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Robert Oster Signature - Khakhi


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Robert Oster Signature - Khakhi

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, the spotlight shines on Khakhi - a murky green-brown camouflage colour. Catherine from Sakura provided me with a sample of this ink to play around with - much appreciated! Khaki is a bit of a chameleon ink. Depending on the light source it shifts from a dirty green to a yellowish brown. I like the way the ink looks under artificial light, less so the more yellow-brown colour it shows in daylight. The ink is really dry in finer nibs, and feels rather unpleasant to write with. You really need wet pens and/or broad nibs to bring the best out of this ink. But under these circumstances it looks beautiful, and writes like a dream. 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, Khakhi moves from a wispy haze to a rather dark green-brown. This is also seen in writing - this ink is a heavy shader.


Like most Robert Oster inks, Khakhi lacks any water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. As the lower part of the chromatography shows, almost no ink is left on the page. The ink smudges a lot, but the text remains readable.


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)

Khakhi 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). The ink works well with both white and off-white paper. Only with Moleskine did I notice a tiny amount of feathering. Anyway... do yourself a favour, and reserve this ink for wet pens with broad nibs. The writing experience with my Lamy Safari M-nib was not pleasant at all... scratchy and dry.

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 Pelikan M200 with a broad nib. With the broader nibs the ink writes like a dream. Add a wet pen, and you get a pretty dark yellow-brown colour.


Related inks

To compare Khakhi 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.


To show the chameleon effect - I also add the picture below, which is a photo taken under artificial light. I added the Jekyll & Hyde mix to the related inks chart - this is an extreme chameleon ink that looks similar to Khakhi under artificial light.


Inkxperiment – sleeping madonna

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. These small picture give you a good idea of what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. Lately I have been experimenting with HP photo paper as a medium - I quite like the way it makes inks look more vibrant. Having little inspiration for this inkxperiment, I started off with some random lines. From these I extracted the image of a sleeping madonna with child, using different saturation levels of the ink. This small 10x15 cm picture gives you an idea of what can be achieved with Khakhi as a drawing ink. Not bad !



Robert Oster Khakhi is an interesting murky yellow-green-brown chameleon, that works great as a writing ink, but only if you use wet pens and broader nibs. With finer nibs, this ink feels horribly dry - as such, this is not an ink for me. I enjoyed the experience of trying it, but this is not a full-bottle ink 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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Not really a color for me, but loved your artwork.

Thanks for the review.

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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