Monday, April 12, 2021

Taking Care of Fountain Pens

 I love to work with a good fountain pen--either a vintage one with a springy nib or a newer one that writes dependably and smoothly.  I also like not adding too much more to the landfill with disposable pens that appear to dry up way too rapidly, but more importantly I like having a relationship with my tools.

Two of the most important ways to keep that relationship a happy one are to clean your pen when needed (probably frequently, depending on the kind of ink you use!), and to match the ink to the pen. Also if you switch inks/brands/types, it's best to clean your pen between fillings, as some formulas may not play well with the residue left behind.

We've all been told that water-resistant inks are not good for vintage pens, and I believe that's sadly true. (Not so great in new ones, either, but for some unknown reason my TWSBI pens seem able to cope.) So it's necessary to be extra vigilant if you insist on using them anyway, which I often do!

Unfortunately one of my favorite techniques is ink and watercolor, so I stubbornly keep trying...



Of course it's fun to use water-soluble ink too, but it's less controllable and often makes your wash colors muddy. 

It can be fun to use a pen with water-soluble ink...makes shading a breeze!  But as you can see the color is a big muddy.

So when my pens need a good spa day, I use Goulet's pen cleaner solution, a soft ear syringe, and finally, an electronic sonic cleaner, if necessary.  Sometimes it's enough to soak and flush, but sometimes you need to take the pen apart, if you're feeling brave (or frustrated enough!)

Sometimes this is enough, if you can unscrew the nib section and flush it with warm water.  You may need to soak it first in pen cleaning solution or water with a bit of ammonia (for anywhere from a few hours to a few days), and use a bristle brush on the nib and feed.  

Surprisingly even after restarting the cleaning several times I may still get ink coming free from the nib.

Water-resistant inks often have some sort of varnish in them...that's why they say never to use India Ink in a fountain pen, but even some of the other inks like Platinum Carbon Black or the DeAtramentis Document inks can cause issues.  The latter was what was in this pen, from Fountain Pen Revolution--happily NOT an expensive vintage pen.

This is what the feed looked like after I pulled the nib...those grooves or vanes are supposed to be clean and open.  The feed section is stuck tight or I would have pulled it, too...I'm sure there's still gunk back in there.  If it acts up too soon, I'll soak this section in pen cleaner for a few days and try again.

The inside of the nib was just gross!  Gritty ink particles where it should be smooth and shiny.

This is the topside of the nib, with the heavy buildup of ink where it fitted the pen body.

After rinsing with hot water...still pretty stuck...

I had to scrape the dried ink off with my thumbnail, then gave the nib and the feed a good brushing with a bristle brush under running water.

This was DeAtramentis Document had dried almost up in the bottom of the closed jar, so just out of curiosity I added warm water and shook it up.  Bits!  No wonder my pens get cranky.  (You don't thin DeAtramentis inks with water, though, but with their dedicated dilution liquid.)

I'm taking a chance and refilling the pens with Noodler's Lexington Grey, which never seemed to give me a problem...I really love a bold black, but I'm not all that fond of needing to clean so often!

I'd be delighted to read your feedback and any thoughts or advice you have to offer! 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Getting there...

 Who knew that redesigning a website could take more than a year?!  Of course this is a very different year from the past my dear webmistress, Sonya at and I would mostly sit next to eachother in front of a computer and say "let's change that, can we move this here, let's add the other thing, do you want this, I'd like to delete that..."  

And instead, in this COVID year, we've exchanged a seemingly endless parade of emails and the occasional phone call!

This is both good news and bad news...I can take my time, mull over things at odd hours, and make sure that's really what I meant, and wanted to, say.  On the other hand...the bad news is that I can take my time, mull over things at odd hours, and make sure....well, you get the idea.  

Tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak...but we're getting there, with the help of dear friends and my beloved knight, who have acted as beta readers.  I can't thank YOU enough!

Just had to include my little poppets...

and of course the creatures we live with...

So far, this hasn't made the cut...

...but this has, talking about building our dreams...

There's a new gallery of my work in a number of genres, including journal sketches, paintings, fantasy, pottery, and professional illustrating jobs from years past.  There will be a few videos, mostly of the how-to persuasion; the art tips are all there, so are the mini classes, and a new Bookshop...

Can't wait to show it to you!

Meanwhile my classes, tips, and books are still available on my somewhat chaotic old site, here: and I am very grateful to all of you who have visited, reached out, become students and friends over the years.  You make it all worthwhile!

Please do comment and let me know what you think...

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


 I haven't gotten comments on this blog for some time, and I suspect it's because of the way Blogger has changed moderation.  I've adjusted my settings, but who knows if that will work?

I'd appreciate it if you would post a comment, though...I feel sort of lonely out here by myself!

Monday, March 8, 2021

Loose the Kraken! Or...some of my videos...

 In working on the revised webpage, I realized I wanted to share a few of my videos that have been previously private, shared with other artists, done for a class that never happened, or ones that went privately to my own students, just to give you a taste.

This one is from my Artist's Journal Workshop mini-class, which I've been giving away free during the time of the pandemic, so it may be familiar to some of you--but it's fun and encouraging, and may save you some frustration!  Herein are LOTS of ideas on how to save a journal page or sketch that's gone wrong...

Video link: 

(I wish I knew how to embed them here...I used to be able to do that!  But click the link and you'll get there...)   

And meanwhile, feel free to browse my YouTube channel, there's a lot there that IS public and there will be more all the time, for a bit.  It's here:

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Yeah, no big surprise...I do tend to change things!

So, indeed I DID change all the class buttons, as I suspected I might in this post.  I decided to use the same art and font I used for the new class banners, to pull everything together, and I like them!

(And no, clicking on them now won't take you there, sorry!)

Now we're working on mailing list forms, checking spelling and sense, figuring out the new galleries of my work, linking everything...I'll announce when it's finally live!

 And of course my classes are still available on my old website, and will be till we get the new one up!  You can find them here:

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Working on that Website Re-do!

I've been working with my wonderful web designer, Sonya Morgan of, with a complete redo of all the pages, simplifying, making sure links work, dropping old stuff.  Mind you, we've been dealing with this since right before COVID-19 lockdowns last's not exactly a speedy process, and both of us have other irons in the fire.  Step by step and page by page, we chip away at it, though!

You may have seen my last post on the subject, here:

Now, we're trying to reorganize the main class page, updating, cleaning up, bringing it into the 21st century...and hoping to still make it as appealing and informative as possible!  Each class has its own page, of course, and I'm happy with them, but the main page was confusing...

One update--rather than use the old class buttons like the one below, I'm hoping these new ones will be more in keeping with the new site...

This is the old button for the artist's journal's no longer a "new" class, and Comic Sans captions just don't cut it any more...


New one--probably, unless I redesign it again!--here:

So, cleaner, fresher, hopefully more self-explanatory.  Some of the new buttons keep the same art you may have seen on my old web page,, some don't, but I thought this really captures the subject matter--so I kept it.    


This is the new header for that class page, which will have all the info about how it works, what is included, price, accessibility, etc.

And many MANY thanks to my knight as well as dear friends and beta readers, who have found plenty of things to clarify throughout the new page...maybe in a month or two we'll break a bottle of champagne on the bow and launch!

Pretty sure Joseph's keeping me what passes for sane, fed, warm, and happy, in addition to beta reading and invaluable suggestions of course!

 And of course my classes are still available on my old website, and will be till we get the new one up!  You can find them here:


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