Friday, December 1, 2017

Dip Pens, Cartooning, and Inking

Last week my wife and I visited a local antique mall and spent quite a bit of our Black Friday searching every booth for treasures. Success! The last booth I checked, near the checkout counter on my way out, included a box of old-school dip pens on the bottom shelf of a dusty display case. The cashier unlocked the case and set the box out for me to explore.

I bought the five dip pens pictured and a marble-barreled U.S. Senate mechanical pencil by Sheaffer. I headed home, got a bottle of India Ink and started experimenting with the dip pens.

Off to a messy start, I dripped a puddle on Space-Rover's ear, then got the hang of it and started inking the sketch below. The handwriting and illustration were both done with the dip pen. The nib has great flex to allow line width variations for illustrating. I wrote a couple of pages of text in my Field Notes Dime Novel edition and it has good control and consistency - the steel nib produces text comparable to a medium nib by standard fountain pen sizes (like Lamy or Kaweco). I enjoyed the drawing experience with these pens and I'm looking forward to creating some complete pages using only my old dip pens!

I'm always amazed and appreciative of past creators who penned documents, inked drawings, and completed entire books with pens like these. I would encourage every artist to try out a dip pen. It's a great way to experiment with old-school tools and techniques. You may find out you enjoy drawing with these. If so, and time is the only deterrent to prevent using one more often, there are many great fountain pens that offer the flex nib and line variance options with internal ink reservoirs or refillable cartridges. The best of both worlds!


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