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KimberlyHirsh
KimberlyHirsh

Hello world. Imagine I’m interested in fountain pens but am a complete beginner. Where would you tell me to go to learn more? What would your advice be? How do I get started? ✒️🖋️

mrbeefy
mrbeefy

@kimberlyhirsh I like the Pilot Varsity. It’s good enough for me, a newb, and I’m not sad if I lose one.

cygnoir
cygnoir

@kimberlyhirsh My brain just short-circuited because I got so excited to talk with you about fountain pens! 🖋 My first suggestion would be to try one out. Luckily there are two great inexpensive choices to start with: the TWSBI (pronounced “twiz-bee”) Eco and the Pilot Metropolitan.

cygnoir
cygnoir

@kimberlyhirsh If you prefer reading about something first before trying it, I recommend Jet Pens’ Beginner’s Guide to Fountain Pens. 🖋 Approachable with lots of photos!

In reply to
cygnoir
cygnoir

@kimberlyhirsh I am revamping my “analog” page soon, because I have a bunch of pen and ink advice to share, but it’s not fully formed yet. I’m always happy to answer pen and ink questions, though! 🖋 I’ve been actively using and collecting fountain pens for almost 20 years now.

fabio
fabio

@kimberlyhirsh hi! I have some hands-on experience, with brands, with write feel, paper, so I'm here for any questions. For starters I would suggest to buy a Lamy Al-star in one of the ranges extrafine-medium, any Diamine ink and some nice paper, I have the Rhodia but there are many (paper is so underrated)

Cheri
Cheri

@cygnoir Thanks for the link! I’m fountain pen curious but I’ve yet to pick one up. cc: @kimberlyhirsh

chrisaldrich
chrisaldrich

@kimberlyhirsh I'd generally repeat a lot of the same solid advice that @cygnoir gave you too, so I won't.

If you've got any local in-person shopping locations for pens and stationery, get out and try writing with a few to see how they look and feel. I've got a few local Maido stationery stores and the my local Vroman's bookstore has a huge pen counter and stationery section which have been helpful for trying before buying. Usually the staff are fans, so they can share a lot of details and advice as well.

Something inexpensive to start may be useful, but I find some of them can be hit or miss in terms of felling good in your hand or writing smoothly. It's more of a joy to have a pen you love the look and feel of, so trying before you buy can be invaluable. (As an example, lots of people love and highly recommend LAMY, but for me I just don't like their design or feel.)

Stores will also give you the chance to find out what nib size(s) you like and how juicy a particular pen may be. I tend to go for extra fine or fine for most circumstances in daily writing depending on the size I intend to write and in which notebook. I do have a few bold and specialty nibs for occasional special uses and fun though.

Depending on your budget, maybe start with something super cheap that you can play with, take apart, swap out nibs, beat up, or possibly loose. But if you're committed and like the experience, find something that brings you joy and spend a fair amount. One really great pen that you love to use can be better than an entire drawerful.

Trolling around youtube videos and reviews of pens, ink, and paper can give you a bit of experience and knowledge without busting the bank.

I have found that over the past several months, supply chain issues means that lots of popular pens may be out of stock (both online or at stores), so have patience if what you want isn't immediately available.

Finally, don't ignore some better quality paper to write on.

dgreene196
dgreene196

@cygnoir I wonder if the TWSBI Swipe replaces the Eco as the default TWSBI option for the fountain pen-curious? It just needs to come in a greater variety of colors.

dgreene196
dgreene196

@kimberlyhirsh Just find something that's interesting in a chosen price range? @cygnoir has a great link to start with. And don't neglect paper. I had a Pilot Metropolitan for awhile that I struggled with as a fountain pen starter. Good paper (Rhodia is a great starting point) made a huge difference. And ink is fun!

KimberlyHirsh
KimberlyHirsh

@cygnoir Ooh, Pilot Metropolitan sounds like a good starting point for me. I'm pretty devoted to the G2 07.

annahavron
annahavron

@kimberlyhirsh Fountain pens are one of those things where you can get as fiddly as you want, and pay as much as you're willing. My advice would be to start with an inexpensive totally low-maintenance pen like Pilot Varsity, and see if you even like the feel of using fountain pens; or if you'd be just as happy with a gel pen. If you like it enough, then try something a little more complicated to mess with, like a nondisposable pen where you can refill the ink. (And as others have said, it's nice to be able to try one -- I'm another person who doesn't care for Lamy pens, though lots of people love them.) For me the joy of using fountain pens is the sensory experience of the way the ink flows onto the paper, and it's being able to choose cool ink colors. This makes messing around with fussy little parts and bottled inks worth it, even if my fingers do get stained funny colors.

annahavron
annahavron

@cygnoir love your analog page!

Ddanielson
Ddanielson

@kimberlyhirsh @annahavron @dgreene196 @chrisaldrich @fabio @cygnoir I think an important first step is understanding the line width you like. The disposables like the Pilot Varsity are good to try, but are usually like a medium nib. I already used 0.5 or smaller in a gel pen (rather than 0.7 or 1.0), so I mostly use finer nibs. Some people like them all, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯.

Ddanielson
Ddanielson

@kimberlyhirsh @annahavron @kimberlyhirsh @dgreene196 @chrisaldrich @Cheri @fabio @cygnoir And, let me echo that paper makes a HUGE difference. Use cheap paper, and you likely won’t like a fountain pen.

acfusco
acfusco

@kimberlyhirsh I second the recommendation from @cygnoir of the tutorials on Jetpens.com. Another good resource is Penaddict.com and the accompanying podcast. For starter pens I'd recommend the Lamy Safari, Twsbi Eco, and the even cheaper Twsbi Go. The Eco looks fiddly because it comes with a wrench, but you don't have to use it. Paper makes a difference but don't all-out avoid cheap paper. I've found Staples cheap yellow legal pads work great, but I think they've changed lately to be rougher, which isn't so good. Don't go with cartridges; go full-on bottled fountain pen ink. That's more fun.

acfusco
acfusco

@kimberlyhirsh Oh, and go with a retailer dedicated to pens. There's Jetpens, Goulet Pens, Vanness Pens, Anderson Pens, and more.

pimoore
pimoore

@kimberlyhirsh Lots of excellent suggestions in this thread, but I’ll add my two cents to not go with Moleskine notebooks. From my experience their paper is downright terrible for fountain pens.

KimberlyHirsh
KimberlyHirsh

@pimoore Yeah, I love my Moleskine but it can barely support the G2.

lukemperez
lukemperez

@kimberlyhirsh lot of great advice already but +1 for the Twsby and Pilot metropolitan. I tried the Kaweco which is cool but I didn’t like the build quality. I haven’t moved past the Pilot. Started with the Metro, then about two years later got two Prera (red and blue ink). Jet pens, which you cited, is a fantastic resource (but so is Goulet pens).

jessekelber
jessekelber

@kimberlyhirsh so many thoughts…everyone one on this thread has already offered up great ideas, so I’ll just add a couple. Don’t discount starting with cartidges, they simplify the process and let you get to know a pen before diving into the ink bottle. Also want to pile on the advise not to discount paper, there are many great options for Moleskine-like notebooks so you can still get the same A4 feel. I’m partial to Rodia and Leuchtturn, and if you like spiral bound, Write notebooks have amazing paper!

jessekelber
jessekelber

@Cheri Next time you’re over by UW, stop in at the Bookstore. In the basement they have a counter with many great pens and some knowlwdgeable staff to answer questions. Closest thing we have to an actual pen store locally!

Cheri
Cheri

@jessekelber Thanks for the tip!

jessekelber
jessekelber

@Cheri 😎