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Are Gray Inks Worth Buying?

iroshizuku kiri same take sumi heart of darkness gray ink dilute water down black ink

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92 replies to this topic

#1 rhymingisfun

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:11

I recently used a sample of Iroshizuku kiri same and I loved it, but I have to wonder, before I buy a bottle, if gray ink is worth it. Isn't it just watered down black ink? I put two drops of Noodler's Heart of Darkness and mixed it with almost 1ml of water and I got something quite similar in color, although it is missing the warmth of kiri same. Just looking for any other thoughts on this, if anyone is able to justify gray inks.

Kiri same is a really nice ink, so I may buy it anyway, but I can't get that nagging feeling out of the back of my mind that I could be much more frugal and just water down my black inks. Has anyone tried watering down take sumi?

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#2 ac12

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:16

Interesting question.

A year ago I thought the same.

Then I tried some Noodler's Lexington Grey, and that was an eye opener.

I normally like BLACK, but this was not BLACK.  It was a DARK grey, and as I mentioned my eyes, and that was the surprise.  The Lexington Grey was easier to read than the BLACK ink.  This was because the grey was not as harsh on my aging eyes as the BLACK ink is.  So grey is now an ink that I use.  But this is a DARK grey, not a light grey.


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#3 deacondavid

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:40

I would agree - take a look at Lexington Gray from Noodler's. As a bonus, it is also bulletproof. It's a much better result than just watering down a black ink.


Edited by deacondavid, 06 August 2016 - 21:40.

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#4 Tas

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:44

Defo Lexington Grey!

Will not budge from the paper and a joy to use in a pen.

Another grey that captured my heart (but sadly have yet to order) was Papier Plume Oyster Grey.



#5 zaddick

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:51

Watering down ink changes the lubrication, drying time, and saturation of the ink. If you want a grey ink, buy a grey ink.

I have several and I like the color over black.

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#6 rhymingisfun

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 21:57

Zaddick that makes perfect sense, just the answer I was looking for! Thank you!

#7 rhymingisfun

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 22:00

Appreciate the Lexington Gray recommendations, but I stay away from the waterproof inks. Not my cup of tea anymore. Thank you all

#8 Mauricio

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 22:59

Being a lover of flex nibs and inks that offer lots of shading, I recommend Diamine Grey after having been using it for several years in my vintage pens. It provides a great flowing ink that dries on paper fairly quick, has not clogged any of my pens, it is a very easy ink to flush from pens, and it provides awesome color shading.


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#9 MKeith

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 23:21

Actually I prefer gray over black inks. A bit warmer and softer to the eye, while still professional. Mont Blanc Oyster Grey is a very nice gray ink.


Edited by MKeith, 06 August 2016 - 23:24.

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#10 Bluey

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 23:40

Very much so. Dark grey inks to me are like shady black inks


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#11 zwack

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 03:05

I have to say that Lexington Gray is one of my favourite inks. My wife likes it too as she says it looks like pencil.

I am not sure why you avoid waterproof inks... That sounds like a tale worth telling.

#12 rhymingisfun

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 04:02

Actually I prefer gray over black inks. A bit warmer and softer to the eye, while still professional. Mont Blanc Oyster Grey is a very nice gray ink.


I've had my eye on that one, might be my next bottle. It looks so warm in all the photos I've seen, which is what drew me to Kiri Same.

#13 rhymingisfun

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 04:11

I have to say that Lexington Gray is one of my favourite inks. My wife likes it too as she says it looks like pencil.

I am not sure why you avoid waterproof inks... That sounds like a tale worth telling.


It's just an accumulation of little factors. I bought a bunch of waterproof Noodler's inks when I first started using fountain pens, but I've rarely ever lost any writing due to a paper getting wet. More common has been my clothes getting stained. I also don't like the amount of cleaning I have to do with the waterproof pens. With inks like Bad Blue Heron I have to wash the pen out after each fill because it gets clogged with black particles. These days just adore iroshizuku inks. They behave just as I want to.

#14 cleosmama

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 05:42

I love De Atramentis Fog Grey. It's the only grey I really use. 



#15 Chrissy

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 05:53

I rarely use black or gray inks, but Montblanc Einstein was a surprise to me.  :)



#16 migo984

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 06:06

zaddick is quite right. There are other factors other than colour.

I've grown to love grey inks, although I prefer darker versions. As an example, Oster Purple Rock is amazing. A dark grey ink, that shades with all the colours of a Welsh slate roof in the rain, including smokey purple. Like no other grey ink I own.

You wouldn't get that watering down a black ink.

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#17 zwack

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 18:59

zaddick is quite right. There are other factors other than colour.
I've grown to love grey inks, although I prefer darker versions. As an example, Oster Purple Rock is amazing. A dark grey ink, that shades with all the colours of a Welsh slate roof in the rain, including smokey purple. Like no other grey ink I own.


I agree that there are other factors than colour. Shading, Sheening, UV Flourescence, Flow,... Some inks are definitely better in certain pens and on certain papers.

As for Oster Purple Rock that sounds interesting. I wonder how it compares to a Scottish Slate roof in the rain (heck I am more familiar with the Lake District than Wales if it comes down to it). :D

#18 ENewton

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 19:13

Purple Rock sounds wonderful.  I can't wait for it to become more readily available.    



#19 SolberM

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 20:44

I think gray inks are worth it. Especially if you want an ink that doesn't stand out too much but isn't too 'bland' either (even if black inks are always pretty cool anyway).


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#20 migo984

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Posted 07 August 2016 - 21:07

................ As for Oster Purple Rock that sounds interesting. I wonder how it compares to a Scottish Slate roof in the rain (heck I am more familiar with the Lake District than Wales if it comes down to it). :D


I'm actually only familiar with Welsh slate. Purple Rock really does remind me of the slate around the Llanberis area.
Mind you it also looks a bit like Aberdeen on a mizzly day :-)

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: iroshizuku, kiri same, take sumi, heart of darkness, gray ink, dilute, water down, black ink



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