Wednesday, April 16, 2014

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean ink review and GIVEAWAY

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean bottle
Time for another giveaway, courtesy of Jetpens, as well as a review of the ink itself. It is a special ink, one that I wanted to review as soon as I heard it was being produced. It is another "limited edition" ink from J Herbin, 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean (or Ocean Blue).

The reason why I put "limited edition" in quotes is because the first such ink bearing the 1670 moniker was supposed, if I'm not mistaken, to be produced in a limited run. Well, due to the popularity of 1670 Anniversary Rouge Hematite, they decided to keep producing it indefinitely. As such, Bleu Ocean could very well follow the same path.

The name "Bleu Ocean" - I am informed by the small flier that comes in the box - "recalls the sea voyages of J Herbin when he was travelling in the far east and discovered the famous gum which will allow him to manufacture wax". I'll come back to wax in a minute.

I reviewed this ink in my Lamy AL-Star, mainly with the EF nib but also with my 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm italics.

As a reminder, you might wish to subscribe to my Twitter, @Peninkcillin, if you haven't already.

THE GIVEAWAY
Jetpens is offering a bottle of J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean exclusively to my readers. Head on to their giveaway page for a chance to win. NOTE: you will need to subscribe (or already be a subscriber) to Jetpens' newsletter before you can submit your entry for the giveaway. For existing subscribers, just enter your email and hit "Submit". If you are not already a subscriber there's a handy "Subscribe to our newsletter" box on the bottom right side. The giveaway runs from the time this review is posted until 04/23 11:59PM PST. Good luck!

Bottle and pricing
J Herbin 1670 Anniversary bottles are special because they hold a special ink. They look bigger in pictures than in reality. When you hold one in your hands you will realize they are quite dainty. Square is the operative word here but the sharp edges make the bottle look vintage, which goes well with what it's trying to convey: an ink with a very long and rich heritage. If you think about it, which other modern brands were founded more than 300 years ago?

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean

The bottle is adorned by the number 1670 stamped in silver wax, with a silver ribbon around the neck and a blue wax-covered cap. This is a nice change from Rouge Hematite's golden seal and ribbon, and red cap.

I'm not sure how many of you recall, but when Rouge Hematite was originally released, the cap was covered in brittle wax. The wax just crumbled away from light use. J Herbin changed the formula and by the time I got my bottle of Rouge Hematite it was all fixed. The new formula is strong and supple.

As for the new wax cap, it feels more like plastic than wax to me. Perhaps someone can shed more light on this but a telling sign is when my fingers and nails can easily scuff the Rouge Hematite cap but won't leave a trace on the Bleu Ocean one.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean vs Rouge Hematite

A downside of the bottle's design is that the neck is very narrow. My Lamy AL-Star barely fit. A thicker fountain pen might not fit at all. This might be a case where form trumps function.

The box which holds the bottle is nicely embossed with silver drawings and blue text, as well as a blue seashell logo on the top flap.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean vs Rouge Hematite

A bottle of J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean is $20.75 at Jetpens. It holds 50ml (1.7oz). At $0.42 per milliliter it's one of the more expensive inks out there.

Color and saturation
Sometimes an ink is more than just a pretty color. Sometimes it speaks to me. This is one of those times. Bleu Ocean reminds me - at the risk of sounding corny - of the blue ocean. I don't say this lightly, because in my childhood I have traveled to exotic countries, across blue oceans, and sometimes I get flashes of that deep blue water. This ink transports me to that time and invokes a certain nostalgia.

Metaphor aside, I really like the color. It's different than any blue ink I have reviewed so far. I've always liked pastel colors and Blue Ocean is a very soothing shade of pastel. As such, it isn't highly saturated, but somewhere above average. It is darker wet, but lightens up when it dries. There's even a hint of violet in it, which adds to its character.

Shading
Rouge Hematite set a very high bar for 1670-branded inks, through its amazing shading properties. You can refer back to my review of Rouge Hematite to see the gorgeous golden highlights in the dark red ink. That's a tough act to follow and unfortunately Blue Ocean doesn't impress in the shading department. It does have some variation but it is quite subtle and you might even overlook it if you use a thin nib. However, if you are gung ho about a dark blue ink with great shading, I can't recommend Diamine Majestic Blue enough.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean swatch

Feathering
Surprisingly, J Herbin Bleu Ocean feathers a little. I'm not sure what the mechanism behind feathering is, though one might expect that more expensive inks will avoid this, but there you go. In fairness, I wouldn't count this against it, for two reasons. First, it only happened on the cheap paper I used. Second, it's visible only if you peer really close to the paper.

Bleedthrough
There isn't any bleedthrough to speak of, although on cheap paper it ghosts a little, but that's to be expected of a darker ink.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
J Herbin 1670 Bleu Ocean flows well in the Lamy with all my nibs. Whether it's intentional or not, the flow feels very measured and controlled. It's a bit drier than I prefer, perhaps 6/10 on the scale. On the other hand, it's smooth enough to make it pleasurable to use.

Drying time
On cheap paper drying time is around 5 seconds, but you might get some feathering. On Rhodia it is around 10-15 seconds, foregoing the feathering. Take your pick.

Smearing when dry
None.

Water resistance
Here's another non-resistant ink which shows a little permanence. After 1 minute of exposure to flowing water, the text is still legible, although a lot of the ink has washed off. Some violet undertones are exposed.

Conclusion
J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean is a mixed bag. On the one hand, I love the presentation, the color and some of its properties. On the other, shading is almost absent, and I can't help but wonder if other blue inks are better value for the money. Either way, Blue Ocean is a pretty unique ink in its own right, as long as it isn't held to the same standards as its red sibling. The question remains: will J Herbin produce future 1670 inks? I'm hoping for a green or brown.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean with Lamy

Next are the two samples on photocopy, Rhodia 80g, and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean on photocopy

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean on Rhodia

J Herbin 1670 Anniversary Bleu Ocean on Clairefontaine

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Diamine Graphite ink review

In my last post I promised that I would review another grey ink, back to back with Diamine Grey. Well, the mystery ink is revealed today, and it is, you guessed it, Diamine Graphite.

I could save myself the trouble, and you the time, and simply state that Diamine Graphite is an almost identical twin of Diamine Grey but there are actually a couple of very small (but key) differences.

I reviewed this ink, as I did the previous, in my Kaweco Sport Classic with broad nib and eyedropper conversion.

Bottle and pricing
This being Diamine, a bottle sells for around $12.95, and it holds 80ml / 1.7oz. That makes it $0.16 per milliliter, or very affordable, in other words.

Color and saturation
Jumping right into the differences between Grey and Graphite, there are two things here that separate the two.

First, Graphite is a darker ink, edging even closer to black. You can clearly tell it's still grey but feels black when wet, turning lighter as it dries up.

Second, the color isn't really a neutral grey. To my eye, there are faint traces of green/khaki in it. Is this unpleasant? Not at all, in my opinion. Now, if you're looking for a perfectly neutral dark grey, you might be better served elsewhere but I find this ink very attractive. In fact I think I prefer it to Diamine Grey.

Here's a better comparison between the three grey inks I've tested so far, from lightest to darkest: J Herbin Gris Nuage, Diamine Grey and Diamine Graphite:

Gris Nuage vs Diamine Grey vs Diamine Graphite

Shading
Like its lighter sibling, Graphite shows some very nice shading, especially when used with a broad nib such as my Kaweco Sport.

Diamine Graphite and Kaweco Sport

Feathering
None that I could see.

Bleedthrough
Diamine Graphite is darker still, meaning that it ghosts a little bit more on cheap paper. It might even bleed a bit if you're using a nib with ample flow but that won't be an issue on good paper.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
Like its sibling, Diamine Graphite flows smooth as silk, and also wet, the way I like it.

Drying time
Drying times on various papers match, once again, those of Diamine Grey. About 5 seconds for cheap paper and 15 on Rhodia, but bear in mind that I used the broad nib which typically takes longer to dry.

Smearing when dry
None.

Water resistance
For a regular ink, Diamine Graphite shows surprisingly good water resistance. After 1 minute exposure under flowing water, some of it has washed off but most still remains, leaving the text legible. You might notice that some of the dark green undertones are exposed by the water.

Conclusion
Once again (that makes it twice in a row) I'm impressed by a grey Diamine ink. I find Graphite even better than Grey, maybe because it's more assertive, being darker. All the good qualities that I found in Diamine Grey are reflected here, with the added bonus (or disavantage, depending on your point of view) that it gets from the subtle green undertones. Personally I like that because it gives it personality. Having said that, I highly recommend it, provided you are looking for a darker grey ink and don't mind the fact that it is not entirely neutral.

Here are the two samples done on photocopy and Rhodia 80g paper, respectively.

Diamine Graphite on photocopy

Diamine Graphite on Rhodia

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Diamine Grey ink review

It's been a long time since I reviewed a grey ink so I got the urge to test one of the grey samples I have. I settled on Diamine Grey. If you're looking for a generic ink name, Diamine's got you covered. Now, grey inks can be rather boring, in my humble opinion, but I like to keep an open mind and this time I was surprised in a good way.

The ink was tested in my new workhorse, the Kaweco Sport Classic, which I use as an eyedropper. This has recently become my daily office pen and it's a good thing because it allows me to review inks quicker than I normally would, thanks to the broad nib which uses more ink.

If you're wondering about the eyedropper conversion in the Kaweco Sport, let me tell you that all I did was pour the ink in the body and screw it to the section, without using any silicone grease. It doesn't leak, though I wouldn't take it on a plane. Anyway, on with the review.

Bottle and pricing
Diamine inks are usually $12.95 a bottle for 80ml / 1.7oz which comes in at $0.16 per milliliter. In other words they are very affordable.

Color and saturation
Since this is a grey ink we can't really talk about color, while the saturation is average. Diamine Grey is on the darker side and to illustrate this I am comparing it with the other grey ink I tested, J Herbin Gris Nuage. As you can see, Diamine Grey is much darker.

Diamine Grey vs J Herbin Gris Nuage

Shading
Surprinsingly, Diamine Grey actually has some interesting shading going on. I like that when I start writing it is wet and much darker, almost black. As soon as it dries (which happens quickly), the color lightens but you can clearly see the dark shadows, usually where the ink pools at the end of a line. So yes, it definitely shades and it's far from being a flat color. I like to call this an "ink with personality".

Feathering
None that I could see.

Bleedthrough
It doesn't bleed through the cheap paper, except for a little insignificant ghosting.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
As always, I'm impressed by a wet ink and Diamine Grey makes me happy by scoring a 7/10 on the wetness scale. It flows nicely through the Kaweco's broad nib, as well as smoothly. It's a real pleasure in use. 

Drying time
Drying times vary depending on the paper quality. On Rhodia 80g it takes an average of 15 seconds to dry but on cheap paper that happens in 5 seconds or less. Of course, it also depends on the size of the nib. Broad nib equals longer drying times on glossy paper.

Smearing when dry
None.

Water resistance
Another thing that took me by surprise is the degree of water resistance this ink exhibited. It's not supposed to be at all resistant to liquids, yet the text is still legible after being submerged for a minute under running water.

Conclusion
Diamine Grey is by far the best grey ink I've tested, although that's not saying much since this is only my second grey ink. Nonetheless, I'm personally enamored with this ink by virtue of it's pleasant shade (dark but not too dark), as well as its shading, smoothness and surprise water resistance. I find it a joy to use in my daily pen and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a decent grey ink. I still have a couple more grey inks to test but this one looks like a strong contender for Grey Ink of the Year.

Here are the two samples on photocopy and Rhodia 80g papers, respectively.

Diamine Grey on photocopy

Diamine Grey on Rhodia

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk ink review

With Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk I'm yet again stepping in unknown territory by reviewing a new ink manufacturer. It's been a while since I reviewed a pink ink and while I realize that perhaps not many folks may be interested in such an ink, this is what I decided to pick for my everyday "red" pen. This is just a Pilot Varsity filled with red (-ish) ink that I keep at work for underlining and making notes. Since this is not my main note-taking pen, it takes a long time to exhaust the reserve, hence the infrequent review of red/pink/magenta inks.

Bottle and pricing
Rohrer & Kingner's bottles are small and dainty and retro-looking. They hold 50ml / 1.7oz and cost $12, which makes the ink rather expensive at $0.24 / ml. Unfortunately I don't have a full bottle to photograph and show you since I'm testing a sample. But you can easily google it.

Color and saturation
Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk is a hot pink ink, very similar to the other hot pink ink I reviewed a while back, Diamine Cerise. You can see a comparison below. While both are highly saturated, Cerise trumps Fernambuk for vibrancy of color. Fernambuk is more subdued, yet I can see how some might appreciate it more.

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk vs Diamine Cerise

Shading
You might be forgiven to think that R&K Fernambuk is flat but it actually has some shading, though subtle. It is mostly evident in the q-tip sample but if you squint you might also notice it in the normal writing sample. In all, there's nothing to write home about.

Feathering
There's no feathering unless you count the glass dip pen which feathers with almost any ink.

Bleedthrough
Surprisingly for such a light colored ink, it actually ghosts a little on low quality paper, and it can even bleed through if applied liberally on said paper.

Flow, lubrication and smoothness
I love me a wet-flowing ink but this one doesn't seem to be it. Granted, the Pilot Varsity isn't a paragon of wet-flow but it performs consistently with inks that aren't too dry. With R&K Fernambuk it managed to write without skipping but the nib feels dry and I don't get much pleasure when writing. So, it flows without enthusiasm in the Varsity but it is perhaps suited to a thicker nib.

Drying time
Because it's such a dry-feeling ink, it translates into swift drying times on both cheap and more expensive paper, photocopy and Rhodia respectively.

Smearing when dry
None.

Water resistance
Fernambuk isn't a water resistant ink, plain and simple. After 30 seconds of exposure to flowing water most of it washes off.

Conclusion
I'm having a hard time finding anything that I like about Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk. While the color is pretty, I can't get over the dryness of the ink (similar to J Herbin Diabolo Menthe), and this is a deal-breaker for me. Even the color is nothing out of the ordinary. If you prefer something more vibrant you can always go with Diamine Cerise which seems to be a much better (and far cheaper) substitute. While my first introduction to Rohrer & Klingner inks wasn't very successful, I'm not prepared to give up on the brand. There are other inks in the lineup that I am interested in reviewing.

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk on photocopy

Rohrer & Klingner Fernambuk on Rhodia

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Monteverde Brown ink review and GIVEAWAY

As fate would have it, Jetpens were kind enough to send me another ink for review. This time I opted for a brown ink. I can't explain it but I have a weakness for brown inks. Maybe because I love chocolate, brown leather boots and my brown cargo pants. For the first time I'm also reviewing a Monteverde ink. I won't spoil it too much but suffice to say that it's a very good first impression. Read on to find out why Monteverde Brown is a pretty cool ink.

Oh and in the meantime, if you wish, you can subscribe to my Twitter, @Peninkcillin.

Monteverde Brown bottle on box

THE GIVEAWAY
Jetpens is offering a bottle of Monteverde Brown exclusively to my readers. Head on to their giveaway page for a chance to win. NOTE: you will need to subscribe (or already be a subscriber) to Jetpens' newsletter before you can submit your entry for the giveaway. For existing subscribers, just enter your email and hit "Submit". If you are not already a subscriber there's a handy "Subscribe to our newsletter" box on the bottom right side. The giveaway runs from the time this review is posted until 02/26 11:59PM PST. Good luck!

Monteverde Brown open bottle
Now before I start, a quick side note about Monteverde. The company is pretty much a mystery to me but it seems it is US-based. At least that's what it says on the box, Monteverde USA. On their site they claim that materials used for their pens are sourced from Europe. I've long been interested in their fountain pen line and hopefully one day I'll get to review one.


One more thing about this ink. Monteverde claims their inks have ITF (ink treatment formula), which, I quote:
"- Drastically improves ink-flow quality.
- Extends cap-off time.
- Lubricates and protects the ink-feeding systems from corrosion and clogging.
- Improves ink-drying time on paper."
We shall find out if these claims are supported.

The writing samples in this review were done with my Lamy AL-Star, mainly with the EF nib but also with the 1.1mm, 1.5mm, and 1.9mm italics.





Bottle and pricing
There's nothing special about Monteverde ink bottles, though I am rather partial to the particular shade of green they chose to use for the box and label. The box itself has a window in the shape of the stylized Monteverde logo through which either the bottle can be seen, or a card/label in the color of the ink. I didn't photograph the card because it was ink-stained. Jetpens sells this ink for $12.50. A bottle holds 9ml / 3 oz, which makes it $0.14 per milliliter. That's one of the most inexpensive inks you can buy.

Monteverde Brown box & bottle

Color and saturation
Monteverde Brown is a fairly neutral, well, brown. It does have some red in it but I like it that way because it looks warmer. It is also fairly saturated. To get a better idea of the particular shade of color, I placed this ink next to 3 others that I had samples of. Here's how Monteverde Brown compares to Noodler's Polar Brown, Waterman Havana Brown and Noodler's #41 Brown.

Monteverde Brown 4 ink comparison

As you can see, the two Noodler's inks are similar and darker, tending towards black. Waterman Havana is more reddish but also colder in appearance. It drifts into burgundy territory. Monteverde Brown seems just right: warm and with just the perfect ratio of red to black. In a word, it's chocolaty.

Switching to my Noodler's Ahab flex pen, which I admit wasn't very expertly adjusted, the very wet flow produced almost black text. You can see this in the Clairefontaine sample below.

Monteverde Brown on Clairefontaine

Just for fun I thought I would take a shot of the three q-tips I used to sample Monteverde Brown, Noodler's Polar Brown, and Waterman Havana Brown, after they were laid on tissue paper. It's fascinating to see how the ink sometimes breaks up into its components when it's absorbed into the paper. As you can see, Monteverde is pretty consistent, there isn't much breakup there. Polar Brown, on the other hand, shows a surprising amount of orange, while Waterman Havana is also dark brown but with reddish tints.

Monteverde Brown qtip comparison

Shading
I just love me a shading ink, and Monteverde Brown fails to disappoint. Shading + brown = win. As soon as I laid the first stroke after filling my Lamy AL-Star I exclaimed "Wow!". In fact I felt compelled to write that down in my review sample. This ink has very nice shading which can be clearly discerned even with the European-EF nib I had in the Lamy. You may have noticed on the Clairefontaine sample that switching to an italic nib reveals the shading even more. Even the brown-black text written with the Ahab shows a little shading.

Monteverde Brown shading

Feathering
I didn't notice any feathering, except where the J Herbin glass dip pen was used, but that falls within normal parameters considering the cheap paper.

Bleedthrough
Bleedthrough is not an issue with Monteverde Brown, however it ghosts a little on cheap paper, but that's only to be expected of a dark ink.

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness
Two other traits that I highly value in an ink are smoothness and flow. I prefer my inks to flow wet. Monteverde Brown satisfies in no small measure and I would give it a 7/10, perhaps even 8/10 for wetness.

Did I say I also liked smoothness? Oh boy, this ink feels smooth as silk. It really is a pleasure to write with. Even while typing this review I found myself picking up the Lamy and just randomly scribbling something on paper. All this despite the fact that the EF nib in my Lamy is a tiny bit scratchy. Yet, the scratchiness seems to be gone with Monteverde's ink.

Drying time
Drying times in general vary depending on the quality of the paper. There's very little exception here. On photocopy paper Monteverde Brown dries somewhere after the 5-second mark. On Rhodia 80g, however, it takes considerably longer. Because this paper is so glossy, even after 40 seconds it still wasn't completely dry. Of course this is also dependent on how wet your pen writes. For drier nibs this may not be the case, so your mileage may vary.

One additional thing I'd like to mention here is that if you plan to use, say, a flex nib on high quality paper, like I did on Clairefontaine, you will most likely need to let it rest for a very long time before it dries completely, due to the heavy layer of ink that will be deposited.

Smearing when dry
None, but you really gotta let it dry before you try anything, doubly so on very high quality paper. On cheap paper, not so much, it dries fast and it is absorbed quickly by the paper.

Water resistance
Water resistance is not on the list of features for this ink so you can't expect any. As you can see from the sample below, 30 seconds under running water (in fact even less) completely obliterates my testing grid.

Conclusion
It looks like Monteverde nailed it with their brown ink. I honestly didn't know what to expect from this brand, especially since I could swear I hadn't heard of them a few years ago. The ITF (ink treatment formula) claims don't seem 100% supported because the ink's drying time depends a lot on the paper used but I don't find that a big deal, especially considering that it does seem to keep writing even after I've uncapped my pen for about 10 minutes.

Monteverde Brown has quickly become one of my favorite brown inks (perhaps even trumping Waterman Havana Brown) thanks to its combination of beautiful color and shading, incredible smoothness, and great flow. As far as I'm concerned, Monteverde Brown gets as close to brown ink Nirvana as can be. I highly recommend it, and who knows, if you are the lucky one you might just win yourself a bottle of it courtesy of Jetpens.

Monteverde Brown on photocopy

Monteverde Brown on Rhodia

Monday, February 3, 2014

Peninkcillin is on Twitter

Hi folks! It seems that yours truly has finally decided to get with the times and join Twitter! My only regret is not doing it earlier. I'm not that old, I promise you, yet I was resisting the pull of social media with determination.

As a private individual I have nothing of note to tweet about, which is why I never followed this trend, but as Peninkcillin I have a thing or two to say about fountain pens and inks. So here I am.

I haven't joined Facebook or Google+ yet but that might change. Those two are a different beast from Twitter, though. Besides, I'm already juggling over a hundred accounts of all types on as many different websites and it's becoming harder and harder to keep track and manage them.

In the meantime, give @Peninkcillin a follow if you feel inclined!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki Giveaway Winner

Just a heads-up regarding the Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki giveaway hosted by Jetpens. The winner is Amy Thompson of Los Angeles, CA. Congratulations Amy and thanks all for reading my review of this awesome ink!

Iroshizuku Fuyu-gaki backlit