Fountain Pens And The Long, Hot Summer


My fountain pens have grown annoyed with me. They get filled with colorful inks and then languish in the summer heat for lack of use. Even after winnowing the abused few to only five or six, they get far too little playtime to remain content. In fact since acquiring a laptop, and more recently finding my enthusiasm for writing in a journal on the wane, fountain pens do not get their due.

To shake things up over the summer, I’ve dedicated a lined, Clairefontaine notebook to exercising fountain pens. Nothing special save filling pages with alphabets and nonsense though I intend to explore styles of calligraphy as the days progress. Italics and flexible nibs will get the most time in hand since they need extra practice. First up is a Namiki Falcon SF with Diamine Teal. The Waterman pens are sure to follow.

Do you change your routine during summer beyond modifying your ink wardrobe? How do you keep things fresh in the sweltering heat?

Note: The stone is from the River Jordan and quite accustomed to summer heat. In fact it remains cool no matter what goes on around it. Food for thought.


  1. You sound like you are feeling guilty about neglecting your pens. I don’t find the summer weather changes anything with my pen activities. Like you are doing I write daily in my notebooks. I have 6 pens inked with different colors and try to vary in my books. Bet you will find your groove.


    • Not guilty at all, but wanted to share my use of Clairefontaine to perk up my routine.


  2. I love the idea of filling a notebook with nothing but play like that. Just swirling ink around a page is all I want to do sometimes and I feel a bit guilty like I should be writing instead of just looking at the ink coming out of my pen. (clearly I need to play around with paint again) I haven’t owned my pens long enough to think about changing up my routine, though I like the idea of having summer inks. I love the ink you are using and I am going to have to add it to my list. It looks like it has incredible shading. And I seriously need to get a few more italic nibs. (Goulet pens now has Lamy sets of nibs. I think I need to splurge)


    • Oh, my dear, do indulge. It is sooo rewarding.

      And when the urge to pick up a brush becomes too hard to resist, a small kit of watercolors and a waterbrush plus paper is all it takes. A Stillman & Birn sketchbook stands up well to water and some are good with fountain pens as well. So there is your simple kit whether for home or travel. The whole thing will fit in the clear, zipper bag that a pillowcase comes in or any resealable container of the right size. Easy, peasy.

      I can provide more enabling if you need it…


  3. I found Gina Jonas’s Finding the Flow: A Calligraphic Journal useful for adding a little direction to what I call “intentional scribbling”. Paper & Ink Arts carries it.

    Since I start perspiring in April and end in October, my summer routine includes pieces of 100# blotter paper to rest my wrist on. I also have one really fat fountain pen which is easier to grip after a whole day of holding on to bicycle handlebars.


    • And yet another calligraphy book I don’t have. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m leaning towards Calligraphic Flourishing by Bill Hildebrandt for a little inspiration in part because I already have it on hand.

      That’s a good tip for using a blotter. Why would you hold handlebars all day long?


      • Pleasures of self-propelled travel. I considered getting a penny-farthing (one of those antique bikes with the huge front wheel) to go with the Spencerian script I leave in B&B guest books but I’m under doctor’s orders not to get into a fatal accident anytime soon, and that’s one set of doctor’s orders I actually intend to obey. Plus I can’t manage the Victorian facial hair.


        • 😀 Which writing supplies do you take on your adventures?


          • Ah, a list, instrument of wondrous hypotyposis!

            Pens: a big fat Laban, vintage Parker 75’s in fine and medium, and a Lami Safari or two filled with colors from the current rotation, all Italic nibs. Atelier Gargoyle pen case (made of heavy Cordura; I’m terrified of being mistaken for some kind of executive). Two oblique pen holders, one with a Nikko G nib and the other an EF Principal. Extra nibs and a book of matches for nib preparation.

            Ink: McCaffery’s Penman’s black, current fountain pen black of choice, water, all in 1-oz. Nalgene bottles. Maybe a bottle of gold Spectralite. All in an Atelier Gargoyle ink sack.

            Other: homemade blotter book containing a folded paper towel and a hand blotter, +2.50 reading glasses (extra strength, so they’re more like a pair of magnifying glasses than anything I’d read with), postcard stamps. Notebook with one of those thin business-card-size magnifiers and another piece of blotter paper or two tucked in the back pocket.


            • You do travel prepared. Did the Safaris need tweaking or did they have good flow at first use?

              My mother’s old +1.75 glasses serve for magnification and have graced my desk for many years. There is no better tool for threading a needle or getting a close look at a nib, especially useful when a bit of debris has clogged the flow.


              • Be prepared! –Boy Scout motto. (I was never a Boy Scout.) Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance! –military maxim. (I was never in the military.) You are such a geek! –frequent comment. (I am a geek.)

                I’ve never had flow problems with Safaris, though they are a little dry. Not a bad thing if you’re using them to do the Sunday Times crossword.


                • Okay, Mr. Geek, I’ve only had flow problems with the italic nibs. The others flow well enough though the broad nibs are a bit on the wet side. Might be time to give a Vista italic a whirl with a colorful ink like J. Herbin Rose Tendresse. What a nice duo for summer!


  4. I really like the idea of dedicating an entire notebook just to pen play. I never would have thought of that, and I’m going to try it myself. Such a good idea. Thank you, Margana.


    • Welcome. Happy to enable my friends. 🙂


  5. […] My post on how to take advantage of a Clairefontaine notebook. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Amazing article. I love fountain pens. I have an Idea so that one can make a flex pen within 3 dollar. http://flexnibpenexperiment.blogspot.in/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Beautiful writing and good idea for a flex nib modification.


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