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Flexible Dip Nibs Are Very Scratchy And Railroad A Lot

flexible nib scratchy railroading wet noodle dip pens

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#1 ptrcao

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 13:27

I find that flexible dip nibs are very scratchy and railroad a lot.

 

 

I have the following nibs:
 

Brause L'ecoliere Nib
Brause 66EF
Brause Rose Nib
Vintage Gillott 404
Gillott 404 Nib
Leonardt Copying Nib DP33
Hunt 108
 
dipped in Noodler's inks, and Parker Quink ink
on Nature's Wheat-based Paper
 
Can anyone shed light on this and suggest solutions to get smoother, uninterrupted writing with line width variation?  The first thing is I don't expect this, because these are supposed to be a useable selection of implements.

Edited by ptrcao, 17 January 2015 - 13:28.


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#2 Randal6393

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 18:33

The nibs you are using are industry standards, some of the best Copperplate nibs around. So I don't think the nibs are to blame. The scratchy part is usual, to some extent, for flex nibs of all kinds. But, if it is excessive, well, usually that is caused by writing at too high an angle. Try lowering your pen to write at a lower angle with the paper.

 

The inks you are using are not really recommended for Copperplate. Try a good sumi ink, an irongall (my favorite is Old World ink), or add a bit of gum arabic to the ink you are currently using. NOTE: Never use a gummed ink in a fountain pen!

 

I have not used Nature's Wheat-based Paper but it sounds as if it should work out alright. Any smooth paper that works well for a fountain pen should work for Copperplate.

 

Enjoy,


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#3 bokchoy

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Posted 17 January 2015 - 20:52

After a few months of experimentation, here's what I've discovered so far:

1.) Fountain pen inks are too thin. They don't stay on the nib well which leads to blobbing at first and railroading later. Higgins Eternal works much better. I've been using it for practice. I get 1.5-2 lines out of the Brause Blue Pumpkin unflexed and much less if flexing frequently. Still, there's far less unexpected railroading than with regular fountain pen ink.

2.) The nib needs to be parallel to the direction of downstrokes. E.g. If you write upright at 90 degrees then the nib needs to point 90 degrees upwards. I have a cheap straight holder so when slanting my writing, I have to tilt the paper at a more extreme angle to avoid scratchiness.

Edited by bokchoy, 17 January 2015 - 20:56.


#4 ac12

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 03:47

Pointed nibs are inherently scratchy, because they are pointed.

The way to reduce the scratchiness are:

- write with a very light hand, so the nib is barely touching the paper.  This will take a LOT of practice, and it was difficult for me to learn to do.

- use a SMOOTH HARD paper.  Pointed nibs will get snagged on the texture of the paper, so the smoother the better.  Try HP 32# premium paper.

- as Randal said, hold the pen at a lower angle.  Easier said than done, as it can be difficult to change how you hold the pen, and still be able to write.  IAMPETH has several instructions on how to hold the pen.  And this is NOT the normal tripod grip that people talk about.  Because it relates to the next item.

- Don't flex on a side stroke.  As bokchoy said, flex on the downstroke in line with the nib.  You need to hold the pen such that the nib lines up with the downstroke.  I use an oblique holder for this very reason, it keeps the nib in line with the downstroke, and I don't have to learn to hold the pen significantly different than my normal FP grip.

 

Dip pens are not fountain pens.  When you flex the pen you are putting down a LOT more ink than when you don't flex the nib.  And you have a small amount of ink on the nib.  So, if you flex the nib, you might get only a few words down on paper, before you need to dip the nib again.  The larger you write and the more you flex the more ink you will use up.  Railroading is simply when the nib runs out of ink, or your over flexed the nib beyond the ability of the ink to flow down the slit.  Depending on how much or little I flex the nib, I will get 1/2 to 2 lines of text written before I have to dip again.

 

Some Noodler's inks do not work well with dip pens.  These would be the very fluid/wet inks.  The FP inks that I have used with my dip pen (Nikko G) are:  Noodler's (Dragon's Napalm and Apache Sunset), PR (DCSS Blue and Orange Crush), Waterman (green), Sheaffer Skrip (turquoise).  And the dip pen ink; Higgins Eternal.

 

You also need to prepare your nib properly, or the ink won't stick to the nib, and you won't write much.  I clean my new nibs with a tissue with alcohol.  I also wipe the nib with alcohol after washing the nib in water when changing inks.


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#5 prasadvenkat

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 03:53

 

I find that flexible dip nibs are very scratchy and railroad a lot.

 

 

I have the following nibs:
 

Brause L'ecoliere Nib
Brause 66EF
Brause Rose Nib
Vintage Gillott 404
Gillott 404 Nib
Leonardt Copying Nib DP33
Hunt 108
 
dipped in Noodler's inks, and Parker Quink ink
on Nature's Wheat-based Paper
 
Can anyone shed light on this and suggest solutions to get smoother, uninterrupted writing with line width variation?  The first thing is I don't expect this, because these are supposed to be a useable selection of implements.

 

HI Ptrcao,

As Randal rightly mentioned, FP inks are not directly suitable for dip pens and specially the nibs you are using.  A FP has a feed to regulate the flow of ink and the nib itself has a rounded tip to give smooth writing.

Both of these are not there in a pointed nib dip pen.  So, to get a consistent flow of ink, it needs to be a little thicker to adhere to the nib and flow properly.

 

It is very important to prepare the nib before using. The nibs are coated with a layer of protective oil which repels ink.  Rubbing the nib with Saliva, rubbing alcohol or flaming it, will prepare the nib to hold ink. 

 

Again, the inks Randal suggested are great for dip pens.  Another ink you could look at for practice is Walnut ink (available as crystals that just need to be mixed with water)

 

I use fountain pen inks sometimes for pointed pen as the colours are great.  Adding Gum Arabic to it makes it behave well for dip pens.

 

Scratchiness is an inherent quality of dip pens.  (no iridium tip on the nibs).  However the angle of the nib to paper and and smoothness of paper helps a lot in this.  The angle of the nib will also help in the nib not catching on the upstrokes.

 

I am not sure what kind of holder you are using,  but if you are writing Copperplate or Spencerian, an Oblique holder will help a lot in getting the angles right.

 

-Prasad



#6 prasadvenkat

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 03:55

Sorry for the repetitive post,  ac12 got there before I did :)



#7 Iso*

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 10:41

If you want to use an unfathomably smooth paper, use Rhodia or Clairefontaine. For me, these papers are too smooth. I can't feel the nib or paper to exercise enough control to use these papers.

But in general, I have seen most beginners struggle with scratchiness because of how much pressure they apply, combined with how the nib is held, with respect to the paper and with respect to the slant of letters... It has taken me about 20 months to go from a iron weighted hand to go to an absolute featherweight when it comes to penmanship.

I tried to use a scale today to measure how much I press down on my nibs to do my work. For a Leonardt Principal EF, I usually press down about ~4 grams of force, or 0.040N for my hairlines (no shades whatsoever), which is what I do most of the time. For reference, my penholder weighs 7.80 grams. The lighter your hand is, the less trouble you will face on upstrokes. Though copperplate is not my specialty, I do know hairlines are roughly about half of the script, usually on the upstroke.

With regards to the other tips I have seen thus far in this thread, I ought to give my thanks to you guys too... Looks like I'll be needing to add some gum Arabic for my pens sometime soon.

What kind of gum arabic do you guys prefer/use? I have seen liquid forms as well as powdered forms. Food grade, from time to time, is almost dirt cheap.

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#8 prasadvenkat

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 13:12

Liquid form is easier to control as you can start adding it drop by drop till you get the consistency you want.

Haven't used powder, myself as the liquid form is easier for me.

Powdered is cheaper,  and also not a problem.  



#9 prasadvenkat

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 13:13

Liquid form is easier to control as you can start adding it drop by drop till you get the consistency you want.

Haven't used powder, myself as the liquid form is easier for me.

Powdered is cheaper,  and also not a problem.  



#10 MusinkMan

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 18:20

 

I find that flexible dip nibs are very scratchy and railroad a lot.

 

 

I have the following nibs:
 

Brause L'ecoliere Nib
Brause 66EF
Brause Rose Nib
Vintage Gillott 404
Gillott 404 Nib
Leonardt Copying Nib DP33
Hunt 108
 
dipped in Noodler's inks, and Parker Quink ink
on Nature's Wheat-based Paper
 
Can anyone shed light on this and suggest solutions to get smoother, uninterrupted writing with line width variation?  The first thing is I don't expect this, because these are supposed to be a useable selection of implements.

 

Quick fix...switch to a Zebra G or Nikko G nib...clean the new nib with toothpaste and a Q-tip to remove the factory coating...the ink will not flow well as long as that remains on the nib (this goes for all new nibs).  Before you dip the nib into the ink, lick it and coat it with saliva, then dip it into the ink.  Use good inks...do not use india inks for the pointed pen work, and do not use acrylic inks...you will be inviting frustration if you do.  Good inks for pointed pen are Walnut inks, iron gall inks, Sumi inks, and if you want color, one of my favorites is Dr. Martin's Hydrus inks (NOT Dr. Martin's Bombay india inks...no india ink!).  Higgins Eternal also works well (not Higgins India Ink).  Some FP inks are good too...the Noodler's you are using is fine, but probably does need a bit of doctoring up with gum Arabic in order to get it where you want it as others have mentioned.  I use Noodlers often in my pointed pens, and it works nicely.  Windsor and Newton make some very nice inks for pointed pen as well.  If you want white, get Dr. Martin's Bleedproof White.  It's very thick (almost like toothpaste), so you will have to mix it down with water in another container, and fine-tune the consistency with gum Arabic and/or more of the ink until you get the consistency like you want it.  Think "the consistency of milk".  :P   Bleedproof White is good stuff though...nice brilliant opaque white.  Use good paper...Rhodia or Clairefontaine are both very good choices.  Do not frustrate yourself needlessly by using crummy paper...do not use copy machine paper or regular notebook paper...the fibers will snag into your nib and the ink will bleed...and you will be tempted to give up totally on the incredibly rewarding hobby of pointed pen calligraphy (which would be a shame!). 

 

The nibs you mentioned can be "finicky" (especially the Brause 76 Rose)...they are sharp and much more difficult to use until you have developed the light touch necessary for them.  Trust me, you will be very excited with a Zebra G or a Nikko G nib.  Those nibs are capable of producing very nice work, and they are quite user friendly.  And many pro calligraphers use the G nib extensively, so don't let anyone tell you that those are only nibs for beginners. 

 

I hope this is somewhat of a help to you.  :P


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#11 kenfraser

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Posted 18 January 2015 - 21:38

 IAMPETH has several instructions on how to hold the pen.  And this is NOT the normal tripod grip that people talk about. 

 

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with this. I use the same normal tripod grip, as illustrated below, when writing with all pens - Fountain pens, straight holders fitted with  square-edged nibs and oblique holders fitted with pointed, flexible nibs.

 

This is the same grip as shown on page 2 of IAMPETH lessons, under "How to properly hold the Oblique Pen".

 

I find that positioning the nib at a lower angle may be smoother, but fine hairlines are more difficult to achieve. With the flange set at the most common, slightly raised angle, and with the shaft of the pen on the large knuckle and not in the web of the hand, the nib to paper angle may seem fairly high, but in my experience produces the best, crisp results with good controlled flex on downstrokes and, with a very light touch, the finest hairlines.

 

Ken

 

Tripod2600.jpg


Edited by Ken Fraser, 18 January 2015 - 21:47.


#12 ac12

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 04:22

oh frump, IAMPETH changed their lessons pages.  

There used to be a section on Spencerian/Palmer type handwriting, with a bunch of images of old instruction books.  But now I can't find any of them.    :(    Its is a good thing that I downloaded them when I had the chance to, since they are gone now.

 

This is the only thing that I found which shows the pen grip that I was referring to.  On page 6 of the lessons.

http://www.iampeth.c...t-real-pen-work

On page 2 of the book, the pix of the lady holding the pen is what I was referring to.

This grip seems to line up the nib with the downstroke, without the need of using an oblique holder.

 

So the statement should be corrected to be:

IAMPETH "HAD" several instructions on how to hold the straight pen holder.

 

BTW, I use a similar grip to the one shown in the lesson you referred to and shown in your pix with my oblique holder.  But my skills with the dip pen are nowhere near yours.  I just write, I cannot do calligraphy.


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#13 ac12

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 04:30

I second MusinkMan on the Nikko G nib.

That is my standard nib.  It is quite forgiving, and a nice starter nib.

 

@MusinkMan

Why do you not recommend india ink?

I don't use it because I think it needs a solvent to clean up (not water), making clean up more tedious.


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#14 MusinkMan

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 04:47

I second MusinkMan on the Nikko G nib.

That is my standard nib.  It is quite forgiving, and a nice starter nib.

 

@MusinkMan

Why do you not recommend india ink?

I don't use it because I think it needs a solvent to clean up (not water), making clean up more tedious.

Try some in your pointed pen and you will know why.  LOL!  India ink does not work well in pointed pens.  When you flex the nib, it will usually dump the whole load of ink in a puddle on your page.  Try adding gum Arabic, and it will turn into a real mess.  I thought I was doing something wrong or that my gum Arabic was defective until I related the story to a more experienced penman.  He giggled and set me straight on it.  Problem was, I had just purchased 8 or so jars of Dr. Martin's Bombay india ink in various colors right before he told me.  So I have a nice assortment of colors for broad pen work...maybe I should focus on that for a bit.  :P


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#15 ptrcao

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 05:08

HI Ptrcao,

As Randal rightly mentioned, FP inks are not directly suitable for dip pens and specially the nibs you are using.  A FP has a feed to regulate the flow of ink and the nib itself has a rounded tip to give smooth writing.

Both of these are not there in a pointed nib dip pen.  So, to get a consistent flow of ink, it needs to be a little thicker to adhere to the nib and flow properly.

 

It is very important to prepare the nib before using. The nibs are coated with a layer of protective oil which repels ink.  Rubbing the nib with Saliva, rubbing alcohol or flaming it, will prepare the nib to hold ink. 

 

Again, the inks Randal suggested are great for dip pens.  Another ink you could look at for practice is Walnut ink (available as crystals that just need to be mixed with water)

 

I use fountain pen inks sometimes for pointed pen as the colours are great.  Adding Gum Arabic to it makes it behave well for dip pens.

 

Scratchiness is an inherent quality of dip pens.  (no iridium tip on the nibs).  However the angle of the nib to paper and and smoothness of paper helps a lot in this.  The angle of the nib will also help in the nib not catching on the upstrokes.

 

I am not sure what kind of holder you are using,  but if you are writing Copperplate or Spencerian, an Oblique holder will help a lot in getting the angles right.

 

-Prasad

 

For pen holders, I'm using a variety of straight ones:

 

  1. Hunt Crow Quill Penholder
     
  2. Brause Ergonomic Penholder
     
  3. William Mitchell Drawing Penholder
 
I have never used oblique pen holders before and don't own any yet.


#16 kenfraser

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 08:18

This is the only thing that I found which shows the pen grip that I was referring to.  On page 6 of the lessons.

http://www.iampeth.c...t-real-pen-work

On page 2 of the book, the pix of the lady holding the pen is what I was referring to.

This grip seems to line up the nib with the downstroke, without the need of using an oblique holder.

 

 

As you say, this is the normal grip when using a straight pen for the reasons you describe. Although this works, it can be physically uncomfortable, especially over a long session of writing. The Oblique holder was developed to alleviate this problem.



#17 ac12

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 21:38

Try some in your pointed pen and you will know why.  LOL!  India ink does not work well in pointed pens.  When you flex the nib, it will usually dump the whole load of ink in a puddle on your page.  Try adding gum Arabic, and it will turn into a real mess.  I thought I was doing something wrong or that my gum Arabic was defective until I related the story to a more experienced penman.  He giggled and set me straight on it.  Problem was, I had just purchased 8 or so jars of Dr. Martin's Bombay india ink in various colors right before he told me.  So I have a nice assortment of colors for broad pen work...maybe I should focus on that for a bit.  :P

 

GROAN......

I have a LARGE bottle of India ink that I picked up and planned to use.  :(

So much for buying stuff before I know what I am doing.

I guess I will save it for italic writing.


Edited by ac12, 19 January 2015 - 21:46.

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#18 ac12

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 21:45


As you say, this is the normal grip when using a straight pen for the reasons you describe. Although this works, it can be physically uncomfortable, especially over a long session of writing. The Oblique holder was developed to alleviate this problem.

 

It is indeed an uncomfortable grip, but I though that was just because I had never used it before, so my muscles did not know what to do.  I was contemplating if it would be worth spending 2 or 3 months practicing to get my hand used to that grip.

But, as you said the oblique holder is so much easier to write with, with my natural grip.  Now, I only use the straight holder for large nibs that won't fit my oblique holders.


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#19 kenfraser

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Posted 19 January 2015 - 22:09

 

It is indeed an uncomfortable grip, but I though that was just because I had never used it before, so my muscles did not know what to do.  I was contemplating if it would be worth spending 2 or 3 months practicing to get my hand used to that grip.

But, as you said the oblique holder is so much easier to write with, with my natural grip.  Now, I only use the straight holder for large nibs that won't fit my oblique holders.

I believe that the vast majority of flexible nib writers use oblique holders. I can write Copperplate and Spencerian with a straight holder, but it is unnecessarily uncomfortable in my view, and I see no virtue in making it more difficult than it has to be! 



#20 dhnz

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Posted 20 January 2015 - 12:40

 

GROAN......

I have a LARGE bottle of India ink that I picked up and planned to use.  :(

So much for buying stuff before I know what I am doing.

I guess I will save it for italic writing.

 

There is nothing wrong with India ink per se for pointed pen work. India ink is just another name for carbon ink (as opposed to, say, iron gall ink). Higgins Eternal is India ink and Oriental stick ink is India ink in solid form, and both of these were used extensively by master penmen in the golden age of penmanship (though I doubt that the modern Higgins Eternal uses the exact same formula). Not all India ink may be suited, but you can't just rule out the whole category.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: flexible, nib, scratchy, railroading, wet noodle, dip pens



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