Robert Oster Signature - Purple Rock
Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. On his website he describes our shared love quite eloquently: “Robert Oster Signature originates from one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world, the Coonawarra district of South Australia, an idyllic setting with great influence on the senses. There is my inspiration. It’s a joy to share it with you.” Well, we are certainly fortunate to have inspiring ink makers like Robert Oster to satiate our thirst for glorious inks.
In this review I take a closer look at Purple Rock – a mesmerizing grey-purple ink. The colour is stunning, with a definite vintage feel. It writes wet and smooth, and can accommodate all nib sizes with equal grace. The ink shades beautifully without too much contrast between the lighter and darker parts, just as I like it. In swabs, the ink definitely shows its purple character, but in writing it’s more of a dark purple-grey.
And it’s that purple component that provides all the magic ! When writing, the ink is laid down in a dark grey line, with the purple undertone surfacing as it dries. This is a really neat effect – you just stop writing while watching the ink change its hue as it dries. Mesmerizing! There’s also some strange magic going on between ink and light. Depending on the light and the angle you’re looking at the paper, the inks’ appearance can change from a dark grey to quite a purple colour. Fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say (but also quite impossible to catch with my scanner).
On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – Purple Rock behaved very well – there is only some minor smearing. Water resistance is totally non-existent though – even short exposures to water completely obliterate your writing. On the droplet test and after short exposures to running tap water, all the ink simply vanished. This is clear from the lower part of the chroma – almost no ink remains attached to the paper. The chroma also shows the complex character of the ink – Mr. Oster sure has great mixing skills.
I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On every small band of paper I show you:
- An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip
- 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
- An ink scribble made with an M-nib fountain pen
- The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
- A small text sample, written with an M-nib
- Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Purple Rock behaved perfectly on most paper types. For some reason though, the chemistry of the ink clashes with Moleskine paper, resulting in more of a sickly green-grey – all those lovely purple undertones are just gone ! Hard to believe that this is the same ink. With the Moleskine paper, there’s also significant see-through and bleed-through. Drying times are mostly around the 10-15 second mark. The ink looks beautiful both on the white and the more yellowish paper. Purple Rock’s appearance differs widely across the paper types – from mostly grey on Tomoe River to mostly purple on Fantasticpaper. I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order.
Robert Oster Purple Rock is a very nice vintage-looking purple-grey. The ink has great dynamics: it changes hue as it dries, and the purple undertones have a fascinating way of changing with the ambient light and the angle you look at the paper. It’s a nice wet and saturated ink, with good contrast on all types of paper, but with no water resistance at all. Overall I’m impressed by this creation of the Australian ink master – definitely an ink to use on a regular basis. If you like greys or purples and/or dusty inks, this ink rightfully deserves a place in your collection.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib