MORE Ink Tests & Reviews, plus Bonus Side Notes

I’ve had another set of ink samples sitting around for a few weeks now, including three new J. Herbin inks that I received in my Rhodia Drive giveaway prize. It’s always frustrating to color-correct scans, so like last time, I offer some slightly more color-accurate photos.

The last time I ordered ink samples, I stuck pretty safely to a range of neutral colors. Maybe it was the winter weather, because I definitely branched out when ordering these in late May. They’re not all exactly functional, per say, but I’m planning to use them for colorful handwritten letters this summer.

For all of these tests, I used a dip pen, first with an italic nib and then with a rounder nib
(underneath). The rounder nib is a better demonstration of how this ink will appear in a fountain pen. All of these were tested on Clairefontaine bright white paper. As always, click on the images to view a larger version.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage: Ohh, I’m obsessed with this ink! This isn’t one of the bottles that I received from Rhodia Drive, but I wish it was. Compared to other grey inks (such as Noodler’s Lexington Gray), this is a cooler gray ink– the color of clouds on an overcast day. Gris Nuage is also a true grey ink, not a diluted black, and has beautiful shading. View more photos of this ink here and here.

Private Reserve Electric DC Blue: As my writing sample demonstrates, this is a very sexy ink. I tend to hate navy blue and blue-black inks, but I would definitely use this as an everyday color. It’s professional, in the sense that [*warning: mildly sexist remark*] a sexy high-heeled secretary is professional. View another photo here.

Private Reserve Blue Suede: I have to compare this to some of the blue-black inks that I already have, because it seems to fit into that color family. It’s also probably a tiny bit more green than it appears in this picture. Some shading.

J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe: Okay, this color is totally indulgent and I have no idea when or how I’ll use it, but gee is it summery. It reminds me of those chemical-laden cocktails that they serve at bars with blacklights. I was a little nervous ordering this one; most of the reviews that I saw said that it barely showed up. But for me, Diabolo Menthe is definitely legible, at least on Clairefontaine bright white paper. It also has beautiful shading– perhaps I’ll use it for calligraphy. See some of those reviews here andย here.

J. Herbin Vert Reseda: Reviewers of Diabolo Menthe claimed that Vert Reseda was a darker, more legible version. This was one of the three inks that I received from Karen Doherty at Exaclair, for the Rhodia Drive giveaway. This ink is also a bit more green than it appears in the photo, with no shading. On the bright white paper, it’s not only darker than Diabolo Menthe, but also more green– it almost resembles the “jungle green” crayon.

[*side note: is most of my generation going to remember specific crayon colors, even into adulthood? Remember “macaroni yellow”?*]

Private Reserve Shell Pink: This may be to be too light for dry-writing fountain pens. For thicker nibs, especially italic nibs, it has beautiful shading. For a pink ink, it’s not too pink. In fact, it’s rather tasteful– not at all like that sexy high-heeled secretary.

J. Herbin Rouille D’Ancre: I try to avoid pronouncing this ink’s name, as I’ve only studied German and Spanish and would probably butcher it. This is another one of the full-size bottles that I received in the Rhodia Drive giveaway. It’s more coral than I expected, but not too orange. I was a little afraid of Biffybean’s “band-aid” description, but I think with the right paper it’ll look quite nice. No shading, though.

Noodler’s Ottoman Rose: Another sexy color, very saturated. It’s probably a bit darker than it appears in the photo, and has no shading. I decided on this ink instead of the other “rose” inks out there, such as Sheaffer’s Persian Rose and Private Reserve Arabian Rose.

[*Side note: I’ve been uncomfortable with the Orientalist tradition of ink-naming every since I began to explore fountain pen inks. It’s understandable (if not excusable) for ink manufacturers a hundred years ago, but it’s absolutely unnecessary and somewhat offensive for modern ink makers to promote Orientalist discourse. In other words, why is it that deep red/rose inks are always “Persian,” “Arabian,” or “Ottoman,” while an “English Rose” colors tends to be a faded/dusty pink?*]

J. Herbin Poussiere de Lune: This is the third bottle I received in the Rhodia giveaway. Of the inks that I already own, I’d compare it most to Noodler’s Nightshade (which I swatched below to compare). It’s definitely lighter, and more purple than Nightshade, and I think I like it less. Interestingly, it feels like a more “feminine” ink to me than the Shell Pink– not in the good way. Read more reviews here and here.

 

Noodler’s Habanero: I wanted an orange with heavy shading, and I was torn between this ink, Noodler’s Cayenne, and Noodler’s Apache Sunset. For all three inks, reviews seemed to depend primarily on the pen used. I was expecting more shading, though I’ll have to try this in one of my italic-nib pens and see if it makes a difference.

Noodler’s Tiananmen and Waterman Havana Brown: I included these swatches to compare with Habanero and Lie de The. I reviewed them originally in this post.

J. Herbin Lie de The: I was really jonesin’ for J. Herbin’s Cacao de Bresil, but I like this ink! It’s almost the color of a nutshell after being buried under leaves, or of tea with milk (thus the doodle). Some other reviews have noted a slight green undertone, which makes it distinctive from other neutrals. It has some slight shading, and I wonder if it will come out more with a different pen. This would be a great letter-writing ink, especially on some nice parchment. Read more reviews here and here.

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5 Responses to “MORE Ink Tests & Reviews, plus Bonus Side Notes”


  1. 1 Stephanie December 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I know how hard it can be to get an accurate white balance when trying to photograph ink, paint or art. Though I *love* Clairefontaine paper, it always pulls blue in the photograph or scan. I think it has to do with the way the paper is made – for what it’s worth, if and when you can, try an ink test with a different paper – like the white drawing paper from the Clairefontaine Graf-It pads. I can send you a few sheets to play if you like…..

  2. 2 Cole December 4, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    @Stephanie — you’re so right about Clairefontaine! This post is so old, I hadn’t even noticed the blue overcast. But lucky you reminded me to go back and correct the color.. so I’ve uploaded new versions. They should be more accurate now!

    Thanks for the tip about testing on Graf It paper — I actually have a pad lying around somewhere… I’ll have to do the next round of testing on it ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. 1 The Roundup: Rhodia Drive Raffle Prize « The Orchard Trackback on July 3, 2009 at 2:18 pm
  2. 2 An Inky Return « The Orchard Trackback on August 15, 2009 at 8:54 pm
  3. 3 The Roundup: Rhodia Drive Raffle Prize Trackback on May 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

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