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Dip Pen Users--Do You Clean Your Pens?

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Dip Pen Users,


If you write for a long time at one sitting, do you periodically clean the nib of your pen? Do you ever let your pen sit while you pause and then have to clean it before dipping again?


I am just curious about your handling procedures.

Walk in shadow / Walk in dread / Loosefish walk / As Like one dead

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Yes, a clean nib makes the difference in keeping a good, sharp hairline. Credit to Hermann Zapf, I ink my dip pens with a small, bristle brush. The brush is stiff enough to remove crusted ink as well as placing ink where I want it on my dip pen. That way I get maximum control. If my pen is hesitant in flowing, I run the tip of the pen through the bristles to pick up a bit of ink and remove any crust.


Whether my pen is a pointed one for Copperplate or a broad-edge for Italic, the brush is an invaluable tool in maintaining cleanliness and control.


Best of luck to you,


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?

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Thanks, Randal6393. I was wondering how they could stop an "think" for a while and then resume writing without a crusty nib.

Walk in shadow / Walk in dread / Loosefish walk / As Like one dead

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I use my dip nibs for writing, rather than calligraphy, so I use relatively thin inks. I don't find that those inks dry and crust up during 'thinking time'. And anyway, a dip into the ink will re-dissolve any dried ink and replace it with new ink.


When I am finished a writing session, or if I am changing inks then I will rinse the nib in clean water and shake the excess water off.


“Them as can do has to do for them as can’t.

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

Granny Aching

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If a nib builds up a layer of sludge during a writing session, I wipe it off. Otherwise, a nib gets cleaned at the end of the session. Build-up is not usually a problem for me because, by the time a work is at the dip pen stage, it has undergone several drafts with fountain pens so "think time" is minimal.

Can a calculator understand a cash register?

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As per Paddler and dcwaites, mine are more sort of desk pens and get used for writing, letters, journals &tc so no, don't usually clean along the way other than a wipe on a bit of cloth if the tip gets some fibres stuck in it. Then a rinse in a pot of water and a wipe off when I've finished. Obviously very different if a pen is being used for calligraphic purposes I guess.

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And I'm right there along with Dom, Paddler, and dcwaites; rinse at the end of the session or when changing inks, otherwise it hasn't been an issue. If ink dries on the nib, dip and carry on. :D

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I use my dip pens primarily for writing letters, not calligraphy.

For me, cleaning or not during my writing session depends on the ink that is used.


Thin inks like fountain pen ink, Higgins Eternal or Daniel Smith Walnut ink does not need to be cleaned during the writing session. When I write, I do not stop long enough for the ink to dry on the nib. I just dip it into the ink, and off I go. So for thin inks, I will clean only when changing inks.


THICK inks like Speedball acrylic however is a different story. Speedball acrylic ink dries fast and will cake the nib. Even if I do not "stop to think," I have to periodically clean the nib of the caked on acrylic ink, or the nib will write poorly.


So what I am saying is, it depends, on the ink and how the ink dries on the nib as you are using the pen.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California


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Thanks one and all. Great information. Also what inks do you believe are most likely to "crust" during thinking periods?

Walk in shadow / Walk in dread / Loosefish walk / As Like one dead

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I use dip pins with antique nibs. I wipe them when India drawing ink starts to dry on them. The build up can begin after a moderate drawing session.

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I have a few which dry very quickly and will end up dry on the nib if I take a second or two to pause. They don't really get crusty; they just get a thin layer of smooth, dried ink on the nib. However, the layers of dried ink can build up very quickly so I do tend to clean as I go when I use those inks. In my case, these tend to be the sumi inks and the black inks used for inking art.


For everything else, I clean at the end of my writing session or if I switch inks.

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