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Thread: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

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    Default Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    For my recent birthday my wife gave me a beautiful silver inkwell, an antique made in England in 1901. Ink has dried in it, and I've been having trouble cleaning it so that I can use it. There's a residue that just won't come out completely. I've soaked a cleaning solution of 10% ammonia and 5% dish soap in aqueous solution in the inkwell overnight almost half a dozen times, and each time there's blue-black liquid that comes out the next morning with a little bit of sludge. There's less and less color and sludge each time, but I'd have to do it about a million times to get it completely clean. I tried soaking some acetone in it for a few hours, but that did next to nothing.

    There seemed to be a layer of black ink, and below it a layer of blue ink, and then either blue-black, or it made its own blue-black. Can anyone suggest something that will clear out the residue of whatever the heck kind of ink is probably in there? Maybe dip pen ink from the 1920s or '30s?

    And then, what kind of ink should I put in it? I know that dip pen ink is different from fountain pen ink, has a different surface tension. I have some sumi ink I'm thinking of using, or maybe walnut, but wondered if anyone had any other suggestions. It would be for drawing, writing, and calligraphy.

    Thanks!

    Here are photos:





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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions


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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    It's true!

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    From looking at it, I can't see a glass liner. A sliver inkwell should have a glass liner so that the ink isn't in contact with the silver.
    Also, there doesn't look like there is much of a seal on the cap, so if you put any ink in there with or without a glass liner it will evaporate very quickly.

    When I've seen capstan inkwells like this at auctions they have had some sort of padded seal mechanism on the inside of the lid as well as a glass liner to keep the ink in.
    At the moment it's just a decorative silver capstan inkwell. Not something that you should keep ink inside.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    ...A silver inkwell should have a glass liner....
    More often than not, those little white glass or ceramic cups are missing from inkwells you find in antique shops and auctions. There are reproductions out there. Unless you use dip pens, there's not much reason to pour ink into your lovely sterling inkwell.

    I searched "inkwell white liners reproduction" and found someone is selling them made of porcelain on eBay in the UK.
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/WHITE-Ceram...s/112396427327

    Check this out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt7La...ature=youtu.be
    Last edited by FredRydr; October 15th, 2019 at 10:22 AM.

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    ...A silver inkwell should have a glass liner....
    More often than not, those little white glass or ceramic cups are missing from inkwells you find in antique shops and auctions. There are reproductions out there. Unless you use dip pens, there's not much reason to pour ink into your lovely sterling inkwell.
    Yes, reproduction liners are available. I wouldn't pour ink into a silver inkwell without a liner even if I was using a dip pen.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Hard to tell from the photo, but might a shot glass fit?

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    I would think that a white porcelain liner would look good in that splendid inkwell.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Hmm. I thought I had posted a reply to this thread a few hours ago, but I seem to have failed to pull the trigger after writing the dern thing. Anyway, thank you everybody for your helpful suggestions. I've just ordered a bottle of Rapido-Eze, and when I get home and take the necessary measurements, I'll order a porcelain insert.

    Now all I have to do is figure out some sort of lid with a seal to go on the insert...
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Now all I have to do is figure out some sort of lid with a seal to go on the insert...
    A circle of leather glued to the underside of the lid. But are you going to keep ink in it?
    Last edited by FredRydr; October 15th, 2019 at 08:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by FredRydr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Now all I have to do is figure out some sort of lid with a seal to go on the insert...
    A circle of leather glued to the underside of the lid. But are you going to keep ink in it?
    Thanks. I was thinking of adding a new layer of leather -- the one that's already there is pretty thin and fragile. The bottom of the lid fits snugly against the top of the basin, silver atop silver, and the extra leather would add a little weight to the lid. What looks like a irregularity in the edge of the lid is in fact a reflection, so it's even all the way around and it touches all the way around. Not much of a crack there at all.

    I don't know if I want to keep ink in the inkwell all the time, but certainly while working on a project that might take days or even weeks to do. And I might leave it in longer than I expect, because I've lately been starting to use my dip pens for writing and and drawing and not just calligraphy (of which I am an intermediate student).

    If the ink noticeably evaporates over the course of even a relatively short project, I would start looking for some kind of little airtight lid that would snap into place onto the porcelain insert -- for which lead I thank you most profusely.
    Last edited by calamus; October 15th, 2019 at 10:44 PM.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Sadly ink won't last in a decorative inkwell like this for "weeks or longer than you expect." There will never be a seal on there that's anywhere near as good as a tight fitting cap on a bottle. It will evaporate after a few days even after you get a new insert and leather on the cap.
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Hard to tell from the photo, but might a shot glass fit?
    Shot glass is a little too large. Besides, if I used my shot glass, I'd have to start drinking whiskey out of the bottle, which some folk look down on.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Sadly ink won't last in a decorative inkwell like this for "weeks or longer than you expect." There will never be a seal on there that's anywhere near as good as a tight fitting cap on a bottle. It will evaporate after a few days even after you get a new insert and leather on the cap.
    I'll have to find or jury-rig an airtight cap for the insert. It'll be a bit of a challenge, but I'm up for it.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Sadly ink won't last in a decorative inkwell like this for "weeks or longer than you expect." There will never be a seal on there that's anywhere near as good as a tight fitting cap on a bottle. It will evaporate after a few days even after you get a new insert and leather on the cap.
    I'll have to find or jury-rig an airtight cap for the insert. It'll be a bit of a challenge, but I'm up for it.
    Here's a dumb jury-rig, as I don't know the height of the inkwell, but a sample vial and cap....just temporary.

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    When I use an inkwell with a porcelain insert, I fill it with an eyedropper at the start of each writing session. At the end of the session I empty the ink back into the stock bottle with the eyedropper. The reason to do this somewhat tedious procedure is that you can fill the insert to the precise depth for a uniform dip, given variations in length for different nibs.
    "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little." -Epicurus-

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Paddler View Post
    When I use an inkwell with a porcelain insert, I fill it with an eyedropper at the start of each writing session. At the end of the session I empty the ink back into the stock bottle with the eyedropper. The reason to do this somewhat tedious procedure is that you can fill the insert to the precise depth for a uniform dip, given variations in length for different nibs.
    I've considered doing the same, except that I worry about contaminating the original bottle of ink. I may pour the unused ink into a different bottle for re-use, though. That's kind of silly because when I do use it again it might be contaminated anyway, but at least the rest of the bottle will be relatively pristine.

    Maybe you could ask a woodchuck for me? The gophers out here don't even use fountain pens, let alone dip pens.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor Kenshin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chrissy View Post
    Sadly ink won't last in a decorative inkwell like this for "weeks or longer than you expect." There will never be a seal on there that's anywhere near as good as a tight fitting cap on a bottle. It will evaporate after a few days even after you get a new insert and leather on the cap.
    I'll have to find or jury-rig an airtight cap for the insert. It'll be a bit of a challenge, but I'm up for it.
    Here's a dumb jury-rig, as I don't know the height of the inkwell, but a sample vial and cap....just temporary.
    Tried it. Vial was too tall and too skinny. Dang. But thanks for the suggestion!
    Last edited by calamus; October 16th, 2019 at 12:13 PM.
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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by calamus View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Paddler View Post
    When I use an inkwell with a porcelain insert, I fill it with an eyedropper at the start of each writing session. At the end of the session I empty the ink back into the stock bottle with the eyedropper. The reason to do this somewhat tedious procedure is that you can fill the insert to the precise depth for a uniform dip, given variations in length for different nibs.
    I've considered doing the same, except that I worry about contaminating the original bottle of ink. I may pour the unused ink into a different bottle for re-use, though. That's kind of silly because when I do use it again it might be contaminated anyway, but at least the rest of the bottle will be relatively pristine.

    Maybe you could ask a woodchuck for me? The gophers out here don't even use fountain pens, let alone dip pens.
    I already give Charles most of the non-permanent ink I get at flea markets. This is appropriate considering the temporary residence of Charles here.

    I don't worry about contamination because the ink is contaminated as soon as I take the lid off of a bottle anyway. I learned in a microbiology course that anything that is not red hot has bacteria and mold spores in/on it. A properly formulated ink should contain a growth inhibitor that makes the issue moot.
    "Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little." -Epicurus-

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    Default Re: Inkwell Cleaning Questions

    Find a small bottle that fits inside the inkwell maybe?

    Bottle.JPG
    Regards, Chrissy | My Blog: inkyfountainpens

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