J. Herbin - Vert de Gris
La Société Herbin, Maître Cirier à Paris, was established in 1670. This makes J. Herbin probably the oldest name among European ink makers. Today, Herbin produces a range of beautiful fountain pen and calligraphy inks, writing instruments, gift sets and accessories. Herbin inks are made in France, and the finishing touches on the bottles are still done by hand in Paris.
In 2018, J. Herbin introduced some new inks in their “La Perle des Encres”
series. The one that caught my eye - thanks to visvamitra's review
in this forum - is Vert de Gris. This ink looks to be right up my alley - a nice dark grey-leaning teal. This was later confirmed by one of Tas's famous ink ramblings
. Vert de Gris is an ink that definitely deserves a place in my collection, so I went ahead and ordered a bottle.
Upon arrival, I immediately started experimenting with the ink, and it really lived up to my high expectations. Vert de Gris has a gorgeous colour, definitely a dark teal, but with heavy grey undertones. This is an ink that's brewed for me! The ink looks beautiful on all types of paper, and is well saturated. As such it works great in the finer nibs I typically use. And it gets only better... even with fine nibs, there's tons of elegant shading present. You just have to love this ink! It went straight to my top three for 2018, just behind MB Swan Illusion Plume
The ink has quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With my wetter Pelikan pens the ink is heavily saturated, and writes like a dream. My only problem here is that I need to adapt my handwriting, and write a bit larger than the tiny scribbles I'm used to. Vert de Gris also has a wonderfully dynamic colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This beautifully illustrates the ink's broad colour range. This J. Herbin ink moves effortlessly from a very light teal-grey to a very dark, almost black teal.
On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly, with only minimal smearing. Water resistance is amazing - the ink effortlessly survived even longer exposures to water. Really well executed! This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that the grey components of the ink remain on the paper. If you need a water-resistant ink, Vert de Gris certainly fits the bill. This is an ink that will be at home in the workplace.
Vert de Gris is also a fast-drying ink - with typical drying times in the 5-10 second range with my Lamy Safari (M-nib). I was surprised at this, because it totally feels like a really wet ink. As such, this ink is also suitable for lefties. I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap 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 a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen
- The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib
- A small text sample, written with an M-nib
- Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Vert de Gris looks really nice on both white and more yellow papers. On low-quality paper it exhibits a small amount of feathering, but all-in-all not too bad. With Moleskine paper, there is significant show-through and bleed-through - not unexpected for this fountain-pen unfriendly paper.
Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib size on your writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen - my very wet Pelikan M101N Lizard with an M-nib that writes like a broad. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line (and I really need to write a few font-sizes bigger with this pen ;-)
With this review, I have changed my format for presenting related inks. My earlier presentations of related inks lacked enough information to be really useful. I therefore changed to a nine-grid format, with the currently reviewed ink at the center. The new format shows the name of related inks, a saturation sample, a 1-2-3 swab and a water resistance test - all in a very compact format. I hope that you'll find this way of presenting related inks more useful. It's a bit more work, but in my opinion worth the effort for the extra information you gain.
Inkxperiment - Walk in the Woods
As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings often present a real 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. For some reason, grey-leaning inks inspire me to draw winter landscapes, so that's what you get here. I started off with heavily water-diluted ink for the lighter tones, gradually adding more ink for the darker parts. For the horizon line, the main tree and the walking couple, I used pure Vert de Gris, heavily saturating these subjects. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Vert de Gris is capable of.
J. Herbin Vert de Gris is a wonderful ink, that pleasantly surprised me on all fronts: georgeous colour, beautiful shading, good saturation - and all this even in finer nibs. Even better, the ink is relatively fast-drying and shows great water resistance. Combine all this, and you've got a winner. This ink went straight to my top three for 2018 ! I heartily recommend it.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Backside of writing samples on different paper types