During the month of April we will bring you a series of articles contributed very kindly by various people, all around their love of fountain pens and how they started using them, why they use them and generally why fountain pens are something worth owning and using. To start us off we have had a lovely article from Maria Berry-Lee. Maria previously wrote for us as Maria Berry as she told the story of writing her wedding invitations in J. Herbin Stormy Grey ink. And so the story continues...
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A Love Affair – One Year On
I got married in Spring 2015. I was young(er) and in love and a year later, nothing has changed. I’m still in the honeymoon period and the romance is showing no signs of letting up. Of course I love my husband but I’m talking about my love affair with pens!
Last year, I decided I wanted to write my own wedding invitations. I watched a ton of Youtube videos on penmanship, calligraphy and lettering. As a devoted Bureau Direct fan already, I reached out to them for help. I picked a Lamy Logo with a 1.5mm italic nib (sold separately) and my ink of choice was J.Herbin’s 1670 Anniversary Ink in Stormy Grey. I was delighted with the results, which ended up in a Stationery Wednesday blog post.
A year has passed and I’ve been ruminating on how much has happened in that time. I’ve branched out with the pens and have incorporated them into my daily life. I use a fountain pen at work and I try to spend regular time on my handwriting. I recently completed a month-long challenge on Instagram, which made me more mindful of my own handwriting, whilst aiming to refine and improve it. It was a hard slog and not one I’d repeat but only because it took the thing I love and turned it into a chore. I’m glad I did it but I prefer handwriting and penmanship as a pleasure, not an obligation.
In the past year, I’ve acquired inks by Monteverde, Pilot Iroshizuku, Rohrer & Klinger and Lamy. I also have a bottle of unlabeled ink in a beautiful violet colour that came bundled with a vintage Ebay find.
All the pens I’ve picked up this last year have been vintage or second-hand. I have a pre-war Parker Vacumatic, which feels a bit like I’m tinkering with a classic car – I get one thing sorted and something else drops off! I have a funny feeling that one will always be a work in progress!
I have a post-war Esterbrook J Double Jewel with a skew nib that reminds me of an adopted stray dog – slightly imperfect but totally irresistable!
I’ve also picked up a couple of dip pens, which involve quite a learning curve! One of them is made from Italian Murano glass (not dissimilar to J.Herbin’s Spiral Glass Pen). This pen required a bit of TLC before it came to life but now I enjoy using it and even my teenage son has been discovered with it mid-flourish!
I’ve dipped my toe into paper too! I’ve started trying out different types of paper to see which ones work well with ink. I think my favourites have to be Clairefontaine and Tomoe River.
I think it’s safe to say I’ve truly falling down the rabbit hole with this interest. What started out as a necessity for my wedding has turned into a full-blown hobby. I’m still a total novice and always look for guidance and support from Mishka, who is Bureau Direct’s in-house Yoda. I’m looking forward to wasting oodles of time, researching (and saving up for!) my next unicorn purchase. Mishka recently asked me what my ideal pen would be – I managed to narrow it down to about 8! I’m hoping my next purchase will be a Lamy Dialog 3 in Piano White. I think I also look forward to developing and refining my skills in the hope that one day, they are up to the standards of my tools!