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Robert Oster Signature Lemon Grass


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Robert Oster Signature Lemon Grass

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 center stage is taken by Lemon Grass - a soft grass-green colour. Catherine from Sakura provided me with a sample of this ink to play around with - much appreciated! I quite like the looks of this ink, but its physical properties leave much to be desired. For my reviews, I use Lamy Safari fountain pens, which are known to be on the dry side. With these pens, the writing experience is horrible: the ink feels extremely dry, with sub-par lubrication. My pen scratches over the paper - it almost feels like writing on a chalkboard. Even with a normally wet-writing Lamy Dialog 3, the ink felt just wrong. Ugh! Really a pitty, because the ink's colour is not bad at all.


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, Lemon Grass has a moderately wide colour range, moving from light to darker green. This also means that the shading is not too extreme, and remains aesthetically pleasing. Shading is most pleasant is M-nibs and above. With fine nibs, there's just a hint of it.


Like most Robert Oster inks, Lemon Grass has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. As the bottom 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. I have recently expanded my paper testbed to include 20 different paper types. As such, you will get a good idea of the performance of this ink. 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 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)

Lemon Grass is a well-behaving ink on most paper types, with no visible feathering. Only with the lower quality papers did I notice some feathering (Moleskine, HP printing paper). The ink dries quite quickly within the 5 second range (with the M-nib). Lemon Grass looks good on both white and off-white paper.

At the end of this review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types at the end of the review. No troubles there, except with the Moleskine and GvFC paper, which shows significant see-through and even some 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 normally wet-writing Lamy Dialog 3 with M-nib. Despite being a wet pen, the ink still feels dry and sub-lubricated. I guess you need really broad nibs or ink-gushing pens to get a pleasant writing experience.


Related inks

To compare Lemon Grass 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 – oak tree in summer field

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. And they are simply fun to do!

For this inkxperiment, I got my inspiration from a picture I saw on Pinterest. Only a tiny amount of ink remained from my ink sample, so I had to be creative and use the Q-tips I used for the writing sample swabs to do most of the drawing. I started off with 300 gsm watercolour paper, on which I first painted a light background with water-diluted ink. Next I added ever saturated layers to draw in the summer field. Finally, I used my Dialog 3 with pure Lemon Grass to pencil in the tree, and to add line accents to the field. I quite like the end result, which gives you a good idea of what can be achieved with Lemon Grass as a drawing ink.



Robert Oster Lemon Grass has an interesting soft grass-green colour. But it disappoints as a writing ink, feeling horribly dry with all of my Safari nibs. You probably need extremely wet pens with broad nibs to get a pleasant writing experience. I enjoyed the experience of testing it, but in my opinion this is not an ink to get a full bottle of.

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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Thanks for the review.

I had waffled on getting Lemon Grass when the Robert Oster inks first became available Stateside, but ended up getting Moss instead (I also considered Verde del Rio in the process, so I'm glad that was one of the comparison inks you used).

Lemon Grass is still a "maybe" ink for me (of course so is Verde del Rio). And my original favorite green in was Diamine Emerald.... Which is no longer getting quite the love it used to, sadly (it deserves better).

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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Thanks for the review.

Lemon Grass is still a "maybe" ink for me (of course so is Verde del Rio).


Ignoring the horrible dryness, this is an ok ink. But Verde de Rio - that ink is just WOW! The best RO ink I’ve tried yet, I simply love the colour, and it’s also quite a wet and reasonably well-lubricated ink. You definitely should get a bottle!
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Thank you for the review. I’ve been looking for an ink that matches up with what my mind’s eye sees as the color of green jade, and this comes the closest for me so far (most of the “Jade” inks I’ve seen seem too yellow or too blue for me-this has the balance just about right). It’s poor performance probably makes it a nonstarter for me, although I may try a sample and add some PhotoFlo. That trick has worked for some other dry RO inks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I obtained a sample of this and added Photoflo, which improved its performance substantially, with no feathering.

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Not a colour for me at all but I must say thank you for your reviews, they are impressive and tell you everything that you need to know.

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      Even so, you'd end up with a fragmented list, and it becomes an O(N²) process for each prospective requestor to check what is available: effectively recreate the list of currently active servers (without any reliable up-to-date info upfront about the inks and number of samples on offer in the thread) from the sequential list of posts, which may be spread over two or even more pages, and then query each server independently to check what is currently on offer.   It comes down to not hav
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