Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fountain Pen ink samples

ink samples

Those of my readers who are not fountain pen users may want to sit tight for a while, because I do believe my next few posts will be about ink. Fountain pen ink, that is.

Behold the fantastic ink sampler from Pear Tree Pens. It is a rather brilliant business idea they have - offer teeny tiny samples of bottled ink for a low price. It's a great way for folks to try out a new ink color without buying a whole bottle of the stuff... and if you've played around with fountain pen inks at all, you have discovered that the way it looks on a computer screen is not necessarily the way it's going to look in real life. (In fact, it's gonna look different flowing out of different pens, on different papers! Ah, variety...)

vacuum packed and leak-safe

So here you see my latest purchase - two samplers, which means 8 tiny bottles of ink. They are safely vacuum-packed, which is a good thing, because one of the bottles leaked, and this kept things from being too messy, as you can see from the contained leakage in the photos.

Leaky Lou

In fact, the bottled that had leaked was completely gone and unusable, and Pear Tree Pens showed their typical stellar customer service - they sent me a replacement bottle at no charge, and even threw in three extra samples for free. So I essentially got almost three samplers for the price of two. Thanks, guys!

ink samples, leaked

You can probably also see that you don't get much ink in these samples, so don't expect to fill a big pen that's a piston filler... but I often use a syringe (also from Pear Tree Pens, a la their fabulous Write Fill Cartridge/Converter Fill Kit) and so I can easily test out the ink that way... and I can generally fill a converter or two from the sample bottles also.

I was searching for that perfect shade of burgundy/maroon ink, which I did not find in this sampler or anything else they sent as a follow-up (I am so irked by pinkish burgundies, they are just not for me); I have since discovered that I can achieve a very pleasing burgundy by mixing inks I already have (hooray!), but in this sampler I also learned that I simply MUST have a bottle of Diamine Violet soon.


  1. So...If PR Black cherry, and none of the samples was the dark red/burgundy you were searching for, did you mix up a black and red to get it?? I saw a blood-red hand mixed ink on Flickr.


  2. I love fountain pens and fountain pen ink. I haven't splurged on a sampler yet but I just did my first cartridge refill with a teeny syringe :) i think my time is approaching - quickly ^^

  3. *drool drool* Lovely. I just got some new inks in the mail myself. I took the plunge on Baystate Blue.. Some purple Wampum..PR Ebony Purple of the Iroshizuku is supposed to be a Burgundy..we shall see.

  4. Mixing ink is always a great thing :) although I still have not fiqured out what to do with my yellow herbin ink..hehe. Nice selection of test samples there.

  5. Carroll - the fascinating thing about mixing for burgundy is something I learned on FPN, which I never would have figured out on my own: mix a nice dark blue/red with a green. Only takes a little bit of green to change the tone, and for me I have found my love with the blue-toned red Noodler's Widowmaker (it shades so nicely) and a bluish green like Noodler's Forest. I call my mix Widowforest, but I believe my next batch of play-tests with ink will involve a blue-green or green-blue, and see what that does to the red.

    Mixing black with red gets just a darker red, without that burgundy touch... though I've found I like my OWN Noodler's red/black (with the aforementioned Widowmaker, and Noodler's black) better than Noodler's red-black.

  6. this looks totally awesome. i ordered some ink and also the cartridge/converter fill kit hopefully can figure this out to make my writing look neater.
    Maybe you could give me some tips and how to go from using cartridge to bottled ink. i bought a converter to which says is suitable for most fountain pens.

  7. Ooooh, That color wheel thing! Red plus a pinch of green is dark red and neutralized. In watercolors, my favorite combination for deep and grayed color was Alizaren crimson ( cool red ) and Veridian green ( blue-green ).

    Just attempted to transform the Varsity into an eyedropper pen filled with HOD. If it works, I will post photos on Flickr.


  8. Fountain pens kinda scare me because I don't know how to use them, lol. But I like their sample idea, and I love how nice they were for sending it out again and then some!

    PS, I got your Mr. Roger's postcard. I'M TOTALLY LOVING IT. :)

  9. Brilliant. But please explain how all these things work. I have some fountain pens that my dad gave me when I was small - they have a little latch which I suppose is the opening for the reservoir. How did they get the ink in there? How can you refill cartridges? What is a converter?

  10. ooohh, are you going to show us samples you the ink, I want to see what GI Green looks like...

  11. For anyone with fountain pen questions, I highly recommend spending a little bit of time on The Fountain Pen Network (FPN). It is a set of user forums where people talk about fountain pens, and all my past questions have been answered there. The search engine is pretty decent, but more importantly the members are friendly and knowledgeable and willing to answer questions.

    Macs - It depends on the converter and the pen. Many pens have "proprietary" fits, and some don't. So you'd need to figure out exactly which pen and which converter to see. This would be a great one to check up on FPN.

    Carroll - I am totally ignorant about the color wheel. One of these days I'll learn.

    Belen - One uses a fountain pen just like any other pen, don't let the ultra-cool factor intimidate you! (Glad you liked the postcard. :-)

    Credo - Some of your questions, like the bit about the latch and getting ink in there, depend on what kind of pens they are. A converter is a device for cartridge pens that allows them to take bottled ink. Either a pen has an internal ink reservoir, or it takes cartridge/converter. Catridges are sealed containers of ink meant to be disposable, converters are open and refillable. Generally one can refill a cartridge, if one doesn't have a converter that fits, with a syringe.

    Labboo - GI green is a strange beast, but I definitely have photos of it in the queue. Noteworthy that the sample I have is the OLD GI green, and it has since been reformulated to be a different color.

  12. Oooh, I really like that you've got some ink samples on the blog, too. I got your package Friday *before* the mail got dropped off, so it must have gotten there Thursday with the second mail drop off – amazingly fast! I'm really excited about trying new inks and I'll definitely look into a Pear Tree sampler now.