Looking at all that gold in that bottle of Caroube de Chypre, I heard a nagging voice inside me wondering how I could get more gold out of the bottle and onto the page. And I wanted to do so writing normally.
Which means I couldn’t resort to extreme measures.
Outline of Experiments
After confessing my failures the other day, I got a suggestion from a friend with actual scientific training, which inspired me to try some further testing.
My friend pointed out that so far I was trying to increase the number of gold particles on paper by increasing the amount of gold in the pen. He wondered if more gold particles might be the wrong answer. What if too many gold particles caused clotting or otherwise impeded the flow of the gold to the nib? Maybe less would be more.
So I decided to test a method of filling with fewer gold particles, alongside ways to increase gold particles. So I ended up testing three different filling techniques. I used a custom Edison pen with medium nib for all three tests. Here are the three filling methods I used.
First, Try Less Gold
First, I’d try filling the pen from the ink bottle as-is, without shaking the bottle. The particles that had settled on the bottom of the bottle would remain undisturbed, thus minimizing the gold particles that went into the pen.
As you can see from my written description of Technique Number 1 in the photo above, filling with fewer gold particles resulting in Caroube de Chypre having a lighter brown color than subsequent methods. There were also fewer gold particles on the paper.
I wrote the same passage from Shakespeare’s Richard III with each pen for a better comparison: “Now is the winter of our discontent / made glorious summer by this son of York.” I will show a closeup photo focusing on the word “summer” from each test.
Here is the word “summer” after the minimal-gold filling technique, Number 1. There aren’t many gold particles visible.
Two Methods to Increase the Gold
Next, I decided to dip the nib, after Test Number 1, into the bottle of Caroube de Chypre, and then write with it. This was a double-dip technique. My idea was to saturate the already full feed with more ink. The ink in the converter stayed the same; all I did was dip the nib into the bottle, then remove it, let any excess ink drip back into the bottle, and then write with the pen immediately. This was Technique Number 2.
Technique Number 2 really worked. Double-dipping the nib put more ink in the feed and on the nib. The ink color was darker, and there were more gold particles on the paper.
Here is a closeup of the word “summer” with the double-dipped nib, Number 2. You can see a lot more gold than you saw with the first technique.
Test Number 3 was to use my usual approach with shimmer inks, which I call shake and fill. Using the same pen, now emptied of ink after the first two tests, I would maximize the gold particles in the pen by shaking the bottle before filling until all the gold particles on the bottom had mixed in with the rest of the ink.
I already have an Edison Herald and a Kaweco Sport inked up using this technique, so for Test Number 3, I decided to try one new wrinkle. Instead of filling the pen through the nib, as I usually do, I filled the custom Edison’s converter directly, then attached it to the pen’s section and twisted the converter piston so the the ink from the converter would fill the feed. The nib never went into the bottle of ink.
Technique Number 3 essentially worked as well as Technique Number 2. Caroube de Chypre was darker and showed more gold particles with this shake and fill technique.
Here is a closeup of the writing sample with the custom Edison filled using Technique Number 3. Lots of gold on the paper.
I also compared this Edison with my original Edison Herald, which I had filled using my standard shake and fill technique (filling through the nib after shaking the bottle). I found that either shake and fill technique worked. In both cases I got the maximum amount of gold on paper.
Conclusion: More Gold on the Nib is Better
The conclusion I reach is that you will indeed get more gold on the paper by getting more gold particles in the pen and on the nib. More gold particles do not clog the feed. In that regard, Caroube de Chypre behaves the same as the other shimmer inks I’ve used from Diamine and J. Herbin’s 1670 line.
What was interesting was to find out that just double dipping the fountain pen nib before writing was enough — it was equally effective as the more laborious shake and fill technique. Maybe even more effective.
The key is just to have as much ink in the feed as possible.
That underlines what I had already concluded from using earlier shimmer inks: the wetter the pen writes, the more gold particles. So the Edison pens will show more gold than the Kaweco Sport, and either will do much better than a Lamy Safari.
But with the double-dip method being so effective with the Edison, I wanted to circle back to the Kaweco Sport.
Before doing this three-part test, I had been using Caroube de Chypre in a Kaweco Sport with medium and 1.5 mm nibs, and in an Edison Herald with medium nib. The Kaweco Sport shows fewer gold particles and has a lighter brown color than the wetter-writing Edison. Here’s a photo from an earlier post, showing a writing sample from the Kaweco Sport.
So I tried two things.
First, I diluted the Caroube de Chypre in the Kaweco Sport with a small amount of distilled water. I used eight drops in a little less than 2.5 mls of ink.
Why did I dilute? I wasn’t worried about the ink clogging, because (i) my Sport is clear, and I could see it wasn’t clogging, and (ii) I knew from my earlier Edison experiments that more gold does not clog with this ink. I diluted because a slight dilution of ink with distilled water can increase ink flow, and increased ink flow means a wetter writing pen.
Did the slightly diluted ink result in more gold particles?
I think it did. Because I added just a little water, the brown color of Caroube de Chypre remained exactly the same as before dilution.
Then I double-dipped the Kaweco Sport, which was Technique Number 2. Did that result in more gold particles?
I think it did. In addition, you can’t tell from this closeup, but Caroube de Chypre had a slightly darker brown color from the Kaweco Sport after being double dipped.
So, with a drier writing pen like the Kaweco Sport, a slight dilution did seem to increase ink flow and increase the amount of visible gold with a drier pen. But double dipping the nib was also effective and again that’s easier; it doesn’t require any intervention with the ink.
Don’t Forget the Paper
There’s one more factor that may increase the amount of gold particles that one can see, and that is paper.
I didn’t see any difference in my tests between a Rhodia dot pad and a piece of basic notebook paper. But I’m sure there are other papers that may show more gold. I did see that Tomoe River paper made a difference: not only did I see sheen from Caroube de Chypre, but I think the gold particles themselves are more noticeable on Tomoe River
I don’t want to bury you with photos, so here is one photo showing writing samples with all the pens on Tomoe River.
That’s the Kaweco Sport, double-dipped, the Edison Herald with medium nib (shake and fill technique) and the custom Edison with medium nib (shake and fill Technique Number 3).
I also repeated the Edison writing samples after shaking each Edison before writing, to see if that increased the amount of gold. With the Edisons, shaking the individual pens made no difference; they are wet enough writers not to need that. But I do shake the Kaweco Sport initially.
What I like best about Caroube de Chypre on Tomoe River isn’t actually its gold, but its sheen, and both Edisons really brought that out. (EH is the Edison Herald filled and CE #3 is the custom Edison, both filled with a shake and fill technique.)
But. With all those experiments done, and all that said, I still want to give you one important caveat.
There’s Still a “But” in All This
Yes, we can increase the amount of ink on the paper by maximizing the ink on the nib (and using the wettest pens possible). And there are papers that will show off gold a little more, too. But all this works only up to a point.
That’s because, no matter what, with everything I did, Caroube de Chypre just is a quieter, less showy 1670 ink. The gold in Caroube de Chypre harmonizes with its dark copper color, and so the gold doesn’t stand out like it does in Emerald of Chivor or Rouge Hematite.
Do you notice that all my photos showing the gold show the paper at an angle? That’s not because I’m artsy (okay, not just because I’m artsy). That’s because that’s the only way to show the gold effectively. You have to hold the writing at an angle to the light to show the gold.
So, let’s be not artsy but practical now.
Here are all three writing samples from tests 1 through 3.
And here is the double-dipped Kaweco Sport.
And here are the writing samples on Tomoe River.
This is what the ink looks like. Beautiful. But not super glittery. That’s the “but.” No matter how much gold we squeeze into and out of these fountain pens, Caroube de Chypre still is relatively restrained.