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  1. Sometimes I get an ink and it exceeds all of my expectations. Everything clicks, and I love it immediately. That happened with J. Herbin's Vert de Gris. It was the last of 5 Herbin inks from my recent order that I opened and tested, as I thought "well, it's just a tealy gray, how special can it be?" I was wrong--it's very special! Vert de Gris, along with Bleu des Profoundeurs, are exceptional recent additions to the standard line-up of J. Herbin inks. Most here are probably well-familiar with J. Herbin inks in one form or another--the brand has been around for a very long time and offers inks in all colors of the rainbow, even with shimmer. The standard line of J. Herbin inks has been known as safe and gentle to fountain pens, even vintage. Saturation tends to be lower (thus easy flushing), and the formulations are advertised to be pH-neutral, though whether all the colors are close to pH-neutral has been contested by some. In any event, I've never had any problems with J. Herbin inks from their standard non-shimmer line, and since I own a bunch of vintage pens, I tend to go for more gentle inks. But gentle does not need to be boring! In fact, this ink is anything but boring. The interesting thing about it is how beautifully rich and matte it looks in high quantity (such as with a flex nib), and its beautiful hue in person. It looks especially good on ivory paper. Water resistance is very respectable--the tealy-blue components wash off leaving highly legible dark gray line, and water does not reduce writing to a smeary mess. If I'm going to fault this ink in one thing, it's that on worse paper it's more feathering prone than some other inks. No problems with feathering on good fountain pen-friendly paper.
  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.
  3. J. Herbin - Vert de Gris La Société Herbin, Maître Cirier à Paris, was established in 1670. This makes J. Herbin probably the oldest name among European ink makers. Today, Herbin produces a range of beautiful fountain pen and calligraphy inks, writing instruments, gift sets and accessories. Herbin inks are made in France, and the finishing touches on the bottles are still done by hand in Paris. In 2018, J. Herbin introduced some new inks in their “La Perle des Encres” series. The one that caught my eye - thanks to visvamitra's review in this forum - is Vert de Gris. This ink looks to be right up my alley - a nice dark grey-leaning teal. This was later confirmed by one of Tas's famous ink ramblings. Vert de Gris is an ink that definitely deserves a place in my collection, so I went ahead and ordered a bottle. Upon arrival, I immediately started experimenting with the ink, and it really lived up to my high expectations. Vert de Gris has a gorgeous colour, definitely a dark teal, but with heavy grey undertones. This is an ink that's brewed for me! The ink looks beautiful on all types of paper, and is well saturated. As such it works great in the finer nibs I typically use. And it gets only better... even with fine nibs, there's tons of elegant shading present. You just have to love this ink! It went straight to my top three for 2018, just behind MB Swan Illusion Plume. The ink has quite satisfactory lubrication, even in drier pens like my Lamy Safari. With my wetter Pelikan pens the ink is heavily saturated, and writes like a dream. My only problem here is that I need to adapt my handwriting, and write a bit larger than the tiny scribbles I'm used to. Vert de Gris also has a wonderfully dynamic colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab on Tomoe River paper where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink. This beautifully illustrates the ink's broad colour range. This J. Herbin ink moves effortlessly from a very light teal-grey to a very dark, almost black teal. On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved perfectly, with only minimal smearing. Water resistance is amazing - the ink effortlessly survived even longer exposures to water. Really well executed! This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that the grey components of the ink remain on the paper. If you need a water-resistant ink, Vert de Gris certainly fits the bill. This is an ink that will be at home in the workplace. Vert de Gris is also a fast-drying ink - with typical drying times in the 5-10 second range with my Lamy Safari (M-nib). I was surprised at this, because it totally feels like a really wet ink. As such, this ink is also suitable for lefties. I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. On each scrap 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 a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain penThe name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nibA small text sample, written with an M-nibDrying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)Vert de Gris looks really nice on both white and more yellow papers. On low-quality paper it exhibits a small amount of feathering, but all-in-all not too bad. With Moleskine paper, there is significant show-through and bleed-through - not unexpected for this fountain-pen unfriendly paper. Writing with different nib sizesThe picture below shows the effect of nib size on your writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen - my very wet Pelikan M101N Lizard with an M-nib that writes like a broad. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line (and I really need to write a few font-sizes bigger with this pen ;-) Related inksWith this review, I have changed my format for presenting related inks. My earlier presentations of related inks lacked enough information to be really useful. I therefore changed to a nine-grid format, with the currently reviewed ink at the center. The new 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 hope that you'll find this way of presenting related inks more useful. It's a bit more work, but in my opinion worth the effort for the extra information you gain. Inkxperiment - Walk in the WoodsAs a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and these single-ink drawings often present a real challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. For some reason, grey-leaning inks inspire me to draw winter landscapes, so that's what you get here. I started off with heavily water-diluted ink for the lighter tones, gradually adding more ink for the darker parts. For the horizon line, the main tree and the walking couple, I used pure Vert de Gris, heavily saturating these subjects. The end result gives you a good idea of the colour span that Vert de Gris is capable of. ConclusionJ. Herbin Vert de Gris is a wonderful ink, that pleasantly surprised me on all fronts: georgeous colour, beautiful shading, good saturation - and all this even in finer nibs. Even better, the ink is relatively fast-drying and shows great water resistance. Combine all this, and you've got a winner. This ink went straight to my top three for 2018 ! I heartily recommend it. Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib Backside of writing samples on different paper types





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