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.

Ink Notes: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red

Montblanc Corn Poppy Red bottle

Corn Poppy Red is Montblanc’s latest addition to its regular ink line. I like red inks and I like Montblanc inks so getting a bottle was inevitable. I did manage to hold out for a couple of months since I already had plenty of red inks. But I have a bottle now.

I’ve switched up the way I’m doing this ink notes. I used this ink as a daily writer in one fountain pen, in this case a Sheaffer Crest with an extra fine nib. The rest of the writing samples were do with various Esterbrook nibs in a dip pen.

The color reminds me of Sheaffer red, it’s a nice bright true red color. There’s a little bit of line variation with wetter nibs but its a smooth, solid red in my preferred thin nibs. Wider nibs do provide a little bit of shading. There’s no noticeable feathering and the line stays consistent with the nib width. It’s a wet flowing ink with a good level of saturation.

As for being waterproof – it didn’t wash completely away but it might as well have. It’s not at all waterproof.

Dry times are pretty standard but I did have some problems with accidental smudges on slower drying paper such as Tomoe River and Rhodia. With thin nibs on my typical Doane Paper it was a more reasonable 5 seconds or so and was safely smudge free at 10 seconds. With wetter nibs or anything wider

When I first saw Montblanc Corn Poppy Red I thought of Sheaffer Red which is my current favorite red ink. It’s pretty close.

Wrapping Up

I like Montblanc Corn Poppy Red. It’s a nice vivid red that performs well, but it’s nothing special. I like Sheaffer Red just as much and a bottle is half the price (although the Montblanc bottle holds 20% more ink, it’s still about twice as expensive per ml). I’ll use the bottle, in fact I may refill my Esterbrook Inkwell with it, but when it comes time to buy a new bottle of red ink it will be Sheaffer Red and not Montblanc Corn Poppy Red.

While there’s not a lot of shading, and I think it requires a nib that’s both wet and wide, if that’s your pen and would like to see some variation you may prefer Montblanc Corn Poppy Red.

Additional Reading

INK REVIEW: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red – Pentulant

Seeing Red: Montblanc Corn Poppy Red Compared – FPGeeks

Ink Shot Review: Montblanc LE Corn Poppy Red Ink – Gourmet Pens

Ink Notes: J. Herbin Vert Empire Cartridges

J. Herbin Vert Empire Cartridges

I ordered the a tin of J. Herbin Vert Empire ink cartridges when I was shopping for green and grey inks I hadn’t used. I ordered cartridges to get more than a sample but still pay less than a full bottle. When the ink order arrived I looked at the Vert Empire tin and put the ink in with the grays based on the color on the tin. The color on the tin cover in the photo above looks greener in a well-lit photo than it does in typical room light.
J. Herbin Vert Empire is a bit of a chameleon ink. Well, it doesn’t change to match it’s background, so maybe a broken chameleon. It’s color does vary greatly based on the paper and the lighting. Unfortunately for me, I don’t like most of those variations. The only time it’s obviously green is on bright white paper, such as a Rhodia DotPad under bright light.
Most of my writing is on non-white paper, at least not bright white. In most of my lighting conditions (which isn’t the brightest) and on most paper I use the ink looks muddy when it comes out of the pen. It does become visibly greener as it dries but it takes time to become really green. It can be rather pleasant once it’s dry. Unfortunately, by then I’ve usually moved on and turned the page so my impression of this ink was typically muddy.
As I’ve mentioned, I used this ink in cartridges. I assume the cartridges and bottles are the same ink, but the color on the cartridge tin is grayer than the color on the bottle. So there may be a difference, but since the cartridge ink does dry green it’s probably the same.
This ink does better in a wider and wetter nib. I used it in a fine nib when I first got it but it didn’t stay in the pen long. That nib was also on the dry side and the ink never appeared green, it stayed a muddy gray. The ink performed well but it was completely unimpressive and if not appearing gray, it was olive at best, even after drying.

Additional Reading

J. Herbin – Vert Empire – Handwritten Ink Review –
J. Herbin Vert Empire Fountain Pen Ink Review – OfficeSupplyGeek
J. Herbin Vert Empire Ink Review – Pens! Paper! Pencils!
The bottom line, I don’t like this ink. I doesn’t suite the thin nibs I typically use or the papers I typically write on which are usually off-white or cream colored. It does perform well and the only reason I won’t use it is the color.

Ink Notes: Sheaffer Red

Sheaffer Red bottle

For some reason I had two bottles of Sheaffer Red ink. I’d like to think that meant I liked the ink enough to get a second bottle but the reality is I probably forgot I had the first bottle and decided to try the color a second time. Both were at the back of my ink drawer, full and long ignored. That changed recently when I decided to match the brand and the color with my newly acquired Sheaffer Crest in Nova Red. I liked the ink enough that one bottle was poured into the inkwell for the newly acquired Esterbrook Dip-less which now sits on my desk. This is the modern Sheaffer ink made in Slovenia.
Sheaffer is a straight-on, no apologies red ink. While fewer and fewer fire engines are red these days I’d call the color fire engine red. Even a thin red lines stands out on the page. It’s appropriate for grading papers or marking up documents.
The ink is mostly well behaved. The only blemish was with my very wet Retro 51 Lincoln medium nib which had heavy show-through and some minor bleed-through with the 20lb. Staples copy paper. My wider 1.1 mm nib with a more normal flow didn’t bleed-through but there was medium show-through on the Staples paper. There wasn’t any bleed or show-through with any pens on the other paper.
The ink isn’t waterproof. The ink spread a lot and left stains underneath the paper after about a 15 second soak and sponging the water off. It was actually legible for a short time but as the water dried the ink continued to spread and become unreadable.
There’s no shading or line variation, just a bold red line.
The ink has cleaned easily from my pens. It cleaned easily from the Crest after being in there for a couple of weeks between cleaning. While the vacuum converter could hide stains the visible areas were stain free and the ink cleaned easily from the pen and converter. The test pens were only inked for a day but the ink flushed out easily. The Waterman Red in the Edison Pearl took a little longer to get the last traces of ink out, although it didn’t need anything beyond water. Different pens, so not a perfect test, but the Sheaffer Red was slightly easier to clean.
I did include a comparison with Waterman Red and Pelikan Edelstein Ruby in the writing samples. It was so close to Waterman Red that I had to ink a pen up with it. The Pelikan Ruby was already inked so I did the comparison.

Pens Used

Except for a brief dalliance with Sheaffer Peacock Blue, Sheaffer Red has been the standard ink in my Nova Red Sheaffer Crest. They seem made for each other. The ink has never failed to start, even after being forced to stand nib up for five days. It has also been skip free.
I poured one bottle into an inkwell for my Esterbrook Dip-less pen. The ink performs well in this setup. While I typically only use it for short notes, I can get nearly a page of writing from on dip. Being red, it starts to stain the collar of the pen that seals the pen in the inkwell hole, but it has been easy to clean off so far.

Wrapping Up

It’s been a long time since I used a straight-up red. The slot used to be filled by Waterman Red. Sheaffer Red is a near perfect color match for Waterman Red and it’s over a buck cheaper for a 50 ml. bottle. Add to that the early indication that Sheaffer Red is easier to flush from a pen (not that Waterman is hard to flush) and Sheaffer Red is my new “go to” red.

Additional Reading

Sheaffer Skrip Red – Ink Reviews – The Fountain Pen Network

Ink Notes: Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black

GvFC Carbon Black bottle

Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is the sixth Graf von Faber-Castell (GvFC) ink I’ve looked at. It’s the last of their new line of inks for me to review. Carbon Black is one of the inks that Graf von Faber-Castell classifies as “Document Proof.” This means they are non-correctable and also non removable without leaving a trace. They’re also UV and water resistant. It’s also supposed to not be visible on the back of standard paper. I’ve never found that last item to be true with the other Document Proof colors and it wasn’t true with this one. I’m beginning to think they mean no bleed-through which would be true.
I’ve liked all the new GvFC inks, some more than others. So what do I think of Carbon Black? Wow! It’s a really nice black ink. I did the swab before inking any pens and immediately thought of Aurora Black. You’ll find an Aurora Black swab for comparison in the gallery. I don’t use a black ink a lot, but GvFC immediately became my go to black. Well, that’s a bit of a spoiler for the rest of the review.
The ink puts down a nice crisp line with no ink spreading or feathering. It’s a dark ink so there is show-through on thinner papers. I didn’t encounter any bleed-through.
The ink has a wet, but not watery, flow. If there’s enough ink it looks wet and has a bit of a sheen. The sheen vanishes quickly as the ink dries. I used the Lamy 2000 with a fine nib as my daily writer. The fine nib doesn’t put down enough ink to give it a sheen so don’t expect it all the time. Sheen or no sheen, the ink always drives to a deep dark black true to the cobalt black name. There’s no shading or line variation at all, just deep black.
Dry time is good on most paper although it’s considerably longer on Rhodia and other papers traditionally slow to absorb ink. It was quick enough on Doane Jotter paper so that I avoided accidental smudges. The Jotter is my typical note tacking pad.
The ink flushed easily from my pens although it wasn’t in them for very long. I expect the Lamy 2000 to clean easily once it’s written dry.

Pens Used

My Lamy 2000 was my daily driver for testing this ink. The nib was tuned by Mike Masuyama so it it’s friendly to almost every ink. It was great with the GvFc Carbon Black. A consistently dark black line without any skipping.
My Platinum 3776 Ribbed with an ultra extra fine nib was used for testing. The inked flowed easily through the very thin nib. The flow was able to keep up with some quick writing and was problem free.
My Retro 51 Lincoln medium nib is the wettest nib of the bunch. Despite a wet flowing ink on a wet nib it was surprisingly well behaved, There wasn’t any feathering or bleed-through.
My Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with 1.1 mm stub was the widest nib I used. Again, the line was consistent.

Wrapping Up

Graf von Faber-Castell Carbon Black is my new go to black fountain pen ink.

Additional Reading

Reviewed on FPN
Links to my other five Faber-Castell Ink Notes