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My tips on how to successfully unblock an old technical pen

Like a lot of artists I’ve collected and gathered a lot of artist materials over the years. Some are old favourites that I still use, like brushes, and the wooden board that I lean on to cut paper and card with, that was my grandfathers many years ago.

One of my favourite tools is the Rotring technical pen that is perfect for very fine black and white line drawings, and I’ve used for many years to great effect for architectural drawings. Although it’s been sitting in a cupboard for a while and I seem to recall the last time I tried to use it I decided that it may just be time I replaced it and bought another! I think I bought it in the 1980’s, as the pricing label is still on it… £8.59 ! I’m sure they’re about four times that price now!!

P1080983Knowing that I have a nice commission coming in in the next few weeks that requires me to ideally use a technical pen and having a couple of hours spare this week I dug out the pen and tried it to see if it would work.


No chance!

Ok, that’s a shame, maybe they just get old and useless and dried up over a gap of some years I thought and wondered how much a new one would be.

Then, just as a matter of curiosity I thought I’d have a good look at the instruction paperwork with it, and was delighted that not only did it helpfully give a couple of instructions for a quick clean, but also a more thorough one.

Okay, lets see what that will do…

It involved dismantling it, and running the nib under a running tap to get the water to run through it. Now I know these nibs are fine, they’re almost as fine as a needle point, and the ink would easily clog it up it. So, after running it under a cold water tap, and tapping it down onto paper as they suggested and lots of fine bits of ink coming out BUT  it still didn’t work I had a think, and thought that since I had nothing to lose, I would try soaking it in boiling HOT water to see if that would work. And after a few soakings, tapping it, and soaking it again in hot water, again, and then running it under the tap to get the ink to run out of it, and of course, me getting black fingers and nails in the process (an artists normal life!!!) I am delighted that it has returned to working again, and the lovely fine thin line that its always done!! YAY!

I don’t have to buy a new one after all…. happy days!!

Now, how do you get rid of waterproof black ink out of fingernails..?

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