How to Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs

Jun 22

You’ve just purchased a new nib for your calligraphy or dip pen and are excited to get it inserted, inked, and ready to write. Before you begin however, take the time to properly prepare the nib for optimal results. There are several ways to prepare a new nib. Each artist and writer has his preference for preparations. Below are a few of the most common prep tips.

Why Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs?
Despite the pristine appearance of your new nib, it’s not ready to write until some maintenance has been performed. Why? Manufacturers often coat nibs with a thin coat of lacquer or oil to protect them during distribution. For optimal inking and writing, you’ll need to remove the protective layer first.

How to Prepare a New Calligraphy Nib
What follows are suggestions for preparing a new nib. As always, experiment safely with these methods, testing on your least valuable investments first.

1. Boiling Water. Prepare one cup of boiling water, and a second cup of cold water. Place the nib in a calligraphy pen holder, and submerge just the nib in the boiling water, and slowly swirl for just a few seconds. Remove the nib from the boiling water and submerge it in the cold water, also using a slow swirling pattern for just a few seconds. Repeat these steps until the nib has lost the shine of the manufacturer’s lacquer and is ready for use.

2.Open Flame. Safely pass the nib, up to the vent hole, back and forth through an open flame, such as the flame from a candle. Do not hold the nib in the flame for prolonged periods. Rather, simply pass the nib through slowly a few times to burn off the coating.

3.Dish Detergent. Apply a small dab of dish detergent to a cotton swab. Scrub both sides of the nib, from tip to vent hole, with the cotton swab. Rinse the detergent off the nib with water, and dry the nib thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel.

4.Toothpaste. Apply a small dab of toothpaste to a cotton swab. Scrub both sides of the nib, from tip to vent hole, with the cotton swab. Rinse the toothpaste off the nib with water, and dry the nib thoroughly with a clean cloth or paper towel.

If you do not follow any of the suggestions to remove the thin coat of lacquer on your new nib, it can still be used, and eventually the varnish will wear off on its own. However, you’ll notice that until the lacquer wears off, the ink will not coat the nib as evenly, and could result in flow issues, or undesirable ink blobs. For optimal results, always start with a clean, oil or lacquer-free nib.

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