I recently purchased a handful of inks from Birmingham Pen Co. I had done a post about comparing some of the new inks with their previous formulas but this time I wanted to try a range of their various formulas: the Everlasting Formula (a permanent pigmented ink), the Keystone Inks (formerly known as the Rich Formula [sheening inks] and the Crisp Formula [traditional water-based ink]). We reviewed some of the Twinkle inks (shimmering) previously but I have not tried any of the Wishy-Washy formula (most washable inks).. yet so stayed tuned for that.
The inks we tested in this batch are clockwise from top left: Tesla Coil, Rotten Seaweed, Antique Sepia, Chimney Soot (Everlasting), Smokebox and Periwinkle. All inks sell for $15-$17 per 60ml bottle.
I’ll start with Rotten Seaweed which is in the range of my favorite colors — that muted lime green. Rotten Seaweed is a bit more gold-green than many in my collection. Its most similar to the Pen Chalet Robert Oster Exclusive Saguaro Green (second swatch from top). J. Herbin Vert Olive is a bit brighter and greener, Oster Chartuese (top sample) is a bit darker. In the middle swatches are Colorverse Pluto & Beyond and Gluon LE Edition from the Standard Model Set. While I have dozens of lime green, these were the closest. Rotten Seaweed is a more muted, golden green. I find it a very intriguing color and the shading gives an array of celery to day-old avocado colors.
Birmingham Pen Co Tesla Coil is a heavy sheening ink in a deep blue with a very visible red/pink sheen. Its a color that is pretty common in the ink world nowadays and is similar to Diamine Maureen, Organics Studio Nitrogen and the Colorverse Dromgoole’s Exclusive NASA Blue.
These inks always remind me of those automotive paint colors that look different in sunlight. Super sheeners like this will catch the light and look more red than blue but in lower, less extreme light or on different paper stocks, the sheen may not be noticeable at all.
Inks this sheening can have some rub off because there is so much pigment that it sits on the surface of the paper. If it comes into contact with any humidity or moisture, the color can smear. Tesla Coil is no more likely to do this than any of these other colors but just be wary. This smearing is of particular concern to lefties and folks who like to use both sides of the paper in their notebooks as there can be some transference.
Ah, Periwinkle! Laura and I were laughing because she’s been reviewing periwinkle hued inks the last few weeks in honor of the Pantone Color of the Year and here I go, encroaching on her theme. Birmingham Pen Co. Periwinkle is a more orchid reddish purple that some of the colors she’s reviewed (ink 1 and ink 2). Compared to the swatched shown above, Periwinkle as a beautiful shading ink, is a bit darker than Ferris Wheel Press Little Robinia and warmer in hue than Troublemaker Foxglove or Kobe #57 Himeajisai/Hydrangea. Its hard to say definitively if this is my favorite of the lot but its darn close.
Ah, Smokebox. I love a good grey ink an Smokebox is right up there in the shading, neutral/cool grey category along with Kaweco Smokey Grey, Edelstein Moonstone and Montblanc Oyster Grey. Smokebox is a more modestly priced ink when compared to Montblanc and Edelstein but the Kaweco is in a similar price range.
I know it was probably unfair to put Birmingham Chimney Soot Everlasting ink up against the reigning champ of permanent black inks but it’s the only permanent black ink I own. Remarkably, it performed quite well with just a little color transfer on the largest, most ink saturated writing on th top of this card. On both cards, over the lettering, I brushed a wet paint brush over the writing to test its waterproofiness. Chimney Soot is a competitor!
The last ink I tried was the Antique Sepia which is a color-shifting ink. It has a lot of mossy green with pools of a warmer pinky-beige and some deeper teal halo-ing. Finding a comp to this weas a challenge. I don’t have a lot of color shifting inks but the Troublemaker colors (Petrichor and Kelp Tea) have some of the same hues but with different over- and under-tones. Kala Abstraction Pigment ink in Sierra Mist is the closest ink I have to the dominant color in Antique Sepia.
Overall, I’m delighted to see how vast the Birmingham Pen Co. ink offerings are and how much they are experimenting with a range of ink properties. Their generous 60ml bottle for approx. $15 is incredibly reasonable for indie-produced inks.
Check out their collection for yourself and let me know what your favorite colors are.