An Experiment With New Inks and Latex Sacs

With all the new inks coming on the market, the experience can be daunting- and like many with vintage pens, I’m often tempted to put some of these great new colors in old pens. Richard Binder rather famously warns pen folks to be very careful with what inks we use in our vintage pens in this essay. The bottom line is that we generally can’t be sure that these inks are pH neutral and thus harmless to pens made from more delicate materials- and the results of a mistake can destroy a pen. I also firmly believe that component dyes also play important roles here, making some of this case sensitive. But what of those of us who don’t like that answer? Then we must take our own risks… and conduct our own experiments. Personally, I have many boutique inks outside the ken of the generally “safe” inks like Montblanc, Diamine, Waterman, Parker Quink, and the like. My flexy Parker Challenger is calling for Robert Oster African Gold, and my Vacumatic NEEDS to lay down some Sailor Jentle Oku-Yama. Yet, each and every time I consider inking those combos, I back down. I HAVE had Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo wreck the sack of that Challenger, and a Snorkel as well- this happened before I was directed to Mr. Binder’s advice. Because I don’t have a nice pH tester that costs hundreds of dollars, I decided to experiment with some of these inks myself. Thus, this trial was born. Before we start: I assert none of these results as fact or hard science. This is meant to be informative, but take all my results with a grain of salt and know you use these inks at YOUR own risk. There, now I can’t be blamed when someone destroys a Waterman Patrician, right?

My idea was simple: take some of these inks that I like using and immerse a sac within for a period of time. Initially, the trial was to last thirty days- but as a job hunt and freelance work took over my life, the result ended up being sixty. The story this blog’s life, right? Anyway, I stuck chunks of latex sacs that I got from Monomoy Vintage Pens in a sample vial with the chosen ink and simply let them sit. The inks are: Krishna Jungle Volcano, Colorverse Dark Energy, Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge, Noodler’s Provoke the Puritan, Robert Oster African Gold, Sailor Jentle Oku-Yama, and Waterman Inspired blue (the control- a very safe ink that I use constantly in my vintage pens). Once sealed in a sample vial, they sat relatively unmolested for sixty days (minus a midpoint checkup where I picked them up and looked in, but did not uncap).

The inks in question: Krishna Jungle Volcano, Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge, Colorverse Dark Energy, Robert Oster African Gold, Noodler’s Provoke the Puritan, Waterman Inspired Blue, and Sailor Jentle Oku-Yama

The results of all this were both surprising and predictable. No ink straight up dissolved a sac, but one seemed to have started the process. The main conclusion I drew is this: I will not be putting Krishna Jungle Volcano in a vintage pen. This was the big one. The first thing to manifest was crust on parts of the sac that were not immersed in ink, which showed at day thirty. Now, I am known to say “don’t fear nib crust.” It just wipes off and everything is fine. Crust on a sac, however, is different. After cleaning the sac under water (at first just a rinse, as if I was simply flushing the pen), I noticed that it was also more than just a little crust. The sac itself had deep scores that were eaten almost like veins of a fungus into the latex itself. Very cool to see, but not good for an old pen if you inked it and forgot about it. I have to say this result didn’t blow my mind. JV is very saturated a sheen machine, things that are often a red flag as the high concentration of dyes can react. I also already knew that the ink was prone to crusting- but this was a bit different. Thus, while this ink is fantastic and HIGHLY recommend it, I will be putting it in my modern pens only.

If you look closely, you can see the crystallization happening inside the vial

The second interesting result was with Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge. This ink is interesting- a black so thick that I can wipe writing I did over a year ago and still get this matte black streak all over my hands. The stuff is nuts. It also precipitated in a weird way. At first I was convinced I hadn’t cleaned the sample vial enough after it had PenBBS #235 (a shimmer ink) in it, but I found that vial on my tray upon investigation, empty and unused. The ink formed sludgy globs on the sac that were this weird, sheeny, nearly iridescent color. They also would not come off under normal rinsing- and therefore I do not recommend putting this in a vintage pen. I would not have before conducting this experiment anyway based on my experience with the ink thus far.

The odd precipitate sludge from Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge, which is itself and odd ink.

The last actual result was that Robert Oster African Gold stained the sac a bit. It also had a few crust crystals form but not many. Honestly I don’t care about this. I don’t see the sacs, and whatever staining happens to them doesn’t matter to me. The crust was pretty minimal and not surprising for a yellow left in a pen for some time. I will probably keep it out of a clear demonstrator, however.

Here you can see the light staining and crust from Robert Oster African Gold

Finally, the nonresults. I did not have any form of reaction that I could find from Oku-Yama, Dark Energy, Provoke the Puritan, or Inspired Blue (SURPRISE). To me this is great news, and I feel fine using them in my vintage pens. The Colorverse ink is perhaps the most interesting, because the company lists the pH of the inks in a booklet that comes with the box. They list Dark Energy at 8.8 (neutral being 7.0), which is on the alkaline side- therefore, I would also use this one with caution, but I will put it in a lever filler that isn’t too hard to mess with, like a Wahl-Eversharp Skyline. And there we have it!

The whole crew together

Caveats: Some things to note as you form opinions on what I’ve done here- first off, I don’t know exactly when the changes noted above took place. Especially with African Gold staining, I suspect that if you went through the fill in a week or two, it would be fine- but I can’t prove that. Second, I left these inks in pens much longer than I ever would in reality. If you are done with a pen, clean it, especially if it’s old. I further don’t feel comfortable extrapolating my results beyond these specific inks, since formulations can vary vastly across the color spectrum but within the same ink brand. Again, I have to clearly state that you must make your own decisions regarding what inks are safe to put in vintage pens. I won’t take responsibility for someone who puts Dark Energy in pristine vintage Duofold and gets an penpocalyptically different result. Thanks for reading,and I do hope people found this entertaining if not a little helpful!


“That Looks Ugl-Nope, I Love It”- Sailor Rikyu-Cha

First off, remember how I said I was going to the D.C. Pen Show? Well, I apologize, because that didn’t happen thanks to bad weather and American Airlines overselling all their flights. Flights got cancelled left and right, so despite the fact that I spent 10 hours at the airport, I never got onboard and I missed the whole thing. I’m pretty sad about it, but I did manage to land some goods thanks to a friend who muled two pens and some inks for me- an Omas “The Cinema” and a Montblanc 12. They both rock, but that’s not what today’s post is about. Then, my computer decided to not accept my SD card anymore, so I couldn’t upload images. I recently upgraded my phone, however, and now we are back in business!

On the right, Rikyu-Cha after drying. On the left, immediately after writing. Watching the transition from almost black to brown and great is really cool. Pen is a CH92 broad architect.

Again, another ink I should in theory hate has really blown me away. This ink was hyped for a while. Mike Matteson is a big fan, and among the Discord servers I frequent or moderate it comes highly recommended. I was a happy skeptic. I wouldn’t say that I judged people for liking it and in this hobby I’m just happy to see people enthused… buy really? It’s this ugly muddy-green-brown thing! Thus, when I got a sample as a gift from a friend (Sarah), I inked it up thinking “OK, let’s put this ink to rest.” Boy, I did, because I burned through the sample fast- but I have to say it didn’t leave my mind. This ink is either reasonably priced or really expensive depending on where you can find it thanks to Sailor’s new pricing scheme. Here is what you can expect to see, Anderson having the 50 ml ($18) still but Vanness only having the new bottles, 20 ml ($12) at nearly double the price per ml. PLEASE NOTE: I am not favoring one retailer over the other, this is entirely about existing stocks of old bottles. I got my bottle from a B&M anyway.

Review page for Sailor Rikyu-Cha. Look at the blue from the drop test, it’s pretty neat.

Rikyu-cha is a “tea” themed ink, and it’s one of the mainstays in the Sailor in line. It’s green-brown with some major blue undertones, and a bit of red sheen when laid on heavy. Even so, with that description I would not pick this ink out for myself. It just doesn’t sound appealing to me. And I was wrong, again. First off, it’s a Sailor ink, and that means it flows nice and wet, exactly how I like my inks. Thus, from the first kiss of the nib to paper I liked how the ink behaved. It goes down a very dark color, much like the brown one always gets in the water left in a cleaning cup after a few different got flushed. But… it shifts. One can watch the transformation, similar to iron gall inks, as the color gets much lighter, shading sets in, and the pools get this blue hue to it that is really sharp. Seeing it in person v. my computer monitor made a big difference.

It looks so brown in this swab! This ink can change so much based on pens and paper used.

On cheaper paper, I would say it did okay. Nothing special, the usual amount of feathering, bleed, and loss of some shading. I was surprised to find some water resistance, much in the same vein of Sailor Jentle Blue/Black. The color that does run was sluggish in moving off the page. I had no issues cleaning the ink and it has not stained at all.

Still some shading on cheap paper- from a JoWo medium nib

I have to say I prefer this in nibs that offer line variation or aren’t insane gushers. Between the CH-92 broad architect and the Retro51 broad I used for this, both are wet, but the Retro is a hose and a standard round nib. This showed more of the blue and less of the shading, but I think I prefer the shading.

Rikyu-Cha from the Retro51 broad nib. It is very blue from this pen, and I prefer what I see from the architect I think.

Tasting Notes: A muddy river polluted with crude oil, thick and slimy. The water in the pen-cleaning cup. Dark fuzzy mold on old stinky cheese.

Yuri’s Corner: Hmmm… what can I say besides what a beautiful disaster? Objectively, Sailor Jentle Rikyu-Cha is the tantalizing abomination produced when a painter mixed their blacks with yellow, then added some greens, reds, and blues for shits and giggles. Theoretically this should not work and should be offensive to one’s eyes, but there’s something to this ink that is quite nice. Staring into this ink is as if you are staring into the abyss of our black cat’s soul. Lighter strokes whisper of Diamine’s Earl Grey, while the dark strokes scream of the black Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge but not quite. If you want a happy medium between Noodler’s Provoke the Puritan and Diamine’s Majestic Blue this ink is it. Either way, you won’t be bored with this ink, that’s for sure. Perfect for some spooky spectacular Halloween invites or making sure your death threats are taken in a serious manner.
8 out of 9 soul gems filled.

Color comparisons: Noodler’s Provoke the Puritan, Sailor Rikyu-Cha, Robert Oster Bronze, and Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion. Nothing quite like Rikyu-Cha that I’ve encountered yet.

Conclusion: I really love this ink, despite the gross tasting notes which is something I do for fun, rather that total seriousness (obviously). I love that it’s so unique, and the chromatography is just plain weird (sorry for no photo of that, I accidentally threw away the paper towel). I liked it enough that I went out and bought a bottle two days after finishing the sample. Part of my expediency was not just because I liked that much– it’s that my local pen shop still has the 50 ml bottles and I figured I may as well jump on it while it was still a purchase that I was willing to support. I’m not happy with Sailor’s choices regarding their prices… but damn this ink is nice.

An Inky Adventure to Explore: Krishna Jungle Volcano

Hello, three readers! I would like to announce that I will be flying to D.C. in the wee hours of the morning to spend the weekend at the Washington, D.C. Fountain Pen Supershow! I will hopefully take too many pictures an write a post-show recap as I spend more dough than I have a… write to. Anyway, on to the tonight’s main event.

I was a bit giddy for the launch of Krishna inks within the United States, and Vanness gets the claim for being the first major retailer to offer them. I jumped at the opportunity, and I grabbed three bottles right off the bat: Two that I find intriguing (Jungle Volcano and Brown Pink), and one for comparison purposes (Shamrock). Today’s review is of Jungle Volcano, an electric orange that really does it for me, and much to my surprise. Continue for my ever-verbose opinions.

Review Page

I don’t really care for orange inks, and thus I’ve been trying a few to see if any could bring my nose down. A few failed, but this one… Krishna Jungle Volcano is something special. It’s a super-sheener, but features a very strong base color. The rich burnt orange is not masked by the sheen, but when you put this ink under light it looks… radioactive. I love it, and it was honestly love at first inking. The first pen I used in was the Pilot CH-92 broad architect I had, and what a perfect choice… shading, sheen, and base color. It’s so stunning to look at, I wrote the fill dry in a day. I found the flow to be nice and moderate, but the nib on the CH-92 absurdly wet. I had to put in my TWSBI Eco broad to really get a sense of the wetness. I have nothing to complain about, but like many people note it will dry out on your nib fairly quickly. A person who uncaps a pen and waves it about will have a rough time with this ink. I’m not that person.

On Tomoe River paper from my Eco nib, note the spectrum of this color- it makes me go “HNGGGGGGGG”

The ink dries with a bit longer time, but nothing like some of the other super saturated inks like Organics Studio and some Noodler’s. It did fine on cheap paper, of course loosing the sheen. There also is no water resistance here to be found, and a spill can be a mess.

On Rhodia, still sheening like crazy. I just love that the base color still comes through so much.

There are some peculiarities to note, though. Numero uno is the bottle. Love the size, not so much the design. The 20 ml bottles priced at $8.00 means that the buy-in threshold is super low, but the price per ml is not the lowest compared to Diamine, Noodler’s, and others. I personally don’t care. I’m happy to pay more per ml to simply not have that much ink. It’s a wonderful size for me, and the price is low enough that I don’t need to overanalyze the purchase. But…the caps are kind of impractical. There are rings like on a soda bottle, and it doesn’t have the robustness of bottles like Diamine. Fine by me. The ink was takes a little more effort to clean out, but I don’t think it’s going to stain anything. Being an orange ink, if you leave it in a pen for extended time periods it will crust, but that just takes a damp cloth to fix. Finally, the ink has an odd odor. This scared me at first, because it honestly smells like acetone, which is no bueno for fountain pens. I DO NOT think this ink is unsafe in any way, to be clear, but the odor did throw me at first and might to a cautious user. I kind of like it… I’m that awkward guy that will sniff my nib. That’s about all I have.

Crusty Rim
The bottle, ft. ink crust. NOTE: This is common with inks in this color family. If some goes in the bottle it just gets reconstituted. It is not a problem, but for clean freaks. 

Tasting Notes: The exact moment when Gollum falls into the lava in Mount Doom with the One Ring in his hand. Nail Polish (because the smell, get it?), gilded mandarin oranges.

Yuri’s Corner: This ink screams KOI. From the papaya lighter notes to the more sophisticated burnt orange darker notes. The sheen reminds me of the glistening scales of the fish and if you look closely at the feathery ends of the writing, you can see some pink as well! Krishna Jungle Volcano is particularly stunning against a white background, so I would highly recommend only using this ink with such. Kristof’s swatch of this ink looks like a pumpkin, so I suppose you can use it for Harvest and Halloween letters or notes. I initially thought this ink was ugly, and another generic rusty red. I am glad I took the time to let it soak in, see that it’s far more majestic than your red ballpoint ink. Overall, I would rate Krishna Jungle Volcano 6 grand Californian sunsets out 6!

Color Comparison
Color comparison, from the top going clockwise: Krishna Jungle Volcano, Noodler’s Cayenne, KWZ Grapefruit, Krishna Brown Pink

So what’s the bottom line here? I love this ink. Yuri seems to as well, and he and I don’t always agree. Top 5 for sure, and one of the few that I will strongly consider replacing if and when I run out. Yeah, the bottle isn’t the best, but I couldn’t care less when what’s contained within is this stunning. I have strong feelings on this one. *Sniffs nib* don’t judge me.

I’m Back for Real, with Monteverde California Teal

Note: It has been way to long since I have posted, and I’m sorry for that. I’ve volunteered, worked a side job, and along with my family faced the serious illness of my father. It has been a long month, and I really want to post more regularly now that life has calmed down. Also I think my photos suck. I need to upgrade my nonexistent lighting setup, and for that I apologize.

Review sheet

Monteverde is a company I both love and hate. I don’t like their pens, but more than that I don’t like some of the practices around their designs. The Monteverde Monza is a good example of that. Monteverde supposedly rebranded a Chinese copy of a Sailor pen, and a model that had some serious structural issues. No thank you. The pens of theirs I have used sported meh to subpar nibs. NO THANK YOU. And then… there is the ink line. 8ballpens let me try a pen inked with Monteverde Capri Blue at the 2017 Commonwealth Pen Show. I walked out with a bottle, and I’ve used a lot of it. The ink suits me, and a review will happen soon. California Teal intrigued me, looking like Christmas in a bottle with that red sheen. I don’t do greens very often, but if it behaved anything like Capri Blue… I’m down. Did it meet my inkspectations? Or did it fall from my graces like the pens the company produces?

Tomoe River
Tomoe River paper, from the medium Vanishing Point I have. 

I grabbed a sample from Goulet, and this review has made me realize that I don’t think I can order samples from them anymore. I need more ink to spend time with each. 2 ml just isn’t cutting it, and I found myself wishing for more here. Anyway, on to the color. California Teal is not teal to me. It’s green. There are some blue undertones, but green is the base color- when it’s not covered up by the glorious red sheen. I didn’t even use this in my wetter pens. The Franklin-Christoph broad SIG I have is fairly dry, and the Pilot Vanishing Point medium is very… well… medium; this was a great combination for the ink, because if I had dumped it in say my Retro51 Tornado and that juicy hose of a nib, all I would have is this dark smear of glowing red. It does stop short of being an Organics Studio Walden Pond sibling at least. Still, on Tomoe River one is given front row seats to the sheen show.

On Rhodia
A remarkable amount of sheen for the Rhodia classic, which doesn’t always show sheen the best!

The ink features Monteverde’s ITF (Ink Treatment Formula) meant to increase flow without creating insane dry times. I can say that both the Monteverde inks mentioned here flow very very well, giving me such a smooth tactile experience that I remember why I love fountain pens so much in the first place. I don’t understand what ITF means in practical terms, but I just assume it’s lubricated and I’m happy with that. It performed fine on my office paper, though I would call it average in terms of feathering and bleed. It did fine, but not any better than most inks.

Color comparison
Color comparisons- for once, I have a solid spectrum in this color family. My personal favorites from this photo are California Teal, Steel Blue, and Irish Green

Tasting Notes: Algae on a green lagoon, thick and slimey. A forest at sunset, shades of red sun slipping through lush foliage. Not California. A nice salad with strawberries and feta.

Yuri’s Corner: Monteverde California Teal in my humble opinion should have been called Ireland Forest as the color is closer to green than a blue. Much closer to me enough to not consider it a teal at all but I can be convinced otherwise. Semantics aside, it’s a very pleasant ink, with the lighter top strokes being a Seafoam Green that transports me to the Ireland coast and the darker down strokes standing tall as Forest Green. If you look close enough, you might catch a shimmering of grape-skin in the denser spots. The gradient with this one is strong, giving the Monteverde California Teal a very complex depth of perception. I can see myself walking along the Tree Trail in the Avondale Forest Park, writing descriptions and drawing leaf samples in a vellum journal. I would say this ink deserves six out of seven fae wings!

ConclusionThis is a winning ink, and I will probably get a smaller bottle in the near future. I love the sheen, I love the feel of the ink going from nib to page, and the green is intriguing. I agree with Yuri that it really isn’t much of a teal, but that’s both fine and subjective. Monteverde makes some great inks that are priced very well, and I highly recommend this one.


Paint It Black- Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge

My family owns and operates a decent-sized crop and cattle farm in the middle of nowhere. I was the younger, smaller, nimble child. That meant certain tasks involving squeezing into confined spaces and deft handiwork automatically fell to me. There is a particular implement used to incorporate fertilizer into the soil that was the bane of my existence. You can see the individual wheels in the thumbnail in this link. Every one of them needed an application of black, viscous, petroleum-based industrial grease to keep the metal bearings from tearing apart. I had to squeeze in between them, often on my back, and this stuff would COVER me- it would get in my hair, all over my clothes, even in my pores. It smeared onto anything I touched. My mom banned me from entering the house with clothes on if I had done that task. Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge, in many ways, is the inky version of that- but is it a bad thing? We shall see.

Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge with some of my favorite black things, my Sheaffer Snorkel and Targa and my Rickshaw clover. I love the clover and recommend for EDC.

This ink was one of the Commonwealth Pen Show exclusives from 2016, along with Northstar Liberator, and Suffragette Carmine. Nathan Tardif explains the history of the ink here, but if you don’t feel like watching that long video it’s named after the place where the Salem witches were hanged. The bottle art is largely what drew me to Proctor’s Ledge, and the color itself was interesting. It has this red tint to it. He was describing it as a “halo” effect at the time, but really it’s just a slight tint to a very saturated black ink. I can’t pick it up in normal writing with my naked eye, just the smears. Good thing that happens all the time with this ink, but more on that later. I bought it because I’m a sucker for history-related stuff and why not for $10? But… I never used it. I have not inked it since immediately after the show. I just don’t use black ink. I like vibrancy in my life, and this ink is the antithesis of vibrancy. The purpose of this blog is to push my inky boundaries and use some things I might not normally try or like, and this is a step in that direction. The blog is doing its job in my life, because I was thoroughly surprised by how much I like this ink, though it has its faults.

Review Page
The review page- note both the red bit in the smear and how much in general I smeared this stuff just with my hand and the piece of card stock I place my hand on as I write. Also, look at that water resistance! It barely moved at all. 

Did I mention it’s a black ink? In normal writing, it’s DARK. Noodler’s black inks are often considered some of the darkest you can find, and this is up there. It’s a gusher but very smooth to use. It made my nice broad nibs glide across the page and made me do that HNGGGGNGNGNGNNNNGGG sound that happens when I get the perfect fountain pen writing experience. Using it on cheap paper resulted in no feathering at all, not what I was expecting. It does have bleed, but this is a great option for people who can’t use Cross Violet at work. I spilled some water on the ink and then realized this stuff is seriously resistant. Some pigment moved, but I couldn’t even tell on the actual writing.

Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge on Tomoe River Paper. That shine (I don’t think it qualifies as sheen but whatevs) is really cazy.

When doing the review, I noticed something else. When the ink is on the page, it has this matte texture to it. I saw it first, and then for some reason ran my finger over it. That was the shocker. It FELT like a matte finish on a pen. On any paper I get this same feeling, almost waxy in texture. Then I looked at my finger and saw that this stuff SMEARS. A lot. Like… look at the review page. I inked this stuff in January, and when I rubbed my finger across the swab tonight it STILL smears. The dry time is basically the lifetime of a hobbit. It gets everywhere on the page, and I tend to get it all over my hands and fingers. It has a pretty hefty dose of nib creep and that texture ends up on the nib. I find myself wondering if it’s a pigmented ink like Sailor Kiwa-Guro– it has that similar shine (in this case, I don’t mean sheen) but I left this ink in a pen unused for three weeks and it started with nary a hesitation or skip, straight away.

On cheap paper
I don’t usually show my cheap paper test, but this one did well enough that I thought it worthwhile. This stuff seriously does well.

Tasting Notes: Thick onyx tar. A viscous witch’s brew causing all manner of maladies. Soot mixed with blood. The last, single ray of red sunlight right before a moonless night sets in.

Color Comparison
Color comparisons, from the top going clockwise. No, I don’t have anything actually close to it… like another black. Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion, Diamine Earl Grey, Diamine Sparkling Shadows, and Sailor Jentle Blue Black

By the end of the fill, it feels dirty, and it reminds me very much of that grease I mentioned above; however, thinking back to that- what is the purpose of industrial grease? To lubricate metal. That’s what this ink does. It flows like thick black silk. At the same time, I have never had a problem cleaning it out of a pen and it didn’t even think about staining, even in my Eco. It also has that Noodler’s ink smell to it, but I like it. I tend to be a nib sniffer, and at one point yes, I did have a water-resistant black dot on my nose as a result.

Yuri’s Corner: Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge is a perfect example of what a villain would write with. It is DARK and GRITTY. Not only does it seem to absorb light and souls, but if you look into its abyss closely, you can see that the ink has an aura of deep bruise purple. Just don’t stare for extended periods of time less your life essence will be drained. This sinister ink would suit Demogorgons and Retroverse Liches alike. [Ink name] is permanent and is well suited to inscribing the names of those you hate, sending ensnaring invitations for your dinner, or ensuring your Necronomicon can pass the test of time. Lastly, don’t forget to feel the ink. Yes…, run your finger across those grainy letters. The waves of what can only be described as particulates seemingly spell out a subliminal message within Braille. I am going to give Noodler’s Proctor’s Ledge twelve black soul gems out of thirteen.

Conclusion: I like it. Yuri really likes it. I am happy I have a bottle, but it will very likely be the only black ink I ever purchase. It was a great deal at around $10, and I wish it was still available because I would be recommending this to students. Alas, that is not the case. I think I’ll be using it again. I just struggle to use black. Even with that red tint, why would I use black when I have the wonderful depth of Colorverse Dark Energy? Of course, that’s just my preference, but though I like it, this ink has not refuted my general mantra “life is too short to use black ink.” I might just add a single word to the end of the sentence- “frequently.”

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo My God that’s Pretty

In September of 2016, I went to my first pen show: Commonwealth in Boston. Well, Bostonish. Close enough. I didn’t end up picking up much, mostly ink. Of those inks, two were Noodler’s limited editions (Proctor’s Ledge and Northstar Liberator) that I’ve inked all of twice since then. But, I splurged on what was then my most-expensive ink to date: Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Budo. Note: It’s not that expensive anymore. Check it out. It had been on my list for a while, and I paid too much for it, but I was loving the pen show atmosphere. I inked it in my CH-92 with a broad nib, and I have been in a torrid, passionate relationship with this ink ever since. It’s wet, it shades, it sheens, and it is BEAUTIFUL; but, this love has not been all wine and morning glories. Read on to feel the love tonight.

Feat. my Retro1951 Tornado in broad

Magenta is the color of the hour. Pinkish but not glaring like the newish Lamy Vibrant Pink, but also not nearly a purple like my beloved Cross Violet. I use this ink in every pen I have. I love it enough that I am nearly finished with my bottle, and have dedicated it as the second of my Empty Ink Bottle Challenge. It just glides across he paper, and pooling reveals a joyful gold sheen. It’s regal and fabulous.Review Page

But she hurt me. A few months before acquiring Yama-Budo, I was given a few of my first vintage pens as a graduation gift. One of them was a Parker Challenger with an amazing semi-flex nib. The pen remains one of my favorite in my collection, and they can be had for around $100 and often much less. I loved the pen, I loved the ink, so I arranged a marriage between them and it ended in fire. Or, in English, I put Yama-Budo in a pen with a latex sac and it destroyed the sac. Don’t put this ink in vintage pens, folks. I was young and dumb and didn’t do my research, but luckily the damage was fixable. I had my friend 8ballpens put a fresh sac in recently, and I have my baby back. As I often say on this blog, learn from my mistakes.

On Rhodia
On Rhodia with a TWSBI Eco broad

Back to the ink, it doesn’t do the best on cheaper paper given that it’s pretty lubricated. There are better options. If I spill a couple drops of water on it, some ink is left behind; but if you smear water on it, you get a mess because the ink is pretty darn saturated. I wouldn’t call it water resistant. It’s also a little tough to clean out. The red dyes like to stick around for a while; this isn’t staining, it does clean out, but this one takes a bit of extra effort.

Color Comparison
Color comparison, top and clockwise: Cross Violet, Montblanc Psychadelic Purple, Lamy Vibrant Pink, Fahrney’s Juliet’s Pink

Tasting Notes: Morning Glories I guess. In all non-seriousness, rhubarb punch. Strawberry Pie. Summer. Passion. All the lovin’.

Yuri’s Corner: Kristof must be on a purple kick, this is the second one in a row he’s asked me to critique. However… the more I look at it, the pinker it becomes. I am confidant now that it is indeed more pink than purple. The real question becomes then… to classify this ink as a fuchsia or a magenta? Definitely magenta. Semantics aside, I really appreciate Yama-Budo. It is vibrant enough on a blank white page to spice your notes up, but not too much as to make your eyes water. That subtle gold sheen really adds a classy touch. Great for late Spring invitations or adding some joy to your notes on rainy days. Five slices of pink dragon fruit out of six.

On Tomoe River, for some reason I wasn’t getting much sheen from this fill.

Wrapping up, get you some. Don’t put it in vintage pens or anything with latex, but put it in everything else. I love it. This fabulous ink offers all the traits a person could ask for, but not too much of any. It’s no sheen monster, it doesn’t shade like crazy, but it has it all. A great way to bring vibrancy into your life.

Today’s Emotion is Meh… with Sailor Jentle Blue/Black

This was one of the first inks I picked up with the express purpose of reviewing, tossing it in my Anderson cart on as an afterthought. After using up the sample, I found myself delaying the review for quite a while, as you’ll see from the “inked on” dates on the review page. The ink gave me trouble-not in at all because of the physical writing experience, but actually writing about my experience with it! For this was an ink that ultimately taught me the feeling of “meh” as it relates to fountain pens. It reminded me my preference in this hobby is that aesthetics always come first. Read on to see how that came about.

Review page

Sailor Jentle Blue/Black is a great every-day, office appropriate ink… for those of us who need that sort of thing. In my office, my notes are my own and I’m free to make them as fabulous as I damn well please, and it damn well pleases me to have fabulous ink. However, I picked it up because I consider it much more of a grey, which is color family I generally don’t care for. Thus, I often get samples of grey inks to see if one can change my mind. This didn’t do it, but here’s the thing- objectively, it rocks. The ink is nice and wet, flowing from any pen with pleasurable ease. It didn’t shad much, but I could tease a decent amount of sheen out of the ink that is the reason why I didn’t give up on it after a half-fill. It didn’t feather on cheap paper, and I know this would be a great option for people who don’t want boring black ink, but vibrant blues aren’t their thing. Plus, it’s nice and water resistant. I didn’t realize that going in, making the amount sticking around after the drip test a pleasant surprise.

On Rhodia
Reading notes in a Rhodia Classic, from the book The Devil in the White City, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Lot’s o’sheen.

Yuri’s Corner: “Sailor Jentle Blue Black, you’re turning jentle blue black, Jentle Blue Black!” My first glance at this ink, I was under the impression that this was a gray ink, dark steel gray specifically. Upon closer inspection, the colors revealed themselves to be a midnight blue, or dark blueberry skin with an exquisite red-violet sheen. A gentle reminder (get it), but I judge the ink before the name is given to me as to avoid bias. I would have named this ink Early Morning Dawn, after the dark night sky as the morning barely starts to feather warmth across the horizon. The ink writes wet and overall it is very appealing. I like it a lot, more so than Diamine’s Earl Grey as well as their Majestic Blue, all of which share similarities. Five sticks of  3-Course Gum (Willy Wonka again) out of five.

Color comparisons
Color comparisons, from he top going clockwise: Diamine Sparkling Shadows, Kyo_Iro Stone Road of Gion, Robert Oster Bronze, and Diamine Earl Grey.

Tasting Notes: A ripe, puffy, dark, brooding cumulonimbus streaked with red lightning. Drizzly days where you just want to stay inside and hide from the world. Yuri’s mood when he comes home from a long shift and full day of school. The water left in a cup after cleaning multiple pens.

The red sheen on this ink makes it interesting and worthwhile. Much-needed depth. 

The trouble with this ink is entirely on me. I just don’t like the color. It isn’t me, and it makes it hard to be witty or overly descriptive with it; but the color is also objectively cool, which gives me pause. Sailor Blue/Black works. It’s cheap (or it was, we will see what Sailor does with prices in the near future). It writes really well. It cleans out of pens. Water isn’t a threat. There is sheen. There are so many great properties here, and you might think what more can I ask for? VIBRANCY. That’s what I want. Because of this, I’m ultimately happy I tried the ink. A little introspection revealed that I am the kind of gent who puts aesthetics before any other ink property. If I don’t like the color, I won’t be able to use an ink regularly, no matter how great the writing experience is with it. That doesn’t mean I’ll never love a grey ink, or so I tell myself, but this isn’t the one to change my mind. However, even within this review we see that Yuri loves it a lot. That’s why I have him play with my inks. He’s often the yin to my grumpy yang, and alternative perspectives are always helpful.

Colorverse Dark Energy! Or, My Attempt at Keeping Up with New Ink…

Sometimes my life philosophies clash with each other. In this case, the warring parties were “I don’t buy expensive bottles of ink” and “nobody bought me pen stuff for my birthday so TREAT YO’ SELF!” and given that I published this review, it’ safe to say the latter won out in this case. Colorverse is a very new (to North America) ink manufacturer based in Korea, featuring premium packaging, unique bottles, and a space theme that has drawn in many customers including myself. The first retailer to announce importation of Colorverse was Hippo Noto, and so I jumped on it right away though the price is $35 excluding shipping. Since that time, other retailers picked up the brand (Pen Chalet, Vanness) making it easier to find.

Box and pen
I really think this Dark Energy matches the Brooks acrylic on m F-C 31 well.

On to the specific ink I chose. I don’t own a true brown ink, unless you count Diamine Ancient Copper, which is a browney orangey red-rust multiclassed bardbaria- you get the idea. I don’t really consider Ancient Copper brown. Well, this isn’t all that brown either, but of the Colorverse lineup, Dark Energy seemed most different compared to my other inks, and it looked really complex based on the review SquishyInk posted. I didn’t think too much about it, and the ink shipped so fast that I barely remembered I had even done it.

The packaging of Colorverse ink is really cool, and I don’t really say that often. In fact I don’t think I’ve ever said that about an ink before besides “the bottle looks nice and functions well.” It comes in a white box with a blown up version of the image featured on the bottle. Inside are stickers, which are pretty cool for the specific ink I chose- wit black holes and UFOs. I really need a place to put all my stickers because I’m accumulating quite a few, and I’m not one of those “bedazzle your computer” people. Anyway, there is also punch-out cardboard things- a bookmark and a pen stand, neither of which I have used yet. Oddly enough, they also included branded napkins. I guess it’s cool to wipe up your spilled expensive ink with marketed napkins…maybe? They don’t do anything for me. Then, the marketing booklet shows off the entire ink line, their Panton color, the surface tension of the ink, the Ph level (8.8 for Dark Energy) and other information that I don’t really understand. I find myself enjoying the extra materials just because I’ve never had the experience so much media for an ink.

The guts

On to the bottles. Colorverse comes with two bottles per box, on 65 ml and one 15 ml. Some hate this. I liked it initially, because I was hoping to trade of the smaller one for a different color. The trouble is that I haven’t followed through, and now the extra bottle is a bit useless besides looking cute. For other colors like the popular Schrodinger and Cat, there are two different inks, and a few are even shimmer inks. I just didn’t love the inks in that collection, and I really REALLY wish we could mix and match which small bottle we got, but of course that would be a logistical nightmare. At least we get 80 ml for the price, which makes it a lot more affordable than say Bungubox. The bottles have a really cool teardrop shape that is unlike anything I’ve used before, and I find them quite attractive AND very practical.

Review page.jpg

Finally, the ink! Dark energy is a pinkish red-brown. In the time that I’ve had it, I’ve used it in three pens, and it performed best from my Pelikan M600 with a medium nib. It behaved well from all of them, and the color stays interesting in finer nibs like my Pilot VP in medium, but the Pelikan showed off everything this ink has to offer; and it offers all of the things I look for in an ink. First off, there is glorious shading, and the shading really adds complexity to the color. The lighter pools of the ink have reddish pink hues, accenting the brown color. Then, where the ink pools, not only is it a rich ruddy brown, but there is a hefty amount of sheen. I really like how this ink looks on the page and it has been inked nonstop thus far. Interesting, though, is the fact that it sheens more from the VP than it did from either the M600 or my Franklin-Christoph 31 broad SIG. Usually that’s not the case, but you can see it here.

Sheen of it all.jpg

I had no issue cleaning this ink out, which is a good sign in an ink with red an pink notes. Often they take some extra effort to flush clean, but Dark Energy was pretty standard. On that note, while some ink did stay on the page, I don’t think it’s enough to call it water resistant, so be aware of that if you need to withstand a spill. It did pretty well on my cheap paper at the office, especially with the VP. I really like it for finer nibs, because it retains the complexity and sheen. Of other colors in my rotation, on the swatch it seems pretty darn close to Robert Oster Maroon 1789, but I haven’t inked that one yet. When I do, I’ll compare writing samples. If they are as close as they look, Maroon 1789 could make a fantastic cheap alternative to Dark Energy.

Color comparison
From the top, going clockwise: Colorverse Dark Energy, Krishna Brown Pink, Robert Oster Astorquiza Rot, and Rober Oster Maroon 1789. Reviews pending for the other three.

Tasting Notes: An inverted medium-rare ribeye with a dry red wine. Seriously, that’s all I can think about with this ink- the lighter parts on the edges of letters being a nice juicy inner part, and the pools a great sear. I don’t really think of food with ink, but this one does it.

Yuri’s CornerSophisticated man’s, woman’s, person’s raspberry. Interesting array of colors, from roasted beets to dried blood, almost borderline brown. It is hard to say where Dark Energy would shine in terms of writing from a medium nib. I would fill a journal page with this ink, just not an entire journal because it is just barely monochromatic enough to not catch the eye. Sometimes less is more. My gut says this would be great for writing invitations, especially with that sultry green gold sheen. I would recommend using a finer nib, as that seems to draw out more of the luster. 9/13ths of a Detroit Dark Red.

To wrap up, I love this ink. It was the perfect gift to myself; a color I didn’t have in my collection, and still different from most browns I’ve seen, and it has great properties. It’s pretty pricey, though. I would purchase this ink again, but I probably won’t get any other Colorverse bottles. I bought the ink that interested me the most, and I still hope to trade my wee bottle one of the other colors, but I will treasure my splurge for as long as it takes for me to use 65 ml. And that, good people, is a long time.

My Old Faithful! Diamine Majestic Blue

I am in the process of getting reviews done for some new and exciting inks, but man it’s hard to keep up these days! There are so many new brands hitting the market, so many old brands releasing new colors- how does a new ink blogger even begin to keep up? Well, I can start by not neglecting the inks that got me to this point, and one of the most important to me is the original sheen machine- Diamine Majestic Blue. This ink was the third I ever purchased, and at only $7.50/30 ml bottle, it’s hard to go wrong… right?

Artsy stuff
My attempt at an artsy, Goulet-ish photo. I like blue things.

This ink has been in every pen I have owned up to this point. It’s ALWAYS wet, dark, and smooth. I don’t hesitate to put it in my vintage pens, and when I do the reward is an incredible, almost ominous ink, dark to the point of near-black, covered in a garish red sheen that is just stunning. From nibs that are wet but reasonably so, the color brightens and the sheen backs off a bit, revealing a dark blue haloed in that red sheen. I find myself seeking the experience of the latter first and foremost, and the former whenever I feel tempted by the Organics Studio super sheeners, which I have not and really am not interested in trying.

Dat sheen doe
That’s a lot of sheen, and this is from the Pelikan M600 medium nib. From the Vacumatic, it looks like Nitrogen.

The ink behaves well on cheap paper, with feathering fairly minimal given that it’s quite a wet ink. It simply works, and it’s a very work-appropriate ink that still lends some serious character if used on fountain-pen friendly paper. There is one downside, however: the dry times can be long, which is often the case with heavily-saturated inks. This can lead to smearing, which may make the impatient among us look elsewhere. There also is no water resistance; in fact the few times I have spilled on this ink the dye movement leaves QUITE a mess.

Review page

Tasting Notes: Blueberry pie, that last moment of dusk as a final sliver of sunlight streaks red across a navy sky, salty fungicide. Yes, I’m serious on that one, I may or may not have had a little to much to drink on New Year’s Eve and taken a sip of ink. Yes, I have photo proof and no, you may not see it. Also: Don’t do it. Let me say that again: DON’T DRINK INK. Learn from my mistakes.

Yuri’s Corner: Blue ballpoint pen ink is a nice ink. The colors range from dark cobalt on the saturated bits to a beautiful blueberry feathery finish. I’m a huge fan! The sheen also hints at a royal purple, giving the ink an overall betta fish allure. I could take notes and write correspondence with Diamine Majestic Blue all day! Eight sapphires out of nine.

Color Comparison
Color Comparison- Note that sheen! Also the unlabled card on the right is Noodler’s Bad Belted Kingfisher, I just haven’t inked that yet, and honestly I don’t know if I ever will.

All that being said…. I designated this ink for the Empty Ink Bottle 2018 Challenge, and there is a reason why. I am just getting to the end of this bottle, and I’m not sad to see it go. As I grew in my hobby, I outgrew this ink. It sat in the back of my drawer, as more and more bottles pushed in further into the dark corner. Currently, I like my blues to be much more vibrant, and I reach for Majestic Blue less and less. Thus, I decided to send it off with a bang. I love the feeling of finishing a bottle of ink, knowing that it represents a particular time in my life and often a specific class or set of books, sometimes a place I lived where I used most of it. It’s time to close the chapter on Majestic Blue, and I thank it for a few years of dedicated, faithful, and satisfying service.

Cue: Viking funeral.

Up ↑