Posts Tagged ‘bagasse’

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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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When Gold Isn’t Really Gold

06/06/2009

In this case it’s Private Reserve Shoreline Gold. It is an interesting name but what does it mean? What color do you picture?

Online swatches make it appear red-orange but it seems to depend on flow and nib size. In a wide nib the color is muted yellow-orange. With a fine nib it looks more golden brown. The sample below was written with a Pilot Custom 98 fine nib on Staples Eco-Friendly (bagasse) paper.

Private Reserve Shoreline Gold

Private Reserve Shoreline Gold

Shoreline Gold is a pretty and fairly saturated ink. It isn’t fast drying so lefties beware. Flow is good as is coverage. Depending on the pen and flow, shading can be terrific.

Color variety from a single ink always intrigues me. It makes each new fill a surprise much like trying a new ink for the first time. What an economical solution to wanting ink variety despite having a strained budget. Definitely good news for a true inkophile.

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J. Herbin Gris Nuage

05/03/2009

Think gray ink is just watered-down black? Or do you have a “where’s the color” reaction when you see gray? The writing sample at My Life as a Verb just might change your mind.

After seeing Leigh’s lovely writing, but not being in acquisition mode, I put Gris Nuage on my list of promising inks and moved onto other things. That was months ago. So I was very pleased recently to receive a sample of this J. Herbin ink from Karen Doherty at Exaclair, Inc. Now I could see for myself what might be done with an ink called Gray Cloud.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Writing Sample

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Writing Sample

Gris Nuage is not a storm cloud gray but closer to the soft gray underbelly of a swirly white cloud, the part that gives it a three dimensional form. The color isn’t terribly saturated so it works very well in wide or wet nibs. In a Lamy 1.1mm calligraphy nib, the color is consistent rather than heavily shaded. Leigh’s sample shows more shading so it must depend on the pen, nib, and paper as well as the skill of the writer.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Doodles

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Doodles

Show-through and bleed-through are non-issues. Flow is average and lubrication is low. So my Lamy nib squeaked on occasion but only my finches seemed to notice. Not sure that counts so I’d say it’s a very well-behaved ink.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage

J. Herbin Gris Nuage

Check out my gray ink comparison post if Gris Nuage might seem too low in color saturation. With the wide variety of nibs in my collection, pale inks don’t deter me, well, except for yellow but that’s another story.

Note: All samples were written on Staples Eco-Friendly (bagasse) spiral-bound notebook paper with a standard Lamy 1.1mm italic nib.

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Back to Basics – Pen and Ink That Is

04/10/2009

Sometimes a writer just has to write and the last few weeks that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. In fact I’ve nearly filled an entire 100 page Staples Eco-Friendly notebook, the one with bagasse paper, and I’ve gone through nearly 20ml of ink. That’s a whole lot of ink but vintage flex nibs lay down a thick line in no time.

Yes, vintage pens. If I could get a vintage Waterman’s nib on a modern pen, I’d be thrilled because my retro kick is all about the nibs, flex nibs to be exact.

1930s Watermans Canadian 301 Fountain Pen

1930's Watermans Canadian '301' Fountain Pen

When vintage pens beckon, with rare exception I get out my bottle of Waterman Blue Black ink. My collection of blue blacks is not small. There are at least a dozen including samples and WBBk doesn’t have the best color of the lot, in fact not even close. But what it does have is good to excellent shading and it is relatively easy to clean from a lever-filler. It has never harmed one of my pens some of which are a hundred years old and deserving of careful preservation. WBBk is about as safe as an ink can get.

What makes using these vintage lever-fillers possible for me is sticking to the same ink fill after fill. That way if cleaning leaves a little behind, the residue does not adulterate the next fill or damage the pen. I do take care to use the pens often enough to prevent ink drying in the nib which isn’t all that hard when I can mess around like this with it.

Waterman 301 with Waterman Blue Black Ink

1930's Waterman Canadian '301' with Waterman Blue Black Ink

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Diamine Sepia Meets a Lamy Vista

03/11/2009

Diamine Sepia is a unique color that comes and goes in my favor. However, the shading and outlining characteristics are some of the best in inkdom with the right pen and paper. Wide nibs show it off best so when my new Lamy Vista 1.1mm italic nib was looking for a little company, Sepia sidled off the shelf hoping for a little fun. Being in an accommodating mood, I gave the pen and ink a little quality time together first with Staples Eco-Friendly (bagasse) and then Rhodia paper. The images are unretouched so you can see how the color differs from paper to paper. Which one do you prefer?

Diamine Sepia on Bagasse Paper

Diamine Sepia on Rhodia Paper

Diamine Sepia on Rhodia Paper

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Bargains for Beginners

02/25/2009

After testing dozens of fountain pens, there is only one that I think is worth recommending to even the newest newbie. Are you new to fountain pens? All things considered, the Lamy Safari could be just the pen for you. Okay, I hear those murmurs of shock and disbelief from the experienced pen folk who have moved up to spending vast sums on a single, shockingly gorgeous dream pen. Hear me out before you turn away in disgust.

The durable, colorful Lamy Safari is quite affordable at just north of $20 and it is easily replaced should it disappear or meet an untimely demise. The modern design lacks the cachet of a traditional fountain pen and that is its weakest point. However, the design encourages a proper grip and that’s a plus. The pen is incredibly light-weight and suitable for a full day of use, something which cannot be said of all fountain pens. The nib is a nail to be sure but for anyone just making the transition from pencils, ballpoints, gel pens or rollerballs, a very stiff nib is the best entry point. The fine and extra fine nibs are most similar to the average writing instrument we learned to write with in school and so should yield a very satisfactory, initial fountain pen experience.

Additional nibs are available at a number of online vendors so when something a bit more interesting or challenging is in order, a replacement nib of more substantial width can be had. My 1.1mm calligraphy nib is still fun after at least eight years of acquaintance and that says something in our disposable society. Custom grinds are another way to reinvigorate your Lamy experience. Just a few weeks ago, a 0.4mm cursive italic nib got wedded to one of my Lamys so there’s another option for those with hot-swap preferences.

Now for ink. Lamy cartridges are fine and easy to use but not so economical. Do buy a converter along with your pen if you want to save money or think the vast array of inks might be too tempting to ignore. Before you get overwhelmed by the variety of makers, colors and characteristics, consider stocking up on just a single bottle or even a pair to get started. Waterman Black, Blue-Black or Florida Blue will produce a quality writing experience without overly offending your budget. Pelikan, J. Herbin, and Sheaffer are also under $10 per bottle. Any of these would make a good choice.

Everyone owns a stash of paper and it is entirely possible your current favorite will be compatible with your new fountain pen and ink. If not, Staples Eco-Friendly bagasse notebooks, pads and filler paper will provide decent quality at budget prices. Or you can opt for a double-duty product, a package of HP 24# Inkjet Paper that you can share with your printer. Use it to print a lined paper to your exact specifications. Like orange or purple lines 6mm apart? Hard to find off-the-shelf but print it and you can have the perfect shade and line width. Not thrilled with bright color? Use a very pale gray line that virtually disappears but keeps your writing on the straight and narrow. Of course, there is always basic black for those formal occasions. Have fun making it another part of your creative statement.

So there you go. A Lamy Safari fountain pen, a converter, a bottle of ink, and some fountain pen friendly paper. What more can an newbie inkophile need, well, except a much larger budget…

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Bagasse Notebook From Staples

12/02/2008

Never heard of bagasse? It’s plant fiber waste that remains after sugarcane is processed. Given how much sugar we consume, there must be tons of it that could be put to good use and turning it into paper is a terrific idea.

Several weeks ago I purchased a 6 x 9.5 “Staples eco-friendly notebook” made from 80% bagasse but didn’t put it to use until this past weekend. Much to my surprise, it had a “made in Egypt” imprint on the back cover. So the paper isn’t the only exotic aspect to this product.

The kraft binder is very sturdy as are the rings so it is excellent for writing on the go. It also has two equally sturdy interior pockets that are attached to both sides of an extra page at the front of the notebook. Since I am always making notes on bits of stray paper, this is a convenience I really appreciate.

The white paper is very thin and shows mild show-through with the eight pens and inks I’ve tested so far but not so much that I couldn’t write on the reverse. Because the paper is so thin there is a degree of indentation on the back even from a fountain pen that would deter me far more than the mild show-through. The texture is very smooth but I did find some mild feathering with a couple of my tests though a Lamy 1.1mm calligraphy nib with Sailor Gray ink produced zero feathering. That combination also produced some fantastic shading so nib width doesn’t seem to matter so much as ink properties.

One other interesting feature of the notebook is the coppery brown lines. That sets it apart from all of my other lined papers and makes it especially pleasant to use.

One caveat to the notebook is that while there is a perforation to remove the paper that attaches a page to the rings, it is not well done. In part the extreme thinness of the paper is to blame but I found it near impossible to get a clean edge. Tearing against a ruler helped but there was more roughness than I would have preferred. This is merely a quibble and not an outright fault. Depending on how you intend to use your notebook, it may be entirely irrelevant. It certainly isn’t a deterrent for me.

Eco-friendly notebooks come in two sizes, 8.5 x 11″ as well as the 6 x 9.5″ reviewed here and cost $3.99 and $2.99 for 100 sheets. So they are quite the bargain. There is a composition book for $2.49 plus wide ruled perforated sheets in a 8.5 x 11″ pad. These come in 50 sheet pads in a 12 pack for $12.99.

The thin paper isn’t for everyone or even for all pens and inks so I can’t call it all purpose. However, for most fountain pen users, this ought to be a useful addition especially where quantity is a consideration. This is a new item for Staples and supplies are limited in some stores. Hopefully, customers will make it a success as not only is it a bargain but an excellent use of a renewable material as well.

 

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