Unlike a ballpoint pen, fountain pens can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars and they’re an accessory that enhances your handwriting and make it more unique. At the same time, they demand a certain amount of care and attention.
In the US, most people are rarely exposed to fountain pens unless they actively pursue them and if they do, however, most people fall in love with them and always prefer them over regular pens.
When you start out, you’re very prone to make those mistakes and all the people I’ve met who just started the fountain pen when they were an adult, made those as well.
Fountain Pen Mistakes Beginners Make
1. Not Using A Fountain Pen At All
Even if you own it, you may just have it in your desk drawer and it never sees the light of day. In my opinion, a huge advantage of a fountain pen is your signature. Not only does it make it look more sophisticated but it’s actually much harder to fake because the lines vary in thickness depending on the pressure you put on to the nib. Of course, it’s easy to forget about handwriting in a digital world, you can take notes with your phone, you can use Google home assistant or Alexa but at the same time, it has been proven that writing down things by hand especially if you take notes, enhances your memory and you learn faster. As Murphy’s Law has it, you never have a pen when you need it so it really pays to make a fountain pen part of your everyday carry so you always have it handy when you need it.
2. Using The Wrong Paper
Because of the nib and the ink feed, you get more ink onto the paper. Now most regular paper is rather thin and sometimes flimsy and when you use a fountain pen, you encounter something called bleeding. Basically, it’s just ink bleeding into the paper leaving a very undefined line that doesn’t look as nice as if you write with the same fountain pen on a thicker paper that absorbs the ink better.
So instead, go with a slightly thicker cardstock or go with fountain pen paper which hardly costs more at all but it’s specifically made for fountain pen ink. If you don’t want to bother about the kind of paper you use, I suggest you get an extra fine or a fine nib because with those, you get less ink on the paper and it will look good no matter what paper you use. That being said, if you write a note to someone, they always feel extra special if it comes on a thicker cardstock or even a cotton paper because it’s just a wonderful experience.
3. Pushing Too Hard On The Nib
If you have a regular ballpoint pen or a rollerball, you can really push hard even push holes into your paper. Now with a fountain pen, you can also add pressure and the more pressure you add, the wider your pen stroke gets. That can be really nice for a signature or you want to get a calligraphy effect when you write. Now with nibs, you have to pay a little more attention because they’re split in the middle so the ink can get to the paper and if you push too hard, you may damage or break the nib and then you’ll have to exchange it.
Also if you push too hard, it scratches on the paper, it tires out your hand, and it’s just hard on the paper as well as the pen. In general, I say a softer touch is better. If you want to write long letters, it pays to have a pen that’s slightly heavier but not too heavy so you can just have it glide over the paper when you write something without having to push on it very forcefully.
4. Using The Wrong Ink
When you start out, you might think that all ink are alike and you can just buy the cheapest one out there and it’ll do a good job. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you have calligraphy pens, they use a different ink. If you have a fountain pen, you should always go with a specific fountain pen ink. Why? Basically, they have a different chemical composition that is best for fountain pens. If you get something that is too thick and it dries too quickly, it will clog up your fountain pen and you’ll have to constantly clean it. The great part about fountain pen ink is that it comes in hundreds of different colors and it’s a great way to express your personality through your ink.
For example, I usually have a really dark green ink which is still contrasting on white paper, at the same time, it’s different than royal blue ink which is probably the number one sold color in the world today. So if you choose a special color, be it your favorite color or maybe the color of the logo of your company, you really underline the whole message, make it unique and special and even harder to fake.
If you have a fountain pen that you don’t use a lot, you leave it in the drawer, or you only use it for signatures, chances are that the ink on the inside of the fountain pen will dry in and then it won’t start when you want to write. If that sounds like you, I suggest to look for a specific ink that is supposed to not dry as quickly and that way, you don’t have to clean your pen and it’s more reliable at the few times you actually use it.
5. Not Cleaning Your Fountain Pen
Generally, if you keep writing a pen and you use high-quality fountain pen ink, chances are you hardly ever maybe never have to clean your fountain pen, over time, however, there may be dust or something gets clogged up and then it’s time to clean your pen.
Cleaning Your Fountain Pen
- Simply drop your entire pen in water. If it has several parts that you can take apart, take it apart, try to let it soak in so the dry spots can soak up and then put it all together and see if it writes again. If that’s not the case, you may want to use a little toothbrush, maybe you want to blow water from the bottom part through the ink feed throughout the nib just to make sure it’s not clogged up. Definitely only use water to clean your fountain pen and don’t use alcohol or acetone as they may damage the pen.
- Use an ultrasonic cleaner. It’s very gentle, it works with water and sound waves that make the parts vibrate and clean them. You can use it for jewelry or all kinds of other parts even for clothes if your cleaner is large enough. All you do is simply add cold water to your ultrasonic cleaner. You immerse the pen on the inside, maybe you make sure that you get the water into the inside chamber if it’s a piston filler or you just fill it up with water and take everything apart so the water can reach all the parts that are dry and dirty. Keep in mind that an ultrasonic will heat up the water and in combination with the vibrations can cause especially older pens that are made of materials like celluloid to actually expand. In fact, I once ruined and old Montblanc Meisterstuck fountain pen with the casing of a celluloid because it had metal parts on the inside that came up. I can still use the pen, however, for collectors, it lost basically all of its value. So keep that in mind and always take a look, shorter is always better. Let it run for five minutes rather than ten. Take a look, see where it’s at if it’s already clean, you can just take it out.
6. Dropping A Fountain Pen On The Nib
I know you don’t drop your pens intentionally but unlike with a ballpoint pen, if it falls right on the tip of the nib, it may break or it may deform and then it’s time to have the nib replaced. If you just have a steel nib, it’s actually quite inexpensive. If you have a more expensive fountain pen with a gold nib, just the nib alone can cost anywhere from $200-$500 which is quite costly. In any case, I’d always suggest going to professionals to have it replaced because you yourself will likely screw it up and the ink feed and the flow won’t work after you repaired it. To protect your pen, I suggest you always put on the cap when it is not in use and you can also have an extra pouch in leather where the pen is protected.
7. Not Keeping The Nib Up When Traveling
Especially if you’re on a plane, the cabin pressure changes over time and if your nib faces down or if it’s horizontal, chances are ink is pushed outside of the pen and either you get a stain on your jacket or the next time you open your pen, all your fingers are going to be full of ink. Now a good ink is very colorfast so you can’t just go to the bathroom and wash it off. You’ll have ink stains on your fingers for a few days. What should you do? Always keep the pen with the nib up and you’ll be just fine and do not have to worry about any ink leaking or ink stains on your fingers.
Fountain Pen Mistakes Conclusions
Overall, you have to pay a little more attention to a fountain pen and you have to be a little more deliberate than with a ballpoint pen or a rollerball. On the other hand, a fountain pen enhances your handwriting and the look of it in a way that no rollerball and ballpoint can compete with. Are you guilty of these mistakes?