Guest Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-Ro by Bill Scherer

Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-Ro Review
by Bill Scherer

This review will begin with a short, pen related bio, followed by the path that brought me to purchase this very fine ink. Next, the presentation of the ink as received. Finally, a close look at the performance of this ink in my LAMY Safari with EF nib.

I've only recently become a 'pen addict', but I've had an appreciation for fine instruments for a long time. Discovering this blog and other pen lover's blogs has opened up a new world of appreciation for the finer things in life. I also now have a new hobby that is, perhaps, less expensive than photography.

I purchased my LAMY Safari and a bottle of Noodler's Forest Green from JetPens about a month ago, and have enjoyed every minute of using them together. Noodler's ink is a very good partner to the Safari, delivering smooth and reliable strokes. The color is just fine, but I was wanting something with more density, and perhaps a less pedestrian shade.

I had some Daler Rowney Prussian Blue, which I purchased in a local art supply store. I have been using this in my Staedtler Marsmatic 700's for a while, with good results. It's a strong and saturated shade of blue. I decided to see if I could come up with a blend of the Forest Green and the Prussian Blue that would suit my fancy.

First, I tried four parts Forest Green with one part Prussian Blue. That turned out to be not much different than straight Forest green. Next, I tried four parts Prussian Blue, and one part Forest Green. I brushed this on some paper, and I liked it right away. What was it? Blue-green-gray? Aha! It's dark turquoise. It was near perfect. Good density on the paper, and a slightly exotic color. I put some in my Safari's converter and began to doodle. Still solid, still a good color. Time to clean up.

The next day, it would not write. The ink would not flow. Oh no! What have I done?!? I cleaned it out, and let the nib soak in some reverse osmosis water for a bit, and it all came clean. Now, what went wrong? Did the two inks interact in someway? Is the Prussian Blue unsuited to fountain pens?

Well, the bottle of Prussian Blue clearly states it is good for FP. So maybe it was an interaction problem. I loaded up the Safari with straight Prussian Blue. It seems to work fine; nice, actually. The next day, however, it would not flow. Same problem as with the blend.

Now I had a mission. Could I find the this color in a professionally produced ink? On I check Noodler's - no dark turquoise. Private Reserve - nope. Pilot? Yes! Oh, but look at that price. I decided to compare prices by unit volume. Noodler's comes in at 14 cents per milliliter. Private Reserve is 16 cents per milliliter. The Pilot Iroshizuku ink is 45 cents per milliliter. Wow. But I really want this color, so I make the purchase.

Two days later, it arrives, well packed in a padded envelope inside a Priority Mail shipping box. Inside the padded envelope is a sturdy paper box with a brushed silver finish. There is a colored label on the box that matches the ink color. Simple typography on the label identifies what is inside. I open the lid, and the cap is revealed, while the bottle is underneath another flap of brushed silver cardstock. Open this flap, and the gorgeous bottle is free. It's heavy. The glass on the bottom of the bottle is very thick. More than enough to allow for the central depression that helps to serve up the last few drops of this precious liquid. It feels luxurious in the hand. Stout, but refined. Inside, the sides of the bottle make a gracious curve to the bottom. At the top, there are strong square shoulders. A single, simple square label is centered on the front. Understated and elegant. This bottle says quality.

My Safari writes notably smoother with this Iroshizuku ink than with the Noodler's. Writing in my Moleskine Sketchbook or my RedHat logo notebook by JournalBooks, feathering is minimal to non-existent. Just crisp, clean lines. It dries very fast. I can run my finger over a just written sentence with no smudging. There is Zen is this ink. It has that quality without a name. I can forget about it and just write. I can forget about writing and just let my inspiration flow onto the page. The color is wonderful. Nicely saturated and just different enough to stand out without being gaudy or eccentric.

Is it worth the 30 cent/ml premium? I'm yet too naive to know. I can say it's the best ink I've used so far, and it leaves me wanting for nothing more in an ink.

I hope my review has been an enjoyable read and helps you in making your next ink purchase easier. Many thanks to The Pen Addict for this opportunity. Happy doodling!

(Click on the images below for the larger version, and head over to Bill's Posterous site for the full set)

Pilot Iroshizuku
Pilot Iroshizuku

Thanks for a great review Bill!  You can find Bill all over the internet at the following locations:

If anyone else is interested in doing a guest review or post, please send me an email at the address listed in the sidebar.  I'd love to have you!

Posted on August 5, 2009 .