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  1. TAG Kyoto – kyo-no-oto – keshimurasaki 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 I take a closer look at keshimurasaki. This ink is supposedly inspired by the formal kimono dresses during the Heian era, when Kyoto was the capital of Japan. 'Keshi' means 'off' and 'murasaki' means 'purple' - this quite accurately describes the blue-purple-grey colour of this ink. This definitely is my type of ink: an unsaturated soft pastel-type colour, shadowy and smoky, with an elegant complexity. A word of warning though: be aware that this is a very dry ink, that is not meant to be used with dry pens. My traditional Lamy Safari test pens were totally not OK with this ink. Very dry feeling, scratchy writing, really undersaturated. This is easily solved by using a wet pen - with my wet-writing Pelikan pens, keshimurasaki transforms into a real beauty. For this review I use Pelikan pens with F, M and B nib sizes. With these pens, the ink lays down an elegant grey line, with blue-purple undertones. You also get really sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing shading. And with a wet pen, the ink writes much more smoothly. It's still a bit dry, but that's easily forgotten when you see the beautiful result of your writing. 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 the Tomoe River 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, keshimurasaki has a broad colour range. This ink moves from a very undersaturated smoky blue-purple-grey, darkening significantly as more layers are added. Nice! The ink's chromatography shows a wonderfully complex mix of muted pastel-like dyes. The resulting mix is definitely a grey, leaning to the blue or the purple depending on variables like light, paper, ... keshimurasaki is an ink with character! The bottom part of the chroma seems to indicate that there is some measure of water-resistance, but alas... in practice the ink shows zero tolerance for water (both with still and running water). On the other hand, keshimurasaki has no problem with smudging - the text shows little to no smearing when rubbed with a most Q-tip cotton swab. 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 F-nib Pelikan M800 The name of the paper used, written with an M-nib Pelikan M400 A small text sample, written with the F-nib Pelikan M800 Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the F-nib Pelikan) Keshimurasaki behaves well on my test papers, with no visible feathering. The only exception is the horrible Moleskine paper - here the ink suffers from lots of feathering, see-through and bleed-through. Drying times vary and are mostly in the 10-15 second range (with the F-nib Pelikan). With the wet Pelikans keshimurasaki looks great: a muted grey, with hints of blue-purple, and with elegant shading. A real joy! Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. The top lines were written with my typical Safari test pens. This is just to illustrate that keshimurasaki is not a great companion for dry pens. The rest of the writing sample shows the ink with some wet-writing Pelikan pens with F-M-B nib sizes. With the wet pens, the ink looks well-saturated, shows good contrast and some nice shading. It's still a touch dry, but this does not detract from the writing experience. Related inks To compare keshimurasaki 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 – For Dulcinea ! With every review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I'm working on. Such a one-ink drawing is excellent for showing the different colour-range nuances of the ink. These drawings are always my favourite part of the ink review: often challenging, but always great fun. For this drawing inspiration comes from the Miguel de Cervantes novel I'm currently reading. I started with a sheet of 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. With a simple Q-tip I painted in the background. I then added the man from La Mancha and the wind-mill with the fountain pen. With the Q-tip I added more and more ink to different parts of the drawing, resulting in the darker areas. I really enjoyed keshimurasaki - its broad tonal ranges makes it an excellent ink to draw with. Conclusion TAG kyo-no-oto keshimurasaki probably is not for everyone. You really need wet pens to reach the ink's potential. But then you are rewarded with a sophisticated grey with blue-purple undertones. A muted and shadowy colour that looks totally beautiful on the page. This is my type of colour, and I really enjoyed 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 From Idea to Drawing The idea for this inkxperiment comes from the Don Quichote novel I'm currently reading. Not unexpectedly, the iconic fight with the wind-mill is a totally logical choice for this drawing's topic. I'm really bad at doing realistic drawings, so I naturally tend to a naïve and child-like style ;-) I started with some rough ideas, and a simple sketch of the composition I wanted to achieve. Next I used a sheet of 300 gsm rough watercolour paper, and painted in the background with a Q-tip cotton-swab, lightly dipped in the bottle of keshimurasaki. The rough paper allows for some nice-looking textures. I then sketched in the drawing's subjects with my fountain pen. Once satisfied with the composition, I accentuated the drawing's outline, and added multiple layers of ink with the Q-tip. I finished the piece by adding the sun in the sky, and some trees on the horizon. The toolset for this inkxperiment was really simple: some Q-tips, a fountain pen and the bottle of ink. The resulting drawing shows quite well the tonal range that can be obtained with this beautiful grey ink from the kyo-no-oto series.
  2. namrehsnoom

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Utamaro aomurasaki

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Utamaro aomurasaki TACCIA is a Japanese stationery company, that - as far as I know - is now part of the Nakabayashi group. They offer high-quality fountain pens, inks, pen-rolls, notebooks, etc. More specifically, TACCIA produce a line of inks, inspired by the unique look of Ukiyo-e paintings from Japan’s Edo period (17th century). Ukiyo-e prints are woodblock prints where the work of an artist is carved into wood by woodworkers, and pressed onto paper by printers. This allows the production of multiple prints of an artwork with some different colours as well. In this review, I take a closer look at aomurasaki, a blue-purple-grey that is inspired by the work of the Japanese artist Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806). Utamaro was a highly regarded designer of Ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings. He is best known for his “large-headed pictures of beautiful women” of the 1790’s. The woodblock painting “Geigi”, part of a series of five Ukiyo-e prints known as “Five Shades of Ink in the Northern Quarter” was created in 1794-95. Aomurasaki is modeled after the purple-grey colour in the geisha’s kimono robe. Aomurasaki is a well-saturated blue-purple, that can look almost grey in writing. The ink looks soft, muted, understated but full of depth… a complex and sophisticated ink that reflects the geisha’s elegance. Not a vibrant ink, but one that is soft & easy on the eye, well suited for long writing sessions. The ink has good flow, and works well with all nib sizes, even the few EF-nibs I have. My first impression: a great-looking ink with lots of character. Makes me think of Mariko-sana from the James Clavell Shogun book – distinguished and elegant, but with emotions whirling below the surface. I like aomurasaki a lot. To show you the impact of saturation on the ink’s look and feel on paper, I made some scribbles where I really saturated portions of a strip of 52 gsm Tomoe River paper with this TACCIA ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. Aomurasaki has a narrow dynamic range, going from a medium-light to a much darker purple-grey. The contrast between these light and dark parts is fairly low, which translates to soft and elegant shading. Shading happens in all nib sizes, with just a hint using the EF-nib, but really present with M-nibs and above. The shading is never too fierce, but always remains unobtrusive – it just gives that desirable extra oomph to your writing, without being in your face. I like the aesthetics of the result on paper… nicely executed. The ink’s chromatography shows aomurasaki’s complex mix of dyes… I see grey, rose-purple, light-blue, and hints of other colours. Thanks to the mastery of TACCIA’s ink makers Hiroshi Ishiguro and Hanse Matsumoto, these dyes combine to the beautiful blue-purple-grey colour of aomurasaki. The bottom part of the chroma shows that the grey dye remains firmly attached to the paper, while the colour dissipates with water. The water test confirms this. I wouldn’t call aomurasaki a water-proof ink, but it can survive accidents, and what remains on the paper is still readable. That’s a plus for using this ink at the office. I’ve tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. Starting with this review, I’ve added a few new papers : Nakabayashi Prime notebook paper (75 gsm) Miquelrius 1839 recycled notebook paper (80 gsm) Yamamoto Bank Paper Takasago Premium (87.9 gsm) 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 a B-nib Lamy Safari A small text sample, written with an F-nib Yard-o-Led Source of the quote, with an Esterbrook journaler nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) Aomurasaki looks really good on both white and creamy paper. It does prefer better quality paper, showing a tiny bit of feathering and some bleed-through on the lower quality papers in my test-set. Due to the saturated nature of the ink, there is also some see-through on multiple papers. Drying times with the M-nib Lamy Safari are in the 5 to 10 second range. I’ve also added a few photos to give you another view on the ink. Scanned images and photos often capture different aspects of the ink’s colour & contrast. That’s why I present them both. In this case, the photos capture aomurasaki’s colour best – the scans of the writing samples are little bit too blue. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. The EF-nib already shows a hint of shading. But it is with the M-nib and above that the ink’s soft & elegant shading really comes into play. At first sight, the shading is not really evident, but it is there – low-key and unobtrusive - simply adding character to your writing without being in-your-face. Very nicely done, in my opinion. The ink looks beautiful and well-saturated in the fine nibs (F and EF). This is a plus when using aomurasaki at the office, where premium quality paper is not typically present. By using a finer nib, you avoid excessive feathering and see-through/bleed-through on the lower quality copy paper. Related inks To compare aomurasiki’s muted blue-purple-grey 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. Kyo-iro Soft Snow of Ohara looks fairly similar, although with a touch more blue. Aomurasaki sits somewhere between Soft Snow of Ohara and Rober Oster Purple Rock. Diamine Vivaldi – another purple-grey – definitely leans more heavily towards grey. Inkxperiment – quantum tree With every review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I’m working on. Limiting myself to one ink allows me to showcase its colour-range nuances. It’s often quite a challenge, but always great fun. Inspiration for this drawing comes from an introductory Elementary Physics online-course I recently followed – trying to keep up-to-date with advances in cosmology and quantum mechanics. You just have to love science… from elementary particles like quarks and leptons, we get atoms, that combine to molecules, that come together in cells and that lead to the amazing large-scale structures we see in nature. Like the majestic oak, and ultimately ourselves. It’s just amazing that simple physical processes can lead to such complex emergent behaviour. I tried to capture my love of science in this quantum tree picture. I started with a piece of A4 HP photo paper, on which I painted the background with different water-ink ratios (using cotton pads). I then used different-sized jars as stamps to draw the circles (using bleach, that reacts quite strongly with aomurasaki). I filled an old and disused Kaweco Sport with bleach, and used that to draw the circuit-board lines, and the binary writing, finishing the painting. The drawing shows really well what can be achieved using aomurasaki for artistic purposes. In my opinion – a beautiful ink to draw & paint with! Conclusion TACCIA Ukiyo-e Utamaro aomurasaki is a great ink. Period. I love the understated nature of its blue-purple-grey colour, the elegance of its shading, and its overall writing properties. And on top of that, it’s also a superb drawing ink. Try it... I am sure you'll like 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
  3. namrehsnoom

    Robert Oster Signature - Charcoal

    Robert Oster Signature - Charcoal Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. On his website, he describes our shared love quite eloquently: “Robert Oster Signature originates from one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world, the Coonawarra district of South Australia, an idyllic setting with great influence on the senses. There is my inspiration. It’s a joy to share it with you.” Well, we are certainly fortunate to have inspiring ink makers like Robert Oster to satiate our thirst for glorious inks. In this review, the center stage is taken by Charcoal. Catherine from Sakura provided me with a sample of this ink to play around with – much appreciated! This particular incarnation of a Robert Oster ink is a purple-leaning grey. The ink provides good contrast with the paper, which is good. On the other hand, I found it to be quite dry in smaller nib sizes, which is not good (this with my Lamy Safari, which is itself on the dry side). Only with broader nibs did I achieve a pleasing writing experience. I liked the writing experience a lot when paired with a B-nib. Charcoal shows some heavy shading, with quite a bit of contrast between the light and darker parts. I prefer my shading to be more subtle though – for me personally, heavy shaders are less aesthetically pleasing. The ink itself is a complex mixture, with multiple undertones. When used for drawing, you can bring these blue, red and green undertones to the surface in washes. 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 the paper with ink. This gives you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in terms of colour range. Like most Robert Oster inks, Charcoal has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. This is evident from the chromatography – the ink detaches easily from the paper, as can be seen in the bottom part of the chroma. Smudge resistance is quite good though. 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-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)Charcoal behaved perfectly on all paper types, with no visible feathering – not even on Moleskine paper, which is quite a feat. On the other hand, the ink shows some unusual chemistry on Moleskine paper, resulting in a sickly greenish colour. Really strange, and something I also observed with Purple Rock, which is also an ink with purple components. Could it be something with the chemistry of Robert’s purple dyes that clashes with the Moleskine paper ??? The same occurred – to a lesser degree – with Tomoe River paper. Charcoal manages to look quite ugly on Tomoe River. Overall, the ink dries quickly near the 5-second range, with makes it a suitable ink for lefties. I also show the back-side of the different paper types at the end of the review. No troubles there, except with the Moleskine paper, which shows a bit of bleed-through. All in all, a very well-behaving ink. ConclusionRobert Oster Charcoal is a purple-grey ink, that is at its best in broader nibs, where it truly shows off its colour range and heavy shading. Unfortunately, the ink has no water resistance – the briefest touch of water completely obliterates your writing. The ink also has trouble with some types of paper – it looks horribly green on Moleskine paper, and looks rather sickly on Tomoe River. All things considered, I’m personally not impressed by this particular Robert Oster creation as a writing ink. For drawing, this ink has some potential, due to the complex undertones that easily surface in washes. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Back-side of writing samples on different paper types
  4. namrehsnoom

    Robert Oster Signature - Purple Rock

    Robert Oster Signature - Purple Rock Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. On his website he describes our shared love quite eloquently: “Robert Oster Signature originates from one of the most famous wine producing regions of the world, the Coonawarra district of South Australia, an idyllic setting with great influence on the senses. There is my inspiration. It’s a joy to share it with you.” Well, we are certainly fortunate to have inspiring ink makers like Robert Oster to satiate our thirst for glorious inks. In this review I take a closer look at Purple Rock – a mesmerizing grey-purple ink. The colour is stunning, with a definite vintage feel. It writes wet and smooth, and can accommodate all nib sizes with equal grace. The ink shades beautifully without too much contrast between the lighter and darker parts, just as I like it. In swabs, the ink definitely shows its purple character, but in writing it’s more of a dark purple-grey. And it’s that purple component that provides all the magic ! When writing, the ink is laid down in a dark grey line, with the purple undertone surfacing as it dries. This is a really neat effect – you just stop writing while watching the ink change its hue as it dries. Mesmerizing! There’s also some strange magic going on between ink and light. Depending on the light and the angle you’re looking at the paper, the inks’ appearance can change from a dark grey to quite a purple colour. Fascinating, as Mr. Spock would say (but also quite impossible to catch with my scanner). On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – Purple Rock behaved very well – there is only some minor smearing. Water resistance is totally non-existent though – even short exposures to water completely obliterate your writing. On the droplet test and after short exposures to running tap water, all the ink simply vanished. This is clear from the lower part of the chroma – almost no ink remains attached to the paper. The chroma also shows the complex character of the ink – Mr. Oster sure has great mixing skills. 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-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)Purple Rock behaved perfectly on most paper types. For some reason though, the chemistry of the ink clashes with Moleskine paper, resulting in more of a sickly green-grey – all those lovely purple undertones are just gone ! Hard to believe that this is the same ink. With the Moleskine paper, there’s also significant see-through and bleed-through. Drying times are mostly around the 10-15 second mark. The ink looks beautiful both on the white and the more yellowish paper. Purple Rock’s appearance differs widely across the paper types – from mostly grey on Tomoe River to mostly purple on Fantasticpaper. I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. Conclusion Robert Oster Purple Rock is a very nice vintage-looking purple-grey. The ink has great dynamics: it changes hue as it dries, and the purple undertones have a fascinating way of changing with the ambient light and the angle you look at the paper. It’s a nice wet and saturated ink, with good contrast on all types of paper, but with no water resistance at all. Overall I’m impressed by this creation of the Australian ink master – definitely an ink to use on a regular basis. If you like greys or purples and/or dusty inks, this ink rightfully deserves a place in your collection. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib
  5. Ink Review : Diamine Vivaldi (Music Collection) Pen: Lamy Safari, M-nib Paper: Rhodia N° 16 notepad 80 gsm Review Venice, Piazza San Marco, March 23th 1723 Buone sera signore, welcome to Venice. My name is Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, and I'm enjoying this beautiful spring evening at the beginning of spring. Look at that magnificent twilight sky... that purple-grey color stretching from horizon to horizon. Nature truly shows its beauty in every season. This purple-grey color inspires my muse... time to get to work on composing a fitting concerto. I think I'll call it "Le Quattro Stagioni" In 2015 Diamine released the Music Collection, a set of ten inks named after well-known composers. This is a collection of serious, subdued colors. In this review, I take a look at Vivaldi - after the above introduction, you're sure to remember that this is a purple-grey ink. Diamine Vivaldi is a purple-grey - i.e. more of a grey with purple undertones. It really is something special. The color is subdued, classical, and can easily be used for business correspondence. And yet... it has that special touch that will give your writing a more personal flavor. This is not an ordinary ink, not at all ! It shows that you - as a writer - care about your correspondence. There is also some subtle shading going on, which gives the ink some extra character. The ink also exhibits good flow and writes fluently. I'm really fond of it! You really need to see this ink in person - in the scans the subtle purple undertones are difficult to capture, but believe me: they are there, and they make this ink shine! OK - but how does it behave on paper ? For this, I did some tests: Rhodia N° 16 notepad 80 gsm - drying time ~25 seconds, no feathering, no show-through nor bleed-throughPaperblanks journal paper - drying time ~20 seconds, no feathering, no show-through and no bleed-throughGeneric notepad paper 70 gsm - drying time ~15 seconds, no feathering, no show-through and no bleed-throughMoleskine journal - drying time 5-10 seconds, a tiny amount of feathering, significant show-through and noticeable bleed-throughVivaldi is a well-behaving ink. It's only with the notoriously bad Moleskine paper that it starts behaving badly. On better paper, it really shines. The ink has only limited problems with smudging. Running water will remove most of the color, but a perfectly readible light-purple trace of your text remains. Not bad at all! Conclusion This ink rocks! It is a really interesting color that feels at home with any type of writing. Very suitable for both personal journaling and official business correspondence. And that color... it's just stunning. In my personal opinion, Diamine scored a winner here ! I just hope it will be possible to get this color in individual bottles, outside of the Music Collection. My overall score: A+





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