I have been at home in isolation with Covid the past few days. I am grateful to have contracted the virus after being fully vaccinated and boosted and that my body has a set of instructions on how to deal with the virus, resulting in a fairly mild case. TV, movies, and the internet all wore thin after the first day or so. There are also only so many postcards, letters, and journal entries one can write. I decided to turn my focus to another low-impact activity–learning how to write with a fountain pen.

As a child, my grandmother wanted me to learn calligraphy. While I enjoyed playing with the pen and ink, I never had truly consistent practice since the pen set was kept at her house. I bought a basic calligraphy set for myself during the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic intending to give it another go. I played around with it once or twice but couldn’t really focus on learning a new skill with everything else going on in the world.

I mentioned the calligraphy set in a conversation with a friend, who suggested looking online for instructional videos for calligraphy since it is quite helpful to watch someone else hold the pen at the correct angle and to mimic their gestures as you learn. I ended up spending most of yesterday going down a rabbit hole of YouTube videos on fountain pens, calligraphy, and cursive writing, and teaching myself to write using a fountain pen. One of the videos I found most informative so far is from gentlemansgazette.com called “Writing By Hand Matters! Benefits (& History) of Penmanship”. Writing By Hand Matters! Benefits (& History) of Penmanship - YouTube

One of the most interesting things I learned from this video is why my cursive writing is different from my parents and grandparents. They learned using the Palmer method, designed for use with fountain pens. I learned the D’Nealian method, which took the foundations of Palmer and updated them for use with ballpoint pens, beginning in 1978, which explains why I have a difficult time forming certain letters with a fountain pen, having learned cursive when I was in third grade in 1988 after ballpoint pens had taken over.

Gentleman’s Gazette also has an entire series covering topics of letter-writing, fountain pens, ballpoint pens, rollerball pens, etc., which are obviously important tools for those of us in the Postcrossing community! They discuss etiquette, how-tos, what not to do, and writing instruments from high-end Mont Blanc pens costing hundreds of dollars to disposable pens costing only a few cents in their videos. Pens Archives | Gentleman's Gazette

I hope other Postcrossers find these videos interesting and will share their favorite online resources related to these topics. Happy Postcrossing!

(I have searched the forum to see where this post might fit best. If this is not the correct place, please feel free to move it elsewhere.)


Maybe the handmade and stationary category might be a good place?
I moved it here.


Hi Daniel,

I hope that you are doing well and wish you a quick recovery.

I had received some calligraphy pens as a gift at Christmas of 2019. So, I decided to give them a try (unfortunately, I didn’t practice for long and kind of quit it).

Anyway, I was very interested in Gothic writing as I saw it on diplomas and many formal documents. I even learned to write letters quite well ( I like to think so). I found these video series really helpful - gothic calligraphy for beginners #1 - YouTube.

I don’t know about any more resources as I don’t practice it anymore. But, if you are interested there is are some subreddits related about these niches topics - https://www.reddit.com/r/fountainpens/ and https://www.reddit.com/r/Calligraphy/.



Get well soon!

You might find this topic interesting as well:


Hi there!
First of all, get well soon!

The D’Nealian method works also with fountain pens! This method is also used in our schools and we have to write with fountain pen. this is because it improves your handwriting (in the long run) Zaner bloser is also a method that people sometimes use

As @snailmailermk suggested, reddit has a few subs that have useful recources.

here is a Palmer drill and worksheet (more like workbook (47 pages))
GitHub - jtaby/palmer

When you would like to learn black letter calligraphy i recommend Blog - Jake Rainis He has useful tips and guides

this one https://www.nala.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Better-handwriting-for-adults.pdf i used when I wanted to learn to write with my left hand. It is not cursive, but it does have some tips for anyone that wants to improve their handwriting.

On my phone and tablet i use the (free) app ‘lazy dog calligraphy practise’ I use it with a stylus pen. it feels completly different than on paper with pen and YOU DONT WANT IT FOR OFFICIAL PRACTISE, but it helped me with some strokes i struggled with and to visually see how a letter is made.
The app has, monoline copperplate, blackletter, italic, basic cursive, comic san and spenarian. you can also print the alphabet and pratice them on paper.

there are many more recources out there. i suggest to just google whatever you want to learn and there are often a few (free) recourses available


Well, hello there! I hope you’re recovering alright, but until then… here are my recommendations. To be frank, the type of stationeries we use should not be our main priority as I find that pencil works just fine for practicing before inking of any sorts! For me, I prefer using Sarasa 1.0 pen for writing Chinese, Japanese and Korean wordings. As for regular Calligraphy, I like using the Fude Touch Sign Pens and Mildliner Brush. Anyways, I’m a sucker for Japanese stationeries and fountain pens too! Thanks for sharing your story! Another tip is to print out those instruction sheets and try them out for yourself or get square grid papers (they are awesome for precision writing)! This art is so profound that even the paper we use matters! Some people like Tomoe River, Kokuyo, Midori, Muji… these are just some suggestions. Have fun at it! :blush: Oh… when you master Calligraphy, have a go at Graphology too!

I specifically like this guy’s channel + the Japanese and Korean language is easier than Mandarin!


Get well soon! I’m glad that, if you were to contract COVID, it would be after your vaccination period… hopefully, your body is reacting the way it is supposed to!

Your calligraphy post has inspired me to give it another try. Many years ago in grammar school there was an offered calligraphy course that I took. I love it but my handwriting in grade 5 was lacking. I feel that I could make it much more beautiful with an adult steady hand!

Best of luck with calligraphy via fountain pen! Please update us with some samples of your progress!

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Thanks! I will definitely check it out.

Thanks for the tips! I purchased a “normal” Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen (from Amazon, obviously) and some Waterman ink and find that the D’Nealian method works perfectly find with those. It must be something about the calligraphy nibs and more watery ink that requires that “warm-up” rightward stroke to get the ink flowing.

I also splurged and picked up a vintage Waterman pen on eBay. It should arrive by the end of the day. I suspect I may have to do a bit of repair before I can use it properly, but I am excited to have it almost here!

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Thanks for the tips! It is interesting you mention Asian language calligraphy. I was reading the book called The Address Book recommended on the Postcrossing blog awhile back. It mentions that many Asian countries use block numbers instead of street and house numbers. The theory being that these square-ruled writing papers somehow influences not only the way people in those countries write but also their concept of space and geography. It’s fascinating!

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I would certainly encourage you to give calligraphy another try. I have really enjoyed experimenting with a few different pens and nibs and find that my normal handwriting is much more legible using a fountain pen than a ballpoint or rollerball pen.

I think today’s project will be printing off some of the practice sheets recommended by other posts and practicing with the calligraphy pen.

Several blog posts I’ve read also point out that learning to write calligraphy may influence your everyday handwriting, but often you are copying something that is already written, for example a quotation. Calligraphy is more like visual art practice than composition, which ties into a different part of the brain.

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The Pilot Metropolitan is a very good pen! Many people are in love with it.
What kind of paper are you using? I havent used Waterman ink yet, but some inks feather with normal printing paper. I really recommend Rhodia and clairefontaine paper. They are really good for its price! There are also lots of other options cheap (some dollar store notebooks) to expensive (tomoe river). This also depends on the country of course, but paper does matter (feathering, bleeding, bleed through)

With calligraphy nibs it is also possible that there is still a protective layer around it. Factories do this to prevent corrosion (rust?). While that protective layer is still on there, the ink doesnt flow as nice in the nib. So you have to ‘prepare’ the nib when you use it for the first time. There are several ways to do this, you might want to google it to see what works best for you.

I’m curious to see your new Waterman vintage pen! Maybe you can show a photo? :slight_smile:

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Hello! I hope you’re recovering well and enjoying practicing a new skill/hobby :blush:

I don’t have any experience with calligraphy myself, but I really love the Oligies podcast (interviews with experts in various fields, mostly science-based). Your post reminded me that there was an episode about handwriting and (forensic) graphology, though - I thought it might be interesting to you!


Since I bought the pen on eBay, here’s a link to the listing.

The pen just arrived in the mail and certainly needs a new ink sac and some adjusting. I may try disassembling it very carefully with the help of some online guides I found to determine exactly what kind of work it needs. If it feels out of my league, I will ship it off to some pros I found in my searches!

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Thanks for the recommendation. It definitely sounds like a podcast that is up my alley! I’ll have a listen to this episode and likely several others!

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I hope you have fun with it! It’s my favourite podcast. I think there’s an episode about postcards!

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I got brave today and tried using the vintage Waterman as a dip pen. I absolutely love the way it writes and will cough up the cash to get it properly fixed by a professional one day soon. Meanwhile, it writes beautifully as a dip pen. I am amazed at how much I can write with a single dip!

Best wishes for a speedy recovery! During the lockdown, like you I turned to online videos to learn something new or rather, refresh an old skill called calligraphy. Little did I know that modern calligraphy requires a whole new skill set and types of pens called brush pens! I am still learning, but grateful for the opportunity to stretch my brain by learning a new way to do an old skill. I follow KellyCreates.ca if you would like to check that out. Good luck with your new-found penmanship!

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Is there a way we could make this into a tag?

Sometimes I like buying from eBay old cards simply because the writing looks very beautiful. It can be that it is so calligraphical or so extremely written in cursive that I cannot understand it but I really don’t mind because it looks amazing.

I’m thinking out loud here but I think it would be nice to try and write a card calligraphicaly or using beautiful cursive or even with just beautiful, patiently written letters, what is generally called “good pennmanship”. Using a fountain pen could be nice feature.
Of course it would be nice to receive such a card as well :blush:.

I do understand that for some people “calligraphy” or beautiful cursive is their normal way of writing but I think it’s clear when someone makes a good effort to produce a beautiful handwriting.

Does anyone else like this idea?


Yes! I do think that like you said people might think different about the word calligraphy. But I like the idea!
If there are not many people up for it, we could maybe do a direct swap thing?