Coming Soon: Col-o-ring Ink Testing Books

After obsessively testing papers since October and finally making a decision about the “right” stock in January, Skylab Letterpress and The Well-Appointed Desk is finally unveiling our answer to the gap in the market — the perfect ink testing swatch book, The Col-o-ring.

We sourced 100lb/160gsm natural white paper from a 400-year-old European paper mill through a distributor located right here in Kansas City. Each book is 2″ x 4″ with die cut rounded corners and the covers are sturdy chipboard letterpress printed on a Heidelberg Windmill then hand assembled with a binder ring so that the pages can be easily be removed, rearranged, added or swapped to your heart’s content. Each book contains 100 pages and the paper is a good clean white so your ink colors will show true.

To prove how much better our paper is to some “other” swatch books, I put the Col-o-ring paper (on the right) up against a discontinued product (on the left). Using the same tools to test the same ink– a watercolor paintbrush with synthetic sable bristles and a Zebra G dip nib pen– (you can see, the Col-o-ring paper is smoother, though there is still a little tooth, so your pens won’t slip and slide all over the place) but the good news, is that even the wettest inks in a dip nib don’t bleed or feather!

But wait! There’s more!

We tested several ink samples on both the front AND the back of the paper…. (Emerald of Chivor is so hard to photograph. It looks so good in person! Alternately, Noodler’s Tchaicovsky is pretty much as weird looking in person as it appears below… I had this sample and thought I would test it … strangely goopy ink. Don’t blame the paper.)

Can you see a difference between Col-o-ring paper on the front or the back of the sheet? Nope. Neither could we. And we got very little show through and no bleed through, even with wet swabs. I use a paint brush loaded with ink so it takes a while to dry and still there was no show through. You could do swabs on both sides if you wanted to. Talk about cost effective!

One more, front and back sample, just to show off. (Diamine Oxblood is lovely,)

If you’re more inclined to do your samples with a pen, rather than a swab and dip pen or glass pen, these cards can work for that too. I did a quick writing sample example with my Aurora Optima and the paper picks up all the shading and color variation. I would have sampled more sheening colors but I had them all packed up for the Arkansas Pen Show this weekend. So, if you prefer to sample your inks this way, these cards will work too.

I’ll have ink samples, swabs and cards to try available at the Arkansas Pen Show so if you are in the area, please come by the show and try them out for yourself. Bring your favorite tools for sampling with you too and try those as well.

The Col-o-ring books will be are available in my shop soon after I return from the show. I will put a post on the blog when I get them listed in the shop. Col-o-ring books will sell for $10 each plus shipping.

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30 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Ana – these look fantastic! I have procrastinated in documenting my prodigious ink inventory and these could motivate me to get off the dime. The first sample will be the Bungbox blue you sold me at the Vanness table in Dallas last year 🙂

    Again, thanks for devising such a quality product.

  2. Ana – this is great. I’ve been looking for this exact thing. I’ll place an order as soon as you have them up. Thanks so much for doing this.

  3. Fantastic! I’m glad you did the front/back testing – I currently use the discontinued product 😉 for my swabs and I like to write on the backs when I fill up different pens. I’m very excited to put in an order!

  4. Ana and Ana’s real husband, excellent work! I’m in for 2 packs.

    A suggestion if I could, have you thought about producing a guide on various ways to sample out ink (think different layouts). Also how about a video on the product, and may a little spot on sampling in action.

    Thanks and can’t wait to get my hands on these.

    1. I like your suggestions and a video is definitely on the horizon. We just made our deadline for having the books ready for the Arkansas Pen show so a video will be something we can do when we get back.

  5. This is very cool – I’ve been doing swatching in various other ways, but being able to rearrange and group in different ways is totally fantastic. Looking forward to this!

  6. Ooooh speaking as a former printer, you had me at Heidelberg Windmill press. They make me drool! Great idea, and wishing you much success!

  7. Yes! I want one for sure! I’m not sure how you said we would be notified that they are available.

    1. I’ll be sure to post here on the blog as well as on Instagram and twitter. I’ll try not to make a nuisance of myself.

  8. This is just the thing we have been waiting for! And my dad had a Heidelberg windmill letterpress in his shop. It was an awesome piece of machinery!

  9. I am coming close to running out of my stockpile of the “discontinued product” and have been worrying about having to reinvent the system I have for sampling. These look to be superior to what I currently have and have all of the advantages they had and not as many of the drawbacks.

    I won’t be able to make it to the Little Rock Pen Show, so I will anxiously await them appearing in your store. Then I have to decide whether I want to redo all of my sample pages on the superior stock. I kind of want to, but I am not looking forward to all of the work involved! Maybe I will have them all redone in time to show them off to you at the Dallas Pen Show!

  10. I’m so excited about this product! There is definitely a gap in the market, and the paper samples look excellent. I’m in the UK but I will gladly pay extra to have this!

  11. Will you be at the Chicago Pen Show coming up. If not who will carry Col-o-ring at the Chicago Show?
    Please let me know before I go to Chicago May 4th by e-mail. Thanks

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