Ink Review: Diamine Terracotta


Diamine Terracotta
Pen: Lamy Safari (M)
Paper: Rhodia 80gsm #16 blank
Shading: high
Saturation: moderate
Flow: wet
Dry Time: 20s in Lamy M

Spoiler alert: I LOVE this ink.  I had been wanting to try my sample of Diamine Ancient Copper for a long time now, but then I saw Goulet Pens' swab of this ink and I had to try it first.  The colors are very similar, so I may do a shootout of these two at some point.  Diamine have been producing some of the most unique fountain pen inks on the market, and have been around since 1864.  They very recently celebrated their 150th anniversary.  To commemorate, they produced the 150th anniversary ink set, which Terracotta is a part of.  Other popular inks in the set include Silver Fox, Regency Blue and the much loved 1864 Blue Black.

My ink was from a sample, but if you've not seen the 150th Anniversary Diamine bottles, you should definitely take a look.  Each bottle is a triangular wedge, and when you own the entire set the bottles fit together to make a nice circle for your desk.  Terracotta is a warm reddish-brown with an intense amount of shading.  The color variation is wide, and ranges from a dark red-brown, to a lighter brownish-orange.  The ink flows wet and lends to a smooth writing experience.  The dry time in my medium Lamy Safari was about 20 seconds on Rhodia; so not terrible, but not fast either.

Chromatography was very neat looking; it goes from a orange-red and leads up to a medium brown.  For comparisons, honestly, there aren't a ton of inks out there that match this perfectly.  Diamine Burnt Sienna is the closest I could find. Diamine Ancient Copper and Diamine Autumn Oak are darker and lighter inks respectively that are both very nice as well.

I have to say, I'm not typically a fan of brown inks, especially reddish browns.  Terracotta really changed my mind on that.  The ink just has so much character and I have already put my email on the notification list for when this comes back in stock at Goulet Pens.  I highly recommend you give this one a try!  You can snag a 40mL bottle for $15.95 at most retailers.

Leave a comment and let me know what your favorite brown ink is!
Thanks for reading!
- Lori

Pen Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen


Kaweco Special Dip Pen - Steel Leonardt 30 Pointed Nib
Length: 199mm
Section Width: 10mm
Weight: 17.2g
Pros: Nice sturdy nib holder, good flex, anodized aluminum body
Cons: Rusting issue (not specific to Kaweco's nib holder), frequent dipping depending on the ink you use, nibs wear out easily.

I am very new to dip pens in general, but I've been wanting to get my feet wet a little bit with them.  A while back I'd gotten an inexpensive dip pen set from John Neal Books because it included the Mitchel Witch Pen, which I wanted to try using for ink "passes" on my ink reviews - my ink reviews are ever-evolving as I figure out what best represents the ink and what I want my reviews to look like.  I really only bought the set for the Witch Pen, but I did mess around a bit with the dip nibs that it came with and my experience wasn't so great.  Noob Lori was using fountain pen inks with the pens, and without a reservoir, they dried up VERY quickly, railroaded a lot and required constant dipping.

Kaweco launched their Dip Pen from their Special line, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give a review from the perspective of both a dip pen novice, as well as a pen addict who knows a thing or two about a good pen in general.  I had a really good time reviewing the pen, and I do think that I'll continue to use it for specialty things such as lettering cards or art in the future.

The pen comes in come minimalistic packaging, which I can always get on board with.  When I received the tube from Kaweco, my first thought was, "How did that nib not get bent in shipping?!" Of course Kaweco certainly thought of this because the base/cap of the tube actually grips the end of the pen as you slide it into the tube and it's tight enough to prevent the pen from slamming its nib into the back end of the tube.  Pretty cool!

The nib holder itself is one of the best one's I've seen - it's black anodized aluminum with a faceted barrel.  Most nib holder's I've come across are either wood or cheap plastic.  This one is heavy and feels like it will last a lifetime.  I don't find it slick or uncomfortable to use, though not having your traditional tapered and flared section design was something I had to get used to.

Of course I mentioned earlier that I'd tried out some dip pens before with fountain pen ink and that was a fairly unimpressive experience.  I did my research online, and even checked out some dip pen pros like Azizah at Gourmet Pens (if you're not following her Instagram, you should be!).  I found that most folks use one of these few inks for their dip pens, Speedball or India ink, calligraphy inks, or fountain pen inks with gum arabic in them.  I went to my local hobby stores and I could not for the life of me find any gum arabic at either of them (probably would have had better luck at a food store), so I headed to the calligraphy aisle.  I'd read online that inks labeled "calligraphy ink" are runnier than some of the speedball or higgins brand inks.  My store carried both Higgins and Speedball brand and I read that acrylic inks are more viscous and don't railroad as much in flex pens (if you know more about these ink types, please enlighten me!), so I ended up choosing Speedball's Super Pigmented Acrylic ink.

I dipped the pen and played around with some flex writing and testing how long the ink would last with a single dip.  My experience with the acrylic ink was much more pleasant than with fountain pen inks, and the single dip lasted for quite a while.  The acrylic ink, especially when laid down thick from flexing, dries in almost a textured 3D form on the page.   I can't imagine you'd have an issue doing washes over this ink.

So as I mentioned, I am a complete dip pen noob.  I figured this out the hard way after I finished using the pen for the first time, took it into the bathroom and gave it a quick rinse under the sink.  I dried it with a paper towel, sat the pen down and didn't touch it for a few days.  The next time I pulled the pen out, I attempted to remove the nib, so that I could try out some other dip nibs in it, and I had a terrible time getting the nib out.  I soon discovered that my very brief rinse under the sink water was enough to start a very rapid rusting process of the nib.  I was a little shocked by this - I didn't realize how easily dip nibs rusted.  I did a little more research online and found others who'd had a similar problem, and many folks said to just wipe your nib clean after use instead of using any sort of water - or at least make sure that you're drying it absolutely completely.  Dip nibs are apparently not meant to last a lifetime and some people even mentioned that after a while, because there is no tipping, the tips would begin to wear out - which makes sense.  I checked the inside of the Kaweco nib holder and saw a bit of rust in there too - I can't really tell if it was contact rust that was transferred from the rusted nib, or if the inside of the nib holder also rusted from the water contact.  To further test the rusting issue, I did the same rinsing with the cheap plastic nib holder that I got from the John Neal Books dip nib set, and it rusted as well; so I feel comfortable stating that this is not specific to Kaweco's product.  I would definitely advise you not to rinse yours unless you absolutely have to, and if you do make certain it's completely dry.  Total noob move on my part!

Finally I wanted to try out various fountain pen inks with the dip pen, just to see how well the fared compared to the acrylic ink.  I tested some of my current favorites, as well as the two newest Kaweco inks and surprisingly there was quite a variation in the amount of dips needed to complete my writing with each one.  It certainly wasn't scientific, but I did try to keep the writing as consistent as possible and the amount of time & depth of the dips.  On average, I was dipping multiple times for the very small writing sample, and found that some inks were so runny that they would blob ink down after a fresh dip.  I was very pleased with how Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's El Lawrence fared - Scabiosa held up for my entire sentence and I even did some extra flexes before the ink ran out.  El Lawrence was on the higher viscosity side as well with just two dips.  Most others were at least 4 or 5 dips.  With the acrylic ink, I was able to write the entire upper half of the review (not the title - that was done with a folded nib), with some extreme flex, with only 6 dips.  Pretty impressive!

In all, I really enjoyed venturing outside my normal fountain pen regimen and trying out Kaweco's Dip Pen.  I have tried the Noodler's Ahab for flex, and this one was a lot more pleasant to use because railroading wasn't a factor with the right ink.  I could see myself using this for holiday cards, design work, or just for fun.  I do still want to try out some gum arabic mixed into fountain pen inks, so that I can have a wider color variety than most dip inks offer.  Kaweco's nib holder is sturdy, well balanced and very enjoyable to use.  It retails for around $36 at places like - I feel like that's a very fair price for an anodized aluminum nib holder.  You can also swap out different dip nibs for a whole different writing experience.  Have you tried any dip pens before? Let me know your experience!

Thanks for reading!
- Lori

Ink Review: L'Artisan Pastellier Brun Ours


L'Artisan Pastellier Brun Ours (Brown Bear)
Pen: Jinhao x450 (M)
Paper: Rhodia #16 Blank - 80gsm
Shading: moderate to high
Saturation: medium
Flow: moderate
Dry Time: 13 seconds in fairly wet M nib

L'Artisan Pastellier Classique inks are still fairly new on my radar, but so far I'm really liking them a lot. They're made in France, and are hailed for their ability to be freely mixed to form new colors. The first one that I tried was Olive, which has become one of my favorite inks.  When I was going through my sample vials and saw Brun Ours, the color caught my attention and I had to try it.

I'm usually not a fan of browns, especially warmer browns, but Brun Ours has more of a greyish tone, which I like a lot.  It's not a heavily saturated ink, so it has a fair amount of shading.  The ink goes onto the page a warmer, medium-dark brown, and dries a cooler brown with a nice neutral grey tint.  The dry time is a tad high at around 13 seconds, but aside from that it behaves quite well with no feathering or bleedthrough on typical fountain pen paper.

One of the best parts of the L'Artisan Pastellier inks is their ease of cleaning.  They're not heavily saturated with strong dyes, and in my experience even when having them in my pen for a few weeks they clean out very easily.

The ink compares very closely to De Atramentis Maron.  Maron is a tad bit cooler and darker, but they're very close.  The chromatography shows mostly black with a tiny bit of pinkish-brown.

L'Artisan Pastellier inks are certainly becoming more and more popular, and rightly so.  Their lightly saturated colors, high shading and ability to mix make them unique and fun inks.  If you're interested in checking out their other colors or ordering a bottle for yourself, check out Vanness Pens page.  You can get a 30mL bottle for $7.  What is your favorite L'Artisan Pastellier color?

Thanks for reading!
- Lori

Ink Review: Kaweco Sunrise Orange


Kaweco Sunrise Orange
Kaweco Ice Sport - Black (M)
Paper: Rhodia #16 Blank - 80gsm
Shading: moderate
Saturation: low
Flow: medium wet
Dry Time: ~12 seconds w/Kaweco medium

Many fountain pen companies' line of inks are generally known to be very basic, underwhelming inks.  A lot of them are so under-saturated that they almost lean "watery."  I've often steered away from some pen manufacturers' inks for that reason, especially having tried some standard cartridges that come with pens that result in a very "meh" writing experience.  I wanted inks that represented me and my personality - after all, the fountain pen hobby is all about customizing to fit you style and needs.

Of course I knew that not all pen companies' inks were that way, but still the general mentality stuck.  Because of that, I'd really not ventured into the Kaweco inks, as I suspected them to fit this description.  When they released their two newest inks, one of them being Sunrise Orange - I was very intrigued.  Needless to say, they broke stigma around pen makers' inks with this one.

Sunrise Orange is a fun orange ink that has a very nice balance between saturation and shading.  It has the benefits of being a pen manufacturer's ink in that you don't have to worry about extreme properties, but it also provides a much richer color that doesn't suffer from the "watered down" syndrome that some others do.  I like the color variance that it provides when used in different nib sizes - in heavier writing pens, its color reminds me of pumpkin pie, while in fine and medium nibs, it's very similar to shades like Noodler's Apache Sunset and Habanero.  It doesn't give you quite as much shading and color variation as Apache Sunset, which is one of the best shading inks out there, but it's certainly not bad.

I found the dry time to be one of the best features of this ink - in my medium Kaweco nib, it dried right around 12 seconds on Rhodia, give or take depending on writing pressure.  With a finer nib, it should be even less, so I would suggest this ink as one to try out in the spirit of Left Hander's Day today!  I didn't find the ink to feather at all on Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Tomoe River, or my Field Notes Byline.  It's not weak on the saturation, but also gives a good amount of shading as I mentioned. Although it's not a super wet flowing ink, I didn't find it to write dry - even with a Kaweco nib which sometimes have a tendency to write on the dry side.

Kaweco's bottle design isn't super fancy, but it's not plain either.  I really enjoy the feel of the cap as it screws on - it has an inner liner that form fits to the lip of the bottle and prevents any air leak or evaporation, and it gives a nice positive "seal" when you tighten it.  The mouth of the bottle can be a bit small for larger pens, which could cause a problem when trying to tilt the pen and bottle with low ink levels.  The bottle's design does lend itself to getting the most out of the bottle before having to use an ink syringe to fill from lower ink levels, so with thinner pens you should fair well.

Chromatography was mostly orange, with a slight hint of greyish-blue.

The swab comparisons really show just how similar in shade this ink is to Apache Sunset and Habanero.  I think the color most closely matches Habanero, but doesn't give quite as much shading as either one.  If you love either of these inks, but don't want quite as much color variation, Sunrise Orange is a great choice.  The pumpkin pie coloring the ink exhibits when more ink is laid down is one thing that sets this apart from either of these two, and even some others in the same color range. 

I love where Kaweco is taking their ink line, and I'm glad they've helped me step outside my normal brand usage.  I plan on trying out a couple of their other standard colors as well, and expect a review in the coming days of their other new ink, Smokey Grey!  The new inks don't appear to have made it to most US retailers as of yet, but they're on their way.  The ink will be available in both bottled and cartridge form - cartridges for around $3 for for 6, and bottled for between $13 and $16 for 30mL depending on the site.  

(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).