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Operating pointed pen and ink - tips?


As some may know from previous of my posts, I'm brand new to using pointed pen and ink.  I'm grateful to the Flourish Forum members who have responded to my various questions -- I can go for weeks plumbing the depths of the most rudimentary of instructions!

My questions today: 

I understand that ink evaporates during use. I have recently started using Dinky Dips which have been very helpful and lessen evaporation because of the small surface area.  Do people like to add a few drops of water as you go, or do you just add more ink from the jar when the Dinky gets low?   

Also, during practice I'll notice that the nib sometimes starts getting a thickening layer of ink on it. Do you clean the nib regularly during practice, or just dip in clear water and wipe off every once in a while? 

I'm guessing both questions will depend upon the ink and possibly also nib in use but I really don't have a good idea on when ink needs to be diluted -- what to look for or how to know.

TIA for any replies!

You're right!

It depends on the ink type, nib and paper combination. 

I usually use fountain pen ink diluted with water.  This combination does not leave a big layer of ink on the nib after extended use.  The ink re-dissolve upon dipping.

The ink will dry out on the pen fast for certain type of ink and dilution rate.

It is good practice to wipe your nib every other lines or sooner to maintain a clean line.

Using other types of ink: acrylic diluted in water might require cleaning the pen on every other words.  You'll be judge of that.  Dry time is different for each type of ink and dilution.

Good luck and enjoy the process.

I agree with everything InkyFingers says - and can add a couple things.

For me, if I can see the buildup, that's when it is time to wipe.
As I have mentioned, I prefer to brush load, but if I wanted to dip into metallic inks, I would dip into plain water first and then into the metallic ink.

And let's hear from the potato people. I know there are people who stab potatoes - but I don't know how often. Maybe stabbing a potato prior to dipping would serve the same purpose as cleaning the nib. Or maybe too much stabbing would transfer starch into the ink.

I've also seen people stab sponges that are sitting in a container with enough water to keep the sponge soggy. That seems to act as a way to clear most of the residue off without stopping to pick up a wiping cloth and doing it by hand.

You probably need to reserve a lot of stabbing for the sturdier nibs. The delicate, flexible nibs probably prefer a gentle touch with a well-worn linen hankie.


As I am self taught and haven't had the benefit of personal instruction, every big or small tip is invaluable to me!  Thanks for taking time to respond, and for your many postings on this forum that have instructed, inspired and entertained me.

While I understand that experience with everything pen, paper and calligraphy related has so many variables, your rules of thumb on how often pen cleaning in terms of lines or words written, and comments on ways to wipe/clear the pen are really helpful.

With gratitude and wishes for peace and happiness,

Erica McPhee:
Hi Karl!

I like to wipe as I go every few words. Like others mentioned, I wipe when I can see the debris collecting on the nib. Also, once a bit more experienced, you will see start to see the degradation of your lines indicating you will need to wipe the nib. I just recently learned some calligraphers never wipe their nibs while lettering. But I have always done so.

In terms of adding water, I do what Jean does with metallics but with all the inks I use I dip into the water before dipping into the ink. For me, it creates a nicer hairline. Or just seems smoother some how.

One word of advice that has served me well over the years if you ever see a tiny hair or piece of lint on the tip of the nib - even if you have just dipped into the ink - wipe your nib! It is worth sacrificing the ink to prevent a smear on your work.  ;)


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