Choosing the right ink properties for pen work.
Ink comes to us in various types, with different qualities from numerous manufacturers. When you are faced with them all in an art shop or pictures at an online shop, choosing the right ink can be very daunting, especially for those taking their first steps into pen work, drawing or calligraphy. Most inks will work in either situation, but the type of ink can make the difference between, a happy result and one that ends up in the bin!
Ink has properties; these properties often affect the resultant finish to the work. If we look at these properties and know what they mean to us and our work, it will help in choosing the ink.
Waterproof and non-waterproof.
Whether an ink is waterproof or not makes a difference to the type of pen you can use; how you clean your pen and if the surface of your work is to be wetted.
Waterproof ink on the other hand it not recommended for fountain pens and most
technical pens, but dip pens, quill, brush and Ruling pens are ideal.
Lightfast-ness also referred to as Permanence (durability).
The pigment or dye that the ink is made from, usually has a tested lightfast quality, this indicates if it will fade or not when in daylight conditions. Lightfast-ness tends to be expressed as excellent; very good; good etc., or on a scale 0 to 8 which is from poor to excellent.
Permanence can also be used in a different context - as in 'permanent marker' (immovability) in this instance it refers to the fact that the ink is permanent when dry and will not rub off when applied, this is not it's lightfast-ness, because this ink may fade quickly over time. You will need to read the write up on the ink to establish the makers meaning of permanence.
For your ink work to have archival qualities, you need - as near as possible, pH neutral ink.
Ink needs to flow
from the nib or instrument. There are no hard and fast rules about the flow of the ink, but as a general guide - transparent ink flows faster from the nib then opaque ink.
Use of the Ink
Having decided what you are using the ink for - pen and wash, drawing, writing or calligraphy.
When loading dip pens, a more accurate way than dipping into the bottle, is to load the ink via a dropper or paint brush into the reservoir. If it doesn't have a reservoir then you may feel the need to dip the pen and wipe off the excess, but you can still load it with a paint brush.
Having loaded the reservoir, test that the ink is flowing from the nib on a spare piece of paper, the same as the type you are using for your project, the ink needs to flow giving clean, crisp lines.
If you have trouble getting the ink to flow try some of the following; some people wiggle the nib from side to side; you can put a drop of ink onto paper and draw the nib through it; my preferred method is to have a damp piece of kitchen towel and draw the nib gently across it, this works nine times out of ten and doesn't strain the nib tines.
Ink has many applications and is well worth the time invested in appreciating it's properties and potential.
Copyright © 2006 Jacqui Blackman
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