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Ink recommendation for a newby

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Mike A:
Greetings all,
I've started my calligraphic life with a bottle of Higgins Eternal - which I've used with a dip pen, as well as using it to refill a pilot parallel pen.

There seems to be a huge range of ink possibilities - summi, walnut, chinese, gouache, iron gall... various brands and colours...
Any suggestions - or things to avoid - for my next ink purchase? Are some of these inks easier to use than others as far as the actual writing is concerned?

I do have a small collection of acrylic inks (Windsor and Newton and FW Daley Rowney) but I'm not sure these are recommended. I'm aware they do dry quickly so I would keep my dip pen nibs wet. I've no idea if they'd work in the parallel pen, but wouldn't risk it without advice.

Thoughts, suggestions, recommended threads or links all welcome...

Calligraphy Nut:
I have been using a lot of fountain pen inks with great success - brands like Noodler's, Diamine, Rohrer & Klingner, de Atramentis, Lamy, Private Reserve, J. Herbin, etc... Tons of colors and they wash out of your Parallel nice and easy.

Gouache is nice in a dip pen because it gives you a consistent opaque color where as the Fountain pen ink will be partly transparent and tend to shade darker where the ink pools heavier.

I would avoid the acrylic or any india ink in the Parallel as the nib will clog quickly and kill the pen.

Do you have any special requirements, Mike?  Super fine hairlines, say, opacity or waterproofness?  Are you likely to stick with the Parallel or would you entertain moving over to Automatic pens or poster nibs?  There are oodles of options, and someone to champion most of them.

I do think everyone ought to have a go with gouache at some stage since the possibilities are endless.  Since you're in the UK, a wander round The Works if you have one nearby should turn up a beginner's set for 3 to experiment with.  Apparently some people do use it in parallel pens - not something I'd try, but what the heck: maybe those folk like flushing fountain pens as much as I don't.  ;)

Hi Mike,

I think for everyday practice with dip pens, the two most popular are Moon Palace Sumi and walnut. Personally, I don't like the transparency (or brown color) of walnut. Moon is pretty much all I use. It never lets me down. Come to think of it, the only complaint I've heard people make of Moon is its smell. It reminds me of those puck paints I used to use in kindergarten. Maybe I should branch out more, but when I am focusing on technique and the letters, I don't want playing around with inks to be a distraction. Iron gall, I haven't tried, but while it supposedly writes really well, it is corrosive and the nibs don't last as long. I have a bunch of acrylics as well. They work, but can be finicky and I find i have to dip frequently, which breaks my line. Sumi just flows so nicely! It really is a dream. As for the Parallel, I cannot advise. I am just starting out with that one myself. :)

I'm a newbie, too, and I've just started to realize that the kind of ink I like with my dip pens depends on the paper and nib I'm using.  For the Rhodia pads and Mitchell Roundhand nibs, I'm pretty happy with the Windsor & Newton black ink.  For some reason, the colored ones don't work as well in the Mitchell nibs for me on Rhodia paper.  For the colored Windsor & Newton and for Dr. Ph Martin's Bombay India Inks, I prefer the Brause nibs with the Rhodia paper.  I've gotten an inexpensive set of goache to play with, but haven't tried it yet.

Speaking of paper, I've ordered some samples of onion skin and Conquerer paper from The Paper Mill to see if I like either of them as it would be cheaper to use those rather than Rhodia pads.  I also need to try the HP Premium Choice Laser paper that the pointed pen peeps all love.  I'm really hoping I like the onion skin, though, because I'll be able to easily see guidelines underneath it and can put off buying a lightbox for awhile.  :)


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