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De Atramentis Ink – A Brief Look

10/23/2009

De Atramentis has an enormous range of colors so there’s a rainbow from which to choose. If color determines your fondness for an ink, this manufacturer has got your number. If other properties count as much, then caveat emptor. Certainly some will meet your standards. However, others may only work in a limited number of pens or on a limited selection of papers. This is one brand of ink that may take some trial and error to find a satisfying combination.

Lest you think I am unhappy with the whole line, perish the thought. While it won’t replace my favorite brands, I did find good things about Aubergine, Sepiabraun, and Cement Grey. No coverage issue though Sepiabraun and Cement Grey are incredibly wet. There was a small amount of feathering with the latter on Apica though not on Staples bagasse or Rhodia. I no longer have a sample of Aubergine but the color was a favorite in the past. No issues with performance either.

De Atramentis Ink Samples

De Atramentis Ink Samples

Sepiabraun is similar to Noodler’s Walnut but less saturated while Cement Grey looks like wet cement or maybe a piece of charcoal depending on line thickness. Olive Green is close in color to J. Herbin Vert Olive with some blue added. Aubergine bears a resemblance to Parker Penman Ruby. It isn’t a substitute but it is similar.

Now for Olive Green. It is a pretty color but did not make the grade for performance. Two pens and three brands of paper plus various scraps on my desk were tested. Poor coverage with both a Lamy Vista 1.1 italic and a Sailor 1911 fine nib revealed an issue with skipping/poor coverage on Rhodia and Apica. The lack of cleanly filled in lines was less evident on Staples bagasse and more closely resembled skipping than poor coverage. On bagasse the dried ink showed some shading but not with any consistency. The pale color would be well suited to wide nibs but the performance with my pens was not satisfactory. Perhaps in a wet broad nib issues would be non-existent but there is nothing suitable in my collection to give Olive Green a proper test.

I am loathe to include YMMV in a review but it’s true. Please post in the comments if you have used De Atramentis ink. I hope you can add good experiences to balance my so-so one.

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20 comments

  1. The only DA ink I’ve tried is the Saphirblau. It looks almost exactly like Quink Washable Blue. The biggest issue I have with it was that it was dry writing. It’s not unbearable, but also not a joy to write with.

    I wish I could say something more positive about the ink. What I’ve seen from the line so far seems largely underwhelming especially at $13 a pop.

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    • Dry-writing inks have a place in a collection. There are plenty of pens with excessive flow that could be a great mates for your Saphirblau.

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  2. […] Inkophile’s Blog Fountain pens, ink, paper and more « De Atramentis Ink – A Brief Look De Atramentis Sepiabraun in a Namiki Falcon 2009/10/25 Here’s another look at De […]

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  3. I just purchased the Bourdeaux Red, my first DA ink, and I have to say it took some time for me to like it. The color wasn’t very interesting in a fine point nib, but I’ve gotten to like it in a medium point. The color is muddier than I originally thought, not as true a red as Noodler’s Widowmaker which I love.

    I saw the Olive and Sepiabrau at the Art Brown booth at the NYC Pen Show and wasn’t particularly enamored of either, although there was a blue one I really liked that had already been sold. But it’s the wine- and whiskey-based inks I’m most looking forward to seeing at the Art Brown pen fair this week.

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    • Red is rarely in my rotation but a “muddied” one sounds more to my liking than a straight-up red. Did you buy one of the wine or whiskey inks? I’m really curious about the colors.

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  4. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by inkyjournal: RT @inkophile: De Atramentis Ink – A Brief Look: http://wp.me/pfSKv-kI

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  5. Just picked up a bottle of Steel Blue the other day and have it loaded in a couple of things. Thus far, more green tones than I’d have expected, but still not horrible. The jury is still out on this one, quite frankly.

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    • Do let me know how this one works out for you. Only Aubergine has remained on my list of inks I would repurchase but it isn’t available in the U.S….yet.

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  6. I agree that De Atramentis inks are hit-or-miss. I like Ebony (a very dark reddish-brown that’s quite water-resistant), but it dries quite slowly. The Bordeaux Red ink was a lot lighter and redder than I expected. However, mixing 2 parts Ebony with 1 part Bordeaux Red yields a fabulous dark Bordeaux.

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    • Hey fellow brush painter! Glad to see you here. :)

      Ebony sounds interesting if it weren’t for that slowing-drying characteristic that haunts most heavily-saturated inks. Does your dark Bordeaux mix have that problem, too?

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  7. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to paint lately!

    The mixture dries a little bit faster than straight Ebony, although on Clairefontaine paper it still takes a little while. I think the drying time is acceptable, unless perhaps you’re left-handed.

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    • Me, too, on painting. Just found some interesting piston water brushes that might get me back in the game sooner than I thought.

      Not left-handed but inclined to shut a journal rather quickly. Prying eyes, you know…

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  8. I think you found an eBay seller of those, right? A year or two ago, I was thinking about importing them myself, until I tried one, which I bought in China. Unfortunately it seems to be of little use, unless maybe you’re cranking out calligraphy. The amount of ink it takes up is not much more than what you’d get by dipping the brush into ink, and you’d need to have water and ink reservoirs handy anyway. Not like a piston-filled pen, which you can cap and carry.

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    • Thanks for the review of the water pen. Ha! Now I know where I’ve seen one before. It was a photo you posted. Not sure whether or not I will buy one now. Have you tried the silicone backing? That looks so much easier than the traditional mounting method.

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  9. I bought some of that silicone-backed paper because it really does look so much easier than wallpaper paste. Haven’t tried it yet.

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    • Hope it turns out well for you. Let me know how it goes. :)

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  10. Very surprised to read the above. I had trouble finding some to try but finally bought some (with some prohibitive shipping fees from Stylus in Canada). Th variety was “Rose”, and is a scented ink. I used to cultivate roses part time for my wife’s use in her pot pourii business. At any rate I believe that they have added rose oil, either Hybrid Tea or Damask Rose to their normal ink. Whatever the case it resulted in possibly the most wonderful ink experience I have ever had!

    Of course, I’m the guy who likes the Noodler’s “Red-Black” which received such a poor review here, so perhaps I’m just a moron. Or a contrarian,: possibly worse.

    I was using an Esterbrook pen with a 2048 nib which is very fine and very flexible with no point bump;rather like writing with a quill pen. Very easy to write with expression but it sometimes digs into the paper. Not this time! The color was a deep rich crimson, and it is oily. When filling my pen I noticed that the top of the nib refused to flow clean, but needed wiping. The writing experience was extraordinarily smooth and even, no thick-thin effect as with the Red-Black that makes it so interesting. I did not notice any long drying time etc. Very excellent ink. I actually found this bad review while looking for a cheaper place to buy some more!

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    • Well! I must say I was very tempted to delete the Markway comments due to inaccuracies like the “bad review” of De Atramentis Rose as well as the complaint about a “poor review” of Noodler’s Red-Black. However, that didn’t seem very sporting and I am loathe to delete comments except the self-serving promotional ones or the spammy junk that arrives daily. But sometimes the record needs to be set straight.

      For starters Noodler’s Red-Black has never been reviewed on Inkophile and is listed in Pen, Paper and Ink Finds for 2009 as well as my Favorite Inks. My experience with Red-Black’s slow drying time is in line with what I have read elsewhere about this gem from Nathan. That doesn’t make it a bad ink but rather one that needs the right pen and paper. It performs very well in one of my finest acquisitions, a Sailor 1911 F, and has been continuously loaded in that pen for a number of months. If I didn’t like it, why would I keep it for months in one of my best pens?

      Next, De Atramentis “Rose” has never been reviewed here nor have I ever used it. My comments about De Atramentis inks were specific to the inks mentioned and not a comment on the entire line of inks. In fact two of their inks were listed in Pen, Paper and Ink Finds for 2009, the most for any brand of ink, though only Sepiabraun has received a full review to date.

      In my original post Sepiabraun, Cement Grey, and Olive Green received mixed remarks. Sepiabraun faired better with the right pen and paper in its full review. Cement Grey could more accurately be name Wet Cement Grey and so the color was unexpected and disappointing. Olive Green is a nice color but it did not flow well in the pens tested. Someday I may revisit this one but honestly it is the first time in testing over a hundred inks that I’ve encountered such an issue. For now it will remain an oddity.

      The only other comment I would make is that the online representations of the colors that are attributable to the De Atramentis company as well as label colors, at least for the inks with which I have experience, have been inaccurate enough to question relying on them solely. I think that’s a fair warning. It doesn’t mean people should not buy De Atramentis ink but should be aware that a color description ought to be given at least as much weight as the company’s online palette and labels. For the inks with which I do have experience, the descriptions or names were more accurate than the images. That’s not a bad thing but it is worth mentioning.

      Lastly pen-ink-paper performance is subjective as well as subject to environmental influences like humidity and lighting conditions. Inkophile is mainly about my experiences with things pen-related so this is an opinion blog and with certainty YMMV applies. Though civil comments are always welcome here, there are several message boards that are better places for genial if heated discussions where responses are lively and quick. You will find the breadth of experience is enormous and better suited to exchanging information about a wider selection of inks, paper, and pens than my small blog can offer.

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  11. I am a budding ink junkie, finding great pleasure in having a variety of inks to match the tasks and mood of a given day. With a desk now loaded with variety (colors, brands), i must say that de atramentis scented inks are among my favorie — not just because they enhance the writing experience (they do, as dorky as it may seem to admit it), but because their color (saturation, Depth, vibrancy) outshine most other inks. True, as with all inks, some within the de atramentis line may perform/write better than others; but for me, i’m batting 1.000 thus far — with lavender, liliac, and hyacinth among my favorite blues/purples of all brands (in color and certainly smell / overall experience), jasmine my favorite orange, and black rose among my favorite blacks (hard to beat aurora black for pure blackness, but it’s fetching in its own right — and the scent is A+).

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    • Nice to read a good report on De Atramentis ink. Perhaps the issues I encountered were batch-related or the issues have been handled. Either way my dissatisfaction led to exploring Rohrer & Klingner inks more fully which turned out to suit my needs beautifully. And that just proves there is an ink aficionado for every ink.

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