Calligraphy writers use different types of pens that suit the nature of their style of working. If you are working on scripts that need thick strokes, naturally, you need to do it with a brush. A pen with a broad nib can also be substituted for a brush. A wide nib will not be suitable to create narrow strokes which call for a pointed nib. Then there is modern calligraphy which strays from the canon of conventional calligraphy scripts.
Let us learn the names of a few basic calligraphy scripts and the nature of the nibs for creating them:
Wide Nib Scripts
i. Blackletter calligraphy.
ii. Italic calligraphy.
iii. Roman capitals.
Pointed Nib Calligraphy
Tools are of paramount importance in any profession. The most important tool in calligraphy is the nib. It is the nib that does the work for a writer. The type and quality of the nib decide the outcome of your laborious job. It is a part of the calligraphy writer’s job to keep the nibs clean.
With a different array of nibs that a skilled calligraphy writer will have, he or she should know how to clean calligraphy nibs to maintain them for maximum output.
The First Cleaning
A new nib should be cleaned before even fixing it on to the pen. The manufacturer applies lubricants and other chemicals to enhance the look of the new nibs. This will keep the nibs fresh on the seller’s shelves even if they are not put to use for a long time.
Follow the below practices before putting your new nib to use.
i. Use a dishwasher soap that has degreasing elements. Take a very small amount of this soap that suits the size of the nib on a soaked soft sponge.
Tip: The sponge can be substituted with a soft bristle toothbrush.
ii. Scrub both sides of the nib gently with the sponge so that the dish soap gets applied evenly. Be careful to avoid the sponge getting into the slit through which the ink comes out.
Some nibs have an ink reservoir which can be detached. Remove it from the nib and carefully clean it to get rid of any ink residues.
In the case of reservoirs which are non-detachable, get it filled with soap water. Scrub it good as the shape will allow.
Tip: You should be very careful in cleaning non-removable reservoirs. Carelessness or undue pressure can bend it and damage your nib. Clean it very gently and carefully.
iii. Rinse thoroughly with clean water with extra care to ensure that the soap deposits have been completely washed off. Hold the apparatus under a faucet to allow the water to flow gently into the reservoir and nib to wash off any remaining soap.
With practice, you will learn when to use a sponge and when to use a toothbrush.
iv. Wipe the nib and the outside the reservoir with an absorbent cloth material. Use a sewing needle and wrap the surrounding cloth to gently clean the inside of the ink reservoir. Allow the nib to sit in a warm airy spot to dry off any moisture.
Tip: Gently making upward and downward strokes on the soft cloth will draw out any water content from the reservoir.
Another Proven Method To Get Rid Of Manufacturer Oil
Toothpaste is a good substance that can replace dish soap to remove the manufacturer’s oil from new nibs.
i. Use a soft bristle toothbrush. Dampen the toothbrush with water and put a tiny amount of plain tooth paste on it.
ii. Scrub the nib very gently with the toothbrush. Apply strokes from all sides from all angles for thirty seconds to less than a minute.
In the case of removable reservoirs, clean them as well after detaching it from the nib. Clean the outside and the inside very well. Unlike a cloth, a few bristles of a toothbrush will easily go inside the reservoir to do a fine job.
For non-removable reservoirs, hold the piece very gently with a pair of rubber or plastic tweezers while scrubbing. This will ensure that pressure from your fingers won’t damage either the reservoir or the nib.
Tip: Using a pair of tweezers is only a precaution against holding the nib tightly with fingers.
iii. Rinse the nib and reservoir thoroughly with running water to remove all traces of toothpaste. Repeat the rinsing at least three to four times. Spray water gently into the reservoir until the water is free from toothpaste foam and color.
iv. Use a soft dry cloth to wipe off water from the nib and reservoir.
Tip: Tap the nib gently on the cloth and make gentle strokes to draw out minute water droplets from the reservoir.
The above procedure is the best information on how to clean new calligraphy nibs.
Cleaning Used Nibs
After writing for some time, the nib can get clotted with ink. The writing paper will get into the slot of the nib and collect ink. This may seep onto the writing surface to spoil your work. This can be avoided if you know how to clean calligraphy nibs properly.
i. Remove the nib from the handle of the pen and unfasten from the reservoir. Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water.
Tip: Holding under running water will soften the ink and paper residues. This should be followed if you are aware of how to clean calligraphy nibs that are used.
ii. Wet a clean, soft sponge and squeeze extra water off. Apply a tiny swab of dishwashing soap on a corner of the sponge. Rub the corner of the sponge with the dish soap on the surface of the sink. This will help the soap to ground even so that blobs will not get tangled on the slot. Gently scrub the nib and reservoir. Check for any ink and repeat the process till the nib is clean. Similarly, clean the reservoir.
iii. Rinse the nib thoroughly for a second time using lukewarm water. Repeat the procedure for the reservoir too. Ensure that detachable reservoirs are cleaned separately. Check for any soap content on both sides of the nib and the inside of the reservoir.
Tip: Before drying, check that there is no trace of ink on the nib. Check the reservoir as well.
iv. Sometimes, if you hadn’t used the nib for a few days, it may produce a clot of hard dried ink. It may not come off by holding underwater. In that case, put the nib and reservoir in a glass of water and leave it overnight. If it is only a minor clot, it can come off with less than an hour’s soaking.
v. Use a soft cloth that can easily absorb water to dry the now clean nib and reservoir. Wrap the cloth around a sewing needle to insert into the reservoir. Swirl the needle with the surrounding cloth a few times to draw in any water residues.
Tip: Gently move the nib with the reservoir many times across the cloth to remove any water content still left inside.
Use Of Pen Cleaners To Remove Stubborn Ink Blots
This is a cleansing liquid suitable to clean different types of calligraphy pens and nibs like:
i. Technical pens.
ii. Dip pens.
iii. Fountain pens.
Experienced calligraphy writers know how to clean calligraphy nibs that are very dirty. They clean their pens and nibs once in a while, using cleaning liquids.
How To clean Calligraphy Nibs With Cleaning Liquids
i. Pour a small amount of cleaning liquid into a container enough to keep the nibs immersed. Drop your nibs into the solution and leave there for thirty minutes.
ii. Remove the nibs from the liquid after the specified time and rinse with lukewarm water. Check for any ink blots or writing paper that got stuck into the slit. Repeat the soaking process if there is any ink.
iv. Do not reuse the cleaner liquid. It can contaminate the nibs with residues from previous cleanings.
Tip: In some cases, the process may have to be repeated a few times. This is one of the reasons why you need to keep your nibs clean.
Final Check Before Drying Your Nibs
An experienced calligraphy writer who knows how to clean calligraphy nibs will double-check the nib and reservoir before drying them with a suitable soft cloth. Some nibs have a vent just above the slit. This is a tiny hole that acts as a breather for smooth ink flow. Pay close attention to the tiny vent and check for any residues that you might not have noticed.
How To Know If It Is Time To Clean Your Nibs?
There is no fixed schedule to clean them. A person who is accustomed to the feel and output of a nib will know it needs cleaning. This comes with practice. The ink, too plays a part in the frequency of cleaning. If you have been using a thick ink, then the nob may need cleaning sooner. Runny inks don’t form as many blots as thick inks do. So if you were using runny ink, the frequency of cleaning would be much less.