L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Aurora
L’Artisan Pastellier is a small company in southern France that specialises in natural pigments, and offers customers authentic and reliable products in beautiful colours based on mineral or vegetable pigments. In a collaboration with Loic Rainouard from Styloplume.net, the chemist Didier Boinnard from L’Artisan Pastellier created the line of Callifolio fountain pen inks. These pastel-coloured inks are traditionally crafted, and can be freely mixed and matched. Overall these inks are only moderately saturated, and have low water-resistance. The inks were specifically designed to work well with all types of paper, and all types of fountain pens.
Being pastel-tinted, these inks have a watercolor-like appearance, and are not only fine inks for journaling, but are also really excellent inks for doodling & drawing. I only recently discovered them, and they are already the inks I gravitate towards for personal journaling.
This review puts the spotlight on Aurora, one of several ochre-coloured inks in the series. Aurora leans heavily towards the red, with a colour that reminds me of the broken pottery at an ancient dig site (hence the stela of king Menchepera in the title doodle). I like the colour, which has an ancient feel to it, as though it’s a red ink that has darkened with the ages. Really nice.
Aurora works well with all nib sizes, providing excellent contrast with the paper – even an EF nib provides remarkably good contrast. The ink looks good on both white and more yellowish paper. Callifolio Aurora shows off some strong shading, which already becomes visible in M-nibs and is really pronounced when using broader nibs. I would have liked a bit more subdued shading – but that’s just my personal preference. I did find the lubrication lacking with the finer nibs, but this feeling disappeared when using broader or wetter nibs. E.g. with an M-nib in my Lamy Safari, lubrication was clearly subpar. With a Pelikan M800 with M-nib on the other hand, the writing was really pleasant. Just something to be aware of: when using finer nibs, this ink prefers a wetter pen.
Because this ink has a red-leaning colour, it is really well suited for use as a “correction ink” – I’ve used it e.g. to revise typed documents at work. Beats the “red ballpoint” anytime !
To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I fully saturated portions of the paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. On heavily saturated parts, Aurora shifts from a reddish ink towards more of a brown colour.
On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – Aurora behaved really well, with only limited smearing of the text. Water resistance is a mixed story though. The chroma seems to indicate that a brownish image should remain on the paper. In reality readability is not nearly as good as the chroma suggests. If you can read the hieroglyphs on the stela, you probably have the patience to decipher eroded texts… and this patience is what you will need trying to make sense of what’s left on the paper once it has come into contact with water. Reconstruction is possible, but only with a lot of effort. Not a good ink if waterproofness is high on your list.
I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. For the Callifolio reviews, I’m using a format that shows you the ink’s appearance and behaviour on the different paper types. 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 Safari fountain pen
- The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
- A small text sample, written with the M-nib
- Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Aurora behaved perfectly on all the paper types, with no apparent feathering even on the lower quality papers in my test set. Drying times are in the 10-15 second range, except on some of the more absorbent papers. The ink looks fabulous on Paperblanks, which I use for daily journaling. In fact, it works really well with all of the paper types in my test set.
At the end of this review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. The ink behaved very good with almost all paper types. Even Moleskine paper behaved surprisingly well – there was only minimal bleed-through. All in all a really well-behaving ink.
Inkxperiment – a study in squares
I’ve recently started to experiment with ink drawings, keeping things simple and more-or-less abstract. I find it to be a fun extension of the hobby, and have found single-ink drawings a nice challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. In this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. I started with painting a rectangle with pure water, and applied Aurora on top of it with a brush. This creates the outline of the drawing. I filled the center with a dry felt-tip brush, dipped in Aurora – this gives the lighter rose-red colour. After drying, I added the squares with a fine brush, really saturating the lines. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Aurora is capable of.
Callifolio Aurora from L’Artisan Pastellier is a really nice brown-red ink, that is equally at home with both writing and drawing. The ink has good contrast with the paper, and works well with all paper types. But do yourself a favour and use this ink with a wet pen – the ink will reward you with its soul, and your writing experience will be that much better.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Back-side of writing samples on different paper types