Category: Ink Review

Ink Crate Subscription Service: July 2016 Crate

Ink Crate July 2016

After the end of the Goulet Ink Sample subscription service, Ink Drop, I know a lot of people, myself included had been missing a little monthly ink infusion. Well, thankfully, someone stepped up to take up the reigns of the ink sampling empire. Ink Crate is a new ink sample subscription service created to be the successor to the gap left in our hearts and our ink cabinets by the closing of Ink Drop. Luke Dolan launched the service in July and it offers five bottles of 2ml of ink in each of its signature “crates” each month.

Ink Crate July 2016

The inks provided in the first kit was a nice variety of what I suspect were favorites. J. Herbin Lie de The, Noodler’s Army Green, Noodler’s Dragon’s Napalm, Pilot Iroshizuku Amo Iro,  and Diamine Majestic Purple. The kit included an extra milliliter of one or two of the ink colors randomly added as a bonus to some subscribers.

Ink Crate July 2016

Its a good variety of colors and a great start to the Ink Crate subscription. If you haven’t subscribed to an ink sampling service, this would be a great chance to get started. I do hope that future kits will be seasonally or subject-matter themed just because I enjoy that. Theming kits by topics like autumn colors in September or October, document or permanent inks for a month, maybe fluorescent or shading inks, etc. But starting off with a solid range of appealing colors was a good approach. These are all great options.

Hopefully, in the future, there is also either a partnership with a specific shop or some other way to purchase full bottles of ink should someone love a particular color. Even just recommendations for best sources to acquire different brands.

The last component of the subscription is the option to fill out a survey for the next month to help select colors. I haven’t had a chance to fill out my survey yet but I’m looking forward to putting my suggestions into the proper channels.

Ink Crate July 2016

An Ink Crate subscription costs $10 per month plus shipping (update: $3.99 worldwide at the moment). For readers of The Desk, you are lucky! You can use a special $2 off coupon on your first month by using the code: WELLAPPOINTEDDESK. Coupon code is valid until September 22nd, 2016 so you’ll need to sign up soon.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Ink Crate for the purpose of review. I am, however, now a paying subscriber! Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Waterproof, Permanent Inks

Waterproof Inks

During an episode of Art Supply Posse, Heather mentioned that she didn’t realize that most fountain pen inks were water soluble. I held my tongue because I already had a pile of waterproof fountain pen inks in my arsenal and I was ready to test and share them with folks but I didn’t want to derail our conversation at the time. I’ve collected a few waterproof, permanent fountain pen ink options currently available. These are a little bit more finicky to use since they can dry out in a pen and become difficult to remove so I would not recommend putting them in fancy “grail pen”. However, if you have an assortment of lower-priced fountain pens in your collection and are looking for a permanent ink for addressing envelopes, using with watercolors, or for signing documents, then one of these inks might be a great option to add to your collection.

I’d recommend using them with a pen like a Lamy Safari, a Platinum Carbon Desk Pen, a Pilot Metropolitan or maybe refilling a Preppy. You can also use these inks with dip nibs. Just remember to clean out the inks every couple of weeks to make sure that they do not dry out in the pen.

Waterproof Inks

The Platinum Carbon Black is an excellent ink. I find it incredibly well-behaved. I’ve been using it in my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen for almost a year and I have yet to clean it out thoroughly. I occasionally dip the tip in water and wipe it with a rag to clean off a bit of the built up carbon build-up but it is one of my go-to pens. It’s refilled three times with both cartridge and bottled Carbon Black and performs beautifully. I also put some Carbon Black in an old Platinum Preppy and it works fine too.

That said, I was willing to try some of Platinum’s Pigment inks — the Sepia ($16 for 60ml bottle) and Rose Red ($1.25 for a 3ml sample) specifically. I went ahead and purchased a full bottle of the the Sepia knowing that a good permanent sepia brown is something I needed to have in my collection and I’ve been using it in my Lamy Joy. I’ve refilled it several times already and been quite pleased with the performance of the Sepia so I went ahead and got a sample of the Rose Red as well. I wasn’t sure if I’d need want a whole bottle of rose red ink but, upon using it, I really quite like it. It wasn’t as pink as I expected it to be. It’s more of a warm red. I liked using it to draw. Though I’m still on the fence as to whether I’d use a whole bottle of it.

Waterproof Inks

I also purchased samples of an assortment of De Atramentis Document Inks in Yellow, Fuchsia, Dark Blue, Blue, Green, and Turquoise.  Easch sample is 3ml and costs $1.75. Full bottles are $18.50. The most interesting aspect of the Documents inks, beyond the permanence, is their mixability. I purchased what was essentially the building blocks of printer’s inks — cyan, magenta and yellow to mix with my carbon black in an effort to make some of my own colors in the future. I was inspired by some of the ink color experiments that Liz Steel has done for her field sketching.

The one issue I found was that the turquoise color was a bit runnier than the other colors. I imagine mixing it with one of the other colors might help a bit but I was disappointed with the runnyness. The yellow was also too light to use without mixing with another color but is nice and bright so it would be fun to mix to brighten a darker color.

Waterproof Inks

All-in-all the permanent colors are definitely more experimental. I am fairly confident recommending the Platinum Carbon Black and the Platinum Pigment Sepia though as I’ve been a pretty disrespectful pen owner and they have both worked flawlessly in both my Platinum Carbon Desk Pen ($9.60) and in the Lamy Joy ($28) with an EF nib ($13) so you should feel confident using those and Liz Steel praises the performance of De Atramentis Document inks so I think those should work pretty well long term as well. But I’d still proceed with caution and be prepared to tweak as needed for performance and color.


Thanks to Pen Chalet and Anderson Pens. Both are sponsors of this blog but I purchased all the pen, inks and samples shown here with my own money.

Jinhao X750 + Zebra G Nib Hack + KWZ Green Gold 2 Ink

Jinhao X750

I found a fabulous flexible nib hack over on Parka blogs and nothing says “let’s mess with a cheap pen” like a rainy day. Throw in a cool ink sample from Vanness Pen Shop and an urge to be a little tweaker and off I go.

This hack will work with either a Zebra G (Titanium pack of 10 for $33.50 from JetPens) or Nikko G nib (3 for $4 from JetPens), whichever you have available to you. Warning: you may or may not damage your pen, so proceed with caution. It is a fun hack and most Jinhao X750 pens can be purchased for $10 or less so its not a huge investment, no matter what happens. I purchased mine from Goulet Pens, the Shimmering Sands model for $9.90.

I followed the instructions in the Parka Blogs video as well as doing a little feed modification à la Leigh Reyes’s tutorial for modifying the Ranga to try to get the nib to lay down a little bit more flush with the feed by using an X-Acto to shave a bit off the feed.

So, for a grand total of $13.50 I had a wonky, but functional, flexible nib fountain pen. Its a little bit finicky and could probably use a little bit more work to make it consistent but it works. I occasionally have to dip it in water to keep it working but it writes much longer than a regular dip pen. I might just need to add more fins in the feed and since the feed is plastic it might not be as ink receptive as the Ranga’s ebonite feed.

Why did I do this hack when I had a perfectly lovely Ranga? I already owned a box of Zebra G nibs and Jinhao X750 and I was bored. The only reason I would recommend this hack over the Ranga is that it is considerably less expensive and it is considerably easier to acquire the Jinhao X750 in the US than a Ranga at this time. But if you have the means, the time or the patience to get a Ranga or a Desiderata instead, the overall experience is better. But for a quick-and-dirty option, this hack is definitely an option.

Jinhao X750

Now, let’s talk about the lovely KWZ Green Gold #2 ink. I picked this up while I was working the Vanness table at the Chicago Pen Show. Lisa said I would love it and she was totally right. Its a lovely green, golden color as decribed in the name. Pantina gold would be another way to describe it. It shades and colors nicely, ranging from a light golden wheat to a dark brown depending on the density of the color.

Jinhao X750

This is not a water resistant ink so its a good candidate for playing around since it will clean out of the pen and feed easily.

KWZ Green Gold 2 ink comparison

KWZ Green Gold 2 is definitely more yellow thank Bung Box 88 and Diamine Safari but its a deeper yellow gold than Pilot Iroshizuku Ina-Ho. A full of KWZ Green Gold 2 60ml bottle is $12 and a 4ml sample is $1.50. Pricewise, its much closer to the Safari than Bung Box or Pilot Iroshizuku.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

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Ink Review: Callifolio Bleu Equinoxe 5 (and a Happy Ending)

Parker Duofold

First, I wanted to take a chance to thank the kindness of the pen community for rescuing my Parker Duofold from its sad state. Susan Wirth, “queen of pen shows” that she is, offered to repair my Parker Duofold for me before she jetted off to New York for a Guggenheim retrospective and she did a beautiful job. Not only was she able to remove the damaged section of the body of my Duofold but, she was also able to restore the sac and filler so now it holds ink! So, I was able to use my beloved little pen for this ink review. It has the smoothest gold nib with just a little flex so its just such fun to use. And now that it holds ink and isn’t all distorted like a silly straw, I can use it on a daily basis. Thank you, Susan for bringing my little jewel back to life and restoring my faith in the pen community, though I never doubted you for a second!

If you ever have a chance to meet Susan Wirth and her colleagues at a pen show, I highly recommend stopping by and saying hello. She has a lovely collection of pens available to try and purchase and many fascinating stories about the history of pens.

Now, on to the ink review…

Callifolio Equinoxe 5

With every blue black ink I try, I think to myself, “do I really need another blue black ink?” Then I start using it, looking more closely at the subtle differences of the colors and I realize that yes, I really do need one more shade. Because, like lipsticks and nail polish, every shade of ink ever-so-slightly different. And Callifolio Bleu Equinoxe 5 (40ml for $12, 50ml pouch for $8 and sample for $1.25) is no different. Their shade of blue black is ever-so-much-more royal in its blue tone with a red sheen. Oh, the sheen is lovely!

I smudged my header only because it is like a million degrees here in the Midwest with about 100% humidity so all dry times have slowed to a crawl. I don’t think it would be fair to blame it entirely on the ink, I was laying it on thick with a paint brush and then, of course, I’m a lefty with a tendency to lay my arm in my ink almost immediately.

Callifolio Equinoxe 5

Equinoxe 5 is not waterproof or even water resistant but it also means it should be pretty easy to clean up. That made me feel safe putting it in my vintage pen, at least for a week.

The great thing about Callifolio ink beyond the lovely color, shading and sheen is that ink is incredibly, reasonably priced. A 50ml pouch is just $8. The contents can be transferred into an empty bottle for easy access.

Callifolio Equinoxe

I pulled some other deep blue/blue black inks from the sample rings and Equinoxe 5 is clearly more royal blue  than the others in my stash though it does have a sheen similar to Sheaffer Blue Black and the Sailor Bung Box Blue Black. Pricewise, Equinoxe 5 is definitely closer to Sheaffer than Bung Box so if you were looking for an ink that gave you the same oomph for a whole lot less dollars than importing Bung Box, a bottle or pouch of Callifolio may be the way to go.

And remember, Vanness can also sell you an empty ink bottle and laser etch it with your name or a logo if you want to purchase a pouch instead of a bottle.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pen Shop for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Noodler’s Dostoyevsky

Noodler's Dostoyevsky

I got a sample of Noodler’s Dostoyevsky ink (19.50 for 30z bottle or $1.75 per sample) because I need more teal blue grey ink like I need a hole in my head. Right? But there was rationale here, folks. Several of the teal blue grey inks I own are limited edition inks like the Montblanc Meisterstück Blue Hour and Pelikan Edelstein Aquarmarine. As far as I know, Dostoyevsky is a regular ink color in the Noodler’s line-up not to mention considerably more affordable than either the Montblanc or the Pelikan Edelstein inks.  So, let’s talk about the overall quality.

Noodler's Dostoyevsky writing samples

The color has lots of shading and was relatively smooth performing. In my water test, it did not shift much which leads me to wonder if it might stain. Anderson Pens Ink Tool lists the ink as a permanent and waterproof ink so its definitely not an ink to be left in a vintage pen. My sample for the water test was not left to dry for more than a minute so it probably was not completely dry. But its good to know that this is a permanent ink. I may try it out in my Lamy Joy for drawing. It could prove interesting!

Noodler's Dostoyevsky comparison

I re-tested the waterproofiness several hours later with similar results to the water droplet test shown above so the ink isn’t PERMANENT permanent. There was definitely some color travel but it would definitely hold up well for a writer’s notebook but not enough to be used with watercolor for sketching purposes like Platinum Carbon Black.

Overall, I like the color and shading enough to consider Dostoyevsky as an option to replace the limited edition teal blue greys when they run out.

CJ helps with ink review

If you happen to ever see a stray hair in any of my reviews, this is why. I have helpers. Three furry ones and one of them always decides they need to sit on my review, my lap, my table, in the box or be pet at some point during my review process. Today, CJ looked so content it was hard to boot her off the review. Can you blame me?


Anderson Pens is a sponsor of this blog but I purchased this sample and all opinions are my own.

Ink Review: KWZ Menthol Green

KWZ Menthol Green Ink

KWZ Menthol Green Ink

It wasn’t until I started writing with KWZ Menthol Green ($12 for 60ml bottle) that I realized what I liked about it so much – it’s essentially Emerald of Chivor without the sparkle. It might be a tad bit bluer when actually writing with it, but KWZ Menthol Green is probably the closest I’ve found to a sparkle-free substitute for Emerald of Chivor. It’s not water proof but it stands up to a little water without completely losing its shape so that’s handy. It’s a good shading ink, and its priced right too!

I testedd the ink with several different Esterbrook nibs which will account for the color variations. I used wide nibs, fine nibs, flex nibs and even a slightly janky nib. All worked well with the Menthol Green, even Mr. Janky Nib.

KWZ Menthol Green Ink

KWZ Menthol Green doesn’t have the red halo that Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku has either and its a considerably cheaper ink as well.

All-in-all, I can’t say enough nice things about the ink. The only bad thing is that KWZ inks sells out fast. Keep your eyes peeled for it. Vanness usually tries to get it in stock for pen shows so save your pennies for the next big show (DC and SF, for sure).


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Vanness Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Ink Review: Lamy Dark Lilac

Lamy Dark Lilac Ink

I feel terrible that I keep reviewing inks that are sold out already but what can I do? I buy them as fast as I can but, when they are limited edition, they sell out. But you want to know if they are good, right? So here it is… my take on Lamy Dark Lilac $10.50. Some shops are saying they will get a restock towards the end of May, beginning of June so keep your eyes peeled.

Lamy Dark Lilac Ink Writing Sample

I tested Dark Lilac with my new-to-me Lamy Safari Lime (the 2008 edition, thanks to Susan Wirth for this wonderful pen!) with an EF nib. I’d heard there was not a lot of shading with the Dark Lilac so I didn’t think using a fine nib would be doing the ink a disservice. I did do a few sentences with my Esterbrook 9315F relief stub, just to check, but the color is so dense that it really did not shade much. As a result, Dark Lilac really is a good color for legibility in fine and extra fine nibs and a great alternative to a black or blue-black ink as an everyday use ink. It flowed beautifully in the Safari with an EF nib and I think would be equally effective with a Japanese F or EF nib as well. It might even look a little lighter in an even finer nib and might show off the vividness of the color a bit more.

Lamy Dark Lilac Ink Comparison

In the ink swabs, the Dark Lilac shows a slight gold sheen but its also evident how dense and the vibrant the color is compared to the other inks. Noodler’s Purple Wampum is really the only ink I could find that was close in hue. KWZ Gummiberry Iron Gall was close in color density. I’m not sure if the regular version of Gummiberry is as deep as the iron gall formula but that may be another alternative.

The last few special edition colors of the Lamy Safaris and AL-Stars with matching inks have offered ink colors that have been way too light to be genuinely usable until now.  Dark Lilac is one of the most usable and interesting ink colors from Lamy since their BlueBlack. If you happen upon a bottle (or even some cartridges), grab it while you have the chance. This is definitely one of the better limited edition ink offerings from Lamy.