Monday, January 10, 2011

the secret to nibs and ink

rena commented that she would like to write like the writing on the stacey envelope. i commented that it's not that hard...but you must start with the right supplies.

i spent a fair amount of time trying to get the hang of pointed nibs and ink. i took several classes and things would be ok in class, but then, at home, and trying to write on a variety of papers, nothing worked. then, i took a class from Mike Sull who is devoted to pointed pens. he recommended an ink/nib/paper combination that works well for beginners. i hesitated to invest in more stuff...but, i ended up loving the combination and realizing that the right paper/ink/nib combo is ESSENTIAL.

finding this combo really changed the direction of my work. i had basically decided to give up on pointed pen. now, i have pretty much ditched broad edge.

so, here it is.... McCaffrey ink, Clairfontaine paper and Nikko G nibs. I buy these three items from John Neal. After getting good with the Clairfontaine paper, i have found other papers that also work. the paper from Paper Source is a good combo with the inks and nibs. John has also recommended a new nib that is getting rave reviews. It is a Zebra or something. i have not tried it yet, but i bet it is great. these exciting new nibs are japanese innovations. anime has been hot for a few years and that has motivated companies to come up with really great nibs.

prior to the good anime nibs, if you wanted a good nib, you had to buy vintage nibs. somewhere i have an article that tells how much work was involved in making nibs back in the day. i'll try to find it and post it.

i also like the ziller inks on paper source paper. but, i only recommend ziller after you get comfortable with McCaffrey ink. walnut ink is pretty nice, too. both McCaffrey and walnut is rather thin, which seems like it would be bleedy. but, it is not...if you are using the right kind of paper.

other things to know: you need to prepare the nib. and you need to have a holder that fits the nib. if anyone is going to try pointed pen work based on my recommendation, let me know and i will fill in the rest of the things you need to know.


  1. The Zebra G is a lovely nib. I love, love, love it! I've had mine for about a week and have learned that it tends to pick up fibers on 'toothy' paper more readily than the Nikko G, so I think I'll save the Z-G for 'harder', smoother papers.

    You are so right; the right nib to paper makes a big difference!

  2. I would be interested to know how you prepare the nib.

  3. if you use the nibs as they come, they seem to repel the ink. so at the very least you need to remove the slickness. i have rubbed the nibs with toothpaste and find that works very well. some people just suck on the nibs, and i have done that when i was in a hurry and did not have toothpaste, but i don't like to do that.

    michael sull recommended *flaming* the nibs. to do this, you hold the tip of the nib in the flame of a match for about 3 seconds. this is supposed to temper the nib. i actually can't tell if it makes a difference. but flaming is also a way to get the slickness off. so, if i have matches, but no toothpaste, i flame. if i have no toothpaste or matches, then i resort to putting it in my mouth for 30 seconds.

    if anyone else has suggestions, please post. i find that there are lots of different ways to handle art materials. my ways may not work for others.

  4. Thank you so so much. I appreciate this so much. Can't wait to give it a whirl! Just for the fun of it!! **happy sigh**

    thank you again so much..Rena

  5. Thanks for the info. I'll give the toothpaste a try.