Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ink Reviews Amateur Style

So, I've been sampling inks at an alarming rate, and I thought I would share some of the results with you. Now bear in mind that I don't have a scanner so I had to photograph them. Obviously, I need a better photographing method--but to be honest, the colors are true--so I'm going to go ahead and post this.

I am a complete sample slut, and thanks to The Goulet Pen Company, I can sample ad infinitum and not waste money on whole bottles that turn out to be a disappointment.  I'll admit that the vast majority of samples I've gotten have not turned into bottle "wants", so this has saved me some hefty spendage. (I sure don't have $ to waste on ink I don't like/use!) 

Note:  All reviews are done on Clairefontaine, 90gsm, bright white paper.
Noodler's Bulletproof Inks are forgery resistant and therefore water resistant.
Noodler's Eternal Inks are resistant to anything like water or light that would destroy/fade the ink.

Ok, without further ado, here we go:

 The first one is Noodler's Walnut.  In my seemingly eternal quest for a brown ink that I can stand, I finally caved and ordered a sample of this.  Lo and behold! I actually like it. It is dark, warm and rich--reminiscent of an actual walnut (go figure, no?). Not red, not orange, just straight up dark brown. Walnut is a partially bulletproof ink, and as such is quite water resistant. Now, my idea of water resistance is not worrying about running the paper under the faucet, but worrying about spilling a glass of water all over my journal.  As such, this ink behaves admirably, and if you have little *ahem* "accidents" with your water glass like I do, you won't lose everything you've written.  The "top" color does wash off as you can see, but at least you won't completely lose your words. As you can see from the utterly unscientific dry time test, it does take a while to dry, but I'm ok with that.

 Next is Noodler's Antietam.  (Yes, yes I am a HUGE Noodler's fan, why do you ask?)  As with brown inks, I've been trying to find an orange that I could live with in permanent rotation.  I prefer the burnt oranges to the "Tang" oranges (for those of you born later than about 1982, Tang was a drink--Google is your friend, look it up), so I tried this.  It is stunning. LOTS of pretty shading, and not hard to read later, so if you use it for your journal, you won't fry your retinas re-reading your entries. I could easily use this as an everyday ink in my regular rotation.  My only hesitation here is the complete lack of any water resistance.  Now, I do use some inks that aren't water resistant, but I still prefer them to have a bit of resistance. C'est la vie--this one's worth it.

 Noodler's Warden Series of inks! Brilliant!! These are Bulletproof AND Eternal--SQUEEE!!! They should have NO problem standing up to my clumsy spillages! This one is Bad Green Gator--and it is FASCINATING stuff.  When you first write, it goes down a bright, wet green, but you can literally watch it dry across your written line into this more subdued green. It had no discernible shading, but I find it quite fetching nonetheless.  Another delightful by-product of sampling is that you may discover that a color of ink that you thought you didn't care for much quickly becomes your favorite, and vice versa.  I've decided that I loves me some green ink! This is muted enough for everyday, but interesting enough to add some variety to your collection. AND waterproof to boot--what a bargain.  Yet another Noodler's win.

Noodler's Bad Blue Heron--from-wait for it-- The WARDEN Series! This is a muted, soft blue. I put at the end of my review that it is a "blue-black", but upon further reflection and comparison with other Noodler's inks in my collection, I think not so much.  It is a medium to light, very muted blue.  This is a pretty ink, and of course waterproof, it's just not my favorite--a bit light for my tastes. I prefer Bad Belted Kingfisher. 

Just when you thought I used Noodler's Ink exclusively-- TA DA! One of my top 3 favorite inks--Platinum Blue Black.  I was introduced to this ink through this review by Peaceable Writer, and then sent a sample from a very kind inky friend. I was (and am) smitten. From the beginning, I have adored this ink.  It is a true, soft, sweet blue. It behaves well, is water resistant, and is constantly surprising.  In different pens, it demonstrates very different color qualities, making it ever enchanting.  Absolutely no nib creep, and it dries fast if that concerns you.

Now, I know you're asking yourself "blue-black?"  Yeah, not so much black, mostly blue. But trust me, you will adore this ink--and if by some bizarre chance you don't, I know where you can unload it!

 Iron Gall Inks--much controversy--much fun! This is Rohrer and Klingner Scabiosa. I know, the name sounds like a really hideous spell from Harry Potter, but the ink is not "scabbish" at all. (Actually, this is Scabiosa, which I presume it is named after).  Now, this ink is quite dry, and I'm not a big fan of dry inks. However, the color and shading properties of this ink are FABULOUS, and it may be worth it to you to at least try it out. I have since tried it in my Noodler's Flex pen, and it's still dry, but also still amazingly gorgeous.  As with all Iron Gall Ink, it is waterproof. The top color will wash away, but the black will be left behind so you don't lose anything important.

 Noodler's Bad Belted Kingfisher--yep, from the Warden Series!! This is another brilliant ink from the Warden Series. I prefer this to the Bad Blue Heron because the blue is darker and richer.  This is a really nice blue black. It has a slight hint of turquoise--like many of Noodler's blue inks--but nothing like say--Navy.  It is gorgeous stuff.  It is a bit on the dry side in my Pilot Plumix, but that pen is a dry writer any way.  This ink will find a permanent home in my rotation, I loveses it.

 Aurora Black--need I say more really? This black seems to be the gold standard for super "black" blacks.  It is dark, rich, and gorgeous.  The flow is perfect, like a Goldilocks black--not too dry, not too wet.  It is totally black, and the perfect ink for my Platinum Preppy. This is a brilliant everyday ink, and  I use it all the time.  Sadly, as you can see, a lot of it washes away with water--or I guess "smears" is a better word.  If you need a truly waterproof black, I suggest Noodler's Black. It is just as black, and is Bulletproof. But even if you need waterproof ink, you should try this some time, it is a sweet, sweet ink.

 Rohrer and Klingner Alt Goldgrun.  Did I mention that I really like green ink? I bought Noodler's Green, which is like writing with lime Jell-O, and had decided that I adore green ink.  When Goulet Pens got this in, I ordered a sample.  I wish I had ordered a bottle, as now they are out of this one R&K ink. *sob* This, when I get a bottle, will be in my everyday permanent rotation. It is spectacularly gorgeous--and has amazing shading properties! It breaks my heart that this is not more water resistant, but like with Antietam, it won't be stopping me from using it!

I have yet to try a Rohrer and Klingner that I don't like...ruh roh!  Here's another fabulous R&K:

Rohrer and Klingner Cassia--purple purple purple.  I'm not sure why there are not more water resistant purple inks, but I think that's criminal. As it turns out, purple has become a favorite ink color of mine, and this is STUNNING stuff! Rich, dark and truly purple--FANTASTIC.  This would not be one I would use for everyday journaling though, just because I prefer a more muted purple for that, such as Noodler's Purple Wampum, or the R&K Scabiosa.  However, this would be brilliant for Zentangles or Mandalas, or just plain old letter writing.

 Noodler's Navy, one of my Top 3, along with Platinum Blue Black and Aurora Black (mind you, now I have to make room for Alt Goldgrun).  This ink ROCKS my world. Blue black with lots of turquoise--it doesn't get any better than this as far as I'm concerned. It has mega nib creep but I'm not particularly bothered by that. But even if you are, this ink is so incredibly gorgeous, it's still worth at least trying. Also, it is partially water resistant enough that a wee water accident won't utterly wipe out your written brilliance.

Last for today, but certainly not least: Rohrer and Klingner Solferino. HOLY FREAKING CRAP  that's pretty, no? This is a pink purply mauvey piece of heaven right here, y'all. I put in the review that this and Cassia would be finding a place in my ink collection, but I think now that Cassia has moved way down my list.  This is still way up there, but I've yet to decide if this is an everyday journaling ink. It is very bright stuff--and I'm not sure that I wouldn't get tired of it fast if I used it a lot. That being said, it is beautiful ink, and as well behaved as all the other R&K's I've tried (save for Scabiosa, the iron gall).

Well, I hope that as amateur as the photographs are, these mini-reviews have given you some helpful information about these inks.  I don't seek in my reviews to list every single attribute of an ink, only those that to me are most useful--maybe that's more of an "impression" type of review, but those are the ones I find most helpful when I look for reviews--so hopefully these have been a bit helpful to you,  or at least entertaining!

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to shoot me a comment, I try to reply to all of them!

**All the above ink samples (with the exception of Platinum Blue Black, but I did purchase a bottle of the ink at Goulet) were purchased by me at The Goulet Pen Company, as was the Clairefontaine notebook I used.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Overdue Rhodia Webbie Review

So, I can't say I don't win anything anymore! A few months back (I know, shame on me!) I won a Rhodia Web Notebook on Rhodia Drive. I was thrilled! I had been wanting to try Rhodia for some time, but had not yet ordered one.

Rhodia "Webbies" as they are affectionately known, come in two colors--orange and black--with corresponding end papers, elastic closures (which I was too dumb to photograph), ribbon markers, and back pockets. They come with your choice of blank, lined, or dot grid paper, and in two sizes: 3.5" x 5.5" and 5.5" x 8.25" (mine is the larger size). Rhodia paper is 90gsm, ultra smooth and FABULOUS as only Exaclair paper can be.

Rhodia Webnotebook paper is "ink resistant" like Clairefontaine paper, which means that the ink you use will not feather or bleed--and is therefore PERFECT for fountain pen use!  In fact, there is ZERO feathering or bleed through on any of my pages, and I've tried close to 50 inks, including Noodler's Ink, which is sometimes very wet. (I wasn't smart enough to photograph the back of one of the pages for you, but mine is not the only review online by any means, and most of them are clearly better at this than I am and show you that there is only minimal show through, no bleed through).

I chose the orange cover, and dot grid paper. Here is that brilliant orange cover:

This picture, of course is not exactly the right color--this is a bit too washed out--the notebook is a true orange orange. It is also soft; almost like leather, and a bit "bendy", if you will.  For some odd reason, I didn't take a photo of the orange elastic strap, but you can see a better picture here and here.

On the front inside, the end papers are also orange:

Then, in this notebook, like many others, the first page is actually glued to the end paper, so it's not as usable as the others, although I've managed to not waste any of this delicious paper!

As you can see, there is an orange ribbon marker, and I'm using this notebook for pen/ink sampling. Which brings me to my next point--this is a bit weird.  The color of Rhodia Webbie paper is odd--not an "ivory" in the usual sense of the word--but almost "apricot".  It makes inks look very very different than they would on a true ivory or white paper.

Now, you may find that this does not bother you. It bothers me. You see, I prefer bright white paper--all the time. However, since Quo Vadis quit making the Habana with bright white paper, there is an unfortunate dearth of quality notebooks with white paper. This, I think, is a travesty (and a brilliant market niche gap if you happen to make fanfreakingtastic notebooks with fanfreakingtastic white paper). 
Clairefontaine does make a journal type notebook, but not of this quality. 

Now, with that being said, let me reiterate that Rhodia paper, like all of Exaclair's paper product line, is SUPERB, and I will continue to use Webbies. However, I am going to have to choose ink carefully, and also try my inks on regular Clairefontaine notebooks to see the "true" color of the ink.

Any hoo, here's the back pocket:

Right now mine is full of Goulet Pen Company bookmarks and stickers, a Noodler's Ink Flex Nib Creaper pen instruction sheet, and Karen at Exaclair's business card.

I love this notebook, and thank you, thank you, thank you Exaclair and Rhodia Drive for giving me the opportunity to win one! This is my "journal of choice", and when I finish my dratted Piccadilly notebook, I'll be getting a Webbie to replace it. If you're in the market for a new notebook, I highly recommend a Webbie! They can be purchased from my favorite pen, paper and ink retailer The Goulet Pen Company, and while you're there you can get some ink and a pen to go with it. Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I'm Back! and a Goulet Pen Company Review

So, some of you have missed my blog (thank you both of you, I <3 my fans!). To be honest, I got frustrated with doing all the typing and loading of pictures..and correspondingly totally ran out of things to review or to say. I know, hard impossible to believe I had nothing to say--

Happily, I have some new things to review, and I have missed blogging lots, so I plan to actually make a "blog post schedule". That's right! Semi-regular blogging! This post schedule will be kept in my Filofax for now, although regrettably, not in fountain pen ink (special note for all my fellow FiloCracks).

As some of my Tweeps know, I have gotten mildly totally madly obsessed with fountain pens and inks lately.  I was already mad keen on papers of all sorts, and had tried fountain pens before, but was never particularly satisfied with my fountain pen/ink experience. I honestly don't know how I found The Goulet Pen Company, but since I have--boy howdy have I gone kabonkers! I will save recent pen/ink acquisitions for another post, but I wanted to share with you a review of The Goulet Pen Company.

The Goulet Pen Company is located in Virginia and headed by Brian and Rachel Goulet. You can read about how their company got started here. They carry fountain pens of all sorts, calligraphy pens, some roller ball pens, fountain pen and calligraphy ink, and paper to use your pens and ink on. Pens run the gamut from Edison Pen Company offerings right down to the Platinum Preppy pens, which I adore.  Most of the paper they carry is from Exaclair--the gold standard of fountain pen friendly papers. They carry a plethora of fountain pen ink, and are due to get more soon, including  Rohrer and Klingner and De Atramentis.

Their website boasts what is known as "The Swab Shop", which shows scanned swabs of the inks that they carry. Also in The Swab Shop, you can compare ink swabs, which is absolutely brilliant, and totally unique in the fountain pen/ink world! You can also purchase samples of all of their inks, which is one of my favorite things about Goulet.  I have ordered countless samples of inks to try, and I can't tell you how awesome it is not only to try so many inks--which is more fun than a barrel of monkeys--but to be able to try an ink BEFORE you buy a bottle (or a dozen) of ink that you end up not liking.

Goulet's prices are reasonable, and they ship uber fast. I placed an order last Tuesday, and received it on Friday, much to my delight! I wanted to include a few pictures of how they wrap your precious inks/pens/papers, because their packaging system is outstanding. This is the box that I received Friday:

Inside this box was this box:

Then this:

As you can see, all of my merchandise is wrapped in bubble wrap which is taped down really well. They also included a bookmark and a sticker, and that's my invoice. There is always a hand-written note on your invoice--awesome personal touch in the modern age of such crappy customer service from so many companies. (Altogether another rant, some of which I have already shared here)

 After the bubble wrap was off, it looked like this:

You can see my whack of sample vials through the plastic wrap. HOURS of unbridled inky entertainment!

And we've arrived at the merchandise--all held perfectly still in shipping, and all in a tidy little package. (Wish I could afford a tidy HUGE package, but alas and alack...mostly a lack). Any hoo,  I ordered a whack of ink samples,  two bottles of Noodler's Ink in Saguaro Wine and Green, a bottle of Aurora Ink in Black, two new Platinum Preppy pens for my mom, and another Noodler's Flex Nib Creaper for me, this time in clear.

This is how my fingers looked after I was done playing with samples of ink:

Underneath you can see my Rhodia Webbie (which I won from Rhodia Drive, and I'll review in another post) that I adore to distraction. That black is still on my fingers--quality stuff!

The Goulet Pen Company's customer service is just so top-notch! Twice, after I've placed an order, I've emailed them with something I wanted to add to the order. Both times, they have kindly added my merchandise to my order with no problems. They've quickly responded to any emails I've sent them as well, and have been super helpful when I've had pen or ink questions and needed assistance or recommendations.

Brian Goulet has a blog called Ink Nouveau, and it is chock full of useful and helpful information about the products they carry. Brian and Rachel also do a weekly live broadcast called Write Time at 9;  it's on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. Eastern Time. They usually talk about the goings on at Goulet, but they have also interviewed Nathan Tardif of Noodler's Ink, and Brian Gray of Edison Pen Company.

All in all, a completely pleasant experience with The Goulet Pen Company, and I can see why they have a bit of a "cult" following. (I hesitated to use that word, but read about the October Flexpocalypse and you'll see it may not be missing the mark by much). Their following is totally deserved though, and I know that Brian and Rachel have worked very, very hard to cultivate and keep this following by providing outstanding customer service and far exceeding customer expectations. I'm (obviously) a bit of a "Goulet Groupie" myself, and can't wait until I can order some more inky goodness!  I can safely say that if you order from them, you'll enjoy the process AND the product.

I hope you've enjoyed my review, and I hope you'll stop by and take a look at The Goulet Pen Company.  I will be reviewing some of the new items (and a few of the older ones as well) I've purchased at Goulet soon: stay tuned!