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Thursday, August 13, 2015

FP101: Fountain Pens for Lefties



I started a Fountain Pen 101 Series more than three years ago, and ever since then at GouletPens.com we've been getting asked about doing one especially for left-handed fountain pen users. It's a great idea...but I'm definitely not a lefty! Well, we've talked to a lot of lefties and put together the best information we could (with some left-handed chicken-scratch to demonstrate). Enjoy!

Fun facts about lefties:

  1. Today is International Left-handers day: August 13! That's why we decided to launch this post today :) 
  2. Of the last 7 US Presidents, 5 are left-handed! 
  3. 10% of population that’s left-handed
  4. Why are they called southpaws?
  • originally terms for left-handed baseball players
  • pitchers traditionally face west, so a pitcher throwing left-handed would have his left hand on the south side of his body

Lefties are likely underrepresented in the FP world because of the challenges:
  • ink smearing
  • drag/rough feel on the page
    • challenges with certain nibs like flex or italic
  • potential flow issues 
Pushing motion more than pulling (like a righty would)
  • nib size will be impacted (based on drag/feel of the nib)
  • ink options, dry time/smearing
Pen angle matters
  • 45 degree angle is ideal for lefties or righties
  • coming from ballpoints/rollerballs most people hold their pens at a steep angle
  • lefties feel a lot more “tooth” with high angles in the push motion
  • try to drop that thing down if you can

Hand positions:

#1 Underwriter
mirror image of righty


  • mirror image of righty
  • hand does not smear overtop of writing
  • this position allows for most versatility in pen/ink choice
  • many writers with this hand position don’t have to take nib sizes or inks into consideration

#2 Side-writer
hand is in-line with the writing



  • hand in-line with writing
  • most potential for smearing
  • fast-drying ink is essential
  • smaller nib sizes are best (EF, F), though there will be a factor of personal preference here
  • flex nibs will be a challenge due to push motion
  • stub nibs can be used but might look odd due to the angle
  • turning paper to the left could help fix smearing issues

#3 Overwriter (hook handed)
hand is over the line of writing



  • hand is over the line of writing
  • still a potential for smearing, not quite as bad as side-writers
  • sometime exaggerating the “hook” can actually help prevent smearing
  • fast-drying ink helps
  • flex nibs are basically unusable
  • stub nibs actually emulate a righty, just coming from the opposite angle!
  • paper turning might end up being rather extreme with this hand position
Important!! Practice can change habits/experience
  • fountain pen will force you to slow down, practice intentionally
  • I’ve heard from lefties who found their existing hand position restricting, so they intentionally retrained themselves to be underwriters

Product Recommendations:
Personal preference comes into play with nib size, smearing vs. drag- for all lefties

Underwritiers: 
  • little special consideration is needed apart from righties
  • generally no smearing issues, most nib sizes work well
  • does present challenge with stub or flex nibs, may require turning the paper drastically

Side-writers and Overwriters:

Ink:
Pens:
  • really fine nibs for a fine line (may drag though): most anything Pilot, Platinum Preppy EF, Faber-Castell EF
  • avoid soft nibs, flex nibs, and stubs
  • some prefer medium nibs b/c they’re smoother
  • Pilot Metropolitan (fine or medium)
  • Lamy Safari with swappable nibs, EF and M
  • left-handed nibs: don’t bother, hard to find and most lefties say it doesn’t feel different than a medium nib
Paper:
  • Will really depend on your nib and ink choice, and personal preference
  • Rhodia seems to be a popular recommendation, but you might want faster dry time
  • Clairefontaine is even smoother, but dry time will be a little longer
  • Leuchtturm, Field Notes, Apica are slightly more absorbent
  • Goulet notebook sampler set
  • experimentation will be key here based on your nib/ink preference

It's worth checking out threads on Fountain Pen Network and Reddit for more opinions of left-handed fountain pen users.

Be sure to check out the other Fountain Pen 101 videos, and visit GouletPens.com to check out more of the products we featured here. Ask any questions you have in the comments below!

Write On,
Brian Goulet and the Goulet Team 

4 comments:

  1. My daughter is left handed and finds it hard to use my Lamy. This will be handy for her as she is the only leftie in our family. Thank you for posting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Mel, I am a left handed over-writer and love a Lamy, but couldn't use it until I had used another one for a while. I think Jinhao was too heavy, and the preppy too light. But both worked well to learn to use it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am an underwriter and the picture is not accurate. It is not possible to write with the paper straight like that. It has to be angled to keep from hooking the hand. This link is the most accurate link I have seen on line in regards to left handed writing.
    http://www.nibs.com/Left-hand%20writers.htm
    Thank you for recognising lefties!

    ReplyDelete
  4. The body of the lamy Safari is perfect for write handed people but really cuts into my
    Middle finger as a left handed person. Is there any way to twist the body of the pen to be more comfortable or would I just end up breaking the pen?? Thanks!!!

    ReplyDelete

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