You know the story - it happened here.
This forum started just to help inkmakers like Blackstone.
Thanks Kevin for the shout out.
Blackstone Inks - The Story So Far
Blackstone Inks have their beginning back in early 2014 on the Fountain Pen Network during a discussion on powdered inks when Kevin Watson from the JustWrite Pen Company in Australia made what proved to be a rather naive comment that a powdered ink shouldn't be hard to produce. In fact he said "It's not exactly rocket science."
At the time the range of fountain pen inks available in Australia was very limited and they cost two to three times what they cost in Europe and the US. There were no Australian made fountain pen inks available at the time.
Liquid fountain pen inks were traditionally supplied in glass bottles and a powdered ink had several advantages including the obvious savings in packaging and freight as well as the convenience for users in being able to make the ink up as concentrated as they liked.
Kevin Watson and Dave Marshall from JustWrite began to research the chemistry and production of fountain pen inks and developed a range of experimental powdered inks under the SuSeMai name (Super Secret Maker of Inks) that were distributed to FPN members for testing. These inks included Black, Blue, Green and Red Cashmere, Black and Blue Amber (named in honour of amberleadavis who was instrumental in distributing the inks and organising the testing).
Results were mixed with some surprising results including Blue Cashmere that went on a dark purple and then changed to a turquoise when it dried on some papers. Some of the inks proved very popular but there were some problems that were insurmountable at the time. The major problem was the even distribution of biocide through the powdered ink. Kevin's chance encounter with an Industrial Chemist (Lionel) who was a fountain pen enthusiast led to his involvement with the powdered ink and the eventual realisation that the inks would have to be mixed with water and then dried to ensure the even distribution of the biocide. A process beyond the resources of JustWrite.
Lionel's involvement led to a change in focus from powdered inks to ink concentrates in the form of a gel which had the advantages of powdered ink but were much easier to produce and handle. These ink concentrates were packaged in syringes and a few have been tested on the FPN with encouraging results. The major problem with the ink concentrates was sediment because there is no easy way to filter the ink in gel form. Filtering is usually the final and a critical step in ink production.
The concentrates are still under development but Lionel suggested applying everything that had been learned with the powdered and gel inks to develop a range of standard liquid fountain pen inks. Blue and black are the easiest inks to produce and the first inks developed were a rather boring blue and black ink that were sold under the name Blackstone Black and Blackstone Blue. These inks were tested by FPN members and a hard core of ink testers drawn from JustWrite customers. Blackstone Black and Blackstone Blue weren't remarkable inks but they were well behaved and reliable and formed the basis for future development.
Packaging was a major issue and cost, so we sought the views of FPN members and JustWrite customers who decided very narrowly in favour of Polypropylene bottles instead of the conventional glass bottles. These bottles are practically indestructible as Dave demonstrated by throwing one filled with ink onto a concrete floor. It bounced. He repeated the test with a glass bottle of ink. It did not bounce. They can also be frozen without adverse affects, they are reusable and 100% recyclable.
The first release were the Blackstone Colours of Australia series in June 2015 in 30ml PP bottles. These inks were the culmination of over 18 months of comprehensive development and testing made possible by the tireless and enthusiastic testing and feedback from FPN members and JustWrite customers and the stewardship and technical guidance of Lionel. The colours were inspired by Australian icons Uluru (Dark Red), Sydney Harbour (Dark Blue), Daintree Rainforest (Dark Green), The Great Barrier Reef (Bright Blue) and the Australian expression "Beyond The Black Stump" (Black). They proved very popular and are now available in the US, Europe and Asia.
The Colours of Australia were followed by two waterproof inks, Barrister Black (nano carbon ink) and Barrister Blue (surrogate iron gall ink) in May 2016 and the release of a new Colours of Australia ink in July 2016 called Golden Wattle, inspired by Australia's national floral emblem the Golden Wattle.
The Scents of Australia series was released in 2017 featuring a range of scented inks based on native Australian plants.
In 2018 we plan to introduce another four Barrister waterproof inks; red, blue-black, purple and brown to complete the Barrister series.
All Blackstone Inks are made in Australia, produced in house by JustWrite staff under the technical supervision of an Industrial Chemist and are comprehensively tested by fountain pen users during development. The JustWrite Pen Company was established in 2000 and has a wealth of experience with fountain pens and fountain pen ink.