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.

A Swing and A Miss: Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion

I considered it inevitable that, in my quest to push myself outside my inky comfort zone, I would butt heads with an ink that was not a pleasant surprise, but rather a personal let-down. Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion was exactly that, an ink I tried thinking “what the hell,  why not? The worst thing that happens is it’s not for me.” It’s not for me.

Review page
NOTE: this ink costs about $30 per bottle, not $40. I was mistaken in the bottom part of the review page.

According to the blurb from Vanness, the ink is made for the TAG stationery store in Kyoto, and Gion is a tourist district famous for a shrine and cobblestones. I like themed inks, I like shading, but grey inks can be hit or miss, so I gave it a shot.

Shading on Rhodia. This section was from Dear Senator, a book about race and conflict, so understand that’s the topic if you read the text. Also you can see I couldn’t use the ink much and switched to something vibrant- Cross Violet.

Unfortunately, this ink didn’t have too much to excite me about it. The color was just too light to use in normal writing, and it barely wanted to flow out of the first pen I inked with it (my Franklin-Christoph 31 Omni with a broad stub ground by J.J. Lax). This ink is dry, and even in my wettest nibs not much would flow. It would hard start quite a bit in the stub. That being the case, for my second inking I went with the wettest of my modern nibs: a Pilot CH92 in broad, ground to an architect by Alex at Frontier Pen Co. This helped, and really brought out the shading potential of this ink. The color is this… dusty-brown-grey-diluted-thing that is, I must admit, unique. I have no other ink that really comes close, though this is not a color family I will dive deeply into. I just don’t like it.

Color comparison
Comparison, from the top going clockwise: Kyo-Iro Stone Road of Gion, Diamine Shimmering Shadows, Diamine Earl Grey, and Robert Oster Bronze.

At the end of the day, I realize there is a place for this ink; it would be great for drawing and art, where the dryness is less of an issue, but it just doesn’t work for me in daily writing. It isn’t water resistant in the slightest but it does do well on cheap paper, which makes sense with an ink that resits leaving my nib like a teenager refusing to get out of bed early on a weekend. I used just enough of it to finish this post, and then shipped the ink off to Alex. May he find some joy, because I could not.

Tasting Notes: You know that grey-brown that roads become in winter after there has been a bunch of snow and salt and sand, but the snow melts and all the crap is left behind? That. Also paint, specifically the color Builder’s Taupe, a color used as a base coat for industrial projects.

I wrote this up on a grey, overcast Boston day, looked out my window and realized the depressing color palate matched this ink. Also, to the left is a sneak peak of what I have coming up on this blog!

Yuri’s Corner: What a pleasant surprise. Stone Road of Gion is very light, quaint, and easy on the eyes. It’s the type of ink that invites you for some afternoon tea and watercoloring. Not quite brown, not quite tan. It might seem so at first glance, but it’s a very sophisticated color. Sandcastle. No… biscotti? Not it. Hmm…how about trenta, no foam, five shot, half-caff., no foam, pumpkin spice latte, with no foam at 210-degrees sepia? I would say Stone Road of Gion would be a great choice for shading and other artistic applications as opposed to note taking or general note taking. This is due to the monochromatic nature and you might find a notebook filled with this ink to be rather on the dull side despite its unique coloring. 9 out of 15 hazelnuts

I love it when Yuri disagrees with me, and it’s good to get another opinion! To conclude, I don’t like this one and that’s OK. It’s not a knock against the company, and I know others who love this ink. But, I must be honest, I don’t like the color, I don’t like the behavior, and I would not drop $28 on a bottle… ever; but the name is cool, I guess…

Let’s Talk About Pens- Parker Vacumatic

Now that I have acclimated to this whole “writing for the anonymous internet hordes” thing with ink reviews, I reckoned it was time I talk about the controlled leaks we have all so come to love- one of my fountain pens. This isn’t a review, as it seems rather silly to review a vintage pen that I have spent a good chunk of change making the pen perform to my standards. Additionally, I don’t have all that many and I don’t acquire very fast (translation: I’m poor) so these posts will be much less frequent than ink reviews.

Now, on to the pen. This is my 1943 (I think) Vacumatic Major Emerald, the very same featured in the banner of this blog, with a mediumish nib. The filler is the plastic speedline filler that replaced metal as WWII heated up and the government rationed metals like brass. I’ve had a bit of a journey with this pen, and here I shall recount it. I acquired the pen thanks largely in part to my dear mother. She attended the estate sale of a close family friend that passed away, and there were a group of pens and pencils for sale as a lot. She bought them all as a reward for me finishing my master’s degree and doing so with straight As. I have since sold most of those pens as they were too small or to fine, but I kept the Vac and a Parker Challenger Deluxe, hoping to get them fixed up.

Vac, terrarium.jpg

By September of 2016, I had the Vac and Challenger restored, but the Vac had an extra-fine on it. I inked it once, I cannot abide fine nibs, they are anathema to my pen soul; so when the Commonwealth Pen show rolled around, I was on a mission: swap that damn nib. I quickly found a medium, purchased it for $30 and the extra fine, and signed up to have Richard Binder install my new nib. This being my first pen show, I was rather shy talking to him. Note of Caution #1: When talking to a nibmeister doing work for you, shyness means less communication and a higher chance that you won’t get what you want. Talk, banter, and above all be clear. I was not, and said something fool thing like “If you could maybe perhaps make it nice and smooth too, that sure would be great by good golly goshes”

I get home, ink the pen up… and it takes way too much pressure to write, hard starting constantly. THIS is the “Binderized” nib people rant and rave so much about? Well, it wasn’t, because I wasn’t clear in that I wanted the thing adjusted IN ADDITION to a simple smoothing. Nevertheless, I started using it for a while. I noticed one other problem with the pen over time- remember how I earlier called fountain pens a “controlled leak?” This sucker was out of control. The section constantly had ink on it, and I could not use the thing without have rainbow hands. I don’t care all that much if I get a wee bit inky, but this was excessive. Note of Caution #2: I don’t suggest you use Iroshizuku Yama-Budo in a vintage pen. Many in my circle of pen friends see it as too alkaline for any pen with a sac or diaphragm, and Brian Grey of Edison personally reached out to me giving strong caution not to use it in a pneumatic filler I had recently purchased from him. I was new and ignorant of this at first, and some have speculated that it contributed to my leak issue- the diaphragm needed replacement.

Vac, cap shot.jpg
Love the jewel on this clip- it’s in great shape.

I went about 9 months without inking the pen. I thought it had baby’s bottom, but loupe inspection said nah man. Plus, the ink mess was more than I could handle. Finally, at Commonwealth 2017, I had Binder actually work on the nib and then had Monomoy Vintage Pen take it home with them to have look-see. They replaced the Diaphragm, and by October I finally had my baby back.

Vac, nib shot
A readin’ man’s nib! Hard at work here, inked with Diamine Ancient Copper

What a world of difference. Then pen wrote like a FIREHOSE with minimal pressure, and while it still burps if I jostle it in a bag on my way to work, I don’t end up with hands that look like I got finger printed by colorful police officers. I love this pen, and it rarely goes uninked now. I learned my lesson, too. While I am still a little liberal in what inks I use in vintage pens, I stick to Sailor, Diamine, Waterman, and Montblanc standard lines. These brands have never given me trouble, and until they do I shall dutifully stand by them. In the end, I spent a lot more money getting the pen to work than it’s worth. That’s fine by me. I learned lessons about vintage pen care without causing too much damage, and I now have a piece of history in beautiful condition. I like to imagine the former owners using it back in their time as I write with it, wondering what their experience was like and how they felt about it. I use it constantly for journaling, notes, letters, anything for which I can get away with a wet nib. I hope this pen stays with me for years to come.

P.S.: Upon finishing the photo shoot for this post, I cleaned and reinked the pen. I misplaced the blind cap and can’t find it anywhere. I am not a smart hooman. Learn from my mistakes, people… keep track of your small bits. It will turn up eventually…. right? RIGHT?!

Vac, cat shot.jpg
Sahara volunteers to pay the cat tax

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