[Scriptoris] Fountains vs. dippers, was- Scribe Materials

Elaine Crittenden letebts at earthlink.net
Sun Mar 12 22:03:26 PST 2006

Hi! I'm back and I just downloaded hundreds of SCA-based emails. I am 
responding to the latest ones:

In my experience, I agree with the cartridge inks' being hardly more than
glorified colored water, which will sometimes dissolve the sizing in some
papers and go "gray." I also would warn against "drawing inks," which
contain shellac and can gum up the fountain pen royally. Acrylic-based inks,
when dried, also ruin the pen.

My *real* objection to fountain pens for anything other than check-writing
or making notes in a day-timer book is that nibs wear down, and you lose the
fine line vs. thick line contrasts that make edged pen writing so elegant.
On Tiffany & Co. paper and Crane paper (the same thing, just different
watermarks), I find I start losing the fine-line elegance after about thirty
envelopes or so, when I am doing "modern" commissions (but using Arrighi
italic with moderate flourishing, certainly *not* Tagliente style!!!).

My problem, especially with my students who show up with Speedball dip
nibs,is that Speedballs not only can't be cleaned easily by just popping off
their top-loader reservoirs (as can Wm. Mitchell/Rexel's detachable
bottom-loader pieces), is that the tension on the reservoirs cannot be
adjusted to accomodate the change of viscosity between thick inks (or ones
with metallic particles in them) and the thinner inks, when a change is

I do have a helpful hint for Speedball dip nib users: to have a bigger
reservoir area, slip a tine of some tweezers between the nib and the
reservoir, pinching the reservoir. Gently bend the reservoir point into an
arc, keeping its tip touching the nib's topside. The extra "ooch-up" will
accomodate more ink, won't "dam up" with thicker ink, and is easier to clean
with a toothbrush bristle scrub.

>From: g_r.cathan at att.net
>To: "Scribes within Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <scriptoris at ansteorra.org>
>Subject: [Scriptoris] Scribe Materials
>Date: Sat THMar 11,2006,2:53 PM

> -------------- Original message from Diane Rudin <serena1570 at yahoo.com>:
> --------------
> Serina wrote...
>> Just in case some people don't know:
>> *Don't* buy Schaffer cartridge pens or just about any ink sold in little
>> plastic cartridges. Schaffer cartridge pens have very thick, blunt nibs that
>> make it impossible to achieve a truly period look. The more critical issue,
>> however, is the cartridge ink.
>>Choice of materials can be a matter of personal taste as well as pocket
> book. (snip) That said there is nothing wrong with using a Schaffer cartridge
> when you are just learning calligraphy or if you are doing field scribing.
> ...Serina wrote
>> The stuff in the little plastic cartridges is highly fugitive dye-ink. (snip)
> And she is absolutely right, the ink in most manufactured cartridges is not
> light fast and will fade. The cartridges can be emptied, cleaned and
> refilled with a permanent ink or replaced with a bladder. I personally like
> Calli, a non-clogging pigmented lightfast waterproof ink for fountain pens.
>> If you *have* to use a cartridge ink, buy one that's labeled "acid-free
>> permanent non-fading archival pigmented ink", or some other combination of
>> those terms. Then, test it by writing big on a page, cutting the page in half
>> to place one part in a drawer and the other part in a very sunny window, and
>> compare the two after a year.
>> I prefer Platignum or Rotring cartridge pens, and I fill the reservoir with
>> quality ink. Yes, they're harder to clean. For my part, I'd rather spend a
>> few minutes cleaning a pen than many, many hours re-doing a piece that's
>> Speedball "dip"-pen nibs...are another issue altogether. I can't stand to
>> with them, but some people can get good results with them.

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