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The ‘Right’ Way To Do Ink Reviews To Serve One's Curiosity And Interests?

ink characteristics review methodology

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#161 A Smug Dill

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Posted 03 November 2019 - 06:20

Excellent question!


Thanks!
 

I am assuming (never a good idea) that you are referring to "how easy is the ink to clean from the pen".


I meant "if the ink has a propensity to stain" as well, in whichever way you meant it. The way I would think of it is that there is a continuous spectrum of possibilities, with several non-exhaustive waypoints listed below:
 

«easy to clean»

all traces removed simply by flushing with water at room temperature


requires prolonged soaking in some manner to be able to flush clean


requires 'scrubbing' with something, e.g. a paper towel or a cotton-tip applicator (or 'q-tip'), that is softer than the surface of the material to which ink has adhered despite prolonged soaking

(some might classify that as "staining" already, just because the pen barrel cavity is difficult to access)

colourants have chemically reacted with the surface of whatever material came into contact with the ink, and either chemical treatment (e.g. with household ammonia or commercial pen flush solution) or physical removal of the surface layer (i.e. scrubbing and/or polishing) to remove all traces of colour

no amount of chemical, physical or destructive treatment will remove all traces of colour from the ink from the material

«staining»

 
But then, factors such as:

  • how long an ink has been left in a converter, cartridge or pen's barrel cavity;
  • how concentrated the ink is, or has become due to loss of volume through evaporation of water as a constituent;
  • the material of the ink reservoir itself

would all come into play. Just because something would "stain" a perfectly sealed $0.06 plastic sample vial undisturbed for four weeks does not mean it'll stain a $6 converter, the barrel of a $60 eyedropper pen, or the ink window on someone's prized $600 piston-filler. If someone wants to know with any reasonable level of confidence whether an ink would stain his treasure of a 1950s vintage celluloid pen without risking the pen itself in any way, the only way is to have load the ink up in a similar pen or at least soak a piece of the same aged and rare material in a test tube of ink for several weeks.

 

Why would any ink reviewer do that, unless it has already happened against his/her original intentions, and he/she just want to share that unfortunate discovery at his/her expense? It's not that I want to inflict loss and/or despair upon those whose tastes in the fountain pen hobby I don't share, but if an ink doesn't ruin my $3 Wing Sung 3008 piston-filler, what do I care as an ink reviewer whether it would on the other hand stain a $300 vintage pen that cannot be replaced, given I'm not into vintage pens? 

 

That's the basis of my inquiry. I don't use or care for vintage pens, so as an ink reviewer I certainly wouldn't test for how "safe" an ink is to use with vintage pens. As for fellow or prospective ink reviewers who love vintage fountain pens, would they really test a new ink inside their prized vintage pens just to find out, and share either good news or bad news with the rest of "the community" in the name of "the common good"?

 

"Better you (the ink reviewer) wear the risk/loss than I (the prospective user of that ink)" just doesn't cut it as a reasonable position to take. Neither does, "it'd cost you less than it'd cost me to find something out, so the onus is on you." That's the sorta mentality I'm staunchly against. Those who spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on vintage pens because they love it should be the one to be taking the risk in order to discover the information and share it with like-minded folk, if that is to be done at all, and not up to those who already have access to the inks, test materials, labs and what-not with supposedly less at stake to do the work.


Edited by A Smug Dill, 04 November 2019 - 03:54.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


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#162 Bobje

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 02:47

Dill, you are very precise about parsing out the details and distinctions of stationery issues.

Reviews and articles on Fountain Pen Network

 

CHINA, JAPAN, AND INDIA

Hua Hong Blue Belter Penbbs 456 | Stationery | ASA Nauka in Dartmoor and Ebonite | ASA Azaadi | ASA Bheeshma | ASA Halwa | Ranga Model 8 and 8b | Ranga Emperor

ITALY AND THE UK

FILCAO Roxi | FILCAO Atlantica | Italix Churchman's Prescriptor

USA, INK, AND EXPERIMENTS

Bexley Prometheus | Route 54 Motor Oil | Black Swan in Icelandic Minty Bathwater | Robert Oster Aqua | Diamine Emerald Green | Mr. Pen Radiant Blue | Three Oysters Giwa | Flex Nib Modifications | Rollstoppers


#163 A Smug Dill

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Posted 04 November 2019 - 04:47

Bobje, thank you very much. I'd like to think that it is a contribution to "the hobby", to advance and propagate that analytical approach, especially if it's a relatively rare thing among hobbyists to think long and hard about what they enjoy as a pastime.

 

Just to be clear, I don't have the subject matter expertise in chemistry, in nib grinding, or any specific area, and don't think I know better than anyone else here. I can only contribute towards a framework of organising and analysing ideas.

 

I think there is little need or call for actively securing particular outcomes, e.g. lowering total cost of ownership, for individual fountain pen enthusiasts who are responsible for their own budgets and their own material satisfaction. On the other hand, developing a body of knowledge or "best practice" as information accessible to everyone who is keen to better manage their pen and ink acquisition is something of lasting value to the community. I truly believe in that.


Edited by A Smug Dill, 04 November 2019 - 05:41.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#164 5Cavaliers

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Posted 19 December 2019 - 19:43

I am probably going to step on a few toes here.  I really don't mean to, but, I humbly ask your forgiveness in advance if I do.  

 

This thread has given us a lot to think about as we prepare our ink reviews.  But, personally speaking, it has made me realize that I may not be qualified enough to give an ink the thorough review that seems to be elucidated here.  

 

And to be honest, I am not alone in my feelings.  I have talked with several people who are no longer doing ink reviews when they were such great contributors in the past.  

 

We at FPN are a community.  Each of us has wonderful skills and abilities that we bring to our posts.  And we are not, thankfully, all the same.  That is the beauty of this community.  And how we see our pens, ink and paper is unique.  No two people see the same things.  But each of us consider the others' opinions and make our own judgments.  This makes everyone's opinion as important as another.  

 

To get to the point, please post your ink reviews - long or short, detailed or not, artistic or not, structured or not.  I appreciate the time and effort that you take to share your own, unique  thoughts with us.  

 

(stepping down off my soap box now)


"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours.  When it is gone, it is gone.  Be wise, but enjoy!  - anonymous today

 

 

 


#165 A Smug Dill

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 04:40

But, personally speaking, it has made me realize that I may not be qualified enough to give an ink the thorough review that seems to be elucidated here.


I, for one, do not advocate aiming for or working towards "comprehensive" or "thorough" reviews of any particular ink, in a single article or body of work prepared by any individual reviewer. It would sadden me if I have indeed failed to communicate the opposite of that very idea in my posts in this thread.
 
If individual reviewer Q is only interested in knowing 60% of all there is to conceivably know about an ink, and keen to "report on" or share 90% of that subset of information with fellow hobbyists, then for the purposes of this discussion I'm only interested in what would make discovering, organising and presenting that (90%×60%=)54% of information easier, quicker and more economical for that reviewer — and hopefully I can learn something for myself for that purpose. It could be that there are more personally intriguing information requirements I didn't think of before, better tools available in retail shops for the sort of testing I want to perform, or time-saving techniques or "hacks" that can be "borrowed" or generalised from his/her scope of interests to mine.
 
Ideally, if refinements in review procedures mean that the time, effort and resources required for reviewer Q to produce an ink review can be cut by a quarter, then (theoretically) he/she can afford to produce reviews for four different inks instead of three with the same "budget" set aside for the hobby. Better for him/her in overall personal satisfaction at the same cost as before, and as a side-effect, better for others in the community who "consume" and read reviews casually.
 
Kelli McCown, of Mountain of Ink fame, stated that she(?) needs 3-4ml of ink for each review. I admire her work and enjoy her ink reviews, and I've just contacted her offering to send her samples of some inks on her wish list in those volumes. However, I personally think it's quite extravagant and excessive if the "average" user cannot get 80% or 90% of questions answered if given the equivalent of an international short cartridge of an ink to try. So I'm keen to explore what can be achieved by interested users with 0.7ml of an ink, in the name of information discovery, with a repeatable and polished testing routine. After all, I'm advocating sending such "tiny" samples to fellow hobbyists in the interest of economy (of postage costs, ink costs, etc.), found a way to do it reasonably well and cheaply, and I reason that giving three ~0.7ml samples to three different prospective purchasers (who won't be purchasing from me, just to be clear) is better for the collective than giving a ~2ml sample on an ink to one individual, with a view to help them decide whether to commit to spending retail dollars pursuing their hobby and actual applications.
 
How anyone who wants to know about anything in the remaining 48% of "what there is to know" about a reviewed ink is not Q's concern or mine worry about as doers and volunteer contributors. If an interested prospective purchaser P of a particular ink has to spend six hours searching, finding and reading 100 reviews which, after all the information overlaps between them, cover 80% of "what there is know" but still leave some questions unanswered for him/her, before deciding to spend money to buy a sample or retail bottle of the ink, I'd say that is already enough of a boon provided by reviewers in our community with no strings attached. I can only assume that P would do what it takes to discover the answers to the remaining questions, if he/she is keen enough, and ideally then share those answers simply out of a belief that a subset of other consumers who are like-minded would want to know.
 
Someone needs to say this, so I will be the one: it doesn't matter if "consumers" of ink reviews aren't totally satisfied with the information made available to them, either in a single article or across all channels, to give them peace-of-mind and confidence that they made the right choices with regard to which inks to buy and which inks to avoid. Without ink reviews, all they know is from what ink manufacturers and retailers publish. Closing some part of the information gap by writing ink reviews is already a service rendered and benefit delivered. They're welcome to focus on what they don't have, but we as reviewers don't have to be concerned. Let's look at how things can work better for contributors to the overall body of knowledge, each adding data points that do not exhaustively cover an area like a jigsaw puzzle leaving no gaps, but more like overlapping spotlights so that others can also see, with some things shown more clearly than others. Let's talk about what we (as individual reviewers, with differing interests) want to know, specifically or in a particular area, and look at just doing that part well, quickly, cheaply and conveniently.
 
How my pro-reviewer, pro-doer stance can be regarded as harmful, intimidating or belittling evades me.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#166 Eclipse157

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 09:40

To get to the point, please post your ink reviews - long or short, detailed or not, artistic or not, structured or not.  I appreciate the time and effort that you take to share your own, unique  thoughts with us. 

+1

 

I love reading ink reviews whether I'm planning to buy an ink or not. Most of the times I like to see the pretty colors. Every time I love to hear what a fellow enthusiast has to say about a hobby we share. Getting objective, repeatable, standardized information is good, but it's the human touch that keeps me coming back.



#167 namrehsnoom

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 12:13

+1

 

I love reading ink reviews whether I'm planning to buy an ink or not. Most of the times I like to see the pretty colors. Every time I love to hear what a fellow enthusiast has to say about a hobby we share. Getting objective, repeatable, standardized information is good, but it's the human touch that keeps me coming back.

 

I totally agree. I love to see the wealth of inks available - there are lots of them that are not for me, but I love reading about them anyway. And sometimes I get lucky, and see a gem that's just right for me, and that I just have to have ;-)

 

I also like the variety of uses presented by the many people here. Myself I started as a pure EF/F user. Seeing the added beauty&character you can get with broad and cursive nibs, I've broadened my scope, and today use even BB nibs occasionally. That's thanks to all the wonderful examples & variety available in this forum. 

 

Examples on this forum also encouraged me to start to experiment with inks for drawing. As a tech person, I had never done anything artsy in my life, but thanks to the great examples of fellow members, I decided to give it a go. Turns out I enjoy it immensily, and for that I'm eternally grateful to all the inky enablers here. This has certainly enriched my life.



#168 Tom Kellie

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 12:48

I love reading ink reviews whether I'm planning to buy an ink or not. Most of the times I like to see the pretty colors. Every time I love to hear what a fellow enthusiast has to say about a hobby we share. Getting objective, repeatable, standardized information is good, but it's the human touch that keeps me coming back.

 

 

~ Eclipse157:

 

I LOVE what you've written!

 

Count me as one who 100% agrees with your outlook.

 

Thank you for your eloquence and warm sincerity.

 

Tom K.



#169 Tom Kellie

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 12:52

I totally agree. I love to see the wealth of inks available - there are lots of them that are not for me, but I love reading about them anyway. And sometimes I get lucky, and see a gem that's just right for me, and that I just have to have ;-)

 

I also like the variety of uses presented by the many people here. Myself I started as a pure EF/F user. Seeing the added beauty&character you can get with broad and cursive nibs, I've broadened my scope, and today use even BB nibs occasionally. That's thanks to all the wonderful examples & variety available in this forum. 

 

Examples on this forum also encouraged me to start to experiment with inks for drawing. As a tech person, I had never done anything artsy in my life, but thanks to the great examples of fellow members, I decided to give it a go. Turns out I enjoy it immensily, and for that I'm eternally grateful to all the inky enablers here. This has certainly enriched my life.

 

~ namrehsnoom:

 

Thank you for expressing much of what I feel.

 

I came to Fountain Pen Network as a dedicated EF user.

 

There are several EFs in use today, but wider nibs have added joy to my writing experience.

 

Inks for drawing are a special delight, whether in an ink review or otherwise.

 

Your comments above are a pleasure to read.

 

Tom K.



#170 Tom Kellie

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 12:56

I am probably going to step on a few toes here.  I really don't mean to, but, I humbly ask your forgiveness in advance if I do.  

 

This thread has given us a lot to think about as we prepare our ink reviews.  But, personally speaking, it has made me realize that I may not be qualified enough to give an ink the thorough review that seems to be elucidated here.  

 

And to be honest, I am not alone in my feelings.  I have talked with several people who are no longer doing ink reviews when they were such great contributors in the past.  

 

We at FPN are a community.  Each of us has wonderful skills and abilities that we bring to our posts.  And we are not, thankfully, all the same.  That is the beauty of this community.  And how we see our pens, ink and paper is unique.  No two people see the same things.  But each of us consider the others' opinions and make our own judgments.  This makes everyone's opinion as important as another.  

 

To get to the point, please post your ink reviews - long or short, detailed or not, artistic or not, structured or not.  I appreciate the time and effort that you take to share your own, unique  thoughts with us.  

 

(stepping down off my soap box now)

 

~ DrDebG:

 

I'm one who has stepped back from any thought of preparing and posting any ink reviews.

 

What you've explained above reflects my own feelings, as well.

 

You haven't at all stepped on my toes. You've given word to my own inchoate thoughts.

 

Tom K.



#171 JakobS

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 16:47

I am probably going to step on a few toes here.  I really don't mean to, but, I humbly ask your forgiveness in advance if I do.  

 

This thread has given us a lot to think about as we prepare our ink reviews.  But, personally speaking, it has made me realize that I may not be qualified enough to give an ink the thorough review that seems to be elucidated here.  

 

And to be honest, I am not alone in my feelings.  I have talked with several people who are no longer doing ink reviews when they were such great contributors in the past.  

 

We at FPN are a community.  Each of us has wonderful skills and abilities that we bring to our posts.  And we are not, thankfully, all the same.  That is the beauty of this community.  And how we see our pens, ink and paper is unique.  No two people see the same things.  But each of us consider the others' opinions and make our own judgments.  This makes everyone's opinion as important as another.  

 

To get to the point, please post your ink reviews - long or short, detailed or not, artistic or not, structured or not.  I appreciate the time and effort that you take to share your own, unique  thoughts with us.  

 

(stepping down off my soap box now)

 

 I am in complete support of this! 

 

 

There is "analytical" and then there is over analytical, and to be honest when it comes to ink, over analyzing it quickly becomes a matter of diminishing returns. As is, beyond a solid paragraph of writing I find most everything else to add very little information for me to be interested in an ink. Perhaps as a scientist, I have issue with much of the extended analysis of inks not being very scientific in either recognizing or controlling for the wide variety of variables that an ink, pen, paper, and greater environment may contribute to such "analysis", thus I find the majority of it to possess little worth. It's understandable that the cost of time and money to control for these variables is high so I don't begrudge the effort made, but only the conclusions that come from it....

 

You can write with anything, the choice to write with a fountain pen and ink is one made of enjoyment. If that enjoyment is lost because reviewers feel that their contributions aren't worthy of being made, than that is a far greater loss than whatever "analysis" has been gained....


Edited by JakobS, 20 December 2019 - 18:25.

FP Ink Orphanage-Is an ink not working with your pens, not the color you're looking for, is never to see the light of day again?!! If this is you, and the ink is in fine condition otherwise, don't dump it down the sink, or throw it into the trash, send it to me (payment can be negotiated), and I will provide it a nice safe home with love, and a decent meal of paper! Please PM me!For Sale: TBA

#172 A Smug Dill

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 02:10

Kelli McCown, of Mountain of Ink fame, stated that she(?) needs 3-4ml of ink for each review. I admire her work and enjoy her ink reviews, and I've just contacted her offering to send her samples of some inks on her wish list in those volumes.

 
In case this helps anyone — including those who would prefer to sit back and benefit from the results while others who are more practised and prepared do the actual reviews on inks of personal interest — I managed to send Kelli 4ml samples of three different inks on her published wish list, in (six) 1.8ml screw-top sample vials packed inside a cardboard mailer stuffed with cotton balls, just now as a "letter" by international post for A$3.20; the package weighed 50g in total, not including the CN22 Customs Declaration form. (The postage charge for a 51g "letter" would be A$8.30, or 160% more.) 
 
That's one of the cheapest ways I found to send someone who has a good and plausible reason for needing more than an international standard short cartridge's worth of ink as a sample; roughly A$4 all up, for postage and packing materials, to send three 4ml samples (or six 2ml samples) of ink from one's personal stash.
 
As an alternative, I'm sure it's easy enough to just order ink samples online from some US-based retailer and have those shipped domestically to a US-based reviewer.


Edited by A Smug Dill, 21 December 2019 - 02:11.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#173 Eclipse157

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 08:50

Dill, thanks for your efforts in spreading the ink!



#174 mountainofink

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 18:36

This has been a very interesting discussion to read! As someone who reviews inks, and uses 3-4ml per review, I thought I would share my process a bit to answer some questions. The first thing I do when I get a sample is ink up a pen to capacity-usually up to 1ml of ink depending on the pen. I will then use that pen daily for a month to get a good sense of how the ink behaves over time, including copying a full page of writing from whatever novel I'm currently copying (right now it's The Fellowship of the Ring). I say a month because the pen is usually empty by that time.

 

Next I use about 1ml creating swabs and ink drops. I know some consider these to be a waste of time and ink, which is fair-they aren't generally a great characterization of the ink as a whole, but they are the most requested by readers so I still create them.

 

To test the ink on different papers and nibs I ink up 4 Pilot Vanishing Points in EF, F, M and B, as well as a flex pen. I use these pens for every ink review so my writing samples are consistent-this takes about 1 1/2ml of ink. Then I write 4 lines with each pen to make sure I have the correct saturation before starting on my writing samples-I found that if I just dip the nib the results are not the same, generally too dark or less shading and too much sheen than you would see in average use. I do dry tests and water tests not because they apply to me personally, but because readers have requested them.

 

From start to finish each review takes me about 4 hours of time. To ensure color accuracy I do calibrate my monitor weekly, use a custom white balance for each image, as well as color-correcting every image in Lightroom.

I know my process will be vastly different from the average ink reviewer's, and that's great! Every review provides a different perspective and can be helpful when a reader is looking to purchase a new ink. 



#175 Intensity

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 19:07

This has been a very interesting discussion to read! As someone who reviews inks, and uses 3-4ml per review, I thought I would share my process a bit to answer some questions. The first thing I do when I get a sample is ink up a pen to capacity-usually up to 1ml of ink depending on the pen. I will then use that pen daily for a month to get a good sense of how the ink behaves over time, including copying a full page of writing from whatever novel I'm currently copying (right now it's The Fellowship of the Ring). I say a month because the pen is usually empty by that time.

 

Next I use about 1ml creating swabs and ink drops. I know some consider these to be a waste of time and ink, which is fair-they aren't generally a great characterization of the ink as a whole, but they are the most requested by readers so I still create them.

 

To test the ink on different papers and nibs I ink up 4 Pilot Vanishing Points in EF, F, M and B, as well as a flex pen. I use these pens for every ink review so my writing samples are consistent-this takes about 1 1/2ml of ink. Then I write 4 lines with each pen to make sure I have the correct saturation before starting on my writing samples-I found that if I just dip the nib the results are not the same, generally too dark or less shading and too much sheen than you would see in average use. I do dry tests and water tests not because they apply to me personally, but because readers have requested them.

 

From start to finish each review takes me about 4 hours of time. To ensure color accuracy I do calibrate my monitor weekly, use a custom white balance for each image, as well as color-correcting every image in Lightroom.

I know my process will be vastly different from the average ink reviewer's, and that's great! Every review provides a different perspective and can be helpful when a reader is looking to purchase a new ink. 

 

I love your reviews!  Thank you so much for making them!  Especially enjoyable are those broad-nibbed sample writing pages at the bottom with the Lord of the Rings passages.  I don't usually use such broad round-point nibs, but your printing style works very well with them and shows off inks in a flattering fashion.

 

In terms of calibration, this is such a difficult topic :(  I use a BenQ SW2700PT photography-oriented monitor with high gamut and built-in calibration software to use with a dedicated colorimeter.  I too calibrate periodically, but still, there's never guarantee that our cameras and scanners get things exactly right.  And when I look at my reviews on my other monitor, my phone, and my iPad, the results differ.  I now try to get a middle ground between what I like on my calibrated monitor and on my iPad--aiming for something more average.  Can't help anyone who's reading reviews on uncalibrated, cheap monitors that are set to very blue white point and using browsers with no color management.  Even making effort on the starting point, I know everyone else is going to see something different on their end than what I see on mine.


“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 


#176 A Smug Dill

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 23:45

As someone who reviews inks, and uses 3-4ml per review, I thought I would share my process a bit to answer some questions.


Firstly, thank you very much for all the reviews you have done, and also for choosing the chime in here and share with us your process! As I said in email, I greatly admire your work, and have enjoyed reading many reviews you published.

So, just to be clear, I wasn't challenging why you would need 3-4ml per review, or I wouldn't have taking the initiative to offer you some samples. I actually have some more other inks I want to send you, if this method of shipping works out. It was worked well enough sending to New Zealand, but this is the first time I've sent ink samples to the USA.

However, you're certainly not the "average" user I had in mind. In particular, I was thinking about the type of user who would have spent N hours scouring the Web, reading since fine and informative ink reviews as yours as well as some others on FPN, and still fret and cannot make up his/her mind whether an ink is worth buying for $X in a retail bottle for his/her actual applications of pen to paper.
 
An international standard short cartridge of a particular ink of interest ought to be enough for such a user to close the information gap, and find out what he/she so critically needs to know about the ink, before deciding whether it will meet the requirements of his/her use cases. Eye-droppering the ink onto non-absorbent paper, to allow it to pool maximally and see its potential for sheening once dried, is probably not such a user needs to know before making a commitment of consumer dollars. (That said, I greatly like that idea as a test for sheen, and have started doing it in my own testing. I regard that as having learnt for your fine example.)
 

I know my process will be vastly different from the average ink reviewer's, and that's great! Every review provides a different perspective and can be helpful when a reader is looking to purchase a new ink.


Indeed.

I also hope that, by working collaboratively on some resource-efficient methods and procedures for testing certain aspects of an ink and capturing that "knowledge" in a place such as this, the "average" user will be able to use it as either reference or inspiration to make the most out of an intentionally small volume of ink (given or) set aside for testing by his/her own hand, in his/her own pens and on his/her own paper(s) of choice, to make informed purchasing decisions.


As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#177 5Cavaliers

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 03:18

This has been a very interesting discussion to read! As someone who reviews inks, and uses 3-4ml per review, I thought I would share my process a bit to answer some questions. The first thing I do when I get a sample is ink up a pen to capacity-usually up to 1ml of ink depending on the pen. I will then use that pen daily for a month to get a good sense of how the ink behaves over time, including copying a full page of writing from whatever novel I'm currently copying (right now it's The Fellowship of the Ring). I say a month because the pen is usually empty by that time.

 

Next I use about 1ml creating swabs and ink drops. I know some consider these to be a waste of time and ink, which is fair-they aren't generally a great characterization of the ink as a whole, but they are the most requested by readers so I still create them.

 

To test the ink on different papers and nibs I ink up 4 Pilot Vanishing Points in EF, F, M and B, as well as a flex pen. I use these pens for every ink review so my writing samples are consistent-this takes about 1 1/2ml of ink. Then I write 4 lines with each pen to make sure I have the correct saturation before starting on my writing samples-I found that if I just dip the nib the results are not the same, generally too dark or less shading and too much sheen than you would see in average use. I do dry tests and water tests not because they apply to me personally, but because readers have requested them.

 

From start to finish each review takes me about 4 hours of time. To ensure color accuracy I do calibrate my monitor weekly, use a custom white balance for each image, as well as color-correcting every image in Lightroom.

I know my process will be vastly different from the average ink reviewer's, and that's great! Every review provides a different perspective and can be helpful when a reader is looking to purchase a new ink. 

 

 

Thank you so much for your excellent reviews!  They are outstanding!  And I am a daily viewer!  

 

But to be honest, I also really appreciate the reviews posted here on FPN.   

 

Why?  I confess - I am a researcher.  I won't buy anything until I find out as much as I can about it.  I am not an impulse buyer.  So when it comes to ink I check out as many sources as I can.  Yes, many times it conflicts, but as I see more reviews posted by a reviewer and get a sense of what they like and dislike, it helps me determine if I really want the ink or not.  

 

When I purchase a sample of an ink, I really prefer at least 3 mls.  Like you, I fill a pen to the maximum and begin writing a few lines with it, generally jotting down my first impressions.  I then put it away for a day or two, then take it out and write several paragraphs.  I keep doing this until the ink is gone.  Based upon the assessment I have made with the first pen, I load up another pen which I feel may be better suited to the ink, and do the same thing.  I generally know by the second fill if I really like the ink or not.  If I do, I either order a bottle (if I really love the ink) or I put it on my "purchase list", then use the rest of the sample to make my ink card, and fill another pen or two and sometimes write a mini ink review for FPN.  If I find the ink to be marginal, I will put the rest of the sample away to play with a month or maybe a year later.  


"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours.  When it is gone, it is gone.  Be wise, but enjoy!  - anonymous today

 

 

 


#178 A Smug Dill

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Posted 22 December 2019 - 05:20

Like you, I fill a pen to the maximum and begin writing a few lines with it, generally jotting down my first impressions.


One other factor I have taken in to account are the respective capacities of Sailor, Platinum, Pilot (CON-40 and CON-50, since the CON-70 does not fit inside my Pilot Capless, MR, Elite 95s and Namiki Falcon pens, all being popular models by account of what I read on FPN), Parker, Pelikan, Diplomat and Faber-Castell branded converters, and none of those hold more than 0.7ml of ink. I don't believe the Delike, Moonman, Wing Sung and Jinhao converters hold more ink than that either.

For comparing the output of different nibs (which I'm not often inclined to do, but I do have a couple of such exercise right now in mind), I usually try to just unplug the still-largely-filled converter from one pen and into the next.

Obviously, others may wish to do the testing that is relevant to them differently, and I acknowledge and respect that — as long as, like you, they're acquiring as much ink as they require from a source with whom they are "the boss" or client.

I consider Mountain of Ink an immensely valuable resource to me, as well as to the fountain pen hobbyist community at large, and for the benefit I personally gained from reading Kelli's reviews I can hardly repay her; sending her samples, in the volumes she expressly requested, of inks on her wish list is the least I could do. On the other hand, I don't regard the "average" user who just wants to make an informed decision about his consumer spending, but doesn't even go to the oh-so-burdensome expense or effort of ordering ink samples from retailers, and then also doesn't put in a few hours of work in testing and sharing test results in a published review, to warrant being fully supported by freebies, so if a particular user wants three fills of (incompatible?) converters to suit a number of different pens to be "sure", I could be happy to offer support for one of those fills, and let him worry about the other two, if there is little personal interest expressed in changing his approach and making the testing more resource-efficient.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#179 A Smug Dill

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Posted 08 January 2020 - 11:55

I'm very glad to report that @mountainofink has received the ink samples I sent by international letter post unscathed. That method of packaging and "shipping" works for transatlantic delivery and, at least from the Australian perspective, is sufficiently cost-effective ($3.20 for a 50g "letter" that holds up to 12ml of ink, compared to $2.30 for sending the same thing from point A to point B within Australia).
 
Questions still lingering for me into 2020 on the subject of ink testing and review:

  • What's more important: knowing (i)_how particular pens in my "collection" or fleet — say, one known to be "wet" and another known to be "dry" — would write with the ink in question; or (ii)_how the ink would look on the page at different level of "wetness", so that my subsequent task as the hopeful user is to identify the pen(s) in my fleet that will produce the results I want with the ink in question?

    The fact is, in all likelihood, I won't be using my "test pens" for any of my normal writing applications. What good is (the information on) how the ink would look on the page coming out of my "test pens"? At least, if I capture how the ink would look at different degrees of "wetness" in writing, then picking a maroon- or crimson-bodied pen for a darkish red ink that is suitably "wet" to get the results I want ought to be straightforward; and, if worse comes to the worst, I'll just have to buy another pen to meet my requirements for writing with that ink. I expect that, for an ink review to be of more value to others, they ought to see the "maximum" potential of the ink, without being bound by the constraints of their individual pen collections, because they cannot change the ink as sold, but they could (relatively more) easily buy more pens and expand what they could do with the ink.
     
  • Does "donating" 4ml of ink to seasoned and well-followed reviewers, such as @mountainofink, deliver more effort to the community than giving five or six faceless and random (in terms of selection of giveaway recipients) fountain pen hobbyists the chance to experience using the ink for themselves, in their pens and on their paper types of choice? The former is akin to contributing to a larger project but in a different capacity from the primary "doer" herself/himself. If my objective for (spending money and effort on) giving away ink samples is to facilitate more consumer spending on inks — which hopefully then keeps the inks I like in the market longer, and for other manufacturers to produce worthy competition to try and capture a piece of the pie — then supporting well-regarded ink reviewers should be more effective than even producing ink reviews myself, let alone sending a cartridge's "worth" of ink to someone else to play with, and from whom we may never hear again regarding that ink.

As always:  1. Implicit in everything and every instance I write on FPN is the invitation for you to judge me as a peer in the community. I think it's only due respect to take each other's written word in online discussion seriously and apply critical judgment.  2. I do not presume to judge for you what is right, correct or valid. If I make a claim, or refute a statement in a thread, and link to references and other information in support, I beseech you to review and consider those, and judge for yourself. I may be wrong. My position or say-so carries no more weight than anyone else's here, and external parties can speak for themselves with what they have published.  3. I endeavour to be frank and truthful in what I write, show or otherwise present when I relate my first-hand experiences that are not independently verifiable. If it is something you can test for yourself and see the results, I entreat you to do so.


#180 Lgsoltek

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Posted 08 January 2020 - 12:21

 

I'm very glad to report that @mountainofink has received the ink samples I sent by international letter post unscathed. That method of packaging and "shipping" works for transatlantic delivery and, at least from the Australian perspective, is sufficiently cost-effective ($3.20 for a 50g "letter" that holds up to 12ml of ink, compared to $2.30 for sending the same thing from point A to point B within Australia).
 
Questions still lingering for me into 2020 on the subject of ink testing and review:

  • What's more important: knowing (i)_how particular pens in my "collection" or fleet — say, one known to be "wet" and another known to be "dry" — would write with the ink in question; or (ii)_how the ink would look on the page at different level of "wetness", so that my subsequent task as the hopeful user is to identify the pen(s) in my fleet that will produce the results I want with the ink in question?

    The fact is, in all likelihood, I won't be using my "test pens" for any of my normal writing applications. What good is (the information on) how the ink would look on the page coming out of my "test pens"? At least, if I capture how the ink would look at different degrees of "wetness" in writing, then picking a maroon- or crimson-bodied pen for a darkish red ink that is suitably "wet" to get the results I want ought to be straightforward; and, if worse comes to the worst, I'll just have to buy another pen to meet my requirements for writing with that ink. I expect that, for an ink review to be of more value to others, they ought to see the "maximum" potential of the ink, without being bound by the constraints of their individual pen collections, because they cannot change the ink as sold, but they could (relatively more) easily buy more pens and expand what they could do with the ink.
     
  • Does "donating" 4ml of ink to seasoned and well-followed reviewers, such as @mountainofink, deliver more effort to the community than giving five or six faceless and random (in terms of selection of giveaway recipients) fountain pen hobbyists the chance to experience using the ink for themselves, in their pens and on their paper types of choice? The former is akin to contributing to a larger project but in a different capacity from the primary "doer" herself/himself. If my objective for (spending money and effort on) giving away ink samples is to facilitate more consumer spending on inks — which hopefully then keeps the inks I like in the market longer, and for other manufacturers to produce worthy competition to try and capture a piece of the pie — then supporting well-regarded ink reviewers should be more effective than even producing ink reviews myself, let alone sending a cartridge's "worth" of ink to someone else to play with, and from whom we may never hear again regarding that ink.

 

 

 

A Smug Dill, perhaps you can try another trick for sending samples (which I believed originated from @Cyber6): instead of using screw-top vials, use pipettes. You just need to suck the ink with the pipette, then seal off the opening by heating it slightly and let it melt. They are easy to transport (lighter, slimmer in size and totally leak-proof). 







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