Jump to content
Classifieds is broken, please do not submit any new ads ×

Can anyone tell me a method to write properly with a fountain pen?



Recommended Posts

On 10/26/2021 at 2:34 AM, Chandon said:

Thanks for this. You made a very interesting point about the angle at which you hold a fountain pen. Received wisdom has it that everyone should hold a pen at a very shallow angle - something which I find very unnatural. There is also the issue of how "flat" your hand should be to the page. 

 

A few more things for consideration:

 

  • There are multiple schools of tradition regarding holding a pen. Palmer in the U.S. had one very influential and distinct style, and Spencer a different one before that, but even these canonical U.S. cursive styles admitted a wide range of practical grips. If you read Alfred Fairbank's "A Handwriting Manual" (available online) then you can see that his own treatment of the topic is very different, and, importantly, that the grip he advocates for specifically contradicts the advice of Palmer, because the two are aiming for different types of writing with different types of pen points. Briem's "Handwriting Repair" manual includes a nice historical treatment of different grips as well as some diagnostic considerations. 
  • It could help a lot if you could take pictures or video of your hand writing with a fountain pen of your choice. That would help identify what might be causing issues.
  • If you hold your pen at a near vertical angle, there are some pen points that are better for that than others. Large coarse/broad nibs with ball tipping and waverly nibs are both friendly to more vertical writing depending on the precise grind. A very wet fountain pen can lubricate the pen and mitigate some rotational issues.
  • If you have a tendency to "grind" your nib into the paper because of too much pressure, Lamy and Pelikan both make, I think, an A-style nib, which is a very heavy, stiff nib designed for school kids who haven't mastered pens yet. They are meant to be more able to handle the pressure and aggression of young hands, but that design might also make them suitable for hands that aren't attuned to more sensitive fountain pen nibs. 
  • A shallow angle is definitely not required or even something you might want, depending on the pen and the like, but I think some people emphasize this because if you go truly vertical, which is how many students learn to use a ballpoint (because it tends to be more optimal), then you start to exceed the comfortable range of a fountain pen tip more easily.
  • Fountain pens work best when you're gripping in such a way that your "pen stroke" naturally travels parallel to the. Many people have a pen stroke that travels in a downward arc, thus increasing pressure in the mid stroke. That tends to induce both rotation of the nib and pressure on the nib in the middle of the stroke, the combination of which can make pens write scratchy, move tines out of alignment, and cause catching. Alfred Fairbank treats this in his manual, as do others. Where you want that pressure stroke is under controlled conditions with flex nibs, but that's definitely not the writing you're trying to achieve.
  • You may also find that the right ink can make a nib write quite differently, so it might be useful to know if you have an ink that you're using specifically. 
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Chandon

    9

  • A Smug Dill

    5

  • arcfide

    4

  • DvdRiet

    3

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

17 hours ago, arcfide said:

 

A few more things for consideration:

 

  • There are multiple schools of tradition regarding holding a pen. Palmer in the U.S. had one very influential and distinct style, and Spencer a different one before that, but even these canonical U.S. cursive styles admitted a wide range of practical grips. If you read Alfred Fairbank's "A Handwriting Manual" (available online) then you can see that his own treatment of the topic is very different, and, importantly, that the grip he advocates for specifically contradicts the advice of Palmer, because the two are aiming for different types of writing with different types of pen points. Briem's "Handwriting Repair" manual includes a nice historical treatment of different grips as well as some diagnostic considerations. 
  • It could help a lot if you could take pictures or video of your hand writing with a fountain pen of your choice. That would help identify what might be causing issues.
  • If you hold your pen at a near vertical angle, there are some pen points that are better for that than others. Large coarse/broad nibs with ball tipping and waverly nibs are both friendly to more vertical writing depending on the precise grind. A very wet fountain pen can lubricate the pen and mitigate some rotational issues.
  • If you have a tendency to "grind" your nib into the paper because of too much pressure, Lamy and Pelikan both make, I think, an A-style nib, which is a very heavy, stiff nib designed for school kids who haven't mastered pens yet. They are meant to be more able to handle the pressure and aggression of young hands, but that design might also make them suitable for hands that aren't attuned to more sensitive fountain pen nibs. 
  • A shallow angle is definitely not required or even something you might want, depending on the pen and the like, but I think some people emphasize this because if you go truly vertical, which is how many students learn to use a ballpoint (because it tends to be more optimal), then you start to exceed the comfortable range of a fountain pen tip more easily.
  • Fountain pens work best when you're gripping in such a way that your "pen stroke" naturally travels parallel to the. Many people have a pen stroke that travels in a downward arc, thus increasing pressure in the mid stroke. That tends to induce both rotation of the nib and pressure on the nib in the middle of the stroke, the combination of which can make pens write scratchy, move tines out of alignment, and cause catching. Alfred Fairbank treats this in his manual, as do others. Where you want that pressure stroke is under controlled conditions with flex nibs, but that's definitely not the writing you're trying to achieve.
  • You may also find that the right ink can make a nib write quite differently, so it might be useful to know if you have an ink that you're using specifically. 

Thanks for this very useful advice. I only have/use two inks - Pilot Blue Black and Waterman blue. I use these in all of the pens as they are supposed to be good, everyday inks, and so I have a consistent experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites
A Smug Dill
18 hours ago, arcfide said:
  • A shallow angle is definitely not required or even something you might want, depending on the pen and the like, but I think some people emphasize this because if you go truly vertical, which is how many students learn to use a ballpoint (because it tends to be more optimal), then you start to exceed the comfortable range of a fountain pen tip more easily.
  • Fountain pens work best when you're gripping in such a way that your "pen stroke" naturally travels parallel to the. Many people have a pen stroke that travels in a downward arc, thus increasing pressure in the mid stroke. That tends to induce both rotation of the nib and pressure on the nib in the middle of the stroke, the combination of which can make pens write scratchy, move tines out of alignment, and cause catching.

 

This is roughly how I do hold my pen to write in English. (The positioning of my camera and tripod in relation to the table, and the placement of the notepad to get a better angle, made me sit at a slightly unusual and uncomfortable position while doing this.)

 

837264443_PelikanwritingsampleinPlatinumCitrusBlack.jpg.0f4f61ebe3ae5e30af356cc9fb22db3d.jpg

 

My grip is unschooled and unconventional, I suppose, and I certainly wouldn't call it ‘proper’; nor is my cursive writing particularly neat, though.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

This is roughly how I do hold my pen to write in English.

Shouldn't that be Esperanto? :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
A Smug Dill
3 minutes ago, txomsy said:

Shouldn't that be Esperanto? :)

 

Yes; and it doesn't make any difference to the accuracy in saying that's roughly how I hold my pen to write in English. :)

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

Link to post
Share on other sites

@A Smug Dill has provided a great example to look at. I'd say that's a grip that's pretty common among ballpoint pen holders. It's definitely on the high side of vertical, but notice that the angle of writing and the way the writing is formed will make sure that the pen never has to really get steeper than that angle, so you won't go over 90 degrees or even get to 90 degrees during normal writing. Compare this against someone whose hold might seem identical, but who holds the pen almost exactly vertical and has a more loopy, bold style of writing (I've known a lot of mostly female writers to do this), the combination of both of these things might mean that a lot of the writing might happen with the pen past 90 degrees. Just that difference could make the fountain pen feel worse. 

 

On the other hand, the size of ASD's writing along with the stroke directions means that the vast majority of strokes are going to be in that "most comfortable" range of the bottom 180 degrees of the pen tip. There's very little time spent on a direct nib-oriented up stroke. That will also make the pen on the whole feel a little better. 

 

Also, the hinge point where ASD holds the pen relative to the size of his writing means that he isn't stressing the arc of that stroke very much at all. That's going to make things work out pretty well. I'm sure the stroke would alter a little bit if the writing had to be a 10 or 15mm x-height, for instance. 

 

IOW, even at a sharp angle, ASD isn't stressing the writing range of the pen that much. Some pens probably still wouldn't write their "smoothest" at this angle, but as long as the control is there, I don't see how that would be an issue. Now, I doubt that this same grip and style would work if you were trying to write with a 8mm x-height using a 2mm sharp italic pen at any rate of speed, but fountain pens are generally more forgiving in their normal balltipped grind. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
brokenclay

Just chiming in with a "me, too!" on steeper writing angles. I write only in European languages, and hold my pen at about 80 degrees. I do have difficulty with oblique nibs,* and given that the OP mentions difficulty finding the right angle, I'd think that rather than recommending an oblique I'd recommend a classic ball tipped nib that is forgiving of angle, possibly broader rather than finer.

 

I agree with what's already been said about relaxing the death grip and not pushing down hard into the paper.

 

*I am also a left handed overwriter, which complicates the picture slightly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
A Smug Dill
27 minutes ago, brokenclay said:

I agree with what's already been said about relaxing the death grip and not pushing down hard into the paper.

 

One ‘exercise’ that helped me, albeit not designed or intended to rehabilitate my grip or improve my writing speed, is drawing distinct, parallel straight lines inside 5mm-square areas of the page. I started doing that frequently back in 2019, as a makeshift way of estimating line width (to evaluate nib tipping fineness and/or test inks' aptness to spread). It made me work very hard at finding the threshold of pressure it takes to make a legible, unbroken mark with a pen while trying to get the finest line out of a nib, until it becomes committed to muscle memory.

 

Where I used to think getting only 12 parallel horizontal lines out of decent EF nibs is normal and “about right”, these days I usually get 14 or 15; that takes more precision in placement, less downward pressure, and a quicker stroke (to reduce the volume of ink laid down on the page or, in other words, make the ink mark more ‘dry’).

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

 

One ‘exercise’ that helped me, albeit not designed or intended to rehabilitate my grip or improve my writing speed, is drawing distinct, parallel straight lines inside 5mm-square areas of the page. I started doing that frequently back in 2019, as a makeshift way of estimating line width (to evaluate nib tipping fineness and/or test inks' aptness to spread). It made me work very hard at finding the threshold of pressure it takes to make a legible, unbroken mark with a pen while trying to get the finest line out of a nib, until it becomes committed to muscle memory.

 

Where I used to think getting only 12 parallel horizontal lines out of decent EF nibs is normal and “about right”, these days I usually get 14 or 15; that takes more precision in placement, less downward pressure, and a quicker stroke (to reduce the volume of ink laid down on the page or, in other words, make the ink mark more ‘dry’).

Thanks very much. I found this and your video really useful. Much appreciated. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, arcfide said:

@A Smug Dill has provided a great example to look at. I'd say that's a grip that's pretty common among ballpoint pen holders. It's definitely on the high side of vertical, but notice that the angle of writing and the way the writing is formed will make sure that the pen never has to really get steeper than that angle, so you won't go over 90 degrees or even get to 90 degrees during normal writing. Compare this against someone whose hold might seem identical, but who holds the pen almost exactly vertical and has a more loopy, bold style of writing (I've known a lot of mostly female writers to do this), the combination of both of these things might mean that a lot of the writing might happen with the pen past 90 degrees. Just that difference could make the fountain pen feel worse. 

 

On the other hand, the size of ASD's writing along with the stroke directions means that the vast majority of strokes are going to be in that "most comfortable" range of the bottom 180 degrees of the pen tip. There's very little time spent on a direct nib-oriented up stroke. That will also make the pen on the whole feel a little better. 

 

Also, the hinge point where ASD holds the pen relative to the size of his writing means that he isn't stressing the arc of that stroke very much at all. That's going to make things work out pretty well. I'm sure the stroke would alter a little bit if the writing had to be a 10 or 15mm x-height, for instance. 

 

IOW, even at a sharp angle, ASD isn't stressing the writing range of the pen that much. Some pens probably still wouldn't write their "smoothest" at this angle, but as long as the control is there, I don't see how that would be an issue. Now, I doubt that this same grip and style would work if you were trying to write with a 8mm x-height using a 2mm sharp italic pen at any rate of speed, but fountain pens are generally more forgiving in their normal balltipped grind. 

Thank you. This was really useful. I'll test this out with a Lamy "A" nib.

Link to post
Share on other sites
A Smug Dill
15 hours ago, arcfide said:

I'd say that's a grip that's pretty common among ballpoint pen holders. It's definitely on the high side of vertical, …‹snip›…

IOW, even at a sharp angle, ASD isn't stressing the writing range of the pen that much.

 

The pen looks a whole lot steeper in the video than it actually is, because the camera is shooting from high up and from the ‘wrong’ perspective off the side. I did that to show the ink marks as they get put on the page, and just for fun, the colour difference between a fresh line of writing in Platinum Classic Ink Citrus Black and one that has had half a minute to darken on the paper surface.

 

See also:

https://www.fountainpennetwork.com/forum/topic/351043-brief-comparison-of-various-lamy-extra-fine-nibs-output/?do=findComment&comment=4274611

The positioning of the camera there was better for measuring the angle. I always rotate the nib 35°–45° counterclockwise when I write ‘normally’, so shooting from the 9 o'clock position in relation to the page does not depict the angle realistically; the camera should be at the 8 o'clock or 7:30 position.

I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present, when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable; and link to third-party content where I can, when I make a claim or refute a statement of fact in a thread. If there is something you can verify for yourself, I entreat you to do so, and judge for yourself what is right, correct for valid. I may be wrong, and my position or say-so is no more authoritative and carries no more weight than anyone else's here.

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, A Smug Dill said:

I did that to show the ink marks as they get put on the page, and just for fun, the colour difference between a fresh line of writing in Platinum Classic Ink Citrus Black and one that has had half a minute to darken on the paper surface.

 

It's always a good time when you get a chance to show off some Citrus Black. That's a really fun color. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Most Contributions

    1. amberleadavis
      amberleadavis
      37779
    2. PAKMAN
      PAKMAN
      30873
    3. Ghost Plane
      Ghost Plane
      28220
    4. jar
      jar
      26101
    5. wimg
      wimg
      25570
  • Upcoming Events

  • Blog Comments

    • Matthew TWP
      @Ruaidhri This was an absolutely wonderful bit of writing, and I hope that you're able to maintain the style once all of the medications are out of your system.  Take care and recover quickly!
    • Dr.X
      Very punny daniel
    • danielfalgerho
      These comments make me sad as I sympathise with Ruaidhri, having great difficulties in being taken seriously. Or being taken at all (no off-colors jokes, please!) In spite of overwhelming odds,  Ruaidhri -now I know how to spell it- made a courageous decision and stuck to it. I was diagnosed with a similar growth in a place I will not reveal. Oh, well, if you insist it was Mount Sinai Hospital. But I firmly intend to walk in Ruaidhri's footsteps, if he will let me, on my next visit to Dublin.
    • ParramattaPaul
      Reminds me of the day my associates and I developed a cure for all mankind's ills and mistakenly wrote it down with invisible ink.
    • AnneD
      Was that the end of the Laboratory? Somehow the exactitude created a fully destructive device, as always!
  • Chatbox

    You don't have permission to chat.
    Load More
  • Expiring Soon

    • By benbot517
      51 years and 10 months
    • By benbot517
      51 years and 10 months
    • By benbot517
      51 years and 10 months
    • By Okami
      51 years and 10 months
    • By Okami
      51 years and 10 months
  • Random Adverts

  • Files

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. alexamdz
      alexamdz
      (33 years old)
    2. allisonkl
      allisonkl
      (66 years old)
    3. Aredfalcon
      Aredfalcon
      (50 years old)
    4. Atilla
      Atilla
      (65 years old)
    5. Biohazard Hugh
      Biohazard Hugh
      (34 years old)





×
×
  • Create New...