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Homemade Traditional Iron Gall Inks


fiberdrunk
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After a couple years of ink-making, I just wanted to share my experiences with the fountain pens that have worked with my own inks (namely the Pomegranate, California Live Oak, Stark recipe, and Cold-Process Black Walnut recipes). Technically speaking, all of these historical inks were meant for dip pen use only and darkest results usually do occur with the dip pen. But enough time has gone by where I feel confident recommending (or not recommending) the following fountain pens with these inks. In all cases, I use designated pens for these inks. I do not risk using other inks in these pens for fear of a bad chemical reaction from residual ink. Pilot fountain pens in particular have fantastic ink feeds that can accommodate these inks quite well-- I do not recommend using their CON-20 ink converter, however. The rubber sac does not age well with this ink and I've had leaking problems. Stick with the CON-50 or use the pen as an eyedropper pen if it has a plastic barrel.

 

As always, use these historical recipes in a fountain pen at your own risk (and notice that most of these pens are in the inexpensive range as fountain pens go).

 

The best pens that require the least amount of flushing with minimal start-up hassle:

Pilot 78G (use as an eyedropper pen)

Parker Vector

Pilot Varsity

Pilot Metropolitan (use the Pilot CON-50 converter, not the CON-20)

 

Pens that require regular weekly flushing, if not used daily:

Pilot Parallel (use as an eyedropper pen)

Osmiroid India Ink Fountain Pen

Jinhao X450

Jinhao X750

Sheaffer No-Nonsense, early 1980's version (use as an eyedropper pen)

Pens that felt dry to write with but otherwise wrote well (and required regular flushing):

Hero 5020

Pens that required priming the next day to get them writing, but otherwise wrote wonderfully:

Pilot Plumix

Noodler's Standard (non-flex) Piston-Fill

Serwix 101

Jinhao Oliver 360

 

Pens that did not work:

Platinum Preppy

Sheaffer Viewpoint (it writes, but quickly dries out. The lid and barrel are not airtight enough.)

 

 

Here's a writing sample with many of these pens. The ink is the Stark recipe.

 

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8294/7624808692_6395b77f54_c.jpg

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Thanks for posting this. Very useful, even if I don't personally own most of the pens mentioned.

I've used commercial IG ink in my Vector with great success, as it's something of a firehose. I've also used some in my Urban, but at the moment I'm not sure I'd recommend it for *any* ink, IG or not (due to some serious flushing issues -- I'd swear that I think I have more ink leaking out of the section between the brass ring and the nib and feed than was in the pen to start with :headsmack:, and have been trying to clean the darned thing out for nearly 3 *days* at this point... :glare:).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Thanks for posting this. Very useful, even if I don't personally own most of the pens mentioned.

I've used commercial IG ink in my Vector with great success, as it's something of a firehose. I've also used some in my Urban, but at the moment I'm not sure I'd recommend it for *any* ink, IG or not (due to some serious flushing issues -- I'd swear that I think I have more ink leaking out of the section between the brass ring and the nib and feed than was in the pen to start with :headsmack:, and have been trying to clean the darned thing out for nearly 3 *days* at this point... :glare:).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

 

The Vector really is awesome with iron gall inks, isn't it? I hate the feel of a dry pen, so the Vector is a great match for drier inks. The Vector and Pilot 78G are two pens in particular that I can set down for weeks at a time with these homemade inks and they still start up just fine. They don't need as much flushing. :thumbup:

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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  • 1 month later...

I've always wanted to make my own iron gall inks but have always feared using them in my pens, and most dip nibs I've ever used are just...awful. I think this may push me over the edge. Thank you for posting this up.

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Sure thing! I figure I might as well post exactly what has worked with the ink recipes I've tried so far. I feel confident in recommending these at least.

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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Thanks for doing the hard work. I like iron-gall ink, but have been reluctant to make my own. Now, I have an excuse to buy a few more pens.

"One can not waste time worrying about small minds . . . If we were normal, we'd still be using free ball point pens." —Bo Bo Olson "I already own more ink than a rational person can use in a lifetime." —Waski_the_Squirrel

I'm still trying to figure out how to list all my pens down here.

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  • 7 years later...

7 years later, I can still recommend the fountain pens mentioned in the beginning of this thread. I have 2 more to add:

 

  • Noodler's Boston Safety Pen
  • TWSBI Diamond Mini
  • Jac Zagoori Write No Evil fountain pen (probably no longer available)

 

Also, I had mentioned before to swap out the Pilot CON-20 ink converter for a CON-50 for the Pilot fountain pens listed. The CON-50 is no longer available. It has been replaced by the CON-40 which, unfortunately, holds an even smaller volume of ink than the CON-50 (0.4 ml of ink instead of 0.5 ml) . But otherwise it works great.

Edited by fiberdrunk

Find my homemade ink recipes on my Flickr page here.

 

"I don't wait for inspiration; inspiration waits for me." --Akiane Kramarik

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  • 3 months later...

After a couple years of ink-making, I just wanted to share my experiences with the fountain pens that have worked with my own inks (namely the Pomegranate, California Live Oak, Stark recipe, and Cold-Process Black Walnut recipes). Technically speaking, all of these historical inks were meant for dip pen use only and darkest results usually do occur with the dip pen. But enough time has gone by where I feel confident recommending (or not recommending) the following fountain pens with these inks. In all cases, I use designated pens for these inks. I do not risk using other inks in these pens for fear of a bad chemical reaction from residual ink. Pilot fountain pens in particular have fantastic ink feeds that can accommodate these inks quite well-- I do not recommend using their CON-20 ink converter, however. The rubber sac does not age well with this ink and I've had leaking problems. Stick with the CON-50 or use the pen as an eyedropper pen if it has a plastic barrel.

 

As always, use these historical recipes in a fountain pen at your own risk (and notice that most of these pens are in the inexpensive range as fountain pens go).

 

 

The best pens that require the least amount of flushing with minimal start-up hassle:

Pilot 78G (use as an eyedropper pen)

Parker Vector

Pilot Varsity

Pilot Metropolitan (use the Pilot CON-50 converter, not the CON-20)

 

Pens that require regular weekly flushing, if not used daily:

Pilot Parallel (use as an eyedropper pen)

Osmiroid India Ink Fountain Pen

Jinhao X450

Jinhao X750

Sheaffer No-Nonsense, early 1980's version (use as an eyedropper pen)

 

Pens that felt dry to write with but otherwise wrote well (and required regular flushing):

Hero 5020

 

Pens that required priming the next day to get them writing, but otherwise wrote wonderfully:

Pilot Plumix

Noodler's Standard (non-flex) Piston-Fill

Serwix 101

Jinhao Oliver 360

 

Pens that did not work:

Platinum Preppy

Sheaffer Viewpoint (it writes, but quickly dries out. The lid and barrel are not airtight enough.)

 

 

Here's a writing sample with many of these pens. The ink is the Stark recipe.

 

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8294/7624808692_6395b77f54_c.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Have you found any recipes using iron chloride, basic red iron oxide or magnetite (Fe2O3 or Fe3O4)? I tried tannic acid powder with poor results, then I oxidized some steel with KMnO4 added some coca cola (for its phosphoric acid content) and CuSO4.5H2O and got a pretty violent reaction but after cooling it still does not work well. I currently have some ferric sulphate en route but was starting to think the problem may be the tannic acid. I did try boiling it down some in a round bottom flask but still same issue which is it is more of a brown brown plus contains a fair amount of sediment. Could it be not acidic enough? If so I could add some HCl to lower the ph, I do have lye on hand as well but that is going in the wrong direction.

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