I have been amassing an insane amount of inks recently. I think I’m done with my ink kick, I have more ink than I think I’ll probably be writing with … well, I come up with ideas regularly so I doubt that, but I definitely have a lot of ink to last me for the next few years, regardless of the length of what I write.
When I get a new thing of ink, I squwee that I have it. I stare at it for a while because it’s so pretty. Then I swatch it. When I first learned how to swatch my ink, it looked so haphazard because I 1000% didn’t know what I was doing.
See? Very haphazard.
I swatch so that I have a small personal library of ink samples so I have a handy dandy reference guide of which ink to choose for whatever work I write with. Every ink I have has a swatch and a one page story written as a sampler of how the ink looks in written word (basically “will I feel like staring at this ink color on page 100+?”). The only story that does not have one page because I was writing to test how much ink I can get out of my then new pen is a small novella that I’m really enchanted and proud of, titled Will of the Wisp: Snow & Storm (that work won’t come out for a very long time, sorry everybody). I write on Strathmore paper, which is never tested in ink swatch vids (as far as I have seen) so that means it’s sometimes a bit of a (disappointing) surprise when I swatch them on my paper.
Back to swatchin’. I take a q-tip and swab down a marked-out box so that I can see how the ink looks from dark to light (if there is sheen, color change, how it lays on the page, etc). I also do a tweezer swatch, where I take a pair of tweezers (I got the idea from GadgetStop321’s channel), dip it in the ink, press the tweezer togethers and smear it across the page in a straight line. It shows me more detail in the ink that the box swatch may not show, such as pooling color change, sheen, etc. I also write down the ink manufacturer and color in the ink itself (I sometimes wonder if I should get a dip pen but I just got an ultrasonic cleaner so it’s not needed). And with the remaining ink in my pen (I dip it only for swatches/ink tests), I write a one-page sample ink story. It shows me how the ink acts on the page when written down long form and how it looks when the ink is running out in the pen.
I’ve gotten better at it.
See? Not so haphazard.
The inks I have:
Ferris Wheel Press Inks:
Lady Rose– Light colored
Storied Blue – Light colored, gave away
Dusk in Bloom– Light colored
Blue Cotton Candy – Very light colored, gave away
Cream of Earl – Very light colored, gave away
Strawberry Macaron – Very light colored, gave away
Stroke of Midnight – Has shimmer but no sheen to be seen on my paper, promised both
Jelly Bean Blue – Surprise sheen! Sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, sometimes not
Dominant Blue – Sheens! Is close to Jelly Bean Blue in base color
Periwinkle Blue – Light colored, pretty
CMa (Sirus Star) – Light colored, the color of a sea-faring sky, gave away
Manyo line, Sakura – Bright colored and orange. Sakura is pink in my head, not orange, gave away
Shimmering Seas – Shimma’. That’s what I wanted, that’s what it gave. Clogged my pen a couple times. Worth it.
Writer’s Blood – Gaaaaaaaaaaawth. Does indeed look like blood. Very goth.
Midnight Hour – I love this ink! From the name to the fact it sheens! Dries out in the pen a little fast, tho, due to the heavy sheening property. Still pretty.
Birmingham Ink Co.
Voltaic Arc – Promised sheen, never really delivered on my paper. It’s more of a bleen teal than blue, gave away
Midnight Blue – dusky blue-black. What Dusk in Bloom would be if it were darker
Custom ink (blue with red sheen and rainbow shimmer) – Tons of shimmer but my paper sops up the sheen, darn.
Higgins Fountain Pen India Ink – It’s plain black ink I never intended to buy but I have it
Told you I got a lot of ink. Not all of it is the same size, some are in a small amount (smallest, 3ml), some are in a big amount (biggest, 85ml). Maybe one day I will get a scented ink but I don’t know. I really want to make sure I stay focused on my writing when I write.
I wanted to get, well, not black. When I was writing with a plain Bic Atlantis, plain black was fine, no fuss, no nothing. But since buying a fountain pen that can take a myriad of colors? I want variety. It is definitely going to be one ink color per written work (unless I run out mid-work, then I’ll just switch to another ink color) but I want to have different colors. I wanted to have blue family colors because blue is easy to read (and my favorite color). But I also wanted Not Normal colors, like Lady Rose and Cream of Earl. I always get dark blue or black in something, I wanted to mix things up a little. Without killing my eyes, of course. I have to remember that whatever ink I get, I need to be okay with staring at for 100+ pages. I used to write my stories in colored gel pens so I’m used to typing a story I wrote in “Gah my eyes! Neon Orange”. But I don’t like to do it often. I wanted a translucent ink so that’s why I got Sakura & Strawberry Macaron. Hopefully they won’t kill my eyes.
Update: I got Sakura and Strawberry Macaron. Sakura isn’t the “correct” color and Strawberry Macaron hardly shows up on the page. I gave both away to an artist friend who then told me, “These inks are violence. You hate me don’t you?” Friendship is magical, I tell ya.
I write the ink the work was penned in at the end of the work, so that I know what I wrote it in exactly. Just in case I pick up the work and go “wow, that ink was super pretty” or “what possessed me to get this one?”
Ink is not that pricy – depending on what you get. My cheapest ink is Higgins’ Fountain Pen Ink India ($5, 73ml). My most expensive ink is Ferris Wheel Press’ Dusk in Bloom ($36, 85ml). Ferris Wheel Press inks are pretty pricy (their cheapest single bottle is $22, 38ml). Everyone else is in the $10 or less (Diamine) or $10-$20 range (Colorverse, Sailor, Dominant Industry). And one bottle will last you a while so it isn’t a waste of money. I write over a hundred pages in roughly half a week so I need a lot of ink but the average writer will do just fine with a single bottle. I also write with an extra fine nib (it’s literally like a needle tip) so that stretches the ink use out also. So, no, you will not run out of ink massive fast. Unless you are writing the entire series of Lord of the Rings and all other accompanying books at breakneck speed, you sincerely do not need more than one bottle. A little will go a super long way.
Cleaning my fountain pen is not difficult, thankfully. It can be taken completely apart so I can clean every single component. I don’t do that, running it under water and drying it with a paper towel is just fine. I leave my pen alone for super long stretches of time so I like it as cleaned out as possible so it is ready to go on the next story. For that, I got an ultrasonic cleaner, a small one. It really cleans out all the old ink! I found a couple colors bleeding from my nib when I gave it a second clean. Black, my first color, and blue from Midnight Hour. The ultrasonic is 10000000% not necessary but I like it a lot. If something is super affordable and can save me time, I’m doing it. I have a small desiccant bag in my pen holder so my pen can dry out faster in the carrier after cleaning.
Historically, the average writer would have just one bottle of ink and hardly clean their pen. If there was a problem with it, they would troubleshoot and then take the pen to the pen shop if the troubleshooting didn’t work. Fountain pens have not been around for that long, roughly since the mid 1800s. Everything else prior to that were quills and reeds and brushes dipped into some container of ink. All the stuff I’m doing is really modern, perhaps overkill, but I want to make sure my pen lasts a super long while – especially for the price I paid. I got a limited edition pen with a fancy color, even on the nib, I want it around as long as possible.
A filled chamber of ink in my pen, the TWSBI 700VacR, is almost 3ml of ink – I learned this from writing with a sample of Diamine’s Shimmering Seas, which is 3ml. Only a couple big drops of ink were left in the sample vial so that means my pen can do basically 3ml on a full charge.
I can write two signatures – which is 60 pages for my handstitched journals – on a single filled-to-the-gills chamber. The average work I create is about 3-5 signatures. One future work is about 8 signatures but basically has 256 pages in it (remember, I stitch my own journals so I don’t have to standardize anything. Trololololololo). So, for the average work, which is 30 pages per signature, my pen basically takes up about 4.5 – 7.5 ml ink per work. The ink bottle that holds the most is my Ferris Wheel Press orb bottles (Dusk in Bloom, Jelly Bean Blue), which are 85ml. This means (assuming my math is correct, I never have been much of a numbers person) I can write roughly 11 – 19 novels with just one 85ml bottle of Ferris Wheel Press ink.
Good thing I have over 40+ works planned as of this posting, not counting series.
I am coming for Gary Paulsen’s crown, bwahahaha. (Corín Tellado can keep the throne, tho. I don’t know if I have over 5,000+ books in me.)
So now, I have a crapton of ink. I like my small collection. I hope I can use it all.
I may have a page for “inks I have written works in” for those who may be interested and so I personally have a one-stop shop of knowing what ink was used for what work. These are all for works that are most likely not out yet so it’s just title names of the future.
So far, some of the titles/inks
The Omake – Ferris Wheel Press’ Jelly Bean Blue & Diamine’s Shimmering Seas
Will of the Wisp: Snow and Storm – Higgins’ Fountain Pen India Ink & Diamine’s Writer’s Blood
Midnight Hour – Diamine’s Midnight Hour
Crystal Lung – Diamine’s Writer’s Blood
Yes, it does seem I write with Diamine a lot. They make pretty colors, what can I say? I may get an “indecisive” ink, the ink that I’ll just use when I can’t choose what color to pick. But I already have enough ink.
Some future works have already been slated for ink picks. Soaring, for example, is already slated for Kaweco’s Midnight Blue, because of the color and how small the bottle is for such an expectantly long work. Midnight Hour was slated for, well, Diamine’s Midnight Hour. It’s good that I have a lot of ink. I don’t have to think about running out anytime soon, nor plinking down more money on pens to take apart when I can just refill the pen that I have.