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Working On The Perfect Prussian Blue Ink.


Flaxmoore
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I have made significant progress with methyl cellulose. The camera was unkind to it, I adjusted the picture to match the contrast as best I could but an RGB monitor cannot replicate its color.

 

I prepared the methyl cellulose solution as 1ml of powder in 250ml of hot water. You have to put it in hot water, or it makes a solid gel that won't ever dissolve, and you have to stir it as it cools, or it will make a solid gel that won't ever dissolve.

 

The ink mix was made by putting 5 parts of that solution in a tin lid, adding one part Prussian Blue sludge, testing, adding another portion of blue, testing, etc.

 

http://burningsmell.org/images/i/ink-testing-2018-01-05.jpg

Color swatches are dripped onto the page. Ink writing is done with a Speedball C-4 tip.

 

It flows very nicely, carries the pigment readily, prevents it from migrating, and dries as readily as plain water. Higher concentrations of pigment become apparently lighter from pigment refusing to stay put and following the surface tension of your pen stroke. You get dark spots wherever you lift your pen, and yes, I'm a lefty.

 

I got my most uniformly dark results with a 5:6 ratio. Below that, it looked too light for my taste. Above that, it started separating again.

 

[edit] Oh, and methyl cellulose seems to help large amounts of pigment dry as a solid mass instead of crumbly cracked-mud stuff.

 

I'm not sure what preservative to use yet. Dissolved methylcellulose apparently needs it. I might see what methyl or isopropyl does.

Edited by Corona688
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I have some more results. Not good results, but results, and hopefully someone here can help me understand them.

 

I've been increasing the amount of methylcellulose to see if that will help the surface tension / flow like gum arabic did, and it's just getting worse. It appears that I may have to use at least some gum arabic after all. But this - along with ink in general - is something I understand poorly, especially when it comes to proportions.

 

Almost nobody bothers to mention if they're talking liquid volume, solid volume, or weight when they mention amounts of gum arabic. The go-to unit is generally ounces, which is one of those meaningless units which can inspire murder. I have a hard time even getting a ballpark feeling how much gum arabic powder I'm supposed to be using for what volume of liquid. Obviously that will vary with pigment but to turn a cup of water into a cup of ink, around where would you start? trial and error has meant dozens of trials and 100% error to date.

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Potassium Ferricyanide ought to be orange not white in my experience. Theres a lot of information about Prussian blue at Dr. Mike Wares website about printing photos with iron based/linked chemistry. You can print lovely blue and white pictures. Done well, deep shadows are all but black. The Prussian blue is stuck deep in the fibers (not between, IN) as ~15 nm particles. For dip pens, just buy it as tube watercolors or goauche. I think M. Graham sells it, their materials are superlative. Dilute it ever so slightly with DI waterand get writing. It is susceptible to high pH. Phosphate ion will do weird things to it too. Id be deeply suspicious about using an insoluble pigment in a FP. There are a number of dyes used as stains for pathology/histology. I put six blue ones in scintillation vials with 10ml di water the other day. Some approach Prussian blue pretty closely. My notes are at work and Im at home but iirc toluidine blue and Nile Blue were close maybe Methyl blue was too. Methylene blue and bromophenol blue and Azure II were NOT. When if I look at my notes I find Im wrong I repost. Ive got some Prussian blue photos at work to use as a standard of comparison. At something like 1-5mg/ml dye/di water they write really well in a fountain pen or dip pen with no other additives. I do like a wet ink/pen combo. Ive also only tried a couple types of paper, both fairly unusual: 25% typing paper with no wet strenth (learned this when I tried to print blueprints on it) and a nice notebook my mom made for me with some splendid paper in it. Ive not tried copier paper etc. yet.

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I had an idea earlier. Noodler's whiteness of the whale is essentially clear. However, it contains enough surfactants and lubricants to make it flow well. I wonder if adding a properly pulverized Prussian Blue pigment might be the solution. It would be kind of cheating, but it would give me the ink that I want.

Physician- signing your scripts with Skrips!


I'm so tough I vacation in Detroit.

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I had an idea earlier. Noodler's whiteness of the whale is essentially clear. However, it contains enough surfactants and lubricants to make it flow well. I wonder if adding a properly pulverized Prussian Blue pigment might be the solution. It would be kind of cheating, but it would give me the ink that I want.

Physician- signing your scripts with Skrips!


I'm so tough I vacation in Detroit.

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I have made more progress from looking up the chemical composition of Photoflo. Half of it is just polyethylene glycol - brake fluid! Which does work, it turns out. A little bit goes a long way. I used one drop DOT3 brake fluid to eight pigment for a satisfactory dip-pen ink, but your pigment might be more concentrated than mine, since I didn't boil it.

 

Potassium Ferricyanide ought to be orange not white in my experience.

You're correct, but potassium ferricyanide is a different chemical from potassium ferrocyanide. Ferricyanide is iron(III), ferrocyanide is iron(II). They're related, so you can make Prussian Blue with both -- ferricyanide plus Iron(II) chloride, or ferrocyanide plus iron(III) chloride - but Iron(III) chloride is much easier to obtain, electronic hobbyists use it to etch their own circuit boards.

 

For dip pens, just buy it as tube watercolors or goauche.

Watercolor Prussian blues are generally as fake as ours, a fact they bemoan. There's watercolor threads about their last legit supplier drying up(hah) and what combination of 5 anzo and phthalo dyes would best imitate it.

I think M. Graham sells it, their materials are superlative. Dilute it ever so slightly with DI waterand get writing. It is susceptible to high pH.

Good to know someone still carries it. Thanks. Edited by Corona688
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Prussian blue is available as a watercolor from various sources. It's contemporary designation is Iron Blue, color index number PB27. There's lots of information here.


The question is though: Are you trying to make a watercolor (redundant because it's already readily available) or a fountain pen ink? If the latter, having solid pigment in your ink is not going to play very well with fountain pen feeds.


Good luck.

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Prussian blue is available as a watercolor from various sources. It's contemporary designation is Iron Blue, color index number PB27. There's lots of information here.

 

The question is though: Are you trying to make a watercolor (redundant because it's already readily available) or a fountain pen ink? If the latter, having solid pigment in your ink is not going to play very well with fountain pen feeds.

 

Good luck.

Ink, and there are plenty of pigment inks. Sailor Carbon, all the iron galls, the Shimmers and Herbin 1670/1768,

Physician- signing your scripts with Skrips!


I'm so tough I vacation in Detroit.

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Ink, and there are plenty of pigment inks. Sailor Carbon, all the iron galls, the Shimmers and Herbin 1670/1768,

Iron gall inks are not pigment inks. They consist of a water-soluble ferrous tannate complex. However, on exposure to air they can precipitate, which is why they can clog pens.

The problem with any pigmented ink would be how to keep the pigment in colloidal suspension. That would require strict control of the size of the pigment particles and the use of a polymer like xanthan gum to stabilize the suspension. If you can achieve this with Prussian blue, which in watercolors has a tendency to clump, all power to you.

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Ink, and there are plenty of pigment inks. Sailor Carbon, all the iron galls, the Shimmers and Herbin 1670/1768,

I'm actually wondering if the pigment used in my beloved Sailor Sei Boku (nano particle blue black...Which is really deep blue occasionally leaning teal) is in fact the famous Prussian Blue.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm actually wondering if the pigment used in my beloved Sailor Sei Boku (nano particle blue black...Which is really deep blue occasionally leaning teal) is in fact the famous Prussian Blue.

 

Don't think it's quite high enough chroma to be Prussian Blue.

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Can you not start with PB27 (Daniel Smith 036 or Winsor & Newton 003) and work from there? I use this pigment all the time in watercolour painting because it is sooooo beautiful. I'd love to see what you produce.

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I found this definition

fpn_1517528080__blu_di_prussia.jpg

does it fit?

 

That triplet is what a scanner would tell you, but to the eye, isn't even close. It's too deep a color for an RGB triplet to represent. The real color is just as dark but has no black/grey cast. That makes proper comparison over the internet difficult.

Edited by Corona688
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Apparently Prussian blue loves to form colloidal suspensions of its own in water. Wonder if that helps any?

It helps a lot, makes it just about possible. The OP's problem was lubrication, not keeping it in suspension; my problem was both.

 

Glycerin does both, and works brilliantly, but leaves a greasy non-drying stain.

 

DOT3 brake fluid - i.e. polyethylene glycol - works well for me cut 50% with water and used sparingly, but I use dip pens:

http://burningsmell.org/3d/oblique-pen/hello-thingiverse.jpg

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@flaxmoore , I suspect there's a big difference between your pigment and mine. I can't simply cut mine with water and put it in a pen, the Prussian Blue particles clump - quite obviously clump when I use them as watercolor. The bluing you started with had to have had some surfactants or whatever of its own to prevent that happening to laundry and perhaps something to keep it fixed afterwards.

 

Brake fluid (polypropylene glycol) helped my pigment flow, but I eventually noticed, didn't actually keep the particles in suspension: My jar had to be stirred up every day. Someone pointed out the difference between surfactant and humescent in another thread, so I added a third horrible thing to the mix: Sunlight "Lemon Fresh" dish soap. :unsure:

 

I diluted the soap as one drop in 1/2 ounce (0.05ml in 15ml, or 1 part in 300), and added one part of that to 20 parts of my prussian blue mixture. It actually worked rather well: My dip pens draw more easily and longer, and run themselves nearly dry before they need near-wetting. I'm not quite brave enough to put it in my last well-working fountain pen...

 

Both these things have a problem: The glycol and the soap both include a yellow tint from some dye or other, and in large amounts will pollute the blue down to grey. In the minuscule amounts I use them it doesn't seem to matter, I hope.

 

The color I get out of it is quite dependent on tip, as well. My wide italic tips (essentially metal brushes) produce a brilliant bright blue. My 512 and 99 points draw nearly black, unless I thin the mixture obscenely with water, at which point the pigment starts clumping again. Thin with DOT3 or soap and it goes grey. I'll need to find a clearer alternative to brake fluid and dish soap if I want to draw clear, brilliant blue with my pens.

Edited by Corona688
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I've been working on a review of Diamine Prussian Blue ink, and the colour is really nice. However, reading up about Prussian Blue on Wikipedia, it says that the pigment is prepared as a very fine colloidal dispersion because the compound is not soluble in water. So it's appearance depends sensitively on the size of the colloidal particles.

 

it's a fascinating pigment to read about if you haven't done so already. :)

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Prussian Blue is also a very good novel by Philip Kerr, the latest in the Bernie Gunther series. The chemical properties of PB play a role.

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