Calligraphy – the fancy cursive writing your teacher made you practice in elementary school. Except way cooler and artistic.
You’ve admired those elegant, swirling works of art and flourished signatures. Now you want to try your hand at creating some calligraphy magic.
But there’s a step one – you need to learn how to put ink in those unique pens!
Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know. You’ll be flourishing stunning lettering sooner than you think.
Let’s start off by looking at the fountain pens of calligraphy – your tool options.
Selecting Your Calligraphy Pen
Calligraphy pens come in a few main varieties, each with their own pros and cons. Here are the top choices:
Dip pens are the OG calligraphy instruments. As the name suggests, you repeatedly dip their metal nibs into ink as you write.
Dip pens are ideal for fancy pointed pen scripts like Copperplate and Spencerian. Their flexible nibs allow you to create dramatic thick and thin lines – perfect for that calligraphy flair.
However, dip pens do require more setup than other options. You’ll need to constantly re-dip your pen and manage the ink flow. Finding the right paper is key too.
But if you want optimal line variation, dip pens can’t be beat! You can geek out finding your perfect nib and ink.
Sleek and sophisticated, fountain pens contain internal ink cartridges or converters for continuous writing without dipping. They range from affordable starters to high-end Grail pens.
Fountain pens deliver smooth, consistent lines since their nibs don’t flex. This makes them great for basic manuscript calligraphy and faux calligraphy.
The limitation is that most fountain pen nibs don’t allow wide variation in line width. You’re also stuck with specific ink cartridges and converters for each pen model.
Brush pens have – you guessed it – brush-like flexible nibs capable of both thick and thin lines. The ink supply is built right in.
Brush pens excel at brush lettering styles and adding artistic touches like shadows and bounce lettering. Their pre-loaded ink means you can start practicing immediately.
The tradeoff is that the bristles require a delicate touch. Brush pens work best on smoother paper. Regular copy paper will cause headaches.
Now that you know your options, let’s look at setting up dip pens since they’re the most involved.
Setting Up a Dip Pen
Dip pens need some prep work before you can start embellishing letters. Here are the key steps:
Assembling the Parts
Most dip pens have three components – a nib, a flange, and a handle. Friction and light pressure fit them snugly together.
For oblique pens, attach the flange to the handle first at an angle. Then insert the nib into the flange so it aligns with the handle center.
Straight pens don’t use a flange. Just insert the nib directly into the wide handle end.
Prepping New Nibs
Brand new nibs have an anti-corrosion coating you’ll need to remove. Give them a wipe with a bit of soap, Windex, or alcohol on a soft cloth. This prevents ink flow problems.
Use calligraphy ink formulated to cling to the nib rather than bleeding through. India or sumi inks are excellent choices. Avoid inks with shellac that can dry inside the nib.
Always test ink flow on scrap paper first! The consistency needs to be just right.
Quality paper prevents messy blobs and skipped lines. Look for “fountain-pen friendly” paper that’s thick and smooth. Calligraphy practice paper with guide lines is perfect for beginners.
Okay, your pen is prepped and you’ve got ink. Now it’s time to…
Filling a Dip Pen
Filling a dip pen and controlling the ink flow takes practice. But you’ll quickly get the hang of it with these tips:
- Don’t over-dip past the reservoir opening. This causes messy blobs.
- Angle the pen nearly horizontal and dip just deep enough to fill the reservoir.
- Gently tap off any excess drips before writing.
You’ll soon have a feel for the ideal dipping depth.
Managing Ink Flow
A dip pen’s flexible metal nib allows thick downstrokes with pressure and hair-thin upstrokes when light-handed – similar to a paintbrush.
You need to stay tuned to your ink supply. Too little and you lose line variation. Too much causes blotches. Finding the balance takes experimentation.
Signs of excessive flow include ink pooling on the nib and spreading on the paper. Carefully wipe the nib and dip minimally until the flow is dialed in.
Conversely, dip again if your ink runs dry mid-stroke. Learn to anticipate when your reservoir level drops.
Cleaning the Nib
Vigilantly cleaning the nib keeps the ink flowing freely. Wipe it gently with a soft cloth or tissue after every few dips or anytime it seems clogged.
For extended breaks, use a damp cloth or paper towel to thoroughly clean the nib. This prevents drying out.
Okay, so dip pens take a bit more tinkering. What about filling a fountain pen?
Filling Fountain Pens
Filling a fountain pen couldn’t be easier. You have two options:
First, make sure the cartridge fits your pen model. Standard international cartridges are most common.
Next, remove the grip section and insert the cartridge onto the nib section. There’s a small point that punctures the cartridge seal.
Re-attach the grip section and voila! The ink flows thanks to capillary action. You can prime the feed by gently squeezing the cartridge.
Converters work like built-in ink syringes. Attach the converter and submerge the nib in ink. Twist the converter knob to draw ink in.
Converters allow you to use bottled fountain pen inks. But cartridges are more convenient for on-the-go use.
Either way, fountain pens are filled with ink in a snap!
Filling Brush Pens
Unfortunately, disposable brush pens can’t be refilled. Once empty, they must be replaced.
However, some high-end brush pens have refillable reservoirs. For these, remove the nib section using the provided tool. Use a blunt syringe to inject ink directly into the reservoir.
Re-attach the section and you’re back in business!
Now that your pen is full of ink, it’s time to…
Priming and Prepping Your Pen
Before writing, take some steps to prep your pen:
- Make a few practice marks on scrap paper to test ink flow.
- Write scribbles and doodles to let ink saturate the nib and feed.
- Gently blot the nib on a paper towel to initiate ink flow.
- Do some warm up drills to get the ink running smoothly.
Taking a few minutes to prime your pen prevents frustrations like hard starts and skipping. A little prep ensures your first calligraphy session goes smoothly!
Okay, you know how to fill and prep your pens. But keeping them in tip-top shape requires…
Maintaining Your Pen
Proper pen maintenance keeps things flowing correctly:
Regularly flush nibs and pen sections with water to remove dried ink residue. For tough clogs, use a pen flush solution.
Thorough cleaning prevents the ink buildup that causes skipping and poor flow.
Store pens horizontally with the nib pointing up. Avoid direct sunlight and excessive heat.
Proper storage prevents leaks and keeps nibs from drying out.
- Monitor ink levels to refill promptly
- Apply lubricants like silicone grease periodically to keep nibs slick
- Avoid pressing nibs too firmly – a light touch prevents strain
With some simple care, your pens will last a lifetime!
Even with good maintenance, you may encounter some hiccups:
Here are some quick remedies for common problems:
Apply a tiny drop of lubricant into the nib slit. This gets things flowing smoothly again.
Clogged Ink Flow
Gently clean the nib and feed channel with a damp towel to clear obstructions.
Leaks and Blotting
Thoroughly clean the nib and adjust ink flow. This fixes leaks caused by air bubbles or excess ink.
Roll the nib on paper to get ink moving. Or switch to a wetter ink formulation.
With a bit of tweaking, you can get your pens back on track!
That was a lot on filling and caring for calligraphy pens!
- Select the right pen for your style – dip, fountain, or brush
- Properly set up and fill your pen with quality ink
- Take time to prep the nib before writing
- Maintain pens through cleaning and gentle use
It may seem daunting at first, but calligraphy is a learnable art. With practice, you’ll soon be flourishing works of cursive art!
Filling your pen properly is the crucial first step. The rest comes with consistency. Dip, prime, and get ready to embellish letters like a pro!