The craft of handwriting and how to bring it back with fountain pens

Cadence Loh
·Lifestyle Editor
·5-min read

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When was the last time you held a pen in your hand to write a greeting card or fill the pages of a journal? With our smartphones and laptops the mainstays of our lives, it won’t be surprising if you have not put pen to paper in a long while. Even journals and greeting cards have taken on the digital format.

In recent years, you may have noticed the increasing proliferation of intricate hand lettering, gorgeous calligraphy on handmade gifts, invitation cards, decoration at wedding receptions and recurring calligraphy feeds on social media. There is an increasing number of people returning to the traditional way of writing, touting the numerous benefits of writing and sketching with fountain pens.

Did you know that by using fountain pens, you are helping to save the environment? It's a no-brainer if you start to think of the use of disposable pens, generally made of plastic, versus the use of dip pens and fountain pens with their refillable ink. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 1.6 billion disposable pens are disposed of by Americans annually. And that’s just for one country!

What’s more, due to the shape of the barrels, those who use fountain pens also report fewer calluses and less wrist pain even for long periods of writing. And it gets more interesting, studies have shown that the act of writing helps one to retain information better. Best when you are doing up a mood board, goal setting or journaling. And you thought writing with a fountain pen stops at just having better handwriting?

There’s something special about using your hands to produce something beautiful, and learning calligraphy is a worthwhile hobby to cultivate. Not sure how to kickstart your calligraphy journey? We have tirelessly picked out the necessary writing instruments, books, as well as classes you can master the craft of handwriting. If you are worried that this might be an expensive hobby to pick up, don’t. The price of a fountain pen can start from as low as S$5. Check out the value sets below.

It’s time to embrace a world new world of calligraphy!

Your calligraphy journey starts here

Platinum Preppy Rainbow fountain pen, fine point 03, 7 colours, S$32.68

These pens are perfect for first-timers. At such an incredibly affordable price point, you can use this to write, highlight, colour and draw. The splendid rainbow colour set will surely bring a smile to anyone’s face. Cartridges are available for refills.

Platinum Preppy Rainbow fountain pen, fine point 03, 7 colours, S$32.68. PHOTO: Amazon
Platinum Preppy Rainbow fountain pen, fine point 03, 7 colours, S$32.68. PHOTO: Amazon

PILOT MR Retro Pop Collection fountain pen gift box with 2 refills, S$25.15

It is safe to say that everyone grew up with a Pilot pen. And which better brand to kickstart your calligraphy journey than a Pilot? This refillable fountain pen, used with a converter or cartridge, not only offers convenience; it also delivers a smooth writing experience, every time. Top off the premium brass barrel with hound’s tooth accents, high-quality stainless steel nib, and you have a clear winner.

PILOT MR Retro Pop Collection fountain pen gift box with 2 refills, S$25.15. PHOTO: Amazon
PILOT MR Retro Pop Collection fountain pen gift box with 2 refills, S$25.15. PHOTO: Amazon

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen + 5 black ink cartridges, S$27.67

The construction quality of a Lamy fountain pen is just one of many reasons the brand has become a must-have for fans. The ergonomics of this pen provides a balanced grip. Lamy’s are also known to be lightweight, hardy and very forgiving for beginners. This pen is a workhorse through and through, and will serve you well as a daily writing tool.

Lamy Safari Fountain Pen + 5 black ink cartridges, S$27.67. PHOTO: Amazon
Lamy Safari Fountain Pen + 5 black ink cartridges, S$27.67. PHOTO: Amazon

Sailor Fude De Mannen - stroke style calligraphy fountain pen, value set, S$37.41

With one nib angled at 55 degrees and the other at 40 degrees, this is a perfect starter kit where you can explore and hone your writing style while deciding on your personal preferences in terms of writing instruments. It works well for sketching too. Definitely value-for-money!

Sailor Fude De Mannen - stroke style calligraphy fountain pen, value set, S$37.41. PHOTO: Amazon
Sailor Fude De Mannen - stroke style calligraphy fountain pen, value set, S$37.41. PHOTO: Amazon

Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen, medium nib with blue ink cartridge, S$125.24

Meticulously crafted in France, the iconic Waterman fountain pen sits on top of any pen lover’s wishlist. Its sophisticated silhouette comes with a metallic blue finish accented with palladium trim. You will love its smooth, consistent pen flow while the slim design offers a comfortable grip even for long hours of writing.

Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen, medium nib with blue ink cartridge, S$125.24. PHOTO: Amazon
Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen, medium nib with blue ink cartridge, S$125.24. PHOTO: Amazon

Namiki Sterling Collection fountain pen, medium nib, limited edition Jaguar design, S$670.68

This limited edition, hand-wrought sterling silver fountain pen, is outstanding in terms of performance and looks. The jaguar design is intricately etched on pen barrel and cap and comes with an 18 karat gold rhodium inlaid nib. With only 550 pieces available, this makes for the best gift or personal collection every pen lover should consider.

Namiki Sterling Collection fountain pen, medium nib, limited edition Jaguar design, S$670.68. PHOTO: Amazon
Namiki Sterling Collection fountain pen, medium nib, limited edition Jaguar design, S$670.68. PHOTO: Amazon

Moleskine white large plain classic notebook [Hardcover], S$31.46

Who would have known that our love for paper never dies? There's something old school about having a classic notebook in hand and penning down your thoughts or sketching on-the-go. Splurge a little and invest in a hardcover notebook like the Moleskine. This one is for keeps.

Moleskine white large plain classic notebook [hardcover], S$31.46. PHOTO: Kinokuniya
Moleskine white large plain classic notebook [hardcover], S$31.46. PHOTO: Kinokuniya

Get your basics right

Here's where you can get started. Pick up this book where the author provides a step-by-step guide to the basics, starting with naming the different parts of a fountain pen to drawing items in your kitchen.

How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen: A Modern Guide [Paperback] by Usamura Ayano, S$25.63

How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen: A Modern Guide [Paperback] by Usamura Ayano, S$25.63. PHOTO: Kinokuniya
How to Draw and Write in Fountain Pen: A Modern Guide [Paperback] by Usamura Ayano, S$25.63. PHOTO: Kinokuniya

Wish to engage in some remote learning? Skillshare is the answer! The online learning platform has a range of classes for beginners and intermediate calligraphy learners. Pick up the basics, brush up on your techniques and in no time, you can even create handmade cards for your loved ones using your newly acquired skills. And if you prefer, you can also draw with your fountain pens. Skillshare is offering a complimentary two months trial now. Click on the links below to see lesson outlines.

Introduction to modern calligraphy using a dip pen and ink for beginners

Introduction to modern calligraphy using a dip pen and ink for beginners. PHOTO: Skillshare
Introduction to modern calligraphy using a dip pen and ink for beginners. PHOTO: Skillshare

Transform your modern calligraphy style one step at a time

Transform your modern calligraphy style one step at a time. PHOTO: Skillshare
Transform your modern calligraphy style one step at a time. PHOTO: Skillshare

Ink drawing techniques: Brush, nib and pen style

Ink drawing techniques: Brush, nib and pen style. PHOTO: Skillshare
Ink drawing techniques: Brush, nib and pen style. PHOTO: Skillshare

Now you are well on your way to developing a brand new skill. Happy calligraphy writing!