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I am a leftie.   I am in good company.   Over the years, I have found a lot of people at pen shows, the Fountain Pen Network, writing on the train, plane or in a coffee shop, and yes, the people who read and participate in this blog, are left-handed like me.   (FYI- Leah is right-handed, but we all love her anyway!)

Here is a list of notable lefties.   Both President Obama and Senator John McCain are left-handed.   Paleolithic cave paintings from France and Spain indicated our leftie ancestors were active in the arts over 30,000 years ago.   Studying a collection of so-called negative hand drawings on cave walls – similar to tracing one hand with the other – scientists found that some individuals drew their right hand. left-hand-writing

A problem common to all lefties is smearing of ink on the page and our hand. For years, whenever I would write   in a pad, notebook or journal–including Rhodia, Exacompta AND Clairefontaine–I would smear.   I had taken to writing awkwardly by lifting my hand up a little but even that wasn’t foolproof.

Finally, in desperation, I asked Sam Fiorella of Pendemonium what I should do.   She said:   “Get a pen with a fine nib.” I did, and the problem was 95% resolved.   But if I wrote too quickly, sometimes the ink would still smear.

I mentioned this to Chuck Swisher of Swisher Pens while I was at the DC pen show a few years ago.   He told me he had developed a smear-proof ink, using Rhodia pads for his product testing! The ink can be seen on his website here.

I tested the ink at his table, and I have to say it worked exactly as Chuck said it would: it doesn’t smear–even if you take your thumb and draw it across the letters.   I have personally recommended it to other lefties as an ink for us.

I have and use Noodler’s, J. Herbin, Sailor, Swisher and Diamine.   I love them all, and smear with them all. Except Swisher.

What ink(s) or pen(s) would you recommend for lefties?

7 thoughts on “Lefties

  1. Geez… I decided to go back to my roots and now, after 20+ years of holding the pen with the right hand only (taught to use my right hand in school), with about 45 minute exerceises per day, after less than a week I can write with my left hand just as I do it my right hand, except that I enjoy it even more! And I found I can do mirror writing, even simultaneously with my other hand.

  2. I can say I am a lefty, too. I do more things with the left hand than with the right. As a child I began writing with the left hand, but the teachers during that time didn’t allow me that and forced me to write with the right hand. But anyway, this is expected from the idiotic educational system. So I ended up writing with the right hand, but at the beginning my writing was terribly ugly for quite a long time. For most other activities I prefer the left hand (soldering iron, toothbrushing, shaving, painting, screwdrivers, spoons and forks, playing snooker, playing guitar, carrying things, using the phone) and now I am planning to learn writing with my left hand, as my natural inclination has been back then, and when I try doing it, it doesn’t feel that awkward as I initially thought. However, there are a few things I do with the right hand (or at least do equally well), such as using my keys and the remote control, playing table tennis, but it seems it is easier for me to switch a right-handed habit to the left hand than to switch a left-handed habit to the right hand. Interesting, isn’t it?

  3. I’ve heard that some of the oblique nibs offered by pen companies (Pelikan, for example) can be helpful for left-handed writers. An oblique nib is ground at an angle to accommodate writers who rotate their pen as they write.
    On a side note, I’ve met a few right-handed writers over the years who hold their pen in an overhanded hook; very much like how some lefties write. One such writer learned how to write from his mother- who was left-handed and that’s how she held her pen 🙂
    (For what it’s worth, I’m right-handed but my niece and nephew are left-handed).

  4. I turn the paper approximately 45 degrees clockwise. I’m an underwriter, and don’t have problems with smearing.

    Even though my hand doesn’t drag over what I write, I prefer inks that dry quickly.

    I enjoy writing with fine, extra-fine, and extra-extra fine nibs, but will occasionally write with a medium nib. My vintage nibs write finer than the moderns, except for the Pilot 78G, F, which is ultra-fine.

    All that proper posture we learned in the fifties and early sixties for good penmanship does help one write nicely and more comfortably.

    The recommendations for overwriters include using blotting paper, or putting a blank sheet over what one has just written, in order not to smear.

    A pen that suits one’s hand and writing style can make a lovely difference, as well.

    Karen, thank you for bringing up such a useful topic!

  5. Paper usually affects if I smear or not. Usually it’s the fact that I’m using cheap stuff or coated paper–but because I use noodler’s black, I just have to wait for it to dry, and I’m good.

  6. Another proud leftie here. I’ve smeared plenty of ink in my day, especially since I like medium nibs to mask my handwriting.
    The Swishers and Swishmix inks do dry very fast, and don’t feather on good paper. I’ve also had great results with some Noodlers, particularly Heart of Darkness. Other Noodlers and Private Reserve inks that smear at full strength often won’t when diluted, and the color is often indistinguishable at a 1:1 level.
    I’m an underwriter, so my first attempts with italic nibs looked pretty bad, since the nib was turned ninety degrees from “normal”. I’d have thin verticals and wide horizontals. My solution to this was to “hook” my wrist so the pen is at around 11 o’clock. In this position, the italic nib hits the paper at a better angle, and regular nibs can work a little better as well. A side benefit is that this moves the heel of my hand above the line I’m writing, so there’s no smearing. Even writing at a fast clip, the ink is dry by the time my hand gets to that point on the paper.
    It only took me a page or two to get comfortable with this writing position, and now I can switch back and forth with ease. My lettering is a little neater in the hooked position, possibly because it still requires a little extra concentration.
    Just a thought.

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