Product Help


Product Help

Instructions and helpful hints for using our calligraphic and bookbinding supplies.

Help Topics
Addressing Invitations
Adjusting your Oblique Holder
Ames Lettering Guide
Antique Penholder
Blackwell Holders
Blue Line Grid Pads
Bookbinding Thread
Calligraphy Ink
Calligraphy Markers
Copic Multiliner SP Pen
Copperplate and Spencerian
Dr. Martin's Spectralite Ink
Fine Papers
Fountain Pens and Fountain Pen Ink
Gilding Help
Gum Ammoniac
Hunt Pointed Nibs
India Ink
Ink on Shiny/Slick Surfaces
Iridescent Inks
Kemper Tool
Manuscript Cartridge Pen Nibs
Manuscript Pens
Masking Fluids
McCaffery's Penman's Ink
Music: Staff and Notes
Old World Ink
Pointed Pens
Pounce and Pergamenata
Ruling Pens
Speedball Calligraphy Nibs
Thread - Needle Comparison
Vintage Nibs vs. Current Nibs
Walnut Ink Crystals
Winson & Newton 995 Brush
Writing in Bibles and other books
Zebra G Pointed Nibs
Ziller Inks

Addressing Invitations
I'm addressing invitations, but these envelopes are hard to work with. Help!
Difficult Envelopes #1
For difficult envelopes: too thick to use a light table with guidelines inserted in the envelope...
(You did put on your price list that lined envelopes, dark envelopes, metallic envelopes would cost more...)

For lined white or light colored envelopes, you can draw guidelines with pencil and then erase with a white plastic eraser. Test to make sure that the erasing is not noticeable, that it is not affecting the envelope or your letters.

When you don't want to or can't use penciled guidelines:
--Disappearing ink pens for fabric can be used. The lines don't always disappear, so test out a sample first. Use the fine point for paper. The medium point for fabric.
--A soapstone pencil can be used for dark paper. Sharpen the pencil in a good hand pencil sharpener to a fine point. The lines can be brushed off after writing.
--A Phantom Liner (Reflections) is a good tool if you have one. They are no longer made. Some people like them a lot and use them often. Others bought them and found them useless, so you might ask around in your guild.

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Adjusting your Oblique Holder

Click here to see an instructional PDF file on how to adjust your oblique holder.

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Ames Lettering Guide
I have the Ames Lettering Guide, but do not have a clue how to use it. Do you have instructions?
Here is an instructional video from YouTube:

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Antique Penholder
I have an antique penholder. It is very slim and would need a tiny nib. What nibs might work?
The Brause 66EF and the Brause 513 have the smallest bases (the part that fits into the holder). The arc is only 1/8" across from one end of the arc to the other. Hunt 103, 100; Gillott 290, 291; and Hiro 700 are approximately 3/8", measuring from one end of the arc to the other.

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Blackwell Holders
My Blackwell holder won't hold the smallest nibs tightly such as Brause 66EF or crowquills (tubular nibs). The screw does not keep them in place.

If the holder works fine for larger nibs such as the Gillott 304 or 404, then you most likely just need a longer screw. Initially these holders used a short screw that did not work well with these smallest of nibs. Holders now are supposed to come with a longer screw. So you may have an older holder or your newer one came with a too-short screw by mistake. Request a longer screw and we will mail one to you. There is no charge.

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Blue Line Grid Pads
I have been using one of your excellent practice pads (P21, P01) and have some lettering that I would like to reproduce. How can I get rid of the light blue grid lines?
The low tech solution is to use a copier. Make a copy on the machine and see how much of the grid is visible. If the grid is visible, lighten the exposure a few percent and make another copy. Repeat until the grid is no longer visible.
The high tech solution uses Photoshop to remove the lines. See the entire procedure in this PDF file:

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Bookbinding Thread
Is your bookbinding thread 100% Flax?
Our LINEN bookbinding thread is 100% Linen / 100% Flax. Linen and Flax are two words for the same item, thread or fabric made from the flax plant.

A little more about thread:
Because of this strength linen thread is used to sew signatures in bookbinding. It is often lightly waxed with Beeswax (S289).
12/3, 18/3, 35/3:
The first number is the thickness of the thread. The higher the number, the thinner the thread. That is 12/3 is thicker than 18/3. The second number of strands that are twisted together to make the thread. 12/3 has three strands.


Linen thread is made from the fibers of the flax plant. Linen thread is sometimes referred to as Flax thread or Flaxen thread.



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Calligraphy Ink
All of these answers refer to calligraphy ink for dip pens.

What is the best calligraphy ink for beginners?
The best dip pen calligraphy ink for copperplate and broad-edged calligraphy for beginners is Higgins Eternal. It is non-waterproof and easy to clean out of your pen.

What is the best calligraphy ink for classes?
The best calligraphy ink for beginner's copperplate and italic calligraphy classes is Higgins Eternal. It is inexpensive. It is non-waterproof and easy for students to clean out of their pens. It does not build up on their pens like Sumi Ink, so they do not have to clean their pen as often while they are practicing and they can concentrate on their letterforms.

What is the best ink for copperplate and Spencerian script?
Many professional calligraphers/penmen continue to use Higgins Eternal. Our three most popular inks for pointed pen alphabets are Moon Palace Sumi, McCaffrey's Penmans Ink, and Higgins Eternal. Moon Palace Sumi is densely black and water-resistant and gives good hairlines. McCaffrey's is a traditional gall ink and gives very fine hairlines and is available in a variety of colors.

What is the most popular ink for Spencerian?
McCaffrey's Penman Ink

What is the most popular ink for Copperplate?
Moon Place Sumi

What is the best gold ink for calligraphy?
Dr. Martin's Iridescent Copperplate Gold is our most popular metallic gold ink for broad-edged calligraphy (Italic, blackletter, etc.) or copperplate/Spencerian script. It is an acrylic ink and dries waterproof.

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Calligraphy Markers
I see so many calligraphy markers, how do I choose the one that's best for my project?
We have prepared this chart to make picking a marker easy. The chart is sorted by Product Number, Waterproof/Non-waterproof, lightfast/non-lightfast, nib size.
Marker Comparison Chart

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Copic Multiliner SP Pen
How do I replace the cartridge in a Copic Multiliner SP?
First, make sure that you are working with the Multiliner SP. It has an aluminum barrel.
Next, be certain that you have the correct refill for your pen:
---Type A refills are only for the ultra fine line pens: .03 mm, .05 mm, and 0.1 mm.
---Type B refills are for all other Multiliner SP pens: 0.2 mm, 0.25 mm, 0.3 mm, 0.35 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, or Brush nibs.
Then follow the instructions on this sheet to correctly replace the cartridge.

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Copperplate and Spencerian
What is the best ink for Copperplate?
Betty Gilpin of Nashville likes Best Bottle Sumi (I43). She can use it straight out of the bottle without having to dilute it. She gets a better contrast between the thicks and thins than with other Sumi inks. With Best Bottle her thin strokes are fine and stay fine. (She finds that if the thin strokes start thickening up during a job it often means that the ink has dried on her pen and she needs to rinse it off.) She finds that Moon Palace (I70) builds up on the pen quicker and requires more pen rinsing. She uses a Gillott 303.

What holders do left-handers use for copperplate and Spencerian?
Most left-handed penmen (and penwomen) use a regular straight penholder for Copperplate and Spencerian. A few lefthanders use the oblique holder. Almost all right-handers use an oblique holder (a straight holder with either a metal flange or plastic structure attached to the end that holds the nib). A few right-handers use a straight holder.
Straight holders:
Oblique holders:

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Dr. Martin's Spectralite Ink
How can I use Dr. Martin's Spectralite Ink to finally get the gold or copper color that I need? All of the various inks and gouaches are different shades and I am having trouble finding the exact shade I need.
Because the entire line of Dr. Martin's Spectralite are pigmented metallic colors, you can mix different shades in the line to produce a wider range of colors than is available in the bottle. Here are a couple of hints from Cyberscribes about using Spectralite:

"I love Spectralite...the whole rainbow of them. Just have not been able to come up with the 'right' copper color with them." --Nan, NYC

"Try the 53K copper with either one drop of Brass or one drop of Gold... that will give you either slightly brighter copper, or slightly warmer copper." --Collene, Australia

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Fine Papers
I'm confused about the metric weighting system of your papers. How do I find the weight I'm looking for?
Use the Paper Comparison Chart to get a rough weight comparison between papers.

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Can I use the spay fixative you offer on a watercolor painting and then write on top of the painting?
The spray fixative should "fix" the watercolor so that the ink does not mix with the watercolor or the watercolor with the ink. However, it is very important that you do a test first to make sure there will be no problems with the final project. It is best to spray the fixative using one or more light coats rather than one heavy one. You may find that acrylic inks work best on top of the fixative. ALWAYS use spray fixative in a well ventilated area.

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Fountain Pen and Fountain Pen Ink
What cartridges work in which fountain pens?
View this photo of our cartridges for a comparison.

Shaeffer Pens have a long cartridge. You should buy their cartridges for their pen.
Manuscript and Rotring use short cartridges. They are likely interchangeable.
Lamy Cartridges are longer than the Sheaffer cartridges and are shaped differently.
Online Pens use short cartridges. The Manuscript cartridges fit in the Online pen.
Pilot Parallel Pen cartridges have a unique size and shape.

How do I insert the cartridge into a long-staff Brause Calligraphy Pen?
1. Unscrew the barrel from the nib unit (counter-clockwise)
2. Insert the cartridge into the nib unit to piece the cartridge. Insert the "pointed" end, not the flat end but the end with the smaller cylindrical tip.
3. Press firmly and you will feel the cartridge being pierced. Screw the barrel onto the pen.
4. To get the ink to flow (if it does not automatically start as you try to write.)
a. If you have a very light hand, try adding slightly more pressure. If you already write with some pressure, do not add more pressure.
b. If that does not work, hold the pen vertically and give it a shake or two downwards and then try writing (if necessary, adding a little pressure only if you have a light touch.)
c. If that does not work, unscrew the barrel, hold the pen vertically and lightly squeeze the cartridge and then try writing (if necessary, adding a little pressure only if you have a light touch.)
The Brause Calligraphy Pen takes standard small European Cartridges. The Manuscript cartridges (FP91, FP91-30) and Pelikan cartridges (FP115) will work in this pen. (Speedball, Lamy, and Pilot cartridges will not work.) Brause does NOT make a converter (for using bottled ink) for this pen.


What is the best fountain pen ink? Pelikan 4001 is our recommendation for the best fountain pen ink. Herbin Ink is a fountain pen ink in a delightful array of colors. You can often match the ink color of the return address on wedding invitations with Herbin Ink.

Is there waterproof fountain pen ink?
Calli Ink is a pigmented, acrylic based waterproof fountain pen ink. You should rinse out your pen before filling it with Calli ink. Do not store Calli Ink in your pen if you do not use your pen frequently. We at John Neal, Bookseller do not recommend Calli Ink for expensive or vintage fountain pens. While Calli works very well in fountain pens, it dries waterproof and can potentially ruin a pen.

Is there pigmented fountain pen ink?
Winsor Newton Calligraphy Inks are non-waterproof, pigmented inks for fountain pens. (Only the blue capped bottles are for fountain pens. Use the metallic gold & silver and the matte black with the red cap for dip pen and brush only.) Calli Ink is a pigmented, acrylic based waterproof fountain pen ink. You should rinse out your pen before filling it with Calli ink. Do not store Calli Ink in your pen if you do not use your pen frequently. We at John Neal, Bookseller do not recommend Calli Ink for expensive or vintage fountain pens. While Calli works very well in fountain pens, it dries waterproof and can potentially ruin a pen.

Is there an archival ink for my fountain pen?
If the piece is going on the wall, you need a light-fast ink which generally means a pigmented ink. Pigmented black ink is lightfast. Most fountain pen inks such as Pelikan 4001 and Herbin are dye based inks and are not light-fast and are not suitable for work that is meant to last on display for decades.

What is your recommendation for a densely black fountain pen ink that has good coverage and is lightfast?
For lightfastness, you need pigmented ink. The pigmented fountain pen inks we carry are Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink (blue cap only) and Calli. If you need waterproof, Calli is the best (but don't store it in a pen that you don't use regularly). If non-waterproof is okay, then Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink. Do not put any ink in your fountain pen that does not say "for fountain pen" on the bottle. Inks for technical pens are not necessarily suitable for fountain pens.

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Gilding Help
Please see the article "Gilding with Clear Film" by Shelia Waters for help using Dura-lar (P57) and/or Acetate (P66) here: Gilding With Clear Film
by Sheila Waters

I've been teaching this method for quite a few years, as it makes handling the leaf easier and makes loose leaf go a lot further, gaining more control of the gold. I have found it a practical method for using my stock of loose gold, making it behave like patent gold in handling. It is well worth the very little time it takes - seconds per leaf. For those without such a stock of leaf, loose gold can be a bit less expensive than patent gold, and the very best, double thickness illuminating gold (loose) is also brighter. Patent gold is called transfer gold in the U.K..

I "attach" loose gold leaf to thin (.002 or .003) sheets of Dura-lar or Mylar. Dura-lar is an archival combination of polyester film and acetate, which I use to protect prints and original art. In the pads of Dura-lar and Mylar, the clear sheets are interleaved with tissue. Mylar is DuPont's brand name for their polyester film product.

I open the book of gold leaf - illuminating quality - and lay a square of the clear film (cut a bit larger than the leaf) with its tissue still on top; the tissue dissipates the static, which, without it, makes the gold jump on to the Dura-lar/Mylar. Then, before removing the tissue and again after removing, I rub from the middle outwards, just as one would paste paper in bookbinding, to eliminate air pockets. Then the leaf should be firmly "stuck" to the clear film, and it can be picked up and strips cut with clean scissors to the size and shape required. I place the newly-backed leaf back into the book.

After breathing on the gesso several times to hydrate it, including on acrylic mediums, I lay the piece of gold with its clear film (that I have cut a bit larger than needed), face down of course! I quickly press on the clear film backing and outline the shape with a hard pencil to make sure the edges adhere. Only the gold that sticks to the gesso ground should leave the Dura-lar/Mylar, so that the remaining gold can be used for smaller shapes, such as dots and for patching. This pressing and outlining is necessary with normal transfer (patent U.S.) gold and also with using loose gold. Leaving out the firm outlining step is most often the cause of gold not sticking cleanly to the outside edges of the shape.

When burnishing, I burnish through another piece of thin Dura-lar or Mylar, as it transfers its shine, and may not have to apply the burnisher directly to the gold. I usually wait a day if I do the latter, to give acrylic gessos time to dry out, then the extra direct burnish will be retained better.

I've never been good at traditional gilding, so I gravitated to "plastic" gessos and experimented with them while still a student at the Royal College of Art in 1951, using a bookbinding adhesive called Spynflex, with my teachers' blessing, while being advised to keep quiet about it! I even used it on a loyal address to the Queen in 1953. I borrowed that address for an exhibition ten years later and was relieved to find it unchanged. I find archival PVA and acrylic mediums work well enough for me, and they don't crack or craze and can be successfully worked with in any part of the US, regardless of temperature and humidity levels. However, I do admire those who achieve great results with the traditional gessos, and using Dura-lar or Mylar as described would help with those techniques too.
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How do I use gouache for calligraphy?
"Denis Brown and John Stevens got me started on using black gouache instead of ink, and that is now my preference, rather than prepared inks. Just a small blob of gouache on a ceramic palette is usually enough to last me for a session of a couple hours, and I don't like to write for longer than that without a break anyway. Denis recommends W&N Ivory Black. I just keep a water jar on the drawing table and mix the water and gouache to the right consistency with a brush as I work, mixing the gouache and filling the pen with the same brush. I keep the brush in my left hand while I write with the right hand, and fill the pen again as needed - perhaps as frequently as every one or two of letters, depending on the size of the pen. If the gouache builds up on the nib, I rinse it off in the water jar and dry the nib quickly with a rag. However, when using a reservoir, I find that rinsing and drying alone isn't always enough, as I can't get at the top (or bottom, depending on which nib/ reservoir) surface of the nib with the reservoir in place, and gouache will still build up there - even after rinsing. I may occasionally need to run a piece of paper between the nib and the reservoir to clean out some of the gouache build-up. " -Ray Ritchie

I have a tube of gouache that has dried up. Can I still use it?
"Occasionally I have a tube of gouache gets that way, so I split open the tube, break up the dry stuff and put it in a little jar. Label the jar with the color name. Then add water and some glycerin. Wait a few days and you have gouache again. Sometimes it needs a little gum Arabic (the binder in gouache) added after it has reconstituted. The glycerin slows down the drying in your pen and on the paper. Glycerin is the clear gel/liquid you find when you open a new tube of gouache." - Ginger Meidel

Winsor & Newton has discontinued some of their gouache colors and added some new colors. How can I find out which colors have changed, which have been discontinued, and which are new?
Consult the charts in this three-page pdf file:

Do you have a color chart for Winsor & Newton gouache?
Yes. Winsor & Newton Gouache Color Chart

Which Winsor & Newton white gouache do I need?

  • Permanent White is the strongest and most opaque white. Use it for writing in White or tints of white. (Winsor & Newton says their Permanent White has been modified so that it can be used for mixing other colors.)
  • Zinc White has always been recommended for color mixing. It has a lower tinting strength.

Which Winsor & Newton black gouache do I need?
All the blacks are a dense black for calligraphy. Ivory Black and Jet Black are generally recommended.

  • Ivory Black is less opaque with lower tinting strength and makes brown (warm) greys and sepia tones when mixed with white.
  • Jet Black is a rich, deep, opaque black which makes blue greys when mixed with white.
  • Lamp Black is a less opaque black of lower tinting strength, giving paler, blue (cool) greys when mixed with white.

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Gum Ammoniac
What is the best way to prepare gum ammoniac?
See Jerry Tresser's helpful hints of how to prepare and use gum ammoniac:
Preparing & Using Gum Ammoniac

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How do I insert a calligraphy nib into a penholder that has a metal ring and four prongs?

Insert the nib between one of the four metal prongs and the outer metal ring. If the nib is large such as a Mitchell, first try inserting the nib with one edge of the nib in the gap in the metal ring. Other nibs may not be picky as to placement along the ring. If the metal ring unit pulls out when you try to remove the nib, it is easy to re-insert the ring unit in the holder.

Do NOT insert the nib in the gap around the tips of the prongs.

See the following images as examples.


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Hunt Pointed Pens
Do you have any information about Hunt pointed pen nibs?
This chart of Hunt pointed pen nibs gives names, illustrations, and descriptions for all of the Hunt pointed nibs that we carry.

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India Ink
I would like an India ink that I can use in my fountain pen; what do you recommend?
Traditional India Ink has shellac as a binder and is NOT suitable for fountain pens. There are now black pigmented inks for fountain pens. Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Ink (Blue Cap, NOT the matte black with the red cap) is pigmented and works in Fountain Pens. Calli Ink is also designed for fountain pens. It works well. You should not store your pen with this ink as it dries waterproof and could ruin your pen. If you use your pen every day, there should be no problem. (Store your pen flat when not in use.) I don't recommend Calli for use in expensive, fancy fountain pens. Use it in your utilitarian models. These inks are designed for Calligraphy Fountain Pens. They might not work with fine tipped fountain pens and most likely won't work in regular fountain pens that regular (dye-based) ink does not flow out well.

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Ink on Shiny/Slick Surfaces
How do I write on shiny surfaces? My ink sits on the surface and beads up.
For flat paper try writing with Sumi Ink. It is less likely to bead.
Where adhesion is a concern try writing with Acrylic inks such as FW Acrylic Artists Ink or Ziller Inks. Acrylic inks will adhere better to slick, non-absorbent surfaces better than other inks. They also bead less.

If the ink still beads up, add a wetting agent to your ink: (I don't have any direct experience with either of the two products that are still available. Test with a small amount of ink, not a large bottle.) These wetting agents should work. (Dish detergent may work in a pinch. You need VERY little! ) All decrease the surface tension causing the ink to flatten out. You may have problems getting thin thins when using a wetting agent.

  • Dr Martin's Flex-o-paque (but is no longer available from the manufacturer)
  • Photo-flow
  • Oxgall

Pounce is sometimes used to abrade the surface slightly. You get rid of the gloss and the ink acts more like ink. But you do change the appearance of the surface which may or may not be suitable.

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How do I use instacoll?
First, lay the Instacoll. Because Instacoll is an acrylic base, it has a high surface tension which means it is somewhat "slimy" and flows much better from a brush than a pen.

After you have laid the Instacoll, let it dry approx ½ hour. Please note that how long the base should dry before you gild on it, varies depending on two factors: how thick you laid the base and how humid the room is. The loose rule of thumb is that you can lay the gold as soon as the base is tacky. It does not have to "set up" hard or dry completely. If you wait too long, the gold does not adhere.

Now you are ready to lay your patent gold leaf. Use your finger as a burnisher and put two layers of gold on the base.

Use a cotton ball or silk cloth to burnish the gold and then remove the excess.

Instacoll is also commonly used in architectural applications of leafing. When used for a large area the "base" must be reactivated in order for the leaf to adhere (because the "base" will dry completely before the leaf is adhered). Because our customers use it for small applications there is no need to reactivate the "base". Therefore you should ignore the label directly on the bottle that states this is "component 1 of 2".

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Iridescent Inks
These inks work very well with a dip pen: chisel-edged or pointed nib. The bottle will come with a light color solid on the bottom and a darker liquid. The color of the ink is between these two. You need to thoroughly mix the ink in the bottle before you use it. Try stirring, or stirring and shaking. If you shake, you will get bubbles. If the bubbles cause problems, let them dissipate and then just stir. To keep the "iridescence" from settling out while you are working, give the ink an occasional stir. The ink dries waterproof. To keep the ink from drying and building up on your nib, give the nib an occasional rinse and dry while you work. All metallic, pearlescent, iridescent inks require some more effort to use than the black ink you use all the time.

Dr Martins Iridescent Calligraphy Inks

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Kemper Tool
What is a Kemper Fluid Writer or Kemper Tool (S772) used for?

"I learned their name as "kistka." They're traditionally used for making the wax designs on Ukranian eggs but in Carol DuBosch's on-going class I learned to write monoline with them using all sorts of fluids. They come in different sizes and they're very fun!" Alesia Zorn - Portland, OR

"I like the kemper tool for dots and for writing also. You do have to thin your gouache a lot and some colors/brands are not ground finely enough and will not go through the pen. Do not throw away the piece that comes with it. Keep it close at hand and use it to clean out clogs and to get things started!" Leslie Barnes, St Louis, MO

"The Kemper pen tool is great for applying extended monoline strokes such as long straight rules, curving stems, vines and scrollwork. Use it to apply metallic gouache or fine suspensions of gold powder, color or even diluted Pro-White, when you want a steady uninterrupted flow of a single width, repeated dots or thin linear elements that are used in illumination. The little cup holds a lot of liquid and dispenses it evenly. The high quality brass is nicely finished so it writes across surfaces without catching fibers. Fun tool, easy to use, and easy to clean with the little wire tool it comes with." Ann Miller, San Mateo, CA

"The Kemper tool is used for monoline lettering. There are two sizes -- ink goes in the little cup and flows through the tip. The small wire device is for cleaning the hole in the tip. Sherri Keisel used them in her classes on contemporary decorated letters. I've never liked or used them much for lettering. But I found a great use for my Kemper tool when I was gilding a bunch of rocks for Reggie classmates. The Kemper writer is terrific for applying thin lines of PVA to gild on. I also used a brush for larger areas but nothing beat the kemper when I wanted thin lines." LeeAnne Mallonee, ME

"After some experimentation, I'm finding mine works superbly well for rubrication. If you ever need to make lots of small uniform dots, like in the Lindisfarne Gospels, a Kemper tool does the trick!" Wanda A, OR

"The Kemper Fluid Writer is great for Contemporary Decorated Caps done in gold (although pointed pens are better!)" Karen Ter Haar, Tasmania, Australia

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Manuscript Cartridge Pen Nibs
I would like to see a picture of the nibs available in the Manuscript Cartridge Pen sets.
We have a pdf file which shows the available nibs.

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Manuscript Pens
I'm having trouble getting my Manuscript fountain pen to write. What do I do?
1. If are used to writing with a Pilot Parallel Pen, you should not expect a similar flow from the Manuscript Pen in the larger sizes.
2. The back of the box of the Deluxe Set has a diagram showing how to load the pen. You use two cartridges with the flat sides next to each other. Push the writing cartridge into the nib unit (no need to puncture the cartridge). Put the other cartridge in the barrel with the small end down in the barrel.
3. Screw the nib unit and the barrel together to puncture the writing cartridge.
4. Hold the pen fully vertical with the nib down. Give it a couple of shakes to help gravity get the ink into the nib.
5. Start writing. You will need to apply a SLIGHT pressure. You may need to start writing back and forth with a thin stroke.

The ink in my Manuscript Fountain Pen does not flow well. What do I do?
1. Most of the time the problem is that the ink has dried in the nib, blocking or partially blocking the ink flow. Take a moist cloth or paper towel and wipe the top surface of the pen nib. If that does not clear the blockage, you can try soaking the nib section of the pen in a weak ammonia solution (blue colored window cleaner has ammonia in it), or you could try using an ultrasonic cleaner.
2. Make sure you have the entire edge of the pen on the paper.
3. Try the pen on a different paper and/or with a cushion of extra sheets under the writing paper.
4. If you are using bottle ink, make sure the bottle says it is for FOUNTAIN pens. Some inks which work fine in technical pens will clog your fountain pen. If waterproof ink has dried in your pen, it might be saved with an ultrasonic cleaner.
5. Pigment-based fountain pen inks (Calli & Winsor Newton Calligraphy (Blue Cap)) may cause more flow problems than dye-based inks such as the cartridges that came with the pen and Pelikan 4001.
6. If your pen writes well for some of the page but skips only in certain areas of the paper, you may need to use a protective sheet under your writing hand. Oils or moisture from your hand can cause problems. Usually oil will cause skipping; moisture will cause bleeding. A sheet of plain paper should work fine to protect your writing surface.

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Masking Fluids

I've tried Winsor & Newton, Daler-Rowney, Schminke, Pebeo and the Masquepen. They each have their pluses and minuses. The Daler-Rowney is thick and has a slightly yellowish tint to it, so it sometimes leaves a trace of that on the paper when you remove it. The Masquepen is bluish, you can see it easily on the paper, and it removes clean. The Pebeo has a nice viscosity for writing. Some applications are better done with a specific brand.

I like to use the Pebeo brand when I want to write with masking fluid because it just seems to flow better. I like to use Mitchell nibs without the reservoir, but any nib that doesn't have a built in reservoir can be used. Just dip and write in your usual way. Be sure to allow the masking fluid to dry completely before you paint or write over it.

The Masquepen has a very useful applicator. I used it recently on a watercolor painting to add tiny branches on trees that I wanted to remain white, as well as to block out some fence posts. The applicator is monoline in character, and you might try writing with it. There is an adaptor for the Masquepen that will make even thinner lines. I especially like the fluid's light blue color, which makes it easy to see as you paint. The refills are a little pricey but go a long way. I love just playing with the Masquepen. For the record, I most often work on 300# paper when I want to work wet which saves a lot of time stretching paper. Some people refill the Masquepen with Pebeo (which the manufacturer labels as "Drawing Gum").

To apply masking fluids:
You can use a brush or a pen; the Masquepen has an applicator. When I use a brush, I have a small (hotel size) bar of soap and some water near my work area. Dip your brush in water and work/roll it on the bar of soap BEFORE you dip the brush in the masking fluid. Repeat the process anytime you rinse your brush. The object is to lubricate the bristles and keep the rubber on the surface so it rinses off easily. Try to keep the fluid off of the ferrule (where the hairs meet the handle), and your clean-up will be minimal. I always try to use an older brush just in case. But I've occasionally used my good red sables (accidentally), and they've cleaned up nicely. This works for all the brands.

Removing the fluid:
It's really important that the masking fluid is COMPLETELY dry before you paint over it or try to remove it. Also, I wouldn't suggest leaving your artwork in a warm place (like a sunny window) or using a hairdryer on too high a setting if you use one to speed the drying. Too much heat can make removal very difficult, if not impossible. Too much heat may also cause the masking fluid to stain your paper. Likewise, if the masking fluid (and what you painted over it with) isn't completely dry, you will damage the surface of the paper when you remove it.

When the masking fluid is completely dry, you can remove it by simply rubbing your clean fingers over it lightly, or remove it more easily with a rubber cement pick-up.

- Sandy Wagner

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McCaffery's Penman's Ink
I have some questions about using and caring for McCaffery's ink. Can you give me any more information?
Consult this pdf file ( to discover Michael Sull's suggestions and information on using McCaffery's Penman's Ink.

I'm having trouble with my McCaffrey's ink - it forms mold on the surface in a day. It is all the colors of McCaffrey's. At present I just skim it off and use the ink, then next time I open it, even as soon as a day later, there is more mold. Is there anything I can do to prevent that?
It happens from time to time. It may happen more when the ink is used right out of the bottle. The colors are from natural ingredients and sometimes mold will get started. The open bottle invites any mold floating in the air to land in it and take off. For the last 2 or 3 years I have been adding a tea tree oil solution which acts as a natural antiseptic to help control it (available in health food stores); before I used potassium metabisulfate which is used in wine to control mold (available in wine/beer supply stores). But sometimes even that does not help because of the environment that it is being used in. You can add some of either one of these items to see if that helps. I think that in warmer climates (whether it is a winter heated house or a summer one without air conditioning) it is probably worse.
-- Neil McCaffrey, 2011

I love the effect of McCaffrey's Glossy Black, but it is not drying on the envelopes.

The hand he uses for envelopes has wide strokes on the capitals. He does not find that the Glossy ink ever dries on those strokes within a practical length of time. Even after the ink was dry, stacked envelopes could offset. The fine strokes on the capitals and the lowercase letters are not generally a problem, so if you write with less stress on the strokes, you may not have experienced a problem.

While John loves the appearance of the Glossy Black, he does not find the ink suitable for his envelope work. John now uses the McCaffreys Penmans Ink for this. The regular Penman's ink dries quickly and does not have problems with offset when the envelopes are stacked.

John has found if you thin the Glossy Ink with water, you will have less of a problem with slow drying and offset onto other envelopes. So if you don't use heavily stressed capitals, this may be a workable solution. He has also heard of penmen who have mixed the regular and the glossy. You get some shine and better drying.

If you end up with a job with Glossy Black that is sticking, John had success with getting some offset powder from his printer. He rubbed a bit across the letters and tapped the envelope on the desk to remove the excess powder. The shine was cut a bit, but the envelopes did not stick to each other. He has not tried Microglaze, but it might be a solution. He uses Microglaze for non-waterproof inks. You just rub it over the lettering with your finger.

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How do I use Kolner Miniatum?
Patent gold is recommended.

Apply Miniatum directly to smooth paper (or vellum) with brush or pen. The smoother your paper, the more mirror-like the finish to the gilding. (If you work on textured paper, the texture of the paper may follow into the gilding.) Miniatum will provide the best results when the size forms a slightly elevated bead on the surface. The minimum drying time is 3-5 hours depending on the thickness of the layer of Miniatum, the temperature, and the humidity. (Composition Metals require a shorter drying time.) The material remains open for gilding for the next 20 hours. You may find that you get a better finish with overnight drying. Apply patent leaf by simply laying the leaf on the surface and rubbing the paper backing with a cotton ball. After you have finished applying the gold, press over the surface of the gold with a cotton ball to make sure you have good contact. Burnish with a new cotton ball, one direction only. Loose leaf gold can also be used. Use the tissue from the books to protect the gold leaf when rubbing onto the Miniatum.

Once the Miniatum has passed its open window, gold will not adhere to it.

You can also reference Reggie's instructions for Instacoll, a similar product by the same manufacturer. He recommends a much shorter drying time for that product.

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Music: Staff and Notes

Do you have pens and nibs for music: to create the staff and to write the notes?
For the staff, the Automatic 5 Line Pen is the best tool. It is a dip pen with five points: N28. Automatic 5 Line Pen.
Brause makes a Music Nib, (N39. Brause 5 Line Music Nib) but it is much trickier to use. It is less expensive, but you will be much happier with the 5-Line Automatic Pen.

For writing the notes, you have a \choice of a fountain pen or a dip pen.

For the FOUNTAIN PEN you will need to nib, barrel and ink (bottle or cartridge).
FP103. Manuscript Deluxe Nib, Size: Drawing/Music. $4.95
FP92. Manuscript Deluxe Barrel & Converter. $5.95
FP91. Manuscript Cartridges. Pk of 12. $4.95
I119. Manuscript Fountain Pen Ink $6.79 or I04. Pelikan 4001 Ink. $7.90
If you need a waterproof, light-fast ink: I07. Calli. $5.25
If you need a non-waterproof, light-fast ink: I59. Winsor & Newton Calligraphy Inks $5.50
Here is the link to Manuscript Fountain Pens on the JNB website: Manuscript

For a DIP PEN you will need a nib, holder & bottle ink.
The Mitchell Nib size: 5 or 6 (N04)and a reservoir VN07
or the Brause Nib size: .5mm or .75 (N02)
The Mitchell is more flexible than the Brause, and may be more suitable. Music nibs traditionally have some flexibility.
Most holders work with these nibs. Our H62. Mahogany Pen Holder is very popular.
The bottle inks above will work with dip pens.
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I received the EF Principle (your N120), Nikko G nib (your N113) , and Brause Rose (your N69). I am cleaning them with a paper towel moistened with Windex. I am creating pen & ink drawings on a generic sketch pad. I have to say that the principle is the best nib I've ever used. When I draw with the nibs, the ink usually flow beautifully (except for the Nikko), but with subsequent dippings in Windsor Newton ink the flow seems to worsen, especially when pausing to reflect on my work. - Jacob A., Rhode Island

Since the problem is worse after you pause to reflect, I'm guessing that the ink is drying on your pen. If the ink has dried on your pen, it won't necessarily flow well even if you re-dip. This is especially true of waterproof/water-resistant inks such as traditional India ink, Sumi ink or the new waterproof acrylic inks. This should be less of a problem with non-waterproof inks such as Higgins Eternal or the Winsor & Newton Calligraphy inks. Instead of wiping your pen with a moistened paper towel, rinse the nib off in a jar of water and dry with a soft, lint-free rag. (A paper towel will probably work just as well.) Then dip and draw. This cleaning routine can become part of your pauses for reflection. Some Windex in your water (or a bit of ammonia) will be helpful for India ink, Sumi and especially the acrylic inks.

At some point the nib will stop working well, even with the regular cleaning. Michael Sull finds that the useful life of nibs can be extended by cleaning the nib with an Ultrasonic Cleaner (S759, $80) which will remove ink dried in the slit of the pen (even waterproof inks) and dried paint from your brushes. If the tip has worn, most people just replace the nib.

I have read about Hunt 22B nibs, but can only find Hunt 22 nibs. What gives?


For some reason the company that makes these nibs lists them as Hunt 22B in their catalog. That is also s how they are listed in the current version of the JNB printed catalog. However, both new nibs and the older "vintage" ones have this stamped on the nib: "HUNT EXTRA FINE 22". There is no B. You can call them Hunt 22B or Hunt 22, they are the same nib.


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Old World Ink

When I tried to use a bottle of Old World Ink again after it set on the shelf for around eight months, it was watery on the top and thick (like gouache or acrylic paint straight from the tube) on the bottom. What should I do?

With normal use the ink usually does not settle, but under some circumstances it can settle if left undisturbed for a long time. Everything is water soluble, so stirring with a coffee stick, and then shaking the jar (with the cap tightly sealed), should put it right back to normal. After this if the ink is too thick, you can add distilled water to suit your needs.

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Pointed Pens

Read this helpful and informative article about pointed nibs:

How do I know which pointed pens will work with my holder?
Consult the charts below to see which holders and nibs work well together.

H23. Hunt (Speedball) Plastic Oblique Pen Holder. Black, hourglass shape.
These pointed nibs will work with this holder:

Hunt 22 Gillott 170 Hiro 700*
Hunt 56 Gillott 303 &nbsp
Hunt 99 Gillott 404 Esterbrook 354*
Hunt 100* Gillott 1950 &nbsp
Hunt 101 &nbsp &nbsp
Hunt 103* &nbsp &nbsp
Hunt 104* &nbsp &nbsp

*These are particularly small nibs.

Others fit in the holder, but extend too far so you can't line up the point of the nib with the center of the holder. (e.g. Nikko G, Hiro 40, Brause Rose)

Other nibs are the wrong shape and won't fit in the holder such as the tubular crow quills (Gillott 659, Hunt 108, Hunt 102, Brause 515) or ones with the wrong curve such as the EF Principal. Others fit in but are too loose in the holder and slip out.

H69. Hunt (Speedball) Straight Plastic Pen Holder. Black, hourglass shape.
These pointed nibs will work with this holder:

Hunt 22 Gillott 170 Hiro 40 (Blue Pumpkin)
Hunt 56 Gillott 303 Hiro 41 (Crown)
Hunt 99 Gillott 404 Hiro 700*
Hunt 100* Gillott 1290* &nbsp
Hunt 101 Gillott 1950 Brause Rose
Hunt 103* &nbsp &nbsp
Hunt 104* &nbsp Esterbrook 354*

*These are particularly small nibs.

H75. Gillott Mapping Penholder (#51)
These pointed nibs will work with this holder:

Gillott 659 (tubular crowquill) Brause 66EF Brause 511

The Hunt 108 and 102 tubular crowquill nibs are too loose in this holder.

Why do I have to keep dipping my pointed nib in the ink?
All pointed nibs (pen points) come with a protective coating to keep them from rusting. This coating repels the ink so you don't get a full load when you dip the point in the ink. You need to remove the coating. The easiest method is to put some saliva on your finger and rub it on the pen point and wipe it dry. (Some points need to be handled with care - they may be easily damaged or have a sharp point.) See if this doesn't allow you to write a few more strokes before you have to dip again.

Do you have any suggestions for pointed pen nibs that don't tend to catch on the up-stroke? -Anne K., ME
Many of our customers have had great success switching to the Nikko G and the Blackwell holder.
There are four factors here: 1. The sharpness of the pen nib. 2. The roughness of the paper. 3. The angle of the pen nib to the paper. 4. The pressure on the upstroke.
To decrease the catch-and-splatter problem on the up stroke, you can use a less sharp nib, write on smoother paper, decrease the angle of the pen to the paper, or use less pressure on your upstroke.
1. Less Sharp nib: The Hunt 101 (N77) and Gillott 303 (N72) are great nibs for copperplate, but they are sharp and tend to catch on the up stroke. The Nikko G (N113) is perhaps our smoothest writing nib. On smooth paper and with a light touch Hunt 99(N88), Gillott 170(N71), and Brause 66EF (N70) will work well.
2. Smoothness of the paper. Clairfontaine Pads and our Copperplate Pad (P25, blank paper) have very smooth surfaces. (If you have an envelope addressing job, you have to work with the paper surface you have been given.)
3. Angle of pen nib to the paper. If you are using the Speedball Plastic Holder, a different holder will make a big difference. The Blackwell Holder (Plastic & Wood) are made so that the pen nib is at a shallower angle to the paper and your up-strokes are less likely to catch. Holders with a metal flange (Century(H51/52), Zanerian(H59)) can be adjusted with needle nose pliers for the same result. Our Blue and Red Oblique holders are already adjusted.
We have a PDF from Ziller with some instructions:
We also have a video from Dr. Joseph Vitolo showing how to adjust your brass flange holder here:
4. Less Pressure on the upstroke. This, of course, is easier said than done. However, it is very possible that if you change one or more of the first three, the problem will be largely solved.

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Pounce and Pergamenata
I have problems with occasional "oily" places on Pergamenata that repel the paint (Winsor & Newton gouache) - even when I use a guard sheet (glassine) and cotton gloves. Is this common?
"Yep, I too have this problem with Pergamenata."
- Fiona

"I have experienced this problem from time to time as well and have solved the issue by using pounce prior to doing any calligraphy or illumination."
- Finnguala

"I have had this problem in really small, sporadic areas. I've solved it by running a white eraser over the area real quick."
- Lady Rohesia

"I use pounce. I find it much easier than erasing."
- Conandil

"Yes, but it is easily solved. You will need a white (rectangular, usually) eraser, and a large flat brush (like you find in the drafting section at an art/craft store). Erase the entire working surface BEFORE you work on the Pergamenata. Use the large, flat brush to brush away the eraser crumbs. DO NOT use your hands as this will deposit more oil right back onto your now oil free page. Use a shield (gloves, paper towel, scrap paper) between your skin (hands and forearms) and the Pergamenata at all times after that. This pulls off the oils that have settled on the paper's surface from manufacturing, handling, or even from a cat accidentally walking across the page. Here in Atenveldt, we have been using this technique for over a decade with Pergamenata, and it works flawlessly."
- Hrefna

"A very good brush to use for such work is a brand new cosmetic brush, such as a fat blusher. They are inexpensive enough but get a good one, or it will shed hair. Don't settle for a Dollar Store item. They can be dyed and will leave dark streaks on even slight damp work (ask me how I know this!). I also use very thin knit fingerless gloves found in the dollar section of Target because I kept accidentally moving the paper towel or paper scrap over something wet on a scroll. The gloves stay on my hand, between me and the scroll. Judging by the wild striped colors, they were designed for teens. But at $1.00 a pair, they were a great bargain for wearing when creating a scroll. Keep an eye out!"
- Flavia

"Try using "quilter's gloves" which I think are made by Clover. They come 2 sets to a package and are like archival cotton gloves that curators wear. I cut the fingers off the thumb, forefinger and middle fingers to hold my pen, and leave them on the pinky and 2nd finger as those are what rests on my parchment, which can have the same issues with oil spots. If I used fingerless gloves, I'd still have oil spots because of those fingers hitting the surface."
- Carolyn Richardson

"When I was introduced to Pergamenata, I was taught to prep the sheet with pounce prior to using it. Having always done this prep, I have had no problems with Pergamenata from any source, and I most certainly have had no problems with Pergamenata I order from you. I apply the pounce in the following way: Take the pounce container and apply a thin layer of pounce to the entire surface. Use the pounce applicator to spread the pounce on the sheet by using a tap-then-brush movement. Once the pounce has been applied, I turn the sheet onto its longest edge and gently tap the sheet a few times to knock off any loose pieces or large grains of pounce. This prep helps produce fantastically crisp lines in calligraphy and helps stave off the dreaded oil spots that can occur on any writing surface. I always use thin cotton gloves when working on my calligraphy. On my writing hand (right), I cut out the thumb and pointy (index) finger entirely and the middle finger is cut down to the second knuckle from the tip. This allows me to control the pen holder and not get any of my hand oils and acids onto the paper. The glove for my non-writing hand (left) is fully intact and allows me to stabilize or move the paper without concern about hand oils and acids getting onto the paper. Most of the time, I also wash my hands with mild soap and water before I do my calligraphy."
- David Roland

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Ruling Pens
What instruction do you recommend for using a ruling pen for lettering/calligraphy?
Unfortunately I don't know of a printed manual on using the ruling pen. There is information out there, but it usually does not include a lot of explicit how-to instruction. Here are three sources for info:

If you already own Annie Cicale's excellent book The Art & Craft of Hand Lettering, there are color photos of a variety of ruling pens and folded pens that can be used for lettering along with some examples lettering done with a ruling pen on page 96. There is not enough info to warrant purchasing the book just for the ruling pen page, but the book as a whole would make a fine addition to any calligrapher's library. (B2811, $19.95 Paper)

Letter Arts Review 13.2 (LR13-2, $12.50) has an extensive article by Paul Shaw, "Demystifying the Ruling Pen," on the history of the use of the ruling pen for lettering, the types of ruling pens used, and a presentation of the work of master scribes work using the tool. Other articles are on manuscript books by William Morris, a 13th century Book of Hours, Brick Carving by Richard Kindersley, and Sheila Waters on Uncial and Half Uncial.

Bound & Lettered 5.2 (BL5.2, $8.50) has a five-page article Using Pens with contributions by Glen Epstein, Jim Chin and Kate McKulla which includes examples and an exemplar alphabet with ductus.

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What is sepia?
Sepia is both a color (hue) and a name of a pigment. The color is a brown. The pigment is prepared from the ink, or black secretion, of the sepia, or cuttlefish. It is treated with caustic potash for a rich brown color (Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via Modern Sepia paints and inks do not use the sepia pigment. For example, Winsor Newton gouache uses Synthetic iron oxide and Calcined natural iron oxide.

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Speedball Pen Points
I'm not sure if I want Speedball B or Speedball C nibs. Do you have any information about those nibs, and the different sizes of each nib?
We have an informational chart for each kind of nib with illustrations and size information. Please see the charts below:
Speedball B Nibs
Speedball C Nibs

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Thread - Needle Comparison
Is there a chart or table that shows the actual diameter of the various bookbinding thread sizes?
We have an informational chart comparing our thread sizes to our needle sizes, plus a helpful picture showing the sizes.
Thread - Needle Comparison Chart

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Vintage Nibs vs. Current Nibs
What is the difference between one of your current nibs and a vintage nib?
For some of our current nibs, there is stock of vintage nibs available. The vintage nibs will have several advantages.

1. The quality control on the vintage nibs will much better. You nibs will be more precisely made and you won't get defective nibs, or not nearly as many.
2. Vintage nibs can be sharper, but write smoother, can be more responsive, and can flex better. Vintage nibs can be more expensive than currently made nibs, but they can a better value.
3. Simply put, vintage nibs are better made and out of superior materials. They are worth trying. You may or may not find that the difference between vintage and current nibs is important to you.

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Walnut Ink Crystals
How do I use walnut ink crystals to make walnut ink?
Recipe for Walnut Ink Crystals:
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of the crystals into ½ cup of distilled water. Wait for 25-35 minutes and this powder produces a lightfast walnut ink. Dilute as needed for lighter shades.

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Preparing your Winson & Newton 995 Brush for lettering.
View this video by John Stevens.

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Writing in Bibles and other books
I have a commission to write a few headings and a lot of names in a book of memory. I was not provided any sample paper; therefore, I would appreciate any advice for ink and nibs that would be good to use before I start to work. - Catherine Langsdorf, North Carolina


My experience with many beautiful commercially-made books is that they are not intended for calligraphy, and that two books that look very similar often have different papers. After deciding on a writing fluid, test it with tiny marks very near the spine on the back of a page at the end of the book, but not the very last page. I start with a tiny dot. Barbi, Connecticut


Inscribing bound books is one of the trickiest of commissions. I have inscribed many Bibles of varying paper qualities with varying success. Here are two tricks - in addition to testing the fluid in the back of the book.


1) Any nib with gouache is a safer bet than ink, especially as regards to bleeding/feathering. Ground stick ink is a safer bet than bottled ink. Fountain pen ink is almost certainly a disaster.
2) Place the box in which the book was packaged (or something of a similar height)to the side of the book for your hand to rest upon as it moves across the page. Otherwise the tendency is for your hand to "fall off" the book's edge as you are writing.
- Beth Weiss, South Dakota


I find that Ziller Glossy Black ink or a Japanese bottled Sumi ink often work, although the dry-time may be challenging to gauge. Work slowly and breathe deeply. - E. S.


Sometimes in instances like this, I write the headings and names on a nice piece of paper that complements the book page and affix it to a page with some nice photo corners. That way, any errors you make are easy to fix. Good luck with this project. - Pya Seidner, NY


If the book is made in signatures, there may be a center sheet of one of the signatures that you can gently cut out. That will give you paper to test inks and such. - Liz Simmonds, North Carolina.


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Zebra G Pointed Nibs
Is a special nib holder required for these Zebra G nibs?--Wilma from Montana
Here are the results of my tests. The Zebra G Nib is similar in size and shape to the Nikko G Nib.

Oblique Pen Holders
- The Zebra G Nib will fit in oblique holders that are adjustable, such as the Blackwell Oblique Holders (H50 & H61).
- It will fit in the black plastic Speedball/Hunt Oblique Holder (H23), but because the nib is large you can't get the point of the nib in the ideal spot (in line with the center of the holder). This is also true of the Nikko G Nib (N113)
- It will fit in oblique pen holders that have been adjusted for the Nikko G , such as the Ziller Grey Plastic Holder (H48 NIKK).
- You can adjust the flange on other holders such as the Century Oblique Holders (H51 & H52) to accommodate the Zebra G Nib.

Straight Pen Holders
- The Zebra G Nib was too loose in the black plastic Speedball Holder (H69). This was a surprise because the Nikko G works in this holder.
- However, the nib works in the Sapphire and Garnet Speedball Colored Holders (H65).
- The Zebra G nib fit in all the Pen Holders with the metal ring and prongs. You must have one edge of the nib in the gap of the ring.
- The Zebra G nib works in the Century Turned Wood Holders (H79, H81). It looks like it won't, but the nib slides right in! The nib also works in the all-wood Brause Double Pen Holder (H32).

The Zebra G does not work in the Speedball/Hunt and Gillott pen holders that are made for the circular crowqill nibs or the smaller nibs.

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Ziller Inks
"I have the entire collection of Ziller Inks. Wanting to play with them I pulled out the green, blue and white. The blue and green worked great after I thinned the ink to work with my new Zebra G nib: nice, deep rich color. However, when I thinned my white, it became more transparent than I wanted. How do I keep the opaqueness. Has my ink gone bad? I have had it a while. I have been using distilled water per instructions, using a pipette to add the water ten drops at a time."
--Jes in North Carolina

"I just use the Ziller inks straight. Only time I have thinned them is when I forgot and left the bottle uncapped! Then using an eyedropper and distilled water, I added a drop at a time until it returned to the thickness I wanted."
--Elsie H. Wilson

"I go thru so much Ziller White and use it straight from the bottle. I get nice crisp hairlines; it is opaque and flows velvety smooth. I have never thinned it. I have never thinned any of the Zillers at all. I use their red (which is the color of Cartier logo!), blue and brown (chocolate!!) a lot. The purple is also lovely."
-- Nan DeLuca

"For the colors, the pigments are ground super fine - 2 to 8 microns in diameter. However, the white cannot be ground that fine. Its size needs to be larger - about 1.5 microns or so. If the white pigment was ground smaller, the ink would lose its opacity and became rather transparent. Also, if you dilute the ink too much, it will lose its opacity. Be sure to stir the white frequently when using. Because the pigment size in the white is larger, it will sink quicker to the bottom of the jar. The other smaller pigments stay in suspension much longer but, they too should be stirred before use. As long as the inks are kept in a clean environment and do not become contaminated, they should have a long shelf life."
-- Rich Mungall, Ziller Inks.

Do you have any hints for the Ziller Classic Glossy Black Powdered Ink?
--If you let the ink sit for 6 or 7 days, it will be more glossy.
--If the ink is not glossy enough (because you added too much water), leave the bottle open. As the ink evaporates, it will become more glossy.
--If you refill your nib more frequently, you will get better gloss. The last strokes out of a dip pen are not as glossy as the first.

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