Most of you with color ink jet printers have noticed that the printer’s ink cartridges come in cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) which are the basic ink colors used in printing. Using these colors your printer can produce a beautiful photograph with shades of all different colors.
By mixing these same colors of fountain pen ink, many different shades of ink can also be created. For people like me, who love to use a different color of ink every time they refill their fountain pen, it is great to have these basic colors on hand to make custom ink colors. Ink mixing is also a good way to create special colors that you may not be able to buy off the shelf.
The equivalent of cyan, magenta, yellow and black in the Noodler’s Ink collection are Navajo Turquoise, Shah’s Rose, Yellow and Black. If you like light and bright colors of ink like pink, light lime green or light blue, you might want to add Noodler’s The Whiteness of the Whale ink to your collection. This ink is specially made for ink mixing and making these types of colors.
Using all Noodler’s inks for your ink mixing is an easy way to safely mix ink and minimize the chance of any gunky reactions. We recommend making a test batch of ink before adding it to your fountain pen, and an ink mixing kit or small dropper bottles are convenient ways to do this.
If you’re new to fountain pen ink mixing and want to give it a try, Writer’s Bloc has put together a nice starter kit for creating custom ink colors. This kit includes approximately 1/2 oz each of four basic Noodler’s Ink colors – Navajo Turquoise, Shah’s Rose, Yellow and Black. In the future, we’ll be posting an ink mixing color chart to help you get started on your adventure. Happy ink mixing and please send some of your ink mixing recipes our way!
For more information on CMYK and RGB color models, how they’re different and what their advantages and disadvantages are, take a look at this handy cheat sheet infographic from firstsiteguide.com.
It is impossible to predict what will happen with every combination when you mix fountain pen ink to create custom colors. Once Alan mixed Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig and Noodler’s Georgia Peach to try and get a golden-yellow highlighting ink and it created a gel! This result certainly would have messed up the ink flow in any pen! To save you from some unexpected results, there are a few fountain pen ink mixing combinations that you may want to avoid.
When mixing blue-black fountain pen inks it is good to be cautious since some blue-black inks, especially older formulas, contain iron which makes the ink acidic and corrosive to fountain pens. Mixing some blue-black inks can also cause clogging.
Mixing inks can change or neutralize any special properties that they may have. For example, Noodler’s “bulletproof” inks (waterfast, fade resistant) when mixed with conventional inks loose their special “bulletproof” properties. Noodler’s Polar Blue or Polar Black inks may lose some of their freeze-resistance when mixed with regular inks, however, we do not live in a cold enough location to test this out. Does anyone have experience with this?
The formula of Noodler’s Baystate Inks is styled after vintage inks and has a different pH than all other Noodler’s Inks. This ink was not made to be mixed with any other ink except for other Baystate colors! In addition, the Baystate inks each have slightly different properties. Baystate Blue is waterproof, but Baystate Concord Grape is only partially water-resistant and Baystate Cape Cod Cranberry is not waterproof at all. These inks are a favorite of some writers because they have a very high color intensity and look dramatic on certain paper grades, so it is nice to know what their limitations are.
Do you have any fountain pen ink mixing nightmares or warnings that you wish to share with us?
One of the most enjoyable things about using a fountain pen is being able to mix your own custom ink colors! If you are a new fountain pen user, or haven’t tried this for yourself yet, we would like to share some things we’ve learned about ink mixing.
One myth is that you must match the brand of fountain pen you are using to the brand of ink that you purchase. This may have been true with some vintage fountain pens and vintage inks, but with modern fountain pens feel free to experiment with any modern ink specially formulated for use in fountain pens. If you want to be cautious, you may try using your less expensive pens to begin your experiments. Although we haven’t had this problem, we have heard that intensely colored inks may stain a fountain pen.
Another myth about ink mixing is that you must only mix inks if they are the same brand. However, we have found that many different brands of ink will work just fine when mixed together. For example, many Noodler’s Inks, LAMY, Pelikan and J. Herbin Inks can be mixed together to create new colors without any problems. There are always exceptions though, so when trying a new ink combination we would recommend making a small amount first and waiting a little while to see if there are any reactions. Using an ink mixing kit is helpful since these are designed for making small test batches of ink and the clear vials help you to see if any globs or precipitate form after mixing inks together.
If a batch of ink gums up your fountain pen, or you want to start out fresh with your new ink color, you can wash the pen and the converter out thoroughly with room temperature water. Have fun experimenting to see what inks work best for you!
In a future post we will mention some ink combinations that you might want to avoid. In the meantime, we would love it if you would share your favorite fountain pen ink recipe with us!