Sumi Ink Sticks For Dip Pens
Posted 19 April 2011 - 20:07
1) the only such ink I know of is Kecseg's available from John Neal Books. Are there other types available and what are the pros / cons of the various types?
2) the two ink stones I possess have pretty shallow wells - too shallow for dipping the nib in far enough to cover the eye. In using ink sticks, are you supposed to make some ink and then (somehow) transfer it to a bottle for dipping? Or should I just get another stone with a deeper well?
3) the books I have on brush calligraphy recommend discarding any unused ink following a drawing session. Should the dip pen ink also be discarded after each use, or can it be saved from one writing session to another and just topped off periodically? If saving it over, should it maybe be refrigerated? And should it be shaken before usage?
Cynomys (spp) = prairie dog
Posted 19 April 2011 - 20:13
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Posted 19 April 2011 - 22:32
BTW, good old Noodler's Bullet Proof Black is pretty good with dip pens. I just tried it with a Nikko G nib and was very pleasantly surprised.
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Posted 20 April 2011 - 00:14
Tell me about any of your new pens and help with fountain pen quality control research!
Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:55
Posted 22 April 2011 - 15:08
The ink stick which I used was about 15 years old and previously unused, so at least I found out that Sumi ink in stick form has a long lifetime. John Neal Books sells a version of ink stick (Kecseg's) which they claim is formulated for dip pen use I will try that now that I have a good basis for comparison. I actually like the ink sticks. Even though they may not be as convenient as the bottled form, I don't mind the small amount of time it would take to grind the stick if you're just topping off your supply.
Cynomys (spp) = prairie dog
Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:10
Posted 23 April 2011 - 05:01
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Posted 07 December 2011 - 05:01
It does not feather worth a damn, even with huge, broad stokes that when looked at from the side can be seen to be convex and shiny upon the paper. I cover the glass with aluminum foil, and even days after, with a stir of the end of my nib, holder it works just fine.
The blackness I would compare to Noodler's Manhatten Black, the blackest FP ink I can find. The only drawback is that it dries with a slight sheen. But for super fine to super broad strokes that do not feather...I've yet to see anything close.
Posted 07 December 2011 - 05:47
For what it's worth, I mix up my metallic dip pen inks in shallow salt cellars or ashtrays and find the depth works very well.
What ink do you use ... sticks or bottles?
Posted 07 December 2011 - 13:01
Don't get bottled ink, it's made for sumi-e training sessions, not for real sumi-e work or dip-pen writing (bottled ink and some cheap ink sticks are made with shellac serving as a binding agent instead of animal glue). There are some bottled inks that might work, but you'll search for them a long time and they won't be as good as a decent stick ink. The old letter artists, like Herman Zapf, didn't use Japanese ink but Chinese. I think the reason was that most ink imported from Japan was drying up waterproof, while Chinese ink was easier to use. I don't see another reason. I use Japanese and Chinese ink now, they are just a little different. It's sometimes hard to get what you want without comprehensive Japanese and Mandarin knowledge, but the selection available to us is already pretty nice. Most people in the west won't notice the differences between the different blacks anyway. Sure, it's a little different for sumi-e work, but I understood that you only want to use ink sticks for western calligraphy anyway.
There are two main kinds of stick ink, one is wood soot (pine most common) and one is made of oils. It's important to get a good sumi ink, because the lower grades (and most bottled ink) will have a big particle size. You don't need to buy the highest sumi-e master grade ink sticks, but don't buy the tourist quality either.
Getting a decent ink stone is important too, the quality of the stone and the stick ink should be on the same level, or you'll end up with a lesser quality ink than the stick is able to produce (you might even ruin the ink stick). You don't need to buy the precious stones meant as collectibles, especially if you don't want to draw sumi-e, but a decent quality is pretty mandatory.
I could write hours about ink sticks, but I think it would be an overkill. Just don't try to preserve the old ink, even for dip-pens. I tried to store ink I already made but it's impossible to keep the pigments in a fine solution (they clump together first creating bigger pigments). It might easily ruin your artistic experience. That's nothing tragic, because the meditative process of creating ink is perfect to enhance the focus on your work. Simply make a small fresh batch and load your dip-pen with a brush, like our dear fiberdrunk suggested.
One warning advice: Be careful with higher grade "color" ink sticks. They contain natural pigments that might be toxic (like vermilion red for example) and require a little care (never grind them on a surface not entirely wet).
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