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  1. Ink Shoot-Out : iroshizuku tsuki-yo vs Callifolio Oconto Over the past few years I've acquired a taste for dusty, murky and quirky inks - perfect for personal journaling, but not always suited for a more formal setting. Blue-blacks are a staple for use at the office, and always a safe choice. But when you want something a bit more daring, you just might reach for blue inks with a little bit of a green undertone. Two inks in this category are Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo and L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Oconto. Tsuki-yo is my go-to ink in this category, but recently I noticed that Oconto is another player on this field. Time do to a detailed comparison, and find out which of these inks I like the most. Enter... the Ink Shoot-Out. A brutal fight spanning five rounds, where heavyweight inks do battle to determine who is the winner. In the left corner - the Japanese king of the ring: Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo. In the right corner, the challenger from southern France, L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Oconto. Which champion will remain standing at the end of the fight ? Let's find out... Round 1 - First Impressions Both inks certainly are attractive liquids, that are quite a home in a more formal business setting. Both are also just slightly off-blue, with a tiny bit of a green undertone. In writing, they look quite similar, but there are some differences:Tsuki-yo is a bit greener than Oconto, which is quite evident in swabs, but less so in normal writing.Oconto is definitely less lubricated than the Japanese ink, it writes a bit on the dry side with noticeable feeback from the paper.Tsuki-yo is a bit more saturated than the French ink. This is also most apparent in the swabs.On first impression I preferred the slightly less green appearance of Callifolio Oconto. On the other hand, the Japanese ink clearly is the better writer with superior lubrication and saturation. In a sense - I was torn between the two, and found myself wishing for the best aspects of the two: the colour of Oconto, and the lubrication/saturation of tsuki-yo. As such, this round ends in a draw. No clear winner emerges. Round 2 - Writing Sample The writing sample was done on Rhodia N°16 Notepad with 80 gsm paper. Both inks behaved flawlessly, with no feathering and no show-through or bleed-through. Iroshizuku tsuki-yo wrote like a dream, with very good ink flow and lubrication, and leaving a well saturated line. In contrast, Callifolio Oconto is much less lubricated, and feels much drier. This is especially noticeable with the EF nib. The Callifolio ink needs broader nibs for a satisfying writing experience. Colourwise both inks look very similar in writing, although there is definitely more of a green undertone in the iroshizuku ink. Both inks also shade nicely, without too much contrast between light and dark parts. This aesthetically pleasing shading gives more character to your writing. For this round, the focus is on writing, and here the Japanese ink clearly has the upper hand, with undeniably superior flow, lubrication and saturation. A solid win for Pilot iroshizuku tsuki-yo. Round 3 - Pen on Paper This round allows the batlling inks to show how they behave on a range of fine writing papers. From top to bottom, we have : FantasticPaper, Life Noble, Tomoe River and Original Crown Mill cotton paper. All scribbling and writing was done with a Lamy Safari M-nib.Both champions did well, with no show-through nor bleed-through. But this round is not about technicalities, it is about aesthetics and beauty. Are the fighters able to make the paper shine ? For this judge, the choice is clear. Tsuki-yo has a very consistent look and feel across the paper types. In comparison, Oconto looks much more washed-out and undersaturated. I really like how tsuki-yo makes the most of the paper, and manages to look good no matter which paper you use. Callifolio Oconto tries its best, but cannot compete. Being much less saturated, it has trouble to make the paper shine. So for this round, tsuki-yo clearly has the upper hand and is granted the victory. Round 4 - Ink Properties Both inks have drying times at around the 10 second mark on the Rhodia paper. But at this point, the similarity ends. On the smudge test, where a moist Q-tip cotton swab is drawn across the text lines, the Japanese ink clearly shows its lack of water resistance with significant smudging of the text. This gets confirmed in the droplet test. I dripped water onto the grid and let it sit there for 15 minutes, after which I removed the water with a paper kitchen towel. With iroshizuku, a blue mess results, with barely reconstructible writing. Oconto on the other hand shows itself to be a very water-resistant ink ! This is an ink you can take down the trenches. The Japanese opponent is completely obliterated (figuratively speaking, but also quite literally). The chromatography shows that tsuki-yo leaves a bluish residue that is almost indistinguishable from the smudges that detach from the paper. Oconto on the other hand leaves a firm blue fingerprint of your text - only the more greenish undertones of the inks get flushed away when coming into contact with water. For this round, the Callifolio ink is clearly the superior, and delivers a resounding knock-out to its Japanese opponent. The crowds are cheering! Round 5 - The Fun Factor Welcome to the final round. Here I give you a purely personal impression of both inks, where I judge which of them I like most when doing some fun stuff like doodling and drawing. Both inks do well, and allow for some nice effects when using a water brush. I really enjoyed using them.For drawing, iroshizuku tsuki-yo has the advantage though. For one, the more greenish undertones make it the more interesting ink for drawing. And its low water resistance makes it a really great ink when used with a water brush to obtain watercolour-like effects. Callifolio Oconto also looks good, but for drawing, its strong water resistance is more a drawback than an advantage. This is of course a purely personal judgement, but for this round the Japanese ink gets the judge's favour, and is granted victory. The Verdict Both inks are beautiful, slightly off-blue inks that are a great choice for a more formal setting. I love them both. But counting the points, the story is clear: iroshizuku tsuki-yo wins three rounds, while its French opponent manages only one win. This fight clearly has a definite winner : iroshizuku tsuki-yo remains the king of the ring !
  2. L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Oconto 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, I take a closer look at Oconto, one of the many blue inks of the Callifolio series. Their blue inks are named after bodies of water, so this one is presumably named after the Oconto river in Wisconsin, USA. Oconto turns out to be a very nice blue ink, that looks real businesslike. And yet, it has a tiny bit of a green streak, which gives it just that little extra to stand out from the crowd. I consider it a wonderful ink for use at work – the ink grabs the eye, yet is classical enough not to get frowned at in a business setting. I love it! The ink is also a great choice for doodling and drawing. I was pleasantly surprised by the way it looks in some of the doodles I made with it. A splendid type of blue! Not that the ink doesn’t have its flaws. I found it to be a bit too dry and undersaturated in EF and F nibs. With these finer nibs, the ink’s lovely colour and subtle shading fail to materialize, resulting in too flat a look. But starting with M nibs, the ink really takes control of the paper, and becomes a classic beauty. On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – there is some of the blue dye that rubs off, but the text itself remains basically untouched and very readable. Even better, accidentally spilling some water on your notes is not a problem. You can just dry it off with a paper towel, without much impact on the written word. This becomes clear from the droplet test, where water is dripped on the grid, and left there for 15 minutes. Running tap water does more damage to the text, but the remaining residue of your writing remains perfectly decipherable. Oconto definitely has a rather good water resistance, which is great for an ink used at the office. Keep in mind thought that this is not an archival ink – so it’s not completely waterproof! I have tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. For the Callifolio reviews, I’m using a new format to show you the ink’s appearance and behaviour on the different paper types. On every small band of paper, I show you:An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturationAn ink scribble made with an M-nib fountain penThe name of the paper used, written with a B-nibA small text sample, written with an M-nibDrying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)Callifolio Oconto behaved perfectly on all the paper types I used, with no visible feathering on the lower quality papers in my test set. It even looks great on Moleskine paper – if an ink manages that feat, it can definitely cope with the lower quality paper that’s typically found in an office setting. Drying times are on the short side in the 5 to 10 second range – another plus for an ink you use at work. At the end of the review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. The ink behaved superbly on all paper types. Only with Moleskine did I notice a tiny bit of bleed-through. Conclusion Callifolio Oconto from L’Artisan Pastellier is a robust blue ink, that is really well suited for a business setting: the ink has a classic look, is surprisingly water-resistant and is quick drying. All qualities that are greatly appreciated in an ink you want to use at the workplace. Oconto also has a tiny bit of a green undertone, which results in a blue colour that’s just that bit different from a standard blue. As such, it will draw the eye, without being too playful. If you’re looking for a business ink, this one will surely fit the bill (and it’s a nice variation from the staple blue-blacks that are often seen in this setting). The ink is also a fine choice for personal use. I especially enjoyed using it for doodling & drawing – great colour! Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with a Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types





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