Fountain Pen Derring-Do

I believe that the most important single thing,
beyond discipline and creativity,
is daring to dare.
〜 Maya Angelou

We have been talking about how fountain pens are among the best-performing writing instruments that we can have. For most of us though, they have transcended their status from mere tools to become invaluable companions as we journey through life. They have stayed with us ー from everyday lists, tedious notes, sudden poetry, quick sketches, to journal entries ー and bore witness to the transformation of thoughts and emotions, of ourselves, onto the paper. It is no wonder that we are so passionate about our pens.


Beyond Function

When a fountain pen is perceived to be more than just a lovely, useful object and becomes an extension or reflection of ourselves, it gains a deeper, more unique value beyond the esteem of its price or brand. Herein lies the connection we have with our pens. It can be called sentiment, but it goes beyond that. It is the totality of the experiences we have with these personal articles that elevate them beyond the material. Ask any fountain pen enthusiast, and see their eyes light up as they share stories about their pens, with their pens.


Those Who Dare

“Be careful with your pens!” is one of the prominent snippets of advice that beginners receive from more experienced members of the community. On the heels of this follow tales of terror of uncapped pens dropping nibs down, of barrels cracked, or bodies deeply scratched as further warning. So we learn to exercise caution with our pens — the requisite cleaning and maintenance of fountain pens, being mindful of the inks we load, and keeping our pens cozy and protected.


However, there are those of us who have taken their fountain pens into bolder situations as a way of deepening their personal experiences with their favorite writing instruments. They have pushed the boundaries of what is usually considered safe for their valuable pens. Here are some of them from Instagram — may they encourage you to enjoy your own pens in refreshingly fun, uncommon ways —



One of the guiding luminaries of my local fountain pen community, her multifaceted creativity has inspired me and other members in numerous ways — from ink art, calligraphy, to experimenting with fountain pens. More of her acumen can be found at Leigh Reyes. My Life As a Verb.



As “one of the de facto nib guys” of my local fountain pen community, he is usually swamped with requests for nib tuning and pen repairs. In the midst of it all though, he shares his wonderful photography of fountain pens, pen people, and pens in food.



Part of the triumvirate of, she shares her reviews of several pens and inks, as well as experiences from different pen shows. Her Instagram feed is a bounty of beautiful pens, creative journaling, and delicious food.



Along with the aforementioned three above, shares his prolific experiences through #pensinprecariouspositions. Presenting a feast for the eyes in his Instagram feed, we are taken on vicarious adventures with his beautiful fountain pens.


Alright, My Turn

In the spirit of daring and learning (and practicing what I preach :)), I decided to try being adventurous with some of my fountain pens as well. My pen friends gave me good pointers before I took my first steps with this kind of risky but thrilling behavior ;P —

  1. Use fountain pens made of durable materials, such as metals and hardy plastics.
  2. When using liquids — YES to cold or at room temperature, NO to warm or hot (unless your fountain pen can take it).
  3. The materials or substances involved are non-reactive with each other. (e.g. acids or alcohols, and your pen)
  4. If you are putting your fountain pen in liquid food, be careful to place it only up to the barrel with a fair amount of distance from the edge before it joins the cap.

Other questions that went through my mind before my attempts were —


  • Which of my fountain pens is/are not too precious enough to bear the consequences of my actions? (Haha, oh dear.)
  • Am I going to dunk my pen in food? (Then my pen should be clean enough if I’m going to eat my prop afterwards — and knowing myself, I would.)
  • Are my reflexes fast enough to catch my fountain pen? (I could use sticky tack, but I want to go all in.)



Final Thoughts

Even with just my first forays into these daring fountain pen experiences, it was thrilling nonetheless. There was a certain element of anxiety involved — particularly when balancing my pens —  since I truly did not desire to damage any of them. Afterwards though, there was a freeing sense of accomplishment when my attempts yielded success. 

The most meaningful lesson I learned from this exercise is this — when we go beyond the limits of what we thought was possible, with our fountain pens for example — we realize how much they have become a part of our lives and we grow to appreciate the depth and texture of our experiences with them.


Daring in itself rewards us with awareness of ourselves.



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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!

Author: Lekz


Lekz Umali

Hello Nancy. I’m also new to these food adventures with fountain pens. So far, I’ve tried ice cream and soda. I know some who have dipped their pens in thick soup, but not warm or hot, of course. I would think anything that couldn’t harm your pen, just in case there’s an accident. Also, food that’s not too greasy that would make it hard to clean afterwards.

Lekz Umali

Hello Lizzie. It’s a vintage Platinum Century Prime sterling silver pen. :)


What’s that pen in the last picture? It’s nice looking.


What’s food stuff resulted in an interesting result? I’ve pained with coffee and juices.

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