Inky Fingers

Well, tonight was the night. My wife went on an overnight trip with a few of her friends, leaving me home with the kids. I put them in the bathtub, then set about the business of filling my Waterman Phileas fountain pen using the converter and bottled ink.

This was my first attempt at such an ambitious endeavor. Previously I simply replaced the cartridges. But now that I had an opportunity to make a mess without fear of a good tongue-lashing from the Mrs., I went for it.

First off, I decided to free the pen from the hideous blue ink that was dwelling within it. I removed the almost full cartridge, tossed it in the garbage, turned on the tap and let the water get cool. Tonight was a night of "firsts", so I decided to also clean my pen for the first time. Adrenaline was coursing through my veins as I began flushing the putrid blue ink out of the nib. What surprised me was how long it took to rid the pen of the pale blue menace. After multiple rinsings, the water finally ran clear. I dried it off, checked on the kids, then.....with trembling hands....grabbed the ink bottle.

Black Waterman ink was being served this evening for my beloved Phileas. I did not see a date on the bottle, but I was sure it was of premium vintage. After removing the cap from the bottle, I peered inside to see what bottled ink looked like up close. I'd never seen it before. It was dark in the kitchen, so I turned on another light. It made no difference. Black ink looks black no matter the lighting, I suppose.

I reached inside the ziplock pouch of my journal to extract the directions that came with my pen. Yes, I saved them. I quickly turned to the section on filling a fountain pen, complete with illustrations. Filling time was at hand.

I inserted the converter into the pen until I had a nice snug fit. Ahhhh, this isn't going to be so tough. But wait, the kids are fighting in the tub. Drat! After calming them down, I knew I had to move quickly for they were fully into "he's not sharing the toys" mode.

I twisted the converter and was quite pleased as the piston descended just as the instructions promised. Then it was time for the dip. Dip too shallow and one risks a poor ink draw. Dip too deeply and it could be a mess on our white countertop. Carefully...I dipped. Perfecto! Just the right depth.

I slowly twisted the converter the other direction and I giggled with delight as the ink began moving up into the chamber. I removed the nib from the bottle, slowly twisted the converter the other direction until two drops of ink fell back into the bottle. A slight twist the other way to get a little air into the chamber. Almost done.

I screwed the barrel back on, carefully wiped the nib with a cleaning cloth, capped the pen and let out a long sigh. I had been holding my breath for quite some time. I set the pen down on the counter, then noticed I had gotten ink on my fingers!! How could that be? I exercised extreme caution throughout the entire prodedure. Oh well, that is why I waited until Bachelor Night to fill my Phileas.

Later on, after the kids were sound asleep in their beds, I got out my journal and fountain pen to record my first entry with a converter full of ink. Quite a satisfying moment!!


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Why is it....

in this day of technology, and "instant" everything--in a day when convenience rules--I mean, we have click ball-point pens, automatic pencils, computers to automate everything so that we don't even _know_ how to write, and penmanship is at an all-time low--that we derive such pleasure from such inconveniences???? I mean, think about it! The ball-point pen was invented to avoid ink spills, and the inconvenience of filling fountain pens, and yet, now it's an almost "guilty" pleasure!

Of course, I don't know what's worse, that people write about it, or that I am _so_ tempted to try it for myself! ;-)

So, anybody got any theories as to why this whole "DIY" movement is so strong?

I guess I'm partially thinking about it because--well, to be honest--since my Newton "died" I've realized just how bad my penmanship is, and now that my Palm is also going belly-up, and I'm writing by hand _much_ more than I have for about a decade, I'm realizing just how bad my penmanship has gotten. I'm starting to concentrate more on how I write, not on what I'm writing. I feel like I've taken a step backward, and need to arrest that degression. I also suspect a fountain pen may help me. (any port in a storm?)

What say ye?


Fountain Penmanship

I bought my fountain pen for journaling purposes only. And its the only time I ever write in cursive. Prior to starting my journal in December I had not written in cursive in over 20 years. Talk about poor penmanship! But there's something about writing with a fountain pen that defies description. You should try it. It's almost cathartic.


Plannin' on it!

So, do you think that, writing in this way, with this pen, helps you think more about your penmanship? This is what I'm truly curious about--as soon as I find a decent quill for a decent price, I believe I'll find out for myself, but I'm curious about others' experience. :-)


I've found that my

I've found that my handwriting improves the moment I pick up a good pen, whether it's my favorite gel pen or a fountain pen. The crappier the pen, the worse my penmanship is!

Reply on the Back of an Envelope...

I prefer to use a fountain pen because it glides over the paper like a skater on ice, whereas a ballpoint needs pressure to liquefy its ink. Rollerballs use the same ink as fountain pens so no advantage there. I tried gels and I did not really take to them. ExSWMBO who also grew up using fountain pens loves Uni-ball pens as she can write much faster with then compared to a fountain pen and most of the archives I have visited insist on pencil only. After reading Ygor's post about his feather, I tried to make a reed pen in order to to practice my Greek alphabet, without much success I might add. Thank goodness for 'Pearl Drops' that's all I can say. ;)

For me writing is linked with thinking skills. It forces one to slow down and think about content rather than format, we can review our words with easy, trace false logical and conclusions back to their source, not to mention tests arguments and build more coherent statements. If one cannot do simple calculations on the back of an envelope how can one choose the best form of analysis when presented with a package such as SPSS or even Excel, use a search engine? Unfortunately, Google is not the eponymous name of research. For those people who find the shock too much to bear please feel free to google: "101 ways to cook a google heretic". Be warned however the odds of finding just the right recipe are heavily stacked against you. :D

Foutain pens worth it?

Is getting a fountain pen even worth it? They don't sound that portable to me...

It isn't about portability

It's about having the finest writing instrument you can use.

This makes me think of cameras. The absolute best digital SLR you can buy today is _huge_ and even dwarfs your face when using it. My own Canon D30, which I use most of the time, is an enormous beast. But I also have a nice, compact camera for those times when portability is more important. So, horses for courses, as the saying goes. You pick the proper tool for the job. Sometimes, portability isn't what it's about...


Writting anywhere

But wouldn't it be helpful to have a portable pen that you could use anywhere with your Moleskine? XD

different contexts...different tools

I don't think it has to be an "either/or" thing. I carry my journal everywhere I go, though I usually only write in it at home (It's a borderline OCD thing really. I just don't want to miss anything...ever). I have several more portable pens that I carry with me all the time as well. When I get home though, I like to use something a little nicer. I haven't gotten too into fountain pens yet (though I am seriously tempted) but I have some pens that I prefer and that I leave at home so that I don't lose them.

I think there's also, at least for journaling, which I believe was the original context of this post, something to be said for ritualizing the experience. Using that special pen, writing in a special book, it all just adds to the experience, makes it more personal.

So yeah, all for utilitarian preference for when I'm on the go (I ADORE my pilot G2 mini) but I can definitely appreciate why someone would want to take the time and effort and, to invest in a good fountain pen.

Hope I haven't rambled too much.

No, not at all! I'm OCD too,

No, not at all! I'm OCD too, and I'm just recently obsessed with journaling/Moleskines.

I'm going to Staples today to buy a few Acid free pens, and see how they work on my Moleskine.

I wrote the first 2 pages in non-acid free ink. I just hope that won't harm the readability (is that a word?) of them in a few dozen years...

Not portable but fun

I would agree that fountain pens are less practical than ballpoints, gel, or rollerballs. But, as folks here have said, that's not the point. Fountain pens are a fun toy, a pleasure to use and play with on your spare time. I use them in various notebooks at home or in the office. On business trips I avoid them, because of various problems when flying (leaking, security problems with fluids).

Fountain pens can be portable, using cartridges (often, this is a good option on long car trip expeditions). Also, there's a new class of disposable fountain pens: the Pilot Varsity and the Itoya Blade. The ink is sealed in these, and they tend to write no matter how you abuse or store them, and they write pretty well. I suspect these would be fine for plane and car excursions. (Actually, the Varisty pre-dates gel pens, 80s I think.)

Nevertheless I use the pens everyone else does when travelling and in my pockets. The "fun" of the fountain pen is the futzing with ink bottles, ink mixing, etc. Hey, it keeps me off the streets.

Lamy Safaris

My Lamy Safaris (and Al-Stars) go lots of places with me. They're sturdy and not at all precious, and I can always depend on them to write. I actually have more luck with my Safaris than I do with gel pens, though I do use gel pens on occasion. (And even pencils, particularly in libraries.)

Welcome to the Order of the Mark of the Scribe

I do calligraphy as a hobby which is where I started with fountain pens. Folks can always tell when I have been lettering as my right thumb, index finger, and middle finger are ink-stained.

Consider it an occupational hazard. :)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Inky fingers

Hi Bob.

I got a pen for my birthday--a Pilot Knight. Came with a converter and two cartridges of blue ink.

There were no directions in the thing, so it took us all (me, DH, mom, stepdad) a few minutes to decide how it all went together. So we got a cartridge in it, but then the ink wouldn't come down to the tip. Enter suggestions for shaking, etc. I was less inclined to do a lot of shaking until after I'd let the pen sit for a while. Finally I capped it and shook it a little.

I uncapped, and voila, there was ink at the tip (and a bit in the cap, too..). So I started to write. As if by magic, there was blue ink upon my fingers.

I wasn't even using the converter and I got ink on my fingers.


Your Cathartic Phileas Converter Experience


Just a suggestion; Go to any stationery supply store (Staples or Office Max/Depot) and purchase a computer ink cartridge refill kit. (Approx. $19.95)Make SURE it has the refill syringe. This looks like a regular physician's syringe (on steriods). Instead of dipping your nib/converter in the bottle, just fill up the syringe and place the needle in the converter. Push SLOWLY on the plunger and carefully fill the converter. Once full, just attach the nib. This will avoid the ink on your hands and you won't have to clean excess ink off of the pen nib. If there is any ink left in the syringe, just empty it back in the ink bottle.

BTW- The syringe is a snap to clean.

Lastly, now that you have discovered the joy of converters, you should move on to other color inks, can be so boring. I prefer the Noodlers brand of bottled ink. The colors run the rainbow gamut. It will make your journal entries more memorable (I know they do mine).



I got a syringe at the

I got a syringe at the pharmacy for a quarter.
Just asked for the bluntest (most blunt?) tip.