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How It All Began


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9 replies to this topic

#1 amberleadavis

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 07:40

You know the story - it happened here.  

 

http://blackstone.in...blackstone-inks

 

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.


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#2 Tas

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Posted 23 December 2018 - 08:04

I was honoured to be asked to help out and had a lot of fun along the way. Delighted that Blackstone Inks reached out to FPN and am chuffed for their success. My Racing Green lookalije, Green Cashmere is still around and I think their Barrister Blue is an incredible ink. Bravo to all involved.

#3 ErrantSmudge

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 06:29

Thank you for sharing this history of Blackstone inks; it's a very interesting peek into the behind-the-scenes as to what it takes to make an ink for fountain pens.

 

All that said, my experiences with Blackstone inks has been far from ideal.  I bought three of the "Colors of Australia" series: Daintree Green, Barrier Reef Blue, and Uluru Red.  All three colors were unique and appealing.  But they were very wet, too wet for most of my pens.  Uluru Red had a bad habit of clogging every one of the pens my spouse and I tried it in.  Barrier Reef Blue sheened beautifully, but was prone to smearing.  When I shook one of the bottles (I think it was the red), bubbles stayed in the bottle for two weeks. 

 

I could have experimented with adding some water to try to tame these inks, but ultimately I decided it was too much effort and traded them with someone who appreciates them more than I did.

 

I'd like to give Blackstone inks another try in the future.  I read here on FPN there's a new family of Blackstone "Lights" inks that are supposed to be less saturated than the original "Colors of Australia" formulations.  Maybe I'd get on better with them.


Edited by ErrantSmudge, 24 December 2018 - 06:34.


#4 Lgsoltek

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 08:37

For me it’s exactly this almost-over-the-top wetness and smoothness that I love in Blackstone inks. Though very wet they don’t easily feather or bleed (as some De Atramentis do). There are indeed some problems, like Uluru Red drying out on the nib (I guess that’s why ErrantSmudge says it clogs), or Daintree Green turning into goo (some say it’s the surfactant). But in generally I really like Blackstone inks for their rich colours and smooth writing experience.

#5 tamiya

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 16:13

Interesting to learn, was unaware! Is on radar to try...

#6 ErrantSmudge

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 17:19

For me it’s exactly this almost-over-the-top wetness and smoothness that I love in Blackstone inks. Though very wet they don’t easily feather or bleed (as some De Atramentis do). There are indeed some problems, like Uluru Red drying out on the nib (I guess that’s why ErrantSmudge says it clogs), or Daintree Green turning into goo (some say it’s the surfactant). But in generally I really like Blackstone inks for their rich colours and smooth writing experience.

 

With Uluru Red, the pens also stopped writing completely - which is a much bigger issue.  And Daintree Green did turn into goo for me as well.  But yes, Blackstone inks are by far the wettest inks I've tried and some may really like that.



#7 bass1193

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Posted 24 December 2018 - 17:27

Thank you for posting this, Amber! My lone bottle of Blackstone in Daintree has become one of my favorites :wub: Now I need to remember to try others when I next make a purchase from the Andersons.

#8 amberleadavis

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 02:01

Thank you for sharing this history of Blackstone inks; it's a very interesting peek into the behind-the-scenes as to what it takes to make an ink for fountain pens.

 

All that said, my experiences with Blackstone inks has been far from ideal.  I bought three of the "Colors of Australia" series: Daintree Green, Barrier Reef Blue, and Uluru Red.  All three colors were unique and appealing.  But they were very wet, too wet for most of my pens.  Uluru Red had a bad habit of clogging every one of the pens my spouse and I tried it in.  Barrier Reef Blue sheened beautifully, but was prone to smearing.  When I shook one of the bottles (I think it was the red), bubbles stayed in the bottle for two weeks. 

 

I could have experimented with adding some water to try to tame these inks, but ultimately I decided it was too much effort and traded them with someone who appreciates them more than I did.

 

I'd like to give Blackstone inks another try in the future.  I read here on FPN there's a new family of Blackstone "Lights" inks that are supposed to be less saturated than the original "Colors of Australia" formulations.  Maybe I'd get on better with them.

 

 

Ah, these inks are actually perfect for diluting.    These are some of the great concentrates.


Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

 

Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar  

 

Participate in the newest Inky TODs: 

Why do I like those nibs? 

What do I like about my handwriting? 

Whose handwriting do I like?  

Which Script Will I learn? 

Which Inks for my Handwriting

 

Ink comparisons:  The Great PPS Comparison  366 Inks in 2016

 

Check out inks sorted by color:  Blue Purple Brown  Red Green Orange Black  Pinks  Yellows  Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal


#9 tamiya

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Posted 25 December 2018 - 02:34

Ah, these inks are actually perfect for diluting.    These are some of the great concentrates.


Concur! Checked their website looking for powdered, found their concentrates... syrup comes in 30ml bottle & can be cut to 60ml, that's a pretty neat idea.

That & the CMYK set... haven't bothered trying the Platinum set, would be cool if Blackstone could be bought easier. (Then again, been thinking of testing some printer inks instead... got as far as pulling out some old refills, they've sat on workbench since)

Blackstone needs to get their distribution done better :( right now Robert Oster is running rings around them. Plus there's another mob with the toucan also in the FP ink biz in oz aren't there.

#10 5Cavaliers

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Posted 05 February 2019 - 04:20

Amberleadavis, thank you for posting the history of Blackstone Inks.  A very generous and lovely attorney I know in Las Vegas gifted me a sample of Sydney Harbor Blue concentrate about a year ago.  I played around with dilutions until I found one that suited me.  It is one of my very favorite inks. The flow is right where I like it.   I love the idea of the concentrate, particularly if it was marketed in much smaller quantities, i.e. 5ml vial.  It would save on shipping and allow the purchaser to dilute the ink to suit their needs. 


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