Using a glass dip pen

Glass dip pens are not just tools with several particular characteristics used for writing, but in themselves are pieces of art. This type of pen is very easy to rinse clean, which makes them extremely versatile when using different ink colors on your project. They are also able hold more ink than the traditional nib pens, therefore will require less frequent dipping in the ink.


History of the glass dip pen     

If you do an internet search, you will notice that there is very little information available about the history of glass dip pens. What you will notice is the discrepancies in their history with some sources stating that they originated in Murano, Italy several hundred years ago, while others say in Venice in the 1700s and others saying in England in the early 1800’s.





Regardless of where they are made, the fact remains that these are some of the most delightful pieces of writing instruments out there.





What allows the glass dip pen to write

If you look closely at the tip of the pen, you will notice small deep grooves (or flutes) in the tip. These grooves act as a reservoir for the ink and perform the same role as the nib in a pointed pen.


Types of inks to use

I’ve noticed that thinner inks like Old World Iron Gall, *Walnut ink  and other similar inks work best. Sumi ink, unfortunately  does not work the best. Probably due to the thickness of the grooves not allowing a thicker ink to flow well.

Also, Sumi ink is one of the most corrosive inks available. This means that to maintain the durability of your glass pen or a steel nib, you need to clean them every few minutes. Or else the Sumi ink will tend to hug the nib and become difficult to remove completely. But with the thinner inks cleanup is easy. Simply dip in water when you’re finished.


Technique for writing 

Dip your glass pen nib about 1/2- inch into your ink. Try not to dip your pen nib too deep in the ink as it will cause the ink to blot.

Note: Dip the nib less than half the nibs length into the ink.

While withdrawng  your pen, lightly draw the nib against the rim of the ink bottle. This will rid your pen of excess ink, further reducing ink blots.

Hold the pen over the ink bottle until the nib stops dripping. 

Note: The pen now has the right amount of ink to begin writing.

Glide the pen across the paper, applying even pressure. When the ink on the nib runs out, dip the nip again following the same procedure.


Price of glass dip pens

Glass pen prices can vary anywhere between a few dollars to a few hundred dollars. I’ve seen them priced at $7, but also seen them at $300! The price of the pen depends on the design with a relatively simple design being easier to make (see this), while a more difficult and complex design, clarity and the perfection of the pen (like this one) will take more time and effort, therefore it will be more expensive.

Note: Cheaper pens might have bubbles in the glass.


Where to purchase

You can buy them from  Amazon, but you can find the fancier varieties on Etsy or from the manufacturer directly. Just do a quick search for ‘glass pen’ and you will come across a wide variety of choices.


Care and maintenance

Clean your glass dip pen regularly as you write. I tend to dip it in water every 2-3 minutes and wipe it off with a cotton cloth or paper towel.

Do not apply excessive pressure as you write as you could crack the tip or at worse break it.

Start with a light pressure and slowly build up as you find your rhythm.

Wrap your glass pen in some padding before storing away or replace it back in it original storage case to prevent scratches or other accidents

If using acrylic or metallic inks you may need to thin the inks a little.

Note: No tools, pins, or brushes should be used. 

Note: Inks Containing Shellac or Lacquer Should not be used