Pen Doctor: How to use Blotting Paper and Restoring Banana-Shaped Pens

Pen Doctor: How to use Blotting Paper and Restoring Banana-Shaped Pens

How to use Blotting Paper

Maribel Almeida asks: I have a packet of blotting paper and I do not know how to use it. I was just given a fountain pen and I infer that it is used somehow in the course of writing with a fountain pen. I just don’t know-how. I would like to know the proper way to use blotting paper if possible. I greatly appreciate any instruction or advice you can impart.

I’m sure you know this, but the purpose of blotting paper is to remove excess ink from a written page. There are two reasons for wanting to do this:

  • The obvious reason for blotting is to dry your writing if there isn’t time to allow it to dry naturally.
  • A less obvious reason is to prevent bleeding or feathering. If you’re using a paper with a finish that can’t handle very wet ink lines such as the monster strokes you get from a superflex nib, you can write a few words, give the ink a few seconds to set onto the paper but not long enough to begin feathering, and then blot the writing before going on. This is perhaps inconvenient, but the end result may well be worth it.

The use of blotter paper is actually very simple, but it takes a moment of thought to see why the right way works.

You’ll need to lay your pen down, or at least park it between your lips (never your teeth!) or two fingers (like a cigarette). Pick up the sheet of blotter paper with two hands and position it over the text you want to blot — but don’t just quickly press it down willy-nilly.

If you do, you can actually spread a very wet, heavy ink line (such as you get when you push a Superflex nib), squishing it like a bug and making a splat on the paper. Instead, lay one edge of the blotter on the paper, hold that edge gently with a finger or two, and “roll’ the blotter down onto the paper. This allows the blotter to absorb the excess ink in an orderly manner. See the upper figure.

If you find yourself blotting frequently, you may want to add a rocker blotter. to your writing station. A rocker blotter, so-called because it rocks back and forth like a baby’s cradle, is a small “platform” with a cylindrically curved surface. Attached to the under surface is a sheet of blotting paper. Most rocker blotters have handles, but some are designed so that you pick them up just by gripping the long sides.

To use a rocker blotter, you don’t need to lay your pen down. Just pick up the blotter, lay one end of it against the paper, and roll it across the writing you want to blot.

Restoring Banana-Shaped Pens

Israel Ben-Sinai asks: I collect Israeli locally made pens. Some of them were made from low-quality plastics, and I find many distortions, where the pen is not straight (it looks like a long radius bow). In other cases, the pen and the cap have shrunk differently and it is almost impossible to screw the cap onto the body.

Could something be done to rectify this problem?

Yes and no. It’s possible to repair some of these pens, but it’s risky and not always guaranteed success. This is a task best left to experts. If you want to try it, however, I recommend starting on pens you really do not care about; you are almost certain to ruin several.

Disassemble the pen completely, removing all of the internal parts. Insert into the barrel a closely-fitting rod of a material that won’t soften with heat and also won’t absorb heat. Heat the entire barrel just enough that it barely begins to soften but not enough that it sags. Gently roll the barrel, using the rod inside it as a mandrel, on a smooth flat surface that will not absorb heat. Be careful of the threads as you do this! The barrel will cool rapidly; you may have to repeat the operation several times to get the part really straight. Repeat the heating and rolling process with the cap. When you’re satisfied with the results, reassemble the pen.

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