PCD!

Did I get your attention? Good! I was going through my photos and trying to organize my files and develop a naming convention. I came up with PCD for a category. Pen Cleaning Day! In my case it should have been plural like PCDs as I was grabbing a few pens when I had a block of time to clean them over the last two days.

I don’t normally do a mad rush to get my pens cleaned unless I forget an upcoming adventure. Especially when this involves cleaning my EDCs and art pens. Something came in the mail earlier this week. That I forgot. My last package of inks for the year arrived. In my package were bottles of KWZ, Ink Institute, and a new to me Color Travelers ink.

So, I had to dump some inks out of my pens. Yikes! No worries. That’s why I don’t fill the converters or piston filler pens full of ink. Lessons learned from my own experience. Yeah, I used to cringe when I had to dump a converter full of ink because pen and ink color combination never became one with each other.

Today. I wanted to do a post about what my pen cleaning day or PCD looks like.

I can quickly clean and flush about 8 pens in 30 minutes. That’s 30 minutes at my kitchen sink with water everywhere. Hahaha! Okay, I meant at my kitchen sink where I can give my nibs/feeds/converters a good bath.

I mentioned in my previous posts about using Oui yogurt glass jars and larger preserves/jam jars. Basically, I have two Oui jars filled with cold water sitting in my sink. Also, in the same sink I have a strainer that sits in the sink’s hole. Yes, I almost dropped one of my TWSBI GOs while I was pumping water in and out of that pen to clean it.

One Oui jar is used to soak my sections that contain the nib/feed. The other jar of water is used to clean out the converters, etc. On my counter I lay out paper towels. I also have a small plastic bin container to hold the pieces of my pens (caps and bodies) and to prevent them from rolling off the counter.

I will take each pen and remove the cap and body. I will also remove the converter and place that on the paper towel. With a narrow stream of water running, I take my section and let the water run over the feed. Once the dark ink becomes lighter, I then let a narrow stream of water run through the top of the section. To keep from splashing colored water all over the place I put my finger over part of the top section to let the water drizzle down for a few seconds. I will then switch back to letting the water run over the feed for a few seconds and then back to drizzling water into the top section. I then place it into one of my Oui jars filled with water to soak.

Remember the large jam jar? I place layers of crumpled paper towels into the jar. After a few minutes of soaking in water, I place my pen’s section into the large jam jar nib facing down into the paper towel. At this point there’s still a large amount of ink still working its way down the feed. The paper towels will absorb most of the ink.

What about the converters? I haven’t forgotten them. While my sections are soaking in water, I can then work on the converters. Basically, I dump the ink out and then I fill the converter with water. Dump the water out. Fill with clean water. Dump. Fill. Dump. Fill. Then I leave the converter filled with water to kind of soak for a bit.

At some point, I have a jam jar filled with sections or TWSBI GOs. I have a plastic container filled with pen caps and bodies. A Oui jar filled with water logged converters. They follow me into my studio where I can keep a watchful eye on their progress and continue pampering them. Plus I’m stealth about this as I don’t leave any evidence of ink stains or colorful paper towels sitting around the kitchen.

Back in my studio, here’s what my desk looks like:

Crazy looking desk, right? The three jars of water (background) are permanent fixtures on my desk. The “W” jar contains clean water at all times. The “C” jar contains water that has been contaminated or colored (e.g. dipped a converter to fill it with water). The large jam jar is water that gets dumped from a converter or I dipped a dirty glass dip pen to clean it. I used my Cricut to create the vinyl letters “W” and “C” for my jars. Oh yeah…the Cricut is another hobby.

In the above picture you can see my two jars stuffed with paper towels that just left my kitchen and arrived at my desk.

I use a plastic pipette to drop clean water into the top of the sections. The water and residual ink flows out of the nib/feed into the paper towel. I’m sitting here at my desk right now and when I take a quick break from typing this post, I will drop some water into the sections.

In the larger jar you can see my TWSBI GOs also nib down in the paper towels. Eventually the water will drain out of my GOs. I can take my GO and put it into jar “C” and fill the pen with water and stick it back into the large jar. I can actually see bubbles form as the water is draining from the GO.

At this point I should talk about how to deal with nibs/feeds that had shimmering inks. In the picture below, I’m cleaning shimmer residuals out the exposed feed of my Opus 88 pen. You can see the nib/feed is still in its section. Eventually, I will unscrew the nib unit from the section to clean out the section. (Note: In some pen brands like Pilot, you will not be able to unscrew the nib unit from their section. If you try to, you will damage the pen and void the warranty. You should do some research about your pen brand and model, if you are unsure).

I use a very soft baby tooth brush to gently clean the plastic feed. Here’s my cleaning cycle: Dip the nib/feed into water. Dip the brush into water. No scrubbing, just gently move the bristles over the cutouts in the feed. I will also run the bristles along the edge where the feed meets the nib, include the tip area. Repeat the process of dipping into water and then brushing over a towel a few times. Be gentle. You can see in this picture what happens to the leftover shimmers that sat in the feed. In the picture I have just finished 3 cleaning cycles. See the three different streaks of shimmer? The shimmers on the shop towel should get lighter as I go through my cleaning cycles. I love using the blue shop towels for this…so I can see the shimmers. Plus the towels are durable. Once the towels dry out, I can still reuse them.

In this next picture, I’m cleaning out a nib unit that had a lot of shimmers in it.

Check out my colorful blue shop towel. Here you can see I’m tackling a shimmering ink that had a lot of shimmers or particles still in the feed. So this one required several cleaning cycles. I even removed the nib unit from it’s section. You can also see I have my loupe out to examine the feed and see where I missed gently brushing the areas.

Sometimes my nib units require some extra spa time and may include a special wrap:

A spa wrap for my nib units! Hahaha! I use my pipette to drop a small amount of water on top the the nib units.
You can see remnants from a drop of water I put on top of of the nib units.

Doing all this pampering at my desk may seem like a lot of work. Not really. The cleaning cycles, yes. But I make sure I collect my pens that had shimmering inks and clean them together. So I might spend a few minutes at my desk for those pens. The remaining pens just sit in the jars until I no longer see any ink residuals.

The next morning I will remove the pens and/or nib units from the jars and put them in to a plastic bin to dry during the day.

I was thinking that I should have used PSD instead of PCD. PSD for Pen Spa Day!

Tips:

Soft baby tooth brush: I found an extra soft Oral B Disney brush on sale at my local grocery store. Use this brush to gently remove the shimmering particles from the feed and nib.

I really like using the blue shop towels. No lint. Durable. Reusable for my needs. I use it for just about every art and water related hobby. Okay. I have a story I want to share about how I stumbled upon these towels. I was at my local Costco when this pandemic started. Looking for paper towels and to no avail. I saw the shop towels. Calling my name. Several rolls. Packaged in a large bundle. Came home with me.

Oui glass jars and jam jars. If you don’t recycle them, can reuse for cleaning out your fountain pens.

If you are not sure about an ink color, no need to fill the converter full of ink. Half or quarter fill your converter. Just a thought.

Q-tips: I dip into a tiny amount of water and use it to clean the insides of my pen caps. There is always some bit of ink that gets into the caps.

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