I promise that not all of Inkmas will not large ink collection reviews but, honestly, if you pooled up all the inks owned between Jesi, Jaclyn and myself, I think we could fill a swimming pool. My goal with Inkmas is to share few of the inks I’ve collected this year. Clearly, the pandemic has led to a surplus of inks. Compiling them into groups seems like the most efficient method to present some of these inks.
Today, for Day #2, I am sharing with you the Robert Oster Australis ink collection. To my knowledge, there are four inks in this collection: Australis Tea, Australis Oak, Australis Rose and Australis Hydra. Except for the Australis part of the name and a slightly muted vibe to the colors, I’m not sure what, if any, theme existed for these ink colors.
Regardless of my lack of knowledge regarding the color theme, I quite like the idea of inks being released in collections or themes. This helps me, as an ink collector, know pretty quickly if an ink collection is “for me” or not. In the case of the Australis collection, if low saturation, shading inks are not your catnip, you will know pretty quickly to steer clear.
Tea, Rose and Oak all have a slightly subdued, low saturation quality to the colors. In design, we’d call these low chroma colors — a term used when a pigment is not super bright or saturated. There is a bit of a powdery quality to the colors. Hydra, is a bit brighter but it is still a mellowed out aqua.
I’ll start with Australis Hydra. Aqua blues are Robert Oster’s strong suit and Hydra continues the tradition. This ink is smooth flowing with shading and almost no sheen.
This close-up shows a little bit of the ink halo around the letters. There really isn’t a lot of sheen. Mostly just a clear aqua. Picking through Oster’s blues and aquas is always challenging because they are all lovely.
I first wanted to compare Hydra to other Oster blue/turquoise/aquas. My gut thought it would be similar to Soda Pop Blue or Torquay, in the Robert Oster ink pantheon. That guess was a little off. Torquay is slightly more greenish and Soda Pop is much more cobalt blue. Fire and Ice is ever-so-slightly darker and of course there’s the sheen in Fire and Ice that Hydra lacks. Clearwater Ice and Morning Mist go more to the turquoise while Blue Water Ice, Blue Sea and Soda Pop all get progressively more cobalt and even a little to the ultramarine.
The image above is from Lowy Fine Art Services and perfectly depicts the differences in pigments between Cobalt, Ultramarine, Phthalo (pronounced “thalo”) and Manganese. When you look at the inks above, it’s easy to guess which pigments may have been used to make each of the blues shown.
When compared to other inks, Australis Hydra’s clear aqua blue is similar to Callifolio Omi Osun, Noodler’s Turquoise Eel and the vintage Parker Super Quink Turquoise. Fire & Ice is a bit darker and has sheen that creates a different look.
This close-up shows that Hydra is a bit lighter than Fire & Ice. This ink color category is rife with options but Robert Oster is a whiz with blues so if you were going to pick one, this is a good option.
Australis Rose is a warm pinky red but very low chroma and dusky feeling. It reminds me of fresh pink roses and the more I wrote with it, the more I wanted it to actually smell like roses. I don’t often want scented inks but this color makes me seriously consider it.
When compared to other reds and pinks in the Oster line, Australis Rose leans more towards Copper than it does to Dusky Pink which has a lot more blue in the hue.
When compared with other inks, Sea Europa from Colorverse is a similar hue but more orangey. Platinum Cassis Black is close but does lean more red overall. And as you can see, Cherry Blossom is much more pink with distinct purply leanings.
When the swatches are pushed together, its easier to see how different each of these colors seem.
Australis Oak is warm, almost whiskey-colored ink. Maybe dusty whiskey? Again, it’s pretty low chroma giving it a powdery quality. This ink would be great if you are looking for that vintage, tea-stained, old notebook vibe.
Australis Oak is another ink that had comparable inks that were close in value but each hue was different. Encre Classique Caramel is much more orange, Diamine Sepia is more golden, Diamine Gingerbread and Birmingham Pen Co Carnelian Silk (old formula) are both more brown and a bit darker.
Lining them all up makes it much more apparent the difference in hue. If you love warm natural-looking colors, Australis Oak may be just the ink for you.
Now, let’s discuss Australis Tea. If you have been reading this blog for awhile, you’ll know that yellow-greens are my wheelhouse. Just look at the header. Yup, is my “signature color” to steal a reference from Steel Magnolias. However, finding a shade that is “just right” for writing has proved challenging. While pale, sage-y shades look great for clothing and home interiors, it can be a bit challenging to see on paper. When the color gets brighter and more saturated, I find it a little like writing with a green traffic cone. It can be eye-searingly bright. So, I was most excited to try Australis Tea. Inks that aim to capture the vibe of matcha teas or green tea tend to be closer to what I want in a green ink. There’s an earthy, low chroma undertone to those colors.
All that said, Australis Tea has turned out to be too light for me. It’s also a little more yellowy that what I was hoping. I really do think my life goal will be to make my own perfect green ink. If it’s possible.
When compared to other greens in a similar range, Tono & Lims True Story is probably the closest though it’s even lighter and more yellow. Pen BBS #159 Bitter Herb and Birmingham Gunpowder Tea (old formula) are more saturated colors. They might be a little bright in the photo, I find Gunpowder Tea and Bitter Herb to be pretty close to what I’ve been looking for.
The line-up photo shows the color difference though the photo is a little hot. Bottomline is that I wanted to love Australis Tea but it hasn’t edged out my other “almost right” greens.
Overall, the Australis line, like most Oster inks runs a bit dry. If you love these colors but prefer a super wet ink, I recommend investing in some White Lightning to lubricate the inks a bit. The biggest issue with dry inks is with finer nibs, it’s likely to hard start. If you’re in a humid climate, this may be less of a problem than if you live in a cooler, more arid environment. The Australis Hydra is the least dry of this lot.
Colorwise, I think these are really interesting inks. The shading is lovely and I’m okay that they don’t sheen. Not all inks have to have sheen which I find has a tendency to rub off on previous pages and shed over time (little smudges of color appear as pages in a notebook rub together making it look like the ink was still wet when the book was closed even if it wasn’t).
- Paper: Curnow Backpack Notebook with Ink Journal Ink Collecting Guide Sheet (FREE)
- Pens: Nib Holder or unknown origin and Franklin-Christoph with Fine Italic nib, Tachikawa dip nib holder ($7.75 and up) with Zebra G titanium nib ($33.50 per 10-pack) and Toronto Pen Company PENtastic CxPO Tester Pens (set of 2 for $40CAD) , Acrylic dip nib pen (Approx. $15),
- Swatches: Col-o-Ring Ink Testing Book ($10) & Col-o-dex Rotary Cards ($15)
- Brush: Princeton Watercolor Round #8 brush
- Ink: Robert Oster Australis Tea, Australis Oak, Australis Rose and Australis Hydra ($17 per 50ml bottle)