I read in the newspaper that there was a pen convention in town that lasted all weekend. The event brings together pen enthusiasts – particularly fountain pen collectors – to enjoy a weekend looking at pens the way that some people look at cars. Apparently part of the dialogue involves disappointment at the lost art of letter writing and the decline in handwriting as a serious affair. While this is not my crowd, I can appreciate those who are devotees of an obscure passion.
I was reminded of my occasional effort to use dip pens in art work. Once a year I give them a try again, hoping to master them but always giving up and going back to the sable brush. Although artists have used them skillfully for years (such as Charles Schulz) I have never been able to make them work. Here are my issues:
First, I can never find a nib that works as well as a brush. There’s the sturdy globe points, but they don’t provide much flexibility to create a dynamic line. The quill pens have a nice flexible point, but I can never handle them consistently and they are ridiculously hard to keep in shape (I always seemed to bend them while cleaning them even when I was doing so carefully.) I never felt like I had control over any of them.
2. I have never found an appropriate paper to use. One problem is that the ink tends to bead up on the page and it takes forever to dry compared to brushwork. There’s a high risk of smearing and you have to be deliberate about working in one direction and not going back. Plus the bead makes it very easy to suck too much ink out of the nib, creating a large blob of ink. Anther problem that I have with paper – surprisingly even with Bristol board – is that piece of fiber get caught in the nib and constantly need to be removed. I try to use paper with the least amount of tooth that I can find, and I still have to remove pieces of paper from the tip.
So I’ve basically given up at this point and will stick with the sable brush. Until next year.