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General Categories => Spencerian Script => Topic started by: Zivio on November 07, 2021, 06:13:59 PM

Title: Next ink to try ...
Post by: Zivio on November 07, 2021, 06:13:59 PM
I've just begun using pointed pen having practiced for a year with a fountain pen. I've learned from this forum that choice of nib will depend upon paper, personal preference and practice, so I'm rotating a variety of nibs through daily practice. 

Today's question is ink.  My first bottle is Higgins Eternal Black ink as recommended in Michael & Debra Sull's Learning to Write Spencerian Script. I'm needing to order more ink soon, so thought this might be an opportunity to try something different, just to learn. I've searched the forum for ideas but feel a bit at an impasse in even knowing where to start.

What might be a good starting place for a beginner? Should I perhaps just stick with the Higgins for now? Will it make all that much difference at this stage of learning? I've seen posts about diluting or thickening ink and now wonder if it's worth experimenting with that.   

Thanks for ideas and recommendations!
Title: Re: Next ink to try ...
Post by: jeanwilson on November 08, 2021, 07:06:34 AM
I taught for many years and Higgins is OK for beginners. Many students would already have it from previous classes. I would offer alternatives for them to try and most of the time, students would be thrilled with the progress they made after finding some more delicate inks. The easiest one is walnut ink.

I know from my classes with Mike Sull that he recommends McCaffrey's ink for beginners - but he probably leaves Higgins as an option )in his books) because it is so widely available. McCaffrey's is very popular with pointed pen enthusiasts. But NOT the GLOSSY black. That stuff has serious drying problems.

John Neal has a set of 10 McCaffrey's colors.
Use them up promptly and then you have 10 dinky dips.

Walnut ink is also dreamy with pointed nibs. You can buy it by the bottle, but I prefer the crystals and to mix it myself.

Ziller inks are pretty good - and a good option if you want water*proof* lettering on envelopes. But, it is acrylic based so you do not get the finest hairlines.

If I were stuck with only Higgins eternal, I would dilute it a bit with distilled water. Remember with any ink, if you work straight from the bottle, there will be some evaporation while the lid is off. Don't dilute the whole bottle - experiment with a smaller quantity in a dinky dip - or some other small container.

McCaffrey's and walnut ink are both *watery* and some people do not like the look - they prefer super dark black. I actually like the watery look. So, maybe some others will post suggestions for really dark black alternatives.
Title: Re: Next ink to try ...
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 08, 2021, 11:01:21 AM
I second Jean’s recommendations. McCaffrey’s Indigo and Norton’s Walnut Ink are my favorites. But McCaffrey’s black is great, too. It does go on a bit lighter with some shade variance and then dries a bit darker. I LOVE the shade variance. It adds a certain depth to the calligraphy. Give either a try!  :-*
Title: Re: Next ink to try ...
Post by: Zivio on November 08, 2021, 09:31:35 PM
@jeanwilson Many thanks for your detailed suggestions! I’m encouraged, especially, by your comment about other students’ progress after trying different inks. I’d honestly been thinking that it just wouldn’t make much difference for me and now am very encouraged to experiment!  Your mention of “dinky dips” also answered a question I hadn’t yet posed, but wondered about. I’ve been dipping direct from the bottle and besides getting more and more difficult to get to the ink, had assumed that the characteristics of that ink were going to change due to evaporation. 

I’ve read, with admiration, many of your posts on the forum – your experience, and generosity in sharing the same with us, is a beautiful thing!  Thank you, again, for helping me.

@Erica McPhee I look forward to discovering this “shade variance” of which you speak and trying out some new inks!  I’m so grateful that you’ve founded The Flourish Forum and remain so engaged in it for all these years. It has been such a tremendous help and inspiration to me! 

Many joys to you both,
Title: Re: Next ink to try ...
Post by: jeanwilson on November 10, 2021, 06:35:06 AM
I'm glad my comments were helpful.

As I have mentioned in other threads, I prefer to load nibs with a brush or pipette rather than dip.
It takes longer, but, it's tidy to not have any ink on the top of the nib.
With any bottle of ink that has a narrow opening, I use a pipette - so I don't have to transfer the ink into a dinky dip.

Even though I make my walnut ink from crystals, I make it in an old Norton's bottle which has a narrow opening.
Walnut ink is thin enough that I don't mind dipping it.
I pour ink into the cap - do the lettering - pour the unused ink back into the bottle and then wad up a tissue into the cap which will absorb any excess.

Some of the McCaffrey's inks can get some dried chunky stuff around the edge, under the cap.
I try to keep the threads on the bottle and the cap really clean and sometimes I put a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the bottle before I replace the cap so it is easier to open next time.