from one to four pens total.

(PlePle Candy Wrap Pen Case)

Wrap pen cases, when open, are a flat rectangular piece of cloth or leather that on one side has pockets to slip your pens into. To secure your pens into this case it is best to clip them to the edge of the pockets if possible. Some of these cases have pockets for individual pens, other have larger pockets that hold 2 or 3 pens each. There is a flap that goes over the top of your pens once they are inside. Then the case is rolled up or folded and secured with a tie or strap. Depending on the number of pens in the case, the case size and materials, some of these wrap cases can get a bit bulky when rolled. Often these cases can hold approximately 5 to 10 or more pens.

(Zippered Case to hold 10 pens)

If you have a collection of 10 or more pens there are large storage solutions available. Leather cases that open like a book and have a zipper closure are popular. Inside there are elastics that secure the top and bottom of each individual pen. A piece of protective material that prevents the pens on one side of the case from touching the pens on the other side of the case is placed between the two covers before you zip the case closed. You can get this type of case in different sizes ranging from a small case that holds 2 or 3 pens, to a large case that holds 40 pens.

There is also special furniture available for pen collectors to carefully store their pens. Some of this furniture is in the style of a display case with a glass top so that you can see your beautiful pens. Other furniture has slim drawers for storage purposes. There is quite a variety of pen storage furniture!

This is not a complete list of pen storage solutions, instead we wanted to introduce you to several stylish and practical ways to protect your beloved writing tools. What methods do you use to protect your fountain pens and other writing instruments?

June 20, 2012

The Platinum Plaisir vs The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen

The Platinum Plaisir fountain pen makes a frequent appearance in my rotation of daily writing instruments. Since it uses the exact same cartridge/converter filling system, feed section and nib as the Platinum Preppy fountain pen it gets a lot of comparison to the popular Preppy. So why spend the extra money on the Plaisir? Perhaps some of the following observations will help you make your own choice.

First of all, the body and cap of the Plaisir fountain pen are make of a light-weight yet durable anodized aluminum that lasts much longer than the recycled polycarbonate cap and body of the Preppy. The plastic Preppy pen is a great beginner fountain pen with a bargain price of less than $5.00, but it is not meant to be a forever pen. Once in a while I'll give a Preppy to one my friends who has never tried using a fountain pen. When I ask them later how they like using it, sometimes I find that they have cracked the cap or the barrel and are no longer using the pen. If they genuinely like the experience of using a fountain pen, often I’ll give them an “upgrade” to a Plaisir and have received many positive comments on their new Plaisir pen.

I find the scratch-resistant pearlized finish on the Plaisir fountain pen very attractive. It’s very smooth and I like the way it feels in my hand. Since there are seven color choices, there is a color to suit almost everyone. One of my personal favorites is the bright sports car red, or others might call it a bright lipstick red. The pearlized colors range from a conservative black to a delicate and feminine pink. The Preppy pen has a clear body and cap with a clear but colorful clip and top on the cap. Both fountain pens have nib colors that match the pen color. The steel nib and feed section are interchangeable between pens and the nib performance is generally the same.

The cap of the Plaisir has a special design that allows you to let your fountain pen sit for a long period of time without any use, then to uncap it and begin to write smoothly without any hesitation.  This cap also reduces ink loss due to evaporation. I find that the cap on the Preppy works fairly well at keeping my ink from drying out, but eventually it cracks allowing the pen to dry out. To make the cap on my Preppy pens last longer I usually put a piece of clear tape around the bottom of the cap when it is brand new. Once the cap cracks, the tape will not help.

One advantage of the Preppy pen is that it can easily be converted into an eye dropper fill pen with some silicone grease and an optional rubber o-ring. The polycarbonate barrel of the Preppy does not react with ink (although it is possible that it could be stained by some inks) and it does not have any holes in it which makes it work well as an eye dropper fill. The metal barrel of the Plaisir may chemically react with ink so it is not suitable to be converted into an eye dropper fill pen.

Both the Plaisir and the Preppy have a cartridge/converter filling system which is typical for fountain pens in this price range. These pens must be filled with Platinum ink cartridges since universal/standard ink cartridges will not fit. It makes a lot more sense to use the converter with the Plaisir since the converter costs more than double the price of the Preppy pen. If you don’t want to spend the money on the converter or you don’t want to be limited to using Platinum ink, you can always refill empty cartridges yourself using bottled ink and something like a blunt-tip needle bottle.

So which pen will you choose? What are your thoughts on Plaisir vs Preppy fountain pens?

Plaisir Pros:

Much more durable than the Preppy
Special cap design prevents ink from drying out
Attractive pearlized finish in a choice of 7 different colors

Plaisir Cons:

More expensive than the Platinum Preppy (currently about $20.00)
Cannot be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Pros:

Bargain price (less than $5.00)
Can be converted into eye dropper fill

Preppy Cons:

Polycarbonate cap and body can crack over time
Limited pen color options
Converter costs about twice as much as the pen

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June 06, 2012

Clearly, Demonstrator Fountain Pens are Cool!

Modern demonstrator fountain pens are clear, or partially clear writing instruments that allow you to see the inner workings of the pen. Originally, the purpose of these pens was for pen manufacturers or pen sellers to show-off the desirable mechanisms of the pen that were not normally visible from the outside. They were not meant to be sold to the public. Some old demonstrator pens were non-functioning and even had holes cut into the barrel. Eventually, clear plastics came to be used to create very limited numbers of these pens and they became sought after by collectors. Their popularity grew, and now they are commonly used by many as daily writing instruments.

There are many reasons writers are attracted to demonstrator fountain pens. It’s easy to monitor the level of your ink so you’ll know when you need to refill. If you like to use bright, colorful inks a demonstrator pen with a clear, colorless barrel really shows off your ink color. Mechanically minded engineer types like to see how all of the parts that make up the fountain pen function and it’s easier to diagnose pen problems and repair them. Others say that the transparency of these pens reminds them of a crystal.

(Aurora Optima Demonstrator with Red Auroloide Trim)

Some demonstrator fountain pens are very luxurious and are only produced as limited editions. One example is the Aurora Optima demonstrator fountain pen that is available as a limited edition of only 1936 pens, corresponding to the year in which the Optima was first introduced. Because this Optima is a clear demonstrator pen, if you look closely you might be able to spot Aurora’s hidden ink reservoir system that allows an extra page of writing when your normal ink supply runs out.

(Pilot Prera Demonstrator with Orange Trim)

If you like the handsome appearance of the Aurora Optima demonstrator but you aren’t able to splurge on such a pen, an attractive and more affordable alternative is the Pilot Prera demonstrator fountain pen. It also has a clear, colorless body with a colorful contrasting trim on the end of both the cap and the barrel. In addition to red, you can get the Prera with a variety of trim colors, and the Japanese stainless steel fine nib is great especially if you like to write with a very fine line.

(LAMY Vista Demonstrator Fountain Pen)

Since demonstrator fountain pens are clear, when they have a cartridge or converter filling system, the appearance of the converter matters. When we use the LAMY Vista, which is the demonstrator version of the popular Safari fountain pen, we like to think of the red top of its converter as the “heart” inside the pen.

(Platinum President Demonstrator with Gold Trim)

Platinum Pens thoughtfully designed the converter inside this President demonstrator fountain pen to match the color of the gold-plated trim.

(Pilot Custom 74 Demonstrator in Violet)

In addition to clear, colorless barrels, many demonstrator fountain pens are made with clear, colorful barrels and caps. I really like the pale violet color of this Pilot Custom 74 demonstrator fountain pen. It has an easy-to-use piston converter that fills with ink using just a few clicks of a button.

(TWSBI Vac 700 in Sapphire Blue)

The fact that the TWSBI Vac 700 is transparent allows you to see its cool vintage-style vac filling system in action! I love both the amber orange and sapphire blue versions of this demonstrator pen and it also comes in a mysterious smoke black.

(Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens)

Demonstrator fountain pens don’t have to be expensive. At the time of writing this post, the Platinum Preppy fountain pen allows you to give one a try for only $3.00! Other demonstrator pens that can currently be purchased for $25.00 or less include the Kaweco Sport Ice, Kaweco Sport Classic, Noodler’s Ink Ahab flex-nib pen and the Pilot Plumix student calligraphy pen.

We’ve only mentioned just a handful of the large variety of demonstrator fountain pens that are available today. What’s your favorite demonstrator fountain pen and why do you like to use it? Share your favorites with us!



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April 11, 2012

Refill Fountain Pen Ink Cartridges with a Blunt Tip Needle Bottle

If you own a fountain pen that has a cartridge filling system, you can easily refill your empty ink cartridges or ink converter using a blunt tip needle bottle.

  1. Put some ink into the needle bottle – a small funnel can be used to make this easier.
  2. If you are changing ink colors it would be a good idea to clean your fountain pen and rinse out your empty cartridge with water first. A blunt tip needle bottle filled with clean water is a good way to rinse out ink cartridges. You may want to let the cleaned pen and ink cartridge dry overnight before you refill them.
  3. Insert the blunt tip needle through the small opening on the end of the cartridge down towards the bottom of your empty cartridge. This way as you fill the cartridge the air will naturally come out the top and not form too many ink bubbles.
  4. Gently squeeze the needle bottle and fill the cartridge or converter not quite to the top with ink.
  5. Put the refilled ink cartridge into your fountain pen and you’re finished!

I’ve heard that some people use a dab of glue from a hot glue gun to reseal the cartridges so they can take extra ink cartridges with them. If you decide to give this a try, be aware that it’s not foolproof. You may want to carry the ink cartridges in a plastic zip top bag to prevent any accidents.

There are many advantages to using a blunt tip needle bottle to refill your empty fountain pen ink cartridges:

  • Bottled ink is much cheaper to use than ink that comes in cartridges.
  • Since the empty cartridges can be re-used many times before discarding them, there is less plastic waste going into the environment.
  • Ink cartridges usually can hold more ink than a comparable ink converter.
  • The needle tip bottle can hold lots of ink and it doesn’t need to be cleaned after each use like a syringe does.
  • The blunt tip needle is safer to use for refilling than a sharp tip syringe.
  • The plunger on a syringe can be hard to control leading to small ink explosions, but the bottle yields to very gentle pressure.
  • You can fill the needle bottle with your own custom ink color and use it to create your own custom cartridges.
  • You can fill cartridges with ink that isn’t available in cartridges such as Noodler’s and Pilot Iroshizuku.

The little wire in the cap of the blunt tip needle bottle isn’t completely necessary, but it does serve a couple of useful purposes. Since the wire goes into the needle when the bottle is capped it helps to prevent any clogs and it also helps to prevent leaks if the bottle tips over. If the little wire in the cap comes out, you can gently push it back in.

Do you ever refill empty fountain pen ink cartridges? What method do you use? Do you have any tips that you’d like to pass along?



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December 14, 2011

What is Fountain Pen Friendly Paper?

If you are a writer that uses fountain pens you may have noticed that not all paper is created equal. The performance of your fountain pen may be spectacular on some paper, but less than desirable on others. How do you determine what paper is fountain pen friendly – that will give you the performance you want with your fountain pens? 

The answer to this question is kind of like the answer to the question, “What is a comfortable pair of shoes?” Everyone has their own opinions and not all of them are the same, but there are some similarities in the answers. If you ask the question, “What is the most comfortable pair of shoes in your closet?”, then the answers will vary even more!

Many opinions of what fountain pen friendly paper is will include the following (but not necessarily limited to these things or in this order of importance):

1) The fountain pen ink does not bleed through the paper excessively.

2) The ink is not overly visible from the back side of the page.

3) The ink does not feather or has minimal feathering on the paper.

4) And for the lefties of the world I will add the ink must dry within a reasonable amount of time on the paper! In fact, this personally is my highest priority, otherwise I cannot use the paper with a fountain pen. I’m hoping the use of fast-drying ink will expand my fountain pen friendly paper selection.

If you ask the question, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”, you’re likely to get a variety of different answers! Each fountain pen nib, each brand of ink, each color of ink and the paper in each notebook or journal will interact differently when used with each other. The equation pen + paper + ink = good/bad results changes each time you change a component of the equation. This is why in our online store we cannot say for certain which paper is fountain pen friendly and which is not. There are brands of paper that in general are known for good performance with fountain pens, but within a brand there may be several types and grades of paper, some of which may not be so fountain pen friendly.

There are many online reviews of various paper products that can be very helpful in making your choices. The Writer’s Bloc blog has a number of reviews with writing tests showing the performance of a limited number of fountain pen inks on specific paper and notebooks. Before purchasing your journal or notebook, why not do a search on our blog or use any search engine to find some reviews? From our own experience, experimenting yourself with pens, ink and paper will help you to find what you personally like the best.

So I must ask, “What fountain pen friendly paper is on your desk?”



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September 21, 2011

Introduction to TWSBI Fountain Pens

TWSBI Diamond 540 Fountain Pens

Ta Shin Precision is a Taiwanese company that spent 40 years manufacturing metal and plastic parts for other companies before deciding to create their own brand that we now know as TWSBI. Their manufacturing experience includes making high-end writing instruments, which really shows when you examine TWSBI pens.

One of the first things I wondered when I heard about TWSBI is where did they get their name? They explain this interesting name on the TWSBI website:

“TWSBI’s name stands for the phrase “Hall of Three Cultures” or “San Wen Tong” in Chinese. The character “Wen” translates into language and culture. The phrase “San Wen Tong” also brings to mind the Hall of the Three Rare Treasures created by Emperor Qianlong as a memorial to three great masterpieces of Chinese calligraphy. The initials of the phrase “San Wen Tong” was reversed and thus turned into “TWS”. The last letters “Bi” was added with its literal meaning of “writing instruments”. Thus combining the two segments, creating TWSBI.”

Before the TWSBI brand was developed, the company made its first fountain pen - The Montesa Venezia which is a lacquer fountain pen with chrome trim. They have been passionate and experienced manufacturers of fine writing instruments since 1989.

TWSBI set out to create traditional writing instruments that people in this modern, fast-paced world could use to slow down, appreciate the little things, and enjoy life. They communicated closely with the community of fountain pen users, compiled their wish-lists, and came up with the TWSBI Diamond 530 - a classic fountain pen with a piston ink-filling system. In addition to being very affordable, this pen could be disassembled piece by piece. Replacement or extra parts were made available on Ebay. It functioned like fountain pens that were much more expensive and its clear body gave it a sophisticated, modern industrial look. The result was that writers around the world fell in love with this pen!

Of course, TWSBI didn’t stop there and has continued to improve and develop exciting new products. We very much look forward to TWSBI’s future pen offerings! Writer’s Bloc is happy to announce that we have a supply of the TWSBI Diamond 540 Demonstrator Fountain Pen.


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June 15, 2011

What is a Fountain Pen Converter?

(Aurora push-in style piston fountain pen converter)

Those of you that are new to using fountain pens or want to purchase your very first fountain pen may have heard of fountain pen converters but might not know what they are. Do you need one? Should you get one?

Fountain pen converters are designed to be used with fountain pens that are usually filled with ink cartridges. They “convert” these fountain pens from using ink cartridges to using bottled ink instead. The converter has a small reservoir that contains the ink.

The converter can be removed from the fountain pen, so you can still use ink cartridges if you choose. I personally feel that using bottled ink is advantageous because it is cheaper, comes in a wider variety of colors and is easier on the environment (as opposed to throwing away multiple plastic ink cartridges when they become empty). However, ink cartridges are definitely more convenient when you're on the road.

Push-in style fountain pen converters are pushed on to the nib section of the pen, the same way an ink cartridge would be pushed on to the pen. Screw-in style converters screw on to the nib section of the pen. A previous blog post of ours How to Install a LAMY Converter provides photos and a description of how to attach a push-in style converter to a LAMY Safari fountain pen

(A standard or universal piston converter compared to LAMY and Platinum piston converters)

Many converters are brand-specific, in other words, they are specially made to fit a particular brand or model of fountain pen. Other converters are standard, or universal, and fit the many fountain pens with a standard or universal cartridge filling system. It is often easiest to figure out what kind of converter you need at the time you purchase your fountain pen.

Fountain pen converters have several different types of filling systems including piston, button, and squeeze (aerometric) fill. If you’re having trouble filling your converter with ink you may have to try filling it 2 or 3 times before you get the air bubbles out and get a good fill. How to Fill a Fountain Pen With a Piston Converter provides an example of how to fill a fountain pen using a piston style converter. If you prefer video, LAMY has a video demonstrating how to insert and refill a LAMY fountain pen converter.

Converters, as well as your fountain pen, do need to be cleaned occasionally especially when changing the ink color or brand. Usually cool water is sufficient, but if that doesn’t do the trick try this home-made fountain pen cleaning solution.

Not all fountain pens have ink cartridge filling systems, so not all fountain pens will require a converter. Fountain pens that do not require converters have a piston, aerometric, button or other filling system of their own. What kind of filling system do you like on your fountain pen?

(Pilot Prera fountain pen with a Pilot push-in style piston converter)



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June 01, 2011

Do I need a left-handed nib on my fountain pen if I’m a left-handed writer?

I am a left-handed writer and the first time I used a fountain pen I had no idea left-handed fountain pen nibs even existed. It didn’t occur to me that there would be any problem using just a regular nib and I didn’t notice any problems. Years later, I’m back to using fountain pens regularly and have discovered that there are a few nibs out there specially designed for lefties. Many ask the question: Is it really necessary to have one of these special nibs if you are left-handed?

Left-handed fountain pen nibs are generally more rounded on the tip with the idea of producing a smoother writing experience. This particularly applies to languages such as English that are written from left to right. When left-handed people such as myself write, the pen is often angled in such a way that the pointiest part of the pen, the nib, is being pushed along paper made of fibers that are not impervious to tearing and which offer some resistance. It’s like taking a sharp nail or a pin and pushing it along a piece of paper at a 45 degree angle with the pointy end facing the direction it is being pushed. Likely you’re going to end up piercing that piece of paper with your pin! In contrast, try taking that same pin and pulling it along that same piece of paper with the pointy end facing away from the direction it is being pulled. It feels smoother as you pull it and it is much less likely that you will pierce the paper. That would be more like the experience of a right-handed writer. So as you can see, pen nibs of all kinds have a huge influence on whether or not a lefty has a good or a bad writing experience.

I personally find that a good writing experience for a lefty does not stop at the kind of nib on the pen. It is extremely important to me that whatever ink I’m using dries quickly or else I’ll smear it all over the place. The type of paper I use is also important since this affects the drying time of the ink. In addition, if paper is of very poor quality or tears easily, I may find myself poking holes in the paper with my pen or pencil. Each writer needs to experiment with different combinations of pen, ink and paper before discovering what works best for them.

I own many fountain pens with a variety of nibs, and three of them happen to have left-handed nibs. I personally find that the left-handed fountain pen nibs aren’t necessarily any better or any worse than using a regular fountain pen nib. I’m not sure if you will have the same experience. I must say though, that I can’t go wrong with my left-handed Pelikano Junior fountain pen. I don’t always want to write with such a broad nib, but I appreciate its buttery-smoothness when I use it.

(Pelikan Pelikano fountain pen with a left-handed nib compared to a Pelikano with a regular nib. Note the modified grip and the rounded nib on the left-handed pen.)

For the left-handed writer that is new to fountain pens, I would suggest starting out with a nib that is middle-of-the-road, perhaps something like a LAMY Safari with a fine or medium nib. You might find extra-fine nibs to be too sharp and “pokey” at first, and broad nibs may lay down so much ink that you are smearing your writing too much. Another pen that I felt was easy to write with from the first time I picked it up is the Platinum Preppy with a fine nib, or for a nicer version of this pen with the same nib, the Platinum Plaisir fountain pen. If you get a chance to purchase a fountain pen with a left-handed nib, it is worth giving it a try. The Pelikan Pelikano and Pelikano Junior are both readily available with left-handed nibs. The Pelikan Pelikanos also have a grip that is modified to fit a left-handed writer. LAMY has left-handed nibs, but at the moment they are difficult to come by in the USA and I couldn’t even find one while shopping in Europe. I’ve also heard of some lefties sending in their expensive nibs to be customized by a nibmeister, but I’ve never felt the need to do this myself.

Are you a left-handed writer? What kind of pen or fountain pen do you like to write with? Do you own any fountain pens with left-handed nibs?


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May 11, 2011

Does Fountain Pen Ink Fade With Time?

Most fountain pen ink is dye-based rather than pigment-based, so the answer is yes, it does fade with the passing of time. The speed and degree of fading depend on a number of factors including the type of ink, type of paper, environmental conditions and exposure to light. I've noticed some fountain pen ink in various stages of fading in my old journals.

Iron-gall inks eventually fade to a brown color due to the iron that is in the ink. Other inks just fade to a paler shade of their original color or another unexpected hue. I found that the pen friends at Fountain Pen Network have done many of their own experiments to test what happens to various inks when exposed to UV light. It’s worth doing a search there if you’re wondering about the light resistance of a specific ink. If you are looking for a fade-resistant fountain pen ink there are several inks out there that may work for you.

Platinum Pens has years of experience with fountain pens and ink and they have developed pigment-based inks for use with fountain pens that are water-resistant, fade-resistant and heat-resistant. Platinum Carbon Black ink is especially prized by artists and others looking for ink that is very water and light resistant. Platinum pigment ink is available in just a few colors: black, sepia, blue and rose red. Some fountain pen users are nervous that using ink containing ultra-fine pigment powder may clog their pens. If this describes you, you might want to try this ink in an inexpensive pen first and follow the pen maintenance tips included in with this ink – these tips are originally written in Japanese but are mentioned in English on our website.

Noodler’s Ink makes several types of ink that have what they describe as “bullet-proof” qualities including resistance to fading when exposed to light. I am unclear as to whether or not any of these inks include any sort of pigments in their formulas, but can tell you Noodler’s ink is included among the favorite inks of many writers. Their UV light-resistant inks include such inks as regular Noodler’s bullet-proof black, Noodler’s Eternal inks, Noodler’s Polar inks and any of the inks in the Warden’s series such as Bad Black Moccasin and Bad Belted Kingfisher..

Do you use fade-resistant ink in your fountain pen? What type of permanent fountain pen ink is your favorite? Have you done any UV light tests with ink that you’d like to share?

May 04, 2011

Why Use a Fountain Pen?

I mean seriously, do people even use fountain pens anymore? Actually, YES! Although they may seem like an archaic writing tool, fountain pens have a very devoted and loyal following. It seems like more than ever people are reaching for the 100 pens for $2 deal on disposable ballpoint pens. So why do so many people continue to use fountain pens, when ballpoint and gel pens are so readily available and much much cheaper?

Many of the people using fountain pens today grew up doing so. Fountain pens used to be on the list of required school supplies. Those writers may simply be accustomed to using fountain pens or enjoy the nostalgic feeling that comes with it. Using a fountain pen may remind people of simpler times, when good handwriting skills were praised, rather than how many words per minute you can type. Fountain pens also used to be a great way for students to interact, sharing fountain pen ink, or trading nibs was similar to trading your ham sandwich for your best friend's chocolate chip cookie.

The laundry list of advantages that come with using fountain pens is endless. In my research I found a few things that attracted people to fountain pens. The novelty of using of a fountain pen is a great conversation starter and many like the attention they get when they use it. A student using what could be described by other students as a "grandpa pen" might enjoy the onslaught of "why are you using THAT?" or "Hey, that's really cool".  In a sea of laptops, ipads, and tablets, a student using an actual pen, let alone a fountain pen, can be shocking, and on some occasions, very much appreciated.

There are also technical advantages of using a fountain pen. The liquid ink flow requires less pressure when writing which reduces cramping and overall discomfort when writing. Fountain pens are great for those with weak wrists or hands, and carpal tunnel. The quality and variety of fountain pens is also very attractive. Fountain pens, if well maintained, can last for decades. Fountain pens may be more expensive than a pack of ballpoint pens, but they last for a lifetime, making them much more “eco-friendly” than your usual go-to disposable pen. There is also more variety when it comes to fountain pens. They can be tailored to suit the needs of their user. Left-handed options, pen styles, nib sizes, and the vast spectrum of ink colors allow users to customize their pen to fit their unique personal style.  In addition to their unique design, fountain pens offer a larger range of writing styles. Depending on nib, hold, and angle of the the pen, writing styles can be altered and changed accordingly.

So why, with all these advantages are people still reaching for disposable pens?  There some aspects to using a fountain pen that may be off-putting for some. Fountain pens need careful maintenance in order to prevent leaking and promote long lasting use. Refilling your fountain pen can be messy and tedious, and although fountain pen inks can be sold at rather inexpensive prices some view buying them as unnecessary expenses. Taking fountain pens on airplanes can be risky because the air pressure changes at high altitude may cause ink explosions, and unless you like to unintentionally dye your clothes, most people view this as an inconvenience. Fountain pens must also be paired with high quality paper for best performance, which for some may also seem as an inconvenience. Although there may be some disadvantages with using a fountain pen, with proper maintenance and a thrifty eye most of these inconveniences can be avoided.

Let us know why you still use a fountain pen! We would love to hear your feedback!

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April 20, 2011

Our Best Selling Fountain Pen Under $50.00

It probably comes as no surprise to many of our readers that the LAMY Safari is our best selling fountain pen under $50.00. Whether you are considering buying your very first fountain pen, or are looking for a good daily writer, this might be just the pen you are looking for. It’s the right combination of an inexpensive price combined with very good quality. What makes the LAMY Safari fountain pen so popular?

  • Quality stainless steel nib is available in extra-fine, fine, medium and broad
  • Nib is easy to exchange and can be purchased separately
  • Calligraphy nibs in 1.1mm, 1.5mm and 1.9mm are also available for the Safari
  • A converter can be purchased separately that allows you to use bottled ink
  • The LAMY Safari comes in many colors ranging from bright & fun to conservative
  • Durable ABS plastic body
  • Ink window allows you to see when your ink level is running low
  • Specially designed ergonomic grip
  • Large clip allows you to attach this pen to many places
  • Extra parts are available from LAMY USA
  • MSRP is now $35.00, but it can be purchased for less at many stores including Writer’s Bloc

If you’re wondering what other writers think of the LAMY Safari, here are a few quotes from the plethora of online reviews:

Brian at Office Supply Geek says: “The thing that makes the Lamy Safari such a great beginner fountain pen in my opinion is not only that it offers quality and flexibility with a very smooth writing experience, but it is also a pen that you will want to use regardless of what other fountain pens you have around.”

John from Coffee-Stained Memos concludes: “I highly recommend the Lamy Safari to anyone wishing to take the plunge into fountain pen writing. In fact, I would recommend this pen to anyone who likes fountain pens.”

Brad at Miscellany & Cacophony discusses in detail the design of the LAMY Safari and concludes: “Now, if you don’t have a Lamy Safari, go get one! And if you already have one, get another! You won’t regret it.”

Do you own one or more LAMY Safaris? What do you think of this popular fountain pen? What is your favorite Safari color?

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April 06, 2011

Student Calligraphy and Fountain Pens

We were recently contacted by a schoolteacher who wanted to introduce her students to the "lost art" of calligraphy and writing with a fountain pen. She was looking for supplies that were both affordable and capable of withstanding the wear and tear of her students. Fortunately, Writer's Bloc carries a wide selection of calligraphy supplies and fountain pens that are tailored to the needs of students. Our hope is that introducing students to calligraphy and fountain pens will bring about a newfound appreciation for writing. Here are some ideas for teachers and students who want to try their hand at calligraphy and using fountain pens.

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen is a good choice for a first fountain pen. This fountain pen is of good quality for its price and is a great way to supply the classroom with affordable quality fountain pens. Students will be able to choose from an array of colors and find one that suits them best. (Also available as set of seven pens.)

Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen

The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is great for our aspiring little writers since this pen is specially designed for children. The Pelikano Junior Fountain Pen is available in four different colors and is also available with a left-handed nib for all the left-handed writers.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

For older students, the LAMY Safari is a popular choice. This fountain pen is a favorite daily writer of both teachers and students around the world. The LAMY Safari fountain pen comes in several colors and different nib sizes.

Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pens (set of 3)

For those new to calligraphy the Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen is a nice starter pen. This set of three is great for the classroom and includes nibs of three different sizes.

Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards

The Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards from Brause are a useful guide for practicing Calligraphy. Introduce your students to nine different lettering styles and let them teach each other!

French Rule Paper

Many teachers and students in the USA are unfamiliar with the French ruled paper commonly used by students in France and other countries. This paper is an excellent tool for anyone who wants to learn cursive writing, to improve their handwriting or to practice calligraphy. For more information about French rule paper you may wish read one of our previous blog posts: What is French Ruled Paper?

Do you love writing as much as we do? What tools do you personally find useful to help students and others to develop the art of calligraphy and handwriting?

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February 09, 2011

If Fountain Pens Were Cars

Have you ever thought about comparing your favorite fountain pen to a car? If so, what kind of car would it be?

For the Enthusiast, driving a car is less about the purpose of getting from point A to point B, and all about the experience of driving. Driving is pure joy: the beauty of the machine itself, the G force on the curves, the wind in your hair, the braking power, the sound of the engine. The driving experience is a package deal that must involve all five senses. This type of driver may own a BMW M3 or Porsche 911.

How about a fountain pen Enthusiast? The Enthusiast owns a fountain pen not just for the purpose of putting marks on paper, but rather to experience the pure joy of writing. The beauty of the pen, the feel of the nib against paper, the sounds the interaction between nib and paper produce, the variation of line width, the beautiful colors and shading of ink, these are all part of this experience. This is what is known as “pen touch” in some Asian lands. Often, Asian and Italian made fountain pens are created with the full “pen touch” experience in mind. The Enthusiast may own a Platinum Maki-e or an Aurora Optima Auroloide fountain pen, both of which, in addition to being fine writing tools, are works of art. Their flagship pen models, the Platinum President and the Aurora Ipsilon Deluxe, both have similar qualities.

The next type of driver we can think of is all about function. Getting from point A to point B is the most important thing with zero concern over looks and features. Once this driver gets to their destination there is little to no recollection of how they got there, they just arrived. I’m afraid to mention what type of car this person might drive in case it might be yours, so I’ll just leave it up to your own imagination.

I have a feeling that a pen owner that is only concerned about function would not own a fountain pen in the first place. A ball point pen from the local discount store would probably be sufficient. However, there are inexpensive fountain pens that function reliably enough that you don’t have to think much about maintaining them or wonder whether or not they will start when you pick them up to write. The Platinum Preppy fountain pen comes to mind as one of the most reliable, inexpensive pens that I own. It’s easy to refill with cartridges too.

Then there is the comfort driver that likes to feel as if they are floating on air as they pass by the sights and scenery. This type of driver is not interested much in sensory perception as they drive, rather priority is placed on comfort. Thinking of driving in comfort both the Buick Regal and Lincoln Continental are cars that come to mind. Often these cars are loaded with features to provide the most comfortable ride possible.

Writers that place priority on comfort often own fountain pens. When writing with a fountain pen less pressure on the paper is required to write thus reducing writing fatigue. Some fountain pens also have ergonomic grips to make writing easier. Gold nibs are often preferred by those seeking comfort since gold nibs tend to have a softer quality than steel nibs. German made fountain pens, such as those made by LAMY and Pelikan, are well known for their comfortable, soft touch. A comfort writer may own an elegant writing instrument such as a Pelikan Souveran M800 Blue o’ Blue or a sophisticated LAMY 2000 fountain pen with its buttery soft platinum coated 14K gold nib. Comfort can be found in inexpensive pens too such as the LAMY Safari or Pelikano Junior which are used daily by many writers.

So how about you? What kind of fountain pen do you “drive”?

January 19, 2011

Introducing the Pelikan M205 Duo Highlighter Fountain Pen

Recently, Pelikan released the M205 Duo Highlighter, a fountain pen specifically made for use as a highlighter pen. What can you expect from this welcome addition to the Pelikan pen family?

The M205 Duo Highlighter has the usual desirable qualities common to Pelikan fountain pens. It has a reliably good piston filling system and a high quality, smooth-writing stainless steel nib. The transparent yellow resin body is nicely accented with chrome trim and the distinguished Pelikan pocket clip. When you reach for this pen, the bright yellow color won’t let you forget its primary purpose – to be used as a highlighter! The pen weighs 0.5 oz (12g) empty, and is 5” long when capped, 5 7/8” when posted and 4 3/4” without the cap.

The nib is a BB size, or in other words broad-broad or extra broad. This is a rounded nib with an iridium tip. The line it produces is meant to be used for underlining, marking, editing and proofing your documents. As illustrated on the special box it comes in, if you want to highlight an entire word you’ll need to scribble back and forth over the word a few times. It does not produce a line a few millimeters in width like a calligraphy pen or a felt chisel-tip highlighter. In addition to using this pen as a highlighter, the BB nib makes this pen suitable for everyday writing in the ink color of your choice.

Pelikan includes a 30ml bottle of bright fluorescent yellow M205 Duo Highlighter Ink along with the purchase of your pen. The ink can also be purchased separately when you need a refill. Interestingly, the ink box states "Attention! The highlighter ink is only suited for the M205 Duo fountain pen. Do not use with other writing utensils!" From my own past experience I’ve seen yellow ink stain plastics – perhaps this is the reason for the warning and the reason that the pen itself is bright yellow. Does anyone know for sure? If so, please tell us!

The packaging of the M205 is quite fun. The outside of the white box is accented with grey print that appears as though it has already been highlighted with the pen. The box opens to reveal fluorescent yellow panels printed with care instructions in 10 different languages. Some of the text on the box states that the M205 Duo “combines two functions that, together, form one entity. It is a highlighter and a fountain pen, it marks and paraphrases. A well-functioning and perfectly balanced team whose members complement one another while also being able to stand alone.”

Here is an M205 Duo writing sample using Noodler's Sunrise highlighting ink:

Here is a sample of the M205 highlighting ink on Clairefontaine French rule paper using both a cotton swab and a Brause Steno nib:

Have you had the chance to use the Pelikan M205 Duo Highlighter yet? If so, what do you think? Have you ever used fountain pens as highlighters?

December 15, 2010

Eyedropper Fountain Pen Pros and Cons

The biggest advantage of converting a fountain pen into eyedropper fill is the huge reservoir of ink! No need for converters or cartridges, the whole barrel is full of ink. It’s easy to clean out the barrel when you want to change ink colors or want to store your fountain pen.  If you’ve got a transparent pen and colorful ink it’s especially fun to use!

Fountain pens can be converted to eyedropper fill as long as they do not have any holes in the body for the ink to leak out of or are not made from special materials that would be harmed by direct contact with ink or silicone grease. Some pens are better suited than others for this conversion because the design of the area where the feed and the barrel screw together can affect how well the pen seals.

However, modern fountain pens are not designed to be eyedropper fill pens, and because of this there are some problems to be aware of. Even when these pens are sealed correctly with silicone grease and/or rubber O-rings, they are still prone to leaking.

When there is heat, the air inside the pen can expand forcing ink out of the nib or from the seal creating a big mess! Due to this problem it is often necessary to refill your eyedropper pen when it gets to about 1/3 full of ink. In my case, I have hot hands and have to refill my pen when it gets to 1/2 full, otherwise beads of ink start dripping out of the nib spoiling whatever I’m writing on. If you carry the pen in your shirt pocket you could experience the same results. I’m unsure of how much hot weather is a problem because I live in Portland, Oregon where it rarely gets really hot. Does anyone have personal experience with this? If so, please share by leaving a comment!

Air travel can produce the same undesirable results as heat - as the air pressure changes in the cabin of the plane, the air inside the pen expands and can force ink to leak out of the pen. This is why I never take eyedropper fill pens with me when I’m travelling by air. In fact, I do not travel anywhere with my eyedropper pens! They sit on my desk, nibs pointing up, to be used where I can easily do a clean-up in case of ink leakage.

In my case, the possibility of having an ink leak and having to keep the pen at least 1/2 full of ink offsets the benefit of having a large ink supply in the barrel. I only have access to 1/2 a barrel of ink at a time anyway before it starts to leak. Sure, it’s easy to see the level of ink and know when you have to refill if you have a transparent pen, but what about pens that are not transparent?

With all of their disadvantages, many people still find that eyedropper pens are a nice alternative to traditional piston fill, converter or cartridge fill fountain pens. What are your thoughts and experiences with using eyedropper fill fountain pens?

Previous blog posts about eyedropper fill fountain pens:
Pen modification – convert into eyedropper fill
Should you use an O-ring to convert your fountain pen into an eyedropper?
When should you refill your eyedropper pen?
Is it safe to take a fountain pen on an airplane?

August 04, 2010

How to Care For Your LAMY Fountain Pen

To keep a fountain pen functioning properly it needs to be cleaned from time to time. When ink comes into contact with air it dries out and can prevent ink from flowing freely in your fountain pen. To avoid any unwanted chemical reactions, it’s a good idea to clean your fountain pen well before switching to a different ink. If you aren’t going to be using a fountain pen for awhile, before storing it a good cleaning is a must. When LAMY pens are cared for and maintained properly, in the USA LAMY offers a life-time warranty. So what is the recommended way to clean a LAMY pen? We found the following helpful tips on the LAMY website:

Warning: Do not use any kind of detergent when washing your pen. After you have cleaned it, dry the front part thoroughly and drain it completely using an absorbent piece of material.

Piston Pen

If the ink supply channel becomes encrusted, rinse the pen several times with clean water. The piston mechanism is easy to rinse effectively. It does not become encrusted so quickly because the device cleans itself automatically every time you fill it.

Cartridge Pen

If the ink supply channel becomes encrusted, soak the entire front part in clean water until the encrusted ink is dissolved. You can also wash it out under warm, running water or add a converter and rinse through several times.

Fountain Pen with Converter

Fit the converter and rinse with water. Repeat this procedure as often as necessary until the water you use for cleaning runs out clear.

July 07, 2010

Introduction to the LAMY 2000

Testifying to the timelessness of its design, the LAMY 2000 has been in production since its introduction in 1966. Gerd A. Müller, a man who was one of the ad­vo­cates of the Bauhaus move­ment, is the designer of the LAMY 2000. The Bauhaus prin­ci­ple of func­tion­al design: ‘form follows func­tion’ is clearly seen in the stylish simplicity of this writing instrument.

The LAMY 2000 is made of a special fiberglass resin called Makrolon that is resistant to impact and weathering, and withstands high and low temperatures. The large capacity piston-filling system of the fountain pen is designed to be used with bottled ink. It has a 14k gold nib plated with platinum to match the color scheme of black with stainless steel accents . The nib is hooded, or mostly covered, by the section or grip area of the pen.

The LAMY 2000 is available as a fountain pen, ballpoint pen, multi-color ballpoint pen, rollerball pen and mechanical pencil. There have been a few variations to the original design, including the Edition 2000 fountain pen, made of brushed stainless steel with a single band of Makrolon; the LAMY 2000 taxus, a ball­point pen made of gold­en-yel­low yew wood; LAMY 2000 black­wood, a ball­point pen made of grenadil­la, or African black­wood; and in 2009 a ballpoint made of solid ti­ta­ni­um with a con­trast­ing shiny plat­inum trim.

LAMY USA warranties its writing instruments for the life of the product, so there are no worries if any repairs are required during normal use of their pen or pencils.

Check out a few reviews of the LAMY 2000:

Julie at “Whatever” wishes she would have bought a LAMY 2000 fountain pen sooner!
Doug at D*I*Y Planner notes this fountain pen “writes incredibly smooth on almost all the types of paper.”
The review by Pigpogm mentions something to keep in mind if you decide to purchase this fountain pen: “The Extra Fine is much closer to what most people would describe as a fine, and even what some would probably call medium. Whatever nib width you usually prefer, go one finer with a Lamy 2000.”
Dave’s Mechanical Pencils gives us some insights on what it’s like to use the pencil version of the LAMY 2000.

Have you used a LAMY 2000 fountain pen, pen or pencil? Feel free to share your thoughts with us about your LAMY 2000 writing experience!

June 02, 2010

What is the Pelikan Super Pirat Ink Eradicator?

Pelikan makes a great tool for fountain pen users called the Super Pirat ink eradicator. This is not an erasable pen, rather, it is a correction pen. The Super Pirat ink eradicator pen is designed with students in mind since it can be used to correct mistakes when you are writing with a fountain pen filled with washable or erasable blue ink. Let me demonstrate…

I’m writing with my LAMY Safari filled with a LAMY blue ink cartridge and I make a mistake!

The white end of the Pelikan Super Pirat ink eradicator neutralizes the blue color of the fountain pen ink and makes it seem invisible. This neutralizing effect continues long after the Super Pirat pen dries on the page so you cannot use blue fountain pen ink to make your correction.

Conveniently, the Super Pirat’s other end has a blue ink pen that is unaffected by the ink neutralizer so it can be used to write in your correction. The Super Pirat’s blue pen is not meant to be used for taking notes, it is only to be used for making corrections.

There are several kinds of readily available, erasable blue fountain pen inks including: LAMY Blue, Pelikan Royal Blue, Aurora Blue, J. Herbin Bleu Myosotis and many many more. Pelikan even makes ink eradicators for pink and purple Pelikan inks, but we have never seen these in the USA. What kind of erasable blue ink do you use?

April 21, 2010

Equation for the Perfect Writing Tools

If you are particular about what you write with like me, you may agree that the following equation, when put together just right, adds up to a great writing experience:

Pen (A) + Ink (B) + Paper (C) = The Perfect Writing Experience (YAY)!

There is no right or wrong answer to this equation since the answer will depend on the preferences and tastes of the writer.

I’m still in the process of experimenting with pens, inks and papers to see what works for me. Being a Lefty adds some additional challenges since I’m always trying to avoid a big mess of smeared ink. Much to my dismay, I’ve discovered that I am not able to use Clairefontaine’s fabulously smooth 90g white paper for everyday writing with a fountain pen. Almost all fountain pen ink dries too slowly on this paper for my style of left-handed writing and I make a huge mess. *Sniff* However, I can use this paper successfully with a fine nib Platinum Preppy fountain pen using Platinum ink cartridges, Pentel Energel or Slicci gel pens, or some other non-fountain pens and pencils. I’m in the process of testing other types of Clairefontaine paper such as the Graf it sketch pads to see if I can use it regularly with fountain pens. It seems that I need a paper that is slightly absorbent and not too coated, that still resists ink feathering and bleed-through. Right now I am loving J. Herbin Ink since it seems to have a pretty decent drying time. As regards to the pen I use, well, is it possible to have too many pens? I tend to write with whatever I’m in the mood for that particular day.

This is where I need to hear from you. Please leave a comment and tell me what your perfect writing tools are. I’d love to get some valuable tips from other writers!

April 07, 2010

Aurora Fountain Pen Links

We love Aurora fountain pens! Here are some of our favorite Aurora links:

First, this is a great video on how Aurora pens are made.

Blogger Lady Dandelion takes a great snapshot of an Aurora Talentum in fire engine red.

Bleubug has some interesting information about a cool vintage Aurora 98 fountain pen with a piston filling knob that extends from and retracts into the barrel with a “click”.

Rhodia Drive "What's Your Favorite Pen" has a nice photo of the bright & sunny yellow Aurora Ipsilon.

Of course, we have to mention the Aurora Pens Italy website, the mothership of all Aurora pens. See anything you like that we don’t have in our shop? Send us an email and perhaps we can special order it for you.

You’ll find a selection of our favorite Aurora fountain pens at Writer’s Bloc. What’s your favorite Aurora pen?

March 23, 2010

Aurora Fountain Pen Hidden Reservoir System

Check out this detailed diagram (courtesy of Aurora Pens, Italy) revealing the structure of an Aurora Fountain Pen.

An interesting and unique feature of many fountain pens made by Aurora is referred to in this picture: the hidden reservoir system. (However, it seems the diagram above should be pointing to the piston to indicate the hidden reservoir.) Instead of having a flat bottom as most pistons do, the bottom of the Aurora piston has a small indented chamber that holds extra ink. When your ink seems to have run out, turning the piston counter-clockwise all the way down to the feed will push the ink contained in this small chamber into the feed of the fountain pen. Aurora’s handy hidden reservoir system gives you an extra page or so of writing before you have to refill!

Close-up of the feed on an Aurora fountain pen. There is a small "post" that sticks out.

A small reservoir hidden in the bottom of the piston contains extra ink.

Turn the piston counter-clockwise all the way down to the feed to force the extra ink into the feed.

The hidden ink reservoir is now empty, allowing you to write another page. A feature unique to Aurora fountain pens.

March 17, 2010

What is Nib Creep?

Nib creep is when ink from a fountain pen "creeps" out from between the slit in the nib onto the surface of the nib. According to the experts on The Fountain Pen Network this can happen due to a few different reasons including the type of ink in the pen, the type of metal the nib is made of or a small imperfection in the slit of the nib can be responsible for drawing ink out on to the nib. Some people do not like the way it looks or are concerned about staining something with the excess ink, however, a bit of nib creep does not seriously affect the performance of a fountain pen. I have a fountain pen that has some nib creep that seems to happen most during hot weather, but it does not affect the way it writes. For me, I don't find a little bit of nib creep to be particularly bothersome.

March 03, 2010

Caring For Your Aurora Fountain Pen

Once you’ve invested in a fine quality writing instrument such as an Aurora fountain pen, one of the first questions many people ask is, “how should I take care of my fountain pen?” Aurora Pens recommends both “love and cleanliness.”

To clean your Aurora fountain pen, the manufacturer recommends using exclusively cold water, using water to fill and empty the pen and/or cartridge repeatedly, until the water rinses clean. To clean the outside of the pen you may simply use soap and water and then thoroughly dry the pen.

Aurora advises that to safely clean your fountain pens you should “absolutely avoid any use of alcohol, solvents or hot water which could ruin your pen and compromise its surfaces.” To eliminate any ink stains simply leave the pen in cold water, even for a few days if necessary.

If you should happen to damage your pen from an impact or fall, Aurora has experts that can repair your pen and return it to you as good as new.

As far as the “love” goes, we trust that you already know how to love your fountain pens! We love our fountain pens too! Depending on how you are going to use your pen, it can be helpful to have a nice pen case to store it in.

If you have any helpful tips on how to care for fountain pens we would love to hear your comments.

January 27, 2010

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen Gradation Function

We love the Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen and its ability to produce gradated lettering! For those of you unfamiliar with this function we are providing a simple explanation along with some samples.

We found this definition of "gradated" on thefreedictionary.com: "(Fine Arts & Visual Arts / Colours) to change or cause to change imperceptibly, as from one colour, tone, or degree to another." In other words, as you are writing with the Pilot Parallel Pen you can make your lettering gradually change from one color to another.

To do this, you will need 2 Parallel Pens filled with different ink colors. Suppose you are writing with a Parallel Pen filled with violet ink and you would like to create lettering that slowly changes in color from green back to violet again. Hold your Parallel pen filled with violet ink so that the nib is pointing up. Hold another Parallel pen filled with green ink so that the nib is pointing down. Touch the nib of the green pen to the nib of the violet pen and hold the nibs together for several seconds. Some of the green ink will have transferred to the nib of the pen with the violet ink. 

When you resume writing with your Parallel pen filled with violet ink, you will find that the lettering begins as a green color and as you continue to write your letters will gradually become violet again. This technique produces beautiful gradated lettering that can add an extra special touch to your calligraphy creations. Have fun and email us your results! We'd love to see your designs and feature some of them on our blog.

Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pens are available with 1.5mm, 2.4mm, 3.8mm and 6.0mm nibs and at Writer's Bloc you can also get them in a set of four. If you're planning to give the gradated lettering a try, there is a convenient box of 12 ink cartridges in assorted colors. (Just a note: Pilot recommends using only Pilot Mixable Color IC-P3 ink cartridges with this pen.)

January 13, 2010

Platinum President Fountain Pen Review

I've been mostly using Pelikan fountain pens with forgiving, rounded, left-handed nibs lately, and decided it was time for a change. Platinum Pens is known for making high-quality nibs, and I felt a good place to start would be their flagship fountain pen, the President, with an attractive 18K gold fine nib.

Platinum Pens is a Japanese pen maker, so their fine nib size is more like an extra fine in a LAMY or Pelikan nib. I normally have medium-size handwriting and I wanted to see how small, but still legible, I could write. This nib is amazing for small handwriting and narrow rule paper! I think it even made my handwriting look better than usual. And to think for years I was stuck in the rut of writing only with medium ballpoint pens because the fine ballpoints tended to poke through the bad quality of paper I used (or wouldn't write at all) and I had given up finding other pens that I wouldn't smear.

The President fountain pen took me a little while to get used to since the nib is so much finer than the nibs I've been using lately and the grip is smooth, without the "training wheels" of the ergonomic grip that some pens have. However, once I figured out the best way to hold it we became fast friends and I'm not sure if it is my imagination but the pen seemed to write smoother and smoother as I went along.

Even though the fine nib is very fine, the Platinum President fountain pen puts down a lot of ink. I went through ink more quickly than I first I thought I would. I did have to make an adjustment in the paper I used once I switched to a Noodler's ink that dried slowly. Instead of 90g Clairefontaine paper, the 80g Exacompta Basics paper seemed to absorb the ink a tiny bit and allowed it to dry more quickly so I was able to avoid smearing. It would have been nice if this pen had been designed with a piston filling system so that it could hold more ink than the converter does. Regular Platinum cartridges do seem to hold more ink than their converter, but I tend to like ink in unusual colors.

Another nice thing about the President fountain pen is that it takes a very light touch to write with it. I am sure it will take me years to un-train myself from using the ballpoint pen "death grip", but it will be worth it! Definitely less writing fatigue. I have small hands and like writing with light-weight pens, so I prefer writing with the cap off of the President. The President I used for this review is a demonstrator, and the material it is made of seems like it would be very durable.

Overall I found the Platinum President fountain pen was a pleasure to use! Members of popular pen forums speak highly of the smoothness of Platinum nibs. Do any of you use Platinum Pens? What has been your experience with Platinum fountain pens?

January 06, 2010

Calligraphy Pens

Calligraphy is an art form that almost anyone can enjoy. If you've said "I don't have a artistic bone in my body", you may be surprised that with the right pen in hand, you could have a hidden artistic flare you never knew you had. Recently here at Writer's Bloc I was able to "play" with some great Calligraphy Pens.  
 
The Pilot Parallel Calligraphy Pen 3.8mm has a wide nib that makes crisp, large letters. This pen, as well as the 6.0mm nib Parallel Pen, work well for projects that call for large lettering. Great for personalizing blank cards or to make signs that need to be easy to read. For smaller lettering, the Parallel Pen is also available in 2.4mm and 1.5mm nib sizes. This pen has a special gradation function which allows you to change your writing gradually from one color to another color.

The Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen with the 1.5mm nib was my favorite because the nib size made what I thought was the just right stroke width for calligraphy writing in my personal letters and cards. The angle and nib are given to making clean calligraphy letters. A must have for the calligraphy writers among us. You can get the Pelikan Script Calligraphy Pen with 1.0mm and 2.0mm nibs as well.
 
The LAMY Joy Calligraphy Pen with the 1.1mm nib makes a finer line that is very appealing to those of us who write a little smaller. A great Pen!! It glides smoothly across the paper, almost making writing effortless. The LAMY Joy Calligraphy Pen makes beautiful writing fun. This pen also comes in 1.5mm and 1.9mm nib sizes.
 
All three of these Calligraphy Pens are well made fountain pens. They feel great in the hand and flow smoothly and evenly. They truly make for unique and stylish lettering that gives individuality to any writing endeavor.  
 
Discover the artist in you and have fun doing it!!
 
 
Lorraine at Writer's Bloc

December 02, 2009

Aurora Fountain Pens

Aurora Optima Fountain Pen
Aurora has been producing finely crafted fountain pens and luxury goods in Torino, Italy since 1919 and has become the most prestigious writing instrument manufacturer in Italy. Aurora was founded by a rich textile merchant who had long dreamed of creating this company and the first true Italian fountain pen. From the beginning, Aurora was known for producing some of the finest made in Italy products using high quality materials such as platinum, gold, silver, diamonds, emeralds and other precious stones.

Aurora's style combines artistic tradition and Italian design in the production of their writing instruments. Much detailed and skilled hand-work goes into the manufacture of all of their own fountain pen parts including gold and steel nibs. Their line of pens ranges from the fabulous Diamond fountain pen, crowned by an exquisite diamond cabochon and one thousand nine hundred and nineteen "Fourc" certified De Beers diamonds to create the most exclusive, valuable writing instrument in the world, to reasonably priced school pens and everyday pens such as the Ipsilon and Style.

Aurora also manufactures elegant leather goods such as pen pouches, wallets, organizers, handbags and more. They have created a line of paper goods that are an identical reproduction of the paper used in the royal courts of Europe. Aurora wishes to continue to be an interpreter of good taste, technological innovation and all the style that has marked the history of Italian taste, customs and design.

Writer's Bloc is happy to introduce Aurora Fountain Pens to the collection in our shop.

November 25, 2009

Pelikan Pelikano Junior - A Lefty's Review

Pelikano Junior

I was rather excited to get my hands on another fountain pen specifically designed for left-handed writers - the Pelikan Pelikano Junior with an "L" nib. It is an amazingly smooth writer for such an inexpensive fountain pen!

This pen is designed with beginning fountain pen users in mind and is actually a children's school fountain pen. The nib is rounded in shape so it is not "pokey" (especially important for us lefties) and it is very forgiving. I can even write a fine line with it when the nib is upside-down!

The nib is a Pelikan "L" size for left-handed writers, or an "A" size on the version of the Pelikano Jr. for right-handed writers. It makes a medium-broad size line and has a very wet ink flow. In fact, if you carry this pen with you, you'd better have an extra ink cartridge on hand for when your ink runs out (Pelikan 4001 giant ink cartridges are a good choice). Some people might not appreciate this small inconvenience, but I like changing ink colors frequently so this is one thing about the Pelikano Jr. that I really like. Since this pen lays down a lot of ink, for a lefty I would suggest using an ink with a decent drying time to help prevent any smudges. Because it produces a bold line, this is also a good pen for those of us that like to use light or bright fountain pen ink colors.

The funky, minimalist and colorful design of the Pelikano Jr. instantly appealed to me. The pen is rather chunky, but not heavy, and provides a good rubber grip designed to assist with finger placement. When you unscrew the pen there is a smooth area to attach a name sticker to (plain stickers are included with the Pelikano Jr.). When the pen is screwed back together you can read your name through the pen barrel, which is helpful to keep well-meaning right-handed friends, students, etc from swiping one of your favorite everyday fountain pens.

The Pelikano Junior has no clip, and the body is very plain except for a couple of oval shaped bumps to keep the pen from rolling and the cap has the word "Pelikano" on it in raised lettering. I like to write with the cap off of this pen. I would imagine that the rather large size barrel on this pen would be helpful to assist small hands learning penmanship for the first time, as well as for older ones that have a bit of trouble gripping a pen.

The Pelikano Junior fountain pen is a great pen for everyday use and it has fans that include people of all ages! The bright translucent Pelikano Jr. colors include green (my favorite), blue, red and yellow.

September 16, 2009

Steel vs Gold Fountain Pen Nibs

Platinum President Demonstrator Pen 18K Gold Nib
Some people feel that to obtain the ultimate experience in writing one needs to invest in a fountain pen with a gold nib. But is this really true? Is a gold nib really superior?

There are a couple of reasons that a gold nib could indeed be superior. For one, acidic or alkaline ink will not discolor or corrode a gold nib, whereas a stainless steel nib can eventually discolor and corrode. This was more of an issue in years past when inks generally tended to be more acidic than they are today.

As well, the workmanship is usually superior on high quality pens with gold nibs, with these pens and nibs getting much more care, attention and hand-work in the factory. Plus the appearance of some gold nibs is truly stunning! High quality fountain pens are considered by some to be family heirlooms and are valued by collectors around the world.

Since gold is a softer metal than steel some think that the writing experience with gold nibs is "softer" or more flexible. But this is not truly the case because once gold is bent or flexed it does not tend to return to its original shape.

During writing, the gold portion of a fountain pen nib is not actually the part of the nib that comes in contact with the paper. All gold and stainless steel fountain pen nibs (except some of the cheapest with a low quality) have a ball under the nib made of hard metal, such as iridium, that comes in contact with the paper. The quality and workmanship of this ball, or tip, will definitely have an effect on whether or not the pen has a superior performance.

We have found that some stainless steel nibs can rival the performance of some gold fountain pen nibs. Even an inexpensive LAMY Safari fountain pen can write "like butter" and provide a very satisfying writing experience.

So should you purchase a fountain pen with a gold nib? That's entirely up to you! Once you get started with your fountain pen collection you will likely come to appreciate the beauty and workmanship that goes into high quality fountain pens with gold nibs. Happy shopping!

August 11, 2009

How to Fill a Fountain Pen With a Piston Converter

Take the cap off the fountain pen and remove the barrel by unscrewing the pen. Attach the piston converter to the pen if it isn't attached already. You will need a bottle of fountain pen ink with enough ink in it to completely immerse the nib of the pen.

Immerse the nib in the bottle of ink and twist the top of the converter counterclockwise to move the piston down and to force the air out of the converter.

Turn the top of the converter clockwise to move the piston in an upwards direction and to begin filling the converter with ink. Be sure that the nib is entirely submerged in the ink!

Be patient and wait for a little while before removing the nib from the ink to allow the converter to fill completely.

July 21, 2009

Platinum Pen Company

Platinum President Fountain Pen

2009 marks the 90th anniversary of the Platinum Pen Company, one of Japan's leading manufacturers of fine writing instruments. Platinum Pens is well known especially for the high quality of their fountain pen nibs.

In the 1930's the Platinum Pen Company began to manufacture maki-e pens including lacquer carving and pearl inlay. Maki-e is an art that has been around for hundreds of years and is created by sprinkling silver or gold powder onto urushi lacquer. These hand-crafted pens are popular among collectors both in Japan and in the West.

Platinum Pens launched the first water-based ballpoint pen in 1948 and began to manufacture fountain pens that used ink cartridges in 1958. In 1978 they introduced the model 3776 fountain pen, named after the height of Mount Fuji, which is 3776 meters tall.

The Platinum Pen Company combines high quality materials with traditional Japanese artistic craftsmanship. Their pens range in style from amazing works of art, to the flagship Platinum President fountain pen which balances the best in fine writing with an every day practicality, to the perky and popular Preppy fountain pens that are affordable for almost anyone.

New to the Writer's Bloc store is a selection of Platinum Pens from the flagship President Series and the 3776 Series. If you're craving a high quality extra-fine nib these are definitely worth a try since the size of Japanese-made nibs runs on the fine side. A fine Japanese nib is most often comparable to an extra-fine European-made nib. For those that like a nib that writes as "smooth as silk" with good ink flow and nice variation in stroke width then you may enjoy Platinum's extraordinary music nib.

July 07, 2009

Tips To Improve Ink Flow a Dry Writing Fountain Pen

Here are some suggestions that might help to improve the performance of a dry fountain pen or to get the ink flowing in a new fountain pen that doesn't want to start:

1) Sometimes fountain pens will come from the manufacturer with an oily film on the feed or the nib. Or, perhaps there is some dried ink or sediment blocking the pen's feed. To make sure this isn't a problem it would be good to try and safely clean the pens. Here are some suggestions on how to do this:
http://blog.shopwritersbloc.com/fountain_pens/fountain_pen_cleaning_solution.html

2) If you think the problem could be dried ink residue and a good soaking in a cleaning solution doesn't help, taking it to a fountain pen dealer for an ultrasound cleaning may help.

3) Be sure that the ink cartridge is firmly attached to the pen. Once in awhile we find some writers haven't pushed hard enough to puncture the ink cartridge to start the flow of ink.

4) Temporarily store the pen with the nib pointing downwards to encourage the feed to fill with ink. Then try it again after waiting for awhile.

5) Dipping the nib in water for several seconds can also encourage the flow of ink.

6) Add a drop of water to the ink in the cartridge or the converter. Sometimes this helps.

7) Experiment with different types of ink. Noodler's Ink suggests giving their Eel Ink a try.

8) InkSafe ink additive from Tryphon Enterprises is known to be helpful. One of its purposes is to improve ink flow in dry-writing pens. We haven't tried it ourselves yet.

9) If you are using a converter you could try using cartridges or a different brand of converter instead. Sometimes the ink sticks to the sides of the converter and this causes ink flow problems.

10) If the above suggestions do not help, it might be worth it to send your pen in for professional fountain pen repair. Having the nib adjusted (tines realigned, slit widened or narrowed etc) or having the nib replaced could solve the problem. Use caution if trying this yourself because you could damage your pen!

We hope this helps. Does anyone else have some tips they would like to share? We welcome your comments!

June 09, 2009

Is it really cheaper to use bottled ink?

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We found a very interesting comparison regarding the cost of using bottled ink vs. the cost of using ink cartridges tucked inside a Noodler's Ink box and wanted to share this helpful information with you.

According to research done by Noodler's a 4.5 oz bottle of their ink has the amount of ink equal to $72.94 worth of the least costly retail ink cartridges in the world. When you consider that in June 2009 Writer's Bloc sells Noodler's 4.5 oz bottles for between $17.50 and $19.00, this is around a $55.44 savings over using even the cheapest cartridges! In addition, Noodler's Ink has a reputation for being good quality, is safe for all fountain pens and comes in a wide range of colors, which is something you might not get using those cheap cartridges.

Quotes obtained by Noodler's Ink in January 2009 reveal that the ink in cartridges from some European, Japanese and North American companies sells for $148.00 per 4.5 oz and even well over $315.00 per 4.5 oz of ink. That is some outrageously expensive ink!

Using bottled ink when you can just makes sense - it is easier on the environment and it is by far a much better deal than ink cartridges!

 

May 12, 2009

Is it safe to take a fountain pen on an airplane?

Fountain pen users love to travel just as much as everyone else, so why not travel with your fountain pen even when you fly! There is the possibility that a fountain pen will leak in-flight when the air pressure in the plane cabin drops and the higher air pressure inside the pen forces ink out of the nib. However, there are some simple steps that can be taken to reduce or eliminate this risk.

First of all, it can help to travel with your fountain pen either completely full of ink (the air expands, not the ink) or completely empty (no ink, no leaks). Using cartridges with your pen is practical because you can travel with a new cartridge and an empty pen and insert the cartridge after you land.

It is best if you bring your fountain pens in your carry-on baggage instead of putting them inside your checked bags. For extra safety, put them inside ziploc bags and store them with the nib pointing up.

I've flown with both LAMY and Preppy fountain pens with varying amounts of ink in the cartridges and not had any problems other than a tiny bit of extra ink appearing on the LAMY nib. Alan has flown with a Kaweco Sport fountain pen containing a full cartridge as well as LAMY pens with only partially full cartridges and not had any leaks. The only problem Alan has encountered was with an eyedropper fill Kaweco pen that was not completely full of ink. This pen leaked small beads of ink during the flight. Do any of you have a flying with fountain pen experience that you would like to share with us?

 

February 24, 2009

Pelikano Pen Cartridge Tips

Occasionally we hear from some of you that short universal ink cartridges come loose inside your Pelikano rollerball or Pelikano fountain pens. There is an easy solution, and it is to place 2 universal cartridges in the pen barrel instead of just one. The trick is that the extra cartridge that is not attached to the feed or main part of the pen needs to be placed in the barrel "upside down", or in other words with the narrow end pointing away from the nib. This extra cartridge prevents the cartridge that is attached to the pen from coming off. You can rinse the ink out of a used universal cartridge and use this for the extra cartridge, or you can use a new full ink cartridge and this way you'll have spare ink in case you need it.

Another solution is to use Pelikan 4001 Giant Ink Cartridges or Pelikan GRP/5 Roller Pen Ink Cartridges since their much longer size helps to keep them in place.

This trick can also be used with J. Herbin's refillable rollerball pens. Hope this helps!

February 17, 2009

Drawing with Noodler's Nightshade Fountain Pen Ink

I've been wanting to try drawing with a very dark brown fountain pen ink and decided to choose Noodler's Ink Nightshade as my first experiment. In the barrel of my eyedropper fill Preppy Fountain Pen this ink actually looks like a very dark purple, but on the white paper in my Clairefontaine Drawing Pad it looks more like a brown-black. I found that I had to slow down my sketching a bit with the fine nib of the Preppy Pen and the flow rate of the Nightshade, but overall I am quite satisfied with the results. What do you think? What are your favorite fountain pen inks to use for sketching?

From Drawing with Fountain Pen Ink

January 27, 2009

Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution

Most of the time, room temperature water is sufficient for cleaning a fountain pen. However, if your pen has a lot of dried ink in it or you want to change your ink color or ink brand, a good soaking in a cleaning solution can help. This recipe was created by an experienced fountain pen user. A word of caution: we do not recommend using this formula with old or vintage fountain pens because ammonia or even water can cause damage to them. This solution should be safe for most modern fountain pens, but again, please use caution if your pen is made from some specialty material.

Here's a formula for a fountain pen cleaning solution that you can make at home:

1 part household ammonia (no stronger than a 10% ammonia solution)

2 parts water

Drop or 2 of mild dish detergent such as Dawn or Joy

Store the solution in a wide-mouthed glass jar large enough to immerse the parts of a pen.

Take apart your fountain pen and soak the feed and nib in the cleaning solution for several hours. Most of the time it is not necessary to soak the barrel or the cap. Remove the feed and nib from the cleaning solution and rinse with room temperature tap water until water runs clear. Blot with a clean, lint-free cloth and allow to dry overnight.

This solution can be used several times. It is a bit smelly! Follow all warnings on the household ammonia container and do not mix with chlorine bleach.

Others have had success soaking & cleaning fountain pen feeds and nibs in household ammonia straight from the bottle. They warn that before doing this be sure that the household ammonia has no more than 10% ammonia in the solution! A stronger solution may damage your pens.

December 30, 2008

How to Install a LAMY Converter

The LAMY converter has been carefully designed to help it stay securely attached to your LAMY fountain pen. When used correctly, this can help prevent accidents from leaking ink.

LAMY converter - notice the 2 small plastic nubs in this picture - one pointing up and the other pointing down.

The converter can fit in the pen with the nubs facing this way, but this does not help to secure the converter.

The nubs are designed to fit into these slots on the main part of the pen. This helps to keep the converter securely in place.

LAMY pen with converter securely in place.

December 23, 2008

When Should You Refill Your Eyedropper Pen?

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Here's a handy tip from Noodler's Ink about when to refill your eyedropper pens:

Eyedropper pens "should be refilled when 2/3rds empty as more than 2/3 air in the chamber can cause expansion/excess flow from the heat of your hand."

We also found it helpful when refilling our eyedropper pens to leave the ink level in the barrel about 1/4" lower than where the end of the main part of the pen will be when it is screwed together. This will help you to avoid some of the mess when refilling.

December 16, 2008

Should You Use an O-Ring to Convert Your Fountain Pen to an Eyedropper?

There are many opinions as to whether or not you need to use an O-ring with your fountain pen to convert it to eyedropper fill, so we thought we would share our observations with you.

The main advantage of using an O-ring is that it helps to prevent cracking of the pen barrel. When silicone grease is applied to the threads of the pen barrel to prevent ink from leaking, it is easy to use too much force when screwing the pen back together and this can lead to cracks. The O-ring cushions the barrel, but please do not tighten the pen too much or the O-ring can bulge out!

The disadvantages of O-rings are that they usually are sold in packages containing hundreds of O-rings and it can be difficult to choose the right size of O-ring for each different size of pen. Also, an O-ring alone is not enough to safely convert a fountain pen into an eyedropper fill pen.

We have found that silicone grease is essential to convert your pen into an eyedropper pen, and it will work as a good seal even without an O-ring. For over one year now we have been using one eyedropper pen with silicone grease alone and no O-ring and it has worked just fine without leaking. 

The trick is that you need to refresh the silicone grease on your pen every time you refill it with ink. Be sure to coat both sets of threads (on the end of barrel and on the main section of the pen) with a generous amount of silicone grease. When tightening the barrel to the pen after you refill it with ink, avoid using too much force so that you will not break the pen. Wipe off any excess silicone grease. This is a simple, cheap method to convert a fountain pen into an eyedropper pen.

One of our favorite fountain pens that can be converted into an eyedropper fill pen is the Kaweco Sport. The threads of this pen are very close together and it has a generous smooth area below the threads to help give it a good seal when used with silicone grease. Additionally, this creates a large ink reservoir so you can write for a much longer period of time than when you use a standard universal fountain pen cartridge. Do you have any experiences with eyedropper fill pens? If so, we'd love to hear from you!

Without silicone grease, ink seeps past the threads and leaks out of the pen. -- Need O-ring?
Using a generous amount of silicone grease on the threads gives a good seal to your eyedropper pen.
Don't use too much force to put your pen back together and then wipe off excess silicone grease.
Ink does not seep past the threads or leak from the eyedropper pen sealed with silicone grease.

December 02, 2008

How to Replace the Nib on a LAMY Fountain Pen

If your LAMY fountain pen nib gets damaged, or if you just want to use a different kind of nib for writing such as a fine nib instead of a medium nib, it is nice to know that LAMY fountain pen nibs are easily replaced.

First, wipe off any ink from your fountain pen nib.  Next, starting at the edge of the ink feed and working your way down to the end of the nib, firmly adhere a few inches of clear, plastic tape to the front of the nib. Be sure to make the piece of tape long enough so that you will be able to pull on the end of the tape. Do not use magic tape, as this will tear too easily. Transparent tape for general office use or packing tape should work. Then, pull the tape slightly down and away from the pen and the nib should slide off of your fountain pen.

To put on the new nib. just line it up with the ink feed and push it on firmly. This method is commonly used by LAMY fountain pen users and will not scratch or damage the nib. Easy!

November 25, 2008

Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use - Part 3

Left-Handed Pelikan Pelikano

My continuing experimentation with fountain pens has recently included the Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pen with a medium nib and Noodler's Ink, as well as the Pelikan Pelikano Left-Handed Fountain Pen with a medium nib and J. Herbin Ink. I found that both of these pens worked equally well for a Lefty and their qualities were very similar.

The first thing I wondered about was whether or not I would notice a difference using the specially designed nib on the left-handed Pelikano. This nib has a more rounded shape than a regular nib to accomodate the angle of left-handed writing. As an "overwriter" I, personally, only noticed a small difference in performance using this nib. It performed well, as did the Kaweco Sport, and both wrote in a medium line of similar width.

I appreciated the compact size of the Kaweco Sport Fountain Pen. With its cap safely screwed on it is only 4" long and is great for carrying in a purse or pocket. I wasn't worried that the cap would come off and stain the leather on my Fossil bag with ink!

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I did find that I preferred the grip of the Left-Handed Pelikano to the grip of the Kaweco. The grip on the Pelikano is rotated slightly for the left hand, and it worked well with my very strange pen grip. You Lefties out there know what I mean.... One strike against the Pelikano is that the first Pelikano Fountain Pen that I bought was defective and I had to exchange it. The second pen did work much better, and there were no problems with the Kaweco.

The Noodler's Ink seemed to have a more generous flow than the J. Herbin Ink, but it could be because it was a custom ink mix that included Noodler's Firefly. When added to other Noodler's colors, this ink seems to produce a wetter flow. So if you tend to smear your ink while writing, perhaps it would be best to stay away from Noodler's Firefly and use the J. Herbin instead.

I was satisfied with both the Kaweco Sport and the Left-Handed Pelikano, and felt that these were both practical and well functioning fountain pens for everyday use by a Lefty. However, I am in love with my LAMY Safari and it still tops of my list of favorite pens.

September 16, 2008

Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use - Part 2

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After my successful experiment with the Platinum Preppy, I was eagerly anticipating taking my new LAMY Safari Fountain Pen for a test drive and I wasn't disappointed!

Armed with my LAMY Safari and Exacompta Club Leatherette Journal I travelled to a 3 day convention ready to take lots of notes. Many, many pages later there was not one ink smear and my hand felt less fatigued than it normally does thanks to the smooth action of the LAMY nib combined with the ultra-smooth Clairefontaine paper in my journal. This combination would be an asset to anyone who does a lot of writing!

For this experiment I used LAMY standard ink cartridges in turquoise. Since I tend to poke holes in paper when I use extra-fine nib pens, I choose the LAMY fine nib for my pen. The fine nib produced a consistent flow of ink in a medium to fine line. The benefit of the LAMY Safari's ergonomic grip was lost on me because my left-handed grip is rather strange, but it was not a hindrance either. The Clairefontaine paper in the Exacompta Club Journal is 80g, a lighter weight than the usual 90g paper used in Clairefontaine notebooks. Even though there was a little bit of ink bleed-thru, I was still able to write on both sides of the page with a fountain pen.

This lime green LAMY Safari quickly became my favorite pen!

(Just a note: LAMY Studio, Safari, Vista, Joy and AL-Star Fountain Pens all use the same type of stainless steel nibs.)

July 22, 2008

Left-Handed Fountain Pen Use - Part 1

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Without any personal input from other Lefties, I decided to slowly ease in to the world of fountain pens by first trying out the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen. After all, this pen is very inexpensive so what would I have to lose?

After several weeks of use around the house on random types of paper I only had one ink smearing incident. This is better than what I had hoped for! I found this pen easy to use and it provided a consistent flow of ink in a smooth, fine line. The biggest drawback for me is that none of the Preppy ink cartridges come in the colors that I love. This problem can be easily solved by using an ink converter and bottled ink instead of cartridges. Before obtaining these things I first wanted to do a "test drive" to see if it is worth it, which I think it is.

(Just a side note - although Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen ink is not waterproof, it is water resistant. Don't get any of this ink on your clothing because it is very difficult, if not impossible to get the stain out!)

As a left-handed writer I am quite satisfied with my first fountain pen experience. Consequently, I now have in my possession a fun, new, special edition lime green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen. Another report will follow shortly with the test results.

 

July 15, 2008

Crash Course in Fountain Pen Cartridges

When I first got my pink Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen I was very nervous about putting the cartridge in. I didn't want to push it so hard that it ruined the pen, but I also wanted to make sure it was attached securely so the ink wouldn't leak and ruin my purse. After getting some feedback I realized that I wasn't alone in my fears, so I decided to share what I've learned about fountain pen cartridges to help others calm their fears about putting their pens together.

First of all, the tension that you feel when pushing the cartridge into the pen comes from the stopping device at the top of the cartridge, meant to keep ink in prior to assembly. In the Platinum Preppy Fountain Pen Cartridges this is a small metal ball, in standard cartridges (like J. Herbin Universal) it is a tiny glass ball, and in LAMY cartridges it's just a thin layer of plastic. When you push the cartridge in you are not only attaching it to the pen, you are pushing the stopper device in and starting the ink flow.

The way to put cartridges in is fairly simple: slowly and gently while ensuring a firm attachment. Put it in straight on and start pushing gently. When you feel the tension from the release of the stopping device it should be just about in, and a tiny extra push to secure it won't hurt.

Once the cartridge is attached to the pen it takes a little while for the ink to flow through the feed to the nib. Allow your pen to sit for awhile before you try to write with it. If the ink doesn't seem to be getting to the nib, let the pen rest with the cap on and the nib pointing downwards. If you're still having trouble getting it to write you can run cool water over the nib or pull the cartridge out and put a couple of drops of ink on the nib to encourage the ink to flow.

June 04, 2008

Pen Modification - Convert into eyedropper fill

The Kaweco Sport fountain pen is brilliantly designed and reasonably priced. When it's capped, it is compact enough to fit in any purse or pocket, and when it's posted, it is the perfect size for writing. However, one downfall of the pen is that it can only be used with short standard cartridges, wasting the space of about 1/3 of the barrel. Also, it cannot be used with a converter so writers cannot use their favorite bottled inks with it. (UPDATE: The Monteverde Mini Converter will fit inside the Kaweco Sport fountain pen.) To resolve these issues I converted the Kaweco Sport fountain pen into an eyedropper fill system, where the barrel is used as the ink reservoir.  To prevent ink leakage I used 100% silicone grease (petroleum free) to seal the threads. Hopefully, this explanation will help other writers maximize their Kaweco's potential.

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May 20, 2008

Can a Left-Handed Writer Use a Fountain Pen?

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The rainbow of ink colors available to fountain pen users has been tempting me for sometime to buy a fountain pen. Lime green and orange are my favorite colors and it would be a treat to have a fabulous, smooth-writing pen filled with these vibrant shades. I've heard it said that fountain pens are not for lefties, but the Classic Fountain Pens, Inc website gives me hope.

Now I must figure out what pen will work for me. The Classic Fountain Pens website says I am an "overwriter" which means that I am at risk of smearing ink and could end up with a very colorful palm if I don't get the right nib/ink/paper combination. I've heard that the best nib for a lefty should not be too fine or too broad, the type of ink must dry quickly and the paper must not have a finish that prevents ink from drying quickly.

Are there any left-handed fountain pen users out there that can come to my rescue? What do you use that works? What are your favorite pens, nibs, inks and paper? I'd love to hear from you!!

 

May 06, 2008

The Family of Fountain Pens

If I were a fountain pen I would be a Platiunum Preppy pen, young, colorful, and fun. If I went to a family reunion-- yes, a fountain pen family reunion-- who would I see? Pens like the Pelikan Souveran M400 and M405 are dignified, experienced, and always classy; like a beloved grandfather or a smart uncle.  LAMY pens are equally as cool, but on a different level. LAMY pens like the Safari and Studio, would be my ultra-hip, and totally dependable, cousins that I aspired to be like one day.

Perhaps comparing fountain pens to family is a bit of a stretch. However, when you find a fountain pen you really love and want to use all the time, it becomes like an extension of yourself. This entry will consider some characteristics of the brands Pelikan and LAMY, and hopefully after reading it you will have a better idea of which pens are right for you.

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Pelikan

Pelikan released its first fountain pen in Germany in 1929, and introduced a revolution in writing: the piston-fill ink system. These pens could hold more ink and write in a smoother, more precise line than any of their competitors. The name Pelikan quickly gained a reputation for meticulous design and brilliant functionality, characteristics that the brand still embodies today. Each Pelikan nib is masterfully handcrafted with steel or gold; the Pelikan symbol and designs can vary between nibs, but each one truly is a work of art. Gold nibs are, of course, softer and will therefore deliver a smoother line, but their steel counterparts also deliver a deep, wet line with little effort. The design of the pen itself has not strayed far from the first pen in 1929. Clean lines and bold, but subtle, colors are hard to improve on, so this classic look has remained with the pen. However, more adventurous pens, including my favorite the Pelikan Souveran M320, are showing off brighter colors and a gorgeous marbled look.  Most of the pens in the Pelikan Souveran line still have the extremely helpful ink window and boast the distinctive pelican pocket clip.

While the fountain pen hasn't changed much in almost 80 years, the company has. Pelikan now also designs and manufactures other fine writing instruments, like rollerball pens and fineliners, and well as supplies for everyone from kindergarden to college. For now Writer's Bloc only carries fountain pens, but if you want to see some of their other stuff visit their website Pelikan Home.

Pelikan fountain pens are able to remain classic because their design is timeless and their functionality is unquestionable. They are an investment, yes, but if treated with care and love one of these pens could last centuries, and still look cool.

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LAMY

LAMY pens are the product of creative minds spurred on by the drive towards increasingly contemporary design.  This German company released its first pen, the LAMY 2000, in 1966 and it has remained a favorite of fountain pen users ever since. At that time this pen's design was unique, it was the first time a pen clip had been made entirely of stainless steel. This was the first step toward many design innovations.

In 1980 the Safari was released. Young students were immediately attracted to the bold, vibrant colors, sleek plastic body, comfortable triangular grip, and uber-cool clip. Even the nib was new and different, it's black! This design was made even more modern with the aluminum AL-Star, which now comes in a range of great metallic colors. My favorite LAMY pen is the Studio pen. The brushed metal and unique clip makes the pen a small piece of modern art, not to mention it also writes incredibly well. Most of the pens use a cartridge ink system, but all can be used with a converter. Both are easily manageable and hold a lot of ink. LAMY pens have won awards in design, and rightfully so. Check out their other products at their website LAMY-Products.

LAMY fountain pens are great for smart, modern students and business people. They are affordable, high-quality pens that boast contemporary design, but tried and true writing mechanisms.

In a nutshell: Pelikan=Classic and LAMY=Contemporary and both brands produce awesome fountain pens. It's just a matter of finding the right fit for you. Question: if you were a fountain pen, what would you be? Post your answer, questions, and comments below!