Tips To Preventing Rusty Dip Pen Nibs
Oh no. I’ve done it again!
I know calligraphy nibs are not made from sturdy, tough metal. And you can’t expect them to remain looking brand-new forever. But I wanted to keep using my favorite nib. The one that makes the fine strokes just as you like. So how can you prevent your favorite nib from rusting? Is there any special cleaning you can do to make it last?
Of course you already know leaving an ink coated nib to dry harms the metal whatever the ink type. The best thing – of course – is to wash and dry your nibs carefully then store them safely. Obviously an unattained goal of mine.
There are a few tips to keeping your dip pen nibs usable.
Prevent water or ink from going any higher than the tiny vent hole above the nib’s tines. You can see it on this nib just below the rusty oval well, although not all nibs have that well. Try to dip your nib only up to that hole, no higher. Only have enough water in my water jar to cover the nib’s working part keeps me from getting it up into the holder. If the water gets into the holder it can unexpectedly drip onto your work and ruin your scroll’s text. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
Don’t let inks clog the fine channel between the two tines. Acrylic inks are terrible for this. And Sumi and Iron Gall inks are especially damaging because they cause pitting and actually encourage rusting.
As you write clean off your nib every few minutes or anytime you notice ink drying on it affecting your ink flow. Just swish your nib around in water only up to the vent hole. Letting water get up in the pen holder also causes rust and makes nib insertion difficult.
To clean your nib just swish it around in water up to just above the vent hole Using a non-fibrous cloth wrap the nib between your non-dominant hand’s forefinger and thumb. Then squish the nib in the cloth and remove all the moisture. No fancy cleaners required. Traces of ink may remain but shouldn’t affect the ink flow as you write.
If you’re putting you nibs away include removing the detachable reservoir to clean away any ink underneath. Finally remove the nib from the holder. Once the nib is dry you can store it safely.
I keep a stash of my favorite nibs because I confess to committing these mistakes more often than I like. I check my nibs when I get a new scroll assignment and reorder them regularly.