Given the events of this past week, it was a challenge to ferret out some lighter fare but there were a few bits worth sharing.
Archive for the ‘Fountain Pens’ Category
Diamine Dark Brown is a seldom mentioned ink that deserves top marks for performance as well as its soft brown color. Even for ink users who aren’t fond of brown, this one might be a useful option.
A different name would be more descriptive, so I think of it as Diamine Dark Brown – That Isn’t. Unlike the rather orange colored Sepia that barely qualifies as a brown, Dark Brown is properly a medium brown. Very well-behaved and easy on the eyes, it produces lovely shading and a hint of outlining here and there. Good flow and average lubrication make it suitable for a wide variety of nibs. It dries slightly faster than Diamine Sepia and significantly faster than some of the heavily saturated inks in my collection.
Dark Brown is a chameleon depending on the light source. In daylight, it has a red slant. In artificial light, it looses the red and looks balanced or neutral. It isn’t a red-brown like Waterman Havana but there is a subtle bias. My ancient scanner was flummoxed by it and no amount of color adjustment could produce an accurate rendition despite three of us attempting to pin it down to a single image. This one will have to do.
The color is soft and attractive enough for drawing purposes. It also works well for correspondence and in many business applications. My Kyoto Levenger True Writer custom stub suits it perfectly.
Diamine’s selection of brown inks has expanded greatly in recent years and it is a color at which the company excels. It’s hard to go wrong no matter which one you choose but my current favorites are Dark Brown and Chocolate Brown, just in case you were wondering.
You are not alone if you wonder/aren’t certain/debate which inks make a rotation. Truthfully, it’s anything that makes you happy but a worksheet can help narrow and refine choices without inking a gazillion or even a dozen pens.
The pens in the upper right section were already inked and some will continue into the summer with the same colors.
The bottom section is a test of possible inks culled from a review of my ink journal. The dots of color were made with the tip of a cotton swab. The paper is from my daily journal which will see the most use of my rotation. It is tinted pale gray which has a mildly dulling effect on ink color so I like to test directly on it for better accuracy.
The upper left section of my worksheet reflects the most likely prospects along with possible pens. Though good colors for the season, some of the inks were eliminated due to degradation or poor performance.
This rotation is in flux. Waiting in the wings are Sailor Uranari, olive green, Sailor Yaki-Akari, pale aqua, Diamine Steel Blue, turquoise, and Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses. If a red is needed, Noodler’s Tiananmen or J. Herbin ’1670′ Rouge Hematite will do depending on whether subtle or flashy suits the occasion. China Blue will replace asa-gao and Noodler’s Cayenne will replace Vermillion for summer. BSAR might eliminate Claret and Solferino as well. Chocolate and Pilot BBk will return in autumn. That will leave a nine pen rotation which is plenty even for me.
What I don’t like about this group of inks is that the colors don’t come together thematically. What I do like is that it provides lots of options for duos and trios. In addition, the inks are well-matched to their pens so writing will be very enjoyable.
The Levenger True Writer (TW) dominates for now but that is in part because it uses an easy to fill converter and the fine nibs aren’t terribly narrow. My collection needs more broad nibs and stubs to show ink color better. Skinny nibs just don’t have enough punch for a color addict but do not tell me there is a 12-step program for that addiction. I absolutely will not listen. No, no, no, no, no.
Pilot’s Iroshizuku ink gets tremendous praise for performance as well as beautiful colors and rightfully so. But what preceded this much admired line? Pilot and Pilot Namiki inks and they are deserving of recognition, too.
With certainty I have been guilty of neglect. My bottle of Namiki Blue has had the same amount of ink in it for ages. Pilot ink hasn’t graced a pen here in years. The colors are rather conservative and color is what sways me first when I match ink to pen. So they’ve been passed over to the point of being dumped in a junk drawer. When there are brilliant inks like Iroshizuku ku-jaku, shin-ryoku, and yama-budo, why would black, blue, or blue-black get called out to play? In a word, performance.
To explore the idea that there might be something special about these inks, I took a tip from an FPN discussion and recruited some fine-flex pens for the task. First Pilot Blue-Black went into a Namiki Falcon SF. It took less than a sentence to trigger a eureka moment. Iroshizuku owes a great deal to its progenitor, Pilot ink.
Then I searched high and low for that bottle of Pilot Black that had never been opened. It was not to be found. Maybe it deserted me for lack of use. However, I did locate a box of cartridges and popped one into the other Namiki Falcon SF. Black performed just as good as if not better than Blue-Black.
Certain I was on to something, I had to find a pen with a similar nib for a three-way comparison. That wasn’t easy but an Esterbrook 9128 took up the challenge with Pilot Namiki Blue.
So the writing examples won’t skew the results, note that the nibs are not identical though they are quite similar. The Falcon with black ink is the most fine of the three. The Estie comes in second but it is the most flexible. The Falcon with blue-black ink writes a tad wider than the others and has been the flex pen I have enjoyed the most for daily writing. The nib doesn’t dig into paper quite as much as the other two so it writes faster and with less friction. It’s been a good choice when a versatile pen suits the project at hand.
Paper makes a difference and these inks did well on quality products like Rhodia and the Apica 6A10 used in the sample images. Feathering and fuzzy outlines ruled my Moleskine journal paper. Pilot ink fared better on copy paper showing just a slight fuzziness comparable to that seen with Iroshizuku asa-gao, shin-ryoku, and fuyu-syogun.
Again, this is about performance and characteristics – not color. The flow from all three pens is consistent, smooth, and nicely lubricated. Not exactly the same as Iroshizuku inks but close enough to become staples for fine-flex nibs. The Pilot inks are especially well-suited to practice sessions when color would be a distraction. When conservative colors are necessary, they will also shine.
All three inks dried relatively quickly despite depositing a substantial amount of ink on the down-strokes. In this regard the Pilot inks beat most of the saturated inks as well as some of the less saturated ones that I use the most frequently in my Apica 6A10 journal.
I don’t use black ink often, but when I do, Noodler’s and J. Herbin have been my inks of choice. Pilot Black measures up except that it is not quite as dark. Noodler’s Black is warmer, Perle Noire is cooler and Pilot Black is more neutral. The differences are subtle, but Pilot Black works so well in the Namiki Falcon that the two will remain a pair whenever black is the right color for the occasion.
Namiki comes in blue and black. Pilot is available in black, blue, red, and blue-black. The U.S price is $10-12 for a 60ml bottle of Namiki and $16.50 for a 70ml bottle of Pilot. Cartridges are available for both and in a variety of colors.
The only weakness might be the shape of the bottle. The Namiki blue and black inks come in a squat one that is not well-suited to large nibs. A syringe or pipette will be needed to get the last drop. Pilot ink comes in a 30ml size but that’s hard to find in the U.S. The 70ml is a taller bottle and works well with larger nibs.
Iroshizuku is a different ink to be sure but Pilot and Namiki are worth a look. No fancy bottles but just good quality ink, perfect for an inkophile.