Which fountain pen inks would you use to test an unfamiliar paper product for (at least some aspects of) its fountain pen friendliness?
Recently I've been in a frenzy of acquiring more notepads and notebooks, on which to write with fountain inks, largely in brick-and-mortar stores with Japanese names such as Daiso, Muji and Kinokuniya.
Unfortunately, it is not common practice for stores here to have samples or tester units of paper products; Daiso has none, and Muji may put out just one or two but not selected on the basis of either, "compare our premium made-in-Japan writing paper, against our 'planting tree' line sourced primarily from Indonesia, and our recycled paper line with a minimum of 55% recycled content made in either country," or, "we say this line of notebooks is show-through resistant, so have a go writing or drawing on it with your pens of choice!" Kinokuniya offers a few, but far from covering all the main brands of which it sells multiple product lines; the samples are mostly $20+ notepads and $25+ journals. Nevertheless, Daiso products on a per-item (but not necessarily per-page) basis, are cheap enough to be perhaps 'worth' just buying one as a private tester unit, if upon inspection in-store the paper seems promising; the same can be said of (only) some Muji products. Not so what Kinokuniya sells!
Anyway, I'm of a mind to put together a handful of (no more than five or six) fountain pens in a carry case, as the essential test kit for writing paper, whether I do the testing on provided tester units in-store, or what I actually purchased on a punt. Obviously, the selection of pens and inks would reflect my personal writing habits and preferences, but as a limited test kit and of course limited time in which to do such testing I'm primarily interested in covering edge cases while still being 'reasonable'. (For example, as far as I'm concerned, using Noodler's Polar Green ink would be unreasonable; in my experience it feathers on and bleeds through just about every make and type of paper, so much so I had to stop using it for anything and give my bottles of it away in spite of having bought them for its purported 'bulletproof' qualities.)
Here's an example of the kind of testing I have in mind: Muji 裏うつりしにくいノート B5 Notebook Set
Now, I'm curious as to what you — and everyone else — would choose for testing. I hate feeling as if I have to pre-empt this, but I want to make this clear: the question is not, "What would you like to see in a paper review prepared by someone else at their expense?" I want to know what's relevant and important enough to you that you would spend the money, take risks, and/or make the effort to buy, sample and test unfamiliar paper products for their suitability for your usage with fountain pens; what enthuses you enough that, pass or fail, you'll want to share the results at your cost with other hobbyists. I'm thinking in terms of us as doers and contributors to the community, not merely takers and consumers of crowd-sourced information or frugal shoppers.
I'm still refining my own list, but roughly in order of priority:
- Platinum Carbon Black — I love pigment inks for their permanence and waterproofness, including not changing colour when soaked or washed, when it comes to content that I want to remain legible for the lifetime of the paper (and perhaps my lifetime); and I'd want a dense, dark, 'formal' colour for testing. Sadly, Sailor kiwaguro is not waterproof, and so I prefer Platinum Carbon Black, but I do find that some papers don't take well to the latter. All the better to include that as the Number One ink in my test kit. Interestingly, problems with feathering and bleed-through of this ink are more likely to manifest with high stroke density using a very narrow nib, as opposed to writing with a broad or stub nib, so for the purposes of the test kit, the ink will be dispensed using a Japanese Fine or Extra Fine nib.
- Platinum Classic Ink Lavender Black — I think a paper product should be tested for how it deals with iron-gall inks, and of the three iron-gall inks I have today (but two more are on order), I like the colour and punchiness of Lavender Black the best, when delivered using a Stub nib. Not just writing with a broad nib for "showing off" the ink, but to render some semblance of Italic writing on paper; the shading is a not-unwelcome side effect, but the base colour (which would get ruined by soaking or washing) and water resistance is the reason I use this ink.
- Pelikan 4001 Blue/Black — This is just a very old bottle of presumably iron-gall ink I have, which is what I use with the pen that has my favourite nib, a 14K gold Pelikan EF nib that Dan Smith customised to a crisp italic for me. For the purposes of testing a paper product, I'd be primarily looking at the crispness of the pen strokes on the page.
- Sailor Shikiori yodaki — I love the colour but hate the wetness of this ink, and it's a relatively expensive ink to boot (as it was never offered in the round 50ml Sailor Jentle bottles the way the sixteen originally Shikisai colours were). Oh, and it sheens green and gold. In my experience, many coated and uncoated papers don't deal well with a wet line of this ink.
- Diamine Iridescink Robert — A highly saturated monster-sheener of an ink, that is much cheaper than Sailor Shikiori yodaki and of which I have a large bottle. At the moment I primarily use it in a Pilot Elabo with a Soft Extra Fine nib, and many papers have problems with bleed-through when I allow the nib to linger for a moment as I try to flex the nib to get swells in pen strokes.
I haven't quite decided what the sixth ink should be; Noodler's Air-Corp Blue-Black is a candidate, and so is Diamine Jalur Gemilang. I use Sailor souboku and seiboku pigment inks in Fine-nibbed pens often, but they tend to be so well-behaved on most papers that they don't warrant testing when I'm unsure of a new or unfamiliar paper product.
Over to you!
Edit: Eleven new inks just arrived in the past 24 hours, so I may have to look at revising my list.
Edited by A Smug Dill, 09 May 2019 - 23:44.