Troubleshooting: A guide to common fountain pen mishaps

Though we’re definitely sure that nearly everyone loves using fountain pens, there are occasionally a few common problems that you may find when using the your favourite pen.

Here is a quick guide to avoiding those unwanted blots and spills:

Help with your writing technique

Whether you are using a Sailor or Bentley fountain pen, you may find that writing with a fountain will require a slightly different technique to get the perfect result.

Though you won’t need to learn how to write all over again, more precision is needed when writing with a fountain pen.

One common tip is to visualise yourself painting onto the paper than pushing into it, as writing with a fountain pen needs to be a deliberate and smooth process to achieve the eloquence that you desire; though it may take a couple of weeks to get the hang of it.

Most modern pens have large nibs, making them perfect for signatures, though they may be slightly harder to use. At all times, no matter what pen you are using, remember to use it at the proper angle (this varies from pen to pen, and you can work this out as you write).

Getting the right paper

Though most types of paper will work fine for your work, you may find that some will cause problems for your pen.

Cotton and bond paper often work beautifully with fountain pens, and better papers are often defined by watermarks (otherwise known as a ‘dandy rolls’).

You may also wish to be aware that if the paper content is high in pulp, the ink may bleed across the paper, which will make your writing look fuzzy.

Filling your fountain pen

Many expensive pens use piston-style fillers, which may take the form of a fountain converter.

These may be a little trickier, for if the pen is dry, it may take a couple of attempts to get the ink reservoir to fill completely.

For the other type of pen, you will need to bleed off a few drops of ink after filling, in order to get rid of any air bubbles that could be present in the pen.

It is also important that you leave the pen in the inkbottle until it is full so that you can avoid any excess air getting within the pen. A good count to ten can help you fill your pen.

Help with blotting

Sometimes, a fountain pen can blot and expel ink at inappropriate times, and to get rid of this, you could simply try using a thicker ink. Otherwise, the pen may not be full enough, so getting a full ‘tank’ is also a good technique to avoid blotting.

Help with flooding

This can happen when too much ink reaches the nib at any one time. You can actually get a professional to adjust the nib to fit more tightly against the feed but again, thicker ink may be the first place to start to resolve flooding.

Getting a jump start

Sometimes a pen may need a ‘jump start’ in order to get going, and this can actually be quite common in fountain pens.

Pressing harder against the paper will not help, but ensuring that you cap the pen between uses, wet the tip, crank the piston or simply get used to the pen; all these solutions may well serve to help get it writing properly.

And importantly a using a quality fountain pen.

Anna has been a lover of stationery since the age of three, when she got her first red spotted pencil case. Lucky enough to work part time for The Pen Company, she is surrounded by stationery; the dream of many a collector!

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