Encounter with a fountain pen

Encounter with a fountain pen

Encounter with a fountain pen

As much as I love writing letters and stationery and all the trimmings, I’ve never used a fountain pen. Truth be told, I was intimated by the whole ink cartridge/converter thing. That is, until I had an encounter with a fountain pen.

Encounter with a fountain pen

How to get started in the world of fountain pens

A most generous and seasoned fountain pen user contacted me and offered to get me set up. Bill graciously took this ‘newbie’ under his wing and sent me two pens and some ink.

If you are like me and new to the world of fountain pens and want to give it a try, you won’t go wrong with Bill’s recommendations: the Pilot Varsity (black plastic pen) and the Jinhao X750 (silver in colour). The Varsity is a disposable pen that comes filled with ink and ready to go. My kinda low maintenance pen.

Encounter with a fountain pen

Don’t be intimidated; it’s just a pen

The Jinhao takes a little more finessing. It has the option to install a converter (a piece that converts the pen from using ink cartridges to ink from a bottle). This is the part that scared me.  I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing.

However, at Bill’s suggestion, I spent some time watching a short video, Fountain Pens 101, at GouletPens.com. I would highly recommend this video as it gave the step-by-step on how to fill my pen with ink. It also reminded me that, although a beautiful writing tool, it was only a pen.

Encounter with a fountain pen

The fountain pen takes the pen to paper experience to another level

I am certainly no expert, I continue to be slightly nervous and a bit cautious, but having now used a real fountain pen with the beautiful green ink I’m hooked and proud that I figured it out.

The scratch of the pen nib on the paper is something so tactile and beautiful that I am thrilled and grateful to Bill for introducing me to the world of fountain pens. It takes the whole pen to paper experience to another level.

Encounter with a fountain pen

Fountain pen card

Even though I got green ink all over my hands and on the paper, I’m so glad to have discovered the fountain pen. It won’t be my only pen choice for writing letters, but it will definitely be one of my favorites.

I thought you might like to see the perfect card I found (by RefineMark ) to send to Bill as a thank you for all his help.

Have you ever used a fountain pen?

Get Free Email Updates!

Signup now and receive an email once I publish new content.

I will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.


  1. Barb,
    So proud of you for venturing out. The fountain pen world is a vast playground that will fuel your desire to right. I’m always open to help go the next level if you want to try some more pens before investing too heavily. I would consider myself in the deep ed but in no way an expert.

    • Thanks so much Bob for being in touch. And yes, you are quite right, the fountain pen world is a whole other universe! Thanks for your lovely offer to help this newbie.I just may take you up on that some day. In the meantime, happy writing. 🙂

  2. Gosh, welcome to ‘real’ writing! Fountain pens are the bomb — writing with a nib and liquid ink, on good paper, is a tactile and visual delight. In 8th or 9th grade (1963 or so), inspired by my piano teacher, who wrote notes on my music and assignments using a fountain pen with turquoise ink, I bought a cheap Sheaffer cartridge fountain pen at the drug store for probably around $2.99 and off I went. I’ve been a dedicated journal keeper since high school, mostly all written with fountain pen. I do use ball points when desperate, but a good gel pen is the closest substitute for a fountain pen.

    I don’t really understand the ‘fear’ factor in filling pens, or the ‘shock’ of paying more than a couple of dollars for a pen. All those little empty cartridges are a drop in the bucket of World Plastic Overuse, but sheesh — what could be more economical, ecological and basic than buying a fine writing instrument, a few bottles of ink, and using them for the next 40 or 50 years? You do have to get over the ‘ooh, ick, I might get ink on my fingers’ thing. Come on, it’s just ink. When you do manage to refill your pen without getting a single drop on your fingers, there is a small feeling of triumph.

    One thing that gives a better, fuller and less messy fill than just dipping and schlurping (with converter or piston filler-type action) is using a hypodermic needle to draw ink from the bottle and then insert in the converter and fill. Goulet Pens has blunt-nosed hypos for sale, they last for months and months.

    I have never bought a really expensive pen (for me, expensive = more then $200), but I currently own about a dozen fountain pens, all inked with different colors, and I use them almost exclusively for writing letters, notes, journals, etc. It’s natural, it’s real, it’s no big deal.

    I keep a few Varsitys on hand to give to people. They absolutely gush ink and are easy to use. Once they get hooked, I can talk up the Reduce/Reuse angle and get them started with a Pilot Metropolitan or Lamy Safari.

    I have not seen your blog before, so this is fun. I am a dedicated letter writer from childhood, and I look forward to checking out other posts. I hope you will become a devoted fountain pen user, and I urge you and your readers to just go for it.

    • Kathy, I can’t thank you enough for all the tips and info on getting started with fountain pens. I especially like your point about the longevity of a fountain pen and bottles of ink compared to the cheapy plastic pens.I love the idea of having a few fountain pens on hand, all inked with different colours; that would be great for letter writing! I’m so glad you’ve found my humble corner of the internet where I get to talk letter writing and all things related. Such a treat to meet like minded kindred spirits. Talk soon I hope 🙂

  3. Love fountain pens. First bought one during college – a cartridge taking Pilot. Flirted a little with calligraphy. These days, I’ve a Pilot Metropolitan (around $15) that is just plain fun (comes with proprietary cartridges, converter available), and a lovely Monteverde Invincia (around $80). I was a bit intimidated loading the converter on the Invincia the first time, but thanks to Brian’s video, it was a painless, relatively ink-splatterless process. Your neatness improves with practice, lol. Both these pens are so smooth, there is no scratching at all. Ink has an affect on that, as some are “drier” and some are “wetter” (yeah, I know, it sounds weird when you are talking about a liquid).

    Yeah, love fountain pens.

    • Diana, you sound like a seasoned fountain pen user! I love how it was a process for you too; gives me hope. I had no idea about the ‘drier vs wetter’ ink thing.So much ahead of me! Lovely to ‘meet’ you here. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Yes, I love my Pilot Varsity pen! I use it for most of my correspondence, as well as for writing in my journal. I’m intimidated (and a little annoyed) by pens that need cartridges and refilling, but these disposable ones are just perfect for me!

    • I’m with you Sarah on the convenience of disposable versions of fountain pens.I’m a pretty low maintenance gal, so this must be factored into it. There is something so satisfying about writing with a fountain pen. Lovely of you to take the time to leave me a comment. Thanks so much for visiting.