Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Out with the old...

And in with the new.

Being the less than well behaved calligrapher that I am, I have not looked after these nibs. Granted, they are nearly a decade old (I can hear the gasps of horror from around the globe, apologies for distressing you all) and therefore probably well past their due date.  Sure, I wash them after each use and try to dry them off, but sometimes I leave them to finish drying off themselves. Hmm.

But they have been working fine for me, the ink has flowed when needed, and they haven't been scratchy. Actually I think they look worse than they really are... but then I would say that at this point in the game I guess!  I'm also just not the type to toss things out until they really don't work any more.

On close inspection this week I came to the view that the last wet season REALLY took its toll on them and for the first time in my life I found I had seriously rusted nibs. I don't think even I could have attempted anything with them in this state. Probably also shows I haven't sat down to write anything calligraphic for a few months...

So it was time, and I sat down for an hour or so the other afternoon and changed them all over.

Here are the bright shiny new ones. They make me so happy I am almost not game enough to use them!

I am thinking it might be worth my while to buy an ultrasonic cleaner - one that really gets in to the crevices and removes the last smudge of ink.  Then I wondered if I could get an ultrasonic dryer because that would really help me, but I don't think they've been invented yet. Sigh.

I've also read that maybe I should rub them with olive oil after washing and drying because the oil would stop the rust thing happening...but it seems a bit weird to put oil on your nibs. I can only imagine it transferring onto the paper the next time I wrote because I would forget I had to wipe it off.

Maybe I just need to be diligent. Sigh again.

Does anybody have any good ideas about rust prevention and nibs?


  1. mine look just like yours F - and the world has kept turning.... I just rub the ends on an arkansas stone every so often - this takes the rust off the writing tip and makes it feel all sparkly and new

  2. I'm sure I won't be the only one to think this, but might these old rusted nibs end up in Barry's hands? The way you've photographed them they already look like the makings of some unusual recycled art!

  3. Bright and shiny... ready for action Fiona. Perhaps the old ones will appear as some of Barry's jewellery.

  4. Lee Oldford ChurchilllJune 27, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    Hi Fiona - I'm not sure what I do differently but mine are equally old and don't look so deeply pitted (admittedly they don't see an enormous amount of use). I second the sanding stone idea but would also extend it to rubbing over the outsides with some steel wool or a bit of ultra fine sanding/polishing paper, jsut so you don't get flakes falling off. As for prevention, I wash them after use, gently 'squeeze' them in a bit of tissue, and put them into a small cardboard box that has the bottom padded with some paper towel... for oil it might be a better idea to use a touch of castor oil rather than olive as it wouldn't turn colour...

  5. Hi Ronnie - I'ms so glad so see I'm not alone! The actual writing parts of these nibs are still OK -it's mostly the body that has gone blahh. So I'm attempting to rescue them at the moment - will show you how it goes.

    Indeed indeed J - hmmm! Will let you see what I've been up to soon.

    Hi G/TT - I love how they look as well, and can see a whole range of earrings coming on perhaps? I have been playing with them a bit too...

    Hi Jo - indeed - we are both eyeing them off with things in mind. Laugh. Nothing is ever wasted.

    Thanks so much Lee - very helpful hints coming form someone with your experience! I am attempting a minor rescue at the moment and will be using the stone and also some fine steel wool I think. Will keep you posted. I like the idea of the box with the paper towel as well - another way to absorb any left over moisture.

  6. Do you still have the old nibs? I hope you haven't thown them away, they absolutely look like small pieces of sculpture! Variations on a single theme. You could do wonders with them, even fit them into a handmade book.

  7. Fiona....of course, I'm behind in catching up on reading my blogs, but these old, rusty pen nibs are just so beautiful! As Gabriella suggests you could be given to Barry....but I'm such a lover of objects and their history....I'd just save the pens and nibs and savor their beauty! Of course, those shiny new nibs are beautiful too, in all their untested innocence! Enjoy!

  8. fiona...the retired nibs should go to barry or be used for rust dyeing!
    oz is amazing!

  9. Apologies for late replies Ersi, Patti and Velma

    I will definitely get the nibs into use somehow if I can't rescue them. They will have another life of some sort - either as my backup nibs or for rust dying, assemblage or just objects....go well.


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