Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

Using pounce and gum sandarac to diminish bleeding

This is mostly an extension to yesterday’s question on bleeding paper by FaithintoArt. Recently I bought a box of Christmas cards and you know, the envelopes that come with those cheap cards might as well be made of toilet paper, they are so horrible.

So ugly! Looks like mold or fungus or something. It is in fact due to the low quality paper scratching under the pressure of the nib, thus the ink spreading out and creating this effect.

I am using a Leonardt Principal (a very sharp nib) and a Pelikan 4001 ink (quite thin) so that does not help matters. Nevermind, I have a trick up my sleeve.. two, in fact!

On the left is a tin of pounce powder. You can find these in art stores, just ask for drafting powder if they don’t know what pounce is. They were once made using cuttlefish bones, but I believe modern ones are now made of chalk or something. The one on the right is a little pouch of powdered gum sandarac. You can buy lumps of sandarac resin and grind it yourself with a mortar and pestle to make your own pouches, but it’s such a pain that for me it’s worth forking out the money to buy it pre-ground. These shouldn’t cost more than $6-7 each, and will last you forever.

The idea is to spread some of these stuff on misbehaving paper and it will help degrease the paper or make absorbent paper less so. It’s not a miracle product, apply too much and you end up with a completely resisting paper but it helps tremendously! Both the powder and pouch work fine, if you have to get just one, just get whichever is available.

To use the pouch, just gently dab it on the paper. This releases a little of the product on everywhere you dab and creates no mess or waste.

To apply the powder, just sprinkle a little on the surface and rub it on with a clean finger. You can control how much to rub on, but don’t rub too much or else the nib will not be able to create fine lines. Just apply enough for it to be able to soak up excess ink but not too much as to prevent fine lines.

Here you can see just how powdery it is. It can get a little messy (your table will look powdery, which I dislike…). Just blow away the excess or keep in another container. I find that this powdery pounce works better on white matte paper.. I have tried it on glossy or metallic paper but then it just dulls the surface of the paper.

Here I am writing again on the same paper, ink and nib. You can see on the top, the ink was feathering and bleeding everywhere and on the bottom it was significantly reduced. Of course, there is still some feathering (on the H) but I think that’s because I didn’t apply enough there, or I pressed too hard. It’s not a 100% cure but good enough. Also notice that the nib is skipping a little, since the surface is now powdery, it is more difficult to create slick hairlines. Win some, lose some.. I expect if you write slower, it won’t be a problem. I was in a hurry. If you take the time to apply the pounce or sandarac evenly, use a less harsh nib and a thicker ink, it may not bleed at all.

So there you have it.. a little relief from all the bleeding. Of course, the best cure is to get better paper in the first place, but it’s not a bad method to fix $5 Christmas card envelopes.

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