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  1. namrehsnoom

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Syaraku koiame

    ink review : TACCIA Ukiyo-e - Syaraku - koiame 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, the spotlight shines on koiame, a dusty reddish orange ink that is inspired by the work of Syaraku (Sharaku), an artist that is best known for his iconic portraits of kabuki actors. Inspiration for this colour comes from the portrait of Ichikawa Ebizo IV, playing as Takemura Sadanoshin. In June 1794 at the Kawarazaki Theater, this Kabuki actor portrayed a father who commits suicide after being disgraced by his daughter who has had a child out of wedlock. The intense expression of the mouth and eyes demonstrates the conventional pose used by actors to show heightened emotion. Koiame’s burnt-orange is modelled after the colour of the actor’s kimono. Koiame is a beautiful deep burnt orange, that writes a wet & saturated line. This ink works well with all nib sizes, even the finest ones. It is a strong-shading ink, even in the EF nib, but with a smooth gradient that is easy on the eye and aesthetically very pleasing. The expression you get on the page is simply wonderful – the shading on this ink really is exceptionally well done. Bravo! I also like the dustiness of this orange, which makes for a tranquil look on the page. The ink comes in a 40 ml bottle, that is packaged in a beautiful box showing the corresponding Ukiyo-e painting. Lovely packaging for an excellent ink. 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 range. Koiame has a medium dynamic range, without too much contrast between the light and darker parts. This translates to excellent shading qualities: a strong-shading ink with a smooth gradient from light to darker parts. Shading is most obvious in wider nibs, but you already get some with the EF nib, which is quite impressive. The aesthetics are superb, and add tons of character to your writing. The ink’s chromatography shows an amazing complexity, with grey, brown, orange, yellow and even some rose-purple in the mix. Not at all what I expected from this orange colour. These complex undertones also surface in the writing. It’s clearly a dusty burnt-orange, but in saturated writing those hints of rose-purple do shine through. This phenomenon is lost in the scans, but clearly visible when looking at the writing in person. This koiame ink is really well put together – congrats to TACCIA’s ink makers Hiroshi Ishiguro and Hanse Matsumoto for their craftsmanship. 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 a B-nib Lamy Safari A small text sample, written with the M-nib Safari Source of the quote, written with a Pelikan M600 F-nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) Koiame looks good on all types of paper, but I personally like it best on the more cream-coloured variety. No feathering in general, just a teeny tiny bit on Moleskine. The ink lays down a wet line, and dries very slowly. With the M-nib Safari even up to 20-25 seconds on hard-surfaced paper. With more absorbent paper, drying times were very reasonable (5-10 second range). With low-quality paper, expect to see quite some show-through and even a bit of bleed-through. 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, scan & photo are very close-matched. Writing with different nib sizes The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. The EF-nib already shows the shading that the ink is capable of. But it’s with the broader nibs that koiame’s gorgeous shading really comes to play. This aesthetically very pleasing shading undoubtedly is this ink’s strong point. With wetter pens/nibs, the ink’s rose-purple undertones come to the surface (an effect that is lost in the scans), resulting in a more red-leaning orange colour. Related inks To compare koiame 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. Koiame reminds me of Pelikan Edelstein Mandarin, but a bit more dusty of character and certainly not as dry as the Edelstein ink. Inkxperiment – stargazer With every review, I try to create an inkxperiment using only the ink I am reviewing. These one-ink drawings are excellent pieces for showing the colour-range nuances that can be achieved with the ink. And it’s always great fun to experiment with inks in a more artsy context – for me it’s one of the more enjoyable moments during the making of a review. Inspiration for this inkxperiment comes from the James Webb Space Telescope, that is undergoing calibration right now, and will become fully operational in the coming months. Really exciting stuff for science nerds like myself. I’m looking forward to the first real pictures from this wonderful instrument. The array in the bottom-left corner of the drawing is taken from the actual mirror configuration of the telescope – 18 hexagonal segments that combine to create a gigantic 6.5 meter primary mirror. For this drawing, I started with a piece of 300 gsm watercolour paper, on which I painted the background: some squares and rectangles drawn in with Q-tips using multiple water/ink ratios. I used my B-nib Safari to draw the mirror segment outlines, filling them using a felt-tip pen dipped in water-diluted ink. Next, I used a glass dip pen to draw in the stargazer stick figures, and stamped in the circles with the bottom of a jar, dipped in ink. Final details were added with the glass pen dipped in pure ink. Koiame is a great drawing ink with a good range of colour tones – I liked using it. The final picture gives you an idea of what can be achieved with this TACCIA ink in a more artsy context. Inkxpired – computational art I love experimenting with pen/ink/paper, and am now adding another layer as part of the hobby. I’m exploring computational art, inspired by the ink drawings I do during ink reviews. Another fun offshoot of the hobby… and all that starting with a few drops of dye-coloured water on paper. Conclusion TACCIA Ukiyo-e Syaraku koiame is a gorgeous-looking burnt-orange. But the real strong point of this ink is its amazing shading capacity – very well done! The one downside of koiame are the long drying times, especially on hard-surfaced paper. But this I can tolerate for the beauty I get in return. Another nice ink from TACCIA, and one well worth exploring. 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. namrehsnoom

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Hiroshige ainezu

    ink review : TACCIA Ukiyo-e - Hiroshige - ainezu 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 ainezu, a dark and stormy grey that is inspired by the painting “Sudden Shower at Shin-Ohashi Bridge” of the artist Utagawa Hiroshige. It was published in 1857 as part of the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo and is one his best known prints. Sudden showers are a recurring theme in ukiyo-e works and here, in what Hiroshige calls "white rain", the downpour is depicted using a large number of thin dark parallel lines in 2 directions - a difficult skill in woodblock carving. The dark clouds are produced using a gradated bokashi technique and vary significantly between prints. The rain, sheltering people and log raft at the centre of the image give the image a sense of movement. Ainezu is a dark grey with strong teal undertones, that are mostly visible in swabs or when using the ink for drawing. It’s a beautiful complex grey that lays down a wet & dark line that quickly dries to a lighter but still contrast-rich tint. A very strong shader, this one, even in fine nibs. And on top of that, it shows a fair amount of water resistance. All factors combined, this makes it an excellent choice for use at work: the dark grey colour will fit right in, and the strong shading and dark teal undertones will certainly draw the attention of your co-workers. I like this ink a lot: a great grey for writing, and one that really opens up when using it for drawing. The ink comes in a 40 ml bottle, that is packaged in a beautiful box showing the corresponding Ukiyo-e painting. Lovely packaging for an excellent ink. 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 range. Ainezu has a fairly wide dynamic range, ranging from a pale indigo-tinged grey to a much more saturated dark teal-grey. The contrast between the light and dark parts is not harsh though, which translates to beautiful shading – very present but not too loud. The shading appears in all nib sizes - just a hint with the EF nib, but really present with F-nibs and above. The aesthetics are superb, adding lots of character to your writing. The ink’s chromatography clearly shows the lovely complexity of this grey: grey, indigo, some sky-blue, and – to my eye – a shimmer of green. The bottom part of the chroma also indicates that this is a fairly water-resistant ink, which is confirmed during water tests. TACCIA’s ink makers Hiroshi Ishiguro and Hanse Matsumoto know their craft, and created with this ainezu a wonderfully complex grey that just looks amazing. 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 a B-nib Lamy Safari A small text sample, written with the M-nib Safari Source of the quote, written with a Pelikan M101N with M-nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) Ainezu looks good on all types of paper – both white and more creamy ones. It lays down a wet and dark line that quickly dries to a lighter tint (5-10 second range). No feathering that I can see. And it can even handle crappy paper (like Moleskine) with ease – good-looking writing, and only limited show-through and bleed-through. A good ink for the workplace! 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 the ink best. The scans seem to exaggerate the teal undertones in the swabs. 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 F-nib and above that the ink’s elegant shading really comes into play. Look e.g. at the shading with the Safari M and B nib – that’s why I use a fountain pen! I personally prefer to use this ink with the drier pens where the shading is more prominent. With wetter pens (like the Pelikan M101N Lizard), the ink gets a bit too saturated and starts to drown out the shading. Related inks To compare ainezu 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. I have lots of greys in my collection, but this TACCIA colour still looks different from all the other ones. Diamine Earl Grey has that same complexity, but is a much cooler shade (cool as in cold, but it's really cool too ;-). Inkxperiment – Ungawa, Timba With every review, I try to create an inkxperiment using only the ink I am reviewing. These one-ink drawings are great for showing the colour-range nuances that can be achieved with a single ink. And it’s great fun to experiment with inks in a more artsy context – I love doing these inkxperiments. They are one of the many things I enjoy about the hobby. During the holiday season, I re-viewed some of the really old Johnny Weismüller movies – grainy black&white cinema, but fun stories and totally uncomplicated. I really enjoyed one of the scenes where Tarzan and his elephants come to the rescue. That’s where the inspiration for this elephant drawing comes from. The picture itself is an adaptation of one I saw on Pinterest. HP photo paper usually brings out the best in inks, so I decided to use it for this drawing. In this case, it really enhances the dark teal undertones in the ink. I started by wetting the photo paper, and drawing some circles on it with pure ainezu, using a glass jar as a stamp. Next I used several passes with a paintbrush and pure ink to darken up the center of the page. After the background had dried completely, I used a glass dip pen and bleach to draw in Tarzan on his elephant. Bleach reacts nicely with ainezu, producing a golden-white colour. The picture gives you an idea of what can be achieved when using ainezu for drawing. Conclusion TACCIA Ukiyo-e Hiroshige ainezu is a near perfect writing ink – good technical properties on all paper types, fairly water-resistent, good contrast with the page and some very nice shading. Colourwise it is an intriguing dark & stormy grey with definite teal undertones. A beautiful ink that totally fits my tastes. Highly recommended! 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

    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
  4. namrehsnoom

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Hiroshige asahanada

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Hiroshige asahanada 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 asahanada, a pale indigo-blue that is inspired by the painting “Dye House at Konya-cho” of the artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1857). In Hiroshige’s day, anybody who knew Edo could recognize the city’s three most prominent landmarks: distant Mount Fuji, Chiyoda Castle, and Nihon Bridge. This particular painting features both the castle and mountain, leaving no doubt that this is an Edo scene. Hiroshige positions the viewpoint for this drawing amid the windblown textiles of a dyer’s drying platform. This woodprint is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Asahanada’s pale light-blue is modeled after the colour present on the banners. Asahanada is a soft pale blue, with a bit of a green undertone. The ink feels delicate, and caresses the paper with a soft line that exhibits beautiful shading. On its own, you might be reminded of a cerulean blue like iroshizuku kon-peki or Pelikan Edelstein Topaz, but this asahanada is a much softer ink that definitely stands on its own. This is not really an ink suited for the workplace, but I most certainly enjoyed using it while writing in my daily journal. Asahanada prefers wetter pens/nibs, where it looks at its best. With finer nibs in dry pens (like the Lamy Safari), the ink becomes a bit to pale with too little contrast with the paper. I quickly switched to wetter pens (Pelikan, Edison) to fully enjoy this ink. The ink comes in a 40 ml bottle, that is packaged in a beautiful box showing the corresponding Ukiyo-e painting. Lovely packaging for an excellent ink. 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 range. Asahanada has a fairly narrow dynamic range, ranging from a very soft indigo-blue to a more saturated almost sky-blue. The contrast between the light and dark parts is fairly low, which translates to beautiful soft shading. The shading appears in all nib sizes - just a hint with the EF nib, but really present with F-nibs and above. The aesthetics are superb, adding lots of character to your writing. The ink’s chromatography clearly shows the green undertones within the ink. These green dyes are very water-soluble, and will readily surface when using asahanada for drawing. The bottom part of the chroma also indicates that this is a fairly water-resistant ink, which is confirmed during water tests. TACCIA’s ink makers Hiroshi Ishiguro and Hanse Matsumoto know their craft, and created a beautiful soft ink with a relatively simple mix of dyes. 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 a B-nib Lamy Safari A small text sample, written with a Pelikan M101N with F-nib Source of the quote, written with an Edison Collier 1.1 stub Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the F-nib Pelikan) Asahanada looks gorgeous on pure white paper, where its shading and soft elegance really shine. I personally don’t like its look on more yellow/cream paper, where the ink gets a bit of a green tinge. The ink shows a tiny amount of feathering on lower quality paper, together with some show-through and bleed-through. Drying times with the F-nib Pelikan 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, I find that the scans capture asahanada’s softness best – the photos make the ink look a bit too vibrant. 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 F-nib and above that the ink’s elegant shading really comes into play. Look e.g. at the shading with the Edison 1.1 stub – that’s why I use a fountain pen! I personally prefer to use this ink with the wetter pens (Pelikan, Edison), where the ink gets a bit more saturated while preserving its soft and delicate nature. Related inks To compare asahanada 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. Among the inks I already used, I found nothing that compares to asahanada. But in my mind, it’s similar to the sky-blues (kon-peki, topaz) if you tone them down quite a bit. Inkxperiment – air elemental With every review, I try to create an inkxperiment using only the ink I am presenting. These one-ink drawings are great for showing the colour-range nuances that can be achieved with the ink. And it’s great fun to experiment with inks in a more artsy context – I love doing these inkxperiments, even if they don’t always come out the way I wished them to be. In previous reviews, I introduced the elements water, earth and fire. For this inkxperiment, the blue asahanada represents the element “air” in the form of an air elemental. HP photo paper usually brings out the best in inks, so I decided to use it for this drawing too. In retrospect, this was not the best choice. The green components of the ink really come to the front, and the delicacy of the pale indigo-blue has been lost. Watercolour paper might have been a better choice for this inkxperiment. Also, the air elemental didn’t come out the way I imagined… too clunky and certainly not airy enough. Well… inkxperiments are fun to do, even if they fail. And it’s from such failures that you learn. Based on this inky experiment, I would conclude that asahanada is best reserved for writing – where the component dyes get separated, the soft pale-indigo beauty of the ink gets lost. Conclusion TACCIA Ukiyo-e Hiroshige asahanada is a very fine writing ink – on pure white paper, this pale indigo-blue produces soft & elegant writing that is great for personal journaling. And with a wet pen, the ink exhibits some truly beautiful shading! The ink looks gorgeous with the right combination of pen/nib/paper – in this case: wet pens, broader nibs, pure white paper. Leave this sweet spot though, and the ink quickly loses its magic. You have been warned! Personally, I really enjoyed using TACCIA asahanada, and I’m looking forward to explore more inks of the TACCIA Ukiyo-e line. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Back-side of writing samples on different paper types
  5. namrehsnoom

    TACCIA Ukiyo-e Syaraku akasakura

    ink review : TACCIA Ukiyo-e - Syaraku - akasakura 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. The star of this review is akasakura, a brick-red ink that is inspired by the work of Syaraku (Sharaku), an artist that is best known for his iconic portraits of kabuki actors. Inspiration for this ink comes from the portrait of Ichikawa Omezõ I (1781-1833) playing a warrior named Yakko Ippei who was unsuccessful in his attempt to defeat his enemy. This portrait, created by Syaraku in 1794, is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Akasakura’ s cherry red is modelled after the colour of the actor’s kimono. 
Akasakura is a muted & understated brick-red, that is slightly pink-leaning. It’s a warm red colour that looks quite nice on all types of paper. Not vibrant at all, but soft and easy on the eye. The ink writes with average flow, and works well with all nib sizes - even the finest ones. The ink comes in a 40 ml bottle, that is packaged in a beautiful box showing the corresponding Ukiyo-e painting. Lovely packaging for an excellent ink. 
As is often the case with red inks, this one stains heavily, and requires extra pen-care. It needed a double cleaning cycle to remove all traces of the ink from my pens. 
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 range. Akasakura has a fairly narrow dynamic range, ranging from a soft brick-red to a more saturated pink-leaning red. The contrast between the light and dark parts is fairly low, which translates to some beautiful soft shading. The shading appears in all nib sizes - just a hint with the EF nib, but really present with F-nibs and above. The aesthetics are superb, adding lots of character to your writing. That’s why we use fountain pens instead of ballpoints! 
The ink’s chromatography is a work of beauty, and shows the craftsmanship of TACCIA’s ink makers. Ink sommelier Hiroshi Ishiguro and colour consultant Hanse Matsumoto used a mix of mainly pink & yellow dyes to create this soft brick-red akasakura. The chroma shows that most of the dyes migrate with the water, leaving only some residue behind. What’s left on the paper is not really readable, just some smudges that hint at the original text. TACCIA akasakura is not an ink that can survive watery accidents. 
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 a B-nib Lamy Safari A small text sample, written with the M-nib Lamy Safari Source of the quote, with a Pelikan M600 with M-nib Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib Safari) Akasakura looks good on all types of paper – both white and creamy ones. I personally like this ink best in combination with the more yellow paper. The ink shows a tiny amount of feathering on lower quality paper, together with some show-through and bleed-through. This is mostly the case with the broader nibs. Overall, it worked really well, even with the notoriously bad Moleskine paper. Drying times with the M-nib 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 akasakura’ s colour best – the scans of the writing samples seem to be a bit too pink. 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 F-nib and above that the ink’s soft & elegant shading really comes into play. It’s this lovely shading that lifts this brick-red above the pack. I personally prefer to use this ink with the wet Pelikan with M-nib, where the shading looks at its best. The shading also looks truly gorgeous with really broad italic nibs - like the 1.9 mm calligraphy nib (but that’s not a typical nib for daily journaling, more something to use on greeting cards). Related inks To compare akasakura’ s brick red colour 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 Flaming Red of Fushimi is of the same colour family, but a bit more vibrant. In contrast, TACCIA akasakura looks more muted and dusty. Inkxperiment – fire demon With every review, I try to create an inkxperiment using only the ink I am presenting. These one-ink drawings are perfect to show off all the colour-range nuances within the ink. And they are certainly fun to do - definitely my favourite part of every ink review. In previous reviews, I introduced a river goddess and forest god - these also happen to represent the elements water and earth. I therefore decided to continue on this theme, and create the full series with the four elements. For this red ink, that element definitely is fire - hence the fire demon at the erupting volcano. 
I started with an A4 piece of HP photo paper, and a small doodle in my daily journal. To paint the background, I dripped ink in different water/ink ratios on a piece of kitchen towel. The ink transfers to the photo paper through the kitchen towel, creating the background pattern of the volcano’s lava stream. I used a paper cutout to draw the demon’s silhouette on the photo paper, and then used a brush and fountain pen to paint in the figure, adding the wings and horns. The volcano on the left was drawn in with a piece of cardboard and pure akasakura, and for the lava bubbles I used a fine brush with pure ink. Final touches were added with a B-nibbed Safari. The resulting drawing shows what can be achieved with this TACCIA ink in a more artistic context. Conclusion TACCIA Ukiyo-e Syaraku akasakura turned out to be a really nice brick-red ink with truly phenomenal soft & elegant shading. I also liked that this is a muted and non-vibrant ink - easy on the eye even with a full page of text. Overall a very good ink, that could handle all nib sizes and papers really well. I’m looking forward to further explore this ink series. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Back-side of writing samples on different paper types





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