Iroshizuku is a line of ink produced by Pilot under their high-end Namiki brand. The natural landscape and plants of Japan inspire the colors in the line, resulting in some of the most interesting and unique ink around. Some of my earliest reviews were of Iroshizuku ink: Yu-Yake, a delightful burnt orange; Momiji, an incredible, if subtle red; Yama-Budo, a ripe, juicy purple; Kiri-Same, the color of storm clouds in a bottle; and Kon-Peki, a deep and intoxicating ocean blue.
I’d like to begin by offering a hearty apology to the fine folks at Jet Pens, who sent me a bottle of Iroshizuku Asagao all the way back in October of 2013. At the time, I thought that I could sneak in an ink review in the middle of my EMBA program. That was a gross over-estimation of time and ability on my part. I managed to get the ink samples created, but the review itself never materialized – always de-prioritized in favor of papers, presentations, and projects.
J. Herbin Rouge Opera should come with a warning. If you fill your fountain pen with it, you will, in short order, develop a compulsion to listen to Puccini, Verdi, and, perhaps, Bizet. The ink is the color of a heavy, velvet stage curtain and of walls lined with brocade. It’s the color of soprano Anna Netrebko’s dress in the 2005 staging of La Traviata. It’s each of those shades from moment to moment, and it’s all of them at once.
J. Herbin makes watercolor-lovely ink. Some colors, like Bleu Myosotis, give the impression that the viewer is looking at a field of wildflowers through a set of gauzy curtains in the pale light of a spring morning. Bleu Pervenche, on the other hand, places the viewer on a rocky outcropping, gazing out at the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean, one hand against the brow to shield his eyes, squinting in the summer sun.
There are many good things to say bout the Goulet Pen Company, but one of them is the degree of care they take in packaging items for shipment. Most bottles of ink are individually wrapped to insure against leakage, then are wrapped in several layers of bubble wrap to prevent them from getting banged around, and then again in plastic wrap to protect them against the elements. As you might expect, I’ve never had any item arrive in a damaged state, despite packages being left in the rain, left in the snow, and left in the rain/snow combination whimsically referred to as a “wintery mix.
My infatuation with Noodler’s bulletproof ink continues. This time, it is #41 Brown – an ink named after the junior senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown. I’ll get to the political meaning behind the name later, when I discuss the label - but for now, let it be known that the ink is a rich, dark brown with golden overtones. It is highly saturated, like most Noodler’s inks, which results in a solid, clean line with little shading.
De Atramentis Aubergine is a wonderful, juicy purple that is more red than Diamine Imperial Purple, but less so than Iroshizuku Yama Budo. It’s one of those inks that possess a name that’s far more evocative than anything I could come up with. They weren’t kidding when they named it Aubergine. The color fits nicely into the purple family – filling a gap in my ink collection that I didn’t even know existed.
Rohrer and Klingner make wonderful inks – I’ve enjoyed Morinda, a vibrant, juicy candy-red, and Verdigris, a dark, weathered blue-green. I also really liked Scabiosa, a dusky purple, and one of the only non-blue-black iron gall inks that I’ve ever seen. Salix is R&K’s other iron gall ink, and it, too, defies the traditional iron-gall color scheme, though not as significantly as Scabiosa. Salix goes down on paper a bright oceanic blue and then darkens as it dries.
…or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Noodler’s Black was the very first bottle of fountain pen ink that I purchased. I’d heard people rave about the ink – how smooth it made any pen write, how solid a line it produced, how little it feathered on nearly any surface. When I set out to use it though, I was unimpressed. I reviewed it unenthusiastically, citing its long dry time and lack of character as reasons I didn’t plan to use it frequently.
We writers often struggle with the concept that our words might not survive us. Thousands of artists have produced countless poems and plays and prose over the years, of which but a few remain in the popular consciousness. What will remain of our words when we pass beyond the veil? A poem? A story? Will a collection of ink reviews define my literary existence for future generations? Complicating our ennui is the medium that we choose.