InkBottles

I just bought myself a big bottle of India ink. By big I mean 500 milliliters. That’s bigger than the 125ml bottle I bought last June. It’s my current favorite ink to use Sennelier. It’s nice and thick and black. The only drawback I notice when using it is that it can sometimes sit on top of the paper I’m using rather than sink down into the fibers. That can make the ink streak a little. I think that’s due to the thickness of the ink but it might also have to do with the paper. I mostly uses a Strathmore 300 Bristol but I’ve been using that paper for a long time and this is the first ill I’ve noticed it. It might also be that this ink is so dark and rich that I notice streaking in it a bit more than a less dense ink.

Speaking of less dense ink I still have my big bottle of Blick Black Cat ink. That one is 473ml (16 ounces). I’ve probably used a couple ounces out of it but I haven’t dug into that one too much. The ink isn’t dense enough for my taste. I’ve only used it a little bit when I’ve wanted a slightly lighter line. It pairs well with marker. It caused me to accidentally mix the two inks up though.

I put my ink into small glass jars. I’ve had those little jars for years. They originally had fabric paint in them. I must have bought the fabric paint in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I remember at some point the paint switched to using plastic jars and I didn’t bother to keep any of those. I bet the switch was in the early 1990s. I don’t even think they make that paint anymore. I liked the little (probably one ounce) jars enough to keep some of them all these years. I pour some of the ink from the big bottle into the small one and put the small one into my side tray attached to my drawing table. The jar is in a little recessed space well away from the sweep of my arm so I can’t accidentally knock it over as I work. I keep it in one spot so if I want to use a different ink I swap in the new jar for the usual one. Of course sometimes I forget to swap it back out again. I was working on a drawing the other day and started wondering why my ink was looking a little watered down. Of course it was because I had the less dense Black Cat ink. I made due.

I dig the Rapidograph Ultradraw ink I started using again just a couple of years ago. I only have it in tiny 22ml (3/4 of an ounce) bottles but I don’t uses a ton of it. I used to use it back in the 1990s for my technical pens. It’s a special ink that has a surface tension breaker in it so that it flows through the small opening of a technical pen without clogging as often as regular ink. After a while in the 90s I stopped using it in my technical pens and stuck with my regular ink. It was much cheaper, I always had it around, and I cleaned my tech pens regularly anyway so they weren’t clogging much. Eventually my tech pens wore out and became yet another thing they don’t make like they used to so I stopped using them all together.

I switched over to the thin black art markers they have so many of these days but the problem with them is they’re expensive and unreliable. You never know when one is going to run out of ink or how much ink is in it at all so you need lots of them around at all times. But I’m a tinkerer and years ago figured out how to refill disposable pens with India ink. Pull the plugs off the back of them, pull out the sponge inside the barrel, and wet the sponge with India ink from an eyedropper. I’d been doing that for years with my Sign Pen markers and started doing it with the thin black art markers too. The problem was that the thin markers clogged too easily with the regular ink. They’d work for a while but then stop. It was a bit frustrating but then I remembered the old Ultradraw ink and bought myself a bottle. Turns out it works really well in those little black art markers. Extends their life by a factor of ten. I can get with that.

They don’t make my old favorite India ink anymore. They haven’t for years. It was T-100 drafting film ink. It came in a little one ounce bottle like all the Higgins ink did and I went through a lot of those little bottles. I’m not even positive what drafting film ink is but I think it was used for doing mechanical drawings on clear acetate. That’s just a guess though. Since it used to be easily found in art stores I’m sure most of it was used for regular drawing on paper. It was a dense ink that dried with a dark matte black finish. I miss that matte finish. I think another of the reasons the Sennelier ink looks a bit streaky to me is that is has a glossy finish. That tends to bring out the streakiness when the ink is used over a large area.

That T-100 was my main ink for a lot of years. I always played around with other inks but I mainly used the T-100. I can’t remember when I stopped being able to find it but it was probably around the year 2005. Then I probably had no main ink until I found the Sennilier just a few years ago. Probably for about five years I just went from ink to ink looking for something I liked but nothing stood out. It was all just okay. These are the thoughts brought up by spending thirty dollars on a big bottle of ink.