Fountain Pen Anatomy
Sketch by Alex Zonis
Fountain pens in Urban Sketching have become all the rage. Pen geeks huddle together at sketchmeets, show off their treasures and talk nerdy talk about “tines”, “feeds”,“converters” and other incomprehensible things that have meaning only to them. It is time to stop this and share the pen terminology with all.
Fountain pen is a complex tool with some ingenious engineering under the outer covers.
It consists of many components that come together to deliver ink to paper in a controlled fashion.
Here’s a look under the hood so to speak.
The most important part of the pen is of course the nib. The nib is world onto itself, they come in many varieties, materials, sizes and configurations, but all have common components.
Just a couple important points about the fountain pen nibs:
- There are several shapes of the tips that make significant difference in marks making. Tips can be round or flat, as in stubs and italics. Tips can also be bent, also known as Fude, for Chinese style calligraphy marks.
- Nibs come in different widths: EF, F, M, B, BB, 1.1mm, 1.5mm and others.
- They come in different softness: hard, soft or Flex.
- The most common materials for the nib are steel and gold, but other metals can be used for nibs as well.
The combinations of these characteristics can create a nib for every hand, style and technique.
The nib by itself would not be worth much if the pen didn’t have a system to deliver ink to the tipping point where the nib meets the paper.
These are the parts of ink delivery system:
And there we have it –
the fountain pen anatomy that makes a timeless tool for writing, drawing, sketching and admiring.
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