Inky goodness

Dunno if I mentioned this before, but I love fountain pens.

I love the very analogue experience of putting nib to paper, the feeling of different pens, how ink reacts to paper, the very act of writing.

It’s been said that the pen is dead, but actually, like with film cameras and vinyl records, the ubiquity of faster, cheaper, easier, digital has actually created a brand new demand for old school.

One of the pleasures of fountain pens (aside from the feel of writing) is the most extraordinary variety of inks that you can buy.

And some of those inks have the most fantastic properties..

I’ve always written with slightly unusual pens – I had a couple of Parker Vector student pens that I used religiously either with violet or turquoise Shaeffer ink (they used to make cartridges with great colours that I would decant into the parker refills).  If I could find all my old college and uni notes, you’d see them all neatly written in technicolour!

Anyways, fast forward – I’ve had a few pens since, with a lovely Waterman (now lost) and a Parker Sonnet (broken) that I’ve used at work for taking notes in meetings.

Now I’m more into them than ever. Plus there’s a world of notebooks and paper to explore too.

Recently, I’ve been on the look out for inks that, in certain light and on certain papers, have a sheen, or dissolve into sub pigments on the margins.  A lot of inks actually do this, but it needs a good paper and a wet nib and it’s pretty hard to spot.

The inks I’ve been using sheen like mad.

Some examples.

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo:  A lovely rich saturated dark crimson/grape colour that in just the right light, has a lovely green gold margin. It’s a fickle ink though – it bleeds through almost all paper with a fine or overly wet nib, but with a dry nib like the TWSBI italic 1.5mm, it’s very well behaved and smooth.  This was written with a Lamy Joy 1.9mm italic  – which lays down a lot of ink and dries with this glorious finish.  I use it for work because I don’t give a stuff about so called conventions on manly colours 😉


Japanese pen company, Sailor, make a lovely series of inks that have awesome properties.  This is Sailor Jentle Yama-dori ink, which is a teal copper blue, that has amazing dark red overtones. It’s a wet ink that is oh so smooth too.  Its well saturated, so a wet nib might well cause the ink to bleed on cheaper paper.

First – TWSBI 1.5mm italic (which is actually quite a narrow nib, nothing like the 1.5mm Lamy’s)


Then with a broad nib, that brings out the shading properties in the ink beautifully and also encourages the red overtone to come out.  Such a lovely colour and perfect for every day use and looks great on very white paper as well as creamy or oatmeal colours.


The coppery red also has a lovely sheen in the light too, but it seems to need a fair bit of ink to make this happen.


Next, this almost needs no introduction (to a fountain pen geek anyway)

J. Herbin’s 1670 series Stormy Grey.  This has taken the fountain pen community by storm (to coin a phrase).  It’s a dark grey ink that has gold particles in it that are supposed to represent lightning reflected in the steel grey of the ocean. Plus it comes in a lovely packaging and bottle.

DSCF1876 DSCF1880

Pick the bottle up and you can see all the gold settled out at the bottom.


Give it a good shake and load into into pretty much any pen (in this case a TWSBI 580 AL broad nib) and and the gold flecks come out and make even the most mundane writing look amazing.

The broad nib basically lays down a gold grey line of sheening glory.


The Lamy 1.9mm italic doesn’t bring the sheen out in the same way as the broad, but rather allows the gold to be more evenly distributed as tiny sparkles throughout the lettering.  It seems to sheen even with a very fine nib.  Awesome stuff.


Lastly, Diamine Sargasso Sea.  This just arrived today and I inked up a 1.5mm Lamy Joy calligraphy pen to show you.  A very saturated rich indigo blue, it’s very wet flowing and bleeds through my Rhodia paper with this nib very easily. It’s easy to forgive though, as it’s a wonderful colour.

It does a very similar thing to the Sailor Jentle Yama-Dori ink and leaves a gold/red shimmer behind, only it does it way more readily.  I need to try this in a broad nib – I think it would be outstanding!


So there you have it.  Writing is not dead, it’s very much alive and well, full of it’s quirky physical properties and an almost infinite array of beautiful inks.

I might actually start doing some proper ink reviews and more photos on different paper if people are interested.

7 Comments on “Inky goodness

  1. You should try chrome black, a perfect mixture of purple and black. I don’t know if we get it everywhere.


    • not heard of black chrome. Noodlers ‘Black swan in Australian/English Roses’ are two purpley inks with a black undercurrent.. they look very cool.


    • I love fountain pens – so much more tactile to write with than a biro!
      If you like glistening inks – the J Herbin 1670 series glisten and sparkle long after they are dry too!


  2. Pingback: More inky goodness – sheen and shading | Charlie's World

  3. I’ve been doing Calligraphy for over 10 years now, however had not had time or chance to pick up a pen adn ink in over 2 years and miss it somewhat, but great to read an article on this art form. it’s not very common. Loved the post. Keep ’em coming.


    • There’s so many pen/calligraphy forums these days – you should check them out if you’re feeling the call of the pen again. I’m still in the ‘improve my handwriting’ stage but I’m awe of people who can achieve such lovely lettering with a simple pen and ink. Maybe a little blog post would be a good comeback for you 😉


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