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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Ink Spots!

Well, not really ink spots!  But I'm always on the search for The Perfect Ink for my purposes.

I'm still looking.

What I want most often is an ink that dries waterproof (or at least water-resistent) in a relatively short time, so I can use watercolor over it...and that's tricky, in most fountain pens.  I've tested dozens and usually go back to Noodler's Lexington Grey, which seems to perform best for me, given my usual "requirements."

Often, we blame our fountain pens for not feeding well, but it may be the ink instead.  (And of course some pens write wetter and some dryer...meaning some make a finer more delicate line, and some really flow readily.   My original Namiki Falcon is like that, somewhat juicy.)

I'd love a dependable brown that doesn't clog my pens, but so far except in RARE cases, that's been tough to find.  (My Carbon Desk Pens, the TWSBIs, and my inexpensive Preppies seem most amenable to brown ink, and the brown that works best for me seems to be Noodler's Brown #41.)  But for the most part, Lexy Grey is my go-to ink.

GouletPen.com has a lovely sampler set of browns to try out!  (And come to think of it, there ARE some "ink spots," someone leaked!)
I used Noodler's Brown #41 in my Materia Medica, in a Carbon Desk Pen you can read about in this post.

I was really excited when I heard about DeAtramentis Document Inks, and some people are finding them PERFECT for their needs, not a bit of trouble; my dear friend Liz Steel loves them!  (The inks seem to work perfectly in many of the Lamy pens, which, unfortunately, I don't care for.)

And I just paid a professional to clean my vintage Sheaffer--I couldn't get it to work even with Goulet's pen cleaner, which is normally magic!  She recommended that I either change to water-soluble ink or flush it about once a week!

(My favorite Noodler's Creaper pen that I only write with is always filled with a water-soluble ink that hasn't failed me once in almost 3 years...it's De Atramentis, a dark green-black, and I love it!)

NOTE: There's a big difference in dye inks and pigmented inks.  The latter is much more likely to be water-resistant, but also more likely to clog since pigment particles do tend to clump.  That's why some cartridges, like the Pilot Namiki, some with a tiny ball-bearing inside that keeps the particles more evenly distributed.  Some of my converters have that option too... 

I recently bought another Noodler's Konrad pen, which holds more ink than the Creaper, and was amazed when it quit working after a few weeks.  I'm not, any more.  That's its feed and nib, on the left, in the first picture below.  The other is my normally dependable, foolproof Hero M-86 nib.

Yeah, that's the new Konrad's feed...almost totally clogged.

This is the Hero nib, likewise--but it had been in the pen considerably longer, so not as surprised.  BOTH took a nice bath in pen cleaner and got a good scrubbing with an old toothbrush, though...

Just for the heck of it I put the Hero under a magnivying glass...yuck.  I'd be reluctant to work too if I were clogged like that...
So will I continue to use my De Atramentis Document inks?  Of course.  But I'll be much more mindful of cleaning and flushing my pens and nibs, and use them in my juicier, more dependable pens, at least the inexpensive ones like the Preppy and Metropolitan, definitely not the vintage pens!  And they're great with dip pens.

Obviously this is not an issue only with the De Atramentis Document inks, either...many pigmented inks can be challenging to use.  I'm careful with Platinum Carbon Black and other similar inks as well.

And of course you do NOT want to use India Ink or one of the acrylics in a good fountain pen.  They dry hard!

It is more than possible to draw with water-soluble ink, and wet the lines for halftones...it's a lovely and often luminous effect, just not one I go for often!  I may have to branch out a bit...

Soooo...what works for you, in which pens?  Water soluble, water resistant?


  1. Cathy, for me it’s still Lexington Grey. It’s been my go to ever since you turned me onto it some years back. It just seems to work best when I want to use washes right after sketching. I just wish it was darker. The noodlers blacks don’t seem to be waterproof.

  2. Oh, such a helpful post! Thank you, Kate! I really love Noodler's Bulletproof Black, but it does take a while to dry. I use it in a number of different pens-- Noodler's Creaper and several others. Recently I've fallen in love with Private Reserve Velvet Black and Noodler's Nightshade. Jamie Grossman gave me samples to try and I've only been using them for a little while, but I love the effects I can get with them. I do use De Atramentis Document Brown in my TWSBI and it has never clogged, even when I have left it for months.

    I just found and resurrected my very old Platignum and Osmiroid pens and have my sample inks from Jamie in those, and they seem to be working well so far.

  3. My TWSBI seems to be able to handle anything, that's true! I love Noodler's non-waterproof inks, they seem to work very smoothly...


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