Diluting Ziller Ink

Just wanted to share with you some information and insights we have come across. Vivian decided to "study" the new Ziller Ink - Glossy Black a bit more. We were interested in knowing about how much we could dilute the ink with distilled water, and what effect would there be on the quality of hairlines and color density while using several different pen points.

She worked on envelope stock (don't know what kind, other than old ones on hand), Bond paper stock, 47# Parsons diploma parchment all cotton and some Mirage all cotton stock 90 to 110# stock. Pointed Pens used were Hunt #101, Gillotte #404, Esterbrook #128, Brause EF66, Hiro 40, Gillotte #907, Mitchell 742 and Perry 81.

Here are Vivian's observations:

We started with about 1/4 oz. of Glossy Black and from an eyedropper added drops of water. 
Hairlines were dependent on:
1. Different nibs give better hairlines than others on different papers. I found no nib that worked great on all papers tried. Adding water did little to improve a nib with a poor hairline.
2. Nib *must* be in a properly adjusted oblique penholder to get best hair lines. Adjusting the holder changed the nib from a poor hairline to a good hairline - if the nib "liked" the paper. I changed the holder adjustment and tried the same nib on different papers - and found the hairline quality changed. (Check out our web - site www.zillerofkc.com - to see how to adjust your holder.)
3. Sometimes I was able to improve the hairline by lettering with the nib more or less vertical to the paper. On some paper a Gillotte 404 had poor hair lines and by making the nib more vertical while lettering, the hairlines greatly improved.
4. Pick up your pen at the end of heavy down strokes - when doing copperplate - old masters lettered this way. Ink flow is thereby not dragged up into the hairline making it wider.
5. For pointed pens, develop a light touch - if pushing hard you won't be able to get the best possible hairline.
6. For broad pens and pointed pens, have 2 or 3 sheets of paper under your paper you are lettering on to give a bit of an air cushion to create a better hairline.
7. The glossy in the Glossy Black diminished slightly as the amount of water was increased, but still showed up well at the 120 drops of ink with 60 drops of distilled water added. 

About Soot Black
Vivian started with 120 drops or about 1/4 ounce of Soot Black and added up to 350 drops of distilled water. For broad pens - ink stayed black through 250 drops - it started graying at 300 drops - but even after 350 drops there was still a very dark gray for the broad pen. For the pointed pens the ink still looked black to her eye. No thickener was added.
Was able to maintain hair lines on broad pen lettering even with 350 drops of water to 120 drops of ink. As more water was added it was easier to letter script and Spencerian, and to flourish with the broad pen.
For pointed pens as more water was added hairlines became a little thinner depending on point and paper. 
Which pen result was best or worst - to my eye on the envelope stock - best the Perry 81 and then Esterbrook 128 followed by EF 66 --- the worst were the Gillotte #907 by far -- in between the Hiro 40, #101 #404. Note: The Perry 81 and Esterbrook 128 are vintage nibs!
On the Mirage and diploma parchment - the #1950 was by far superior to the #404 and #357


Some additional insights offered by Kate McKulla, Mountain Lakes, New Jersey include:

....experience with tools makes the major difference. I can get the finest hairlines, and wonderful swells with the glossy black by thinning it down just slightly (20-1 ratio of ink to ammonia).
....Also, keeping the nibs very clean will keep hairlines flowing well.
....I have a jar of ammonia with a toothbrush in it sitting right next to my table........then gently scrub off my nib with the ammonia...........clean your nibs often (Or you can use a water solution with some ammonia added - or- some Windex, a window cleaning product with ammonia in it. RM)


And more from Karen Ter Haar, Melbourne, Australia

Oooh, ooooh! 'Nother story! Scenario: Melbourne Pen Show. Act III. Scene 2. A beginner stops by the desk with a set of Osmiroid cartridge pens, and says she can't make them work. Karen dismantles them (much to the surprise of the owner!), finds them clean as a whistle, and well cared for. Pumps the cartridge on the B4, and writes with it. Owner asks about dip pens.....Karen dismantles pen again, covering fingers with ink, takes pen (nib) unit alone, inserts into Osmiroid holder, and scrabbles around for some ink. There's a pot of Ziller black - or it once was. When it got empty, Karen filled it up with water, straight from the tap, for practice work. It'll do - there's no other blacks around. Writes with it.......
.....lady's husband is totally blown away! He can't believe the density of the ink in comparison with what came out of the cartridge. He keeps commenting on it, just amazed. And this is an 'empty' pot of Ziller filled up with water? Good job Rich! However. Don't get *too* excited - the product was a deep gray, not black, particularly in larger tools - perfect, however, for practice, or where a deep gray is required. And the best bit? Apart from the water rates, it's free!
This applies to the colors too.....the ink is viscous, and care must be taken to release the pressure sufficiently early to allow a lovely taper on the swell before one skates around into the hairline. It is *particularly* problematical on heavy clay-content, slippery papers, but certainly not impossible to control, with a little forethought, and care.
And if one day you say, "Oh no my ink has dried up!!!"
Guess what? Vivian says, just add water to the jar and the ink will become liquid again. If you are in a hurry, crush the ink into small pieces, add water and stir. Voila you have ink. If you have a few hours, add water and stir occasionally. The ink works as good as it did originally when I have tried it. An artist gave me the tip when I went to a computer meeting and was talking about the inks.

Back to the prairie in Kansas:
So, just another day on the prairie. What's the good news about all this?
Well, experiment to find your personal choices, find the best tools available to you, sharpen your skills, be sure tools are properly adjusted for your hand, check out the nibs performance on different papers, don't be a one dimensional penman, but rather a penman of many points ;-)..........and if you like the ink diluted by half......you just cut your cost of materials by 50%.......suppose you could do that with some of those other inks? You still have a carbon black pigmented, permanent waterproof ink available to use.


Ziller of Kansas City