notes-from-kestrel

keeping your calligraphy inks spill-proof for travel

kestrel montes

If you have been around for a while or if you have read my book, you know I'm a huge fan of simplicity. I am not a supply hoarder. In fact, I kind of get a thrill out of seeing how LITTLE supplies I can have. I know - weird coming from someone who sells supplies! But I'm all about quality over quantity.
I'm currently traveling as I'm a vendor at IAMPETH (if you are not familiar, you need to be. It's the calligrapher's haven.) Here's what I travel with:
1) My oblique holder. I only brought one for my own use.
2) Fountain pen as my "regular" pen option
3) Mechanical pencil
4) Eraser. I like this Pentel Hi Polymer eraser (soft).
5) Dropper of water for diluting ink
6) Dropper of rubbing alcohol for cleaning nibs (marked with washi tape for easy identification)
7) Two small glass jars that will become my ink jars but one is currently serving as my nib container.
8) Transparent ruler
9) Camera phone stand (definitely not necessary but inspiration to film may strike)
10) Clairefontaine notepad (I use the ruler to cleanly rip the pages out)
11) And now, here's the important part!! Inks....
Ink #1: I take a small amount of dry walnut ink crystals in one of the glass jars. Crystal form walnut ink is available at Paper & Ink Arts. It is very inexpensive and a little bit goes a long ways (one teaspoon to one cup of warm water). Therefore, I travel with it dry, mix it up on location, then pour any out that is left at the end of the trip and travel home again with my empty jar. No risk of spilling!
Ink #2: I take a tube of gouache. For this trip, I picked an indigo but gouache comes in soooo many colors. To use gouache for dip pen calligraphy simply add water until it is about the consistency of milk. For about half a jar of ink, I will use about a Jelly Belly size dollop of gouache. And, like the walnut ink, I will simply pour any leftover ink out at the end of the week before flying home. It's about $.75 worth of gouache so it's certainly not worth ruining a $50 pair of pants over. 
If you have any other great calligraphy travel tricks, I'd love to hear them!

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