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Dip Pen Inks?

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#1 Ex Ballpoint User

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 22:24

I have seen white the list of Fountain Pen inks on here, because... duh the forum is named "Fountain Pen Network".. but I was wondering if perhaps any ideas were available as to specific inks that work well with dip pens... Now I don't intend to start a war here as to what brand is best, however I have heard that certain fountain pen inks are too watery for dip pens, and thus is why I am asking specific brands.

I would be sticking with a conservative black or blue, and it would be for writing school papers more than anything. I do change my ink colours occasionally, however its usually for seasons or holidays. I have tried convincing my teachers I switched to white for winter... but they didn't believe me! :)


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#2 DanF



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Posted 28 January 2012 - 23:37

I have found that most FP inks used straight out of the bottle are unsuitable for dip pens.

That said, most can be modified to work very well, by adding a little gum arabic and water. The gum arabic makes them a little more viscous, so they don't flood the paper, the water dilutes the color enough to let it shine - full strength most appear a little dark to me. I can even use these modified inks in high flex calligraphy nibs. I use a liquid GA made by Winsor-Newton for watercolor artists, but its also available in powder form. I can't give you a formula, I just use a dollop and see what effect that has, then add more if need be, or add more water or ink if it's too thick.

I store my modified inks in different bottles, and label "dip", so that I don't accidentally use in a fountain pen.

There is one dip pen that I have which does well with standard inks, and that is the Esterbrook 314 Relief pen (nib). It is sort of like a fine/med cursive italic, and has a very tight slit, which seems to prevent the more typical dumping action of other dip pens. The exception here are the Noodler's permanent (bulletproof) inks, which have such intense flow that they overwhelm even this stingy nib. I have never tried to modify the bulletproof inks, just know they don't work as they are.


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#3 fiberdrunk


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Posted 28 January 2012 - 23:57

Speedball India Ink or any of the Calli inks would serve you well with a dip pen. Higgins Eternal or Higgins Calligraphy (comes in either waterproof or non-waterproof) are nice for dip pens, too, and are quite inexpensive. If you want something very fadeproof and waterproof, branch out into the acrylic inks like Magic Color or FW inks. They're fantastic. Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink is also very nice. So there are lots of options to choose from out there. These are just some of the ones I have used over the years.

Edited by fiberdrunk, 28 January 2012 - 23:58.

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#4 dcwaites



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Posted 29 January 2012 - 05:18

This has been discussed on the FPN a number of times before. However doing a search on 'dip pen ink' doesn't work well with the FPN search system because it likes words longer than 3 letters...

However, in general, the highly saturated fountain pen inks, which are so nice in fountain pens (Diamine, Private Reserve, Noodler's, etc, etc,) don't do well with dip pens because they run too much, and blob on the paper.

What you need are old-style, less saturated inks if you want to use fountain pen inks with dip pens.
I have found that Parker Quink (Blue and Black), Sheaffer Skrip (Blue and Black) Sailor Jentle Blue, Waterman Florida Blue (now renamed to Serenity Blue) all work well.
Also the iron-gall inks (Mont Blanc Blue-Black (now Mystery Black), Lamy Blue-Black, Diamine Registrar's ink) all tend to work well with dip pens.

You might want to experiment a little with art-shop India inks and some of the acrylic inks. I have a bottle of an acrylic blue ink that works quite nicely.

Most of my essays at University were written with a dip pen and Parker Quink Black. (This is BC -- Before Computers...).




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And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.”

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#5 Sandy1



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Posted 29 January 2012 - 08:27


My approach to using FP inks with a dip pen is to use a round-point dip pen nib fitted with reservoir/s to manage the flow. I use it for simple writing - I am not the least wisp of a calligrapher, as those who struggle to read my writing will attest.

I have come to prefer the Brause 500 Ornament series with over-under reservoirs with most FP and DP inks.

If I use an acrylic DP ink, then a single reservoir Leonardt 400 series nib, with lower capacity, seems better as the acrylic ink dries soooo quickly.


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#6 Randal6393


    Love italic handwriting.

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Posted 29 January 2012 - 22:10

Hi, and Posted Image, Ex Ballpoint User,

Glad to have you with us. Dip pens and ink for same -- we do spend a fair amount of time discussing them here. After all, anyone that gets bitten by the fountain pen bug may eventually try quills, old inks, dip pens, etc. A bit of fun for everyone, as it were.

Dip pens are not archaic. They are easy ways to accomplish tasks that are difficult to do with a fountain pen. For example, using an ink that is too loaded with particles to write well or an ink that is too caustic/acidic to work well in fountain pens. Acrylic inks often meet the first criteria, the iron gall inks often meet the second.

While fountain pen inks are good inks in dip pens, in my opinion, once you use a really good dip pen ink, it becomes difficult to use lesser inks in a dip pen. My favorites are McCaffrey's Penman inks, Old World Iron Gall ink, and Ziller Acrylic inks. A great source to look at, compare, and buy inks is John Neal, Bookseller. Why not give them a try?



From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

#7 Stylomeister



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Posted 31 January 2012 - 19:32

+1 on the ink reservoir - highly recommended!

While you can get something from decent fountain pen inks it's worth trying out the traditional inks that you wouldn't dare fill a fountain pen with :-)

I've found Walker's Copperplate Ink available from scribblers.co.uk to be very good - it's a black ink with a wonderfully subtle indigo tone to it.

I was also having some fun with some Montblanc 'Ink of Joy' in my Montblanc Coral over the weekend and for a laugh I tried it in my dip pen - not a great writing example as I was experimenting with with the nib and shading more than the writing - you get a fair amount of colour saturation with the dip pen as you can see! I also have a sample taken from my Montblanc in a previous posting for comparison :-)

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#8 ever onward

ever onward


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Posted 31 January 2012 - 23:55

My favorite calligraphy (dip pen) ink is Winsor & Newton black. It's got the best combo of opacity, darkness, yet ease of flow. I do use Sumi ink for pointed pen work, and at those widths the ink flows well enough, but you have to work a lot harder to clean your nibs afterward. I also use MacCaffery's black for pointed pen.

I definitely do not find fountain pen inks good for dip pens. FP inks don't hold well enough to the nib to let you write for a while on a single dip. In the same vein, FP inks don't deal well (IMO) with the flexed tines of pointed pen work; the inks can break and railroad. Calligraphy inks excel in both areas.

I'd suggest you try a bottle of each of the standards: Ziller, MacCaffery's (not for broad-edge calligraphy), Winsor & Newton, Calli, Sumi (also only for pointed pen), Higgins Eternal, and an iron gall ink or two. You could buy three bottles a month and not break the bank, and be done with your experiment in three months or so.

Good luck. Have fun!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. --Albert Einstein

#9 Ex Ballpoint User

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 00:52

I should post back: After I got my dip pen, I also got a thing of Manuscript ink... works well.. hell, it says Calligraphy right on it :)...

Now just to find me some decent nib styles... as I do find these Gillots a bit too pointy! I feed an IV with one!

#10 pharmacist


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Posted 02 February 2012 - 12:05

You might be interested in my new batch of iron gall document ink. I will soon post a review of this ink. It is compatible both to fountain pens and dip pens alike, so very universal.

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