[Archive] Reorganizing Inks

First posted Dec 27, 2017

My predominant reason for this undertaking was to declutter and get rid of many bottles that I accumulated over time. My current workspace is a standing desk with a stool (and a wooden table off to the side) and there are no drawers. Instead I opt for putting my stuff in clear acrylic storage units.

My old method of storing my inks used the shelving unit on the left and a bunch of soy sauce containers (which my friends and I use as a cost efficient way to swap ink between each other). It was an actually nice system and could be consolidated into one shelf unit, but it still kept my inks out of view (so I never used them) and there wasn’t a fast way for me to find a specific colour or take out one of the bottles without making everything topple over.

I think I also had too many inks still in too many bottles which were also made everything kind of heavy when I took it out for use.

The idea of using vial holders didn’t hit me until I saw it in passing while walking in through the local pen show this year and saw a vendor (they’re so nice!!) had a container for their ink samples. I think it was actually meant for storing vials on the go and it put me on the thought process that there might be a more visual way to organize and use the inks I accumulated.

Consider the following:

  • Visually see what colours at a glance
  • Use up vials that are in lesser quantity (or save them)
  • Minimal ink spillage bc there is a stand 
  • Reorganize easily without having to dig through handful of samples
  • Inkperimentation with different ink mixes

Originally I was thinking of getting a wooden box (similar to ones that store essential oils) but I realized that those would keep the ink out of view, be pretty heavy, especially being wood, and a quite pricey too. I wandered on the interwebs for a little bit before I came across an ink storage system which was as a test tube holder. A friend was travelling overseas so I asked if she’d be okay with ordering it for me and bringing it back.

I was so super amazed by the design - a sheet of clear acrylic that was laser cut and held/assembled using thick rubber bands. Easy to assemble/disassemble, lightweight, easy to store.. and it was pretty sturdy!

Peeling the protective layer took quite a while because of the odd pieces in the template cut but it was also very calming and very reassuring knowing that the pieces weren’t scratched prior to my use..!

Breathes, clear acrylic is so beautiful.

I realized the vial stand wouldn’t be enough for the many inks I have- so I ended up getting 100 5mL vials (of 16mm thickness), and two vial racks, which held 50 vials each.

  • Vial racks (holds 50) - if you use a different listing, just make sure you choose one that can fit 16mm diameter; they’re the size for the 5mL and also will fit the ones from GouletPens (if you buy samples there)
  • 5mL clear cap vials - can essentially fit 6mL if you fill it to the lid

The vial stands actually come in separate parts and aren’t stackable.. I think optimally in my head, they would be able to stay together in storage and disassemble in usage and debated between using magnets or velcro, before settling on the latter since I already had some at my disposal. It actually works quite well!

For organizing, I used my plain grey washi tape and a thin sharpie for labels along the side of the test tube, and then label paper for the top swatch which was stuck to some sticker circles that I had.

I added these behind the swatch because when wet, the label paper didn’t stick very well. Also, I decided to use it as way to decipher between shiny ink and regular ink (white indicated a shiny ink).

I think in the future though, I’ll consider getting label paper that’s already pre-cut into circles, or find some clear circle stickers to put on top to make sure they don’t unstick over time.

The rest just involved a lot of labour and using a dropper to move the ink.

For every 30mL bottle, it could be consolidated into 5 vials (if you fill past the 5mL mark). 

A 50mL bottle can fit into 9-10 vials depending on how full you fill them. The small Pilot Iroshizuku bottles (15mL) can fit into three vials. I washed out a lot of the bottles and I’m planning on passing the stash to a local friend who finds a lot of use out of (and likes to collect) bottles. 

I still currently have around 5-6 more bottles (I consolidated a few more from the above picture), but I find that a lot more manageable and less to store compared to the full stash I had. I think I might also put numbers on the ink swatch so I can see from atop how many vials of each colour is left and whether there are duplicates. But yeah.. let’s just-

Sighs.. /breathes in(k).

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