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:

NYC Stationery Attractions

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

 

I was recently in New York City on vacation! Having only seen the city via movies and tv shows, I was really excited for my first trip to the Big Apple.

Alongside the usual tourist destinations like Times Square and Central Park, I knew I wanted to visit some highly regarded stationery shops. I wasn’t able to visit every location on my bucket list, but I’d say this was a good start.

I hope you enjoy this mini tour of NYC stationery attractions!


CW Pencil Enterprise

This adorable little pencil shop has been featured on so many podcasts and blogs that I follow. It was exactly what I had hoped, and more! Though smaller than I imagined, the coziness of the space just adds to the whimsy of having a shop in busy Manhattan that is entirely dedicated to humble woodcased instruments.

I was able to meet Caitlin (who I had met informally via a postcard exchange) and Caroline Weaver herself — luckily both were in the shop that day. We chatted about our favorite pencils, small business, museums, and life in New York City.

The way that Caroline styled the shop is so charming — from the bright yellow accents to the black-and-white tiled floor, the entire space just draws you in and wraps you up in nostalgia. It was a delightful first stop on my NYC stationery tour, and I hope to be back! 

CW Pencil Enterprise100B Forsyth St, New York, NY 10002

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

No lettered signage — just look for the giant yellow pencil!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The testing station, where you can scribble to your heart’s content

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Colorful cases and notebooks on display in the front window

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

View to the left when you first walk in

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

A case of valuable antique pencils, including vintage Blackwings!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Pencil poster and some matching notebooks

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The famous wall of pencils!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Closer up, checking out these colorful picks

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Got a kick out of these funny pencils that leave rainbow pencil shavings

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Unintentionally color-coordinating with the lovely ladies of CW Pencils!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Even the floor of CWP is stylish and photo-worthy

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Excited about my pencil purchase!

My pencil haul consisted of a Blackwing Pearl, the much-praised Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood (which really does smell like a chocolate forest!), and some natural finish pencils. I also custom ordered two souvenir pencils to commemorate my trip to NYC, as well as some Owl Ink pencils!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The Strand Bookstore

The Strand is an absolute must-visit for any book nerd. This legendary NYC bookstore boasts having “18 miles of books” within its walls, which seems like a hefty claim until you actually set foot inside.

There are literally books as far as the eye can see- row after row, stacks on stacks… shelves up to the ceiling… turn a corner, and there are even more books to be found!

I enjoyed the thoughtfully curated center displays (with various themes like Short Stories, Vegetarian Cookbooks, and Adult Coloring Books), and the shelf of beautiful vintage hardcovers.

Strand Bookstore828 Broadway, New York, NY 10003

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

A selection of books on graphic design

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Vintage books! Look at those spines…

I was tempted by a few short story anthologies, but had to dial back as I was restricted by a small suitcase. My mini haul consisted of an Ursula K. Le Guin book that I’ve had on my wish list for a while — I hadn’t seen it at any bookstore until now! Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, and I am on a quest to collect all of her works.

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Kinokuniya

Kinokuniya is the New Yorker’s destination for all things Japan! We have Kinokuniya here in San Francisco, but I still wanted to check out the Manhattan location. It’s very conveniently located — just a short walk from Grand Central Station, right across from the NY Public Library. I think the best way to sum it up is by floor, and this is the order that I explored in:

Ground floor: English books — fiction, nonfiction, and bestsellers that you’d find in an American bookstore. There was an entire wall dedicated to New York — recipe books from famous NY restaurants, NY photographers, etc.

Second floor: A mix of Japanese and English books and manga, anime-related novelties, and a small cafe that was pretty crowded for a Monday afternoon

Basement floor: Japanese magazines and reference books, greeting cards, and — the most exciting part to me — a wonderful stationery section of pens, notebooks, folders, and art supplies!

I spent quite a lot of time in the basement floor, perusing the aisles and trying to spot brush pens or calligraphy supplies that I don’t already own.

Kinokuniya1073 Ave of the Americas, New York, NY 10018

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The second floor had lots of anime-related toys and figurines

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The basement housed an impressive selection of Japanese gel pens and ballpoints

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Nice pencil section, including singles of the popular Blackwings!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

A glorious wall of washi tape!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Found a book relevant to my interests :D

My Kinokuniya haul consisted of a gold ink brush pen, a super cute pencil stamp, and some New York-related souvenir items that I’ll use in my scrapbook.

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

A fine art museum of staggering size, the Met has something for everyone’s interest — including stationery nerds. While wandering around the museum, I happened upon a exhibit of drawings and prints, which included some pieces on handwriting and calligraphy!

The Metropolitan Museum of Art1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

A primer on penmanship and a book of calligraphic works!

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Absolutely stunning to see it lit up at night

Additional stationery-related highlights:

Posman Books: A small yet cozy bookstore nestled inside the super-hip Chelsea Market

USPS James Farley Post Office: For those into snail mail, you must walk by this gargantuan post office. It has the famous postal carrier’s creed chiseled across the entire building — “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. It’s pretty mind-blowing if you just stop and think about how many pieces of mail have come through this historic place.

Moleskine Store inside Grand Central Terminal: I didn’t know this was here, I just happened across it while exploring Grand Central– it’s located in a hallway of stores leading out toward the main concourse. Inside, you’ll find various Moleskine notebooks of all sizes, including some of the newest limited editions.

Ed Jelley: I would definitely count Ed himself as a NYC stationery  highlight. I’ve followed his fantastic blog and photography for quite some time now, so it was great to finally meet him in person! We chatted over coffee (of course) about pens, notebooks, calligraphy, mechanical keyboards, raw denim, and various other tactile fascinations/expensive hobbies/niche interests.

 

NYC Stationery Attractions | Owl Ink

Thanks for taking the time to hang out and chat!


For even more NYC stationery tour stops, be sure to check out these resources:

The Pen Addict Episode 189: Guest host June Thomas takes Brad and Myke on an NYC Stationery Tour, which covers the above destinations and many more

Top Five Stationery Stores in New York City: A great roundup that includes art stores, by The Gentleman Stationer

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

A few months ago, my friend Dan asked if I’d be interested in collaborating with him on a photoshoot! Wedding photography season was wrapping up, and he was interested in doing more lifestyle photography to try his hand at something different. Of course, I was excited to get involved!

He originally wanted to do a “art studio” type shoot, but since most of my work is done on my unattractive bedroom floor, I proposed finding someplace else. After some brainstorming, we settled on a county park located off Highway 9. It’s quiet, calm, and nestled among beautiful redwood trees — a perfectly woodsy, owl-themed setting.

The shoot lasted for a few hours, and it was a great experience! Dan has a very warm personality and was quick to offer staging suggestions, which really helped since I tend to be nervous on camera. I could tell that he was enthusiastic about capturing the entire atmosphere, down to the subtle details.

His photography mantra is “seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary”, and it was really interesting to watch him turn simple things like twigs and fallen leaves into art. I remember at one point, we were digging around in the dirt looking for the perfect twigs and pine cones to use as props! We definitely had a good laugh about that :P

2015 was a major year for me in the sense that I finally launched this site and turned my hobby into something greater. I’m really excited about how Owl Ink has turned out thus far, and I hope that shows through in Dan’s photos.


 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

Owl Ink Photoshoot with Dan Chern Photography

 

If you are a Bay Area-based artisan interested in some new photos for your website, Etsy, or blog — contact Dan over at his site, Dan Chern Photography!

He is really great to work with.  and he would love to combine his passion with yours :)

San Francisco Renegade Craft Fair 2015

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

 

A few weeks ago, I went to the 2015 Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco! There are multiple craft fairs around this time of year, where you can peruse and purchase handmade goods from local artisans (as well as artists and crafters from around the country)

The fair was held in the Festival Pavilion of the Fort Mason Center. This huge space was barely large enough to hold all the vendors and their various wares!

Being the stationery lover that I am, I specifically had my eye out for pretty paper goods. Here are some photos from the event!

 


 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Real vintage stamps!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

If I had the budget, I would have bought it–  owl touch lamp from Luke Hobbs!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Delightfully punny nature cards and prints by Frida Clements

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

I bought the baby owl card in the upper right corner from Ilee Papergoods!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Absolutely gorgeous watercolor illustrations by Cactus Club

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Illustrated calendars and posters by The Little Canoe

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Not entirely stationery-related, but there was a corner of the fair that was entirely dedicated to succulents and other potted greenery from Succulent Gardens

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

In addition to cacti, they also had some cards, stamps, and posters

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

I got to meet the lovely duo behind the Lettermate, a tool that is often reviewed in the calligraphy and stationery community!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Hilariously proper animal portraits by Berkley Illustration. I had to get an owl print!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Clap Clap had some pretty floral cards and nature-themed notebooks

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Norcal pride cards and other region-based goodies by Paper Parasol Press

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

Beautiful collection at Fermé a Papier — especially loved her gold foil cards

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

September Ink had set up a mini letterpress printing station for making a DIY gift tag!

 

2015 SF Renegade Craft Fair | Owl Ink

A collection of pretty business cards I picked up from vendors I liked.

 

The whole vendor lineup of the 2015 fair was wonderful, and I highly encourage you to check out these lovely artisans!

Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Every few months, my friend Claire and I get together to create art! We are still pretty new to watercolors, and try to improve via tutorials on Youtube and Pinterest. Recently, she picked up a bottle of masking fluid at our local art store. I had never used it before, so I was fascinated when she showed me how it works!

In this post, I’ll share my first art piece made with masking fluid. I’ve concluded that it’s pretty magical, and I will definitely buy a bottle for myself.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Masking fluid, sometimes called “liquid frisquet” or “drawing gum”,  is a thick, opaque liquid that dries into a gummy, removable film (the closest thing I can compare it to is watered-down glue or mod podge). It is water-repellent, acting as a mask to preserve white space on your paper or canvas.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Because it’s quick-drying and very sticky when dry, I’ve heard that you should only use it with a paintbrush that you don’t care too much about.

We decided to do hand-lettered quotes on top of a colorful, floral background. I chose this quote by Monet: “I must have flowers, always and always”. After lightly sketching out the quotes in pencil, we went over them with masking fluid. I learned that dipping frequently is the key to getting consistent coverage.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Once the masking fluid is dry, it becomes a bluish-gray color and is very water-repellent. You can see here that the watercolor ink just beads on top of it!

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Here, I am adding more flowers to the piece.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

It’s important to make sure each of the lettered words is surrounded by color, so that the white text will be visible. I had to go over the piece multiple times to make sure the colors were dark enough to contrast the white letters.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Now, here comes the fun part! After the watercolor florals were completely dry, we began peeling off the masking fluid. This is strangely satisfying, and I’d liken it to scratching a lottery ticket or peeling plastic film off new electronic gadgets. It helps to use an eraser to lift up the corner, and then just use your finger to rub the rest away.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

The gum rubs off like eraser shavings, and you can simply brush them off your paper. It leaves behind crisp white areas, untouched by your watercolors.

 

Owl Ink | Using Masking Fluid with Watercolors

 

Here is the finished piece! I am very happy with how it turned out, and will probably frame it up in my room :)

Materials Used:

  • Pebeo Liquid Drawing Gum (available at University Art in San Jose, or various online stores)
  • Loew Cornell 36 Color Watercolor Palette
  • Strathmore Cold Press Watercolor Paper – 140 lb
  • Assorted paintbrushes

 

I Must Have Flowers, Always and Always | Owl Ink