Glass dip pens are a glorious writing instrument: beautiful, versatile, and unique. Unfortunately, there are a couple of issues you might encounter when you write with one. In this article, we’ll talk about common glass dip pen problems and their solutions! (Never heard of glass dip pens? Read this article.)
I love using a glass dip pen for several reasons. First, I have complete control over the ink color, and I can change it on a whim. Second, the ink tends to vary in tone and thickness, which gives the writing a unique look. Finally, the calming repetition of scrawling and re-dipping makes writing with a glass dip pen a meditative act. All that said, it’s not uncommon to experience glass dip pen problems! In this article, we’ll discuss five common issues and their solutions.
1. The Glass Dip Pen Runs Out of Ink Too Quickly
Glass dip pens can write quite a few words before they run out of ink. You should be able to squeeze a long paragraph or two short paragraphs out of one dip. If your pen is running out of ink before that, take a look at the type of ink you’re using. Thinner inks will always write longer and more efficiently.
Try to steer clear of inks like sumi, Ziller, and Bleed Proof White. The best inks to use with glass dip pens have a viscosity that’s akin to water, like iron gall and walnut. I’ve found that Bombay inks are good, too!
2. Strokes are Too Thick
TPK’s glass dip pens have a 0.7 mm tip, which isn’t super dainty. I, personally, like the look of some closed “a”s and “o”s! But, if your strokes seem too thick, there are a few things you can try to slim them down a bit.
First, try holding the pen at a more upright angle, then at less of an upright angle. Next, rotate the tip slightly so a different part of the tip meets the paper. If all that doesn’t work, consider switching papers! If you write on a non-absorbent paper like watercolor paper, your strokes will be daintier.
If all else fails, you can try purchasing a glass dip pen with a very thin tip, like this one. The only disadvantage is the thin tip can be quite delicate. My thin-tipped glass pen developed an imperceptible chip after about a month and refused to write after that.
3. Ink Color is Inconsistent
When you load ink onto your glass dip pen and begin to write, you’ll notice a rich and vibrant ink color. As you continue to write, the color will fade until it settles into a mellower tone and finally putters out. At that point, you re-dip your pen, and the color becomes rich again. I love this effect, but some people don’t!
Unless you want to re-dip your pen in ink every couple of words, your best bet is to embrace the gradation. If you truly don’t love it, try using iron gall ink. The color won’t be 100% consistent, but the gradation isn’t as obvious with iron gall as it is with most other inks.
4. The Glass Tip is Chipped or Refuses to Write
If you know your glass dip pen has chipped, you can try sanding it back to good health with fine grain sand paper (or a nail file). It’s a bit of a “hail Mary” move, but it’s one that just might save your pen!
If your pen has never written well, don’t rule out a manufacturing defect. With glass dip pens, the design has to be just right: channels should feed ink to the tip in a very specific way. If the channels don’t carry the ink properly, it will be difficult — if not impossible — to write. If you suspect a manufacturing defect, get in touch with the merchant that you purchased the pen from to ask for a replacement.
Just a reminder, especially if you’re having trouble writing: remember to keep “padding paper” under whatever you’re working on! Your glass dip pen needs a nice, cushy buffer between it and the table surface.
5. The Tip Isn’t Completely Clean
If the tip of your glass dip pen has seen more pristine days, don’t worry about it. My glass dip pens get a lot of use, so their grooves have a permanent dark tint from a bit of dried-on ink. That ink doesn’t affect my writing at all.
If you truly can’t stand a tip that’s less than squeaky clean, try scrubbing at it with a toothbrush after every use. It’s an extra step, but might ensure a sparkling writing instrument. Otherwise, you can just swish off the pen’s tip in water, dry it off with a cloth, and call it good!
I hope that this post clears up any glass dip pen problems that you might encounter! If you have yet to use a glass dip pen, you can learn how to harness its power in this article. Happy writing, and enjoy the rest of your day!