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Nicola Fisher


How to use and maintain a fountain pen

    1. Fill your pen over a sink!

    I keep my ink bottles on a shelf above the bathroom sink! Together with a couple of pipettes and craft syringes (not sharp). Any leaks or drips can be easily rinsed away.

    2. Rinse your pen

    Whenever I refill my pen or change ink colour, I will flush the pen through with cold/lukewarm water. (You can use hot water if you're having trouble with your pen - I've done this on occasion). I'll let the sink fill a little bit so that I can draw up water into the converter and empty it again.

    3. Submerge the nib

    If you're using a converter, you need to submerge the nib in the ink bottle so that the ink can be drawn up. If your ink bottle is getting empty, you may struggle to fill your pen - more on that in a moment. I will tip the ink bottle when it's getting low to access as much ink as possible.

    4. Use a pipette or syringe

    Some pens, usually demonstrators (see through), don't have a converter but have a large capacity barrel. Using a syringe or pipette you can draw up ink from your ink bottle and feed it straight into the barrel. You can also do this is you're running low on ink. I mostly use the syringe for this as you need more control. Fill up the syringe and then remove the converter. Fill the converter from the syringe. I have a few pens that use a specific cartridge. I don't want to keep buying new cartridges so I refill using a syringe. That means I can also use my own ink colours.

    5. Tissue

    As I fill my pens in the bathroom, I will tear off a couple of pieces of loo roll to dry off the pen and let the new ink soak through from the nib on to the tissue so that the pen is ready to use. If a pen is slow to ink, I will also put the nib in the same colour ink bottle and get the tip wet. This usually works.

    6. Ready to go

    Years ago, I would ink up my pens in turn and create colour charts, together with the name of the pen I was using. I never told anyone about this as I thought I was nuts! But this is a thing!! Lots of fountain pen users do it. I'll often find a space in a notebook to test the pen once I've refilled it and make sure the ink is flowing nicely and writing well.

    7. Nibs

    You can do allsorts of things to improve nib quality. I've not experimented a lot with this as my pens have been OK. But you can maintain your nibs in various ways, especially if you want to tweak them. I like a smooth writing nib. Definitely not scratchy. Not all nibs are equal and some will be nicer to use than others. They also adapt to your writing style. Which is why I don't lend my fountain pens to anyone!

    8. Keep upright

    It makes sense to keep the pen upright when you're transporting it. I store my pens at home in pen pots so the pens are always upright. Most of my fountain pens don't leak. I have one or two that do so I only use those at home.

    9. Rotate your pens

    If you have a large collection, ink them up in rotation so that they all get used and don't clog up with dried ink.

    10. Nice ink

    Buy your ink from a reputable source. I buy most of my inks from Cult Pens here in the UK. My favourite ink is J Herbin (although they have become expensive). I'm just about to try a new ink from Cult Pens. There are lots of great colours available so you don't need black or blue any more. Put some personality in your pen!

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