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Artist using fountain pens UEF and spray fixative drawings


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I am an artist who has recently moved away from India ink and rapidograph/technical pens (4x0) to UEF platinum 3776 fountain pens and dye based fountain pen ink.


My style is drawing/inking on top of watercolors. As such fountain pen ink tends to spread and I lose my thin line. I’ve found I can apply spray workable fixative to the watercolor, let it dry then ink with fountain pens and fountain pen ink over it with great success. I use extremely light pressure.


My question. Am I doing damage or harm to the nib?





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Hi Carol,

Sorry I can't answer your question but wanted to be sure that you knew about Nick Stewarts work. Here's a link to an article he posted on FPN.

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova





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You were using India ink with technical pens? I'd think that would be more destructive than anything one could do with fixative.

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It's funny -- I used to use Rapidographs a lot when I was in college (I had asked my parents for a four tip set as a high school graduation present), and then bought some larger size tips later.  I probably still have them all in a desk drawer, even though I haven't used them for decades.

A guy I knew couldn't understand why I *didn't* use India ink in them, rather than the Koh-i-noor ink.  But I used mine for drawing, mostly (I didn't know that they were supposed to be ruling pens) and actually liked the more grey tone of that ink over that of Higgins.  I probably still have a lot of the artwork from back then (inherited back from my parents) and don't remember the ink being particularly light sensitive, but haven't looked at the stuff since clearing out my dad's house about 20 years ago -- it's all in boxes in a room in my house that was supposed to be the iibrary but ended up being the "catch-all room....

Of course now I'm wondering about the Osmiroid "India ink pen" I got at an estate sale a couple of years ago -- it came with some little gadget to remove the nib and feed for thorough cleaning, but I haven't had a chance to play with the pen at all since I got it (I need to read the directions that came in the case).

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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My sister uses technical pens - the tiniest of them - and India ink is forbidden her. Any discussion of her technique will devolve into a rant about the diminishing quality of paper, ink and pens. Nevertheless, she's stickin' with them.

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Yes I’ve used India ink - Higgins, black cat from Blick, Windsor Newton in all my technical pens and rapidographs - for over 30yrs and the pens still work till this day. India ink is perfectly fine for technical pens. NOT for fountain pens - ever. 

Thanks for your comments - really trying to understand spray fixative in relation to nib wear on fountain pens. Any information is highly sought.

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I would be careful. Since I have noticed that even watercolor on paper makes it bit more rough on surface. Usually workable fixatives are made for dry media to restore tooth of paper and that might mean it becomes abraisive. Iridium is really tough(nib material), but UEF has extremely little on that. Have you tried how much that adds tooth to paper? Like spraying it on half of the paper and then testing with pen does it feels different?


I'm actually not even drawing on top of watercolor, since those are pigment based, meaning there is small particles that in theory at least, could act as sand paper. Fixative probably makes it even more pronounced. Something like glossy fixative might be better?


There is also waterproof fountain pen inks, and there is indigraph fountain pen that use indian ink, that you could use under the watercolors. But as fellow artist, I know it is not same thing.

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It’s my understanding that fountain pen nibs actually do not have iridium on the nibs. That is an extremely rare mineral that was used in vintage pens from the 1920s-1930s and even in those cases less than one percent.


it’s frustrating because spray fix is the only thing that will retain the line - and ink under watercolor loses the ink line for me. Most drawing papers have tooth and are fiber so the nib gets worn either way.


I am not using much pressure so maybe that is key. There simply are not enough artists using fountain pens to be able to get an answer.




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I would say no, you're not harming anything.  The tipping is harder than the paper you're drawing on, even with fixative I would think.  If you start drawing on sandpaper you'll notice a the tipping wearing out though.  Try some different inks though.  You might find a nice black that doesn't feather out over your water colors.  


Steve Light is an artist who uses fountain pens and water color (and children's book author).  He uses Platinum Carbon Black, and so do lots of FP artists, with really good results.

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