L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Inca Sol
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 watercolour-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.
In this review I take a closer look at Inca Sol, one of several ochre-coloured inks in the Callifolio line. The name Inca Sol conjures up images of a dry & dusty valley, baking in the midday sun. And the ink fits this image well - a sepia-brown colour with red-orange undertones. Unfortunately, this ink also fits the dry & dusty moniker: in my fairly dry review pens (Lamy Safari), this ink definitely feels very dry, scratchy and undersaturated. You really need broad and wet pens to bring out the best in this ink. See also visvamitra's review
, which shows the ink with wet/broad nibs. I tend to use F/M nibs, so this ink is not really made for me. Also, the colour doesn't really speak to me, but that is of course a purely personal matter. I much prefer the more orange-leaning sepia's in the Callifolio series (like itzamna, cannelle, ...).
The ink shows some subdued shading, which is more pronounced in broader nibs. With fine nibs, the shading is almost non-existent, giving the ink a much flatter and less-appealing look.
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. Inca Sol is capable of a broad range of sepia shades - ranging from a really light sepia, to an almost dark brown.
On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - Inca Sol behaved really well. There is some small smearing of the text, but without any impact on readability. Water resistance is also remarkably good for a Callifolio ink. The residue left on the page can easily be reconstructed, so you won't lose your precious writing. This is also apparent from the bottom part of the chromatography: a sepia-brown residue remains, while the red-orange dyes drain away.
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)
Inca Sol behaved perfectly on all paper types, with only a tiny bit of feathering on the notoriously bad Moleskine paper. Drying times are quite short in the 5-10 second range with my Lamy Safari test pen (M-nib). The ink shows a more-or-less consistent look across paper types. For some reason, it looks more saturated on Paperblanks and HP 80gsm printer paper. Since I use Paperblanks for journaling, that's a plus for me personally.
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. Only with the Moleskine paper there is noticeable bleed-through, which means you cannot use the backside of the paper. All in all a really well-behaving ink.
Inkxperiment – sun above pyramid
As a personal experiment, I try to produce interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and have found these single-ink drawings a nice challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. This drawing was done on 90gsm sketch paper. Inspiration came from the name "Inca Sol" itself. For the background I used water-diluted ink to obtain the lighter tones. Once dry, I penciled in the Inca pyramid with my Lamy Safari (B-nib), and painted the sun above the pyramid (here I added some bleach to produce the highlights - the protuberance detail looks cool, but in reality covers up a smear I made while painting in the ink ;-). I finally added the hieroglyphs to accentuate the Inca setting. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Inca Sol is capable of.
Callifolio Inca Sol from L'Artisan Pastellier is a brown-red sepia ink, that's just not one of my favourites. The colour is not really for me, but that is a personal matter. But the ink is also too dry and undersaturated, especially in finer nibs. You really need wet & broad pens to get some satisfaction from this ink. As such, not really a good writing ink, but when used for drawing, this ink certainly has some potential.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Back-side of writing samples on different paper types