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Robert Oster 1980 - Clearwater Rain


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Robert Oster 1980 - Clearwater Rain


Robert Oster is an Australian ink maker that is well-known for its unique range of colours. With this mini-series he gives us a conglomeration of colours inspired by the anything goes world of the 1980s. The inks include muted pastel-type colours along with some eye-popping disco-style hues. Definitely an interesting series.


In this review I take a closer look at Clearwater Rain - an eye-popping electric cyan-blue, reminiscent of the blazing disco-lights on a 1980's dancefloor. To be honest, this is not my type of colour, but I will do my best to give it an honest review. For a Robert Oster ink, this one feels well-lubricated, and it lays down a wet and well-saturated line, even with my dry-writing Lamy Safari test pens. No complaints there - this ink works really well for writing, even with the finest nibs. If you like your inks vibrant with popping colour, this Clearwater Rain certainly fits the bill. You can't go much more vibrant than this ;-)


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 Tomoe River 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, Clearwater Rain is well-saturated at the light end, and becomes a darker cyan-blue on the most saturated parts. The ink doesn't have a very broad tonal range, which already gives a clue that it is less suited for single-ink drawings.


Like most Robert Oster inks, Clearwater Rain has zero water resistance. Short exposures to water completely obliterate the text, leaving next to nothing on the page. This is also apparent from the lower part of the chromatography. The chroma clearly shows the blue & green components of the ink. I wouldn't call it a teal though, cyan-blue is a better term. Personally, I would describe this as the result you get when you move a sky-blue cerulean-type colour towards the green - not a scientific expression, but that's how I consider this Clearwater Rain.


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

Clearwater Rain is a well-behaving ink on most paper types, with no visible feathering. The ink dries quite quickly around the 5 second mark (with the M-nib Lamy Safari), which surprised me because it writes really wet. With Moleskine paper, there is a tiny bit of feathering, and a fair amount of see-through and bleed-through. Saturation and contrast are really good across all paper types in my test set. The ink also shows some nice shading, even with finer nibs. All in all a very pleasing writing experience.

This is my first ink review for 2020, and with a new year comes a new set of quotes. The quotes below come from Terry Pratchett novels. If you love English tongue-in-cheek humour, you can't go wrong with Pratchett's writings. I'm a big fan of his Discworld novels !





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 Parker Sonnet with M-nib. As you can see, Clearwater Rain has no problem with even the finest nibs, exhibiting good contrast, saturation and shading with the EF-nib. This excellent performance remains across the complete nib-range, making it a really fine writing ink.


Related inks

To compare Clearwater Rain 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.


Inkxperiment - row, row, row your boat

With every review, I try to create an interesting drawing using only the ink I'm working on. Limiting myself to one ink allows me to showcase its colour-range nuances. It's often quite a challenge, but always great fun. For this drawing I used 300 gsm rough watercolour paper. I painted in the sky with heavily water-diluted ink. The boat uses pure Clearwater Rain, drawn in using the tip of a cotton-swab. I then added the waves and the sun with a Q-tip, using multiple water/ink ratios. The resulting picture gives you an idea of what can be achieved with this cyan-blue as a drawing ink. The limited tonal range of this ink made it a difficult one for drawing. I personally appreciate it much more as a writing ink.



Robert Oster 1980 Clearwater Rain is an eye-popping cyan-blue, that works really well as a writing ink. It is well-saturated, provides great contrast with the paper, and shows prominent shading even with the fines nibs. Personally I'm not a fan of the colour, but if you happen to like it I'd say go for it!

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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Outstanding review, as always! Thank you taking the time and effort to do this ink review.


While I do like the color, I prefer a bluer shade more like Omi Osun.

"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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Not a color for me. But thanks as usual for the comprehensive 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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  • 3 weeks later...

Impressive review. I note a stark contrast between the RO depiction of this ink at the top and your experience.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Your reviews are so detailed. Thank you.

Fountain pens are my preferred COLOR DELIVERY SYSTEM (in part because crayons melt in Las Vegas).

Create a Ghostly Avatar and I'll send you a letter. Check out some Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 

Don't know where to start?  Look at the Inky Topics O'day.  Then, see inks sorted by color: Blue Purple Brown Red Green Dark Green Orange Black Pinks Yellows Blue-Blacks Grey/Gray UVInks Turquoise/Teal MURKY







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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought the color looked familiar. Thanks to your similar inks, including Kaweco Paradise Blue, I saw why it looked familiar.


Excellent review.

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