Fountain Pens are something which automatically feel like they’re going to be expensive, but that’s not true! Fountain Pens are better for the environment than disposable pens, more customizable, and they’re open for anyone. If you have ten bucks, you can buy a decent pen and get started with fountain pens!
Some people (like me) will end up dropping hundreds on pretty inks to go with the pens, but plenty of people have one type of ink that they like and one pen that is their go to. With the right tools, you can find a great fountain pen plus ink for less than $30 which will last you for years. So, ready to go on your fountain pen adventure?
Yeeees, let’s go~.
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Step One: Decide what type of pen you’re looking for.
There are all different kinds of pens that it can be overwhelming when you’re getting started with fountain pens. You can get fountain pens, refillable rollerball pens, or even dip pens. Dip pens are probably closer to what people think of when it comes to fountain pens and bottled ink. They look like something from the past. For me, I’m ride or die fountain pens, but all of them are great options. You can find the best type for you and you can even find fountain pens for less than $10 if you want.
Look around and see the different styles. Maybe you want a flashier pen or some people want something sturdy. If you like a heavier pen, then you’re going to want a metal one. But if you’ve got small hands, then look for resin fountain pens since they’ll be lighter.
Step Two: Choose the way you want to ink your pen.
There are two main ways to ink your pen. One is through ink cartridges where you get a little plastic cartridge that you snap into your pen. The other is through bottled ink and will either use a converter or eyedropper to fill the pen. There are benefits to both. The ink cartridges are convenient and can generally be found for any of the major brands like Lamy, Platinum, Pilot and the rest. They’re easy to swap in and out.
Ink bottles are my current favourite way to ink my pens. It gives you access to a lot of beautiful colours outside of the blue, black, red range and it makes my pens feel really special. For the best places to buy inks, I recommend checking out my post on online shopping for fountain pen inks in Canada. You can also do what I did at the start and buy some samples from certain retailers like Goulet Pens. They’ll let you try out a range of inks for a low price. If you just want to buy a bottle, I highly recommend looking at Pilot’s Iroshizuku inks (on Amazon for $39.00). They’re solid inks and that bottle will last you for a very long time. To give you an idea, most pens won’t use a full 2ml when you fill them up. And then that filled pen should last for at least a week if you write daily.
Step Three: Choose your inks!
If you’re anything like me, this is the most fun part. There are beautiful inks out there. If you want to stick with a cartridge, you’re a little limited, but you can still get plenty of different colours for your cartridges. You can get inks that sheen, or inks that have glitter, or multiple colours in them when you write. You can get normal drinks with brilliant colours as well. Just keep in mind that if you’re getting something with sheen or shimmer, you’ll want to do two things. One, use a medium or wider nib so you can really see the effect. Two, get some good paper (I’ll explain more below).
If you’re going for more unique inks, make sure you do a little research before you buy them. Mountain of Ink is a great resource and one of the first places I’ll check for swatches. Some inks will be wetter than others, some smudge more easily… It really depends on the type that you buy. Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink is notorious for being a wet ink, but other inks like Troublemaker are more dry. For an all around good ink, it’s hard to go wrong with either Pilot’s Iroshizuku inks (on Wonderpens for $30.00 or Amazon for $39.00) or Sailor’s Shikiori inks (from Wonderpens for $20.00 or Amazon for $29.00).
When you’re looking for inks online, be sure to look at some of the boutique stores on my online shopping list first because Amazon will be more expensive.
For an example of some of the beautiful inks you can get, let me show off my obsession with Ferris Wheel Press inks. They’re Canadian made inks in gorgeous bottles and for most of their collections I order on the first day.
Step Four: Choose your writing paper
Since we’re using actual ink pens, you might notice that there’s some feathering or that the ink bleeds through the paper. Maybe you’ve bought a sheen ink, but it just looks like dark blue. There’s no pretty sheen and you feel ripped off. Chances are that you’re not using good enough paper.
When you’re just getting started with fountain pens, you might not realize that paper can make a big difference. Fountain pens can write on any paper, but if you want the special properties, then you’re going to want better paper. This doesn’t necessarily mean the fancy paper from Indigo either.
The generally accepted best paper is either Tomoe River ($16.22 on Amazon) or Midori ($17.80 on Amazon), but anything that has a GSM over 90 will work. This means that recycled paper or the cheap school notebooks that you can get for a $1 will probably bleed through. If you’re writing on regular copy paper though, you should be fine! You just won’t get the pretty sheen. If you’re spending money on sheening or shimmering ink, then invest in good paper.
Step Five: Enjoy!
Writing with fountain pens can be something you invest in as a hobby or just a practical thing for you. It’s better for the environment than single use pens and there’s something nice about writing with a high quality pen. If you’re someone who loves to journal like me, experimenting with inks can be so much fun on its own. There’s a vibrant community of fountain pen enthusiasts as well. You only need to do a quick google search to find subreddits and forums where people will be happy to help you with any questions you might have.
I hope you find your writing bliss!
Feeling overwhelmed about getting started with fountain pens?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed about getting started with fountain pens, then here are some tips from my experience. One, pick a fountain pen that’s cheaper to start with like a Pilot Kakuno or a Platinum Plaisir. You can find all these pens outlined on my list of great budget fountain pens.
Two, pick a pen that takes cartridges. Cartridges are easy to deal with when you’re just getting started and take a lot of stress out of the experience. Once you’ve gotten used to having a fountain pen and want to find some new inks to try, then you can buy a converter and try some inks.
Three, don’t be afraid to just browse. Take a look around at the inks or window shop. I’ve learned a lot just by reading reddit posts or ink reviews. If you leave comments on the posts, people are generally very happy to help. Fountain pens are easy if you let them be. My baby siblings who are 11 and 8 use fountain pens for their journaling without any issues.
But! I was there to help them. So find a simple starter pen and get some cartridges for it. Don’t worry about the paper or anything, cartridge inks generally don’t have special properties like sheen or shimmer.
Do you have any suggestions or are there things you think I’ve missed? Leave a comment below. Or if you want more posts like this? Sign up today and never miss a post!