Skip to content

Dip pens


25june00125june002I didn’t learn to write with dip pens – we wrote with pencils until we got to Standard 4 (year 6) and then we could swap to biros. But when I lived in Germany for 18 months at the age of 7 we had to write with fountain pens. Because I was a left hander mine had to be ordered specially and it took a few weeks to come. Rather than being red like the rest of the pens, it was blue. I have this memory that once, when walking home from school, I dropped it in the creek as I crossed the bridge. But that might be a false memory. I do remember loving writing with my fountain pen and its radiant blue ink. Surely I wouldn’t have thrown it away.

Here is a link to a giant photo of Quentin Blake and all the things he uses to draw with. He looks like he’s using a regular pen in this photo.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Burgess permalink
    25/06/2013 11:02 am

    When you were little Quentin Blake did a fantastic TV programme. He told a story and drew as he talked. It lasted just a few minutes, but the moment it was over every child grabbed pen and paper and drew and wrote. Off went the telly. The best sort of children’s programme – cheap to make, and ironically subversive.

  2. 25/06/2013 12:37 pm

    Quentin Blake’s illustrations are wonderful. So much energy in his lines. Have fun with your dip pen.

  3. 25/06/2013 1:52 pm

    Cool! I love Quentin Blake too. When I was in my twenties I had a set of Window & Newton inks for pens. They were in beautiful containers and were heavenly colours. At school I moved from pencil to radiant blue ink and my fingers were always smudged with blue. A girl in my class had a different (non standard blue and I envied its sheen. I loved writing with a fountain pen even if i got it everywhere.

  4. 25/06/2013 9:01 pm

    I have a big collection of wonderful Aerocolour inks I bought last year, augmented by various other brands and colours. One of the things I love about dip pens is that there are so many different nibs you can use. I swop around depending if I’m writing/drawing/filling in etc. I have a beautiful fountain pen I was given many years ago but it’s never worked well for me and I must get a new nib for it that will suit my hand.

  5. exkaroriboy permalink
    25/06/2013 11:34 pm


    Lovely post about pens. Like you, I hugely admire Quentin Blake.

    In your drawing, you show a right-handed girl in a desk with an inkwell on the left side, to suit a left-handed pupil. Huh?

    I have been showing the graphic novels you sent me (thanks, ta, great!) to all and sundry, to much admiration. Including a very bright 11-year-old boy who only asked what one word meant, lesions. So do you see them as designed for 12-year-olds and up?



    • Sarah Laing permalink
      26/06/2013 7:34 am

      Maybe! I sometimes give them to my 10 year old – the one who steals the pens – to see what he thinks.

  6. david geary permalink
    26/06/2013 8:48 am

    I still have a Parker 51 that I love writing with, but paper these days is so thin that you have to be careful it doesn’t go right through. And I recall my mother writing with one and blotting paper very distinctly. Blotting paper was also what we used to dry stamps that we had soaked off letters for our stamp collections. The first page of a pad in those days was always blotting paper. But, yeah, the potential for ink bomb weaponry was huge. And now I recall how our first desks all had an ink wells in them, at lease the hole where an ink well would go.

  7. Jacqueline Carter permalink
    26/06/2013 10:02 am

    Thanks for copying me in on this Ian. And just so you know Sarah (even though you don’t know me) my son (the 11 year old referred to by Ian) is always breaking my pens to make “pen poppers” (I think it’s something they do at school). But I’m afraid if I joined you in the progression to ink he or my daughter would find some use for that (other than, of course, its intended purpose!). Anyway, nice to read your blog and wish I’d looked at the novels myself…

  8. 26/06/2013 12:46 pm

    Synchronicity – this arrived in my inbox last night and this morning my 7 y/o came in and said ‘where are our dip pens? I want to draw with one’!! I said, what’s a dip pen?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: