Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rotring Calligraphy Pens

A while back I picked up a trio kit of Rotring calligraphy pens. Here's a little test using all three sizes.

The nibs come in widths of 1.1, 1.5, and 1.9 mm and are very well polished. That smoothness allows the nib to be pushed upward without catching. In other words, it's impossible to make these pens splatter.

The kit includes an Arkansas stone and leather pad for adjusting the nibs. The 1.1 nib seems a bit on the thick side so I might try a trim there. Of course, with those polished rounded tips all the nibs leave a wide line. It takes a real dip pen style calligraphy nib to do a fine cutting line.

These pens take an ink cartridge of non-permanent ink although a piston fill converter is available.

I prefer these pens to the felt tips but in the end nothing beats the good old dip pen. Although...I've not yet tried a quill. :-)


  1. Great demo page. And it is interesting to hear about the Rotring nibs, and especially the smooth edges. Non-sputtering nibs work well for a semi-cursive italic script, too.

    I have a real soft spot for Gothic, though! Yours seems to have improved again; perhaps the fact that the nibs give a better line than the felt-pens helps.

    In terms of getting a fine line, the type of paper makes a difference too. If you haven't already tried it, and if you have some scrap hot-pressed watercolour paper, compare the difference in line between that and cheap copy paper. The ink behaves differently on different surfaces.

    You can also dab a linen bag of powdered gum sandarac onto your page. The fine gum particles act as a water repellant, so your letter edges and hairlines 'shrink into themselves' and look thinner and crisper.

    Quills are a heady mixture of frustration, fun, experiment and glamour. Hopefully you will find a large feather from around the lake which you could then treat and cut.

    Your blog is such fun and so active; it's just great visiting and seeing creation going on.

  2. Different inks will also affect your lines when you use dip pens; the viscosity of some allow for incredible hairlines (fun for copperplate embellishing) and like Katharine said, your paper choice will prove to be yet another variable. I have never developed a liking for the felt tip calligraphy markers- like you, the dip pens remain my favorite. I bought several sampler packs of antique/vintage nibs from 'Paper & Ink Arts' a couple of years ago ( and am amazed at the nuances of handling between them all and with different inks and papers. Every time I start a new project, I do many test sheets to see which one fits the look/mood/style of what I am working on. The combinations are endless! My current favorite combo is :
    nib- mitchell size 6 ( I work small) I have the round hand nibs- they also make an italic nib which I have not yet tried
    paper- arches hot press
    ink- Daler Rowney FW acrylic ink/ antelope brown
    Tomorrow it could all change!

  3. Gretchen, that's so interesting what you say about inks. I have noticed a distinct difference in viscosity between the Rotring cartridge ink and my Higgins India black. Perhaps the Rotring must be very thin to prevent plugging? Maybe has to do with its non-permanence as well.

    Also interesting how you experiment for each work. You are giving me much good advice to keep in mind. Thank you! :-)

    I'm poking about that supplier site... Right off the bat I run across metallic powders. Oh my...

  4. Thanks, Katharine! :-)

    I did try out copy paper with the Rotring. Oh what a mess! So blurry...

    So, I must experiment with papers. And inks. And nibs. Wow! :-)

    Thank you for the tip on gum sandarac. I just found some on the site Gretchen recommended.

    I'll be on the lookout for goose feathers. I guess they're supposed to be good for sweeping off eraser leavings. I try to use kneaded erasers an much as possible as they don't make a mess but sometimes I simply need a white vinyl and they are messy!

    So glad you're having fun here, and especially glad that you've made it home safe and sound.