Tuesday, June 23, 2009


We recently purchased a few Fountain Pen Ink Samples from the Pear Tree Pen Company.  We touched on how much we like the idea of the ink samples (and the practicality of the glass pen in this regard) in this post.  But, boy, the ability to survey all kinds of colors and brands of inks in the matter of minutes is invaluable.  Testing inks in different brands of fountain pens introduces too many variables to give you a true comparison of the inks, including both color and flow character of the inks.  The glass pen gives you the ability to compare inks side-by-side with the same set of variables for each.  

Here's a quick rundown of the samples we recieved. (Of course, I think we have to include a disclaimer here; the colors that you see in the picture may or may not be at all like they are actually.  As much as we try to portray the true colors of the inks, there's too many other variables such as lighting, photo quality loss from digital camera transfer, and monitor settings).

Diamine Grey - reviewed below

Noodler's Bulletproof Black - A classic black.  Although it takes a little longer to dry, so there may be issues with smearing.

Diamine Quartz Black - Initially, we were hoping for  it to be more on the grayer side than the blacker side.  But, overall, it's a nice saturated black.

Private Reserve Midnight Blue (Fast dry) - reviewed below

Private Reserve Black Cherry - Purple and brown hues combined at just the right ratio to produce this really pretty ink.  

Diamine Maroon - No surprise here, nice maroon color so it's pretty true as advertised.  

Noodler's Kiowa Pecan - A lighter brown than the Grand Canyon Brown.  It has yellow hues that might not be apparent based on this picture.

Noodler's Nightshade - Based on the sample swatch from Writer's Bloc, we were hoping to see more shades of red on this ink.  In reality, it just looks black.

Caran D'Ache Grand Canyon Brown - A really nice true brown.  Maybe a cooler brown, but a very true brown (as compared to the Kiowa Pecan, which has tinges of yellow).  We liked this one so much w purchased a bottle.  

Noodler's Apache Sunset - A really nice orange and a unique color.  There are faint hints of yellow, so it's not just a monotone orange.  Might not be a good one to write with, but a great drawing ink.  You can also achieve great homemade colors by mixing it.

Waterman Purple - A purple ink.  Not much else to say here.  If you like purple ink, this is one to get.  (This picture does not do the Purple justice.  You can't really see the saturation.)

Noodler's Squetegue - A nice dark turquose green black.  A great color to write with.  It's pretty true to the swatches you see online.

Diamine China Blue - We were a little disappointed with this one at first as we were hoping for a paler blue.  It's a little more saturated than we expected, but, nonetheless, it's a nice blue.

J. Herbin Bleu Nuit - A denim blue.  Again the samples you see online can be deceptive to an ink's true color.  Still a nice color.  Case in point, trying out an ink you're not sure about is key.  Getting a sampler is a great idea so you won't have to purchase a full bottle only to find it wasn't exactly what you were expecting.

J. Herbin Eclat de Saphir - A really pretty blue with purplish hue. Very saturated color.  Suitable for art and writing.  We liked it so much we bought a bottle.  In our honest opinions, it's one of J. Herbin's finer inks.

Diamine Mediterrenean Blue - Makes you think of an ocean near a tropical island.

Our Homemade Seafoam Green - Your basic turquoise.  The picture might not do it justice.  I dropped the ball and forgot to write down the recipe for this one, but I can promise you it's a nice color.

Diamine Woodland Green - Your basic forest green. It's a nice green.  I think the samples for this color are as advertised.

Noodler's Firefly (Highlighter) - I almost forgot to include a write-up for this one because I didn't see it.  It's great for highlighting important notes, but, as you can see, it might not be the best writing ink.  It's a great ink to mix with as we used it in our Seafoam Green.  

Melissa's take on two of the inks:

Diamine Grey
- nice, saturated grey
- dark enough to be suitable for writing purposes
- appears as a cooler-toned grey to me
- my favorite grey so far = a keeper!

Private Reserve Midnight Blue
- nice, saturated dark blue
- line way too thick even with minimal pressure
 - bleed-through and feathering a major problem on all paper types/brands
 - not good for people with small handwriting like me
 - fast dry (Dries instantly)

It should be noted that the ink name was written with a Pilot Preppy as an eye-dropper FP, but the notes under the ink name were written with a Pilot Preppy that did not have the Midnight Blue ink in it, it had the stock Pilot Preppy blue black cartridge.  The line that was produced using the Midnight Blue ink came out extremely thick.  It makes you wonder, could it be the pen or the ink?  But looking at the samples written with the glass pen it yielded the same results.  Curious.

The ink samples.  

Melissa put a few of the inks in her fountain pens.  Here's some calligraphy that she's done (above) and a sketch she did (below) using the following inks:
Noodler's Apache Sunset
Diamine Maroon
Diamine Jade Green
Homemade Seafoam Green


  1. Thanks for such a comprehensive review. I really enjoyed reading it and want more ink now. Nr

  2. I really like that homemade seafoam green! It seems like it's very saturated.

  3. I love the sketches and calligraphy! The colors look amazing, and I feel your pain when it comes to difficulty in photographing colors accurately. I think you did a great job.

  4. What are your thoughts on your hello kitty pen? What is your favorite color for that particular pen?

  5. I was looking to draw some provocative nude sketches for a tattoo; do you have any idea what would be a good ink to use for the flesh of a zebra colored unicorn?