Italic Nylon-Tipped Pens

By Sarah Lawson
Date Added: 17/07/2009


Contributors to this JOURNAL have complained in varied and colourful terms about their fountain-pens: they leak, they dry up, they blot. Inks are unsuitable or unobtainable. The points are wrong and must be ground down with sandpaper. One correspondent has suggested (wisely, I think) throwing the offending pen against the opposite wall. Any casual reader must wonder why we do not desert en masse to ballpoints.

Partly because of being left handed, I have hated fountain pens 'from an early age, although I sometimes still try, always unsuccessfully, to find a usable but inexpensive pen.

But now I have discovered nylon-tipped pens, and I have happily discarded all my fountain pens and inks forever. I have several pens now which behave exactly as the ideal fountain pen should. "They flow immediately, never blot, and never leak. The italic edge is perfect because I make it myself with a razor blade. When it becomes blunted, I trim a fresh edge.

I use mainly Tempo nylon-tipped pens, which cost either l0p or 6p, depending on whether you can find them on sale. Platignum Penline is also good and costs 6p but the barrel is not shaped so comfortably. I suggest first trimming off the rounded tip of the pen to give a flat edge. Then trim the sides to a chisel shape. Be careful to leave as much as possible of the point intact, because if you write with much pressure at all you will want to trim the edge several times. As you trim farther into the tapered point of the Tempo, the edge will become wider. If you do not want such a wide edge, you can easily slice away part of it. I suggest not slicing it too narrow - not as narrow as you might prefer in a metal tip - because the relatively long and flexible nylon tip should retain a certain width. Since either side of the pen can be used, I often make a small notch on one side to tell them apart. One side is usually better than the other, although sometimes you can write on both with good effect. To sharpen the edge, slice off the top plane of one side of the 'chisel' - it is not necessary to trim it on both sides.

I find it rather satisfying to trim my own pen edges. It is creative in a small way, and it reminds me of the early italic writers who carefully trimmed their quills to form the new humanistic script.