We receive many questions on our Instagram feed, so I wanted to address some of these questions for you here!
Q: I find working with white and/or gold ink is more difficult than black ink. What brands do you recommend for these and are there any tips to using them?
A: Ziller white wind north for white and gold Windsor newton gouache (it comes in a tube, and you have to add water) for gold. The white and the gold can seem more tricky because the white is almost like a paint, and the gold is in a thick tube, just like a paint. They are thicker than your usual inks.
For the white: I recommend adding a little bit of water at a time, until the ink flows freely from the nib without too much pressure. If you press too hard, all the ink will come right out. If you have to press really hard and little to no ink is flowing, then you haven’t thinned out the ink enough. **Add the water SLOWLY – if you put too much water, the white will lose its opacity (ie, it will not show up on dark colored paper, you’ll see the paper through the ink)**
For the gold: find a small jar and mix in enough water so the gouache becomes thin, like an ink. Follow the same instructions as above once you’ve thinned it out properly. If your ink is too thin, or bleeding into the paper, add a few drops of Gum Arabic to thicken it (available at craft stores, such as Michaels, usually in/near the oil paints section on one of the lower shelves in a clear bottle).
Once you find the right consistency, you’ll see that white & gold are not quite as intimidating as you may have thought!
Q: My ink is bleeding a lot when I write. What should I do to minimize this?
A: If your ink is too thin, or bleeding into the paper, add a few drops of Gum Arabic to thicken it (available at craft stores, such as Michaels, usually in/near the oil paints section on one of the lower shelves in a clear bottle). Add a few drops at a time. If you add too much, the ink will not flow from the nib or will skip when writing. If this occurs, add a SMALL amount of water until it’s thinned enough to flow from the pen, yet thick enough not to bleed.
Q: I have difficulty getting the ink to flow freely when I write. What can I do to remedy this?
A: A few things may be occurring. First, you may have dried ink clogging your nib. Try wiping with a damp cloth. If that doesn’t work, your ink is too thick. See previous question to combat this.
Q: I notice that you re-dip your pen infrequently when writing. How can I better achieve this?
A: I’ve been doing calligraphy for over 10 years now professionally (and way more than that non-professionally), so I’ve had time to really get used to the amount of pressure I apply to the pen. If you press too hard, all the ink will come off in the thicker parts of the letters, and you’ll have to re-dip more often. Try applying less pressure in your downstrokes.
Just remember that calligraphy is a skill that is learned over time. It takes a serious amount of practice to perfect it. Just keep practicing – I know this isn’t the magic answer everyone wants to hear but honestly it’s the truth!
I hope you find this Q/A session helpful! You can see more of my daily work on Instagram, and our Calligraphy Starter Kits are available here.