Review: White Inks for Calligraphy

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

 

I recently had the opportunity to test some white inks, and wanted to share my findings. Specifically, I wanted to see which white inks were best for calligraphy.

Here are my results! I hope you’ll find this helpful :)

 


White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

White Calligraphy Inks

These inks are either marketed as calligraphy inks or are popular within the calligraphy community. (You can click on the image for a larger view)

 

 White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen-White – ★★★★

  • Very thick right out of the bottle
  • Requires diluting with distilled water
  • It is ~magical~ once dry, crisp and very opaque
  • Handy eyedropper for easy diluting in separate container

Verdict: Worth the hassle of finding the perfect ink-to-water ratio because it is fantastic when diluted properly.

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White Ink – ★★★★

This is hailed among many calligraphers are the holy grail of white ink! My coworker was kind enough to let me take a dip out of her bottle to test it out.

  • VERY thick and pasty — even thicker than the Pen-White
  • Requires more diluting with distilled water
  • Crisp and opaque once dry
  • Similar to the Pen-White

Verdict: Best ink for the price. Since you are diluting it so much, the tiny bottle will go a long way.

J. Herbin Dip Pen Calligraphy Ink – ★★★☆

  • Lower viscosity and thus writes straight from the bottle.
  • Better ink flow, smoother to write with
  • Less opaque, fades significantly as it dries.

Verdict: I give this ink points for convenience, despite its low opacity. Plus, it is perfect for the rustic/vintage chalkboard look that is quite popular.

Speedball Calligraphy Ink – ★★★☆

  • Only $2! An easy purchase if you are just trying out white calligraphy
  • Bottle shape makes dipping easy
  • Must be diluted with water
  • Quite opaque once dry
  • Less smooth and dries with a bumpy finish

Verdict: If you are going through the trouble of patiently diluting your ink, you might as well go for Dr. Ph. Martin’s.

 J. Herbin Dip Pen Pigmented Ink – ★★☆☆

  • More watery and less opaque than the other J. Herbin white
  • If you write too slowly,  ink drips off the nib
  • If you write quickly, not enough ink is left on the page resulting in faded letters

Verdict: I don’t really like it :(


White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

White Comic Inks

Comic artists use white in many ways — adding highlights to eyes and hair, or covering up small mistakes. Many manga artists use the same G nib that is popular among calligraphers, so I figured it was worth a try.

These inks are VERY thick — almost all of them need to be diluted with water to be usable, and it took a lot of trial and error to get the right ink-to-water ratio for all of them. Once diluted, I was pleasantly surprised by how well some of them worked as calligraphy inks!

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Copic Opaque White – ★★★★

  • Very thick out of the bottle, requires diluting
  • Smooth once diluted
  • Very opaque and crisp when dry
  • Annoyingly tiny bottle
  • Kind of expensive for the size

Verdict: The most opaque of the comic inks, if you can get past the price and the frustration of scooping the ink out of the tiny bottleneck.

Deleter White #1 and White #2 – ★★★★

  • Very thick out of the bottle, requires diluting
  • Smooth once diluted
  • Opaque when dry
  • #2 is waterproof!

Verdict: There isn’t much difference between the two, but I found #1 to be slightly smoother.

IC Comic Art White and Super White -★★★☆

  • Very thick out of  the bottle, requires diluting
  • Not as smooth as Deleter inks
  • Super White is very opaque when dry

Verdict: The regular Art White is mediocre, the Super White is much better.

Kaimei Manga Ink – ★★☆☆

  • Thinnest manga ink – thus, surprisingly smooth out of the bottle
  • Decently opaque when dry
  • Annoying caveat: chalky bubble effect

Verdict: Pretty decent, but with one MAJOR caveat. The pigment settles to the bottom, so when you shake the bottle to mix up the ink, a mass of bubbles forms. As you write, your pen leaves a trail of tiny bubbles that dry inside your calligraphy, making it look rough and messy :/

Kuretake Comic White – ★★☆☆

  • Very thick out of the bottle, requires diluting
  • Not cooperative with the paper I used
  • Difficult to write with
  • Not very opaque once diluted

Verdict: This is one comic ink that cannot really be used as a calligraphy ink. It works on some papers, but not on others — not worth the gamble


 

Some examples of my favorite inks in action…

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen-White

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Speedball Calligraphy White

White Calligraphy Ink Review | Owl Ink

Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen-White on a light gray envelope


 

There are some other white inks that I’ve heard about, but not yet tried. Eventually, I hope to try all of them…


Note: All product photos from JetPens.com and DickBlick.com. Review photos by me.

Materials Used:

Review: Recent Stationery Hauls

I enjoy what Andrew does over at Minimally Minimal, in which he rates a roundup of items that he tried but didn’t write a full review post for. In this post, I rate some of my recent stationery  acquisitions!

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Clear Document Holder

Daiso Clear Document Holder – ★★★★

These have been redesigned over the years, but they are essentially the same: a clear plastic box for storing your papers. I find them great for things that I want to keep in one place, but don’t want to hole-punch into a binder. I recently bought two more: one for storing calligraphy practice sheets, and another for transporting watercolor supplies. Four stars for being cheap, functional, and easily replaceable.

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Washi Tapes

Daiso Washi Tapes – ★★★☆

Daiso washi tape comes in pretty limited (and sometimes ugly) patterns, but there are a few gems in the midst. On a recent visit, I was tickled to find this adorable owl one! Some of their tapes seem stickier than others, which is strange, but I won’t complain about washi tape for just $2.00.

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Paper Cutter

Fiskars Paper Cutter – ★★★☆

I mentioned in a previous post here that I bought this paper cutter for a wedding place card project. This is one of those things that I didn’t know I needed, until the very hour that I needed it. Since then, I’ve used it for pretty much everything that involves cutting paper. Knocking off a star because the cuts aren’t as clean as they’d be if I used my Xacto-knife and ruler, but the convenience is unparalleled.

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Mini Stamps

Alphabet Stamp Sets – ★★☆☆

I found these tiny alphabet stamps in the dollar section of Michaels, and couldn’t resist. I picked up a traditional serif set, a vintage typewriter set, and a basic sans-serif set. They are really cute, and I’ve been enjoying them in a variety of silly uses (like the teeny tiniest Field Notes that ever existed). However, they are very roughly made — the edges are roughly cut, and I don’t expect them to last long.

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Sugar Paper for Target

Sugar Paper Collection for Target – ★★★☆

I love the black/gold/ballerina pink combo that graces all of Sugar Paper’s 2016 lineup. On a trip to Target, I picked up the small weekly/monthly planner and two document folios. I plan to use one for important documents like my passport, checkbook, and insurance cards. The other will hold small calligraphy pieces. Taking off a star because the planner already has some loose threads, after barely any use.

 

Recent Stationery Hauls - Notepad by The Well-Appointed Desk

Shit To Do Notepad from The Well Appointed Desk – ★★★★

Ana and her husband brainstormed this funny little notepad on a whim, and I love it! It’s simple, cheeky, and motivates me to actually “get shit done” — mainly because like feeling productive by writing lists in it.

Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

Levenger Gemstone Green Review

 

When I was a kid, my mom bought me these plastic stick-on gems for me to do crafts with, and I am surprised by how often I’ve run into practical uses for them since then… like my first ink review!

As a relative newcomer to fountain pens, my ink collection is still pretty small. I started off with the standard colors: one black and one blue-black (reviews to come), and I was contemplating my next “fun color” purchase.

While I was browsing shelves at a thrift store, I was pretty happy to find two bottles of Levenger ink! I didn’t know if there was anything I needed to be cautious of in terms of buying used inks, but they were 50 cents each and a $1 risk purchase seemed reasonable to me.

 

Ink Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

 

Levenger Gemstone Green is a dark emerald ink that is primarily green, but with a slight turquoise hint to it. It is definitely a cool green, as opposed to a warm green, and made me think of spruce trees and other evergreens.

If you really layer it on, you can even get a bit of reddish purple sheen — kind of like the new Emerald of Chivor! (but sans the sparkle)

 

Ink Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

 

The ink writes nicely in a Lamy Safari with a fine nib, on Maruman Mnemosyne paper. However, I did notice a little bit of feathering and show-through, so if it feathers on Mnemosyne then I wouldn’t try my luck with cheaper paper.

 

Ink Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

 

It doesn’t shade very much  in a fine nib– the color is pretty consistent throughout the words. However, put it in something like a Pilot Parallel and that’s when some real shading action comes out to play.

Unfortunately, it does not play nice with dip pens… at least, not straight from the bottle (not sure how it would be with a bit of gum arabic mixed in to thicken it).

As a mini experiment, I dropped it into a glass of water to see what it would look like! You can really see the teal color emerge as the ink begins to dissolve.

 

Ink Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

 

The full review!

 

Ink Review: Levenger Gemstone Green

 

Finally, just for fun, I made a collage inspired by Gemstone Green :)

 

Gemstone Green Mood Board
Dioptase Gemstone | Emerald Green Walls | Forest Watercolor | Emerald Green Silk | Vintage Vogue Poster

Other recent emerald green ink reviews:

Review: Field Notes Shelterwood Edition

field-notes-shelterwood-review

 

I have been a casual fan of Field Notes for a while, but it took me a while to hop on board. When I first discovered them, I had just missed the beautiful Night Sky edition. Plus, I already had a small pocket notebook that a friend gave me as a gift, so I figured I would finish that first before buying any new ones. The release that finally got me in on the Field Notes game was SHELTERWOOD, the Spring 2014 Edition.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Field Notes — four times a year, a seasonal limited edition is released. It is a one-time-only, limited run of a good couple thousand copies, and it lasts until the edition is entirely sold out. As of now (Spring 2015), Shelterwood has been long discontinued, but I still wanted to review it because it matches the aesthetic of my new site :)

Shelterwood is a beautiful edition that is made of real American cherry wood veneer, sliced super thin and glue-bonded to their usual kraft paper covers. Because they’re made of real wood, each one looks different! A pack of Field Notes includes three memo books, and here you can see the varied wood grain of the three I received.

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

The cover text, which is printed with “Ghostflower White” ink, is subtly semi-opaque so the wood grain shows through. It gives the cover a rustic look — according to the Field Notes page, “like a faded whitewashed fence”. To keep with the theme, I filled in the inside cover information with white ink as well.

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

My favorite pen to use with this edition has been the Pilot Hi-Tec-C in Kurikawa, or Chestnut Brown. It’s a dark brown-black (lighter than it appears in this photo) that fits perfectly, in terms of both size and color.

I always enjoy reading the Practical Applications listed on the back — “Treehouse Blueprints” is my favorite. I’ve been using one for blog planning!

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review

 

The inside paper even handles brush pen pretty well! I’ve heard this paper is great with fountain pens too, but I’ve mainly just been using pens and markers. This is a Pentel Fude Touch pen in green.

Overall, I have to say I loved my first foray into Field Notes! Unfortunately Shelterwood was discontinued some time ago, but it was replaced by the Cherry Wood edition, which is similar but with graph paper inside instead of lined. Personally, I prefer lined paper, so I’m glad I picked up an extra pack while I did!

 

Field Notes Shelterwood Review