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I have a few calligraphy kits, with an assortment of some 20 nibs among them. I believe most are Manuscript brand. They all take the cartridges, and are not dip pens.

Out of the box, none of them are laying down ink evenly for the full width of the nib. They also stop and stutter often.

I've tried new inks, different types of paper, cleaning the nibs, and even attempting to bend the tips of my duplicate nibs.

How do I troubleshoot why the nibs don't work, and go about fixing the problem?


As requested, here are some examples.

Before cleaning. I did some "flow" techniques I read.
enter image description here

This is after cleaning. Cleaning took a considerable amount of time. I finished with an acetone bath/scrub. The paper here is different, but the results were the same on all paper.
enter image description here

I have more success with perfect verticals, applying an even but firm pressure and keeping the nib perfectly level. But, even then I'll have swaths where there's 0 ink flow.

I haven't found a single nib yet that's working proper, and most are completely unused due to frustration.

If I set the pen down for a few minutes, it stops working completely until I spend a minute doing the flow techniques again.

  • I'm not sure of a fix so I won't post a full answer but I had a Manuscript 'Beginners Calligraphy Set' and it was terrible. I ended up throwing it out and never used a cartridge pen after that. – Cai Apr 26 '16 at 22:31
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    (by terrible I mean I had the exact same problems you are having btw) – Cai Apr 26 '16 at 22:32
  • did you ever try a more well-respected brand? – melissa_boiko Jul 8 '18 at 5:53
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Inkflow with any liquid-ink pen has to do with capillary action and liquid/air exchange. If a pen is skipping, the flow is being interrupted. Check that there are no obstructions along the nib or nib slit(s), and then check the feed (the plastic bit against the nib) of the pen. It could simply be an air gap that's fixed by flushing, or the feed may be too tight against the nib. Air has to get into the cartridge for the ink to get out.

  • How do I fix a too airtight cartridge? What do you mean by flushing? – Web Head Apr 27 '16 at 22:15
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    @CreationEdge flushing: forcing ink/water through the system. You could try a bulb or blowing through the pen, (I'm used to restoring vintage fountain pens where everything is water-soluble and non-toxic), or possibly soaking the front of the pen. Wiggling the nipple about in the cartridge might open up the hole a little bit, but you don't want to make it big enough for the ink to come pouring out. Chances are good, though, that the pen is simply badly designed/constructed, so the ink flow isn't good. Happens a lot with moderns. – inkista Apr 27 '16 at 22:23
  • Actually, you know, on second thought the cartridge wouldn't be the problem and should be airtight. More the air/ink exchange in the section (where the feed & nib come together). I'm going to delete that bit from my answer. – inkista Apr 27 '16 at 22:25
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Have you removed the protective (oil) coating of your nibs? Some people burn their nibs (over a candle, for example), but doing this they also re-temper the metal of the nib. (Don't do this if your nib is attached to plastic, of course.) I'd recommend to remove the coating with a Q-tip soaked in nail polish remover (acetone) (you can even try lemon/lime juice).

Some reviews of Manuscript calligraphy kits are pretty bad. If nothing works, maybe try a better nib (e.g. Brause dip nibs with Indian ink).

  • I had no idea there was so a coating. I will try when I do my tests for the photo – Web Head Apr 26 '16 at 22:32
  • So, I tried the acetone, and must have been a little too enthusiastic with it, or didn't rinse them well enough afterwards, but the solvent completely ruined the plastic parts of the nibs. I tested it on one, first, but something went wrong when I did the rest. I destroyed pretty much my entire set of nibs. I only just now accidentally realized that the metal parts were removable, and I should have taken them out to clean separately. – Web Head May 3 '16 at 2:08

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