Can left handers use fountain pens? There are a lot of factors that influence how good or bad an experience a left-hander has with fountain pens. A common misconception is that left-handers can’t use fountain pens or that you have to get a special left handed fountain pen. The reason for this myth being, that years ago fountain pen nibs were softer than the new steel nibs, and because lefties have a tendency to push the pen across the page, the tines would separate and splatter ink all over the page. This isn’t the case anymore with the advent of steel nibs, they are more rigid so less likely for the tines to separate.
How good your experience with fountain pens as a left hander depends on a few different factors. The first is how you position your hand when you are writing. There are so many types of left handed writers out there with their own style or type of writing, I am going to concentrate on two main types of left handed writers, the over writer and the under writer.
The over writers tend to write with their hand at a sharp angle over the top of the line of writing and drag their hand through the wet ink leading to ink on palms and shirt cuffs. If you are one of these left handers don’t despair there is help for you and you won’t need a left handed fountain pen. If you are happy with this style of writing my tip for you would be to try to position the pen so that there is a space between the bottom of your palm and the wet ink. This gives the ink time and space to dry. The following image is one of Barack Obama doing just that positioning the pen so that there is a space between the bottom of his palm and the wet ink.
Or if you really can’t make over writing work for you and your fountain pen, you could try underwriting. Underwriting is basically a mirror image of how a right hander positions their hand to write. Underwriters don’t tend to have a problem with smudging the ink but they tend to hold the pen at a sharper angle and because they are pushing the pen across the page they are more likely to tear the paper with the nib.
A tip that is useful for this type of writer is to decrease the angle of the pen to about 45 degrees, tilt your head away from your writing hand to get a better view of what you have written and also tilt your page to the right. The following image is a picture of an underwriting left hander. You can see that the pen is held at a low angle to the page and that her head is tipped slightly to the right away from the page. Also her paper is at an almost 90 degree angle which may help keeping your hand out of the ink.
Pen To Paper Contact
When it comes to fountain pens, it doesn’t matter which hand you use a fountain pen works best if the end of the nib is making full contact with the paper. If the fountain pen isn’t making the right contact then it will not write well at all. This is fixed by as mentioned, correcting the angle you are holding your pen and also changing the angle the paper is laying at, either left or right so as your hand gets at the right place for full contact of the nib.
There are other things you can do to minimise the smudging if you’re a leftie. The first most obvious is the type of paper you use. The problem with most fountain pen friendly paper, for a leftie, is that it isn’t very absorbent. So the ink takes longer to dry on top of the paper instead of sinking in. Normal copy paper or cheaper more absorbent notebooks may be a better option for you if you are having this problem. It’s a matter of experimenting with brands to find what looks the best to you. We recommend Rhodia paper but experiment with a variety of paper to get the right fit for you.
Fountain Pen Nibs
The next thing you can do to minimise smudging is to change your nib size. The theory is that there is less ink on the paper to then have to dry, but there is also a trade-off with smoothness. Fine nibs have a tendency to feel scratchy even for a right hander let alone when you add pushing the nib and not pulling it like it was intended to do. Experimenting with different nibs can be costly so we recommend the Pilot Kakuno fountain pen as it is not expensive to get one in different sizes. This will then lead you to whether you choose a soft or a more rigid nib.
Soft nibs by their nature separate to allow line variation but when you factor in the nib is being pushed instead of pulled you may end up with line variation in odd places.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that you can get left handed nibs made for your pen also. I would only recommend this if all other tips and tricks have failed as it can be expensive and from reviews I have read they don’t tend to make much difference than a standard nib.
The final thing to consider is inks. Some inks have faster drying times than others. My recommendations would be the Pilot Iroshizuku range of inks and also the Noodler inks as first ports of call when finding a fast drying ink. Have a look at this blog Mountain of Ink for reviews about fast drying inks.
So that is about all the information I have for left handed fountain pen users. I hope you have found this post helpful in some way on your fountain pen journey and remember use your good stationery all the time not just for good.
Trivia about Left-Handers
Left-handers are generally more capable of using their right hand for tasks than right-handers are using their left hand. Also males are 30% more likely to be left-handed than females.
A list of famous left-handers
Leonardo Da Vinci – renowned for keeping a notebook with all his inventions