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I really really like sketching and drawing in ballpoint.
It's a quick nimble media, and it doesn't madly unsharpen itself as you work. Current experiments on slightly rougher, higher quality, paper are showing me that it is capable of the light brittle elegance of silverpoint.
But, alas, I am aware of the fact that ballpoint ink is "non-archival." I'm assuming this is mainly owing to the fact that the ink is not waterproof.
Question: would spraying ballpoint with "fixative" magically make it archival?
Question Two: Are there any cartridge type ballpoints out there that can take "archival ink" (that is reasonable available) and that mimic the handling characteristics of the utterly sexy (yet cheap) Bic Roundstic?
Actually, it's probably the lightfastness that makes it non-archival, and possible acidic content.
You could possibly get around this by using fixative. You could try doing some experiments using acid-free paper and bright sunlight. See how much an unprotected drawing fades as compared to one kept in a dark place and one that's sprayed with fixative. That's going to be the important bit anyway -- I mean, people sell watercolour paintings which aren't waterproof and it's fine, because one doesn't normally put wall art in water.
Wasn't thinking about the light thing. Re moisture, was thinking more in terms of ambient humidity-- immersions gotta be bad for most art!
I do understand that ballpoint ink is mixed with an oil. Don't know how this might affect stability-- maybe the acid you're thinking about.
Probably gonna do that light test this weekend. And, perhaps immersing a "fixed" test work might be the way for testing water-fastness-- see if the fixative prevents that old highschool chemistry "chromatic separation" of the ink to its component colors as the water wicks through the paper.
There are a few ballpoint tip pens that contain acid-free ink. Staedtler's Maxum is one of them. Lightfastness is another matter since most are made of dye ink rather than pigmented. Almost all of them are water-proof or at least water-resistent. You can test their permanence by setting a drawing in a well lit window for a few months to see how it fades. I've been testing out a gel ink rollerball pen from Uni-ball called the Gelstick recently, and it seems to work okay. They also have one called the EX2 that's more like a regular ballpoint. I suspect the black rather than the color inks may have more of an archival permanence.
The problem is, the nice thick oily ink of Bics is what is nice for drawing, whereas most of the acid free inks are very watery and more like fountain pen ink. Which I dislike. And yeah, the biggest problem with ballpoint pen standing the test of time is that it's acidic and WILL yellow the paper quite quickly if left to its own devices. Keeping it away from light is one way to make it last longer, but If you want to work in pen I'd suggest scanning it quickly and be done with it. Keep it in a folder with tissue over it and hope for the best.
If the pens are labeled as water-proof they likely contain oil. The only other options would be acrylic or shellac which wouldn't work in ballpoints.
Sakura invented gel ink as an emulsion of oil and water and a gum that thickens the ink. Most inks that claim to be water-proof are at best water-resistent. The Uni-ball Gelstick is one such critter. If you appy water it'll stain some but not bleed.
I found that I really don't like the gel pens-- even for ordinary writing!
What I like about the Round Stic is that you can vary the pressure on it an get some subtle tonal effects. I try that with gel pens and I get flakey little ribbons of gel that gum up the ball.
I have some old documents-- notebooks, free papers in files, that other than the natural yellowing/deterioration of the paper don't shown any unique or localized damage related to the ballpoint writing.
Some cursory research, spinning off penabled's link led me to another site that indicated the Bic is pretty bad for lightfastness.
Anyway, the forum boards, here, have a couple of internal links for CA that I need to surf over.
For the short-term, though, it seems that there are a couple German makes of ballpoint and maybe Pentel that have "archival ballpoints."
But, that does bring up the point: are archival ballpoints mainly archival do to the lack of acid, and does this have any relation to lightfastness?
Research continues. . .