Inky Thots: Birmingham Coking Coal


Birmingham Pen Company Coking Coal ink is named in honor of coking coal, a unique coal which “usually refers to the product derived from low-ash and low-sulphur bituminous coal by a process called coking.”  Coking is “the heating of coal in the absence of oxygen to a temperature above 600 °C to drive off the volatile components of the raw coal, leaving a hard, strong, porous material of high carbon content called coke.”  In this  case made at and for the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, founded in Pittsburgh in 1872. (Quotes from Wikipedia.)

Remember that others review these inks just for writing;
I am also interested in how they are used for ink-painting!
Also, this review shows the older version of Slag Grey ink at the bottom, and here.

Properties of with Birmingham Coking Coal ink:

It is a well behaved ink which
dries relatively quickly.
It feathers slightly on Post-its,
and in my Hahnemühle Nostalgie journal when my dip pen drops a blob! (I need a new dip pen!)  But not on watercolor paper, above, nor in a well-behaved nib.

When I scrubbed it, top, it showed quite a lot water resistance and further test sketches in my journals show it to leave a good imprint of water resistant ink lines when the waterbrush moves the color.

It has no sheen that I could produce, and is not a strong shader with my 1.1 stub nib.

The hue?  This is the first time Birmingham’s image and my visuals differ slightly.
I see a bit more blue in the ink than shown on my screen (which is calibrated),
and had me thinking it was an umber hue.  On the paper towel you can see
a blue tinge that pulls out of the dark writing ink.
Looking at watercolor comparisons, I offer these colors:

MOST water soluble ink companies do not pay attention to lightfast qualities
and Birmingham is no different in this line of inks at this time.
Most artists who use ink are making prints of their work —
But ink-painting is becoming more interesting so maybe it is time!


I drew the Edgar Thomson Steel Works on my test page with a dip pen —
a rather poor dip pen and so it tends to splotch out —
on cold press watercolor paper and touched the lines with water using a Pentel Aquash waterbrush.  This was a 30 minute sketch with water movement…
The lines stay visible but also release ink; which means some water resistance.
I was able to layer inks which is not possible with highly soluble inks.
The smokey billows (my imagination — the clouds around the mill were white)
are both stright ink and watery ink, and the inks stayed in place quite well when dry.


The image of a Vietnamese statue in Hué was created with a stub nib,
and the Jinhao and nib combination created a very wet flow.
I used a waterbrush to pick up color off the tip of the nib and also to move lines slightly… on the smooth Hanemuhle Nostalgie pwper the lines moved and did not offer the same resistance as on the watercolor paper.

I am glad I have this in a pen, as this is an ink with qualities I will enjoy sketching and  using watercolors over.  I am sure they will muddy up and move the ink,
but that will make for an interesting image with the right subject.

 From Birmingham Pen Co’s website:
We started Birmingham Pen Co. in 2012 in
the Southside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The region of Pittsburgh where we began once  called “Little Birmingham” due to the area’s prolific manufacturing industry in the early 1900’s. The Birmingham moniker was derived from Birmingham, UK – a manufacturing hub that specialized in, among other things, pen and nib manufacturing with thousands of craftspeople employed in the industry. 
We chose the name Birmingham Pen Company  to share this little known piece of history and continue in the traditions behind the name.”

Birmingham’s bottles are glass, and functional
even in the small sizes.  I like glass bottles;
they feel like they will last longer.


Birmingham also turns their own pens,
which I’ve noticed often sell out as fast as they make them!
*I LOVE my Model-A Demonstrator, Violet Beauregarde!*

This is a small family business run by four people!  The brothers, Nick and Josh;
Dad is the chief pen machinist;  and Mom does one of the coolest things about Birmingham, which is their amazing historic names!

Disclosure, I was gifted with this sample ink from Birmingham.

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About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in art journal, creativity, drawing, ink painting, journal, painting, pen & ink, process, review, sketchbook, virtual sketching, watercolor, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Inky Thots: Birmingham Coking Coal

  1. Pingback: Inky Thots: Birmingham Independence Grey | D.Katie Powell Art

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