Hints on how to get hairlines when lettering with broad edge pen nibs

Sharpening your nib

A dull nib makes hairlines harder to achieve. To sharpen a nib use fine sand paper (start with 400 wet or dry sand paper and finish with 600 wet or dry sand paper) or a fine grade sharpening stone (do not use oil on the stone). Put the nib into the holder and draw the top side edge of the nib in a single gentle sweep across the stone or sandpaper maintaining a 25° to 30° angle to the paper or stone. Continue sharpening until you see the nib getting an evenly sharp edge like a knife edge. Always check to make sure the nib sides are even. If one side is longer than the other, it will catch on the paper. To test if the nib is even, run you finger nail across the writing edge of the nib. The final step is to write o's on the 600 sandpaper or the finest grade of stone with the ink in the nib of the pen. Make sure there is no burr on the outside edge of the nib.

Positioning the reservoir on the nib

A top side reservoir (Brause, Tape, Heintz-Blankertz) needs to stop about 1/8" from the tip of the nib and needs to be about 1/16" above the nib. An underside reservoir (Mitchell, Hunt, Gillott 5005, Soennecken, Rond) needs to stop about 1/8" from the tip of the nib, also. Make sure the underside reservoir is not to tight. Watch the slit in the center of the pen and if there is the slightest upward bulge loosen reservoir. Flatten underside reservoir attachment tabs with needlenose pliers. This is the position where the reservoirs work best for me. Move the reservoir to see where your best position is. For me, Speedball C Series reservoirs work well where the factory has positioned them. Each pen should have its own reservoir.

Lettering with the correct ink thickness for the nib size

Thicker ink for larger nibs and thinner ink for smaller nibs. If you are not getting a hairline and think it is the ink: Dip the pen nib in distilled water and then into the ink. If this diluted mixture writes better for you then slowly dilute the ink to get the right thinness. If you need thicker ink for the nib, use Ziller Thickener and add a little at a time to get the right thickness. Unlike gum arabic, your ink should not get overly thick, but if you added to much thickener just add distilled water - a little at a time.

Filling the nib with ink

Fill the nib less than half full, too much ink in the nib can make it harder to get hairlines. When you dip the pen nib into the ink, wipe off the top side of the nib on the inside of the jar (if reservoir on bottom), wipe off underside of nib (if reservoir on top) or shake the nib to remove the excess ink.

Cleaning the nib

To clean a new nib, first dip the nib into ink. Next use your dry eraser and rub the wet ink on the nib top and bottom. Wipe clean and use. A crusty nib can inhibit the ink from flowing smoothly off the pen. Clean nib in water with a little ammonia. If necessary, scrape excess build up off with an exacto knife.

Creating new ink colors with Ziller Inks

TEAL - mix Sweet Grass Green and Midnight Blue with a small drop of Soot Black then add North Wind White to teal shade desired.

BURGUNDY- to Cardinal Red add Sunflower Yellow then a little Soot Black.

SPRING GREEN - to Sweet Grass Green add Sunflower Yellow.

VIOLET - this rich Wild Viola Violet ink is beautiful in large nibs but may need to be lightened up with North Wind White for smaller nibs and pointed pens. Add Wild Viola Violet to the North Wind White till you get the violet you need.

Or you might like to try this idea: Take 1 part Wild Violoa Violet and add 2 parts distilled water. Then add sparingly Ziller Ink Thickener to adjust the viscosity to your individual needs or preferences, to even out the dispersement of the pigment in the stroke and to help prevent feathering and bleeding.

Ooops,my ink dried out!!!!.........Resurrecting the Ink

So, your Ziller Ink dried up like a dry water hole on the desert? Brush up on your rain dance techniques and try the following:

Break the dried ink up into small pieces and place back into jar. Add distilled water to just barely cover the chunks. Stir with a glass stir rod or your favorite stirring tool. The ink will dissolve or reconstitute, and you can use just like before. After the chunks have been dissolved, add water to bring to a consistency that suits your preferences or needs. If you add to much water, you can always add sparingly Ziller Ink Thickener a few drops at a time. Turn around three times and thank the ink gods for saving the day ;-)

Taking It On The Road

We have added a self adhesive foam seal to the lid - in addition to the foam seal that is already there! - So we have two seals working for us now and have virtually eliminated leakage problems when shipping un-opened products to you.

So, when you get a new jar, I would advise you to carefully remove the seal that is stuck to the rim of the jar. Be sure you take off as much of the seal as you can so that you will have as level of a surface as is possible.

Check inside the top of the lid to be sure the second seal is there. It should provide adequate protection for everyday studio storage.

When closing up after use be sure rim is clean to give a good seal. If necessary wipe with a cloth that has water and ammonia added to clean the surface. This is only necessary if you have been doing a technique that is a bit messy.

Go traveling? Some more tips:

Use some vinyl electricians tape to wrap around the lid - one half of the tape should be on the lid and one-half on the jar. Overlap the ends of the tape at least one inch. ---- 1/2" wide tape works great. This will keep the lid from vibrating loose as you travel and will help keep a tight seal.

Place these taped jars into a zip lock bag and if you want to be doubly sure -- double bag it.

If traveling by air - carry on your inks - don't check them as baggage, no telling what elephant may step on them -- and keep them upright. We have found this to be a very effective way of managing to keep the ink inside the jar where they belong..........well that is until they are ready to come out and make beautiful art! :-))

For Your Envelopes

One new idea I tried was using Ziller Ink as a wash on envelopes. First, I used only one ink color, then I tried several ink colors on the same envelope. After the envelopes were dry, I addressed them with the Ziller Ink. We mailed them to our daughter, she was impressed with them and said they went through the mail with no problems.

How To Make The Ink Flow Readily From A New Pen

Most pens have a protective coating of some material to prevent rust when they come from the factory. If you try to use these pens as they come from the box, you will find that the ink will not flow or it will all come off in one blot. It is our experience that the fastest and best way to prepare a pen is to dip it in water and then use a soft white eraser on the inside as well as the outside. Use this eraser as though you were cleaning an invisible film from the pen. Remove the mixture of water and erasure dust with a piece of hand tissue and above all, you must not touch the point of the pen with your fingers before dipping it in ink. You will find this treatment will eliminate most of your trouble and you can start right off with a new pen.

Ziller of Kansas City