Posts filed under Ink Reviews

Diamine Shimmer Inks: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

It was inevitable, of course, that Pen Addict should do a review on Diamine's line of shimmer inks. But what to say, now that everything's been said? Diamine Shimmer inks shimmer! That about covers it.

When Diamine announced the new line last fall, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook went crazy. Everyone was talking about the new inks. J. Herbin offered some limited edition inks with glittery particles. But Diamine introduced ten glittery colors all at once.

As soon as the inks were released, reviews began popping up everywhere. The word "Shimmertastic!" inundated the pen community's ink vocabulary. Pictures of glittery ink appeared all over the web accompanied by whoops of excitement. Ink with all the magic of unicorns!

At first I resisted. I had purchased three of J. Herbin's shimmering inks (Rouge Hematite, Bleu Ocean, and Emerald of Chivor), and I wasn't all that impressed. The glitter fell so quickly to the bottom of the ink bottles after shaking, I had to rush to fill my pens. I never felt I could suck up enough glitter. Then I had to keep shaking my pen. And, unfortunately, the best examples of the inks' glitter and sheen were brought out in ink blobs, not writing samples. I also worried about what the ink might do to my nibs and feeds. Those bottles languish at the back of my ink drawer.

So, I waited until the initial buzz wore down before I ordered Diamine glitter ink. I purchased three bottles: Blue Lightning, Purple Pazzazz, and Golden Sands. I chose these three colors because I had seen photos of Blue Lightning and loved the color. The purple looked like it would be great for Christmas cards (though, admittedly, I only sent one Christmas card this year). And the gold looked spectacular for any special occasion. At $20.00 per 50 ml bottle, these aren't cheap inks, but they are a little less expensive than J. Herbin ($27.00).

Here are writing samples of each color:

Purple Pazzazz

Large Nibs

Small Nibs

Blue Lightning

Large Nibs

Small Nibs

Golden Sands

Large Nibs

Small Nibs

The only color I've used frequently is Purple Pazzazz. This is mainly because I put it in my TWSBI 580, which is my industrial strength pen. I wasn't worried about glitter particles ruining this pen. Although I have not heard people say that the Diamine Glitter ink is clogging their nibs, I'm not ready to leave it for long periods in my really expensive pens.

Right now I have Blue Lightning in my Sailor Pro Gear with a Cross Point nib. This nib really shows off the ink because it has such a broad stroke.

I put Golden Sands in my Conid Minimalistica, but after writing a few pages with it, I dumped it out. The ink leaked everywhere, and it didn't work well with the Conid's nib. I may try it in a different pen, but it seems like a paint brush might work better.

So far, I've been impressed with the shimmer capabilities of Diamine's inks, even in finer nibs. With the J. Herbin inks, it seemed that only wider, wetter nibs could really bring out the fantastic colors and shimmer. But, the Diamine inks glitter even with medium and fine nibs (though I doubt you'll see much glitter with extra-fine nibs). After writing in my journal with my TWSBI (medium nib), I could see the glitter when I held it in the sun.

What's interesting to me about the three bottles of Diamine I own is that each ink behaves differently. Blue Lightning seems a bit dry compared to the other two inks. Purple Pazzazz is wet, but not overly so. Whereas Golden Sands seems downright watery and difficult to control.

If you like glittery ink, then you'll like the Diamine Shimmer line. They seem to have gotten the formulation right in that the glitter particles are tiny and flow more easily through feeds and nibs than the J. Herbin inks (this is my very unscientific opinion). You'll still have to shake the bottles well before inking your pens, and shake or roll your pen before writing to get the glitter flowing.

Pros

  • Diamine Shimmer Inks come in ten colors and they aren't limited edition.
  • The glitter is quite visible in sunlight and bright indoor light.
  • The glitter particles do not seem to pose a problem for feeds and nibs, but it's always smart to exercise caution with specialty inks. I wouldn't advise leaving these inks in pens (especially vintage pens) for long periods of time.
  • Both wide and narrower nibs produce glitter.

Cons

  • The glitter shows only in bright light.
  • You have to remember to shake the bottle well before filling your pens and to shake or roll your pens before writing.
  • Glittery inks have their uses (invitations, seasonal cards), but they do evoke visions of unicorns and teenage girls (at least in my mind). I probably won't be grading papers with these, but, after a crazy semester like this one, purple glitter might be just the thing for writing 30% on someone's exam. Who knows?
  • These inks are definitely not water resistant.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 22, 2016 and filed under Diamine, Ink Reviews.

KWZ Iron Gall Gold Ink Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

On my third KWZ iron gall ink, the KWZ IG Gold color has managed to shock me again. These KWZ inks really are special, and you owe it to yourself to try some out at some point. The hardest part of this will be choosing.

Previously, I reviewed KWZ IG Blue #1 and KWZ IG Blue #4 and was mesmerized by the way the ink changed color as it dried. The Gold is no exception. This behavior is a characteristic of iron gall inks, and you can read a bit more about the KWZ variety over at Vaness Pens.

The Gold ink is very similar to the other KWZ inks I've tried when it comes to the behavior and ink characteristics. It never has trouble starting or skipping, it doesn't feather, show-through is minimal, there's a nice medium level of shading that looks fantastic on the page, and it's a tad on the dry side when writing. After using several of these inks, this all feels normal now. Dry time isn't among the fastest — you're looking at around 20-25 seconds in most cases. Sure, this will be quicker the smaller the nib and thinner the paper, but it's still on the slow side.

Once it dries, though, it's nearly permanent. The drip and dunk tests were congruent with the other KWZ inks. The water damages the paper and blurs the ink, but it's 100% readable afterwards.

The color is what sets this ink apart. Gold isn't really a color you think of when looking at inks. Gold is a yellow metal that shines and sparkles. That's difficult to emulate in an ink without introducing some kind of sparkling particulates in the ink. J. Herbin and Diamine both have experience in this, but KWZ went another route. Instead of trying to produce a Goldschläger ink, the shading provides the depth of color that you need when trying to emulate gold. It doesn't look exactly like gold (nothing will, which is why gold is highly valued), but it definitely reminds you of gold.

When writing, the ink has a light-straw yellow color. As it dries, it turns partially to a light brown with yellow tones, while thinner ink strokes retain a more light-straw color. It's this straw and light brown color combo along with the beautiful shading characteristics of this ink that evoke the thought of gold in this ink. I'm not sure if I'd describe this ink as "gold colored" if I didn't know the name of the ink, but I definitely see the connection. If it's not called gold, then it's some sort of mix between dirty yellow, light brown, and some slight green tones to enhance the yellows. Overall, it's a strange, unique color that I can't stop inspecting. It's beautiful!

When looking at the ink in the bottle and samples online, I didn't think this ink would impress me much. This is definitely a color that will appeal to some people, while completely flopping with others. If you like light to medium brown inks, this is definitely worth trying. If you like inks that shade, it's also something you need to try. In any case, you need to try some KWZ iron gall inks! These inks are so much fun, and the colors are so unique compared to non-iron gall inks.

As with the other KWZ inks, you can pick up a 60 ml bottle of Gold, or a 4 ml sample vial to see if the color is something you appreciate.

(Vanness Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on January 6, 2016 and filed under Ink Reviews, KWZ.

KWZ Iron Gall Blue #4 Ink Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

I recently reviewed another KWZ Iron Gall blue ink, and I was a little more than excited to try out another. This time, it's another member of the blue family — Blue #4.

Blue #4 is very similar to Blue #1, except that it dries a little slower, is slightly more lubricated, and doesn't have as much of a dramatic color-changing drying performance. Still, for all the similarities, it's the color that certainly sets this one apart from its sibling.

Let's cover the similarities first. Iron gall? Check. Dries darker than the original wet color? Oh yes. Water resistant? You bet. Easy to clean out of a pen? Definitely.

Now, let's talk a bit more in depth about the differences in Blue #4. For one, this ink is slower to dry than Blue #1. Average dry time for #4 is around 30 seconds, compared to 20 seconds for #1. 30 seconds is a bit on the long side for my tastes, so that's not something I can get over quickly.

Blue #4 can exhibit some nice shading behaviors — nothing extreme, but definitely pleasant. You'll notice it more after the ink dries since the wet ink is a pretty flat color. Like its #1 sibling, #4 also performs at an excellent level where show-through, feathering, and bleeding are concerned. Seriously, these KWZ IG inks are champs in this regard.

One thing that I definitely enjoy in this ink is the fact that it's less dry than Blue #1. It's certainly not a wet, easy-flowing ink, but it feels more normal when writing. Or, put another way, the pen/nib that I'm accustomed to still feel like the same pen/nib. With Blue #1, I hardly recognized my pen due to the significant drag on the nib from the dry ink.

Finally — possibly the most important attribute of the ink: the color. When writing, the color is a dusty purple with some distant blues shimmering through. As the ink dries, it transforms into a dark purple. It's a beautiful color once it dries, but I'd argue it's far from any blue I've seen. In certain spots, I can make out a dark, dark gray-blue, but my eyes still refuse to see anything but a purple foundation. Who knows, it may just be my unique eyes and a problem with how I see color (that's the funny thing about colors, anyway - we all see them differently to some extent), so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

That said, I like the color quite a bit. It's not what I recognize as blue, but that doesn't mean it isn't an intriguing, beautiful color.

There's a lot to like about these KWZ Iron Gall inks. What it really comes down to is your color preferences. Like the Blue #1 I tried before, Blue #4 offers some fantastic characteristics, and my favorite one by far is watching the color turn darker as the ink dries. If that sounds interesting to you, you really need to try out some KWZ IG Inks.

(Vanness Pens provided this ink sample at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on December 16, 2015 and filed under KWZ, Ink Reviews.

KWZ Iron Gall Blue #1

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Iron gall inks aren't something I've experimented with much, as there are plenty of other inks to try that aren't difficult to clean out of your pen if you leave it idle for over a week. Not a big deal, still. And then, there's the archival quality of iron gall inks, but that didn't bring me in either. It wasn't until Brad sent me some samples of some KWZ iron gall inks that I gave them a try.

For those who aren't entirely acquainted with iron gall inks and their unique attributes, Vanness Pens has a page that describes the KWZ iron gall inks, as well as a few cautions against leaving it in pens unused for long periods. Basically, iron gall inks react with the paper when the water evaporates, making a (more or less) permanent mark on the page that grows darker as it dries.

To me, that's the main distinction, and one that I find fascinating to watch, regarding iron gall inks — they dry darker. This isn't normally the case for most fountain pen inks. They either dry a little lighter and less vibrant, or stay roughly the same, minus the sheen of wet ink.

Let's be honest, sometimes I just scribble with this ink to watch it dry over 20 - 30 seconds so I can watch it magically change color.

The particular KWZ iron gall ink I've tried first is called Blue #1. When wet, it looks like a pale, dusty denim color. After it dries, it's a dark midnight blue. It's so dark, I have a hard time discerning the exact color through all the black. But, in proper light, you can tell it's a deep, dark navy with purple and green hints. It's a very pretty ink, especially if you dig dark inks (blue-black fans?).

Like I said, watching this 20-second transition fascinates me.

When writing, the flow is a bit on the dry side. The Monteverde medium nib, which usually flows like glass with most inks, feels like it's dragging a tad. But, even though it feels a little slow, it's still smooth.

There's not a lot of shading in this ink, since it's so incredibly dark. You can see in the swab sample that there are some variations in color, but I never got that result from a nib. Show-through also isn't much a problem with this ink. It's on par in that respect in that you normally can't see it from the back of the page.

Dry time is also normal, coming in around 20 seconds or so in a medium nib. Not fast, but not slow either.

Since this is an iron gall ink, I also brought some water into the equation. If you've ever applied water to any colored inks, you'll probably find in most cases that the ink runs like a brand new red shirt in a load of white laundry. In the case of KWZ Blue #1, the results are impressive. I used cheap 20# copy paper for this test, and the aftermath is very usable. The text is legible, but it also barely bled and feathered. If you need an archival-quality ink in a dark midnight blue, look no further. This is permanent as long as the paper exists.

Cleaning the ink out of pens wasn't difficult. None of my pens laid around very long with the ink in them, so that's something to consider. I imagine it make take considerable more effort if the ink had been idle for a long period. Vanness pens make a special note of saying that stainless steel (which are used in a lot of nibs) is more susceptible to damage than gold nibs. It's nothing to panic about, but just be mindful!

In all, I have to admit I'm pretty impressed with iron gall inks, and KWZ, in general. The only complaint I have is in the name. I wouldn't say it's "misleading," but it's also not informative. Blue #1 doesn't indicate what kind of blue, and the screenshots online can be confusing. It would be great if they had signature names to tell them apart, because the blues all look fairly similar to me.

Apart from that one complaint, KWZ Iron Gall Blue #1 really impressed me. I hope the fascination with watching the ink change color as it dries never wears off. It's definitely worth your consideration.

(Vanness Pens provided this ink sample at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)

Posted on November 25, 2015 and filed under Ink Reviews, KWZ.