Nibby Sunday – #17InkQuestions

Nibby Sunday – #17InkQuestions

A while back, the blog Olive Octopus created 17 ink questions, and over the past several weeks, quite a few others have decided to also answer them. I always enjoy doing things like these, and I think it’s a nice way for you the readers to get to know me and my personal preferences, so here goes:

1. What was your first (memorable) ink?

The very first inks I got was a few bottles of quick-drying ink from Private Reserve. I believe it was Midnight Blue, Sherwood Green and Chocolat. Not very exciting inks at all, but since I’m left-handed, I had read that quick-drying inks would be a good idea. After a while, though, I adjusted my writing technique so that I didn’t drag my arm through what I’d just written, and after that, it hasn’t really mattered what inks I’ve been using.

The first ink I got that I really fell in love with, was probably Noodler’s Apache Sunset. This ink was really hyped when I first got into fountain pens, and I just had to have it. I still love the shading almost all the way from yellow to red in this ink. It’s beautiful.

2. What is your favorite ink bottle design, and which bottle (or cartridge) is your favorite to use?

The Pilot Iroshizuku bottles are probably my favorite design. I think they are really classy and beautiful bottles.

I also love the functionality of the Waterman bottles, where you can put them on the side when the ink levels get low, to make it easier to fill.

And of course, the Akkerman bottles, with the small compartment at the top, blocked off by a glass ball, so that you can easily fill your pen, even when the bottle starts emptying. This isn’t a new bottle design, by any means. The Swedish/Norwegian ink brand Barnengen used a similar bottle back in the 1930s, and they were probably not the first ones either. It’s such a simple, yet elegant, solution.

This is an ad for Barnengen ink from 1937. It’s the same bottle design being used by Akkerman. You turn the bottle upside down to fill the small upper compartment with ink, and when you turn it back again, the glass ball will stop this ink from going back down into the main part of the bottle.

3. What’s an ink you love or find useful, but would not use for everyday writing?

I honestly don’t know. Since I use my inks primarily for everyday writing, I tend to not get inks that aren’t really useful for that. And if I stumble across an ink that I don’t think is useful for everyday writing, I tend to also not like that ink very much. There are, however, a few of the newer Sailor inks that have some crazy shading/shine that I really like, but I also think the ink colors are a little too light to work well as a writing ink. I haven’t tried them myself, though. I could see myself enjoying those inks for what they are, but not really finding a use for them.

4. How do you discover new inks?

It varies. Sometimes I see pictures or reviews online, other times I try other people’s pens that are filled with inks I didn’t know about. And sometimes I just buy a bunch of random inks, and it’s discovery through serendipity.

5. Do you use inks for anything other than writing?

Not really. I’ve tried to draw with fountain pens a few times, but tend to prefer pencils and brush markers for that. I also don’t do calligraphy. My pen and ink usage is mostly for normal, everyday writing, quick notes here and there, writing down ideas, and the occasional longer writing session.

6. What’s an ink that’s worth hoarding (whether you actually do or not)?

A limited edition one that you really like. I always regretted not getting multiple bottles of the Montblanc Shakespeare Velvet Red ink. I have one small bottle, and almost never use it, because I dread the day I’m out.

I actually don’t think I have multiple bottles of any inks, other than a couple that are almost empty, where I have a new one in standby, ready to be opened as soon as the old bottle runs out. But I think, if I heard that any of my favorite inks was about to be discontinued, I would definitely order some bottles. Other than that, I don’t really see the point in hoarding.

7. How do you choose which ink goes into a pen? Do they have to match? Do you always use the same ink in a particular pen?

This is a big question! I use a lot of different methods to decide the pen and ink pairings. I think that’s one of the things that can keep this hobby fresh and fun, when you change it up from time to time. I always clean all my filled pens at the same time, so that I can start from scratch when I pick my selection of inks and pens that I will use for the next several weeks.

Sometimes, I will make it a point to match the pen and ink as closely as possible. That usually starts with the pens I want to use, and then I’ll find inks that fit the pens. Other times, I decide to use a certain ink, or maybe a series of inks (such as the Diamine Music inks), and try to find pens that match the inks.

Sometimes, I will make completely random choices. This is really fun. You can get some wild pairings this way. Sometimes it can be a positive surprise, with a combination you would never have thought to try, and it just works. Other times it doesn’t work at all. But thats part of the fun. You have to try-and-miss a few times to find the really cool combos.

The last time I inked up, I tried to find pens and inks that matched the different songs on the latest Sleep Token album. So that sort of introduced a third factor into the selections, and was a really fun experiment that I will definitely do again with a different album, or maybe something completely different, like pairing pens and inks with sports teams, artworks, places etc. Making these kinds of “rules” for myrself narrows the selection down, but it also forces me to make very deliberate choices. And it helps me to keep pens and inks in my rotation that I otherwise might have overlooked.

However my method, I always try to get a good variation of colors within my selection. I think I would get bored if I inked ten pens, and all of them had different shades of blue.

8. Do you use ink samples? If so, is your goal to find an ink to buy a bottle, or just get a smaller amount of ink to use?

It’s mostly to discover new (to me) inks, and sometimes I end up getting a bottle afterwards. However, I do have a lot of ink bottles in my collection by now, and I try to not buy anything new unless I know for sure I will use it often. Sometimes, ink samples are also nice just to get one or two fillings of something different, without it necessarily leading to anything more, even though I like the ink.

9. Is there a popular ink that’s just not for you? What underhyped ink would you like to see more people try?

I’m not particularly fond of shimmering inks, or overly saturated inks. I used to be, when I got into the hobby, but as the years go by, my ink preferences become more and more conservative. Nowadays I tend to favor the clean inks with clear colors, and maybe some nice shading. The most important factor is that it should flow nicely in the pens, and be reasonably easy to clean out after a few weeks in the pen. Some of the new inks that’s come out lately have some WILD properties, and although I can appreciate the fun factor, they don’t really appeal to me. I don’t have any specific inks to mention here, so this is just in general.

As for the second half of the question. I think an underhyped ink that really deserves much more attention than it gets, is Onoto Sapphire Blue. This is my all time favorite ink, and has been for a few years now. It’s nothing fancy, just a beautiful purplish-blue color, and the best flowing ink I’ve ever tried. You fill your pen with this ink, and it just instantly makes the pen better.

10. What do you do with any unused ink when you clean a pen?

I just rinse it out, and down the drain it goes. I have so many bottles of ink that I’ll never be able to use it all anyway. Might as well not take the risk of contaminating my ink bottles with ink that’s been sitting in pens for several weeks.

When ink has been sitting in a pen for a while, some of the liquid evaporates, and leaves the rest of the ink slightly more saturated. If you keep putting that ink back into the bottle, my thought is that it might over time change the properties of the bottled ink. But maybe that’s just me being overly cautious. Anyway: the pen can also have residue of other inks, or it can have dust or paper fibers or other particles that you then end up putting into your fresh ink. I don’t want to risk it for that half ml of ink, or however much that’s left in the pen.

11. What is the most unique ink you’ve used or seen?

Maybe Noodler’s General of the Armies. Is it green or is it blue? It’s hard to tell, and the color changes as it dries on the paper. It’s green when wet, but dries to a nice blue color. And in the bottle, it has this almost milky, opaque concistency that’s really weird and cool at the same time. Haven’t seen that in any other inks.

Yes, the bottle and the swatch is the same ink, if you can believe it!

12. How do you catalog, swatch, track, and store your inks?

I’m notoriously bad at doing this, and don’t really have a good catalogue of my inks. However, I do try (and fail) to make swatches of all the inks in my collection. I use the Col-o-rings, and dip the bottom half of the paper tags in the bottle, and when it has dried, I’ll write the name of the ink on the upper halv of the paper with a glass dip pen. I used to do this with cotton swabs, but I dipping gives a better result, in my opinion. It shows off the different properties of the inks much more effectively.

For storage, I have a section of drawers I put all my ink bottles in, to keep them out of the sunlight. I also always keep the bottles in their paper boxes.

13. What is your favorite ink color/color family?

In general, probably blue. I’m a bit boring there, but I really like a good, clear blue that pops off the paper.

I also really like orange inks, as long as they’re not too yellow. I don’t like light inks, like yellow or light grey. To be a functional writing ink, it needs to be enough of a contrast between the white or creamy paper and the ink, and I don’t get that with light inks.

At the opposite end of the scale: I don’t like black inks, and I almost never use them. It’s so boring! I need some color in my pens.

14. What ink-related tool or accessory is a must-have for you?

My Pineider Pen Filler. This is an essential tool if you have ink bottles that either have very little ink left in them, or have an opening that your pen doesn’t fit through. I like bigger pens, and the small 30ml Diamine bottles are just hopeless. Oftentimes, I will put some ink in the Pineider Pen Filler, and fill the pen from that instead. It’s just a lot easier.

The aforementioned Col-o-ring Ink Testing Book is great for ink swatching. I use my swatches regularly when picking inks for my pens. I’ll just leaf through them until I find a color I like. Sometimes I take out a few tags to compare different inks side by side, and if I want to pick something completely at random, I’ll just put them all in a box, and draw from it.

Finally, I have a couple of old handtowels that I cut into smaller squares. I use this to wipe off excess ink from the pens after inking them. I used paper towels for a long time, but sometimes paper fibers found their way into the nib/feed, and it didn’t always get all the ink. the handtowels are much better at that, and creates less trash as an added bonus.

15. Have you ever mixed inks or used shimmer additives?

The short answer is no.

I did try to make my own iron gall ink a few years ago. It had too much sediments to be a workable fountain pen ink, but I got it to a point where it was usable for dipping. It was a fun experiment. Other than that, I’m not very adventurous when it comes to inks. I find adventure in matching inks and pens, but I’ve never felt the need to mix different inks, or add things to them.

16. What is your favorite ink delivery system (cartridges, type of filling system for bottled ink, etc.)?

I never use cartridges, and always prefer to fill from a bottle. Other than that, I don’t think I have a favorite filling system. They all have different pros and cons. The converters are very practical, easy to use, and easy to clean. And for someone like me, who fills multiple pens, and don’t really write them empty before I clean them, the lower ink capacity of the converters aren’t really a problem. The converter pens do sometimes have ink flow issues, though, especially for wet or flexy nibs.

If I know I’m gonna write a lot with the pen (for instance during NaNoWriMo), I tend to go for either the vacuum or piston fillers, for the added ink capacity and slightly better flow.

17. What ink(s) are you excited about right now?

It’s been a while since I bought any new inks, but I’ve rediscovered a few old favorites recently. I still have the pens and inks that I filled for the Sleep Token post a few weeks ago, and there are three inks amongst them that really stands out to me: Noodler’s Apache Sunset, Diamine Music Wagner, and Pilot Iroshizuku Ama-iro. So I guess I could say that I’m excited about those three, in particular, right now.

Here are a few other bloggers that have answered these questions:

Olive Octopus
Rachel’s Reflections
Dime Novel Raven
Casual Crossings
A Gathering of Curiosities
The Gentleman Stationer

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