Use any ink or paint?
When we say you can use "any ink or paint" in our pens, we mean you can use any ink or paint that is provided as a drawing liquid. All of our pens are configured to hold and deliver a wide range of inks and paints that are commonly used for drawing and writing. We can modify our pens for less popular media, such as lacquer and alcohol, but most people don't use those for drawing and writing.
For example, if you use enamel and lacquer, which are on the thick end of the spectrum, they will flow for a minute or two and then stop. If you're using our Pump Pen, you can get them to flow a bit longer, but sooner or later these thick paints will slow to a crawl, and you'll spend time cleaning them out of the pen. If you use alcohol-based inks, which are on the thin end, they can flow quickly out of the pen into a puddle and make a mess.
It's better to view your choices from the range of liquid media that is offered for commercial sale, which can be divided into three categories:
- Fountain pen inks
- Drawing inks including calligraphy inks
- Drawing paints
Fountain Pen Inks
These inks are designed to be used in traditional fountain pens. They usually run thin, and when you draw with them, the line tends to disappear over time. Most fountain pens are designed with narrow channels that modulate the flow so you get a nice steady line with no fluctuations. The ink must be thinner so it can flow through the tight spaces without clogging.
There have been lots of recent improvements to fountain pen inks, especially with the discovery of aniline dies. Since most fountain pens are used for writing, and writing is the most popular activity done with a pen, this is the largest category of liquid media. It is also the least interesting to the majority of our users who prefer inks and paints that leave a strong mark and designed to remain visible for 100 years or more.
There are hundreds of brands for this type of ink since it is so popular, although some brands are identical and just rebranded.
Drawing inks are thicker than traditional fountain pen inks and include India ink. The thickness is derived from two sources: the material the comprises the ink and additives that help the material particles disperse and adhere to the substrate or surface, such as paper. Ink material varies. Traditional India ink contains particles of carbon that remain dark black for a long time. Additives include shellac and gum arabic among designed to bind and adhere the dried ink to the substrate.
Manufacturers include Winsor & Newton, Higgins, Speedball, Dr Ph. Martin's, Noodler's and Ziller among many others. You will find these brands in well-stocked art and craft stores.
Drawing paints consist of acrylic paints and other liquid polymer combinations. The term "acrylic" derives from "acryl", short for acrolein acid. It is a glassy thermoplastic that can be produced as a solid or liquid. Acrylic paints are usually thicker than drawing inks, but you can find acrylic paints ready to use for fountain pens, such as Golden Hi-Flow Acrylic. The terms "acrylic paint" and "liquid polymer combinations" are used interchangeably.
Because acrylics are also used for painting, you have a much larger selection of choices. You can add various types of thinners to acrylic and polymer paints so they flow more easily, and you can add thickeners that slow down the flow. This category includes laquer and enamel, so if you thin them a bit, you can use them in our pens.
Manufacturers include Golden, Daler-Rowney, and Liquitex among others.
The Choice is Yours
You should feel free to use the ink or paint in our pens that you want to use. It's fun to experiment with all your choices. Inks and paints are colorful and individual, and new combinations are appearing all the time.
Cleaning Inks and Paints
No matter what you use, you should keep your pen clean. Some inks and paints are easier to clean than others. We claim nothing will plug up our Fountain Pens or Pump Pens, and that remains true, but we mean "plug it up permanently". Inks and paints can dry out and stick to the inside wall of the pen, but you can always clean them off even if it takes a bit of scrubbing.
You don't have to clean our pen every time you use it. You can set it down for an hour, a day, even a week, then pick it up and continue. The ink or paint might ooze out depending on how you store the pen. The longer you let the pen sit containing thick ink or paint, the gummier it will get, but you can usually clean that off with one swipe of a cloth or towel.
The basic rule is that the cleaner you keep the pen, the better it will work for you.
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