Over the years, I’ve become much more purposeful about how I spend my money, and I tend to research a product thoroughly before I buy. I've come to enjoy taking the time to find the most sustainable source and the best option. Sometimes research can be so rewarding!
I like to keep a notebook with to do lists and meeting notes. I love the feel of pen on paper, and I used to always take the free pens that are offered at stores and conferences. Pretty ones, ones with a stylus on one end, ones with nice ink… When I was first introduced to the minimalist movement, I started going through my desk drawers and it dawned on me that not a single pen from my overflowing collection brought me joy. Besides, the BIC pens I always returned to tended to break and run out of ink quickly.
I donated most of my pens to Seattle Recreative, a secondhand art supply store in Greenwood, and decided I wanted to invest in a nice pen that I loved and could carry with me. I wanted a more sustainable option than disposable pens since I wasn't willing to go 100% digital.
Once I started researching to find the perfect pen, I knew fountain pens were my answer.
Fountain pens have been around a long time and the right one can last a lifetime. They range anywhere from extremely affordable to a couple hundred dollars. I always say “buy cheap, buy twice.” Some things are worth investing in, and fountain pens are one of them.
I finally landed on a German brand that is well-established and well-crafted but reasonably priced. I found out they were sold at a store in my neighborhood. Kaweco pens come in the most beautiful colors and sleek metals that patina over time.
I selected a crisp mint colored pen and a set of blue ink cartridges, and started sketching.
And let me tell you, there’s no going back.
What I love about fountain pens is their compact nature and the smooth writing experience.
The ink flows across the paper, with a dreamy feel to every line. Sketching with a fountain pen puts the joy back into using a pen and paper. I break mine out to jot down an idea, write someone a card, fill out forms, you name it.
Fountain pens are significantly more sustainable than disposable pens. They're meant to be cared for and to last a lifetime, and they don't end up in the landfill. When I discovered refillable cartridges, I was sold. There's a converter for our Sport fountain pen and one for our metal Liliput pen that allow you to refill your pen from an inkwell. You can purchase a glass bottle of blue or black ink to refill your pen time and time again. You can also order Kaweco cartridges if you're traveling or won't be near your ink well for awhile. They come in a tiny paper box of six - the only waste is a 1.5 inch cartridge that lasts as long as a regular pen.
Fountain pens are great to travel with - the design has come along way over the years and they no longer leak or spill. If you take proper care, they’ll last a long time.
Plus, something about having one pen you’re loyal to, to carry around and tuck in your pocket is so nostalgic. I love that it fits in my tiny purse along with a few other essentials, so I’m never without a writing tool.
Finding the right paper to pair with your fountain pen
There is such a thing as “fountain pen friendly” paper. It’s a smoother paper that ensures you’ll have a good writing experience, allowing the ink to flow easily across the page. You can search for fountain pen friendly paper online or buy notebooks meant for drawing. A smooth “half coated” paper is your best bet. The paper also shouldn’t be too thin, or there can be bleed through onto the back of the sheet. We love the fountain pen friendly notebooks made of recycled paper at Sip and Ship, a fellow Seattle-based, woman-owned business that’s just a short walk from our Ballard storefront. If you want to know more about the perfect paper to pair with your fountain pen, this article gives a thorough overview.
How to take care of your fountain pen
Adopting a minimalist and zero waste mindset has changed the way I spend my money, and makes taking care of what I own that much more important. Once I decide on making a purchase, I have no problem sending a little more to get something that will last and be loved. In fact, I've found that when I buy something that's higher quality, I tend to take better care of it over the years. I invest in reusables as a vote for the kind of future I want to see.
You should take care to leave the cap on your fountain pen between writing, as it can dry out. It won't occur if you use the pen regularly and leave the cap on, but should it happen to dry out, simply run the tip under a tiny stream of water and it should start writing again with ease. If need be, blot it on a piece of scratch paper or a cardboard box or paper bag before continuing your writing.
I also store mine tip down so that the ink flows properly. The ink refills we offer are quick drying, making these pens all-purpose.
I kept my mechanical pencil and my sharpie for writing on jars (it scrubs right off with dish soap!). My boyfriend and I even have a grease pen for writing on fiberglass or doing boat projects. But the one that goes in my purse, and comes with me to work, the gym, the grocery store, big meetings, weekend getaways, long trips overseas? My trusty fountain pen.
Trust me, you’ll love yours.