Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Noodler's Bernanke Blue ink review

This, my friends, will be my last new ink review for a good while. I have reached the last of my ink samples and, after blogging about fountain pens and inks for more than 4 years, I will be taking a break from it all to focus on other, unrelated, projects.

I wish I could say I saved the best ink for last, but alas it's not the case. My opinion of Noodler's Bernanke Blue started out on a very positive note but quickly plummeted as I continued to use it in my Pilot Vanishing Point with broad nib.

Noodler's Bernanke Blue with Pilot VP

Bernanke Blue (leaving aside the attempted political statement) is yet another specialty ink in Noodler's seemingly unending arsenal of "curiosities". This particular ink's strength is the ability to dry extremely quickly on paper. If this ink was conceived as quickly as it dries, I can begin to understand why it is so bad otherwise.

I could just tell you to stop reading at this point and simply skip this ink, but if you're curious to find out why I didn't like it, keep reading.

Bottle and pricing

Bottle capacity: 90 ml / 3 oz
Price: $12.50
Price / ml: $0.14

Color and saturation

The only positive thing about Noodler's Bernanke Blue (it's all downhill from here) is the gorgeous blue color. It's saturated and vibrating, resembling Baystate Blue to an extent, except a bit subdued. When I first started writing with it I thought "Wow, this is going to be an amazing ink!". Sigh. If only.

Here is Bernanke Blue compared to Noodler's Baystate Blue and Private Reserve Electric DC Blue, two blue inks that are fairly similar in vibrancy and saturation.

Noodler's Bernanke Blue vs Noodler's BSB vs PR Electric DC Blue


Despite what you might see in the comparo above, Noodler's Bernanke Blue is flat, without shading, when written with a fountain pen.


Here's where the problems start. This ink feathers like crazy on cheap paper. It goes, in fact, a little beyond that, because it feels like writing on blotting paper. It just goes right through the paper and spreads evenly in all directions.


If you thought feathering was a problem, wait till you see how it bleeds. I've never seen an ink penetrate cellulose as strongly as Bernanke Blue. It feels almost exactly like one of those alcohol-based felt-tip markers (the Pilot VP's broad nib helps).

The sample below was written on Clairefontaine 90g paper, in other words very good, thick, fountain pen-friendly paper, which has withstood everything I threw at it - until now. This ink penetrated not only through what you see, but in places where I pressed harder it went through the next sheet. I did use a broad nib, which partly contributes to this state of affairs, but still...

Noodler's Bernanke Blue bleed

Flow, lubrication, and smoothness

While initially Bernanke Blue flowed well and was very smooth, it quickly became apparent that I was having issues with the Pilot Vanishing Point. There were hard starts to be had, as well as a lot of skipping. It got so frustrating that I simply cleaned out the pen despite not being empty, then threw out the remaining ink from the sample vial.

Drying time

The flagship feature of Noodler's Bernanke Blue is its very short drying time. So how did that go? Quite well in fact. On cheap paper it dries virtually immediately, within 1-2 seconds. On Clairefontaine 90g it took about 1 second longer but that's still fairly short. Impressive? Well, it's oh-kay, but unfortunately this one "trick" doesn't make up for all the other drawbacks.

Smearing when dry


Water resistance

Another disaster. In what is quite atypical of Noodler's inks, Bernanke Blue has zero water resistance. My 1 minute test (under flowing water) was probably overkill but as you can see in the sample at the end of the review, in contact with water it obfuscated, dissipated, and blurred to oblivion.


So should you bother with Noodler's Bernanke Blue? A resolute no. Yes, it is a beautiful shade of blue. Yes, it dries fast. No, everything else. The shortcomings of this ink are disastrous and simply not worth it. There are much better blue inks out there that take an extra 1-2 seconds to dry but are so much more bearable in all other aspects.

Following are the two samples on photocopy and Clairefontaine 90g paper, respectively.

Noodler's Bernanke Blue on photocopy

Noodler's Bernanke Blue on Clairefontaine

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