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Remembering Basic Principles

Posted by Dirck on 23 June, 2011

I wrote some time ago about my dislike of pens which are extremely thin and extremely heavy.  I have not altogether retreated from this position, as I still think it’s a sign that the pen in question is being considered more in terms of looks than performance, but I have worked out a modus vivendi.  Between a recent FPN discussion about the weight of pens and my own reworking of my website, I had a tiny, flickering epiphany.

From the discussion– people who like heavy pens feel that the work of keeping the pen in contact with the page is being done for them by gravity.

From my own work– a reminder of the basic priciples of penmanship.  With the modern tripod grip, as German school pens are trying to enforce, the middle finger supports from beneath, while the thumb and index fingers lie on the upper quadrants of the section.  However, an older mode of grip sees the touch-points rotated, so the index finger lies right along the top centre-line, while thumb and middle-finger act as more of a cradle.  Not only is this a historically valid way to deal with a very slender writing instrument, it’s one I have used and enjoyed myself:

Not only does it make a flex pen work better, it removes the urge to try to hold up the pen, an urge which leads to pinching the pen firmly.  I selected today’s pen to enforce a real-world trial of this notion, and I’m happy to report that it allows the use of a foolishly overweight yet slender pen without any agony.

Proving that, with great provocation and long deliberation, I can remember stuff I already knew.  Sad.

Today’s pen:  Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink:  Herbin’s Violet Pensée


One Response to “Remembering Basic Principles”

  1. […] Other, less windy observations– it’s frickin’ huge, to one who is used to a more human scale of pens as appears in most vintage pens.  It is also relatively heavy, but not the sort of fraudulent heaviness I so frequently decry in modern pens.  The weight comes from the necessary thickness of material in the barrel (vacuum Sheaffers always worry me in this regard), not pointless add-ons and hidden ballast.  Its cap will post, and in fact does so very readily; it appears, despite maker’s suggestions that it’s not a good idea, to have been designed with the habit in mind.  I’m not sure how well I’ll adapt to the shut-off valve, a feature harkening back to the earliest vacuum-filling pens; the need to twist the tail a little to begin the free flow of ink seems very archaic, and given the performance of the Diamond series while flying (pens with a much less convoluted feed, too) it comes across as not just belt and suspenders, but little bit of tape around the waistband as well.  My great fear, the sharp-looking step on the barrel which the cap butts up against (yes, yes, a picture would be nice; how about looking at one on TWSBI’s site?) does not interfere with one’s grappling of the pen, at least if one is using anything like the recommended grip. […]

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