Experiments With Fountain Pen Ink

Back in 2009 we were like mad scientists with our fountain pen ink – instead of buying a bottle of ink in each color we were mixing ink colors to create our own custom color shades. It was creative and a lot of fun, with some so-so results and some fantastic inky discoveries! Have you ever given ink mixing a try?

The four very basic ink colors you need to create a rainbow of other colors are cyan, magenta, yellow and black (or CMYK) which are also the basic ink colors used in printing. To get the equivalent of CMYK in fountain pen ink you need:

J. Herbin Ink
Cyan = J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche
Magenta = J. Herbin Rose Cyclamen
Yellow = J. Herbin Bouton D’or
Black = J. Herbin Perle Noire

Noodler’s Ink
Cyan = Noodler’s Navajo Turquoise
Magenta = Noodler’s Shah’s Rose
Yellow = Noodler’s Yellow
Black = Noodler’s Black

Platinum Mixable Ink
Cyan = Platinum Aqua Blue
Magenta = Platinum Cyclamen Pink
Yellow = Platinum Sunny Yellow
Black = Platinum Smoke Black

This was the inspiration behind creating our own Noodler’s Ink Starter Kit in 2009, which is still available at Writer’s Bloc. This kit contains about 1/2 oz each of the 4 basic Noodler’s Ink mixing colors in glass eyedropper bottles that are useful for measuring ink drops in your experiments. If you need somewhere to store your ink color creations, we’ve got several solutions for you: capped test tubes, eyedropper bottles, small plastic bottles and a blunt tip needle bottle (for filling empty ink cartridges).

Ink Mixing Color Chart

Ink Mixing Color Chart

Read more about ink mixing and check out some of our favorite custom ink colors:

Ocean Jade Ink

Ocean Jade Ink

Other reasons we were experimenting with fountain pen ink back in 2009 were to see if this would improve ink flow in some dry-writing pens and also to find the most saturated, blackest black fountain pen inks.

Green LAMY Safari with a Calligraphy Nib

Green LAMY Safari with a Calligraphy Nib

Another experiment that proved to be popular in 2009 was swapping the regular nibs on LAMY Safari fountain pens with LAMY calligraphy nibs. It’s a great way to try out some calligraphy without having to buy a whole new fountain pen. Have you tried this yourself? We used to swap the nibs for you in our shop. Now, you can buy an extra LAMY calligraphy nib at a discounted price at the same time as you purchase a LAMY Safari fountain pen. Or, if you’ve already got a LAMY Safari, you can buy the nibs separately. We’ve got easy instructions so that you can change the nib yourself.

Changing the Nib on a LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

Changing the Nib on a LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

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Reflections of a Left Handed Writer

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

The 10 year anniversary of Writer’s Bloc has got me reminiscing about my first fountain pen purchase way back in 2008. It was an inexpensive blue-black Platinum Preppy with a fine nib. At that time, as a left-handed writer who was constantly having issues with messy smeared ink, I was a little hesitant to try a fountain pen. Several years later my collection of fountain pens has grown to include a quirky variety and I’m still using that same Preppy fountain pen! Needless to say, my experiments with fountain pens were a resounding success and now I rarely ever pick up a ball point pen. I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of the classic fountain pen as a writing tool.

If you’re a lefty that’s considering whether or not to try a fountain pen, possibly you can relate to my past experiences recorded on this blog:

Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

Lime Green LAMY Safari Fountain Pen

In 2008, the same year I purchased my first LAMY Safari fountain pen, we were helping writers learn how to swap the steel nibs on their own LAMY fountain pens. This is such a great thing to know if you like to experiment or end up damaging a nib or have a nib that you just don’t care for. It’s a lot cheaper to just replace the nib on a LAMY pen that you already own than to buy a whole new pen (although buying new pens is fun too). Here are the instructions from our first lesson:

Other experiments we were busy with in 2008 included converting cartridge fill fountain pens into eye dropper fill fountain pens. If you’re not familiar with eye dropper fill pens, their advantage is that the entire barrel of the pen becomes an ink reservoir! Kaweco Sport Classic or Ice fountain pens are ideal for this purpose. Check out our Pen Mods eye dropper fill edition and a tip from Noodler’s Ink:

Were you writing with fountain pens a decade ago? If so, what were you writing with? Over the years a good fountain pen often becomes like a good friend to those of us who love to write.

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens

Kaweco Sport Classic Fountain Pens

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2016 Pantone Color of the Year & Your Favorite Office Supplies

Rose Quartz & Serenity - Pantone Colors of the Year 2016

Rose Quartz & Serenity – Pantone Colors of the Year 2016

The Pantone color of the year for 2016 is actually a pairing of two colors: Rose Quartz and Serenity. The Pantone website explains the thought behind their selection for this year:

Joined together Rose Quartz and Serenity demonstrate an inherent balance between a warmer embracing rose tone and the cooler tranquil blue, reflecting connection and wellness as well as a soothing sense of order and peace.

Would you like to add these calm, relaxing colors to your stationery arsenal? Below are a few of our favorite choices of pens, ink and paper related items that are part of this color family.

The first pens that come to my mind when I think of Serenity and Rose Quartz are the Platinum Plaisir fountain pens in a pearlized soft pink and frosty blue. Also worth mentioning is the popular Aurora Style Aquamarine pale blue fountain pen.

It’s not common to find pastel shades of fountain pen ink, however there are a few inks out there that remind me of the 2016 Pantone colors. Noodler’s Periwinkle Eternal Ink is inspired by the color of the blue curve of a periwinkle snail’s shell and Noodler’s Ink Polar Blue makes me think of washed denim. J. Herbin’s Bouquet d’Antan is a soft, muted shade of light pink. If the thought of a tropical sea makes you feel relaxed, then try J. Herbin Bleu Azur fountain pen ink.

The PlePle Candy Wrap Pen and Pencil Case is a calming shade of blue.

Personalize your letters or other items by using a brass stamp and J. Herbin Rose colored Supple Sealing Wax.

Shades of blue and pink pastel paper can be found in Clairefontaine’s Multiple Subject Notebooks (small, medium or large) and Clairefontaine Loose Sheets of paper with Graph or French Rules. Exacompta also has pastel colored index cards that are super smooth and their grid lines make it so that any side of the card can be the top.

What are your favorite Rose Quartz and Serenity blue colored pens, paper and ink?

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Your Fall Stationery Style Guide

Do you like to change your stationery supplies with the change of the season? I do! Now that autumn is here the ink in my fountain pens changes to warm, rich fall colors such as orange, gold, maroon and brown. Of course, it is necessary to select a harmonizing pen and notebook to complete the ensemble. Here are some of our fall stationery favorites:

Yellow Leaf

Yellow & Gold: One of my favorite everyday writing tools is the LAMY Safari fountain pen which is available in a cheery bright yellow that reminds me of the autumn color of some maple or birch tree leaves. Yellow ink is not practical for regular handwriting writing, so I like to use a golden amber shade such as J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie fountain pen ink. If you’re new to fountain pens, and you’re going to use bottled ink in your LAMY Safari or Al-Star pen, you’ll need to get a LAMY Z24 ink converter.

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen in Yellow

LAMY Safari Fountain Pen in Yellow

J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie Fountain Pen Ink

Orange Pumpkin

Orange: I love seeing all of the colorful autumn squash in the supermarket this time of year. The star of this fall’s orange fountain pens is the limited edition copper-orange LAMY Al-Star pen. This relative of the LAMY Safari fountain pen is made from light-weight aluminum with a metallic finish. LAMY created special copper-orange ink cartridges just to match this fountain pen. A couple of my favorite orange bottled inks with nice shading are Noodler’s Apache Sunset and Noodler’s Habanero ink. Want a paper notebook with an orange cover? Go no further than Rhodia‘s famous orange notepads available in all sorts of styles and sizes with fountain pen friendly paper.

LAMY Al-Star Copper-Orange Fountain Pen

LAMY Al-Star Copper-Orange Fountain Pen

R by Rhodia Notepad, Medium Size, Orange Cover and a Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen

R by Rhodia Notepad with an orange cover and a Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen

Red Maple Leaves

Red & Maroon: Doesn’t this orange Rhodia notepad look stylish next to these red Japanese maple leaves? The color of these leaves makes me think of the deep burgundy red color of the clear resin Bourgogne Platinum 3776 Century Fountain Pen. Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink in Momiji or Autumn Leaves is a red shade emulating the bright red leaves that are iconic of a Japanese autumn landscape. The ivory paper inside the red Quo Vadis Habana Journal complements the warm, autumn shades of ink that I use this time of year.

Platinum 3776 Century Fountain Pen - Bourgogne

Platinum 3776 Century Fountain Pen – Bourgogne

Brown Turkey Tail Fungus

Brown: I absolutely adore anything in tortoiseshell, and the Stipula Tuscany Dreams Peposo Fountain Pen in Brown Tortoiseshell is no exception! It’s a pity that this manly pen is too large for my small hands. This pen pairs well with J. Herbin Lie de The Ink Cartridges or Pilot Iroshizuku Wild Chestnut ink which is a brown color similar to the shade of a ripe, fallen chestnut shell during autumn. Aston Leather’s pen cases in golden caramel Tan or dark Brown are going to look great with and provide protection for any of your fall writing instruments.

Stipula Tuscany Dreams Peposo Fountain Pen - Brown Tortoiseshell

Stipula Tuscany Dreams Peposo Fountain Pen – Brown Tortoiseshell

What are your favorite stationery items for fall?

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Noodler’s Ink: Same Great Fountain Pen Ink, Different Bottle

Noodler's Ink 3 oz Glass Bottles

Noodler’s Ink 3 oz Glass Bottles

January 2016 Update: Noodler’s Ink glass bottles will be back soon. Once the plastic bottles are all used up the glass bottles will return. Great news!

Noodler’s Ink has just started to use a new container for some of their fountain pen inks. Instead of a square clear 3 oz glass bottle, new batches of ink will be contained in a round white plastic bottle that holds slightly more ink. Why the change?

For now, glass bottle manufacturers have discontinued producing the traditional 3 oz glass bottle. Noodler’s Ink was given the choice to switch to a smaller size of glass bottle and to raise their prices, but instead they have chosen to use a plastic bottle. It is unknown as to how long the plastic bottle will be used. They are hoping to switch back to the 3 oz glass bottles in the future. The glass bottles used for the 4.5 oz and 1 oz sizes of ink will remain unchanged.

We agree with Noodler’s Ink that what is contained in the bottles is more important than the bottle itself, and we trust that they will continue to provide us with a wide variety of fantastic fountain pen inks! If you’d like to hear the story in more detail, you can watch Nathan’s 10 minute video below about the new bottles.

If you’re a fan of the glass bottles and you find that your new Noodler’s Ink is now inside a plastic bottle, remember the pros of their decision:

  • There is no price increase
  • Reduced risk of breaking a plastic bottle
  • Slightly more ink is inside the new bottle
  • Reduced weight
  • UV light resistant bottle

 

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Fountain Pen Ink Art: Noodler’s Bernanke Blue

DSC00656If you’ve ever sketched with fountain pen ink perhaps you’ve had the same experience I’ve had – you’re almost done with your creation and then you accidentally smear an area of the sketch that’s not quite dry yet. Doh! I’ve been wanting to try Noodler’s Bernanke Blue fountain pen ink for drawing to see if this fast-drying ink would improve my odds of avoiding any smearing. My first experiment was a success! During the entire sketching process not a line was smeared anywhere in the drawing.

Noodler’s Bernanke inks are formulated with left-handed writers in mind. This ink is smear resistant even when writing over the words (or a drawing) with your hand. In addition to Blue, Noodler’s Bernanke Ink is also available in Black. It is not water resistant, so if you want ink that stays put when you paint watercolors over it, this would not be it. For general sketching purposes it worked great!

I used a Platinum Plaisir fountain pen with a fine nib and a Clairefontaine Graf-it Sketch Book with 90g paper to make this drawing of my canine friend Murray. By the look on his face I think he’s trying to say “What does a pup have to do to get some sleep around here?”

DSC00663

DSC00659

DSC00634

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Don’t Let Your Fountain Pen Become a Freezing Fatality This Winter!

Snowy City

Do you live in a town with a cold climate? Have you ever left your fountain pen in a parked car or other frigid place and come back hours later to discover ink exploding out of your spare ink cartridges or a crack in the barrel of your fountain pen? These annoying mishaps are caused by the fountain pen ink expanding as it freezes. I grew up in a city with very cold winters and would give up entirely on using any sort of pen when I was outdoors on the coldest of days. Even ballpoint pens would freeze and refuse to write. My winter writing arsenal consisted of pencils only.

Noodler’s Ink has addressed these frozen ink issues by creating freeze-resistant Polar Inks. Noodler’s Polar Inks are not meant to carry you through a severe winter in Antarctica, but they will resist forming a solid mass of ice within a glass ink bottle during most cold weather conditions. If some icy slush forms in the bottle, the ink will still be fine when it warms to room temperature. Noodler’s assures us that these inks “are made to resist the damaging expansion that water based products can be subject to when exposed to freezing temperatures and harsh winter weather.” Your fountain pen will be much safer when exposed to the cold temperatures of winter when it is filled with Polar Ink.

Currently, Noodler’s Polar Fountain Pen Ink is available in these colors:

Are you prepared to winter? Why not prepare your fountain pen by filling it with Noodler’s Polar Ink.

Noodler's Ink - Polar Black

Noodler’s Ink – Polar Black

Noodler's Ink - Polar Blue

Noodler’s Ink – Polar Blue

Noodler's Ink - Polar Green

Noodler’s Ink – Polar Green

Noodler's Ink - Polar Brown

Noodler’s Ink – Polar Brown

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Which Gray Fountain Pen Ink Looks the Most Like a Pencil?

If you’d rather write with a fountain pen, but want your writing to look like it was done with a pencil, which gray fountain pen ink should you choose? Pencil lead varies in width and softness/hardness making your writing appear darker or lighter in color. Also the kind of paper you’re writing on and how hard you press down on the pencil can influence the appearance of the line that is produced. Fountain pen ink is similar – the results vary depending on the width of the fountain pen nib and the paper you are writing on.

Writing done with a variety of pencils

Writing done with a variety of pencils

The color of writing produced by pencil in our test turned out to be a warm shade of gray. Two fountain pen inks that are also warm shades of gray are Pilot Iroshizuku Fountain Pen Ink Kiri-same Autumn Shower/Scotch Mist and Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray. Lexington Gray is a dark shade of warm gray and Scotch Mist is a medium shade.

Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Scotch Mist Ink

Noodler's Ink Lexington Gray

Noodler’s Ink Lexington Gray

Three other gray inks that are cool shades of gray are: J. Herbin Gris NuageOMAS Gray Fountain Pen Ink and Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun Old Man Winter/Rigor of Winter. When placed right next to writing done in pencil these inks have more of a “silvery” appearance (they are not actually metallic) because graphite pencil lead produces a warmer color of writing. On their own, away from any actual pencil, these inks still do have a pencil-y appearance.

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin Gris Nuage Fountain Pen Ink

Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink

Omas Grey Fountain Pen Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink

Pilot Iroshizuku Rigor of Winter Ink

We’ve scanned some samples of writing done on Clairefontaine French ruled paper in both pencil and ink for you to compare. What do you think? Are there any of your favorite inks you’d like to add to this list?

Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison

Pencil & Ink Writing Comparison

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14 Inks To Match Your Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star Fountain Pen

LAMY Al-Star Blue-Green & Matching Fountain Pen Inks

LAMY Al-Star Blue-Green & Matching Fountain Pen Inks

Looking for a blue-green shade of fountain pen ink to match your brand new Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star? We’ve got 14 suggestions for you! These colors range from bright to muted and from light to dark. Some shades of ink are more blue and other shades are more green. We chose a variety of inks to accommodate the variety of tastes fountain pen users might have. Of course, a photo on the internet isn’t going to give you an exact representation of the actual color. It’s helpful to look at the colors side by side to give you an idea of how they compare. Our list shown in the photo includes:

Left column, top to bottom:

Right column, top to bottom:

If you’re not the matchy-matchy type and want a contrasting color of ink that looks great with the Blue-Green LAMY AL-Star our first choice would be blue-black or navy blue, especially Noodler’s Air-Corp Blue-Black fountain pen ink. Black, gray and even dark brown inks are a good match too. What color of fountain pen ink do you like to use with your Blue-Green AL-Star?

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What Pen & Ink Should You Use For Signing Legal Documents?

A friend of mine recently got a new position at her company that involves signing multiple legal documents during each business day. She needs to use either blue or black ink and wondered what fountain pen and ink I would suggest. Being a fellow stationery addict, she wanted something much more interesting, and more fraud resistant, to use at the office than a ballpoint pen.

The first fountain pen inks that came to my mind were the Noodler’s Warden’s Series of inks that are among the most advanced fraud resisting inks in the world. The Warden’s ink fraud-proof qualities are special since most fountain pen inks on the market are not waterproof or fraud resistant. According to the Noodler’s website these inks resist “all the known tools of a forger, UV light, UV light wands, bleaches, alcohols, solvents, petrochemicals, oven cleaners, carpet cleaners, carpet stain lifters, and of course…they are also waterproof once permitted to dry upon cellulose paper.” In addition to these characteristics they even resist “potential tools of the forger that have not yet been observed in general use by law enforcement.” The Warden’s Inks come in 3 oz bottles (no cartridges) and are available in these blue and black colors:

The next thing I thought of was that I wouldn’t want to use my most expensive fountain pens at the office, unless I could somehow put a 24-hour guard on them and made sure they never left my possession. Even well-meaning coworkers have been known to borrow a nice pen and misplace it or forget to return it. Besides the thought of using a less expensive pen at work, if you are using your fountain pen frequently you want something that is durable. The Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen is a great choice. It currently sells for less than $15.00, has a metal cap and barrel that won’t crack and it comes with a converter so that you can use bottled ink. You can’t do much better than that! Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen color choices include:

My second choice for an office fountain pen would be a LAMY Safari with an ink converter and a medium nib. Usually signature lines on documents give you a fair amount of room to sign, so a medium nib should make your signature look great. It also prevents you from accidentally poking through the cheap paper you will probably be signing on. Speaking of cheap paper, you may experience some ink bleed-through and feathering when using a fountain pen on poor quality paper. Even though this might be the case, I still personally prefer to use a fountain pen. LAMY Safari standard colors include:

LAMY Vista Fountain Pen

LAMY Vista Fountain Pen

Another thing to think about – are the documents you are signing a single copy or do you need to press firmly to produce multiple copies? In my friend’s case, she is only signing single copies so a fountain pen is just fine. If you are pressing firmly to produce a duplicate copy (or copies) a fountain pen will not work. In this instance you’ll need to go with a roller ball pen or something similar. If you’d still like to use the Noodler’s Warden’s Ink, there are a few roller ball pens on the market that fill with fountain pen ink. You’ll need to make sure you have the proper ink converter if you need one. Some examples of roller ball pens that fill with fountain pen ink are:

Stipula Bon Voyage Speed Ball Pen - Sapphire

Stipula Bon Voyage Speed Ball Pen – Sapphire

Of course, the requirements for each work environment will vary, and this blog post is not meant to be legal advice. Do you need to sign legal documents at work? What kind of pen do you use? If you use a fountain pen in the office, what kind of fountain pen & ink do you choose?

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