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L'artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Bosphore


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L'Artisan Pastellier Callifolio - Bosphore

L'Artisan Pastellier is a small company in southern France that specialises in natural pigments, and offers customers authentic and reliable products in beautiful colours based on mineral or vegetable pigments. In a collaboration with Loic Rainouard from Styloplume.net, the chemist Didier Boinnard from L'Artisan Pastellier created the line of Callifolio fountain pen inks. These pastel-coloured inks are traditionally crafted, and can be freely mixed and matched. Overall these inks are only moderately saturated, and have low water-resistance. The inks were specifically designed to work well with all types of paper, and all types of fountain pens.

Being pastel-tinted, these inks have a watercolour-like appearance, and are not only fine inks for journaling, but are also really excellent inks for doodling & drawing. I only recently discovered them, and they are already the inks I gravitate towards for personal journaling.


In this review the center stage is taken by Bosphore, one of the many blue inks of the series. The blue Callifolio inks are named after rivers, lakes and oceans. In this case the ink takes its name from the Bophorus or "The Strait of Istanbul", which forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia. The ink's colour is best described as a dark grey-blue. I'm known to be a fan of muted colours, and this one doesn’t disappoint... a bit gloomy, a bit vintagy... and the greyish undertones are just lovely. I immediately took a liking to Bosphore as a writing ink.

I found the ink to be a bit on the dry side in my Lamy Safari test pens, with lubrication being somewhat subpar. Saturation is good though, even with finer nibs. Shading is subtle, and becomes more pronounced with broader nibs. There is not too much contrast between the light and darker parts of the text, which makes it aesthetically pleasing. Well executed!


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, this ink has a moderately wide colour span ranging from a light greyish blue to a reasonably dark blue-black.


On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - Bosphore shows its weakness. Lots of smearing, although the text remains legible. Water resistance is also quite low. Almost all of the colour quickly disappears, but a light grey ghost image of the text remains that is still readable without too much trouble. The chromatography shows that this is a rather monochromatic ink, without much colour variation in the component dyes.


I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. With this review, I have added several new papers to my test set. Among these are Semikolon notebook paper (a laid paper from Leuchtturm), Endless Recorder notebook paper (which is Tomoe River 68 gsm paper), Ciak notebook paper, and Optiimage 100 gsm printing paper. 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)

Bosphore behaved perfectly on all the paper types, with no apparent feathering even on the lower quality papers in my test set. Even Moleskine paper behaved quite well with this ink! Drying times are mostly around the 10 second mark. The ink looks nice on both white and more yellowish paper. The ink also shows a remarkably consistent appearance across a wide range of paper types - very well done!

At the end of the review, I show you the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. With the low-end Moleskine there is prominent show-through and a bit of bleed-through. With the other papers, Bosphore's behaviour is impeccable. The ink copes really well with a wide variety of paper types.





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 M101N Grey-Blue with a fine nib. With this wet nib, the ink writes much more pleasantly. It also shows a substantially darker line.


Related inks

To compare Bosphore 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. Compared to blue-blacks like Tanzanite and Midnight Blue, Bosphore is definitely greyer.


Inkxperiment – dark & gloomy castle

As a personal challenge, I try to create interesting drawings using only the ink I'm reviewing. For me, this brings extra fun to the hobby, and these single-ink drawings are great for stretching my creativity. 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 got my inspiration from some drawings I saw on Pinterest. I started off with HP Premium photo paper, and painted in the background with heavily water-diluted ink. I then started a process of layering on ever more saturated ink. Apply a layer, let it dry, and repeat with the next layer. Finally I penciled in the birds with my Lamy Safari, and added the windows with a fine brush and some bleach. The end result is not too bad, and gives you an idea of what can be obtained with Bosphore as a drawing ink.



Callifolio Bosphore is at its best as a writing ink. It has a vintage-looking grey-blue colour, that manages to look very pleasing on all my test papers. Water resistance is quite low though, which makes the ink unsuitable for the workplace. I found the ink quite challenging to draw with - this is definitely an ink that's best used for writing. Overall, Bosphore is a great writing ink, and the greyish undertones set it apart from other blue-blacks.

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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  • inkstainedruth


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  • GreenMountain


Thanks for the review.
I have a lot of the inks you used for a comparison, so I have to decide whether Bosphore hits a gap or not. Especially since I'm currently trying a similar grey-toned blue black, Sailor Souboku (which I like a lot but will have to see how much of a PITA it is to flush a pigmented ink out of a pen).

As a result, this one is a maybe (pretty sure I had it on the "to buy" list but somehow never got around to it...).

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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Love your reviews.
This has been on my list for quite a while and it's not coming off anytime soon. I like these washed out grey blue blacks a lot. :wub:

Thank you for sharing. :)

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Beautiful review !
A while ago I made a short one about this ink in the French stylo-plume forum, here.

As I wrote in French, I don't like blues so I decided that this was a grey with some blue but not too much...

I agree with you on the dryish side of the ink, and that it is more pleasant with a wet nib, and I didn't get as much shading as you did...

And now I need to test it again in the eyedroppers I got in the meantime :)

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Thank you for another great review.

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."


B. Russell

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Of the Callifolio blue-greys (Bosphore, Byzance, Gris de Payne, and Baikal), which would you say is your favorite?

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Of the Callifolio blue-greys (Bosphore, Byzance, Gris de Payne, and Baikal), which would you say is your favorite?

I prefer Gris de Payne - which is grey with blue undertones. Bosphore is more of a blue-grey... with more blue in it.

Edited by namrehsnoom
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Excellent review! Thank you for the time and effort to do this!

"Today will be gone in less than 24 hours. When it is gone, it is gone. Be wise, but enjoy! - anonymous today




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  • 1 year later...

Great review! Helped me make a decision because a review under a sales area said it was turquoise-grey.

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Beautiful review, thanks. Very nice to have the range of nib widths too.

Could you please comment on the pH or whatever might make this suitable and safe, (or not) for a vintage lever-fill pen that is a very wet writer?

Edited by GreenMountain
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Could you please comment on the pH or whatever might make this suitable and safe, (or not) for a vintage lever-fill pen that is a very wet writer?


I use them in all my pens without problem. They seem to be very fountain-pen friendly, and are more or less pH-neutral. Online I found the following info:


Made in France from natural dyes and minerals, L'Artisan Pastellier inks are gentle on fountain pens and well-behaved on paper. They also have good lightfastness and an average pH of 5 to 8. Their Callifolio fountain pen inks are available in dozens of colors and can be mixed together to create even more.“

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