Jim Woodring's giant steel dip pen project is fully funded


10 Responses to “Jim Woodring's giant steel dip pen project is fully funded”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Controlling a 16-inch pen requires a lot of skill and practice. However, the results can be extremely satisfying for all involved…

  2. Elmo Gearloose says:

    Check out some giant fountain pens here:


    Owning a “super dreadnought”-class pen sounds empowering somehow! I guess Woodring’s pen would be a “Deathstar”-class fully-armed and operational monster.

  3. DJBudSonic says:

    I haven’t seen the video yet. I wonder how large this could scale before the surface tension of the ink-on-steel prevents proper ink flow?

  4. omnivore says:

    I don’t think it will work. I’ve worked with steel nibbed pens for forty years, and I used to work in exhibits, which meant I made a lot of over-sized replicas of things, many functional.

    Besides surface tension in the reservoir – which is actually solvable – the real problem will be the way the two tines of the nib move apart to allow the ink to flow in a normal pen. This is also a function of surface tension, but more importantly of the deflection and return of the tines under pressure. A normal nib pen, resting on the paper, sitting in the artists’ hand, is not heavy enough to press the tines apart. The pressure needed is what makes ink pens so incredibly subtle. But a large scale pen, exceeding the size manipulable in a hand would require constant lifting to prevent the weight of the pen from forcing apart the tines, and dumping the ink.

    The reservoir problem could probably be solved with thousands of reservoirs in a structure that would allow them to flow to the nib, but that flow is ultimately controlled by the pressure on the nib.

    The odd thing is that these qualities – particularly the way the pen so effortlessly expresses the most subtle movement of the hand (angle and roll are also key, and they won’t work either) is exactly what makes pen drawings beautiful. Missing these will make for a five minute YouTube diversion, not much more, I expect.

  5. Brainspore says:

    This project is all an elaborate setup to give the artist an excuse to register the URL for the accompanying streaming-video site, “Jim Woodring’s 16-inch Pen is Live.”


  6. Jim Woodring says:

    I appreciate all the thought and concern people have put into whether this will work. I’m not a total idiot. I know that the pen will require special modifications to work at this scale, and I’ve done enough experimenting to believe it can be done.

    Nobody would go so far as to say making this pen work is impossible, I’m sure. The question is whether I can do it. The answer: stick around.

  7. mdh says:

    besides, how are you going to maneuver the piece of blotter paper and blotter block large enough to do the all important last step?

  8. D3 says:

    I really don’t think ordinary ink would work in the giant pen. You would need to add a thickening agent of some sort, so that the ink would be more like a gel. The chemistry of the ink will be just as important as the design of the pen itself.

  9. Bookburn says:

    I am a scientist/artist. I’m constantly sticking my foot in my mouth when I post comments on Boing Boing. I’ve read the comment’s on Davids original post, I’ve watched the video, I’ve looked at the schematics…

    This thing can’t possibly work? Seriously? Surface tension doesn’t scale. Others have said it and I’ll say it it again, there is no way “ink” will flow down the nib on that scale. I think by Woodring’s mention of “acrylic ink” he’s referring to a high quality latex paint. But I’m still skeptical. I love dip pens, but I’m afraid that this demonstration will better prove how difficult they are rather than the artistic usefulness.

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