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Best Inks for Dip Pens?


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#1 tonybelding

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Posted 26 February 2010 - 17:42

Since I started playing around with dip pens and vintage nibs, I've found they are a lot more sensitive to different inks than fountain pens tend to be -- and a lot of fountain pen inks just don't want to work in them. The problem is that some inks don't want to "stick" to the nib. Rather, they tend to gush onto the page as soon as the tip touches it.

I found some nibs, and some inks, are much more resistant to this problem than others.

The two best nibs I've found for consistent ink flow are the Esterbrook 905 Radio Pen (which I only have one of, sadly) and the Francis Pratt 455 Gladiator (which I have a whole box of). One of the worst thus far has been the Esterbrook 788 Oval Point. I have several Esterbrook 442 Jackson Stub nibs that fall somewhere in between.

The Oval Point tends to blort a gob of ink onto the page immediately after it's been dipped. If I blot some of the excess ink off the nib, I can get it to form actual letters and words -- albeit very very wet ones that need blotting. After about two words all the ink is gone and it's ready for another dip.

One of the worst inks thus far has been Noodler's Eternal Brown. Even the Gladiator nib writes very wet with this ink, though it's usable. The best ink for dip pens that I've found so far is. . . (are you ready for this?). . . Baystate Blue! Even the Oval Point nib is usable (albeit pretty wet) with Baystate Blue, and it works quite well in most others. It's just superb with the 455 Gladiator nib: it writes about EF and is good for three full lines of text on a dip.

I'm not sure what quality of inks makes them work better or worse, but I can guess: a combination of viscosity and ability to "wet" the metal rather than bead and run off it.

I'm just barely getting started in this learning process, and I have a limited selection of inks (mostly Noodlers) to try. . . Can anyone offer suggestions of what inks work well in dip pens?

#2 ZeissIkon

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 01:05

Can anyone offer suggestions of what inks work well in dip pens?


Maybe it's odd, but just about the best behaving inks I've tried for a dip pen (including a couple Private Reserve and a couple Noodler's colors) are a black inkjet refill ink, which appears to be carbon particle based, and my homemade iron tannate ink (started with ten bags of Red Rose tea, a quart of boiling water, several steel wool balls, and a cup of battery acid -- really! -- though I've since added several tablespoons of homemade dextrin, obtained by baking cornstarch). For whatever it's worth, any ink will work better once the pen point is "started" -- some folks hold the point briefly in a match flame, or wash it with dishwashing soap and let it dry, both by way of removing oil either left from manufacturing or applied to preserve the steel before use, but the simplest way appears to be to simply lick the nib (yes, with your tongue), top and bottom, before dipping the first time each session, and then just dry with a (plain, lotion free) tissue or paper towel when finished. And, never, ever touch the tip or slit area with your skin; the oil will adhere to the metal and repel water (which includes ink, all inks are mostly water).

Since I've started treating my dip pens this way, they work pretty well even with Noodler's Black and Noodler's Brown (though they're still too wet with Private Reserve).

BTW, I suspect the reason Baystate Blue works well for you is that the alkalinity of the ink cuts the oils on the pen point.
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#3 Gran

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 01:09

My homemade ink isn't as fancy as ZeissIkon's. I used Mrs. Stewart's bluing, a little iodine and a drop of gum arabic.

Otherwise, I use Winsor and Newton. I don't know what's available where you live, but Hobby Lobby carries a couple of other brands, as well as the Winsor and Newton. With a 40%-off coupon, the price would be good. Other craft stores sometimes have calligraphy and drawing inks, and have coupons. Michaels and Joanns sometimes have 50%-off coupons. I didn't pick W&N because I thought it was the best. I was given a set as a gift. I like it just fine.

http://www.winsornew.../products/inks/

Ziller of Kansas City has wonderful ink:

http://www.zillerofk.../ZillerInk.html

And Herbin has drawing and calligraphy ink:

http://www.jherbin.c...alty_inks.shtml

Hope this helps a bit.

Edited by Gran, 27 February 2010 - 01:15.

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#4 BillZ

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 13:53

I purchased some calligraphy inks from Papier Plume in New Orleans. It works well for my dippers. They ahve a web site and if you order more than one bollte the shipping isn't a killer.
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#5 Geoff V

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 16:54

Of the inks currently available for FPs, the best I've found so far are Visconti (Blue, Green and Sepia), and Noodlers Black. I actually tested several inks and made a list of the results, but it's packed up at the moment. I use these inks with Hunt nibs and they work very well indeed for general writing.

The inks that don't work include Noodlers Zhivago, Aircorps Blue Black, Walnut and Red Black, and Omas Sepia. I hope that this helps.

#6 Chemyst

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 22:31

Check out the J. Herbin calligraphy line. It includes some interesting inks like a permanent document ink and an invisible ink.

#7 Russ

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 22:39

I bought a jar of Old World ink, and probably won't use another; I like it very much. Contact: oldworldink@me.com

There is a lot of precipitate, compared with FP inks. It's blackety-black and stays on the page.

#8 usasoccerboy

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 21:52

I purchased some calligraphy inks from Papier Plume in New Orleans. It works well for my dippers. They ahve a web site and if you order more than one bollte the shipping isn't a killer.



Here is our website for Papier Plume in New Orleans.

Papier Plume

#9 stonezebra

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 20:02

Any opinions/experience on Koh-I-Noor Trans-Mix Media Brilliant Ink for use with quill or dip pens? Are they 'sticky'(?) enough to prevent the blots and puddles of ink I currently get?

#10 ukobke

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 06:48

There are not many good inks for dip pens. In fact there are very few. I have over 25 Noodler's ink but none is good for dip pens.
I use very elastic deep nibs for Copperplate script. The best ink "by far" is "Walker's Copperplate Ink". Very close (for some people this is the best) is "McCaffery's Penmann's Ink".
Other excellent ink is "Iron Gall Ink".

I tried "Old World Ink" but I am very disappointed. I still have the bottle, but I will not use it again. It is not good for hairlines.

Another one is "Calligraphy Ink" by WINSOR & NEWTON. This ink needs additional water to use. Very difficult.

So stay in the first three.

Just to know. Fountain pen inks are NOT for dip pen inks. Use any of the three above to understand what I mean.

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#11 encremental

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 07:48

Tony, dipping pen nibs usually have a very fine coating of lacquer or oil to stop them rusting when in storage. For a new nib, either stick it in your mouth for a bit (that's what we were taught to do at school!) or more hygienically, hold it in a flame for a couple of seconds - this will burn the coating off and your surface tension problems will be solved.

As to inks, I would make a virtue of using inks that would be impossible to enjoy in fountain pens - good indian inks, those metallic ones that you see in art shops, and the Winsor and Newton range (never had any problems with them myself), but in my experience fountain pen inks are OK too. Someone like caliken in the penmanship forum would be the person to ask.

John

#12 dcwaites

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:23

The first question is - are you trying to do calligraphy or normal handwriting. It seems to me that many of the answers here relate to calligraphy. My answer will relate to normal handwriting.

Currently, most of the nibs I have were designed for normal handwriting, using inks that were available at the time, on the normal paper of the time. People then didn't want to muck around liking brand new nibs, or putting them though a flame, or washing them in the sink. A brand new nib was simply dipped into the ink and the person wrote.

People didn't use fancy calligraphy ink, they simply used normal writing ink. For much of the time that metal dip pens were used, the common ink was a synthetic iron-gall ink with an anilene dye component - the famous 'Blue-Black' ink that went down blue and dried to black.

What I have found is that if you want to use a vintage writing nib, such as clerical, Post-Office or School nibs, Falcon nibs and the like, you have to use a non-saturated ink that doesn't have much of the add-ons like wetting agents. In other words, stay away from rich inks like Noodlers, Private Reserve or Diamine. You have to use a vintage-style ink. Inks I have found that work well with dip pens include Parker Quink Black and Sheaffer Skrip Black. I also have some vintage powdered ink from the 1930s that was designed to be used with clerical dip pens. This was made by the Thistle Chemical Company and was simply dissolved into hot water. The final ink that I have found that always seems to work well is Lamy Blue-Black, a traditional iron-gall/anilene dye Blue-Black.

Some other inks that I have tried, that give good results, but not with all dip pens are -- Diamine Registrar's Ink, Mont Blanc Blue-Black (similar to Lamy B/B, but richer), and Parker Penman Black (a replacement for Parker Penman Ebony).

Don't forget that dip pens tend to run a bit wetter than fountain pens, so you will need to use a good paper, one that is hard and smooth to minimise feathering and bleeding.


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#13 Sandy1

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Posted 26 June 2010 - 12:25

Check out the J. Herbin calligraphy line. It includes some interesting inks like a permanent document ink and an invisible ink.

+1 On the J Herbin 'Encre Authentique'.
And ironically, the type of ink that one could actually use in conjunction with a pen rest, does not have the integral pen rest of Herbin FP ink bottles. (??) -- S1

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Edited by Sandy1, 26 June 2010 - 12:40.

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#14 freehand

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 01:01

I've got a favorite, big Esterbrook Radio nib that's either an 896 or a 968, depending on how you look at it. Went on a dip pen kick a few years back and have quite a few different nibs, which makes it hard to recall which one does what.

Inkwise, I like Winsor & Newton and especially Ziller, which seems to have more concentrated pigment and bit more viscosity. Seems like I read someplace that dip pen/drawing inks have some resinous component in them, that makes them cohere evenly to dip nibs (and ruin fountain pens). Fountain pen inks on dip pens tend to give uneven flow (too much at first, too thin towards the end) and a resulting variation in color from line to line.

It's nicer to write with the proper sort of ink.

#15 m13a8

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 01:36

Personally, I like Speedball super black India ink. Of course India ink is NOT FP safe, but it's wonderful out of my dip pens!

#16 777

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Posted 28 June 2010 - 20:00

When I was fiddling with dip pens a few years ago I found that the cheapest (I mean dirt cheap) ink you could get was higgins ink (the horrorPosted Image). Yes I now this stuff is horrible for fountain pens but there's nothing to get clogged on a dip pen and it's like, $5.00 a bottle or something. You should be able to pick some up at a local craft store. If that's not an option then my second choice would be noodlers.

Need a pen repaired or a nib re-ground? I'd love to help you out.


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#17 Craig

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Posted 30 June 2010 - 22:39

Ziller inks are wonderful for writing with a dip pen. They're acrylic inks. Ziller Midnight Blue is my favorite pigmented dip-pen ink. The inks are very smooth-writing and dry quickly. Have a bottle of Higgins Pen Cleaner nearby to clean the nib afterward. Also I very much enjoy iron-gall inks, especially Blot's from England, available on the Internet from Paper & Ink Arts.

#18 indigirl

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 00:03

I have been wondering about this question too... ever since noticing that the metallic dip inks I mix myself (thanks to instruction & inspiration from jbb) behave much better w/ dip nibs than my fountain pen inks. So, has anyone tried mixing a tiny bit of gum arabic w/ regular fountain pen ink to make a more dip-friendly ink? Seems like that might work, no? (As long as you keep it well-labelled! :yikes: )

#19 txinsk

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 06:08

I have been wondering about this question too... ever since noticing that the metallic dip inks I mix myself (thanks to instruction & inspiration from jbb) behave much better w/ dip nibs than my fountain pen inks. So, has anyone tried mixing a tiny bit of gum arabic w/ regular fountain pen ink to make a more dip-friendly ink? Seems like that might work, no? (As long as you keep it well-labelled! :yikes: )


Here is a question for you or jbb. To set this up, I have some herbin calligraphy ink. It has nice colour and behaves well in application. The issue is that I find that it sits on the paper and can be rubbed off with minor friction. I wonder if this is a side effect of gum arabic. So the question is can you rub off the ink that you wrote? Does this pool or sink into the paper? I want to know.

Rick
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#20 jbb

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 13:14


I have been wondering about this question too... ever since noticing that the metallic dip inks I mix myself (thanks to instruction & inspiration from jbb) behave much better w/ dip nibs than my fountain pen inks. So, has anyone tried mixing a tiny bit of gum arabic w/ regular fountain pen ink to make a more dip-friendly ink? Seems like that might work, no? (As long as you keep it well-labelled! :yikes: )


Here is a question for you or jbb. To set this up, I have some herbin calligraphy ink. It has nice colour and behaves well in application. The issue is that I find that it sits on the paper and can be rubbed off with minor friction. I wonder if this is a side effect of gum arabic. So the question is can you rub off the ink that you wrote? Does this pool or sink into the paper? I want to know.

Rick

I am finding that gum arabic helps dip pen inks particularly if the ink feathers and have started adjusting my inks with it. As far as ink that sits on the page wet, try adding more water to your ink -- that makes the ink "drier." I'm assuming that other inks don't stay wet on the paper you're using so the paper itself is not the problem.


Dip pen & flexy nibs

Edited by jbb, 01 July 2010 - 13:18.


#21 ukobke

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 17:26

What are we trying to do?

Fountain pen inks are NOT suitable for dip pen nibs. Anyone can use a bicycle to go from New York to Los Angeles. 1is this correct?
Dip pen inks cost as much as fountain pen inks. So I think is silly to use a fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs. The cost is the same to buy ink for dip pen nibs.
Indian ink is good, bur not for thin hairlines. This is for iron gall inks. So WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Using fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs, is as we try to write a letter on a A4 sheet of paper with CHALK.
Still missing the "White Stripe" MYU and black brother MYU with transparent section! (Has somebody a "Murex" with a working clock? (Thanks to Steve I found the "Black Stripe Capless" and the "White Stripe Capless")

#22 txinsk

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 17:32



I have been wondering about this question too... ever since noticing that the metallic dip inks I mix myself (thanks to instruction & inspiration from jbb) behave much better w/ dip nibs than my fountain pen inks. So, has anyone tried mixing a tiny bit of gum arabic w/ regular fountain pen ink to make a more dip-friendly ink? Seems like that might work, no? (As long as you keep it well-labelled! :yikes: )


Here is a question for you or jbb. To set this up, I have some herbin calligraphy ink. It has nice colour and behaves well in application. The issue is that I find that it sits on the paper and can be rubbed off with minor friction. I wonder if this is a side effect of gum arabic. So the question is can you rub off the ink that you wrote? Does this pool or sink into the paper? I want to know.

Rick

I am finding that gum arabic helps dip pen inks particularly if the ink feathers and have started adjusting my inks with it. As far as ink that sits on the page wet, try adding more water to your ink -- that makes the ink "drier." I'm assuming that other inks don't stay wet on the paper you're using so the paper itself is not the problem.


Dip pen & flexy nibs


Your right about other inks not sitting on top. I will try diluting this ink a bit. What I was not clear about was that when the ink dries it can be rubbed off. It is not a question of smearing although the effect is similar to a smear but something slightly different, a dry effect. If I am still not being clear, let me know.

Rick
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#23 indigirl

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 18:11

Rick, I defer to jbb, who as usual is several steps ahead of me :notworthy1:

ukobke, even though dip inks & FP inks cost the same, it still saves me ink money if I can avoid buying extra bottles for different purposes. I am not one of those people who slurps down whole bottles weekly; an ink bottle can last me over a year (especially as I keep acquiring more colors :headsmack: ) so if I can use part of a bottle for another purpose that works out better for me. Besides, I have an attachment to some colors & want to use those in my dip pens as well. Anyway, a lot of us here are just learning, so be nice, mmmkay? :meow:

#24 jbb

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 18:38

Your right about other inks not sitting on top. I will try diluting this ink a bit. What I was not clear about was that when the ink dries it can be rubbed off. It is not a question of smearing although the effect is similar to a smear but something slightly different, a dry effect. If I am still not being clear, let me know.

Rick

I have that problem (of ink rubbing off) with metallic inks when they don't have enough gum Arabic. So I would think, based on that, that more gum Arabic would help. I haven't used Herbin calligraphy inks myself. Perhaps someone who has will have more insight.

Edited by jbb, 01 July 2010 - 18:45.


#25 jbb

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 18:44

What are we trying to do?

Fountain pen inks are NOT suitable for dip pen nibs. Anyone can use a bicycle to go from New York to Los Angeles. 1is this correct?
Dip pen inks cost as much as fountain pen inks. So I think is silly to use a fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs. The cost is the same to buy ink for dip pen nibs.
Indian ink is good, bur not for thin hairlines. This is for iron gall inks. So WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Using fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs, is as we try to write a letter on a A4 sheet of paper with CHALK.

Hi Ukobke. Welcome to FPN. :W2FPN: I write with dip pens as my primary writing implement and prefer fountain pen ink. I love iron gall ink too but it corrodes my nibs very quickly. I'm not a fan of any of the acrylic based liquid calligraphy inks I've tried. I like India ink buy enjoy the colors and shading I'm getting with fountain pen ink.

#26 jbb

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Posted 01 July 2010 - 18:55

...I defer to jbb, who as usual is several steps ahead of me :notworthy1:

Oh Indigirl, :headsmack: YOUR gorgeous dip pen writing gives me thrills every time I see it!!!! :cloud9: Indigirl rocks!! Check it out.

Edited by jbb, 01 July 2010 - 18:59.


#27 indigirl

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 00:07


...I defer to jbb, who as usual is several steps ahead of me :notworthy1:

Oh Indigirl, :headsmack: YOUR gorgeous dip pen writing gives me thrills every time I see it!!!! :cloud9: Indigirl rocks!! Check it out.


:blush: you're too sweet!

#28 ukobke

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Posted 02 July 2010 - 04:59


What are we trying to do?

Fountain pen inks are NOT suitable for dip pen nibs. Anyone can use a bicycle to go from New York to Los Angeles. 1is this correct?
Dip pen inks cost as much as fountain pen inks. So I think is silly to use a fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs. The cost is the same to buy ink for dip pen nibs.
Indian ink is good, bur not for thin hairlines. This is for iron gall inks. So WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
Using fountain pen ink for dip pen nibs, is as we try to write a letter on a A4 sheet of paper with CHALK.

Hi Ukobke. Welcome to FPN. :W2FPN: I write with dip pens as my primary writing implement and prefer fountain pen ink. I love iron gall ink too but it corrodes my nibs very quickly. I'm not a fan of any of the acrylic based liquid calligraphy inks I've tried. I like India ink buy enjoy the colors and shading I'm getting with fountain pen ink.


TX!!!!!!!!
Still missing the "White Stripe" MYU and black brother MYU with transparent section! (Has somebody a "Murex" with a working clock? (Thanks to Steve I found the "Black Stripe Capless" and the "White Stripe Capless")