• How to Clean New Calligraphy Nibs (Includes Tutorial Video)

    Who knew? Not only is the humble potato tasty, but it can be a calligrapher’s best friend! In this post, I’ll show you how to use a spud to remove the oils from your nibs. Don’t miss the 90 second tutorial video!

    How I Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs for Use | The Postman's Knock
    I’m cleaning Nikko G nibs for my workshops this weekend! I had two last-minute cancelations this morning, so spots are open if you’d like to come! You can register here.

    One thing that no one told me when I set out to learn calligraphy? New calligraphy nibs don’t necessarily arrive ready to use. Nib manufacturers coat them with oils to keep them nice and fresh in storage! That’s great because it means that you receive nibs that are in mint condition. The downside? Oil and water don’t mix — and ink is mostly made of water! You’ll more than likely have trouble writing if you don’t get the oils off the nib before you start.

    How to Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs for Use | The Postman's Knock
    If you don’t clean new calligraphy nibs before you use them, you’ll probably experience difficulty with ink flow. See how the ink has beaded up on this brand-new nib?

    How to Clean New Calligraphy Nibs

    Over the years, I’ve tried several different ways to clean new calligraphy nibs. Toothpaste, acetone, matches … you name it! The most effective and efficient method I’ve tried, though, is sticking my nibs into a potato.

    How to Prepare New Calligraphy Nibs for Use | The Postman's Knock

    I don’t know why the potato method works. I would venture to guess that the starches break down the oils! What I do know is if you stick your new calligraphy nib into a potato, wait fifteen minutes, then take it out again, the nib is good to go!


    I know that this nib prep concept is simple, but it doesn’t hurt to explain it in a video. I made this short tutorial to explain *exactly* what to do!


    There are some things to keep in mind when using a potato to clean your new calligraphy nibs. First of all, don’t leave your nibs in the potato for any longer than 15 minutes, otherwise they might rust.

    Calligraphy Nibs | The Postman's Knock
    Some nibs are more resistant to rusting than others, but all metal rusts eventually! Try setting a timer to ensure that you take your nibs out in time.

    My second tip is to clean off your nib with water and a non-fibrous cloth after it’s been in the potato. Otherwise, potato residue will gunk up the nib a bit! Finally, my third tip: gently ease the nib into the potato. Excessive force may cause damage to the nib!

    I hope that this tiny tutorial helps your calligraphy in a big way! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. Guesses as to why this potato method works so well are also welcome! 🙂


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock

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