Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fountain pen revival



In 1979, a few months after I’d turned seven, I moved up into the Juniors. There were strange new things there: ring binders, a teacher who wore green crimplene and fountain pens. We were required to master both the pens and cursive writing pretty sharpish if I remember. I loved making little loopy lines to join the letters and writing whole words with a single stroke. I had been so keen to learn cursive writing that I had made up my own version in the months prior to moving into class 4. It was squiggly, nonsensical and a little embarrassing. I seem to remember I was told off for writing jibberish.


So began my passion for both ink pens and lettering. I love the idea of the ink itself, stored in a little detachable pot inside the pen and the links with quills and copperplate. I was fascinated by the pens owned by some of the other children in the that class. Their pens had squeezy bulbs and needed to be filled up from squat pots of Quink. Even then this seemed like rather exciting ancient technology. I remember having an urge to make a quill out of a magpie feather and burgle a bit of Quink to test it out.


I have eyed vintage pens in the past. My knowledge is scant but there’s no doubt they are beautiful. I worry about breakdowns and repairs though. I want to be able to write (and to draw). I have just bought a new pen. A Parker. It’s shiny and beautiful and writes so smoothly that it’s a joy just signing a cheque. The timing is good – I’ve just been asked to illustrate some fossils as part of an education project at the Sedgwick Museum. I’m utterly THRILLED about this and the ink pen and I have been limbering up. The fossil Megalodon shark’s tooth is quite something.


It’s fairly  rare that we write anything by hand nowadays. Bar the odd shopping list, form or cheque most text is typed. I used to have a clear style of writing but regardless of the pen I’m using my hand has become unsure. I’m determined to remedy that by breaking out my fountain pen more often.

Note: Apologies for the lack of posts around here recently. Life overtook us here a little which also meant I was unable to attend Nicky Grace's Pop Up Shop. Huge apologies to anyone who went along hoping to say hello. As ever massive thanks for every comment left here. They're so cheering x

30 comments:

Sue said...

I've been considering acquiring a fountain pen and a bottle of Quink (I like that name). I may ask for one for my birthday. There's a new book out all about handwriting called The Missing Ink, The Lost Art of Handwriting and Why it Matters by Philip Hensher.

Vintage Sheet Addict said...

Your art work is always so delicate and beautiful, hope life is calming down to a better pace now for you! Ada :)

Mrs. Micawber said...

I was just visiting a friend whose handwriting is lovely. When I complimented her on it, she got out a pad of lined paper and showed me how she was taught to write cursive (back in the 1930s). The children started by making page after page of even, repetitive loops and Os, and their handwriting was very sharply critiqued if it didn't measure up. Though probably dreadfully tedious, what good discipline for the muscles of the hand.

Many schools here in the States have eliminated cursive writing from the curriculum, which I think is a sad shame. How will the next generation sign anything? (Though I suppose we'll eventually use eyeball scans or something and signatures will no longer be necessary.) I should think that learning cursive would be good for the brain.

My style of writing has changed too - and I can no longer sustain long periods of handwriting as I used to do.

Your sketches are very lovely. Congratulations on the commission, and enjoy that fine Parker pen. :)

by Teresa said...

Hi Emma, another thing we have in common.. fountain pens! I have quite a collection of them. My first introduction to them was in High School, in "Shorthand" class. I use them to address my Christmas card envelopes and anytime I feel like writing. I also mastered Calligraphy.. have you tried that? You'd LOVE it! I have my 1st precious metal clay class on Saturday! I'll be thinking of you when I am learning how to make things with it. Say, I have you in my blog a while back.. did you see it? ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

Julie said...

It's a long time since I used a fountain pen and my first reaction was to picture the blob of ink that always stained my middle finger where the pen rested ;-) We were only allowed to use fountain pens at school, biros were banned for many years.

Many congratulations on being asked to make illustrations, very exciting! I enjoy pen and ink drawing but usually use a Pilot pen or similar. I hope everything is well with you and yours. xx

greenrabbitdesigns said...

I agree neat handwriting in ink is beautiful, unfortunately I could never master it as being left-handed I always smudged my writing. I found I had better writing with a Bic biro!!!!
Love the fossil drawings. :)
Vivienne

Rachel said...

I'm beginning to wonder how much longer I'll be able to write for, too. I write so little by hand, and my handwriting was never good to start with...

Magic Cochin said...

Gosh! I love that new pen :-)
My school fountain pen came out of retirement this year and is my pen of choice for writing complement slips and cards - it's a streamlined brushed steel Parker 25 - very space-age and very 1970s!

Lucky you getting the fossil gig at the Sedgewick.

Celia
xx

Thimbleanna said...

Oooh, I do love a good fountain pen. Your work is so beautiful Emma -- I do hope you'll show us more of the finished drawings.

Beth said...

Great news on the illustrations - that'll be huge fun!

I have 2 vintage fountain pens, a Parker Vacumatic (from 1939) and a Parker 51, both are beautiful and I've had one mended (which is much easier and cheeper than it sounds, with so many on-line shops these days) BUT the pen I now use every day is a modern Parker. Although I would still be mortified if I dropped it, or the kids got hold of it, I worry less and it never lets me down :)

Bethx (thelinencat)

Debs Dust Bunny said...

Your drawings are wonderful. I hope you share more of them with us. I know how you feel about those fountain pens. I love how they make writing mundane things a treat. I have been known to write the shopping list with mine, complete with scrolls and flowery doodles. : )

Twiggy said...

Oooo very pretty. Being left handed I've always struggled with fountain pens, but you have definitely got the technique mastered !!
Twiggy x

Anonymous said...

Beautiful drawings Emma. I'm in awe - I was always hopeless at art and my writing looks a blobby mess written in ink. What an exciting project to be working on. Enjoy the hols.
Alice Auperin

marigold jam said...

Lovely memory post - I still have the Waterman pen I used at school back in the 1950s although it needs repairing now which I keep meaning to get done. Nine had a lever on the side and filled a rubber tube inside although I did later have an up to date Parker which used cartridges. You can also still buy Quink - I have a bottle of that too!

Magic Bean said...

Fabulous drawings Missus P, happy half term to you all, Ax

Pink Milk said...

Yes, yes, 'squat' pots of Squink. That takes me back.

I used to love the look of still-wet lettering and can remember the smell even now.

You know, I think I have a fountain pen somewhere. I might just dig it out.

Love your illustrations.

Heather x

menopausalmusing said...

And then there is the pleasure of blotting paper....... does it still exist?
Lovely drawing Emma, sounds like a great project to be involved in.

dragonfly said...

I adore pen and ink. And lettering. Back in the day, when I was at college, we lettering lessons and all our signage had to be done by hand. I had to master the Roman alphabet and I loved the compass that I could fill with ink to get perfect curves.
In these more digital ages, I'm obsessed with fonts.
Oh, and my handwriting is now appalling ... I can barely sign my name!

Karen said...

Beautiful illustrations - my husband did a lovely drawing of our house in pen and ink but I found it difficult to master the basics on a calligraphy course I attended. Thanks for the achool memories it took me right back to being 7 again! Karen x

saffa said...

Really lovely illustrations going on here Emma, I really love your fossil drawing! I also love drawing with ink, but the quill and dip ink variety, but all are wonderful to use... Good luck with it all, its always lovely to see what you have been getting up to, safxxx

Frances said...

Emma, your new pen is a beauty, and you are obviously enjoying it. I very much admire your drawings.

I'm also a veteran fan of fountain pens, particularly Parkers. There really is something very special about the feel of an inky pen point moving across a page. You are inspiring me to clean out my favorite old Parker and find a new bottle of Quink. I also like Waterman sepia ink. And...yes, my handwriting deteriorates as time passes, but every so often I am re-inspired to improve its grace.

Best wishes. xo

angharad handmade said...

I resurrected my old waterman fountain pen over the Summer - it hadn't been used for so long the ink inside had completely seized up. It's such a pleasure to write with that I really want to make it more of a habit. I used to really enjoy calligraphy too, though drawing is completely beyond me! Your fossil illustrations are beautiful.

Locket Pocket said...

Beautiful drawings Emma! I never really mastered the art of the fountain pen and spent my days in secondary school being regularly covered in ink - I got through a lot of blotting paper! Lucy xx

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I'm a bit of a pen and ink geek, but I tend to keep that fact under wraps as folk look at me like I'm mad when I start talking about how to make oak gall ink or which might be the best paper surface for a given nib. Yet despite all that the only pen I ever have immediately to hand is a Bic biro ... I'm hopeless.

Loving the illustrations, what a great project :D

Rachel Lamb said...

Hello Emma
What a fabulous commission to take on - so exciting!
I used to love filling up my fountain pens at school with Quink ink, these days biros seem to be more what I use; I love to do illustrations with them.
There's something exciting about receiving a hand written letter in the post - just seeing the address written by a human being makes one curious these days.
Good luck with the illustrations and have fun using your new pen! :)
Rachel

Sue Rapley Art said...

Beautifully studied drawings and what a great opportunity to get with the Sedgwick museum!
I love using a pen and dip ink - black or sepia for drawing/sketching. It can offer great freedom as once you have made a mark it cannot be changed. You've certainly inspired me to use a fountain pen though. Loved the indigo blue Quink ink we used at school. We also learned Italic writing too... Another pastime to revisit?...

Moogsmum said...

What stunning fossil drawings Mrs Pebble :o)

I do love writing with a fountain pen, or rather I did. I haven't written with a proper pen and ink for years. I might have to dig out my old Parker 25 and give it a go.

My grandad had the most beautiful copperplate handwriting and always wrote with a fountain pen and my Mum's handwriting was so perfect, I used to love reading her shopping lists just because the writing was so lovely :o)

Thanks for bringing back some very special memories, Emma xxx

DeLynn said...

I love writing with a fountain pen! When I was in college I spent the summer in the United Arab Emirates. I became fast friends with a couple from England who were living in Oman. Rachael used a fountain pen and introduced me to the joys of writing with one. I still love to do so today.

Your illustrations are lovely! What an exciting project for you--thank you for showing us!

DeLynn :)

P.S. The necklace is on its way to its destination! Hoping it arrives on Saturday--I am SO excited! This has been a rough week for her and I know that darling wren will bring some cheer. :)

montres said...

love yours illustrations !

ginny said...

I haven't used a fountain pen for years. i too remember receiving my first one with much excitement as a child.
such beautiful drawings Emma x