Before I start, I need to reveal to you a secret*. I am a fountain pen lover. Yes, that's right. I love using them to write and draw. I love the ritual associated with them - the filling and cleaning and care, and I abide by the credo, "DEATH TO THE BALLPOINT".
Where was I? Oh yes, I am very lucky to have received a pen from US "Nibmeister" Greg Minuskin for my drawing pleasure. A nibmeister is a craftsman who shapes and adjusts fountain pen nibs. In this case, Mr. Minuskin has taken a Japanese Namiki Falcon fountain pen, and ground down the sides of the gold nib to make it more flexible, thereby allowing it to create a more varied line.
Custom-ground nib - photo courtesy and © Greg Minuskin
A little history: In the early part of last century most fountain pens sported flexible nibs, as people cared more about penmanship and had a delicate touch. But with the advent of the ballpoint pen (grrrr) people got used to pressing down hard on the page. So when they started bending and breaking their fountain pen nibs, pen manufacturers responded by producing hard, inflexible, and unbreakable nibs for their customers.
Today, the Japanese are one of the only countries that really take pride in the art of writing, so it is no wonder that they also produce one of the only modern flexible fountain pens, although they really are nothing like the vintage American and British pens of the 1920's.
But onto the pen. While it doesn't quite have the flexibility and varied line of a vintage pen, it does have the advantage of being new. Old pens are fragile, and I'm generally not very willing to take many of them out of the house too often. This is not the case here, so effectively I have in my pocket a good, reliable sketching pen.
Now, I'm a mainly a brush guy. I don't really enjoy drawing entire illustrations in pen only, but I have been using this one to draw small, fine details, touchups and crosshatching (see here, here, and here and the photo at the top). It has saved me breaking out the dip pens, and gives a great result - the only downside being that I can't use india ink with it (india ink clogs up fountain pens - never fill yours with it). It is also easier to handle than a dip pen, as it doesn't have the sharp edge to catch on.
So, shameless plug time: Do get in touch with Greg should you be after any custom work on a fountain pen. He can even supply the pen, and he's a super-nice guy to boot. Be sure to head to his site at gregminuskin.com to see more of his handiwork, and tell him Sir Writealot sent you...
Thanks for reading, Anton
* Actually, I was outed a couple of years ago by my wife in the Sydney Morning Herald. Here is how it went down.