Wednesday, February 17, 2021

10 Tips to Help your Fountain Pens Last a Lifetime

 A Few Tips to Help your Fountain Pens Last a Lifetime:

    Hello all you wonderful pen friends, this is Kyle and I'm hoping that this quick list of ten points will help you maintain your pens while also maintaining your interest in your pens so that they will last a lifetime. Keep in mind that all of these points will be in accordance with my own opinion and you may have differing beliefs when it comes to something like inks or paper, and that's totally fine! This list is just to spark ideas or give direction to people wondering if they are using and maintaining their pens correctly. One more thing before we get into the first bullet point is that I won't be putting these in any particular order because everyone's priorities with pens may be different. Ok, enough intro, let's get into the first point!

Store your pens nib up

    This is arguably the phrase uttered the most throughout pen stores and pen clubs alike but is it really necessary? Yes and no. I say this because technically it is the best way to store fountain pens because they work on capillary action which means ink will eventually leak if they are left nib down for long enough. The no part comes from my own personal experience in which I used to have a big 40 pen case that stood on my bookshelf but the pens were stored sideways. In my experience with using this orientation to store my pens none of my pens have leaked and perform as expected, granted sideways isn't the same as face down but don't get bent out of shape when someone says nib up. Basically as long as your pens aren't nib down you should be good!

Clean your pens regularly

    If this list were in order of importance this would be close to the top and is the key to making your pens last a long time. As fun as it is to switch inks and try new ones out in the same pen, it is CRUCIAL that you clean your pen sufficiently before you do this. This helps to prevent internal staining which can be important with demonstrator pens and it also ensures that ink will not crust up in the pen which can be very hard to resolve especially in pens with tough or older filling mechanisms. Cleaning your pens is really simple and is almost a mindless activity that can be done while listening to music or watching something. The way I clean my pens is I have two cups, one with cold water and one empty, I expel excess ink into the empty cup then proceed to fill and empty my pen with the clean cold water until it runs clear. After that I leave it nib down on a towel to dry, come back after leaving it like that overnight and you should have a spotless pen! *Don't use hot water, it can pose a problem with glues, seals and solvents that may weaken or break with the hot temperature!

Choose your inks carefully

    The many colors, brands and varieties of inks may be overwhelming at first glance but there are a few crucial things to know before you ink your pen with the new ultra glitter sparkle ink. There are three basic types of fountain pen friendly inks: Regular ink, shimmer ink and water proof/pigmented ink. The first one is going to be the most common and generally speaking is the easiest to clean out of pens. The other two have actually particulate in the ink that makes them waterproof or glittery which is all good and fun but this means that they are more likely to clog your pens. My suggestion when it comes to using these tricky inks is to dedicate them to a pen that is easily cleaned, the pen I use my shimmer inks with is a TWSBI Eco because the nib and feed come out making cleaning really easy! *NEVER EVER USE INDIA INK (it will do nothing but clog and destroy)*

Use your pens everyday

    This step may seem daunting at first, especially if you have more than 5 pens inked at any given time which I have definitely been guilty of. My reasoning behind this is that it can prevent drying and hard starts because you are getting ink flowing through the nib every 24 hours. This is also just to take time out of your day to use these wonderful writing instruments that should hopefully bring you joy every time you use them. It is important to take time for yourself during the day and writing can be a very therapeutic way to use this time so try to do it everyday!

Invest in a nice case

    Whether you take your pens to school, work or maybe you just leave them at home, it is very important to have a safe place to keep and transport your pens. I don't take my pens out of my apartment very much but I have a leather wallet that has three pen sleeves inside so that my pens will be nib up and in a smooth, tight environment to minimize damage while traveling. I've recently downsized my collection to only 15 and those all stay in my rickshaw pen rolls which can also be stood up when wrapped up keeping my nibs from leaking. Please please please don't keep your pens in a drawer, I don't really like keeping them in a stand on my desk either, I think keeping them in a nice covered soft environment is best to minimize scratching. Also, don't put the case in a backpack or bag loose, try to put them in a pocket that's tight (in the bag) to minimize movement or you may find an inky mess when you go to write something.

Get fountain pen friendly paper

    There seems to be some misconception that using non-fountain pen friendly paper will damage or harm your fountain pen, THIS IS FALSE. Pen friendly paper does not really have any effect on the condition of the pen itself. It does affect the experience you will have during writing with your pen though. Tomoe River paper is my all time favorite fountain pen friendly paper because it minimizes bleed through and enhances the deeper quality of the inks I use. If you opt for non-fountain pen friendly paper which is less expensive, it tends to bleed quite a bit due to the watery nature of FP ink, feathering is also a very annoying problem that makes your writing look clumsy and messy when it really isn't, not great for business or legibility. With that being said, sometimes in a school or work environment we are forced to use lower quality paper and a way to circumvent some problems this poses is to use a thin nib size like F or EF because they putout less ink.

Minimize the amount of pens you travel with

    This one sort of goes back to the case point but what I mean is that you should really only carry a few pens when you are out on the town. I limit myself to three and usually end up bringing one fountain pen, one ballpoint and a pencil. This is because traveling with pens can cause them to leak and you are also risking something happening to them while you are out of the safe space of your desk or home. You could drop your case and damage it, someone could drop it while looking at it, you could drop it while signing something, Maybe I'm just a nervous person but I really really don't like taking my pens out of the house, maybe a safari or an eco at the most but my more expensive pens will be snuggling up in their cozy pen case while I'm out.

Know the limits of your pen and don't push them (careful when letting someone try a pen)

    This applies more to gold nib pens but I suppose could also be said for steel nibs, please don't push your nib too hard when trying to flex. Steel nibs, with a couple exceptions, don't really flex at all so just try not to put much pressure on the nib when writing and you should be fine since steel is a pretty firm metal it takes more to bend it. Gold is a completely different story and is very easy to bend. I tend to only flex or push my pens that have nibs that are advertised as being flex nibs because I don't really write with flex anyway but if I do I want to be careful about it. I will say that as you own and use your pens more and more you will learn how each nib and feed reacts to different amounts of pressure and you will become acquainted with the thresholds pretty quickly so its not something to worry about too much. If you ever find yourself wondering if you are putting too much pressure on a nib you probably are and should back off a bit. Also, please be careful when lending pens to people, make sure they are knowledgeable about how to effectively use a fountain pen to avoid innocent nib injuries!

Have fun with your pens and try new things

    This is obviously not a point to increase the longevity of your pens but more to increase your interest in the hobby itself and writing as a whole. You should always try new things with your pens whether its trying a new journaling style like Bullet Journaling or maybe learning how to write in cursive. These small changes in your writing norms will really spice up your writing even if it is just for you in a journal or maybe you'll impress someone at school or work. Go out and join your local pen crew and make friends, talk with people about pens, learn and grow your knowledge to keep up your interest in this fantastic community. Oh, and please please please remember to always Enjoy & Keep Writing!

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