People sometimes ask me how long it takes to ‘break in” a new fountain pen. This is normally a hard question to answer, since a lot of it depends on the pen. Softer nibs break in faster than harder ones, definitely, and flexible nibs faster than stiff ones. Large nibs tend to break in faster than small ones, at least in my experience, but that’s purely anecdotal. And then a lot of it depends on you– the pressure and torque of your own particular touch, how much you draw with it, and whether you write with it as well. So I’m never able to answer that question with any kind of accuracy.
Until today. I noticed while I was inking all the figure drawings for reader appreciation week that the Rotring Art Pen (EF nib, what we generally call a “scritchy-scratchy pen”) I was using was finally perfectly broken in. It has been officially the New Pen for a while, but it’s no longer acting like one. For once, I know exactly when I started using it.
I’d brought this particular pen into service on a whim, out of my stash of spares, for no particular reason other than I missed having a proper scritchy-scratchy pen in the Coffee Cups of Doom and Art Supplies. And I wrote about it in the blog! A quick key word search discovered this post, from last December 12th, where I mentioned I’d started the new pen the day before. Somewhere between the middle of a December and the end of the following August, that pen got broken in. Since it’s a Coffee Cup of Doom (etc.) pen, I only use it for drawings of the day and some sketchbook work and very occasionally for writing if I happen to grab it first.
So a pen with a very small, fairly stiff steel nib, used most days of the week for drawing on inexpensive sketchbook paper, sometimes over pencil underdrawing, takes about 8 months to break in. This is hardly definitive, but it is a data point, courtesy of this weird little blog.