My Fountain Pen Backstory


*Today I'm going to an actual blog post (*gasp*) instead of a review, so if that's not what you are here for, we will be back to our regular reviews tomorrow. I was recently asked how I got into fountain pens, so here's my backstory. I will warn you, this is long, so grab a cold drink first and find a comfortable seat.*

Hello, my name is Kelli, and I have always loved art supplies and pens. Growing up, I would ask for gel pens and paints for every holiday and birthday. For years I was obsessed with Lisa Frank stickers and paper pads, along with their fun, bright pencils and gel pens. My middle school teachers hated when I would turn in homework full of twelve different colors of gel pen. I will say, though, writing chemistry notes in bright blue gel pen does make the content more interesting. My mom told me this week that she still can't look at a gel pen without thinking of me. (I was amazed when I searched for Lisa Frank on Amazon and realized that brand is still available. My inner nine year old is doing a happy dance).

Here's something important about me: I'm a very curious person, so I follow a very interest-based education style. I was curious about how to do hair-so I went to cosmetology school (I'm still a licensed cosmetologist by the way, and ran a salon, with a staff of ten stylists, for a while before I had my babies). I took flight lessons, because I wanted to understand how planes fly. I went to culinary school because my husband started becoming a foodie (and still is by the way). I went back to college to show my kids that education is important to me, and to set the right example for them. 

Here's another thing about me: I'm a very visual/mechanical learner. I learn by watching, and then by doing. When I was nine, I went to dinner at my grandparents house, and they had an oil candle on the table (the kind that is a glass container full of oil with a wick hanging down into it). I wanted to take it apart and understand how the wick stayed perfectly suspended in the oil. It literally bothered me for months. It bugged me so much that my mom got sick of me asking questions about it, and found me one for my birthday so I could take it apart and finally understand how it worked. 

I went to cosmetology school, and my teachers would get so frustrated because I wanted them to show me how the chemicals in the hair color interacted with each other, not just tell me they did and expect me to accept their explanation. When I took flight lessons, my instructor was horrified when I asked him to show me the engine and how it worked before I would fly the plane. I went to culinary school, and expected the instructor to explain the chemistry behind why a recipe needed baking soda and baking powder. I needed to understand how it worked before I could move on and master the recipe. I'm in school now to finish my Bachelor's degree, and I'm sure I drive my professors crazy. This is just part of who I am-and as soon as I understood how I learn, I was able to master concepts much faster. I'm a firm believer that education isn't just about mastering concepts, it's about learning how to learn, and how you learn the best.

October 21, 2015, a day that will live in infamy. I was up in the middle of the night, feeding baby number three, and was surfing YouTube to help keep me awake. I had recently become interested in dip pen calligraphy, but was annoyed with having to constantly dip my pen in ink. Any parent will tell you that it's hard for toddlers to see you playing with ink and not want to stick their fingers in it, so to save my carpet, and my sanity, I started searching for videos about different ways to do calligraphy without a dip pen. I came across a video by Brian Goulet, explaining about flex fountain pens. I'm a curious person, and a mechanical learner, so you can't show me a fountain pen, and not expect me to want to play with it, take it apart, and write with it. 

Here's a picture of my babies, to distract you from how long this post is. They are 2, 4, and 6 years old. 

Here's a picture of my babies, to distract you from how long this post is. They are 2, 4, and 6 years old. 

I made it a week of watching practically every video The Goulet Pen Company had ever done before I placed my first order: a Noodler's Ahab Flex pen and the set of shading ink samples (you can find the Noodler's Ahab here, and the shading ink samples here). Here's a link to the video about the shading inks, and here's a link to the video about flex pens.

I really liked the Ahab, but struggled with how much force it took to flex the nib. I thought it would be fun to have a fountain pen for everyday writing, so I of course had to order more pens. For my second order, I bought the Pilot Metropolitan in a rollerball, a fine nib, and a medium nib, along with a bottle of Diamine Marine ink. 

The first Pilot Metropolitan I tried was the fine nib, and honestly, I flat out hated the nib. I liked the weight of the pen, but the scratchy nib drove me crazy. I tried the medium nib and liked it a lot better. I still think the best way to learn about what pens you like, cheaply, is to buy a cheap pen, like the Metropolitan, in a few nib sizes and give them a try before you invest in a more expensive pen (and I still hate the fine Metropolitan nib).

I love the bright colors of the Pilot Metropolitan Retro Pop line. I wasn't crazy about the Pilot G2 refill that came with the rollerball, and eventually I switched it out for a Pilot Juice 0.5 refill, which I love. The Pilot Juice refill comes in a ton of colors, which gives you way more options than the G2 refill. 

Here's a swab of Diamine Marine, the first bottle of ink I bought, which has some amazing shading. I still love this ink, and I will get around to doing a review of it eventually. 

So, in a year and a half, I have gone from my first fountain pen, to writing a blog about fountain pen ink. You never know where a YouTube video in the middle of the night will take you-those fountain pen videos should come with a warning: watch at your own risk, may cause fountain pen addiction. 

Disclaimer: I purchased everything in this post myself, and all opinions and photos are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.