Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ink Review: Diamine Evergreen

I’ve mentioned Diamine Evergreen before, but it was generally in comparison to other inks — not a “review” as such.

Let me explain why I’m revisiting my ink collection. I recently had an epiphany that dark greens, greys and blacks are my go-to colours for note taking. I have plenty of other colours — from nice bright ones to fairly traditional colours. But I’ve now settled on colours I will regularly use, and the others have been tucked away in a little box under my shelves.

Colours got lopped off the A-list for a number of reasons. Some are subjective (just don’t like the colour so much), but others are objective — and will become my review criteria. In no particular order:

  • Contrast: general legibility and ease on the eye
  • Flow: how well the stuff comes out of the pen, avoiding hard starting
  • Lubrication: how well the ink lubricates the nib on a given paper
  • Bleeding and showing through: whether the ink soaks through to the other side of certain papers
  • Feathering: a sort of spreading effect along the paper fibres (undesirable)
  • Cleaning: does the ink hang around or does it go after a few flushes?
  • Water resistance: if I spill my water glass, are my notes gone?

I’m writing about Evergreen because it scores very highly in all of these (for me), and I like the colour a lot. This is the benchmark I may use for other inks in the future. ———

Subjective: why I like Diamine Evergreen

  • it appeals to me from a wet and a dry pen, fat and thin lines
  • nice and calm like a mid-grey, but much better contrast and more interesting with the green
  • warmer and perhaps not as in-your-face as some other green-blacks (e.g. Diamine Sherwood)
  • the benchmark I would use for lubrication, flow, and ease of cleaning
  • great VFM, UK manufacturer

(Relatively) Objective: my Review

Pens

  • Pelikan M200 Fine
  • Lamy Safari Charcoal with OM nib (dry writer)
  • Lamy Safari White with OB nib (wetter writer)

These are my “workhorse” pens, each with their own issues. The Pelikan and the broad Lamy can be hard starting with some inks and papers, and the Lamy Broad can also really drag on paper without lubrication. The Lamy Medium is much drier than the others, and really shows up some inks.

Workhorse1 Workhorse2

Paper

As noted before this ink changes colour over 24 hours from a sort of blue/green-black to a proper evergreen — the scans are of the final colour (top) and just-dried (bottom).

 Clairfontaine paper — top is after 24 hours, bottom is just dried

Copier paper — top after 24hr, bottom just dried

24 hr Just Written

Filofax Flex

The Clairfontaine paper can drag a bit, and the glossy surface can punish hard starters. I had neither problem with Evergreen. Printer paper feathers more but still no bleeding. Filofax flex cream paper is for a bit of fun — it shows. The ink looks like teal, verdigris or blue-black on this paper. Suspect it would do the same with other cream papers. All in all pretty good. I think the ink looks best on white paper, and for cream I’d choose a proper grey like Diamine Grey.

Bleeding, Feathering

Doesn’t really bleed through any papers I tried, though threatens to with the fat Safari nib on printer paper. Feathers a bit with the Safari nibs on cheaper paper, but the Pelikan is very well behaved. Shows through a bit on thinner paper, but doesn’t affect legibility. I’ve also used the Charcoal Lamy with Field Notes which tend to be hit and miss with fountain pens. With this ink everything is legible, no bleeding, feathering or show through. The line from the Pelikan is a little tidier, so I think that’s an effect of the nib, not the ink.

Lubrication and Flow

Great. A real pleasure to write with. The fat Lamy OB glides over papers. Pretty much a benchmark fountain pen experience, even with the dry Lamy.

Water resistance

Good luck with that. If this ink left the tiniest residue I’d be happy, but any kind of soaking will make writing illegible.

Cleaning

Great, cleans up quickly, doesn’t hang around (er, see above).

Summary

This ink ticks a lot of boxes for me, both colour-wise and with performance. Works in several different pens, on several different papers, and colour is to my liking in all cases.

This is pretty much the benchmark I would use to compare other inks. Not all inks I have (Diamine and other manufacturers) are as lubricating, or easy to clean, or look good both wet and dry.

However, there is no water resistance. That’s a lower priority for me than the actual writing experience and my ability to read notes I made a few days ago (anything important gets transcribed).

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Spot the difference

Some more ink comparisons. First, a couple more diamine inks:

Midnight

Diamine Midnight

DeepDarkBlue

Cult Pens Deep Dark Blue

Midnight sq Ddb sq

 

I did this because when I tried a freebie cartridge of Midnight my first impression was it’s exactly the same ink as the Cult Pens Blue — but side by side the latter is darker. Still, the hue is similar:

Blue Chrom

Both blues appear to be a fairly “true blue” with no green or red leanings, though from the chromatograms (Deep Dark Blue on the bottom) they have a grey undertone. I don’t know if the separation with the bottom ink is better because of the ink or because I put too much on the top sample.

Next, some turquoise:

Lamy Turquoise

Lamy Turquoise

SSB

Waterman South Seas Blue

Lamy sq SSB sq

 

Mostly I like turquoise for annotation with a very fine nib, and the lamy turquoise is a bit too light for writing with a fat nib. I’d choose the SSB for all-round use although Waterman changed the name to Inspired Blue and I’m not 100% the inks are exactly the same. Some say it’s just marketing, others suggest there may be a difference. I got a genuine NOS bottle of SSB because it was cheap and I like the old label better than the new with its French name (Encre Bleu des Mers du Sud).

So, two sets of two inks, very similar. Just like the greys and the reds most people are unlikely to care about the differences. I’ve also heard people say that of all the colours turquoise is the most similar between brands. It’s just… turquoise. You either want a nice vibrant blue or you don’t. But whatever you choose I’m pleased to say these are all nice safe inks, flowing and lubricating well with easy clean up. The Diamine colours are very wet, Lamy is a little dry and Waterman is “just right”.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Two Blues

Last comparison. This is the same ink, from the same bottle (Diamine China Blue):

ChinaBlueFresh script ChinaBlueAged script
ChinaBlueFresh sq ChinaBlueAged sq

 

The one on the left is dry, but recently written. The one on the left has been sitting for 24 hours. Granted, the white balance is different in the two scans (no idea why, they were done back to back on the same settings) but trust me, the colour does change from a fairly bright true blue to a nice milky blue. Not great for writing notes as the contrast goes down, but looks pleasant nonetheless.

Three Colours Red

While I’m comparing inks, how about some red:

 

Reds

Diamine Red Dragon

Diamine Oxblood

Visconti Red (cartridge)

 

Reds as Document

(scanned with wrong settings)

 

 

 

Here’s an example of two scans, and neither doing the images justice. The one on the left is truer to the daylight colours, but the one on the right shows a better representation of how Oxblood should look – a dirty black red like dried blood. The closeups of the square are a bit better:

Red dragon square Diamine Red Dragon Oxblood square Diamine Oxblood Visconti Square Visconti Red

 

Even then, those scans have been written with a fairly narrow nib. Oxblood is a rich, dark colour that dries like blood. It needs a fat nib, like my Lamy oblique broad:

Oxblood1

Oxblood2

Oxblood 3

Nice, eh? This colour is very popular, flows really well and is also easy to clean up.

Four Shades of Grey

Terry Pratchett’s Pyramids came earlier in my reading than Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, but if I had to pick a name for a new shade of black ink I’d choose fuligin.

There are inks that claim to be the blackest. Are any of them truly black? Well, not in my collection. Black is funny stuff — it can shade to the blue, or the green, or the brown or red. This is why you have to be careful when mixing inks on your own, because more often than not the result will be “kinda brownish” (a la multicoloured reflec armour in Paranoia) due to interactions of the undertones in different components.1

If you go for those minutiae, black and grey inks are interesting. Since the ageing goth in me would rather use black than blue for business (and shading towards green), I care about those details. I scanned four inks:

  • Pelikan Edelstein Onyx (my only black)
  • Diamine Graphite
  • Diamine Grey
  • Montblanc Oyster Grey

EdelsteinGraphiteDiamine GreyOyster Grey

I’ve tried to show them in order of dark to light, but it’s not easy to compare. Also inks behave differently in different pens, and the Parker 51 was writing a bit dry (I later cleaned it extensively — there must have been some ink clogs because it’s wetter now).

Edelstein square

Edelstein Onyx

Graphite square

Diamine Graphite

Grey square

Diamine Grey

Oyster square

Montblanc Oyster Grey

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p>Both the Diamine and Montblanc greys are a bit dry; the other two feel lovely to write with, lubricate well and flow nicely. Much as I like the Montblanc for colour and funky bottle, it’s more than twice the price of the Diamine inks. The Graphite stands out for colour, although the greys will look better on cream paper. They all have a fair amount of water resistance, but the Graphite is really obviously green when wet.


  1. I learned a lesson that just mixing in “a bit of black” can cause problems due to blacks interacting with each other. In my case, some skrip black I used to darken a mixture with some Onyx and some brown caused precipitation — which I only noticed after having used a pen for a while. Took a lot of soaking and flushing to make the pen write properly again.

 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

More Green, Some Yellow

Three more inks. First here’s Diamine Meadow (featured here):

Meadow

Really like this one–especially from a really wet pen. Next (for comparison) here’s J Herbin’s Vert Olive:

Olive

And finally, on the other side of yellow, it’s Diamine Amber:

Amber

Here’s an amateur chromatogram.

Chrom

You might not be able to see well but the colour left behind in Meadow (left) is blue, and the rest is a sort of Kelly Green. Vert Olive leaves a grey colour behind, and Amber doesn’t leave much behind at all (as apparent by the water resistance test).

TTFN.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Green Ink Brigade

I bought a couple of samples of Diamine greenish blacks after failing to get some Noodler’s Zhivago. This is Diamine Evergreen:

Diamine Evergreen

This wasn’t the olive colour I’d been looking for, but I was pleasantly surprised. My amateur colour chromatogram showed a fairly pure blue and yellow.

Evergreen Chrom

The nice people at Diamine slipped some free cartridges in my parcel, so I also got to try out Emerald, and will be trying Midnight and Chocolate in the future.

This is Emerald:

Emerald

And this is the chromatogram:

Emerald chrom

Mmm… shades of purple and turquoise. Interesting.

Overall neither inks are particularly water resistant. But they’re nice inks, not the confrontational sort of green favoured by Outraged of Chiddingstone. Evergreen shows very good contrast on white paper, and Emerald shades nicely.

Just for fun I compared four greens side by side:

Green Comparison

That’s Emerald, Meadow, Graphite and Evergreen together. The interesting thing is that Evergreen goes through a colour change over 24 hours, losing a lot of its blue.

Evergreen compare

Just written on the left, 24 hrs dry on the right. Not a subtle change with the swabs but if you’re writing a fine line it will look grey-black immediately but the green will come through later when you go back to your notes.

The other two I compared are Graphite and Meadow. The former is a grey ink but it has a very strong green undertone and it shades a bit–probably about as exciting as grey-black ink gets. Meadow is the colour of grass, but not quite as yellow as some of their other offerings. I don’t care for the swabs but the actual writing is quite nice with a wet writer. It works for annotations and hilighting.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Hope Pink

This was an impulse buy, but has turned out to be a surprise performer. A bit loud for everyday writing but great for annotation/hilighting.

Hope Pink

Really nice rich colour. I suspect the pink will stain like crazy and will be a pain to flush out, much like the pink component of Imperial Blue. Chromatogram shows mostly magenta with some orange hints:

HP swab chrom

I probably have all the pink I need in my bottle, but I’m really taken with this colour. It’s moderaly drip resistant (due to the pink hanging around for ages) and flows very nicely.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Ancient Copper

Brown inks are never as interesting as I expect them to be. Maybe I’m hoping that they’ll turn my messy scrawl into a romantic sepia-tinted document. They don’t.

Diamine Ancient Copper can look so-so or it can do spectacularly well, shading nicely. It looks lovely in the bottle. It deposits crud on certain nibs (Lamy Vista yes, but my Sheaffer hasn’t been a problem).

Ancient Copper

The chromatogram leans strongly towards orange, but there’s some purple at the base of the ink–who knew? Apologies if the photo isn’t up to scratch, that dark spot at the bottom really does look purple.

Dia AC chrom

Would I buy a big bottle of this ink? Unlikely. It’s a novelty; it’s OK for making a day’s notes or addressing cards. I wouldn’t write a letter with it.

Still, I’m drawn back to it. I reckon I’ll be writing with it tomorrow. The notes I made with it are very easy on the eye. Best with a white paper (cream is makes it look to orange).

The swab above makes it look like a boring orange-brown, the truth is it’s both orange and brown. Honestly, it’s probably as exciting as brown is going to get.

Summary:

  • Shades nicely
  • If you like brown…
  • Smears–about average for Diamine, but
  • Some of my notes appear to smear long after the ink should have dried
  • Would use it for cards
  • Wouldn’t use it for letters
  • Flows and lubricates well, nice writing experience with Sheaffer
  • Nib crud on dry writers (Lamy) makes for less enjoyable writing–constant wiping nib, some letters beginning with a dark blob
  • I guess it oxidises and darkens in air.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Diamine Ink

Richard Binder says nice things about Diamine ink–according to him it’s as trouble free as Waterman ink (mostly, but not entirely my experience–see below), and unlike Waterman it comes in a hundred colours.

Diamine ink isn’t expensive, either. A big 80ml glass bottle comes in at around 6 quid and you can buy smaller plastic 30ml vials for proportionally less–mostly you have to get these from the Diamine website, which doesn’t play nicely with any Mac browser. Delivery is fast, at least–I ordered 8 new colours and received the package the next morning.

Diamine the ten

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at ten different colours of diamine ink, do some writing samples, swabs and chromatography.

The 80ml bottle (right) looks great. The vials aren’t exciting but 30ml is actually a lot of ink. It’s worth noting a couple of things about the vials, though:

  1. the caps are on very tight, so they don’t leak in the post–so they’re hard work to undo
  2. they’re pretty full, so you need to be a bit careful when filling a pen for the first time
  3. the necks aren’t very wide, so (a) fat pens may have trouble and (b) when you do fill for the first time it’s easy to dispace the ink and make a mess on the desk.

Diamine ten swabs

The ten inks I have on test are

  1. Imperial Blue (80ml bottle, my first Diamine ink)
  2. Ancient Copper (freebie that came with my TWSBI mini)
  3. Grey
  4. Graphite
  5. Evergreen
  6. Meadow
  7. China Blue
  8. Sunset
  9. Hope Pink
  10. Red Dragon

The plan is to test these with swabs, writing samples and some improvised paper chromatography. Lamy pens are pretty good for this given the way nibs can be exchanged–the 1.1mm nibs write fairly dry, whereas the broad nib I have is very wet.

Dia nibs

Chromatography:

Chromatography

Water drips:

Dia watertest

One problem when deciding amongst hundreds of inks is the accuracy of colour samples on the internet–naturally the colours are affected by the monitor and other factors. That was something I learned the hard way when I bought the Imperial Blue below–some scans make it look much bluer, others properly represent the strong purple in the ink, which is a little too much for me. I’ve since found 3 useful places for ink comparisons:

  • Glenn’s Pens has a big section on ink, with comments on how representative the different samples are. I think the site’s a little out of date since it mentions the representativeness of the colour swatch on the Diamine site. I believe the site must have changed since, as you now get swabs which look closer to the true colour of the ink.
  • The Writing Desk has its own Colourama, and you can even compare up to 3 inks side by side. I don’t really trust the swab of Imperial blue on this one.
  • The Goulet Pen Company has its own Swab Shop which is very similar to the above, except you can compare up to 5 inks and it’s easier to view by ink brand, too.

Review: Imperial Blue

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p>Imperial Blue was my first ink from Diamine.

Diamine 1 0004

Pen is a Lamy Al-Star with various nibs–mainly a 1.1mm nib which is fairly dry writing. The colour above looks fairly representitive on my monitor, but YMMV. Slow to dry (20s) like all Diamine inks on this paper (Rhodia dot pad, so fairly glossy). I’m sure it’s better on other papers (e.g. copier, note card, letter paper). Tolerant of a few drips of water, not sure how immersion would affect it.

It really looks purple. Trouble is I find blue-purple boring. I’d prefer red-purple almost to the brown end of the spectrum.

Dia IB chrom

You can see the blue/turquoise that elutes first, and the purple/pink is left behind. That’s been a consistent pain to flush out of several different pens–the pink hangs around long after the blue has been flushed out. I’m trying to limit any ink with pink/red/purple to just a couple of pens.

It looks best on bright white paper (it looks a little strange on cream writing paper). I haven’t written a lot with it lately, and while a whole page looks striking it can be a little intense. For note-taking I prefer something on the grey-brown side.

I wish I’d only bought a small sample; it’s just not for me. Still, it mixes well with a black Skrip ink to make a sort of indigo/denim colour that’s much easier on the eye.

That’s all for now.

Dia fingers