My first glass pen was a souvenir from a friend. I no longer have it, but it began a low-key love of this alternative writing instrument.

Glass pens and glass-nibbed pens

From left to right: traveling glass-nibbed pens, crescent fillers with glass nibs, glass pens

Today’s glass pen is usually marketed as a calligraphy pen, even if most don’t write all that well. Much of that can be traced to the style of the nib. The ones with vertical grooves, which are deeper at the base then become more shallow at the tip, can’t handle ink well compared to the ones with grooves that go around in a spiral.

All glassy and glimmery

All glassy and glimmery

Crescent fillers with replaceable glass nibs were popular during the Second World War, when metal was in short supply and much needed for the war effort. These are both Spors pens – the almost vertical grooves work in this case, because these pens have a rubber sac inside the barrel to hold ink, and are not meant to be dipped.

Glass nibs on crescent filler pens

Glass nibs on crescent filler pens

One of the wonderful things about these Spors pens is the range of effects they can create with ink. They’re capable of very fine lines, but can also make wide, juicy lines when held almost parallel to the paper surface.

Glass nib, sideways drag

Glass nib, sideways drag

This pen photographs well, but isn’t a good writer.

Glass pen, blue ink

Glass pen, blue ink

It is, however, interesting to draw with.

Where do these leaf shapes come from?

Where do these leaf shapes come from?

These are traveling glass-nibbed pens. When not in use, they can be stored tip-inside-shaft to protect the glass.

Glass-nibbed pens for travel

Glass-nibbed pens for travel

I need more of these pens, but I can’t seem to find any.

Stored tip inside for travel

The Amazing Traveling Glass Pens!

The spiral grooves let ink cling, and somehow control the speed at which it travels to the tip. I’m sure physics has an explanation for this, as it has for most things.

Glass pen, red ink

Glass pen, red ink

The winner in the one-dip-many-words marathon is this traveling pen. I can’t believe I eked out 5 alphabets and a sentence with a single dip.

Wow. That is all.

Wow. That is all.

If you love playing with ink, glass pens make it easy to achieve multi-colored effects. Remember to swirl the nib in water and dry with a paper towel in between dips. This was done with a single glass pen, three open ink bottles, and bated breath.

It's an ink fiesta over here.

It's an ink fiesta over here.

  • http://peninkcillin.blogspot.com/ Peninkcillin

    These look great but mostly as collector’s items. I have a simple J Herbin glass pen and I only use it to test inks, nothing more. It’s very scratchy and the ink flow isn’t consistent at all.

  • http://inkophile.com Inkophile

    Leigh, you are able to get such nice effects with glass nibs. It’s inspiring. Time to renew my search for a Spors with an intact sharp nib. I can’t do what you can with one but it will get plenty of use and be great fun for lovely, flowing doodles. I wonder what could be done with a glass pen and watercolors…

  • Pingback: Pens, Ink, and a Firefly Link « An Inkophile’s Blog

  • Pingback: Pens, Ink, and a Firefly Link « An Inkophile’s Blog

  • Gentian

    Love the last piece, awesome work :) I should have probably gotten a Venetian Glass pen in Venice but figured I already had 2 that work well ;)

  • Gentian

    Oh yeah I forgot to say I like to draw using watercolor with mine :D

  • Pingback: Monday Grab Bag of Links … | The Pretense of Knowledge

  • Kathleen Malone O’Connor

    I prefer to draw with blown glass pens. I have several different styles. Regarding some pens whose tips are scratchy and don’t draw well, you can often correct that by gently rubbing it smooth with finest grade sandpaper. For drawing I like short straight shaft glass pens with clear nibs–the nibs on these feel like an extension of the artist’s hand. Lovely!

  • SamCapote

    Leigh, one thing I find frustrating with my glass dip pens is there are a number of FP inks that do not cling to the glass. I remember a number of MB inks, but there are others. I think it must be related to certain additives.

  • Pingback: Link tag Tuesday #66 – flyers, reading, writing and free films!

  • Artglass

    The best quality of glass pens ,long lasting and write for up to one page with a single dip come from artglass Australia in Eumundi, QLD
    Made by Wolfgang Engel, Australias No. I Penmaker and Glassblower
    Try one