Ink Notes: Sailor Storia Balloon Green

Sailor Storia Balloon Green open bottle

Sailor has released a new line of pigmented inks they are calling Storia. At least they’re new in the U.S. There are eight colors in the Storia line. All are pigmented inks and can be mixed with each other, Sailor says not to mix them with non-Storia inks. Itoya, Sailor’s U.S. distributer, was running a free ink promotion when I bought my Sailor Pro Gear Regency Strip fountain pen. Since my only expense was for a postage stamp there wasn’t any reason not to get the ink. I wasn’t particularly impressed with any of the color samples but liked the Balloon Green the most. All the colors seemed rather washed out.

The Sailor Storia ink is just becoming available in the United States. I noticed it first at JetPens where it’s an astronomical $32 for a 30ml bottle. Pen Chalet recently listed it for $24, which is cheap only by comparison. I have seen forum mentions where it’s as low as $13 from sources in Japan, but that doesn’t include shipping.

The packaging is nice, which no doubt accounts for some of the cost. The bottle is heavy frosted glass. The bottle is wrapped in paper and placed inside a heavy cardboard round container. It’s a nice presentation.

I picked two stub nibs to use for testing this ink. Both are Franklin-Christoph pens with the Mike Masuyama ground nibs. The Model 25 has the medium stub and the Model 19 has the broad stub. Even though Sailor’s Nano pigment inks work fine in my thin nibs I didn’t want to try this new ink in a thin nib, especially a green ink which I may not use every day and could dry out.

The Model 25 has an recessed nib so I don’t dip it into the ink, instead I fill the converter directly. The ink still hadn’t reached the nib after an hour of being nib down so I forced the ink down by twisting the converter and the ink finally reached the nib. This made me a little concerned about the flow but I haven’t had any problems.

The bottle has a plastic insert (common is Sailor inks) that can be filled with ink by inverting the covered bottle. This raises the ink level so it can cover the nib even when the bottle itself is low on ink. That’s the theory. The nib on the Model 19 was too big for the insert. I had to remove the insert and then I could cover the nib with ink and fill it. (This was a nearly full bottle.) Since this was filled via the nib it was immediately ready to write.

Since this ink is potentially my most expensive (per milliliter, if I had paid for it) I didn’t fill either pen completely. Being a pigment ink I’m also concerned that if I ignore the pens for a few days I may have to flush them out, so no sense wasting liquid gold.

I rather like the balloon green color in the thicker nibs. It has some line variation and doesn’t look nearly as washed out as the swabs do. It has good flow and is pleasing to write with. As much as I prefer thin nibs I really liked this ink in the Model 19’s broad stub. I used it to write the draft of this article along with several or multi-page writing sessions.

I’ve carried the thinner Model 25 in the pen loop of my Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter. This gave me a bright color to use for notes without having to take up a slot in my pen case. This also worked well for me.

The ink is very waterproof. There was any trace of green in the water and none of the ink washed away.

Dry time between the Doane Paper and the Rhodia Paper didn’t vary by any significant amount. Typically the more absorbent Doane Paper dries quicker, but not in this case. Considering these nibs are wider than I typically use the 12 to 15 second dry time isn’t terrible. These aren’t pens I’d use for note taking where I want dry times of less than 5 seconds.

[Updated Aug. 7 – Cleaning]

This ink wasn’t any harder to clean from the pen than other pigment based ink, but it did take longer than normal fountain pen inks. I’m also a little paranoid with pigment (or iron gall) ink that I may leave a trace behind and lodge itself in the pen causing a significant future problem.

I cleaned the pen about 12 hours after writing the pen dry so the ink didn’t have much time to dry and solidify or stain the pen. It took more flushes with a bulb syringe than usual, about 9 or 10, to remove all traces of green when I shook the pen (like an old mercury thermometer) into a tissue. Then I noticed a few drops of green still on the nib surface. These were easily removed with a damp cotton swab. They didn’t require hard scrubbing to remove, although the incidental contact with the tissue wasn’t enough.

Because of this I then gave the nib a brief bath in the ultrasonic cleaner. I didn’t notice any traces of green coming from the nib so this wasn’t necessary, but like I said – I am paranoid.

Wrapping Up

Storia ink is ridiculously expensive, at least here in the United States. Even at $24 for a 30ml bottle the ink is one of the more expensive ones out there. That’s a whopping $0.80 per milliliter. Caran d’Ache ink, one of the more expensive ink brands, is only about $0.67 per milliliter and Montblanc Limited Edition inks seem downright cheap at $0.57 per milliliter. Even if what I’ve read is true and it’s about $13 a bottle in Japan that’s still $0.43 per milliliter.

If you have a use for mixable waterproof inks then the Sailor Storia inks may be worth checking out. Platinum has a few pigment based ink colors but Sailor Storia is the most complete color range that I know of.

I liked Sailor Storia Balloon Green more than I expected. It’s a pleasant green. It’s nice to have a waterproof green option. That said, I don’t foresee replacing the bottle when I empty it and I don’t plan on trying any of the other Storia inks.