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  1. namrehsnoom

    TAG Kyoto - kyo-no-oto adzukiiro

    TAG Kyoto – kyo-no-oto adzukiiro TAG is a stationary shop in Kyoto (Japan) that produces some interesting soft watercolour-style inks. With the kyo-no-oto series they produce a line of inks that replicates traditional Japanese dye colours. According to available online info, the manufacturing process of the kyo-no-oto inks follows traditional dying techniques dating back to the Heian era between the years 794 and 1185. The inks come in 40 ml bottles, packaged in luxurious thick paper with a texture that feels like heavy watercolour paper. In this review the spotlight shines on adzukiiro, a burgundy wine-red ink that really succeeds in its implementation of this fairly difficult colour. Often too red, too purple or too brown, but with adzukiiro the balance is just right - I like what I see! A fine ink for the autumn/winter season, and one that works well with all pens and nib sizes. I especially liked this ink in broad stubs, where the shading becomes truly beautiful … a really classy look. The ink is named after the colour of adzuki beans, which are the most important legume in Japan after the soy bean. Red-coloured adzuki beans were believed to have the effect of quelling negative vibes and bad luck, and were frequently used during ceremonial activities. The ink writes with good lubrication in my Safari test pens, not at all dry like some other kyo-no-oto inks. It easily handles the complete range of nib sizes, and manages to look well-saturated even with the finest nibs. Shading is subdued but definitely present, especially in the broader nibs. With wet pens and broad nibs, the dark parts look almost black, contrasting nicely with the burgundy lighter parts. The result just looks stunning! This is one ink that I will use primarily with very broad nibs. I’ve tested quite a number of TAG Kyoto inks to date, and most of them operate well above the average. With the kyo-iro and kyo-no-oto inks, TAG Kyoto has two well-performing ink families, that continue to impress me. Wonderful inks that totally fit my tastes. I’m really glad that I discovered them. To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look & feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I really saturated portions of a strip of 52 gsm Tomoe River paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour span. As you can see, adzukiiro has a medium colour range. The ink moves from a fairly light burgundy to a much darker – almost black – wine-red, while keeping a nice balance between these extremes. In writing, this translates to subtle shading which is aesthetically very pleasing. Shading keeps in the background with finer nibs (up to M-size). You really need broad and broader nibs to get the great-looking prominent shading that is – in my opinion – the selling point for this ink. The ink’s chromatography shows a wonderful complexity with different hues of blue, purple and red in the mix. The grey-blue dyes fix more readily to the paper, while the red dyes are much less water-resistant. The bottom part of the chromatography seems to indicate a small measure of water-resistance. But no… the water test clearly shows that what’s left on the paper is unreadable. Adzukiiro is not water-resistant at all. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. 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 Lamy Safari The name of the paper used, written with an Esterbrook Estie with 1.1 stub nib A small text sample, written with a TWSBI VAC Mini with M-nib Source of the quote, with a B-nib Lamy Safari Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) This TAG Kyoto adzukiiro looks great on all my test papers. There is a tiny amount of feathering on the more absorbent papers, but you almost need a magnifying glass to notice it. See-trough and bleed-through are no issue – except with the Moleskine paper, but even here it is quite acceptable. Drying times vary widely with paper type: close to the 5-second mark with absorbent paper, close to the 15-20 second mark on paper with a harder surface. The ink looks great on both white and more yellow paper. Like many inks in this colour range, it’s difficult to capture adzukiiro’s true colour with a scan – it just looks too purple! For this reason, I decided to use photo’s of the writing samples – these best capture the ink’s natural colour. Below a more close-up photo of the ink. Just look at that beautiful shading in the word “Paperblanks” – black and dark burgundy from a 1.1 stub nib. This ink simply shines with extra-broad nibs! Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Kyo-no-oto adzukiiro can handle all nib sizes without a problem. With the EF nib, you still get a nicely saturated and lovely-looking line. For prominent shading you need the broader nibs though – B and above. Really worth it … adzukiiro looks at its best with these very broad nibs. Related inks To compare the wine-red adzukiiro 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. This kyo-no-oto ink looks like a slightly more saturated version of Papier Plume Red Beans and Rice. Note that in this scan, both Super5 Australia Red and Diamine Merlot look too brown. In reality they are a much better match with adzukiiro … like I said before, these ink colours are devilishly difficult to capture with a scan. Inkxperiment – zen in the city With every review, I try to create an inkxperiment using only the ink I’m working on. Such a one-ink drawing is a great way to show off the colour-range nuances that are present in the ink. These inkxperiments are the favourite part of my reviews: always great fun and a good way to stretch my creativity and drawing skills. Modern life can get really hectic and stressful at times. I’ve just come to the end of such a period… we started this academic year at Leuven University in on-campus mode. After more than a full year of remote learning (a result of the covid19 virus), that meant there was quite a lot of IT-work to get our campuses ready for on-site mode… installing extra WiFi, CO2 sensors, … – as always – most of this last-minute 😉 At the end of such a busy work-day, I often take a walk at the nearby “Abdij van Park” … an oasis of zen, and an ideal environment to unwind. I tried to capture this zen-like moment in this inkxperiment… with the fisherman finding his place of quiet in the busy cityscape. I started with a quick outline sketch of the drawing I wanted to make. I used an A4 piece of 300 gsm rough watercolour paper, on which I drew a background with water diluted adzukiiro. For the city buildings, I used Q-tips and multiple water-ink ratios. The rest of the painting was drawn with an M- and B-nib Lamy Safari. For the darker subjects (train and electricity wires), I used an Esterbrook Estie with a 1.1 stub nib. Because adzukiiro scans badly, I used a photo to capture the true colours in this inkxperiment. The resulting drawing shows really well the colour-range nuances that can be achieved with this TAG Kyoto ink. I’m quite impressed with the broad tonal range that can be extracted from this one ink. A fine drawing ink! Conclusion TAG Kyoto kyo-no-oto adzukiiro is a well-executed wine-red burgundy ink. This one works with all nib sizes and with all types of paper. I especially liked this ink with super-broad nibs, where the shading becomes truly beautiful. Adzukiiro is also a great drawing ink, with a broad tonal range. Overall, another fine example of the craftsmanship of TAG Kyoto’s inkmasters. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Back-side of writing samples on different paper types
  2. A red-purple with some black sheen if there is a LOT of ink. The name means 'colour of red beans', and refers to the tradition of using red beans and rice as an essential part of Japanese religious ceremonies.

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