I bought this bottle of Private Reserve Gray Flannel back in May 2004. The ink seems to have aged well but take its age into account for this review.
Blues aren’t my favorite inks, but I tend to like grays and Gray Flannel is a blueish-gray. But there are reasons I used less than 1/3 bottle in 9 years. It’s a middle of the road ink, nothing really bad about it, nothing truly great. The color is darker than other grays and there’s some shading and line variation but I think it’s unexciting. I prefer thin nibs on the dry side and this isn’t a ink for them. It may have better shading with wider, wetter nibs.
Even though the ink dried in 5 or 6 seconds with an extra fine nib it’s a slow drier, taking considerably longer with wider nibs. While being used as a daily writer with my medium nib I had to be careful to avoid accidental smudges. The ink appears dry when it goes on the paper, but it’s not, and the line size is true to the nib.
The ink is well behaved, no noticeable feathering with my typical Rhodia and Doane papers. There was some minor feathering with the 1.1 mm stub on cheap copy paper. I didn’t have any flow problems, skipping or hard starts with the ink. I could leave the Faber-Castell medium nib uncapped and unused for about two minutes before having problems with it writing. While not waterproof, the ink has good water resistance, at least I can read what was written.
The ink was easy to clean. Once flush with the bulb syringe and all traces were removed. I also didn’t have any problems cleaning the Vac 700 where inks can sometimes find a crevice that takes some time to clean out.
I used my Faber-Castell E-motion with a medium nib as my primary writer for a couple of days. This is one of the smoother nibs I have. There weren’t any issues with the ink. The line seemed thinner than other, wetter inks, much closer to the size of the nib. It felt like a dry writer, but as I mentioned drying was longer than other inks. It never came close to skipping. The pen could stay uncapped and unused for about 2 minutes before the ink evaporated off the nib.
I tested with my range of TWSBI Vac 700 nibs – extra fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm stub. The writing samples are in the gallery. The wider nibs resulted in a darker line, closer to black, especially on the whiter Rhodia paper.