Shimmering inks have become very popular in the last year and it’s largely thanks to Stormy Grey. Stormy Grey is part of J. Herbin’s “1670” line of fountain pen inks. 1670 inks are highly saturated and the original formulation of Rouge Hematite (the first ink in the line) was infamous for clogging pens. All four inks in the 1670 line now come with this warning label:
I only use these inks in my cheaper pens and ones that are easy to disassemble and clean.
Stormy Grey contains flecks of gold that tend to settle at the bottom of the bottle and in order to draw them up the bottle must be shaken, otherwise you are left with a much more plain dark grey ink.
Stormy Grey is a very wet ink (perhaps to compensate for the gold flecks?) and this translates to bleeding and feathering on more absorbent papers. The ink worked well on Rhodia but for more porous papers, a thin nib or dry pen is going to be a better match.
I have been using this ink for several weeks now and it performed trouble free in a number of pens until I put some in my TWSBI 580 with a 1.5mm stub nib. In the TWSBI I got spotty performance; sometimes it would write just fine and other times it would choke and skip.
Apart from some gold flecks left behind, Stormy Grey cleaned out of the pens I tested nicely; this was a nice surprise for a highly saturated ink.
Objectively, Stormy Grey is not a good ink but it is attractive and interesting. I can only recommend this ink as a curiosity; it is not a serious every day ink and but putting this stuff in your pen you are risking a clog.
Pilot’s Iroshizuku line of inks has become incredibly popular in the last couple of years thanks to its agreeable performance and excellent color palette. Despite Iroshizuku’s success Pilot still produces it’s original more affordable ink line that is simply branded as “Pilot” (or “Namiki …or “Pilot/Namiki”).
It is my understanding that these inks have a ph of over 7 making them basic and as such I would caution against putting them in a pen where ink makes direct contact with celluloid.
This line comes in bottle and cartridge formats. The cartridges only fit Pilot and Namiki pens. There are seven colors produced in the cartridge format. In bottle format I have only seen three colors: blue, black, and blue black.
Pilot Blue Black is a bit pale for my tastes but the upshot is some nice subtle shading. The ink provides some good lubrication, making it a great choice for dryer writing pens. I had no issues with bleeding or feathering. I also saw no nib creep (as is common for lubricating inks). I found that this ink was easy to clean out unlike Pilot Blue which has a tendency to stain.
Packs of 12 cartridges go for $7 and 60ml bottles go for $12. The affordable price makes Pilot Blue Black a great workhorse ink that would be appropriate for the office and general correspondence.
Pelikan Fount India ink is an oddball ink. India inks (most often) contain binding agents like shellac that provide permanent and waterproof characteristics and consequently make them unsuitable for use in fountain pens (NEVER put real India ink in a fountain pen).
By making an “India-style” ink for use in a fountain pen you have to forgo the binding agent and you are left with a non-waterproof and non-permanent ink. So, you may be asking, “what’s the point?”
Unlike regular fountain pen ink, Fount India, has a thicker consistency that affords a very smooth lubricated feel on the paper. It is not the blackest fountain pen ink out there but it has a richness to it that few black inks can match.
It should be noted that unlike real India ink, Fount India dries matte and not glossy.
Because of it’s thicker consistency it can take a little bit to get the pen going after it has sat overnight but once it starts flowing the ink performs wonderfully. I have also noticed that this ink is especially prone to “nib creep”.
I really enjoy using this ink but I only use Fount India ink in my more affordable pens that are easy to dissemble as it is a bit harder to fully clean out. I have left the ink in my pens for three weeks without any consequences but I would urge caution when using a hybrid ink like this.
This year’s Montblanc Writer’s Edition celebrates Robinson Crusoe author, Daniel Defoe, with an unfortunately ugly pen. The good news is that the limited edition Daniel Defoe Palm Green ink is beautiful.
Palm Green is a dark yellowy green ink with great shading. The flow is about average and overall it is a well behaved ink. Dry time is on the longer side (though I was using a wetter pen than normal) and the ink is not waterproof.
I couldn’t find an ink that I had that was quite like it…its like a darker more green Alt Goldgrün.
This is my favorite limited edition ink Montblanc has come out with in the last few years. It’s not cheap at $19 per 35ml bottle but it’s such a nice color I think it’s worth it.
Side note: loved the label on the bottle as well as the packaging
Every buy ink just for the bottle? I can now say that I have. P.W. Akkerman’s bottle is both beautiful and highly functional. The small reservoir at the top of the bottle is narrow and deep allowing even large nibs to utilize a near empty bottle. There is a glass marble inside the reservoir that when turned on its side allows ink to flow into the neck of the bottle. This is without a doubt the best ink bottle design I have seen. The Montblanc shoe and the old American-made Sheaffer Skrip bottles are good but the Akkerman bottle is great.
The most interesting color out of the 30 different Akkerman inks is #24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen which is a nice dark blue green ink with good shading and flow. My first thought was that it looks a lot like Private Reserve Ebony Blue, which in my opinion is one of the best looking inks around.
The ink isn’t waterproof but it did resist the water better than many other non-waterproof inks and that makes me a little bit concerned about leaving this ink in a pen beyond a couple of weeks; that said, I was able to clean this ink out of my Aurora Optima without problem.
#24 Zuiderpark Blauw-Groen (excluding VAT) costs 12.4 EURO or about $16.35 USD which is a reasonable price for this great 60ml bottle of ink BUT the shipping is quiet expensive. 20 EURO or about $26 USD shipped to the United States. Because of the high shipping cost I ended up buying three bottles. Is it worth the price? I think that depends on how much trouble you have filling your pens with large nibs. For me not having to buy two bottles of the same sink so that I can top off one with the other is valuable.
Calepino appears to be the French equivalent of Field Notes. Calepino focuses on small pocket notebooks with a simple core line of 100% French-made notebooks numbered one through four. No 1 features a red striped cover with ruled paper, No 2, the version I purchased, has green stripes and grid paper, No 3 has blue stripes and blank paper and No 4 has grey stripes and a dot grid.
Notebook numbers 1-4 come in packs of 3 for $13 compared with Field Notes’ 3 for $10. The No 2 measures 3.5″ x 5.5″, though up against a Field Notes, the No 2 is a hair shorter and a hair wider. The page count is the same 48 pages. So are they better than Field Notes? Let’s find out!
The Calepino notebooks come in very nicely branded box that features the same design and same cardboard as the notebook covers. The inside of the box lists all the specs of notebooks much like on the back inside cover of a Field Notes.
The cardboard cover is much rougher than a standard Field Notes cover and is noticeably thicker. The cardboard is made by a company in the Creuse area of France that has been making cardboard since 1927. The design is quite nice but I definitely prefer the simplicity of the Field Notes covers. The Calepino has three fonts on the cover where Field Notes only has one.
Inside the cover is a place for your personal information and a place for the start and finish date.
The pages are made of a bright white recycled paper with a green grid. The 5 x 5 mm grid is a bit larger than the 4.7 mm x 4.7mm grid found on a standard Field Notes. I prefer the smaller grid and the light brown ink the Field Notes uses.
In my testing I found that the Calepino’s paper handled relatively well for a recycled paper. It does bleed and feather a bit but overall it holds ink better than the standard Field Notes paper. To my touch the Calepino paper is a bit rougher and it provides a bit more feedback when writing which I like.
The Calepino is bound with two staples vs Field Notes’ three. The back cover has a little blurb about the company (I hope you speak French) and a metric ruler.
I have been carrying around a Calepino for about a week now and I definitely like the notebook but I don’t like it better than Field Notes. I fold my covers over when I am writing on a page and the Calepino is noticeably less pliable than a Field Notes notebook. I can fold the cover over but its more difficult and the two staple binding does not do as nice a job of holding the pages in place.
The Calepino offers better paper and better packaging than Field Notes but in the end I prefer the softer cover and overall look and feel of Field Notes.
The Calepino limited editions are quite interesting and I hope to get my hands on a set. The Limited editions feature collaborations with artists and famous design houses. What I particularly like is that the limited editions I have seen come in sets that include other limited edition items like pencils, pens, buttons and bookmarks.
Here are links to some great reviews of Calepino notebooks:
If I was only allowed one ink, Waterman Serenity Blue would be it. While the color is not particularly special, I have had more bottles of Florida Blue (now called Serenity Blue) than any other ink. I love Serenity Blue because it is so well behaved. If I buy a vintage pen this is my initial go to ink because it is very easy to clean out of my pens. I have had no issues with this ink the 12 years I have been using it. No clogging, no staining, no nothing.
The color is a soft blue, not a lot of saturation but there is good shading. I haven’t had any issues with feathering and it is not prone to bleeding. Serenity Blue is not lubricated and the flow is average to dry. The ink isn’t waterproof and is easily washed off the page. The dry time is about average.
Waterman Serenity Blue is a staple that all fountain pen users should own.
Here are some great reviews of Waterman Serenity Blue (FKA Florida Blue):
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)
This month’s Goulet Pen Company Ink drop is a tribute to the creator of Private Reserve Ink, Terry Johnson. This shipment contained eight inks from the same manufacturer instead of the usual five from various manufacturers.
My favorites this month are DC Supershow Blue and the Ebony Blue. All of these inks have a lot of saturation. The Ebony Blue is the most unique; it is a blue black with a bit of turquoise in it.
Ink Drop is a subscription service through The Goulet Pen Company (no affiliation) that consists of monthly shipments of 5 ink samples. Each shipment is $10.
The Montblanc Leonardo da Vinci Red Chalk is a limited edition ink that was introduced with the Montblanc da Vinci fountain pen. The 30ml bottle is the same standard ink bottle I have seen with the other inks in the Montblanc “Great Characters” series. The color is a nice reddish brown color that to me looks a bit like a darker version Noodler’s Antietam. I have not see any issues with feathering or bleed through on the papers I have tested the ink with so far. There is a good amount of shading and saturation so I am not sure why it’s called “Red Chalk”. The flow is a little on the dry side but it’s not dry enough to prevent me from using the ink. Dry time is about average and the ink is not waterproof. Overall I really like this ink. I am going to have to try and get another bottle before they sell out.
So first I want to start by saying that 50ml of this ink retails for $35 and can be had online for $28. In my experience Pilot Iroshizuku inks are well behaved and have a satisfactory flow. I am not certain however, that the consistent quality and beautiful bottle justify the price. I have found that other inks half the price are as good or better in some cases. My point: don’t think that for $35 you are going to get some kind of magical ink that is beyond the rest. If you fall in love with one of the Iroshizuku colors, go for it you wont be disappointed.
On to Shin-ryoku:
This ink in my opinion is very close to J. Herbin Lierre de Sauvage (I would do a comparison but my bottle had mold in it so I threw it out *harumph*). The translation of the name is “forest green” and the color is quite nice, particularly vibrant when wet. When it dries it ends up looking a bit flat which is disappointing. Shin-ryoku offers some nice shading (harder to see with the fine nib on my Cross) and like all Iroshizuku inks I have tried, no issues with feathering. Dry time is faster than most inks on Maruman Smooth-To-Write paper. The ink is not waterproof. I wont be purchasing a bottle of this one as Lierre de Sauvage is more vibrant when dried (I will be crossing my fingers that my next bottle wont have a mold problem).
Here are some great reviews of Shin-ryoku:
(I have no affiliation with the sites linked below)