L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Equinoxe(5)
L’Artisan Pastellier is a small company in southern France that specialises in natural pigments, and offers customers authentic and reliable products in beautiful colours based on mineral or vegetable pigments. In a collaboration with Loic Rainouard from Styloplume.net, the chemist Didier Boinnard from L’Artisan Pastellier created the line of Callifolio fountain pen inks. These pastel-coloured inks are traditionally crafted, and can be freely mixed and matched. Overall these inks are only moderately saturated, and have low water-resistance. The inks were specifically designed to work well with all types of paper, and all types of fountain pens.
Being pastel-tinted, these inks have a watercolour-like appearance, and are not only fine inks for journaling, but are also really excellent inks for doodling & drawing. I only recently discovered them, and they are already the inks I gravitate towards for personal journaling.
In this review the center stage is taken by Equinoxe(5), one of the many blue inks in the series. You could say that Equinoxe(5) is a blue-black, but that would be selling it short. This is not your typical run-of-the-mill blue-black. This one is gray-leaning and has a faded look straight out of the nib, resulting in a nice vintage look. I like it a lot. And on top of that, the ink has a beautiful red sheen, that is always there right beneath the surface. It gives a special twist to the ink’s appearance. Really nice! I can safely say that I loved this ink on first sight. Let’s see if this ink can also convince me on the technical front.
I found the ink to be a bit on the dry side in my Lamy Safari test pens, with lubrication being somewhat subpar. A wet pen solves this problem. Saturation is very good though, even with finer nibs. The wetter your pen, the darker the colour and the more the red sheen surfaces. The ink shades very prominently: there’s quite some contrast between light and darker parts, but not so much that it becomes too harsh.
To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles on Tomoe River where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. As you can see, this ink has a moderately wide colour span ranging from a dark blue to a true blue-black.
On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – Equinoxe(5) starts to show its weakness: this is an ink that has absolutely no water resistance. It smudges very badly, though the text remains quite readable. Bring it in contact with water though, and all ink quickly disappears. Both the droplet test and the running tap-water test result in a fail. This is not an ink to use if any form of water resistance is on your list. For personal journaling, I couldn’t care less. But this is definitely not an ink to use in the workplace.
Don’t let the chromatography fool you – from the lower part, it looks like quite some ink remains on the paper, but unfortunately what remains are unreadable smudges. Not readable at all.
I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. I recently added a number of fine writing papers to my test set, bringing the total to twenty. On every small band 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 an M-nib fountain pen
- The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
- A small text sample, written with an M-nib
- Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Equinoxe(5) behaved perfectly on all the papers in my test set, with no apparent feathering even on the lower quality papers. Even the Moleskine paper behaved flawlessly with this ink (which is quite unusual). Drying times are mostly around the 5 to 10 second mark. The ink looks beautiful on both white and more yellowish paper. A fine grey-blue-black with a classic look & feel. This ink truly has a vintage vibe!
At the end of the review, I show you the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. None of my papers had problems with show-through or bleed-through. Equinoxe(5) can cope really well with a wide variety of paper types.
Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen – a wet-writing Pelikan M205 Demonstrator with an M cursive italic nib. While writing with this ink, I noticed a small hiccup with fine nibs. Here the ink is prone to drying out on the nib. If you don’t write with it for a short while (a minute or so), you might experience a hard start. I could consistently reproduce this with a number of F-nibs. Starting with M-nibs or using wetter pens (like Pelikans) makes this behaviour disappear.
To compare Equinoxe(5) with related inks, I use my nine-grid format with the currently reviewed ink at the center. This 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.
Inkxperiment – pine tree mountain
As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I’m reviewing. I love to experiment with inks outside the usual writing frame, and these single-ink drawings are great for stretching my drawing skills. With these small pictures, I try to give you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this drawing, I used 300 gsm watercolour paper. I started off with heavily water-diluted ink to paint the sky background. I then used a Q-tip and multiple water-ink ratios to draw in the mountain section. The cracks in the mountain and the pine trees were added with pure Equinoxe(5) using my B-nib Safari. As a finishing touch, I added the birds in the sky. The final picture gives you a good idea of the colour range that Equinoxe(5) is capable of when used as a drawing ink.
In my opinion, L’Artisan Pastellier produced a very fine ink with Callifolio Equinoxe(5). This ink is a beautiful grey-leaning faded-looking blue-black, with a definite vintage vibe. It also shows a really nice red sheen, that lifts this ink above the crowd. Equinoxe(5) has zero water resistance, and some technical shortcomings. Nevertheless, I am totally enamored by its looks, and heartily recommend it.
Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
Back-side of writing samples on different paper types