In the first White Calligraphy Ink Showdown, you learned about Sumi, Ziller, and Pen White calligraphy inks. Today, we’re examining Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White and Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy Ink. Both of these inks have the potential to create fantastic white lettering, but — like the first three white inks we talked…
Today’s blog post will wrap up the two-part series on white calligraphy ink with a look at Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White ink and Winsor & Newton White calligraphy ink. Both of these inks are excellent choices for creating eye-catching white lettering! As with the inks that were discussed in Part I of this series, however, these two inks have some properties that you should be aware of before deciding which ink will suit you best.
Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White is arguably the most popular white calligraphy ink on the market; many calligraphers love it and use it often. There’s a good reason for that: Bleed Proof White is capable of creating itty-bitty, truly impressive hairlines and flows through your nib with an agreeable consistency! It’s also super-white and opaque, which is important if you’re writing on dark paper like the brown Kaitlin Style envelope pictured below.
After I used Bleed Proof White for the first time, I couldn’t help but wonder what the difference is between Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White (you can read about it in Part I) and this Dr. Ph. Martin’s gem. The conclusion I came to after snooping around on the Dr. Ph. Martin’s website is this: Bleed Proof White seems to be a multi-purpose supply; something you can use for watercolor painting and covering up mistakes in general. Basically, it’s correction fluid that, coincidentally, you can make awesome calligraphy with. Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White, on the other hand, was developed specifically for use in lettering endeavors.
If you have ever used correction fluid (for example, Wite-Out), you may have noticed that the fluid has sort of a shiny finish after it dries. That’s also the case with Bleed Proof White, especially when compared to Pen White, which has a matte finish. The shine of Bleed Proof White isn’t obnoxious, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s still worth noting. I personally like it! I also was pleased to discover that erasing over dried ink doesn’t result in any of the ink smudging, which sometimes is not the case with Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy ink. That’s a big plus!
One of the only disadvantages of using the Bleed Proof White is you have to tinker with the viscosity a little bit. When the ink arrives, it will more than likely be too thick to use with a dip pen. That’s okay! You can put in 3-5 drops of water, then stir the surface (the top centimeter and a half or so) of the ink to incorporate the water. I use an old chopstick to stir, but you can use whatever you have on hand. I actually have a friend who steals picks up a couple of coffee stirrers every time he is at Starbucks so he can use them for this very purpose!
I used to stir the entire bottle, but I was enlightened to the surface stirring trick by Rodger Mayeda. Focusing on mixing the top part of the ink with some water saves time and makes sense: after all, it’s not like you’re going to dip your nib clear down into the bottom of the ink. You can see from the ink on the chopstick in the photo below just about how far I put the chopstick in the ink to mix.
As you stir, try to reach a heavy cream-like consistency. Once that consistency is reached, test out the ink with your dip pen! If it cooperates with you, you’re all set to use it! If it refuses to leave the nib, dilute the ink with a bit more water. Conversely, if the ink flows well but is no longer opaque when you write (due to too much water being mixed in), let the ink sit out without a lid for a couple of hours to allow some water to evaporate out, then try again.
Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy Ink was the first white ink I ever had success with, so for years, it’s what I used. All the inks I had tried before it weren’t as opaque, so it was very exciting to experience this ink that actually worked! I used it on several client commissions, including the invitation suite pictured below from early 2014.
I still do like my Winsor & Newton ink. It seems to be very similar to the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White; both inks have a matte finish when dry, and both are capable of creating thin upstrokes while still maintaining opacity. You can see the nice, hairline strokes that I am referring to in the Amy Style envelope pictured below.
That said, there are a couple of qualms that I have with Winsor & Newton white ink. First of all, the bottle this ink comes in is not very conducive to dipping your pen in. That means you’ll probably need to transfer it to a different container in order to use it. The second issue I have experienced is smudging. For example, take a look at the “Boul” in “Boulder” in this Kaitlin Style envelope:
Do you see the smudging? That actually happened the day after the calligraphy had been written, so the ink was completely dry. Sometimes, it seems that little specks of dry white ink can become dislodged when you are erasing guidelines, and these little specks have a tendency to make marks on the paper. Sometimes the marks can be erased, and sometimes trying to erase them only makes matters worse. You can see a couple of these “specks” on the first “l” in “Bellevue”, below.
All things considered, however, Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy ink is a solid choice for your writing endeavors. I believe that it is an acrylic (not watercolor)-based concoction, so it reacts well if you choose to write on unconventional surfaces — for example, a leaf — with it. I believe that Pen White and Bleed Proof White are both watercolor-based, so they tend to not stick to slick surfaces with the same success.
As with the Bleed Proof White, you’ll more than likely need to play with the consistency of the Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy ink before you can use it. That will probably mean letting some water evaporate out when you first receive the ink. Then, you’ll find you need to mix water in here and there as the ink thickens over time.
Winsor & Newton White Calligraphy ink can be found in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Like Dr. Ph. Martin’s, Winsor & Newton has an interactive map so you can find suppliers in your area (unfortunately, the map kept freezing up on me, so I stopped after finding an Australian retailer!).
The Waterproof Test
In Part I of this series, the waterproof properties of Sumi, Pen White, and Ziller white calligraphy inks were tested. Today, I updated the test with Winsor & Newton White and Bleedproof White!
As you can see, Winsor & Newton reacts so-so to water … there’s certainly a bit of smudging, but you can still read what was written. The Bleedproof White, on the other hand, is not waterproof at all. Not that it purports to be, but I think it’s still worth noting: if your Bleed Proof White calligraphy gets caught in a rainstorm and you haven’t applied fixative to it, the envelope is about to get a whole lot whiter!
This post concludes our examination of white inks, and I hope it proved helpful to you. Thanks so much for reading the TPK blog, and enjoy the rest of your day!