Review: Speedball Calligraphy Acrylic Ink (10-palette kit)

This is Speedball's 10-Palette Calligraphy Ink Kit which I got to test with Speedball's 6-nib Calligraphy Lettering Set.

This Calligraphy Ink Kit comes with a 9 inch round white plastic palette and 10 bottles of acrylic ink in different colours (each bottle has a capacity of 12ml or 0.40 fl oz of ink within).

This plastic palette is very useful, especially if you wish to blend inks of different colours. It's not advisable to just dip a nib/brush stained with colour X into the bottle of colour Y to blend because you will contaminate the ink in the other bottle. Using the palette provided will prevent colour contamination.

On the big label-sticker, in the middle of the plastic palette, you may find the fine print on the bottom right - 'Conforms to ASTM D 4236'. This serves to inform consumers that Speedball has complied with the standard procedure to clearly label on the product packaging all potentially hazardous components. In this case, there is none - as the inks are non-toxic.

The 10 colours of acrylic ink are namely:

  • Teal Green
  • Silver
  • White
  • Super Black
  • Scarlet Red
  • Gold
  • Emerald Green
  • Deep Purple
  • Indigo Blue
  • Burnt Umber

Below are some pictures of how the colors look like:

From left in a clockwise manner: Teal Green, Emerald Green, Indigo Blue, Super Black and Deep Purple.

From left in a clockwise manner: Burnt Umber, Scarlet Red, Gold, Silver and White.

These bottles of highly pigmented acrylic ink (made in USA) are non-toxic, acid-free, of archival quality and are water resistant ( I have tried using a wet brush to apply a layer of water onto a calligraphy writing coloured with these acrylic ink, and the dried acrylic ink remains intact - it does not dissolve, blend with the water nor smudge).

However, please do be mindful not to leave these inks unused for too long a period because they may dry up. (This Calligraphy Ink Set was bought quite some time ago, and when i finally got down to using the inks, i discovered that the white ink has dried up totally whereas some of the other inks have partially solidified.)

Example of partially solidified red ink.

As you may see from the picture above, there is a solid block within the liquid ink - this is the result of the acrylic ink drying out.

Unfortunately for me, the white ink has solidified completely when I first opened the bottle. As you may see from the first picture of the white ink above, there is a colorless layer of oil at the base of the bottle.

I tried adding a wee bit of water into the bottle of white ink, and started shaking. Very vigorously.

Well, the white ink did dissolve quite a bit after the vigorous shaking. But this doesn't mean the ink is good for usage. In fact there were small clumps of solid white particles (from the ink) on my nib, which made writing with it rather arduous.

This is how a fresh bottle of ink which hasn't solidified should look.

Below are some sample writings I drew with these inks on Strathmore Lined Writing Paper:

Drawn with the Emerald Green ink

Drawn with the Teal Green ink

Drawn with the Gold ink

Drawn with the Scarlet Red ink

Drawn with the Silver ink

Drawn with the Indigo Blue ink

Drawn with the Super Black ink

Drawn with the Burnt Umber ink

Drawn with the Deep Purple ink

Honestly, a commonly recurring problem I encountered while using the acrylic inks on my calligraphy nibs, is that these inks tend to clog the nibs after a while (i noticed that the finer the nib, the shorter the interval time before the nib gets clogged with ink). I had to resolve this issue by constantly dipping the nib into J Herbin's cleaning solution ('Nettoyant Pour Stylo') to dissolve the clogged ink.

Notably, these highly-pigmented acrylic inks blend very well! However, you must blend the colours while the inks are wet.

These are the deep purple and gold inks before blending

This is the result after the deep purple and gold inks are blended together

This is a sample painting of what you may expect from blending the inks (deep purple and gold for example)

As you may see from the picture above, these inks are opaque and hence great for drawing/painting over coloured paper.

Overall, i think it's a good bargain getting these relatively inexpensive, good quality inks. (Again as a reminder, use the inks as you soon as you get them. Don't leave them unused for too long!)


Find more reviews at Dick Blick Art Materials (US) | Jackson's Art (UK)


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