Art Blog

Running on Empty? How to Dip Your Pointed Pen for Best Ink Flow

When practicing calligraphy, it can be really frustrating if your pen is constantly running out of ink. If you need to load up your pen with ink after every stroke, it’s time to rework how you dip your pen!  

Dipping a Nib Pen

From Laura Lavender’s class Modern Pointed-Pen Calligraphy

Read on for my top tips for how to dip your pen

1. Ensure your pen nib is super clean

A dirty nib does not hold ink well, and may result in nasty splatters! When you’re done practicing, clean your pen throughly with a toothbrush and soap to remove all the ink.

Just like other art tools (like paintbrushes), never leave your pen nib or pen holders soaking in water! The nibs will become rusty and clogged with ink, and a wood pen holder will warp.

2. Dip regularly

Dip your pen regularly in water while working to ensure the nib is kept clean and clear of dried ink.

3. Dip at the right angle

How to Dip Your Pointed Pen

Dip your nib into think ink following the diagram above. Make sure you dip your calligraphy nib to the “keyhole” on the nib. This allows your nib to hold the most ink for best ink flow!

4. Keep it dry

Dry your calligraphy nibs with a cloth (I like to use leftover fabric scraps from sewing because I’m a “craft-aholic”). Avoid using toilet paper or paper towels with your pointed nibs, as the paper fibers can clog the pen nib. If the pen nib is clogged with fibers caught between the tines, it will not function properly.

5. Use the right ink

Of course, some inks simply are not suitable for calligraphy with a dip pen and are better for other projects. If you have no luck with a particular ink, save that for another artistic endeavor — maybe a painting or perhaps some expressive brush lettering?

6. Get the right consistency

Colorful Acrylic Ink for CalligraphyAcrylic ink — although it’s beautiful in the bottle — can be very thick and difficult for working with the pointed pen. Try decanting it and thinning it with some water.

Are you using very watery ink? Try leaving the lid off your ink jar overnight to allow the a small amount of the water to evaporate. Slightly thicker ink will cling to the back of the pen nib better to allow for better writing.

On the other hand, is your ink too thick? Decant a bit of ink into a small container (I like to save small jars from jams and honey samples for this purpose). With the ink decanted, mix a tiny bit of water in until the ink is like the consistency of cream.

7. Work at an angle

Practice your calligraphy on a surface that’s at an angle — think of a drafting table. This angle allows the ink to flow best.

Instead of rushing out to buy a drafting table, try this DIY solution: Find a large piece of thin wood, and prop it up against your work table with the bottom of the board resting on your lap. Presto — a DIY drawing board!

2 Comments

Mary

I took a calligraphy class with great difficulty. Only later did I find as a left hander that they have left handed nibs. If I only knew……..

Reply
Iryna Boehland

Thank you for the tips, Laura!
One of my frustrations – the plastic bottle lids (I use for Dinky Dip) are always get “glued” to the jar itself. Any solution for that?
Thank you!
Iryna B.

Reply

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