L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Bonne Esperance
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 Bonne Esperance, one of the many blue inks of the series. The blue Callifolio inks are named after rivers, lakes and oceans - this blue liquid gets its name from Cap de Bonne Espérance in South-Africa. Colourwise this is a more or less washed-out dark grey-blue ink, with a bit of a vintage feel. For me personally, the ink lacks a certain complexity, and as such looks a bit dull and uninteresting. Not an ink that I'm excited about.
Technically, the ink feels rather dry in my Safari test pens, and really needs wetter nibs for a pleasant writing experience. When left uncapped, I experienced hard starts after a minute or so. Not so good. On the plus side, Bonne Esperance shades nicely, with an aesthetically pleasing balance between the light and darker parts. This shading is even present in finer nibs, but really comes to the front in B-nibs and above.
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. Bonne Esperance disappointed me a bit here: it's dynamic range is rather limited, which might explain why the ink feels a bit dull and flat.
On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - Bonne Esperance showed a lot of smearing, but the text remains readable. Water resistance is low: most of the dyes quickly wash away, leaving only a faint greyish residue, that is barely readable. Not an ink to use when water resistance 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 small strips to show you the ink's appearance and behaviour on different paper types. On every 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)
Bonne Esperance behaved perfectly on all the paper types, with no apparent feathering even on the lower quality papers in my test set. With Moleskine, a tiny amount of feathering shows, but you almost need a magnifying glass to spot this. Drying times are mostly around the 10 second mark, with a low of 5 seconds on the more absorbent paper. The ink is equally at home with both white and off-white creamy paper. The ink looks really nice on Paperblanks and Fantasticpaper - on the other papers I found the ink's expression to be underwhelming (too washed out, and - dare I say - a bit boring).
I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. With the low-end Moleskine there is some show-through and bleed-through. With the other papers, Bonne Esperance's behaviour is impeccable. The ink copes really well with a wide variety of paper types.
Inkxperiment – Moon over Gizah
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. For this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. The background was brushed on with water-diluted ink. I then painted in the pyramids and other details with undiluted ink. For the moon, I used a touch of bleach to create the cratered surface features. For drawing, Bonne Esperance's limited colour range makes it more difficult to obtain interesting results - definitely not an easy one for doing a single-ink drawing.
Bonne Espearance is a dark grey-blue ink with a washed out look. The ink works well in all nib sizes, with some decent shading. Technically, I found the ink to be too dry for pleasant writing. You really need a wet nib to compensate for this. The ink also has zero water resistance, and is prone to hard starts when left uncapped for short periods of time. For me personally, this ink lacks somewhat in complexity, and even feels a bit dull. Not an ink that I could get excited about.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Backside of writing samples on different paper types