My Favorite Dip Nib Holder

I first came upon River City Pen Company during last year’s DC Pen Show. Richard had several trays of fountain pens and I zeroed-in on one fountain pen that had a silver turtle roll stop on the cap. It was tempting, but I had to pass as my budget was small and I had already purchased two pens from another pen maker. I kept glancing over at Richard’s table and made a mental note to visit his website.

One day, I was perusing my social media feed and stumbled upon a few unique and interesting dip nib holders made from a lovely resin. Lovely swirls of colors with bits of chatoyancy and shimmer.

The shimmering stars were starting to align when I saw River City Pen Company was selling the special dip nib holders. I was clicking through Richard’s pictures on IG and one resin immediately grabbed my attention.

I went to his website and saw all the lovely resin offerings. I saw Barrier Reef was still available and I immediately knew that was meant for me. Yes, all the shimmering stars were now perfectly aligned.

I could not wait to receive my nib holder. I had put my remaining Anderillium inky reviews on hold (writing sample and sketches). My Kakimori stainless steel nib was patiently waiting to be used in my new nib holder. I know I could have used my old beat up Tachikawa nib holder, but why use plain wood when I can use something really colorful.

Look at this lovely combination!

I was not surprised to find Richard’s nib holder fit beautifully in my hand. The grip area is roughly 10.75mm which is in my favorite grip size range. The length is around 140mm or 5.5 inches in length. My nib holder weighs about 16 grams without the nib. With the Kakimori nib installed the total weight is around 19.5 grams.

Enough of the specs, let’s move on to the writing experience.

Just as I suspected, the nib holder feels as though I have a fountain pen in my hand. There is something familiar about it and it just feels like I’m at home with it.

Some of you are probably wondering what is that strange nib I’m using. It’s a stainless steel nib that has groves in it. I was able to write the small paragraph in the previous picture with half a dip. Meaning, I only dipped the nib in ink half way up the nib. That is quite a bit of writing for a dip nib. I will provide a review of this nib (and the brass one) a bit later.

I was wondering what other nibs I could use and I decided to place my Tachikawa G-nib in my nib holder. The G-nib fits perfectly.

I am so happy to be able to use this with my G-nibs. I have other nibs I need to try and I will update this blog post to include the nibs that fit.

For now, I’m using fountain pen inks with my Kakimori nib and this nib holder for writing and sketching. I’m also using this combo for testing ink colors. I can actually get this nib and holder into the bottom of my sample ink vials without any issues. I am one happy camper!

I do want to mention any inky residuals on the nib holder is easily wiped away with a towel. Just like a fountain pen.

Take a look at the available dip nib holders at River City Pen Company.

Pen: Dip Nib Holder by River City Pen Company in Barrier Reef

Nibs: Kakimori Stainless Steel Nib. Tachikawa G nib.

Inks: Van Dieman’s Ink Devil’s Kitchen. Robert Oster Australian Blue Opal.

Papers: Rhodia Dot Grid and Graph

An Automatic Pen, a Pilot Parallel Pen, and My Opus 88 Pen Hack

I’ve changed up how I do my fountain pen ink swatching by using a way cool tool called the automatic pen. I’ve mostly used it to swatch ink colors in my ink journal which I have posted a few pictures from my previous blog posts.

My automatic pen used to create my ink swatches in my Stalogy 365 ink journal

I saw someone use an automatic pen to create their swatches on their Col-o-ring cards and also in their fountain pen ink journal. I thought that was the neatest thing to use and had to try one out. The automatic pen puts down enough ink to see any sheening properties the ink might have (depending on paper). It has improved my swatching process as well as saved me from using q-tips to smear the ink on paper.

I like how the automatic pen holds the ink in it’s “nib” area (sandwiched between two metal plates) and how easily the nib can be cleaned. I dip the nib in some water, swish the water around, and dry off the nib. I know many folks use this type of pen for calligraphy and have to re-dip the nib when the ink runs out. That is a similar process for pointed pen calligraphy.

Side of the nib

The automatic pen reminds me of my Pilot Parallel pens. The only difference between the two, my Pilot pen can use a cartridge, converter, or be used as an eyedropper pen.

I use my Pilot Parallel for decorative writing (cards, small signage, etc) and for sketching. The nib on this pen uses a lot of ink. I could easily go through an ink cartridge within a few short hours of writing and sketching.

Close up of my Pilot Parallel pen with 1.5mm nib

Then I came across a “hack” for my Parallel pen. I could put my Pilot Parallel nib into my Opus 88 Omar fountain pen. What?! I immediately saw how beneficial this hack could be with using a larger ink capacity pen with a decorative writing nib. This combination would allow me to write and sketch longer than a few hours or even a day or two.

Pilot nib unit with a tiny o-ring

The Pilot nib and feed can be removed easily by pulling out the nib from the grip/section. On the Opus 88 Demonstrator, just unscrew the nib unit (nib/feed/collar) from the grip/section. There’s a tiny o-ring that also needs to be removed and saved with the Opus nib unit. Take the Pilot nib and feed unit and push it into the Opus grip/section until you can feel it click into place. That’s it!

My Opus hack!

I put my Opus nib unit along with it’s o-ring and store it in a zip lock bag for safe keeping

Here’s a writing sample from my hack:

Oooops! Correction “to”= “too”

Why do this hack?

  • Personally, my hand prefers a girthy pen and my fingers relax more while I write
  • The Pilot Parallel nibs lay down a lot of ink
  • Opus 88 pens have a huge ink capacity that allow for longer writing sessions

The Pilot Parallel nib and feed fits into the Opus 88 Omar demonstrator and the Opus 88 Koloro Demonstrator pen as long as they use the JoWo #6 nib unit.

Pens: Automatic Pen, Pilot Parallel 1.5 mm, and Opus 88 Omar Tainan

Ink: Pilot Iroshizuku Ku Jaku

Paper: Ayush Paper pad (fountain pen friendly)

Dip Pens and Calligraphy (My Version)

It snowed yesterday and we had sleet and rain overnight. This morning when I woke up it was a chilly 28 degrees. Our neighborhood roads were “crunchy” as I could hear our neighbors driving out. You know it’s bad when Hubby could not open the doors on his truck.

Yes. I’m having a late start this morning. Or I should say early afternoon right now.

I spent a few minutes this morning with my dip pen and Nikko G nib. Practicing my calligraphy or my style of writing. The last time I had a practice session was four (4) months ago. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty. This morning. I just went with the flow.

Here’s my writing sample from this morning:

My practice session from this morning and a few quotes

It was a quick practice session lasting about 15 minutes. I have to say it’s like riding a bike. My muscle memory was a bit rusty and my hand was a bit tired towards the 10 minute mark. Looking at the previous picture, I can see I have to work on spacing and writing straight.

Here’s a slide showing my previous writing session four months ago and the current writing sample:

I used the same dip pen and nib in both writing samples. You will notice that I used fountain pen ink. My practice sessions are more enjoyable when I’m writing with colored inks. Yes, I was bored with the black Sumi ink I used when I first started into this Calligraphy rabbit hole. For me, this is a great way to use up my bottles of ink.

Here are the brands I’ve been using so far and have had really good results.

I pour the ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths. I will then use these jars for dipping my nibs into the ink. That way I’m not contaminating the original bottles of ink.

I pour my ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths.

I keep mentioning jars with wide mouths. That’s because the dip pens I use are obliques. They have a brass angular nib holder:

Here’s a few empty jars I have on hand. Note the width/distance of my brass nib holder and the grip of my pen holder.

There are times where I can’t my nib into the ink. I will tilt my jar a bit just enough to get the ink to cover the nib and the breather hole.

Here’s a few of my dip pens that I use:

An assortment of dip pens that I use. Can you tell? I prefer chunky grips.

I originally started with a straight pen holder (white grip) like the one you see in the middle of the previous picture. After a few rough starts with calligraphy, I started to use the oblique holders. I found it was easier to control the pen. There’s also a slight spring or bounce when writing with an oblique. That has helped with my “rhythm” as I write.

I have tried out several different nibs. I’m still poking my paper with the finer and fancier nibs and hope to graduate to these nibs later. For now, it’s the “G” nibs.

These are the three popular “G” nibs (top to bottom): Nikko G, Tachikawa G, and the most popular Zebra G.

I started out with the Zebra Gs and found the nib did not hold a lot of ink. I was constantly dipping. Constantly stopping during my practice session. I did some research and found out there were two other popular “G” nibs available that hold more ink: Nikko G and Tachikawa G.

If you look in the previous picture, you will see the top two nibs (Nikko & Tachikawa) have ridges along the tip of the nib. The Zebra G at bottom is smooth at the tip. The ridges hold more ink on the nib.

For my practice sessions, I use my Rhodia Reverse Book. The paper in this book has a dot grid format. I found that regular grid lines in the other Rhodia pads were distracting to me. The “Reverse” in this book means I can use this book with the spiral on the side or rotate the book to use with the spiral on the top. I enjoy using this with the spiral on the top where it doesn’t interfere while I’m writing.

To keep track of my dip pens and nibs, I store them in a Sterlite plastic case. As you can see I can store a lot of pens in this case.

I know I covered a lot of areas and did not go into great detail. That will be for future posts. Just wanted to give you the basics and things to think about for your own use or further research.

Tips:

The “G” nibs are wonderful nibs for those who want to start learning Calligraphy.

Not limited to black ink. Colored inks are wonderful to use and brighten up writing samples.

I limit my practice session to 10-15 minutes in the morning and if I have time another 10-15 minute session in the afternoon. I personally have found that at the 10 minute mark, my hand will get tired as well as my fingers from holding the dip pen. My writing will also get sloppy. The shorter practice sessions are easier to carve out during a busy day. I like doing this first thing in the morning (after coffee) as the best time for me. I am alert and ready to start my day.

Practice lower case first. Develop muscle memory in forming each letter. Later learn to join the letters to create words.

Practice the alphabet. Practice writing favorite quotes, songs, etc.

I still have a ways to go. The important thing for me is to enjoy my practice sessions and my writing adventures.