Friday, October 30, 2015

Refillable Fountain Pens

Greg Shea asks: "Do you have experience drawing/sketching with a refillable old style fountain pen? (The kind where you draw ink into the pen to refill it, not the kind that uses cartridges). I'd like to fill a pen with walnut ink, so I can use it to to do drawings with addad watercolor. I usually use dip pens with crow quill nibs, but they can be a pain to use and to carry around."

I've tried a bunch of different systems for through-the-nib refills, including a twist-knob-piston type, the squeeze-bulb, and the lever-action on the outside of the handle. I remember using one called a Pelikan 120 that was popular as a drawing pen about 30 years ago, but I haven't seen them around recently. Many of the Chinese brands, such as Jinhao and Baoer are both inexpensive and refillable.

My favorite is the piston cartridge that comes as an accessory with Waterman pens, such as the low-end Phileas brand. You can get the converter as a separate item if you already have a Waterman pen. You can also refill the cartridges with a hypodermic syringe, which is cleaner than through the nib refills.

Previously: How to Refill a Fountain Pen

11 comments:

jeff jordan said...

Syringe works great with brush pens too.

Smurfswacker said...

I'm really curious to hear from people who have made these pens work. I love writing with fountain pens, but my success in doing finished artwork with them has been limited (to say the least). The main challenge has been finding ink that is both waterproof and non-clogging. Over the years I've tried many "artist's" fountain pens, e.g. the Osmiroid, but inevitably they've crudded up and died, even when I used ink specifically made for them. I also experimented with vintage fountain pens both pump- and cartridge-fed. I liked the line and ease of use, but I could never find an ink that would stand up to watercolor or erasure. Vintage "permanent" inks were, alas, permanent only in that they didn't wash out of your clothes if you spilled them. Too bad, because they flowed nicely.

I finally gave up and just used dip pens exclusively. Therefore I'm not up to date on advances in fountain pen technology. Any advice would be appreciated.

Wm said...

Eek! Walnut ink should not go into fountain pens of any sort. The ink is too acidic to be stored in a pen, and if you've made your own (as I do), there's too much stuff floating in the ink, which will gum up the flow.

Wm said...

Smurfswacker, the Noodler Pen company makes some very nice permanent inks, which bond chemically to cellulose when they dry. So, they don't goop up your pens, and wipe up off plastic, glass, metal, etc., with no problem even when dry. However, unless you have fairly absorbent paper, I'm not sure how good these are for art if you plan to do anything over the drawings. That is, they're designed to survive spills and attempts at forgery, not be good for art. I find they can smudge a bit, especially if the paper is heavily sized.

I have found the "Carbon Pen" from Japan to be a great art pen. It's a fountain pen, but uses a specialized black in which is truly permanent — once fully dry, you can erase pencil under it, and local watercolorists love it, too. The things are apparently in every convenience store in Japan, but they can be had from online sources easily.

Carol Berry said...

Same answer as the above, I love my Platinum Carbon fountain pen, I use the cartridges and the Platinum Carbon ink. There is a converter available. I try to use the pen every day, so I keep it at my work desk and I just throw it into my kit when I go out to sketch. This pen is not expensive and available at Amazon and at JetPens. I trimmed of the last inch of the "tail" of the pen, so it is the same length as my pencils. Nice thin line, waterproof after a minute.

Gina Lento said...

I use the Pen & Ink Fountain Pen and love it....it also has it's own ink you can purchase separately. I use the extra fine point and I find it more reliable than the more expensive pens

My Pen Name said...

I have a phileas too and I love the look and feel of it- though even the fine writes a little thick

I second noodler's ink black is supposed to be some of the most forge proof ink made. Noolders also make inexpensive pens designed to take their ink - i use those as my carry around- i would carry around my phileas but they are not made anymore and i have already lost one and broke one.. and only have one green marble one left!

Goullet pen company is a small husband and wive ran site that sells the noodlers ink and pens .....

Sara Silkwood said...

Has anyone tried Noodler's Ahab for drawing? I know the nib is "flexible" and I've been going back and forth about buying one to try out. Reviews for writing with it seem varied, but I haven't come across anyone who can say anything helpful about using it for drawing or sketching.

I've been trying out the Noodler's brown ink for drawing and I can't recommend it for painting over unless you're looking for some bleeding ( not a lot, but noticeable).

sketchbookblue said...

I use De Atramentis Archive or Document ink in Lamy Safari brand fountain pens with no problems when drawing pen and wash style - the ink is bleed-proof when washing watercolours over the top in my experience. I have black ink and brown ink but there are other colours available (I bought from Larrypost - no affiliation with them).

Wm said...

Sara, the Noodler's flex pens are insanely wet. If you're already comfortable with things like crow quill pens, the flex pens are similar, though they do require a bit more pressure to get maximum flex, compared to a good old Speedball 102. Noodler's pens are designed for people who are willing to fuss with their pens (you can adjust the nib location to change the flow, etc.), so if you're not comfortable with that, you might want to hold off.

Karen Winslow said...

Hi Sara. I draw with a Noodler's Ahab pen. Although I like to draw with it, it does tend to leak if it is left unused for some time in a horizontal position. You can adjust the nib and feeder to control the thinness or thickness or your strokes, as well as the ink flow. I use Noodler's Polar Brown ink, and it seems to be waterproof. I also draw with a regular fountain pen, a Pelikan 150, and I use a brown fountain pen ink with this one, which is not waterproof.