I can’t believe that in more than 35 years of journaling with pen and ink, I never used a fountain pen. For 35 years, I wrote without experiencing the fluid feel of wet ink on quality paper. I did not know the joy of the tactile differences among nibs, barrels, inks, and paper.
My husband gave me two fountain pens for Christmas in 2019 — a LAMY Safari and a Pilot Metropolitan — two models that in his research he discovered were good
gateway entry pens into the fountain pen world.
I fell in love with them both: the LAMY Safari for its inky flow and light weight, the Pilot Metropolitan for its precision and solid heft. I found every excuse to write just so I could feel words flow through these beautiful instruments.
I used ink cartridges in the beginning; I was intimidated by bottled ink. But as I browsed for ink cartridges on the Goulet Pens site where Brian had bought my original models, I was seduced by all the inks. Pumpkin orange! Cactus fruit pink! Caribbean blue, Amazonite green, Navajo turquoise, poppy red!
My writing world exploded. I can’t believe I went so much of my life using only blue or black ink!
Now instead of two pens that are limited to the colors that ink cartridges come in, I have six pens, each with a different barrel feel or ink flow, a different weight or texture in my hand. I love the TWSBI Ecos for the flowy nibs and because I can see the ink in the clear barrel (the white one was gorgeous when it was full of Navajo turquoise ink). I love the Lamy because it sits perfectly on my fingers and it’s fast; I can write almost as fast as I think with the LAMY. The Pilots help me write neatly, and I like their superfine points. They make sharp, clean lines, and I love the heavy metallic weight of of them. They feel classy.
It didn’t take long after I started writing with fountain pens, and especially with different kinds of ink, to realize that paper makes a huge difference in what a pen and ink feel like. I was disappointed to discover that my previous favorite notebooks, Moleskines, are not fountain pen friendly. Ink bleeds through the paper, making the pages messy and rendering every sheet one-sided, and it doesn’t feel good to watch the ink bleed through.
I’ve since tried a few different kinds of notebook, and have yet to find the perfect one. Clairefontaine paper is buttery smooth and is wonderful for the inkier TWSBI and LAMY pens — it flows so smoothly! — and I love the large A4 paper size (~8″x12″). However, the paper is also bright white, almost too white, and the Pilot Metropolitan nibs feel scratchy on it, like they’re too sharp for the paper. Still, I love the Clairefontaine A4 notebook for journaling and prompted free-writes; one page is the perfect size for a day’s journal entry or a single 10-minute write. Plus, given the amount of paper I go through, the Clairefontaine is the more economical choice at $14 for 192 pages (7¢ per page).
I alternate between the Clairfontaine A4 and the Leuchtturm1917 B5 composition notebook for journaling and prompted free writes. The pages of the Leuchtturm1917 are smaller (~7″ x 10″), but so is the line spacing — 7mm between lines instead of the 8mm of the Clairefontaine — so a single page of the Leuchtturm1917 can also hold one day’s journal entry or a single 10-minute free write.
The Leuchtturm1917 composition notebook is pricer at $24 for 121 pages (20¢ per page), but I like the Leuchtturm paper better because it’s got a tiny bit of tooth, meaning it’s not so buttery smooth. It gives me a smidge more traction when I’m writing, which means my handwriting feels more controlled. The paper is also ivory instead of bright white, which is much more soothing on my eyes, and the Pilot Metropolitans feel like they were made to go with this paper. I use a smaller journal sized A5 Leuchtturm1917 for my well-being journal that I write in every day.
My favorite paper, though is Miliko. It feels wonderful with all of my pens, with just the right amount of smoothness and tooth, and the paper color is a soft ivory. The only problem is that the bound notebooks I like only come in the small A5 size (~5″ x 8″). I use a spiral, hard cover Miliko notebook for my book journal and a softcover notebook to savor small moments.
I currently keep four different journals — one to log books I read, one to savor small moments, one for my well-being journal, and one for my daily writes. I think the reason I keep so many is so I have multiple opportunities to play with my pens, inks, and paper. I make up excuses to write just so I can see the pretty ink flow.