Friday, 15 July 2016

Inky Flush

This is a bit of fun using the straw technique as used by Ian Hedley on his ink reviews e.g. Diamine Red Dragon. I was cleaning out four pens:

  • Lamy Safari with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Purple
  • Parker 51 with Diamine Graphite
  • Noodler’s Ahab with Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Orange
  • Another Ahab with Diamine Evergreen

All I did was blob the remaining ink onto the paper and push the blobs around with a drinking straw. Anyway, pictures:

corner 1

forest detail

graphite splash

the forest



corner full image

Full image

Photos were taken with both natural and artificial light (with a Panasonic Lumix and a fixed-focus lens) and some of them are a bit yellow. Still, I like the way the sheen comes out in some of the pictures.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Lamy Safari Dark Lilac Edition


The FP community has been asking Lamy to make a purple Safari for ages. The Safari knock-off Hero 359 came in purple, but the Safari special editions have all been unpleasant neon colours. But in 2016 the Dark Lilac Safari arrived:



The Safari is cheap and the nibs are easily swapped, and they have a really useful clip. The sections are a bit marmite. I own several but the one that’s always inked is my charcoal Safari with an EF nib because unlike every other Safari and Al-Star it’s textured ABS and feels much better in the hand. Lamy has made textured Safaris in the past (like this brown bear version) but they’re usually limited editions.

But good news! The Dark Lilac is textured.



I noticed that the new pens are rougher than my charcoal, but that’s probably because I’ve handled that pen frequently. The colour is very similar to the Diamine / Cult Pens “Deep Dark Purple” I inked it with (and I guess Lamy’s own special edition ink will be similar).




(look at the fantastic gold-green sheen on that puddle of Deep Dark Purple)

Bottom line: if you like the Safari and especially the charcoal, the limited edition will make a really good cheap beater fountain pen. We bought two, and I might get a third as a contingency because I think this one will get a lot of use.


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

National Stationery Week Day 2: Flex It!


I really recommend a Noodler’s Ahab. They’re not the easiest to get hold of in the UK (but not impossible) but they’re cheap, you can completely disassemble them for cleaning, and you can flex them:


Which means you get some great line variation.



It also means you lay down a lot of ink, which will affect the colour of the strokes and in some inks (like this “Deep Dark Purple” from Cult Pens) you get sheen.



Not the best pictures, but you can see that the sheen is a really nice shade of dark green on top of the purple (don’t tell the Drazi).

The only issue with flexing is it takes so much ink at once that sometimes the feed can’t keep up. But also some Ahabs just don’t like some inks — it may have something to do with the ebonite feed, rather than a plastic one. Here it runs dry on heavy flexing.


Of course I was really pushing the flex on that one — normally when I write the result is more like the middle line. It still lays ink pretty wet, but that can work with e.g. laid writing papers. Gives a lot of character to the writing, even if you don’t know how to do copperplate.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

20 Diamine Ink Chromatograms

Here are 20 chromatograms of the Diamine inks I own (yes, too many). The process starts with a white coffee paper cut into an approximate rectangle, spotted with the ink of choice, and placed in a shot glass with water in the bottom:



Here are the reds and oranges. Left to right is Amber, Sunset, Deep Dark Orange (Cult Pens), Ancient Copper, Deep Dark Red, Oxblood and Red Dragon. Interesting how close some of the inks are. Also note the pink part of the chromatogram (a pain to flush out of a pen) and by contrast how well the red moves with the solvent front.


Here are some greys and blues. L-R it’s Graphite, Grey, Eclipse, Deep Dark Blue, Deep Dark Purple, and Imperial Blue (another pain to flush).


Remaining colours are Hope Pink, China Blue, Meadow, Salamander, Evergreen, Deep Dark Green and Deep Dark Brown. Given how similar the dark greens are, it’s remarkable how different DDG is to Evergreen and Salamander.


The whole lot in a scan:


Top Row: DD Blue, Green, Brown, Purple, Red and Orange, plus Red Dragon, Oxblood, Ancient Copper and Sunset

Bottom Row: Grey, Graphite, Salamander, Evergreen, Meadow, China Blue, Eclipse (upside down), Imperial Blue, Hope Pink, Amber

Update — alternative scan:


Saturday, 18 January 2014

We Lived In Arizona

New year, new gear.

While I’m winding up to writing about the crazy number of games I’ve garnered recently (damn you, Bundle of Holding) here’s some very pretty ink from my favourite stationers Cult Pens (made exclusively for them by Diamine):


That’s Cult Pens’ Deep Dark Purple. Not a colour that I use much, but something about this shade of purple speaks to me. Not a lot of water resistance, but a fantastic green sheen when laid on thick.
Purple Sheen
To make up the free postage I added some of their Deep Dark Red to the order. I won’t do a proper review but just compare it to Oxblood and Red Dragon (which I’ve compared before):

Differences are very subtle, but I’m not surprised. Deep Dark Blue looks a lot like Diamine Midnight, too. I was going to refill on Oxblood anyway, and the DDR will do fine in its place. Very good for marking up documents.
The fat letters come from my new Pilot Parallel set (xmas prezzie). Fantastic fun, even if my script is a bit wonky.

For more info on the parallel this is Stephen Brown’s review:

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ink Review: Diamine China Blue

Diamine China Blue: a really nice, light but characterful blue. I’m not a big user of blue, and this one won’t make for a day to day ink owing to the light colour and poor contrast. Should be good for cards, though. It needs a wet pen, or even better a flex pen like my Noodler’s Ahab.

It looks a little more violet in the scan; trust me, on the page there’s no hint of violet. The ink is notable for changing colour over 24 hours as it dries (bottom swab is just applied, top has had a day to sit, middle has had about 9 hours).

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Noodler’s Zhivago

Zhivago is my first Noodler’s ink. Noodler’s has a cult status and niche production, so while everyone talks about Noodler’s, the product is difficult to get over here — at this time the only UK stockist is PurePens.

Very dark grey-green inks are my thing so I have both Diamine Graphite and Evergreen to compare to. Evergreen lightens over 24 hours which is why there are two swabs. Zhivago has excellent water resistance unlike the others.

Noodler’s inks are heavily saturated making them candidates for dilution — some recommend this for Zhivago to bring out the green tones, because otherwise it looks basically black. I have tried this and can say yes, the dilutions help but it doesn’t bring the colour anywhere near the green of Evergreen — the result is a slightly greener Graphite.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Autumnal Cheer

It was International Fountain Pen Day on the 1st of November, and I missed it. Never mind.

I met my mum for lunch and belated birthday presents, including a Minoan salt cellar, a new pen, and ink! The latter is Noodler’s Zhivago which I have yet to break into.

The pen is a Noodler’s Ahab, in the “Truk Lagoon” colour.

Ahab Konrad

That’s my Ahab above and my Konrad below. These are affordable flex pens that produce a lot of line variation with pressure (as you can see in the Diamine Sunset scan). I don’t know whether it’s bad luck or bad design, but the Konrad’s seating for feed and nib is clearly defective. You can see a lot of gap between section and feed, and the pen generally gushes ink. The Ahab doesn’t have this problem; one reason is that it has grooves for the nib to slot into.

Plenty of people love the Konrad and I prefer it aesthetically, but functionally the Ahab is better–from the filling mechanism to the fit of the parts (the Konrad is a piston filler, but it’s not great). The one thing the Konrad does better is post.

I filled Ahab with Diamine Sunset.


This is my writing sample:


I’ve both photographed and scanned the text. The reason for this is the scanner is very bad at picking up the subtle orange in Sunset which is really an orange ink. It looks almost red:

In short — I really like Diamine Sunset in very specific circumstances, but those are few and far between. It needs a wet pen but in a wet pen it’s no good for marking up on office documents on printer paper. If I use it at work in a dry writer it comes out light and boring, best used for hilighting only. It’s too bright for extensive notes.

While I’m on the subject of light inks, I also scanned Diamine Amber:


That’s my TWSBI mini with a broad nib. Here’s a scan, which is a bit more faithful:

Two fairly autumnal colours that are warm and cheering. I doubt I’ll ever get to the bottom of either sample bottle, but they’ll see some use in birthday cards.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Diamine Salamander and Cult Pens Deep Dark Brown

I waited months for Diamine to release Salamander, and then Cult Pens Deep Dark Brown comes along at the same time.

I’d been worried that Salamander would look like my go-to Evergreen (it doesn’t). Actually it looks a bit like Noodler’s El Lawrence which I’d fancied for a while but doesn’t look like it will be imported any time soon. I think the Cult Pens Deep Dark Brown looks a bit like Noodler’s Walnut, too. Good to know that I’m not at the mercy of the importers and I can get what I want from Liverpool (or Tiverton).

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Ink Review: Diamine Oxblood



Why I like Oxblood:

  • The sheer depth of bloody colour when laid on thick
  • A dark red that works for markup but also notes and is fairly easy on the eye (if you can stand the sight of blood)
  • Clean up isn’t too onerous, unlike a lot of red ink
  • Another ink that flows and lubricates well



Lamy Safari and Vista with OM, OB and 1.5mm italic nibs.
Sheaffer 300 medium.
The OM and OB were used in my Evergreen review. The Vista is relatively wet and the Sheaffer is probably the wettest pen I own.


Rhodia Bloc No. 16, 5×5 grid. Also a scrap of generic copier paper for showing bleed through.

Like any ink the wetness of a pen will affect how this ink looks; unlike Evergreen I don’t really like the product of a dry writer. The line from the OM nib is an insipid pink rust colour. It really needs a wet nib to do the ink justice.

Feathering and Bleeding

It more or less holds itself together even from a wet pen on copier paper, and doesn’t bleed through badly.

Flow and Lubrication

Superb, with lubrication just a hair less than Evergreen. Very nice.

Water Resistance


Oxblood rinse1

Oxblood rinse2

Oxblood water

Only the wettest lines have any residue. This was after about a minute of running water. Dry lines stand no chance…


Despite the poor water resistance the ink took a while to flush out completely, but it didn’t stain. Generally OK.


Everyone seems to love Oxblood. I think it’s a great colour but it’s not as versatile as Evergreen owing to the performance in dry nibs. For a drier pen I’d choose Red Dragon which is similarly dark but has more character when thinly laid on. But that’s just my preference.

As Evergreen is my benchmark, here’s how Oxblood compares:

  • Flow and Lubrication: as good
  • Versatility: slightly less due to unremarkable colour in dry pens
  • Clean up: slightly harder to remove, but not bad
  • Water Resistance: slightly improved, but still very poor

Verdict: a very appealing colour that will get regular use in a limited number of pens.