Pilot Iroshizuku

Mini Series: Sailor Blue Black Ink Review

Until recently I had never used any Sailor ink but the new range of Jentle inks finally became available in the UK so I decided to order several sample of the different colours on offer. I will be reviewing each of these inks over the coming weeks in a blog mini series. Today’s review focuses on Sailor Blue Black.

I love the design of this bottle

I love the design of this bottle

Originally the blue black ink wasn’t really on my radar, I was interested in the new bright, summery Jentle inks, but on a whim I added this colour to my shopping basket. One of my favourite inks is Pilot Iroshizuku’s Shin-Kai, which I always have in one fountain pen. Because of this I don’t usually shop for blue black inks, however I am glad that I gave this colour a try.

I have this inked up in my medium Lamy LX. I chose this pen because I like the nib and its medium width means I can really see all aspects of the colour on the page. It’s turned out to be a really nice pairing and one I will use for some time.

Getting down to the ink itself, I really like the colour and how it performs. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t get so excited about a simple blue black ink but this one is rather special. The colour is bold with subtle grey undertones. When comparing it to the Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai and Diamine Prussian Blue it looks a little flat on the page. It is much lighter than Diamine Prussian Blue and less saturated than Shin-Kai which is perhaps why I find the ink to be almost like it has a matte finish.

Comparison of the blue black inks I own

Comparison of the blue black inks I own

I played around with the ink on tomoe river paper and you can see from the photograph below that the ink almost appears to be a navy blue colour. On the highly saturated ink spots there is a small amount of sheen but I wouldn’t say that this was a feature of this ink colour.

I am happy I decided to give this colour a try. I quickly used up my sample and ordered a full bottle because I have enjoyed using it so much. It’s really well price at around the £16 mark making it a lot cheaper than the Iroshizuku inks. I think this ink as a great staple colour and so far I have really enjoyed using it.

My Modest Ink Collection

   A few of my ink bottles


A few of my ink bottles

I am a little stumped at the moment with reviews for the site so todays post is slightly different. One of my aims for this year is to finish a whole bottle of ink. With this in mind I thought I would share my modest collection of bottled ink. This exercise is hopefully interesting to you, but should also shed some light on my ink buying habits.

The complete list:

Ink swabs

Ink swabs

Writing out a list of the bottled ink I own highlights some obvious points. I gravitate to a number of ink brands, predominantly Pilot Iroshizuku ink. Once I’ve tried a manufacturer that I like I tend to go through the ink colours and buy several more. I’ve done this again recently with KWZ.

My choice of colours is very limited. I seem to sway to the blue and blue/green shades. This is a little disappointing, its like the school mentality of blue ink has followed me into adult life. I need more colour!

My Noodlers Black ink is the only anomaly in this list. This ink is waterproof and therefore great to address envelops and for sketching. I have been using this ink a lot in recent months as I try to improve my sketching skills. I doubt this will be the ink I’ll finish this year with an impressive 90ml of it, but I should deplete my stock pretty well.

All of the inks in this list are essentially full bottles. I never make it far before being distracted by a new colour which means I have a lot of ink to hand. If I am to finish a full bottle this year it will likely be the Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai even though this is one of the larger bottles. I really enjoy using this ink and usually have it in one or two fountain pens. It’s a year round ink choice for me.

1 Week, 1 Pen/Pencil: Week 7 Review and Final Thoughts

This week was my final one in the 1 week, 1 pen/pencil mini series. For the complete duration of this week I have been on holiday and unfortunately I have not managed to write the usual amount and so I don’t feel like I have given this weeks fountain pen and ink combination as much attention as I have done with previous weeks. To top this off it has also meant I have chosen to cheat this week. Alongside my designated fountain pen and ink I have been using a Blackwing Pearl and the Uni Pin drawing pen to sketch. This was a conscious decision as it’s not often I am in this scenic part of the world and I didn’t want this mini series to get in the way of my desire to paint. Now with these small asides explained, on with my thoughts for this week.

My feelings on the Tactile Turn Gist

The time I have managed to get with the Tactile Turn Gist fountain pen has been enjoyable. After a full weeks use I have found the brass grip section and finial the nicest parts of this pen. These brass accents make the weight pretty damn good balancing out the lightweight body to give you a comfortable writing experience. Too much brass could be overwhelming and heavy, but the Gist has struck the right balance.

The tarnishing on my brass grip section

The tarnishing on my brass grip section

The brass grip section has also started to tarnish nicely. This is one of the benefits of a brass pen and having this on the grip means guaranteed tarnishing, as long as you use it. My Gist is coming along nicely now. I’ve also thought that this pen could be considered a little understated. From an initial view and from the outside you have a plain looking black pen with a small brass finial, but then remove the cap and you get a real pop. It’s an understated look with the cool shiny parts hidden under the cap.

The one thing that bugs me with this fountain pen is the proportion of nib to pen. The Bock nib looks huge. I did point this out in my full review of this fountain pen initially but it doesn’t feel like I can shake this annoyance. Every time I use this pen it catches my eye and feels too overpowering in comparison to the fountain pens size overall.

Onto the ink…

I still love the Pilot Iroshizuku Shin-Kai. The colour is gorgeous and paired with a fine Bock nib it works really well. You get to see a nice line width on the page and can appreciate some of the inks shading. The ink flow is brilliant and it just writes so well. I have on the whole been using a good range of paper this week, tomoe river paper and Midori refills and as such haven’t had any issues of feathering or bleed through.

It feels a bit conformist loving a blue-black ink so much when there are so many different colours out there and I have no restrictions on what colours of ink I can use. However, the Iroshizuku Shin-Kai is just utterly lovely. The tone of this ink is just right. Its not too blue, or too black, it really does remind me of a deep sea blue. I also adore the Iroshizuku line of inks and I have several of their colours that I really like using for all the same reasons, good flow, wet inks and lovely colours. However with all my other inks colours I have situations or times of year when I think they work the best, with Shin-Kai it just works all the time. I can’t get enough of it.

Overall thoughts

I think I may keep this fountain pen and ink combination for a while as I have enjoyed the pairing. My initial thoughts on the Gist may have been a little harsh. I have found over the course of this week that I have warmed to this fountain pen a lot. It’s a great size and is a fountain pen I can use without worrying about damage too much. The Shin-Kai ink is still a real favourite of mine. I had gone for a period of not using it, and now I am not quite sure why. It’s safe to say that this will probably be an ink I use all the time moving forward and could be the first full bottle of ink that I actually finish.

Mini series final thoughts

All the mini series writing tools

All the mini series writing tools

I have really enjoyed planning and writing about this mini series. It has only involved a small collection of writing instruments that I use regularly but dedicating time to using them has reminded me what I do and don’t like about each one.

From this exercise I have learnt that I definitely couldn’t commit myself to one writing instrument. In itself this is a silly statement as I don’t think I will ever have to choose just one, but despite that this mini series has taught me a number of things.

Firstly I really do love using fountain pens. For longer form writing nothing beats the glide of a fountain pen nib on nice paper and watching ink settle on the page. It’s extremely satisfying. I get excited about fountain pens and enjoy using them. It’s the first choice for me and I have found my paper choices changing over time to allow me to use fountain pens more often.

I haven’t committed enough time to gel pens during this exercise but I have found that they work really well on the move and for general note taking purposes. I think this is the best option for that sort of task. They are fun to use and write smoothly and I feel like I should use them a lot more than I currently do. I haven’t found the right pen body to use with my gel refills. The Karas Kustoms Retrakt just didn’t fit the bill. I need something a lot lighter.

Finally I learnt some things about my pencil use. Pencils have always been a bit of an anomaly for me. I like using them and I now think I have liked the idea of the simplicity of a pencil probably more than using them. The weeks I found the most difficult during this experiment were the pencil weeks. I found I was getting bored and wanting to see a bit of colour on the page. I had to choose a Blackwing for this experiment as they are such an iconic pencil and a real presence in the pencil market. Overall I do enjoy these pencils but what I have found is that it cannot beat the Staedtler Mars Lumograph for me. This is a wonderful pencil that I really enjoyed using. I actually think I could put a stake in the ground and say this is my favourite pencil. Pencils definitely have their place for me but they are never a writing tool that I could use all the time on their own. The are the understudy in my writing arsenal.

What next?

I think this mini series has been useful and perhaps should be replicated semi regularly. I have found several benefits with using writing tools in this way rather than flitting from one thing to another. It reminds you what you like about a specific pen or pencil. Sometimes its nice to use one of the many pens or pencils I have for a full week and just enjoy it not worrying about what pen to use next. Most of the time I buy these things because I enjoy them and this exercise has reminded me of that simple fact. Therefore I am not annoyed at the times when I had to use a different pen for a specific task. Overall I think I completed this series pretty well.

If you have missed previous weeks in this mini series and would like to catch up, simply click here to check them out.

Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro Ink Review

If you have been to my blog before you may have noticed that I use Pilot Iroshizuku inks a lot. It is the brand of ink I have reviewed the most, you could say I am a sucker for these inks.

This ink looks great in a demonstrator fountain pen

This ink looks great in a demonstrator fountain pen

The main reason I enjoy the Pilot Iroshizuku brand of inks is as a general rule they handle really well. They are nice and wet which means you get a good flow in your fountain pen and when using high quality paper you are usually treated to some gorgeous shading!

Today I am here to talk about one particular colour, the Syo-Ro. The english name for this ink is ‘dew on pine trees’. The colour does remind me of lush green forests similar to what you may find in the Scottish Highlands so I think the name rings true. I have found Syo-Ro similar to the Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-Jaku. Ku-Jaku is a bright teal coloured ink, but using these two inks in conjunction with one another the differences are very subtle. The Syo-Ro is a darker shade of green and has less shading when using on normal writing paper.

However to contradict myself to a point I have noticed with the Syo-Ro when using it in my Hobonichi Techo or on Midori paper in my Travelers Notebook, you do get some lovely shading. It’s not visible on other paper stock, but there are some definite red and blue undertones that gives this ink a lovely sheen.

The Syo-ro shown in my Techo. The light doesn't show the shading quite in the way I'd have liked it to.

The Syo-ro shown in my Techo. The light doesn't show the shading quite in the way I'd have liked it to.

I have really enjoyed using Syo-Ro. I received this ink as part of a 15ml Iroshizuku gift box. It was not an ink colour I sought out or had an expectations of. I have it inked up in one of my most used pens, the TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib and use it to write with most days. The demonstrator pen means I get to enjoy the ink sloshing about in the barrel and appreciate its lovely deep tones. With the TWSBI fountain pen I get a nice thin line for writing and the lovely dark green Syo-Ro is something a little bit different from the normal blue or black inks.

Written review of the Syo-ro in a Nock Co A5 notebook written with my TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib

Written review of the Syo-ro in a Nock Co A5 notebook written with my TWSBI 580 RB with an EF nib

I would in most cases always recommend trying an Iroshizuku ink. They are quite expensive and if you’re in Europe more than likely you can only get your hands on the large 50ml bottle. In most cases though if you’re confident on a colour you should enjoy using this brand of ink. They are really fun to use, easy to clean out of fountain pens and write really well.

With this colour specifically it’s not my favourite within the Iroshizuku range but I think in the winter months this ink would fit very well into my wintery mood. At this time of year I enjoy using bright coloured inks that reflect the onset of Spring.