My name is Rob van Nigtevecht, Artisan Fountain Pen Designer and owner of PS Powerful Signature. Originally I come from the print and document solutions background. My wife is a Geordie who also makes artwork, she does Jewellery, felt work, upholstery, shabby chic to name a few. We live close to Newcastle, home of the Geordies. The Geordies have a rich past in industrial development and their own cultural style which I started to appreciate a lot over the years. You have to understand the Georgie language else you never understand their colourful humor! This is the place where the industrial revolution started fueled by the enormous amount of coal available. The North East is really a fascinating area from an industrial and culture perspective beside having a very diverse landscape.
I always loved fountain pens, watches and old machines for the shear beauty and elegance like the rose engines or Guilloché lathe's which are incredible complicated machines for engraving and shaping but also for penmaking. Some still exist and are worth a fortune. Even the latest English pound has been created with this in the designing process, the CNC machines and laser engravings still cannot match that quality!
One day I decided it is now or never to make things myself, for the joy of writing, scribbling and drawing with ink, which I do a lot with great pleasure. This gives a kind of peace which writing on a computer just cannot offer.
Writing with pen and paper is good for the brain. On computers we write, correct, swap paragraphs etc but it does not help to 'think ahead'. Doing that with a pen on paper would lead to recreating the whole story again and again to finally get a concise story. If you have ever seen those beautiful letters written in the 18th century, or even only 70 years ago, then you know that people invested a lot in writing skills and making concise letters!
Schools should keep this in mind too, learning to write with pen on paper has a positive effect on think processes still not well understood.
To celebrate the humble pen and ink, which gives us more than we think, I started to make them myself and wondered if it is for me possible to make them from raw materials, without buying pen parts. This except the Nibs and converters, that is a far too complex industrial process, it can be done but only at an enormous expense of time making. To make them fast enough you have to create machine parts, dies, create special cutters, understand how to work with rare earth metals (which are very dangerous if not done in a very controlled environment).
Making them my way
My business venture is a long term plan, no rush.
I create my own designs manually with attention to detail and, some may say that's daft, I still use a sliderule to do the calculations! The idea is to do everything as much as possible the old way, without computers or CNC machines, and then see how far I can push it.
It's kind of fun to use the manual skills only then to see the designs evolve. Besides that, most materials require a constant adjustment of speed based on sensing, sound, the way it peels off or a drill moves in. I don't think a CNC machine can do this without a great amount of waste. Even if things don't go as planned I can amend the design or reuse parts for other purposes.
To be different I experiment with modern styles and methods using a more robust design bringing out the wonderful textures and colours of the some no longer produced materials. Yet I try to keep them light to medium weight. There is no rule here, it's what you like most, some want a super light pen but notice that it transfers vibrations while writing, others a more heavy pen to dampen this effect.
I often start first with acrylic prototypes which I then sell at a lower price, sometimes I give them away to try out. After a lot of experimenting I developed my own very fine and yet strong and nice running threading.
I'm always hunting for exotic wonderful materials to change into pen's, a lot of these materials come from factories which no longer exist. Some try again to produce these materials after taking over the Branding and production rights.
Besides being a business and the love of making unique pens, it is a pleasure when people become happy writers.