Do you have an ink dependence? I can help...

Image Slider

A year in review.

Howdy, folks! This little blog has been around for almost a year, now. My first post about pens was way back in February of this year. Like all blogs, it started out slowly. I was getting single digit viewership until the end of April, when it jumped from about 5 views a day to 55 views in a single day. That was pretty huge for me at the time, and I think that was when I decided that some people might actually want to know what I thought about pens and inks and such.

Some little milestones:
  • In May, I went to my first pen show in Raleigh. It was a bit overwhelming for a guy who was new to the larger fountain pen scene. 
  • In August I changed the name of the blog, and started taking it a bit more seriously as I gained some new viewers from around the internet. I even made some "business cards" to promote the blog. 
  • A few days later, I went to my first DC Pen Show. I was still a little stunned by the huge show, but I'm glad that I went to the Raleigh show first. It was a pretty awesome trip, and I came home with a bunch of neat things. 
  • Last month I had over 4000 unique views, and this month is on pace to almost double that. I imagine that some of that is from people who are looking for gifts, but it's still pretty unbelievable to me. 
I've made some good friends and acquaintances in the fountain pen world, and I'm looking forward to another great year. The fountain pen community is expanding online, and I urge you to check out the new fountain pen communities that are growing on Google+ and over on Reddit

I hope your year-past was just as excellent and I hope your year-to-come is going to be better than the last.


Diamine Ancient Copper

This is one of my favorite inks. It came in a Goulet Ink Drop, and I have used the entire sample. It's been in my Rotring 600 continuously, and that's odd for me. I delayed so long in writing the review that I don't have enough left that I'm willing to sacrifice a drop for a smear on the page. It's that good.

It's a color that looks like lightly tarnished copper. To me, it reminds me of the bottoms of some of the posts that my Mom used to cook in when I was a kid. It looks classy and I don't have any compunction about using it on all sorts of papers. It doesn't feather or spread. It's not going to replace your black inks, and it's not water-resistant, so it isn't going to be the ink for everyone, but I can't suggest it highly enough for anyone who is drawn to metallic colors that shade. 

And here's the water-test video review:

Happy Christmas!

I hope you're all having a great holiday. I'm in Knoxville with my wife and in-laws this Christmas, so I'm low on pictures for the ol' blog right now.

I only got one fountain pen for Christmas this year, and that was from my dad. He took a long trip to Alaska this summer, and while he was there he found me a hand-made pen that is heavy enough to be brass, but the cap is magnetic, so I'm thinking it might be blued steel. The body of the pen is made from moose antler, and it's really quite nice. He wasn't sure whether the nib was any good or not, as he's not a fountain pen user, but it's a pretty smooth iridium-tipped steel nib. I haven't had much time with the pen, but I think I'm going to like it. I'll have some pictures up when I get back home tomorrow or the next day.

I did buy myself a bottle of Visconti Sepia ink from A Pen Lover's Paradise. It's on sale there for $5, but I got an email from them saying that they aren't sure they have enough of it to fulfill the orders, and they won't be shipping until after the 1st. I guess I'll have to wait until then to see if I've actually got a bottle. I hear it's good stuff. Ever used it?

Hope your holidays are good ones! Let me know what pens or ink you all got for xmas.

The Quattro 8x8 Notepad

When I posted this blog on the /r/fountainpens subreddit I got a request for paper reviews. I'm no paper expert, but I did intend to write a review of this odd little pad that I found at a local art supplies store. It's an 8x8 grid paper that comes in a variety of sizes, but the one I got is 4.5"x5.5". 

This paper is broken up into all sorts of grids, so if you're a grid-lover you're going to be really into this stuff. I find it a little distracting, but I can imagine that someone who was a doodler, sketcher or some such could really make use of all of the guidelines. 

The paper itself is nice. It's thick and smooth. Unfortunately, it's also a bit too absorbent for me. The fountain inks that I used on it all soaked in, and that caused some feathering and spread. There was even a massive bleed-through when I was writing up a J. Herbin ink on it. It performs better when you use a ballpoint or a gel on it than when you use rollerballs or fountain pens. I bet a pencil would work well, too, though I haven't tried it out. 

I'm not comfortable suggesting this ink for a fountain pen user, but those who are wont to use other pens and pencils to sketch or do other things using a grid are probably going to be happier with these pads. 

De Atramentis R.L. Stevenson

This ink, named for a pretty darn good author, is the last of the group of inks that I just didn't care much for. Next time, it's back to inks that are far more awesome. 

It's not that RL Stevenson is a bad ink. It behaves really well on all the papers that I used (notebook filler paper, Rhodia, note pads, comp book paper, etc) It's a smooth ink, but not a wet one. When I tried it in my TWSBI 700 with the original Bock nib it just didn't work very well. It was weak and showed a pale lavender instead of the much more blue hue that I was expecting.  That's probably the fault of the nib (I had one of the problematic ones at the time), and so I switched the nib over to one of my Knox nibs and it became much more blue. 

That said, if you like the color, then this is an excellent ink. It's just a bit too purple for my tastes. There's really only one purple that I actually like, and that's one from Iroshizuku, so the problem with this ink is really just a matter of taste. 

Here's the water drop test I did, and it's not surprising that it doesn't have much in the way of water resistance. 

My new nib has arrived!

TWSBI has some really great customer service!

Scribal Workshop's Siren

This is the other ink that I tried from the Scribal Workshop line, and it's a bit better. It has the same flow issue that I had with Leviathan, and I actually had the same problem with an ink called "Kracken" from SW but I never wrote up a review of that ink. It flows a little better than Leviathan did, but it's still way too dry for me.

Most of the details are in the written review below, but one thing I want to point out is the smell of this ink. It's going to disagree with some people, but I actually like it. It's not chemical-y like some of the inks that are meant to have a scent to them. It smells like wood or sawdust or something like that. The scent does linger, though. I used my Kaweco Sport for this review several weeks ago, and the scent remains. It's a good thing that I like it. Anyway, tread cautiously with this ink if you are adverse to strong smells.

Here's the video I did of the water test.

Ink Nouveau & TWSBI 700 news

Brian Goulet, over on Ink Nouveau posted a video explaining how to remove and replace the nibs on TWSBI's Vac 700. Interestingly, he does it exactly as I do. It's not hard, but it's nice to see how one does this sort of thing with a pen that is in a higher price bracket. The only thing that I'd add to the video is that you really want to make sure that you seat the nib completely in the section. If you don't, you can damage the nib when you put the cap on and it won't flow well at all.

Alone, this is just a nice, informative video. The bigger news is that TWSBI is replacing the nibs that they used in the Vac 700. The old Bock nibs (one of which I have) are not good. If the one that I have is any indication, then they flow so weakly that they're dang near unusable. Philip Wang at TWSBI was very nice to adjust my nib for me through the mail, but it still didn't have nearly enough flow for me. Anyway, they are replacing the old nibs with nibs from JoWo.

Image from
According to Brian, if you buy one of the Vac 700s with the Bock nib on it you'll also get a JoWo nib. That's a pretty good deal. The new clear version of the 700 just comes with the JoWo nib.

I talked to Philip via email today, and he's going to send me one of the new nibs, and I'll let you know how it is when I get it.


Scribal Workshop Levithan

The next couple of these inks are from a company called Scribal Workshop. It's located in my old home state of Texas and, according to their website, they do lots of cool stuff illuminated manuscripts and historical inks and such. These inks came to us in an Ink Drop that contained the whole collection. It's a pretty standard sort of collection, and the colors aren't unexpected, but it's good to start out a new line with a base-set of colors, I think. 

I tried this Leviathan out in my TWSBI 700 with a Knox (fine) nib. It's a really solid nib, and it has a smooth and consistent flow with most inks. It didn't have anything like a smooth or consistent flow with Leviathan. It was super dry and it didn't really want to write at all. The color came out as a really pale green because it just doesn't flow.

This ink is a good color, but it's got some problems. It needs some lubrication or something. I don't know what it would take to fix it, but something needs to change if it's going to be a usable ink for me.

Yeah, I have a lot of things inked in green right now. 
Is it waterproof? Check out the video below.

Organics Studios Nickel

I have a bunch of these Organics Studios ink samples, and I haven't used most of them. Some of them have chemistry problems that caused them to clump up (I'm looking at you, every red in the collection), and some of them are fine, but just not colors that I want to use. 

Nickel belongs in that second category. It doesn't have any chemical problems, and it flows really well in the Lamy that I was using it in. It spreads a little on absorbent papers, but it doesn't seem to feather so that's fine. 

The problem for me is that I just don't think I like the color. It's too light. It's a nice color if you're looking for a frosty turquoise, but it's too light for me. I did a double review of this ink because it didn't look quite right on Rhodia. It didn't soak in at all and it took forever to dry, so it looks worse than it should. It looks pretty good on the Quattro pad that I got a little while back (and have been playing with). 

I don't know when/if these will be available again, but there are bottles of it around the internet, and if you like the color, then snap it up.

You'll have noticed that I definitely thought it was called "Neon" when I was writing these up. I don't know why. There's an ink called Neon in the collection, but it isn't this one. .

Chesterfield Teal


This is the only one of these Chesterfield inks that I've tried. They are supposed to be  re-bottled Diamine inks, but this is not as good as any of the Diamine inks that I've used. They're shipped from in little bottles that are pretty easy to fill a pen from, and Teal looks like it's going to be a really pigmented ink that clings to the walls of the bottle. It turns out that it's a pretty good color, but the performance of the ink makes it un-fun to write with. It drags and flows weakly and unevenly from pens like my TWSBI 540 and Kaweco Sport that are generally excellent pens. Overall, I can't recommend this ink to anyone.

It might help if I thinned it out a little bit, I think, but I've never thinned an ink before. Does anyone have tips about doing that?

Here's the water test of the ink.

Noodler's El Lawrence

El Lawrence is the last of the dark colors for now. It's not quite a black, but it could be mistaken for one in the right light. It's actually a dark green/black that looks like motor oil. I'm pretty sure I heard that description from Brian Goulet, and it's spot-on. It's a really interesting ink, and it's one that is certainly worth having in one's collection.

It's well-behaved on all sorts of papers, and it does some shading on most of them. You can, of course, see the shades of green on Rhodia.

The one negative thing I'll say about El Lawrence is that it tends to dry really quickly on the nib. If you're leaving your pen uncapped for any length of time without using it you should expect a slightly difficult start. Once it gets going there's no problem, but that first line is liable to skipping. 

Is it water-proof, you ask? Well, see the video below. 

Private Reserve Invincible Black

Before my brief hiatus, I had started a run of black ink reviews, and Invincible Black is the next in that run.

The wife and I picked up a couple of little pots of this ink at the DC pen show. They were free, so I bet everyone got at least one. It's kind of an adorable little bottle full of some really dark black ink. I generally like PR inks. They're generally heavily saturated inks that have good lubrication. This one certainly has those qualities. It's the darkest black that I have, and it doesn't have any problem with lubrication. It does tend to be a little quick to dry on the nib, but it flows well after that. 

The problem that Invincible Black has is in behavior. This ink isn't very well-behaved, even on Rhodia. It spreads and bleeds on most papers, and it's the only ink that I have which has bled through Rhodia when I smeared it on the page. If you're going to use this ink, I'd suggest that you use it in something with a drier flow.

Of fish and houses.

Hi folks,
I didn't post in the last week, and that's mostly because things are busy at the end of an academic's semester. So, here's what I've been doing the last week:

1. Working on some university politics to improve faculty equality in the faculty senate. Hooray politics!

2. Getting pre-approved for a home loan so we can put in offers on houses. We have an offer in on a nice house, and now it's a matter of waiting. Hooray potential home-ownership!

3. Getting a pair of new betta fish. One of ours died, and we couldn't decide between a couple of replacement fish, so we now have two new fish and one new tank. Hooray fish! (Pictures of Barry and Larry at the end of the post.)

4. Playing the new Call of Duty game. It's pretty darn good.

So, I'll have new posts later this week. I've got lots of inks in the pipeline, and I just need to take a bunch of pictures sometime when it is daylight outside. I find that the most difficult part of blogging is the picture-taking and uploading. Time consuming work, that.


Aurora Black

What's this? Another black in on Inkdependence? I know. I don't usually use black inks. I've even called them boring. If you look back through the reviews, you'll see that there are several blue/blacks and very few blacks. Maybe only one or two up to this point, and one was the previous post about Diplomat's black. Whelp, I've got a few more in the pipe for this week.

Aurora's Black was another DC pen show pickup. When I had my Parker 51 tuned up, Ron Zorn suggested that I use Aurora in it, so I got a bottle without trying it out. It's a pretty solid black in. It's velvety and deep. Even the blade-smear is a deep black. It's kind of unrelenting. If you're looking for a real black, then this should probably be on your list.

The only real problem with it is that it runs a little too wet. It is really good in a pen that writes a bit dry, as they seem to balance each other out, but if your pen is kinda wet (as my P51 is) then you'll find that it spreads and bleeds a bit too much. It's a matter of finding the right match. I have it in I dry-writing Mont Blanc fake, and it performs really well.

Aurora Black is not waterproof. It'll stick around on the page pretty well, but it will smear.