Category: Ink Review

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.

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.