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Robert Oster Signature - Green Olive


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Robert Oster Signature - Green Olive

Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for his 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 Green Olive. Catherine from Sakura provided me with a sample of this ink to play around with - much appreciated! This is in essence a yellow ink - not the type of colour I think about when hearing the name "Green Olive". As expected, saturation is low, and contrast with the paper is almost non-existent - especially in drier pens and finer nibs. As a writing ink, this one is only tolerable when using wet pens and broad nibs, in order to achieve maximum saturation. Being a typical F/M nib user, this is definitely not suitable for 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 the 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, Green Olive is really really faint at the lower saturation end, and only achieves some kind of olive-like hue when fully saturated.


Like most Robert Oster inks, Green Olive has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. As the chromatography shows, almost no ink is left on the page. Smudge resistance is acceptable: although there is lots of smearing of the ink, the text itself remains eadable. Better said: you start off with barely readable low-saturation text, and smudging does little to make this worse.


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 fountain pen
  • The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
  • A small text sample, written with an M-nib
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)

Green Olive is a well-behaving ink on most paper types, with no visible feathering. The ink dries quite quickly within the 5-10 second range (with the M-nib). Because of the colour, this is not an ink to use with yellow-tinted paper. With my Lamy test pens and M/B nibs, the ink is barely readable, and totally unsuited for note-taking. I don't own BB or BBB wet pens - maybe the ink is usable for writing in these cases. Anyway, if you insist on writing with a yellow ink, you're better off using one that is more saturated to start with.

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 significant bleed-through. All in all, a well-behaving ink.




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 - a wet-writing Lamy Dialog 3 with gold M-nib. But even with one of my wetter pens, the ink remains almost unreadable. I therefore added a line written with a glass dip pen - here you get maximum saturation, and a readable line with acceptable contrast. With smaller nib sizes, this is an ink to avoid.


Related inks

To compare Green Olive with related inks, I use a 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 hope that you'll find this way of presenting related inks useful. It's a bit more work, but in my opinion worth the effort for the extra information you gain.


Inkxperiment - petites danseuses

As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. For me, this brings some extra fun to the hobby, and these single-ink drawings present a real challenge at times. With these small pictures, I try to give you an idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. For this drawing I started off with HP Premium photo paper, and zero inspiration. So I used a variant of the random line-drawing technique (drawing random lines on paper, and then try to lift something meaningful out of the messy randomness). In this case I submerged the photo paper in water, and added drops of ink. From the random ink blobs that formed on the paper - and using my imagination - I extracted the figures of two dancing children. I then used a glass dip pen to trace "les petites danseuses" - using maximum saturation of the ink. This mini-picture gives you an idea of what can be achieved with Green Olive as a drawing ink. And I must admit - as a drawing ink, Green Olive has lots of potential.



Robert Oster Green Olive is a yellow ink that is totally unsuitable for writing. The only way to get readable results is to use broad and broader nibs in wet pens, so that the ink reaches maximum saturation. As a drawing ink though, this one shows lots of potential. I enjoyed the experience of trying it once, but this is an ink that's not for me.

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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I agree with Ghost Plane's sentiment -- not the color of any olive I've ever seen.

Thanks for the review. Not an ink for me, since it's definitely too light to be legible. But that's good, because it's better for my wallet. :rolleyes:

Love the artwork, though -- it's fun.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I would have named this ink Marigold Yellow or daisynot Olive! Highly informative review, as always; thank you!

Edited by Intensity

“I admit it, I'm surprised that fountain pens are a hobby. ... it's a bit like stumbling into a fork convention - when you've used a fork all your life.” 

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