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Papier Plume - Garden District Azalea (New Orleans Collection)


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Papier Plume - Garden District Azalea (New Orleans Collection)


Papier Plume is a stationary shop in New Orleans, that's been getting some attention lately on this forum with their "New Orleans Inks", that celebrate the rich colours and history of the city. One of their inks in this series is Garden District Azalea, a soft pastel-like rose-red ink with quite a unique personality.




Garden District Azalea is a soft rose-red ink that looks quite good on paper. I'm not exactly a fan of pink inks, but this one leans more towards the red end of the spectrum, and is actually quite appealing. I like the pastel character of this ink, which gives it a soft and soothing apperarance. The inks shades nicely, even in finer nibs. The shading is very present, but with not too much contrast between the light and darker parts, making it aesthetically very pleasing. Nicely done!




The ink itself is typical of other Papier Plume inks in this series: it lacks lubrication, especially when used with a dry pen like the Lamy Safari that I use for my reviews. Saturation is quite good though, even in finer nibs. When used with wetter pens, lubrication improves significantly, resulting in a much more pleasant writing experience. For this ink, it certainly is recommended to pair it with wet pens.
The ink has an average dynamic colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab where I really saturated portions of the paper with ink, pooling it on. This illustrates the dynamics of Garden District Azalea, with moves from a very light rose to a darker rose-red colour.
On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved remarkably well . There is very little smearing, and the text remains perfectly readable. Water resistance is not so good though. The ink quickly loses its colour, leaving only some light-rose smudges on the paper. With short exposures to water, you will barely be able to reconstruct your writing. With longer exposure, all traces of your scribbles are forever lost. This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography, which shows that some of the dye remains attached to the paper, but most of the dyes wash away with the water.

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-tip
  • 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
  • An ink scribble made with a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen
  • The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib
  • A small text sample, written with an M-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)
Garden District Azalea behaved perfectly with most papers in my test set. Only with the notoriously bad Moleskine paper I noticed a tiny amount of feathering. I quite like the ink's appearance on Paperblanks journal paper, which happens to be my journal of choice. The ink is quite subdued, with a very nice pastel-like appearance. I happen to like subdued colours, but if you're into vibrant inks, this one might not be for you.
At the end of the review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. With low-quality and absorbent paper, the ink exhibited quite some show-through, and even a bit of bleed-through (e.g. Moleskine, Graf van Faber Castell). With the other papers in my test-set, the ink behaved really well with my Lamy Safari test pen with M-nib. With wet pens though, bleed-through becomes more of a problem, and you might not be able to use both sides of the paper.






Writing with different nib sizes
The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. All samples were written with a Lamy Safari, which is typically a dry pen. I also added a visiting pen – my wet Pelikan M400 Tortoise Brown with an M-nib. Here the ink leaves a very saturated line, and no longer suffers from sub-par lubrication.

Related inks
To show off related inks, I recently switched 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 – Red Evolution
I've recently started to experiment with ink drawings, keeping things simple and more-or-less abstract. I find this to be a fun extension of the hobby, and consider these single-ink drawings a nice challenge. It also gives you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. This time I went with an abstract theme. I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper, and started by painting in a faint rose-red background with water-diluted Garden District Azalea. I then painted in the abstract red evolution. The dark parts are pure ink, liberally applied to the paper. The lighter rose-red centers were painted in with a felt-tip brush. The end result gives you a good idea of the way Garden District Azalea can express itself when used for drawing.
Garden District Azalea from Papier Plume is a soft and pastel-like rose-red ink that is at home with both writing and drawing. Not an ink for those who like their inks vibrant, but more targeted at us folks that enjoy the more subdued kind. The ink works well with most paper types and shows subtle and pleasing shading. With dry pens lubrication is sub-par, with negative impact on the writing experience. This is an ink that begs for wet pens and/or broader nibs, which is where it shines.
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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Thanks for yet another great review as usual. And all of those comparison inks, especially their Red Beans and Rice (being from the same company)! FWIW I'm in exactly the same boat: I'm not at all a big fan of "pinks" in general but this one is in fact (IMO) on the right "edge of the spectrum", floating off into the raspberries.

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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The 9-grid format is brilliant, placing the tested ink into proximity wih each of the 8 other inks!

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