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Papier Plume - Calle Real (New Orleans Collection)


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Papier Plume - Calle Real (New Orleans Collection)

Papier Plume is a stationary shop in New Orleans, that's best known on this forum for their "New Orleans Inks", that celebrate the rich colours and history of the city. One of their inks in this series is Calle Real, a nice-looking member of the royal blue family.


Calle Real is named after the corresponding street in New Orleans. I won't repeat the interesting history behind the name here, but refer instead to the excellent review of Jackokun (highly recommended). Personally I'm not a fan of plain blue inks, but I liked this one. It's a vivid light blue that looks great on the page, and that shows some nice non-obtrusive shading. But the ink also has its shortcomings: a tendency to feather, and drying times that can vary wildly with paper type.


The ink itself writes wet and with good lubrication in my Lamy Safari test pens. Quite a contrast with some of the other New Orleans inks. Saturation is excellent, even with EF nibs. The ink itself has a medium colour span. To illustrate this, I did a swab where I really saturated portions of the Tomoe River paper with ink, pooling it on. This beautifully illustrates the dynamics of Calle Real. The range moves from a light to a darker but still vivid blue colour, without too much contrast between both extremes. This results in elegant shading that looks aesthetically very pleasing. The shading didn't show with the finer nibs, but made its appearance starting at F/M and above.


On the smudge test - rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab - the ink behaved quite badly. The inks smudges easily, even after leaving it alone for a while. Water resistance is almost non-existent. The dyes disappear quickly, leaving behind a very light purplish ghost of the text. Reconstructing your writing is possible, but you will have to put some effort into it. Not what I would call an accident-proof ink. The chromatography confirms this: some light-purple dyes remain in place at the bottom part.


I've tested the ink on a wide variety of paper - from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. 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 a Lamy Safari M-nib fountain pen

  • The name of the paper used, written with a Lamy Safari B-nib

  • A small text sample, written with the M-nib

  • The source of the quote, written with a Parker Sonnet (F-nib)

  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the M-nib)

Calle Real has a slight tendency to feather, most noticeable on the lesser quality papers in my test set. Not a good choice to use on cheap office copier paper. The ink manages to look equally good on white and more yellow paper. Contrast with the paper is excellent but not overdone: even a page full of text looks pleasing to the eye. Drying times are wildly unpredictable - ranging from 0 to over 30 seconds depending on the paper. Paper with a hard surface results in super-long drying times and I mean this literally... 30 seconds and above. Forget about this ink if you're a lefty.

At the end of the review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. Some bleed-through is present on most of the lower-quality papers. You should take care when pairing paper & ink if you want a satisfying result, i.e. avoid low-quality paper, or paper with too hard a surface. Rhodia, Fantasticpaper, Semikolon and Life Noble appeared to work the best.





Writing with different nib sizes

The picture below shows the effect of nib sizes on the writing. Calle Real manages to look good in all nib sizes from EF up to the 1.9 calligraphy nib. With the very fine nibs shading is quasi absent, but starting at F/M and above the elegant and eye-pleasing shading is very prominently there. I am not really into blues, but I liked the vivid character of this ink that adds character without being too obtrusive and in-your-face.


Related inks

To compare Calle Real 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. As you can see, Calle Real looks quite good if you compare it to the other inks in the grid. Diamine Royal Blue and Blue Velvet come close, and show some of the same vivid-ness that I like so much in this Papier Plume ink.


Inkxperiment – A Saucerful of Science

With every review I try to do a single-ink drawing that shows what the ink is capable of in a more artistic setting. This is the most fun part of every ink review, and I quite enjoy brainstorming and then implementing these little pieces. Inspiration for this inkxperiment comes from the Neil deGrasse Tyson book "Welcome to the Universe" that I just finished reading. A humbling book that beautifully illustrates how small we earthlings are relative to the vastness of space and time. And my respect for the scientists that extracted this knowledge from the universe has grown substantially. So this inkxperiment is an ode to science.


For this inkxperiment I started with a piece of 12x18cm HP photo paper. I applied some washi tape to divide the paper into regions that I background coloured in a number of different ways, and with different water/ink ratios. I then added some topic-specific details to some of the regions (bookcases, formulas, some mysterious-looking writing). Once dry, I removed the washi-tape to create the white dividers between the regions. The end result is not too bad, and shows what can be obtained with Calle Real as a drawing ink.



Calle Real from Papier Plume is a vivid light-blue from the Royal Blue family. A great writing ink with beautiful colour and nice shading, but only if you pair it with the correct paper. Make the wrong choice, and you'll have to deal with some feathering and really really long drying times. Make the right choice, and you'll love this ink!

Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Lamy Safari, M-nib


Backside of writing samples on different paper types





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Excellent review, just like all of your reviews! Thanks!! As always, your comparisons intrigue me the most... or... is it your sketches and paintings?? :D

Speaking of sketches, this colour also reminds me of R&K's Marlene, due to its vivid lightness (to quote you), the touch of green and hint of chalk. :unsure:

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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Wow what a blue........ What a review :)

It reminds me of Marlene too, Lapis.....


I'm not sure if my correct, but it seems these inks are made my Callifolio in France....


Oh and wet inks doesn't effect all leftys. I'm an underwriter and I've never had problems with inks that never dry, so to speak :)

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Well, the French Connection does sound like a good possibility....

Life is too short to drink bad wine (Goethe)

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That looks fairly nice -- and has one of my favorite features in inks: what people have dubbed "haloing" (the edge crispness on a pen stroke that is a darker -- and occasionally different -- color from the rest of the line.

Thanks for the review. And, well, not.... (I've already bought 5 bottles of ink this week and there are some other ones I really need to get full bottles of in addition to the samples I've already tried but haven't had a chance to order yet).

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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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for this great review!


In Jackokun's review (from 2016) it says only 30 bottles were to be made. Is this ink now in regular production, or were you one of the lucky 30?


I have not tried any of the Papier Plume inks yet, but every time I see a review of one I get a craving for it. I also like smallish bottles, which they do. The only thing that's stopped me is that I either go nuts and put one of every small bottle into the cart, then run away when I see the total or realize that my ink drawer is full. Or I put just one bottle in the cart and then decide it's not worth it after shipping. But one of these days.

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In Jackokun's review (from 2016) it says only 30 bottles were to be made. Is this ink now in regular production, or were you one of the lucky 30?

As far as I know they make them in small batches, but they regularly reproduce them. I got mine quite some time after they were first mentioned, so I doubt very much that mine was a first batch bottle.

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The drawing and its progress are fantastic! I love that sectioned semi-abstract motif.


Thank you for yet another excellent review!


And what I also enjoy is seeing all those different papers together. For instance I was recently curious about the GvFC notebooks with 100g/m2 paper, but looking at that writing sample I am not anymore :D

“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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I am super impressed with this review!

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

Want to get a special letter / gift from me, then create a Ghostly Avatar

Ink comparisons: The Great PPS Comparison 366 Inks in 2016

Check out 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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  • 5 months later...

Great review!

Just picked up a bottle of Calle Real (and a few others) from a short visit to nola. Beautiful blue! Light but still bright, but not a glowing (purple-ish tinged) blue. It's very hard to describe, the pics are quite  accurate. A slightly muted bright blue and a wonderful shade.

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