In a lot of ways, the average dip calligraphy pen is more robust than your run-of-the-mill ballpoint or gel pen. For starters, a calligraphy pen can last a lifetime! There’s no barrel for ink to dry up in, and you can replace dull nibs on a whim. Dip pens are generally made out of stout and simple components like wood, solid plastic, or metal! (The fewer components, the less chance that something can break). That said, there are ways that you can drastically shorten your calligraphy pen’s lifespan. In this article, we’ll talk about how to give your pen a fighting chance at serving you for as long as you need it!
1. Remember That Moisture is the Enemy
Protecting your pen from moisture can be complicated because you need moisture in order to write. You use ink to create calligraphy, and you use water to clean ink off your nib … so you can put more ink on the nib! There’s a trick to it, though: don’t dip your calligraphy nib in ink much farther than nib’s reservoir (that little hole in the middle of the nib).
Once your nib starts to get gunky, it’s time to clean it off with some water and a cloth. To do this, you’ll dunk your nib in art water — but only up to just above the reservoir! Remember this rule: you should never put a part of the nib that didn’t make contact with ink into water. And no part of your calligraphy pen itself (nib not included) should ever interact with water or ink!
If you happen to get ink in your pen, just do the best you can to clean it with a cotton swab and water. Time will tell whether the ink has “gunked” the pen up or not! If you get water in the pen, let the water evaporate out and try your best not to let it happen again.
2. Take Special Care with Oblique Pens
Piggybacking off of what we just talked about, moisture can be especially damaging to oblique pens. The flanges of some oblique pens — including TPK oblique pens — are glued into the pen. Prolonged exposure to moisture can loosen the glue, which will result in the flange being wobbly or working its way out of the pen over time.
Even if your flange isn’t glued into the pen, it’s important not to get water in the flange. It’s very difficult to insert nibs into rusty flanges! Furthermore, if you get ink on the flange, the ink can act as an adhesive for the nib. You might not be able to get the nib out to switch it with another one!
3. Use Smart Storage Solutions
The nice thing about calligraphy pens? They’re pretty low-maintenance as far as storage goes. Calligraphy pens — especially pens without nibs in them — can be stored just about anywhere as long as it’s a dry place that’s free of curious little hands. (I know from personal and surprising experience that toddlers can break oblique pens! Given enough time, I’m sure straight pens aren’t safe either.)
My top two storage tips? First of all, make sure your pens make their home in a dry place. Second, if you like to keep your nibs in pens, store the pens upright. This eliminates any chance the pens will get jostled about (e.g. in a drawer), which protects the nibs.
4. Take Care When Inserting and Removing Nibs
Nib insertion and removal with straight pens is pretty simple: push the nib in, pull the nib out (see: The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy). Oblique pens, however, require a bit more TLC! You need to place your thumb under the flange when inserting a nib, and always hold the flange steady when you take the nib out.
Giving the flange support helps to ensure that the flange won’t work its way out over time!
5. Remember that a Well-Worn Pen Means a Well-Loved Pen
If you own something nice — especially if it cost a pretty penny — your instinct is to try and keep it looking like new. While proper calligraphy techniques shouldn’t result in any ink on the tip of the pen or rust, accidents happen!
If you find that your pens are looking less and less pristine, embrace it. Each inky fingerprint or scratch works to make your pen uniquely yours!
While we’re on the subject of calligraphy pens, I apologize for not having more in stock! I’m waiting on a shipment of wooden and “Pretty in Pink” pens to make EF66 flanges for. Hang tight! In the meantime, I do have a few Nikko G obliques and plenty of straight pens and nibs. 🙂
I hope that the tips in this article help you to enjoy your calligraphy pens for years to come! If you have any questions or input, please feel free to contribute to the comments. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your day!