Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Love of ink

When I was a pupil in elementary school, there were several big steps through which we progressed, as from writing vertical bars to writing letters. The biggest step, though, was graduating from the pencil to ink. Our school tables had ink wells, carefully refilled every morning by the teacher. The writing implement was a pen with a delicate nib (later adding the redis nib for titles).

To be honest, for a clumsy dyslexic ambidextrous kid who was being forced to become right handed, ink was the mortal enemy. How many times did the nib remain stuck in the paper fibre, only to skip out with an ink splash over the page, forcing me to rewrite it? My little hands were always blue with ink, because the left fingers had to disentangle the paper fibers from the nib, position the pen full of ink at the correct height in the right hand.

Respite came only in middle school, when we graduated from pen and ink to fountain pens. However, I never developed a positive relationship with ink. Many bad memories came back in the mid-80s, when we were struggling to get the early color ink jet printers to work, so we could characterize them colorimetrically.

One of the main properties of ink is its viscosity, and by comparison, at the time people working in gravure and offset printing had it much easier with their inks that were more a paste than a fluid. With these inks, printers can be calibrated much more efficiently through a feedback loop based on ink viscosity measurement, than our thin ink jet inks or xerography toners, which required spectrophotometry for speed.

With this bad childhood memories of ink, it is refreshing to see and ink maker with a profound love of ink. This video was sent by Tim K. and is best enjoyed in full screen mode: