Students are always asking me about dip pens (I only have a brief opportunity to introduce them in my sketching-with-ink class as I have so many types of pens to cover). Since there are so many types of nibs, and even so many different types of holders, it's difficult to even have a one-on-one conversation without seeing the other person's eyes begin to glaze over from too much information.
It covers characteristics, materials, applications…There are even short videos on use.
There is one thing they mention I'd disagree with. To remove the oil coating that some nibs have when new they recommend holding it over a flame briefly, or using rubbing alcohol or toothpaste.
Don't hold it over a flame even briefly. You'll change the metal. An engineer explained it too me once.
Also I never dip into my open bottle. In part this is because I often use acrylic inks and I don't want the whole bottle to develop a skin on the top. But mainly I never dip into a bottle because I don't want to contaminate my main source of ink. (With stuff from the air, paper, my hands, whatever.)
I pour a little bit of ink out into a tiny plastic container. I did use the thimble-sized covers off the sip-top waterbottles (placed there to keep the sip-top clean in transit). But these seem less available and designers have started making them domed-shaped, so they don't sit well as containers.
Instead I now use "Sealed Artist Cups" from Art Alternatives. You get 12 in a bag for about $4. They are a little larger: about 1 inch in diameter at the base and 1 inch tall. However, they have the advantage of having a snap on lid. This allows me to stop for lunch and come back without wasting any ink. I just give it a little shake and we're good to go. Also I can use water to dilute my inks in this small container if I want that effect.
There are two other great things about decanting your ink in this way. First you can't over dip your nib, so you can work faster. And second, if I knock it over, I only spill a small amount.
My favorite holder is the Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder. It feels totally right in my small to medium sized hand. It's much more fun to hold than the long, black, plastic holders I've been using since childhood.
Go check out this great "Guide to Nibs and Nib Holders" at Jet Pens now. If you haven't used a dip pen before it's a great introduction to get you thinking and to get you started.
(I'm just a happy customer of Jet Pens, not connected in any other way. They do a great job of informing their customers, and of carrying a great selection of pens and other writing implements.)