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  1. L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Olifants 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-colored 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 watercolor-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 Olifants, one of the many blue inks of the series. The blue Callifolio inks are named after rivers, lakes and oceans – this one gets its name from the Olifants river in South-Africa. Olifants not only has a cool name, it’s also a cool ink – a kind of blue-black with strong green undertones or a very dark teal. It’s a strange and unusual colour… I really have no other blue to compare it to. The ink writes well, with good flow, and is nicely saturated. Lubrication is on the low side, resulting in noticeable feedback from the paper when writing, especially with the finer nibs. Olifants is comfortable with all nib sizes – it even looks good and nicely saturated with an EF nib. The ink also exhibits a pleasing shading, even with the finer nibs. I typically use smaller nib sizes because of my small handwriting, so I appreciate an ink that shows character in EF/F nibs – Olifants definitely delivers. Olifants is smudge-resistant – there is very little spreading of the ink. The ink’s water resistance however is really low. With both the running tapwater test and the soak test almost all of the colour disappears and only faint greyish markings remain. These markings are still decipherable with some effort. But this is definitely not an ink to use for signing important documents. When using a water-brush when doodling & drawing, you get a nice light-blue shading effect, that contrasts well with the inky lines. Like all Callifolio inks, Olifants is a very fine choice for inky drawings. I’ve 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)Olifants behaved perfectly on all the paper types, with no apparent feathering even on the lower quality papers in my test set. Drying times are mostly in the 10 to 15 second range, with a low of 5 seconds on the more absorbent paper. The ink looks really nice on the white papers in my test set, and is positively stunning with Fantasticpaper. Personally, I don’t care for the colour on the off-white, creamy papers – I find the combination rather unpleasant with such a pairing. I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. With the low-end Moleskine and generic paper, there is significant show-through and bleed-through. With the other papers, Olifant’s behaviour is impeccable. The ink copes really well with all paper types. Conclusion Callifolio Olifants is a very well-behaving ink on all types of paper, with a rather unusual green-blue-black colour – I have no other blue similar to it. The ink works really well with finer nibs, which is a big plus for me. I also find Olifants very enjoyable for doodling & drawing. Unfortunately, the ink only combines well with pure white paper, and is – in my personal opinion – rather unpleasant when paired with off-white creamy paper. A fine ink, but not one of my best.
  2. Ink Shoot-Out : J.Herbin Vert de Gris vs L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Olifants In 2018, J. Herbin released a number of new inks in their "Perle des Encres" series. The one I fell in love with is Vert de Gris, a terrific grey-green-blue ink that rightfully deserved a spot in my favourite inks of the year short-list. Recently I accidentally discovered that Callifolio Olifants has a very similar hue... in fact, these inks are really close matches. Time to do 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 two inks engage in fierce battle to determine who is the winner. And today truly is a special fight - our French champions are masters in the art of Savate - also known as French kick-boxing. In the left corner, the deadly weapon from Paris - J. Herbin Vert de Gris aka the "Grey Reaper". In the right corner, from southern France, the steel-footed "Elephant Kicker" – L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Olifants. The champions enter the ring! The crowd is roaring! The bell rings and the first round begins... may the best ink win! Round 1 – First Impressions These French inks are well matched, and make a great first impression. They show a muted grey-green-blue colour, that really appeals to me. The colour contrasts nicely with the Rhodia N°16 paper in my Lamy Safari M-nib. The inks show character, with nice shading even in finer nibs. I especially like their dusty appearance. These inks are definitely teals, but also lean towards the grey, giving them a vintage appearance. I really like what I see here. Both inks look very much alike, but there are some differences: Vert de Gris is more saturated, and leaves a wetter line on the page. In contrast, Olifants is a much drier ink, which feels less lubricated. This is especially noticeable in finer nibs. Olifants has a bit more blue in it, which is most obvious in swatches. Both inks make a great first impression. In the looks department, they are well matched. But Vert de Gris feels nicer in the pen due to its superior lubrication. A small difference, but the first kick goes to the Grey Reaper. Just enough for a win on points. 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. With the EF nib, the better saturation of Vert de Gris comes into play, resulting in more contrast-rich writing. With broad nibs though, Vert de Gris becomes a bit too saturated and loses some of its character. Here the drier Olifants looks more pleasing to me. Colourwise both inks look very similar in writing. Both inks also shade nicely, without too much contrast between light and dark parts. This aesthetically pleasing shading gives more character to your writing, and shows up even with the finer nibs. For this round, the focus is on writing, and here both inks are strong performers. Vert de Gris works a bit better in EF/F nibs, producing a more saturated line. On the other hand, Vert de Gris tends to oversaturate in broader nibs. Here the drier Callifolio Olifants manages to gain the upper hand in the looks department. But both inks are jewels, that are really on par with each other. Some nice punches, some good kicks, but neither ink gets the upper hand. As such, this round ends in a draw. 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 ? One thing is immediately apparent: these inks are at home on a wide range of papers, both white and off-white ones. On more absorbent paper like Fantasticpaper (top), the drier Olifants makes the best of the paper. But on less absorbent paper, the roles are reversed - due to its better saturation, Vert de Gris definitely looks better in these circumstances. The inks both consistently produce great-looking writing on all the papers I tested them with. Swatch saturation varies across paper types (depending on absorption and roughness of the paper), but for writing these inks manage to produce consistently contrast-rich lines on the page. Both champions move with lightning speed - throwing kicks and punches - but neither champion gives ground. As such, round 3 also finishes with a draw. The crowd is going nuts... what a fight! These inks show no weakness! Awesome! Round 4 – Ink Properties Both inks have drying times in the 15-20 second range on the Rhodia paper. But... oh my god... look! ... the Grey Reaper explodes in a flurry of kicks, and finally punches through the defenses of the Elephant Kicker. In the smudge resistance test - rubbing the text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - Vert de Gris shows itself to be less prone to smudging. This better water resistance also shows up in the droplet test, where I drip water on the grid and let it sit there for 15 minutes. Vert de Gris definitely shows better water resistance, losing colour but showing a crisp greyish residue that remains very readable. Olifants behaves quite well on itself, but can't reach the level of water resistance shown by Vert de Gris. What a spectacle! J. Herbin Vert de Gris pulled some kicks and punches worthy of Jean-Claude van Damme, the Muscles from Brussels. Callifolio Olifants totally caved! The crowd is cheering... More! More! More! There is no doubt... this round is a solid win for Vert de Gris. 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 the most when doing some fun stuff like doodling and drawing. Both inks do well, and show off a broad colour spectrum, ranging from very light greyish-blue to a really dark teal. I really enjoyed using them. Personally I prefer the greyer looks of Vert de Gris. This ink shows a bit more character, and provides more of a gloomy feel that I really like. The accompanying drawing was done on HP photo paper, and on this medium Callifolio Olifants definitely shows its blue-er nature. For this round, both champions are again well matched. They both look beautiful, but this judge prefers the greyer gloominess of Vert de Gris over the more bluish tones of Olifants. A personal judgement, but still... this round goes to Vert de Gris on points. The Verdict Both inks are real jewels, that look beautiful on all types of paper. And it took a while to notice some worthwhile differences. But in the end, round 4 is the decisive one : Vert de Gris clearly dominates when water resistance comes into play. It also wins on points in some of the other rounds - but that's more of a personal impression of the judge. Both J.Herbin Vert de Gris and Callifolio Olifants are top quality inks. But put them next to each other, and the result is clear: Vert de Gris throws the better kicks and punches, and is the definite winner of this exciting fight.

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