Ink Institute is one of the many ink brands currently washing up on US shores. Ink Institute inks come from Taiwan and their first series to make it to the US is the Cat Series. There are four inks in the series: Cat at Dawn, Cat at Noon, Cat at Dusk and Cat at Midnight. Each is available for $16 for a 30ml bottle. The bottles are a frosted clear glass with a full-color, illustrated label. The text indicating the name of each ink is very tiny but the illustrations provide a hint as to the colors.
Of course, I couldn’t resist an ink themed around cats! I was able to get three out of the four bottles and a sample of Cat at Dawn which was sold out at the time I ordered.
Each cat suggests the light at a given time of day. Cat at Dawn is bright blue morning, Cat at Noon is radiant hot red-orange, Cat at Dusk is a watery blue grey and Cat at Midnight is a black though not a super-dark black.
I totally get the colors and naming for Dusk and Midnight but the Dawn and Noon are a bit of a stretch for me. I tend to think of morning light being more coral, pink or even golden. And, to me, Noon is more likely to have a vivid blue sky with a white hot sun. Naming discrepancies aside….
The colors of these inks are pretty unique. Noon is probably the most unusual being a slightly color-shifting shading coral red. The color is very reminiscent to the juice from fresh tomatoes to me. Dusk is the next most unique color being a color shifting pale grey-blue-violet. Because of its mutable nature, Dusk can look more like a pale violet or more grey. Midnight is a light black. It’s not a grey or a blue-black but a black with a greenish-teal undertone. Finally, Dawn is a bright ultramarine blue, though not as saturated as other ultramarine blues on the market. Dawn shades but has no sheen.
Ink ring swatches above are on Tomoe River paper. The colors look pretty consistent to the results on Col-o-ring paper.
On Rhodia paper, when writing with EF nibs, Midnight is the most usable. Dawn, Noon and Dusk are readable but would benefit from wider nibs like a stub. None of these inks are water-resistant. Dusk vanished completely when wet. Midnight and Dawn leave some traces behind of the original lines and Dawn just leaves a wet, bluish residue. (My water samples here are still a bit damp but the results are accurate.) This ink should clean up easily in your pens and the lighter nature of the colors is unlikely to stain most pens.
When comparing the inks to other colors, the Ink Institute inks proved a challenge to find similar shades. Cat at Noon was particularly challenging to find similar colors. The unusual shade/sheen to the color leans red and then more orange-y pink. Most of the inks I have that are anywhere close in color are much more saturated.
When looking at the colors close-up, the shimmer inks were probably the closest in color similarity. The advantage of Cat at Noon is that it does NOT have shimmer in it making it a lovely alternative if you want an unusual color but do not want shimmer in your pen.
Both Starry Ink Melon Summer and Small Endowment Melody of Sandy Creek are shimmer inks but are the closest in color. The darkest shade of Cat at Noon is similar to J. Herbin Corail des Tropiques but Corail lacks the lighter orange-y tones. Diamine Coral is the opposite to Corail des Tropiques when compared to Cat at Noon. Coral has the brighter orange tone, though more saturated, but not the deeper reddish coral color. Finally, I included Sailor Sakura Mori to provide a counter balance — an ink with a good deal more pink. I would not describe Cat at Noon as pink at all.
With Cat at Midnight, I looked for other “almost black” inks to compare. Standard Bindery Luna Tone is clearly more of a blue-black and Robert Oster Smokescreen has much more of a brownish undertone. Birmingham Pen Company Alternator Crimson is probably the closest in color despite its name.
I included Platinum Carbon Black to show that Cat at Midnight is not a true black.
Cat at Dusk is one of those wonderful magic inks that looks a bit different depending on how dry it is, your nib and paper choice and the lighting in your room. It makes it comparable to things like Troublemaker Petrichor and Sailor 123 even though it is not at all in the same color family.
Cat at Dusk is more similar to J. Herbin Gris Nuage and Kobe #53 Kitano Pearl Silver though it looks like a marriage of the two other inks. It’s more bluish than Gris Nuage and more purple than Kitano Pearl Silver. Of the four inks from the Cat series, it’s my favorite.
Now, to compare Cat at Dawn which is the most similar to other inks. Remarkably, it’s probably closest to Cross Blue. There is a similarity to Montblanc Lapis Lazuli and Sailor Jentle Sky High as well though they are considerably more saturated. Sky High has a great sheen if that is something you prefer. Cat at Dawn or Cross Blue would work if you prefer shading. Montblanc is great if you want to spend a truckload of money for your inks.
I like Ink Institute inks and the Cat Series is a strong first showing for this brand. It’s different though some of these inks may be too pale for some users. To me, Ink Institute Cat Series is a great change to the sheening and super sheeners that have flooded the market lately. Now if they do Cat at Naptime (ginger like our feline mascot) and Cat at Supper (tawny like a tortie cat) and add some shades that feel more feline in hue, I’ll be happy.