Once you start using a calligraphy nib, how long can you reasonably expect it to last? The short answer is that there’s no way to know that exactly. The more detailed answer can be found in this blog post!
When you place an order for a calligraphy nib, it’s natural to wonder: “How long is this nib going to last?” While the question isn’t complicated, the answer is! In today’s post, we’ll talk about four signs that it’s time for a nib replacement. If any of the four signs below apply to your calligraphy nib, move on to a new one!
1. The Nib’s Tines Have Split
Split tines are the most obvious sign that a calligraphy nib has reached the end of its lifespan. You’ll know that your tines are split because when you observe the nib from the side, you can distinctly see two tines instead of one.
There are two major causes of split tines: dropping your pen on the floor, and/or applying excessive pressure to the nib as you’re writing. You’ll find that it’s exceedingly difficult to write with a nib with split tines. Effectively, you should replace your nib ASAP if you notice this problem!
2. The Calligraphy Nib is Scratchy and Uncomfortable to Use
Let’s say that you’ve been using your calligraphy nib for a while and loving it. Then, one day, you notice that the nib just isn’t behaving like it used to. The tines snag on paper, and it’s difficult to achieve a nice upstroke. When you start to wonder how your skills have deteriorated so much, remember this blog post. It’s probably just time to replace the nib!
When you start to view calligraphy with your nib as more of a struggle than a relaxing retreat, change the nib. If you’re not completely sure that the problem is the nib versus user error, try changing out the nib anyway. I recommend keeping 2-3 extra nibs on hand so you can diagnose whether the nib is the problem, or if it’s something else.
3. Hairline Upstrokes are Too Wide
Stroke contrast is key when you’re creating dip pen calligraphy. When you write upstrokes, you want to be rewarded with a thin, delicate line. Every time you use a nib, however, the formerly sharp tip grinds down ever so slightly. After many sessions of use, you’ll find that the nib is incapable of producing the hairline strokes it could make before.
Sometimes, you can’t tell by simply looking at a nib that the tip is worn. However, when you try to write, the nib makes thicker upstrokes than it did before. At that point, you’ll know that you need to replace it in order to write calligraphy with clear stroke contrast again!
4. Ink Flow is Irregular
Let’s say that you’ve successfully used your calligraphy nib for several projects. You eagerly start in on your next project only to discover that the ink flow is all wonky. The ink is pooling, and things just aren’t flowing smoothly.
Poor ink flow can be attributed to several other factors. However, if the nib was working fine before — especially with the same ink, then the issue is probably a nib that’s past its prime.
A nib’s lifespan is all but impossible to predict because it depends on so many factors! Those factors include how often you use the nib, how much acidity is in your ink, and how heavy-handed you are while writing. The brand and flexibility of a nib also makes a huge difference!
While it’s difficult to say, “Your nib should last for precisely X months,” I can say this: keep extras on hand! Calligraphy nibs are so cheap precisely because they’re meant to be disposable. If you find a nib that you like, make sure that you have 2-3 more of the same nib in storage. And, of course, don’t forget to prepare your new nibs for use by cleaning them off.
If you have any questions about calligraphy nibs, don’t hesitate to ask! Otherwise, enjoy the rest of your day, and happy, smooth writing.