Category: Ink Review

Ink Review: Ink Crate Volume 2

Ink Crate Volume 2

I finally got a chance to test out the inks in the second volume of the Ink Crate subscription service. Each month, the service sends five 2ml samples each month for $10 per month plus $3.99 shipping worldwide (at present) in their signature mint blue “crates”. Should shipping costs change, Ink Crate will notify subscribers and subscriptions auto-renew via credit card. I say that only because I know how expensive it is to ship overseas from the US, and $3.99 is a STEAL.

Ink Crate Volume 2

This month’s colors were, once again, a nice variety of colors. Two Diamine shades, Aurora Black and two colors from an ink company I had not heard of before: Seitz-Kreuznach. Overall, the color selections seemed “ripe” for heading into fall with tomato red, green apples, denim blue and a maybe not- entirely unwelcome cooler arctic blue. Aurora Black is a classic that is often overlooked but is a staple that should probably be included in any ink collection so its nice to have a chance to take it for a test drive.

Ink Crate Volume 2

Ink Crate Volume 2

According to a thread on FPN, Seitz-Kreuznach is actually a (EDIT!) German ink brand sold mostly on Ebay and their color series is called “The Colors of Nature”. Thus far, I quite liked both of them and am pleased that Ink Crate was able to surprise me with something new. That’s not easy to do!

Tested on Rhodia Uni Blank No. 18 with Kaweco Dip Pen and Zebra G Titanium nib, and watercolor paintbrush. I purchased the Ink Crate with my own money.

Ink Review: J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre header

J. Herbin has introduced another ink to the 1670 line, Caroube de Chypre which is a lovely deep chocolately brown with gold flecks. I love the look of the 1670 bottles despite being difficult to use with large nibbed fountain pens or for getting ink out beyond the first few fills. I like the gold cord, the waax seal and the wax around the cap. They are beautiful, fancy treats and the only bottles that often sit out on my table for months.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre gold particles in the bottle

The gold flecks do settle so be sure to roll or shake the bottle before filling your pens in order to distribute the  flecks evenly.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre close-up

I tested the ink with both a dip pen and in my Lamy Safari Joy with a 1.1mm nib. The color appears much darker with the dip nib where in the stub 1.1mm, the color is a warmer, lighter shade of brown. Almost like dark chocolate and milk chocolate depending on which tool I chose.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre writing sample close-up

The ink dried pretty quickly in the Lamy but took quite awhile to dry when I used a dip pen, especially on the Rhodia paper.

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre in the sunlight 2

I took my ink samples out into the sunlight to best capture the gold. I took two different shots. Depending on how much I turned the swatch in the light, you can get a better impression of the ink catching the light, both in the swab and even in the writing. I hope it is easier to see the greenish halo as well. There’s such a variety of depth to the color. I’m not normally a fan of brown inks because I find them rather flat and dull. They don’t have the variety and sheens and shading that blues and purples and reds often get but Caroube de Chypre is the exception to that. Thank you, sparkle, shimmer and shine!

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre in the sunlight

J. Herbin 1670 Caroube de Chypre swatch comparison

Back inside, under more sedate lighting conditions, you can see the brown in comparison with some of the few brown inks in my collection. Caroube de Chypre is a bit more of a neutral brown than Kaweco Caramel Brown which has a bit more red in it. I put in the swatches of KWZ Honey and Callifolio Heure d’Oree knowing those are both quite popular colors at the moment and every other brown or sepia color I had was much darker, or cooler in tone. These were the closest in hue, all feeling the most candy-like.

I know that, of the 1670 colors, Emerald of Chivor has been one of the most popular colors but I actually quite like Caroube de Chypre and I think moving into fall and winter, this is the perfect hot cocoa color. I do find that the gold particles seem to settle even faster in Caroube de Chypre but I also think that means that they are smaller and lighter and less likely to clog overall. It does mean that you’ll want to roll your pen regularly to redistribute the gold as you use it though. My best recommendation is to put this ink in a demonstrator pen like a TWSBI 580 or a Lamy Safari with a wide nib so you can see when the gold flecks start to settle. Then gentle roll the pen on the table a couple times to redistribute the gold in the ink.

J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre

I purchased my bottle of Caroube de Chypre at the DC Pen Show from Federalist Pens.

The Giveaway:

The fine folks at Exaclair kindly sent me a bottle of J. Herbin Caroube de Chypre so that I could spread the love of chocolate gold dust around. So, one lucky reader can win a bottle of Caroube de Chypre of their very own.

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me what Caroube de Chypre reminds you of.

FINE PRINT: All entries must be submitted by 10pm CST on Sunday, September 25, 2016. All entries must be submitted at, not Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, okay? Winner will be announced on Monday. Winner will be selected by random number generator from entries that played by the rules (see above). Please use your REAL email address (not some crappy Hotmail account you never check) in the comment form so that I can contact you if you win. I will not save email addresses or sell them to anyone — pinky swear. If the winner does not respond within 14 days, I will draw a new giveaway winner. Shipping via USPS first class is covered. Additional shipping options or insurance will have to be paid by the winner. We are generous but we’re not made of money. US residents & APO only. Sorry international folks… but hey, your croissants are better!

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

Ink Review: Robert Oster Torquay

Robert Oster Torquay

I confess I had to look up what exactly Torquay was in the dictionary and it turns out to be the name of a resort town in Devon, England, considered to the English Rivera. Its also the name of strip of coastline in Victoria, Australia, home to Bells Beach where iconic surf brands like Quicksilver and Rip Curl got their start. That explains why Robert Oster Inks chose this name for this exquisitely turquoise blue-green ink shade so reminiscent of seas, surf and ocean waves.

Robert Oster Torquay writing sample

In a very fine nib pen, tested specifically because I’d read elsewhere that folks found Oster inks to be a bit dry, resulted in a lovely light turquoise shade. And no, I did not find the ink to be a hard starting ink at all. Not even in an extra fine, budget-priced fountain pen. With a dip pen, like the Kaweco Special Dip Pen, I found it well behaved and a much deeper ocean blue. There was lots of shading and a hit of red/purple edging in some places.

Robert Oster Torquay writing sample close-up

I must admit that the color is so vivid that it was very difficult to capture it on camera. It glows.

Robert Oster Torquay Swatch Comparison

Compared with other aqua and turquoise shades, it has a bit more green to it. Diamine Aqua Lagoon being the closest in color to it that I had in my collection. All the other shades were much more blue turquoise shades and the reddish halo around the Torquay made it a very unique color.

The Oster inks come in recyclable plastic bottles which are nice in that you don’t have to worry about breakage in shipping and their slender shape make them easy to store. However, they will become challenging to fill pens with them after awhile because they are so tall and skinny. The inks really will need to be transferred into more user-friendly containers over time, something lower and wider, or syringe or pipettes will need to be used to transfer inks into pens. Just a warning. Overall though, I think there are some really great colors at very reasonable prices so when the time comes, I am prepared to transfer my inks into other containers.

A 50ml bottle of Torquay is available from Anderson Pens for $16 or a 3ml sample for $1.25.

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

Ink Review: Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose header

I think I spent more time editing my photo export settings trying to get the color to look just the way I wanted it to than I did actually writing this review. And to be honest, I’m still not entirely happy with the outcome. As the days get shorter, I have less daylight to work with and so its harder to capture the perfect color. And with a color as bright as Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose, I wanted the lighting to be just perfect. But as the saying goes, sometimes “done is better than perfect” and I knew there were people waiting on these reviews so I wanted to get them out. So… put your rose-colored glasses on and pretend these are the bestest lit photos ever.

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose

Kobe 41 (Suma Rikyu Rose) was one of the three bottles of ink I purchased from the Kobe table at the DC Pen Show. There was such a fervor about the Kobe inks on the opening morning of the DC Show it was practically palpable.

The only enthusiasm greater was for the the Kanilea Pen Co. debut. I could afford ink. I did not have it in my budget for a Kanilea Pen though I stopped at their booth immediately and dreamed about my Hawaiian pen fantasy which would look great with my tiki mug collection.

Back to the Kobe inks. I was working for Vanness Pens for the DC Show so I had to wait for a window of opportunity (read: a lull in the crowd) to hop over to their table and snag a couple bottles. The enthusiasm for the Kobe inks was so great by Friday afternoon, two-thirds of their stock had already been sold. These inks are not usually all that easy to come by in US and for many folks, this was their first chance even seeing them. The colors are all themed around the colors in the Kobe region of Japan which gives them an extra something special as well.

Brad, Father Kyle, Matt and I had spent the morning making plans to purchase ink in such a way that we might be able to swap a few sample vials amongst ourselves in order to extend our ink sampling opportunities. However, once at the Kobe table, the depleted selection lead to each of us having to choose from what was left. That somehow lead to Brad and I both choosing Kobe 41! Since both of us own Sailor Pink Love pens, I guess it was inevitable that we would gravitate towards another shade of pink that might so closely match our pens.

The Kobe 41 shades nicely but is a bit more of a raspberry/purple-pink than the original ink we chose to match the Sailor Pink Love which was the Callifolio Andrinople. The Kobe 41 does have a bit of a gold sheen which is visible in the swatch. Its a good wet ink with some nice shading that shows to good effect with the music nib in my Pink Love. And I do really like the color a lot but, as a match for my Pink Love, its not such a good match. I might actually switch to the Pilot Iroshizuku Tsutsuji for my next fill as its a warmer pink. I don’t normally match my inks to my pens, but for some reason, the Pink Love seems to demand it.

Kobe 41 Suma Rikyu Rose swatch comparison

At the moment, there are no US sources for Kobe inks but you can purchase them through the Nagaswa Shop online shop if you’e brave enough to stumble through awkward online translation or speak Japanese. Or you can cross your fingers and hope that they come back to the DC Pen Show next year. Should I hear news that any of our favorite online retailers start stocking Kobe inks, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Ink Review: Robert Oster Aqua

Set sail with the new inks from Robert Oster out of Australia. I scoured the DC Pen Show in search of someone who had them in stock as I knew they were on their way to the US shores but the only vendor who had any in stock yet was Federalist Pens and Paper. I got a bottle of Aqua which ended up being the absolute right choice for my first bottle of Robert Oster Signature Fountain Pen ink because it is gorgeous!

In the past, I suggested that KWZ Menthol Green might good a good alternative to J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor if you’re looking for that deep teal green but would rather skip the pen-clogging sparkles. I hereby amend my recommendation to Robert Oster Aqua which is a perfct color match to J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor sans sparkles. Seriously.

Add to that the exquisite red halo and lovely shading and you have an exceptionally fabulous ink.

Other folks have suggested that some Oster were dry. I was using this in my Lamy Scala with EF 14K nib and had no issues with hard starts or skipping and Lamy nibs tend to be a little dry so I didn’t notice any issues. If anything, I found the flow on this ink particularly good.

This is my first Oster ink, and it certainly won’t be my last, so I’ll let you know if I find any of the other inks dry. The Aqua seems quite smooth and has been in my Lamy for several weeks with no issues. It’s even flown back from DC and on to SF and back without any problems.

Overall, I really like this ink. It might usurp Ku-Jaku as one of my favorite teal inks once I’ve seen how it performs in a few more pens but so far I’m most impressed with it.

oster aqua ink color comparison 2

UPDATE: Erik and Bradley both mentioned in the comments some color comparisons that I neglected to include so, for their benefit, I’ve added them above. Diamine Teal is darker and greener. It actually looks brighter in my photo than in real life. The Oster Aqua is much more vivid. and the red sheen and shading is far more apparent. The Edelstein Aquamarine is a pretty color but its lighter overall. There is a bit of a halo at the edges but not nearly as pronounced as the Oster Aqua which is almost metallic and again more vivid and saturated overall. There is a more faded denim quality to the Edelstein Aquamarine, a little more subdued. And the Diamine Teal is downright reserved in comparison. I hope that helps!

This ink was purchased from Federalist Pens and Paper at the DC Pen Show. It can be purchased online through their web site for $18 per bottle plus shipping.

Ink Review: KWZ Grapefruit

KWZ Grapefruit Ink

As indicated by the absolute fervor around the Vanness Pens table at the DC Pen Show, KWZ inks are very popular. The inks are from Poland and are available in a wide range of colors from subtle to brilliant. I reviewed Menthol Green after the Chicago Show which I really liked and now I’ve got KWZ Grapefruit to share with you.

KWZ Grapefruit Ink

I think Grapefruit is a perfect end-of-summer color. At first, I thought it going to more pinky but it ended up being a much more orangey color. It’s bright a vivid and shades a bit to a lovely sunset yellow-orange.

KWZ Grapefruit Ink comparison swabs

I compared it to swatches I had in my stash of Noodler’s Dragon Napalm and Habanero which are much more yellow-orange than KWZ Grapefruit. Surprisingly, Waterman Red, which turns out to be a very warm red, was closer in hue to Grapefruit than the more deep orangey colors in my swatch libraries.

I hope you enjoy the color and the cocktail recipes. I’m thought it was an appropriate way to share this fun, summery color.

A 60ml bottle of KWZ Grapefruit is $12, 4ml sample is available for $2.

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 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.