Sunday, April 30, 2017

Finding the Perfect Dip Pen Nibs

For years, I used a cartridge pen, because I hated dipping to write each letter. But then I realized my work looked better when I used a dip pen. So I switched. But how do you find the perfect nib?

I asked other scribes what they used. Several brands were offered, especially Mitchell and the easily found Speedball nibs. Nibs are relatively inexpensive and easy to test, once you have the holder. I compared Speedball and Mitchell round hand nibs. I've been using Mitchell nibs ever since.


My Mitchell Nib Set
Mitchell nibs are straight cut, even though listed as “round hand nibs”. These chisel edge nibs are good for many alphabets including Carolingian, Italic, Uncials, and Gothic. They come in several sizes and lefties too. 

While I love these English made nibs, some scribes have trouble with their flexibility. It is probably the reason I use a smaller nib than I expected. When I began using these nibs the only place I found them was at John Neal BooksellersToday I found them online at Paper and Ink Arts.  

Because I was looking into nibs at Paper and Ink for this post I decided to replace my old Mitchell nibs. I also bought Speedball, Brause, and Tape brands, the same C6/.5mm size for all. I'd never heard of the Tape brand, so I was curious. Paper and Ink Arts says the Tape nibs are "extremely sharp, more rigid than Mitchells, but not as still as Brause." The only way to know is to perform a Goldilocks test.

Nib Test on Bristol Board

Well, well. It looks like I should have repeated this little experiment years ago. Just about anything other than what I've been using would have been an improvement. Even the Speedball. I doubt my touch was lighter then; maybe even heavier. Wonder what my thinking was. Or maybe I just took another scribes word.

You will also want to test the nibs with the supports and inks you plan to use. After getting all excited about the Tape nibs I found their slight oblique slant made them difficult to use on pergamenata. Sad. I really like them. 

Whatever nibs you prefer, the only way to find the perfect one is the Goldilocks test. Try an assortment; they're not expensive. It's worth it to find the perfect one. 

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