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Pilot's Namiki Iroshizuku Tsuyu-Kusa UPDATED

I'm conflicted about this ink. I LOVE the color. I don't like the way that it behaves. It spreads more than any other ink that I've tried a lot. **The Spreading Award now goes to Sheaffer Skrip Brown.** I love the way it looks when it spreads out and you can really see the shading, but that same beautiful spreading makes the ink pretty useless for most papers and applications.

**UPDATE: I tried this ink out in a pen with a significantly finer nib, and I'm not nearly as impressed with its performance. It seemed washed out and not nearly as vibrant as it was in the Ahab. It still did a little spreading, but I lost most of the glorious shading. **

It's also really expensive at $35, though the bottles are big and super good-lookin'. I'm going to try this ink out in a really fine point pen to see if that eliminates the problem. I've seen this ink reviewed over at the Fountain Pen Network, and those reviewers don't seem to have the problem, so it might be that it just doesn't play nice with my Ahab Flex Pen. Check out these pics, and find the sample over at isellpens in the Pilot section.

7/13/2012 Update:
I really liked this ink when I first got it. It was a really good color in my Ahab, but it was too bleedy to be used on anything but awesome papers. I just got another sample of this ink from Goulet's July Ink Drop, and I decided to try it out in my TWSBI 700. That pen is a good deal drier than my Ahabs, and I thought it might look good from my new Knox nib. It does look nice, but it's much more run-of-the-mill. It's a nice blue, but it's not fancy or all that interesting. I wanted to like this ink, but it's either pretty and unusable or blah but usable. Oh well. My verdict: Not worth the price tag.

Private Reserve's Blue Suede

Private Reserve's Blue Suede really looks like some blue suede shoes. It's a lush teal green/blue that gives your writing that hint of an odd color that you're looking for. It's an ink that I keep going back to even though I have several inks that I need to try out. Every time I see it in my ink drawer I reach for it. I have a growing collection of greens and blues, but this is still one of my favorites.

It shows 6 second drying time on this thick journal paper that I bought to use for my ink reviews, but I've never had a problem with it smearing on other papers. Even on that paper, it doesn't smear much at the 4 second mark. Check out the close up for more details. You'll also see a really nice shading in this ink. It's pretty obvious in the close up that the line shades from dark green to the regular blue suede that the ink is named for. I'm not sure what it looks like in a really fine nib, but I might try it in my Rotring Core's fine nib. I'm sure I've used it in that pen before, and I think it came out almost dark enough  be mistaken as a green-black. Another thing to notice is that there's not much nib-creep even on my creepy Lamy's nib.

If you right click on these images and open them in a new tab, you'll see that they're actually pretty big images that Google shrinks down a bit.

If you haven't tried this ink, and you're looking for a teal that you'll keep coming back to, this is one to snag.

A Haul of Ink!

 A little while ago, Goulet Pens had a sale on their ink samples, and I decided that it was time to get a whole bunch of them. I ended up with 8 new colors of ink, a bottle of their Perfect Pen Flush, and the Bandzug writing set that I was talking about yesterday.

I don't know if anyone else is interested in how they package and ship their products, but I like to show them because they should really be the model of how fragile or liquidy things ought to be shipped. Exemplary work, folks.

These are the inks that I ended up with along with a little smear of the ink. There are two browns, an orange, a blue, three greens and an interesting dark red. I have the Spearmint green in one of my Hero pens, and I've just loaded up my Wing Sung 101 with Widow maker. I'll have those writing samples posted in the near future, but I want to do some writing with each of them before I talk about them much. I'm pretty excited about this set of colors. 

Brause Calligraphy and Writing Set

I have been accumulating a backlog of interesting ink samples, and I don't have enough fountain pens to try them all out or write up reviews and such. My mother has a really nice glass pen, but those are running in the $18-20 range, and I thought that a good alternative would be this Bandzug writing nib set from Goulet Pens. It was only $12 and it includes 6 assorted nibs and a wooden nib-holder. I've always wanted a dip pen. They're the ideal thing for a guy who can't settle on just one ink.

It's not. Or, at least, it's not yet. I couldn't quite wait to try out a new nib, so I inked one and tried it fresh out of the packaging. It didn't work at all well, but I wasn't too surprised. The instructions that come with the set advise washing or soaking in some mildly soapy water to get rid of the machine oils and such that are going to be on the new nibs. (Why they can't do that for me before I buy them, I don't know.) I washed, rinsed, soaked them for a while as per the instructions. "Hooray!" I thought, "Now I can use my new nibs!"

Nope. They are pretty terrible. The fine blue one is crazy scratchy and alternately blotchy and dry. It holds about half a word's worth of ink. Worthless. I tried some of the broader ones, and they are only slightly less terrible. They seem to hold about one word's worth of ink (if your words are short), but they go dry even when there is obviously still ink on the nib. I must be doing something wrong, but I can't figure out what.

The other problem is the wooden holder that comes with the set. It is already stained (from reaching into the ink sample bottles), and the little metal tines that are supposed to hold the nib have sort of pushed back into the holder. It'll still kind of hold a nib, but I am not impressed at all.

I'm going to send an email to the Goulets to see if perhaps there's some secret to using this set that I don't know about so far, but I'm holding out little hope.

(I should reiterate that I'm sure this isn't their fault. They're great and their customer service has been impeccable.)

I corresponded with Brian after he commented here, and they offered to take the product back even though I had clearly used it. Class acts at Goulet Pens. Class acts.  As Brian says in the comments, the secret to using the set is to use inks that a suitable for it. I don't have any calligraphy inks, so it's just not for me.

Noodler's Air Corps Blue Black

This is an ink sample that I got a while ago from Goulet Pens, but I didn't get around to trying out until just now. I also got samples of Noodler's Whaleman's Sepia and Zhivago as well as Private Reserve's Ebony Blue in the same batch. I've been looking for an interesting dark ink, and some of these are really nice.

The ACBB that I'm talking about today is an off-black. It's currently inhabiting my Lamy Vista with a medium nib, and the breadth of that nib gives the ink a bit of room to shade. It's dark enough to use anywhere, I think, but interesting enough not to be boring. (I'm one of those people who thinks that black is a boring color. I know that it's more formal than a blue or a green, but I just don't care.) 

The ink shades from pretty dark to a lighter not-quite-green and not-quite-blue. It's like a green/navy, really. Pretty neat effect from an ink. I know there's a good blue in there, too, but you can't really see it unless you let a drop fall on a tissue. I do that sometimes because it lets me see the shades in an ink, and I've shared a pic of that here. (I almost certainly didn't blow my nose on that one.)

The ink doesn't feather or bleed, and it's a little unique so you'll know that it's your signature if you need to be able to tell. It's not waterproof, though, so don't use it for checks and such if you're worried about forgery.

If you're looking for a good not-quite-black, check this one out. It's good.  

Hero Pens and Ink Samples

I've been on a bit of a roll, lately. I didn't buy a new ink or pen for a few years, and now I'm unstoppable. Last week I bought these two pens and 6 ink samples from isellpens. The two pens are both Hero pens that are supposed to be knockoffs of the Parker 51. The burgundy is a Hero 616, and the green and gold one is a Hero  330. They have hooded nibs and fill using a metal sleeve over a rubber sack. It's permanently attached, so you'll have to use bottled ink. (I don't know why you would want cartridges, but some people are into that.)

These pens are on the really cheap end of the spectrum ($3-6), but they're really good. I have a Wing Sung 101, but I couldn't find another, so I got these. They start every time you put nib to paper, and they aren't complicated. The only unpleasant part is rinsing them out. The rubber sack inside takes a little while to dry, so you can't switch inks very quickly.

I know the burgundy one writes really well in the Pilot Ku-Jaku ink at the bottom of that picture. (I'll write up a review of those inks soon.) The green one is filled with Noodler's Beaver ink, but my wife said "Oo! I want that one!" as soon as she saw it, and I haven't written more than eight words with it. She says that it's now one of her favorite pens. I don't doubt it.

Pick yourself up some while they're on sale.

Noodler's Summer Tanager and Private Reserve's Chocolat

I've been toying with the idea of writing some reviews of fountain pen ink. I've never really done it before, but I'm accumulating a fairly good collection of inks, and it might be fun to try out for a while.

I've been interested in fountain pens for a long while (ever since my mother showed me one of her snorkel-type pens when I was a kid) and I've been using them for several years now. I started off with a fairly modest collection of Private Reserve inks, but that collection has expanded exponentially over the last few months. I discovered that one could get samples of inks through the mail. FANTASTIC!

Anyway, here are two inks that I have as samples. The first is one that I'm actually pretty fond of, and the second is a total dog.

Private Reserve's Chocolat is a deep brown. In fact, it could probably pass a black unless you look closely. It's smooth and thick, so it lays down really nicely on the page. If you like the idea of writing in actual chocolate, this one might be for you. It's also just different enough from black that that you would be able to tell the difference if you look closely. That might be useful for people who sign things and want to know whether it's actually their signature or not.

On the other hand, the ink might stain your converter, so I don't think I'd try it in a demonstrator or other clear-ish pen.

Noodler's inks are generally very nice. They've got interesting colors and the inks that I've tried from them are generally well behaved. This one, though, sucks. It's just no fun to use at all.

Summer Tanager is a pretty bright orange, and I really wanted to like it. I can't. I just can't. It feathers, it bleeds, and if there were other ways in which it could misbehave I'm sure it would.  The one thing that it did really well is wash out of my Ahab when I was finished writing this page. You'll notice that there's a mistake or two and some awkward phrasing in the written sample. I just left it that way because I didn't want to waste more paper on it. The sheet under that one is already covered in orange dots and lines. Avoid it unless you...well, just avoid it.