How to Make Your Own Fountain Pen, from a Solutions Man

Ink on paper is as beautiful to me as flowers on the mountains; God composes, why shouldn’t we?

~ Terri Guillemets

Do you use Sumi ink?  Do you like to use other India inks, or Liquitex inks, or calligraphy inks?

I love Sumi ink in particular because the black is a deep, shiny black.  I love using it because it goes smoothly over all of the layers and layers of other mediums I use in my art.  I love Sumi ink because once it dries, it is pretty much smudge-proof, and the waterproof ink really doesn’t smudge at all…no matter what I use next.  I also love it because I have a terrible habit of rubbing my hand over whatever I have just put down, and it actually doesn’t smear.  All of you right-handed artists out there may not run into this problem quite as much as I do, but as a left-hander, I smear my hand across my own handwriting on a regular basis.  And when I turn my work around or upside down to write and doodle in different spots, I smear it all some more.

So Sumi ink is great for me.

I’ve told you before that I use a Niji Waterbrush filled with Sumi ink for doodling and writing larger text.  I have recently been playing with bamboo skewers dipped in the ink for smaller writing.  It works pretty well for writing, but Christopher was watching me and decided he could improve the whole idea (and once again giving me cause to be grateful for having a solutions-oriented hubby).

Here’s some pics of how he used a small pocket knife to score the tip of a skewer to give it a little trough, just like is on a traditional fountain pen:

1. Take your knife and start the trough about half an inch away from the tip.

2. Without lifting the knife, pull the knife towards the end of the tip, cutting a very shallow trough in the skewer.

3. When you finish the trough, you will have a piece of skewer that is still connected to the skewer towards the middle, but is not connected on the tip end of the skewer.

The little trough will hold a bit of the ink when you dip it into the ink well.  As you write (or doodle or whatever) that ink in the little trough will be what makes the marks.

4. Here’s a look at the finished skewer.

I have been playing and writing with these skewers and really getting lots better at figuring out the best way to hold the “pen”.  I’m learning where to hold the trough in relation to where it hits the paper and writes.  Last night, I was working on a sketch, and I started explaining to Christopher that the only hangup I have with the skewer is that it is so skinny that my hand cramps holding the thing.  Okay, I have one other hangup with it, sometimes the little hairy splinters poke my hand.

Christopher sat down with a pile of skewers and some tape and one of the altered skewers and designed this for me:

Perfect!  It may seem like an intensive way to get around just getting an actual fountain pen (I do have a couple of different pens and calligraphy pens, including some disposable pens), but it’s really about having a choice of instruments.  They all write a bit differently…and that gives me a variety of looks to my arting.

4 thoughts on “How to Make Your Own Fountain Pen, from a Solutions Man

  1. Pingback: It’s All About the Means | St. John Studios

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