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How To Hold A Flex Fountain Pen - Revisited?!


dragos.mocanu
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I'm 'training' with my Noodler's semiflex nib (in a Konrad), with the prospect of owning a vintage full flex (superflex?) fountain pen in mind. So I started searching for the proper way of holding a flexible nibbed pen (so I won't ruin a 100 year old pen when I purchase it) but guess what...not everyone agrees to the same thing. I have 2 sources that state exactly the opposite of each other: first is https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/index.php/topic/43939-how-do-you-hold-your-vintage-flex-nib-pens/ which is a very delectable read, specifying that the vintage flex pens should be held as flat (horizontal?) as possible, meaning in between the thumb and index fingers. That's fine and dandy, but here comes http://www.vintagepen.net/how-to-use-flex-nibs.html which states that the pen should be held rested atop the first knuckle of the index finger. At least both sources agree on one thing: the index finger must be atop the pen section and the flexing is done with the index finger.

 

How do you do it? And why? Is there a 'proper' way? Or does everyone uses the hold that suits them best?

 

Dragoş

Edited by dragos.mocanu

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true..." (Carl Sagan)

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Ideally, you want the nib to be aligned with your slant lines. With a fountain pen this means you'll want to rotate the paper counter-clockwise quite a bit if you want to do something like Copperplate. For what's commonly called "flex writing" around here (which I personally don't like), you can get away with less rotation, as it's quite vertical.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBZasTAjWWw

 

It is my understanding that normally it is to be held so that the nib is parallel to the line or imaginary line on unlined paper.

 

I think you meant the nib should be perpendicular to the line...but that's not the issue here! I'm talking strictly about the position/angle of the pen body, and not of the nib! Mr. Fraser described exactly what I was asking about, but the video 'describes' the other way to hold the pen (in between the thumb and index)...so again, I'm baffled. Some people hold the pen to a very low angle (in relation to the paper), others at an approximate 45 degree angle (as Mr. Fraser described above)...and I wonder, do the rules for the oblique flex dip pen apply in an exact same way to a flex fountain pen?

Edited by dragos.mocanu

"The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true..." (Carl Sagan)

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I think you meant the nib should be perpendicular to the line...but that's not the issue here! I'm talking strictly about the position/angle of the pen body, and not of the nib! Mr. Fraser described exactly what I was asking about, but the video 'describes' the other way to hold the pen (in between the thumb and index)...so again, I'm baffled. Some people hold the pen to a very low angle (in relation to the paper), others at an approximate 45 degree angle (as Mr. Fraser described above)...and I wonder, do the rules for the oblique flex dip pen apply in an exact same way to a flex fountain pen?

 

Fountain pen nibs glide much better than pointed dip nibs. I'm not sure if Ken was actually writing in those pictures, but in the last one (below right) the nib to paper angle seems kinda high, like it might catch on the upstroke.

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It is my understanding that normally it is to be held so that the nib is parallel to the line or imaginary line on unlined paper.

 

The nib has to be pointed at, or as close to, the slope line as possible, to enable the tines to open evenly, when pressure is applied. The same principle applies to both dip and fountain pen nibs. The oblique holder makes the correct positioning of the nib, easier to achieve, than with the straight fountain pen.

 

Ken

 

fpn_1400066857__flex_600.jpg

Edited by Ken Fraser
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I'm not sure if Ken was actually writing in those pictures, but in the last one (below right) the nib to paper angle seems kinda high, like it might catch on the upstroke.

I wasn't actually writing in those pictures, but that is my natural hand hold. I always write with the pen shaft on, or in front of, my large knuckle. I never allow the shaft to sit in the web of my hand, as I have less control that way.

 

I suppose that my usual nib-to-paper angle is around 40 degrees, but I do sometimes hold the pen slightly forward which lifts the nib to around 45 degrees. I find that at this higher angle, narrower shading can be more easily controlled with the same nib.

 

With the nib at this angle, I have no problem with the nib catching on upstrokes, provided I'm using a good, smooth paper.

 

Having said that, I do use a lower nib-to-paper angle for quicker, flourished strokes.

 

You raised an interesting point. Thanks.

 

Ken

Edited by Ken Fraser
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I wasn't actually writing in those pictures, but that is my natural hand hold. I always write with the pen shaft on, or in front of, my large knuckle. I never allow the shaft to sit in the web of my hand, as I have less control that way.

 

I suppose that my usual nib-to-paper angle is around 40 degrees, but I do sometimes hold the pen slightly forward which lifts the nib to around 45 degrees. I find that at this higher angle, narrower shading can be more easily controlled with the same nib.

 

With the nib at this angle, I have no problem with the nib catching on upstrokes, provided I'm using a good, smooth paper.

 

Having said that, I do use a lower nib-to-paper angle for quicker, flourished strokes.

 

You raised an interesting point. Thanks.

 

Ken

 

I'll have to check my hold, but I'm pretty sure I usually keep a lower angle when using pointed pens... Maybe I'm overdoing it. I haven't had nibs catch in a long time, but I've also been working a lot on how light I press, so maybe a higher angle would work as well.

 

I'll check and report later :)

 

Cheers!

M

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has any lefty used flexed writing if so would a lefty using a hooked grip have a hard time adjusting with writing a flex pen? I was thinking of using underhand but I don't have the same liberty of motions as I have with a hooked grip/over writers?...

where the horizontal motions are more prominent than it is on the vertical side since the nib is actually running along the horizontal lines of the paper

Edited by Algester
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I'm a lefty, I could never manage to satisfactorily flex overhandedly but that was probably just me - for flex I've just gotten used to writing underhandedly, which usually works fine as it forced me to write slower than my normal overhanded style

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I think you meant the nib should be perpendicular to the line...but that's not the issue here! I'm talking strictly about the position/angle of the pen body, and not of the nib! Mr. Fraser described exactly what I was asking about, but the video 'describes' the other way to hold the pen (in between the thumb and index)...so again, I'm baffled. Some people hold the pen to a very low angle (in relation to the paper), others at an approximate 45 degree angle (as Mr. Fraser described above)...and I wonder, do the rules for the oblique flex dip pen apply in an exact same way to a flex fountain pen?

 

While using exactly the grip Ken demonstrates in his photos, you can lower the nib angle considerably (relative to the page) with an FP or straight holder by rolling the flat of your wrist till it's parallel to the desk. (You will need to regrip at this point.) Your palm will be essentially parallel to the desk, rather than canted at the more usual c. 45 degrees*. Making this change has the other beneficial consequence of swinging the point to the right, simplifying the alignment of the vertical stroke (slanted or not) with the nib slit. This is a far superior approach than that shown in the video. (Note the white color of the tips of the writer's thumb and forefinger. The blood is being literally squeezed out of the capillaries. This grip is far too tight and will likely be fatiguing for most people.)

 

* This 45 degrees refers to the rotation of the palm and wrist, not the orientation of the pen. Rolling the hand to parallel can easily lower the nib angle to 30 degrees above horizontal, or 15-20 degrees lower than the conventional orientation.

Edited by Mickey

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I'm a lefty, I could never manage to satisfactorily flex overhandedly but that was probably just me - for flex I've just gotten used to writing underhandedly, which usually works fine as it forced me to write slower than my normal overhanded style

I see the problem for me was that I could not write well in an underhand grip going left to right but I can write comfortably going right to left (I have been using my Custom Heritage 91 soft-medium as my stepping stone to flex) meaning mirror writing... huh I will soon get a Konrad Ebonite just for more training
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