The English translation of Pilot Irooshizuku’s Syo-ro name is “Dew on Pine Trees” which seems to be an apt name, at least when the ink is wet. I got the ink hoping the greens in this ink would stand out more than in the pictures I’ve seen, especially since I’m not a fan of blue inks. Syo-ro is a teal ink that looks pretty good when it’s wet. It’s more teal on the blue side when it’s wet and then the green does come out as the ink dries. So by the time I took the writing sample photos there’s more green showing through. Luckily (for me) it only looks full on blue when it’s in the bottle and pen. Like other Iroshizuku inks, Syo-ro is well behaved. It dries fast enough so I don’t accidentally smudge it. While not completely waterproof it’s water-resistant enough that I can read what was written after the water test. Plus, it’s easy to clean from my pens. There is some nice shading with wider, wetter nibs. I can’t complain about the ink properties and while it does enhance the green color as it dries my reaction is still “meh”. If I was someone who used broad nibs I would probably like the ink more. It’s completely subjective but the color of Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro has too much blue showing, even after it dries, so it’s just middle of the road for me. I can’t say I like it, it’s more accurate to say I don’t dislike it.
I used my usual array or TWSBI nibs for the writing samples. The extra fine nib was used as my writer for a day and performed flawlessly. There wasn’t any skipping or hard starts. The ink was in the pen about a week and flushed out easily.
Regular readers will know that I’m a fan of Montblanc inks. Despite not owning any of their pens. But I’ve ignored Montblanc Mystery Black because there are so many other blacks I like – Aurora, Sailor Kiwa Guro Nano Black, Platinum Carbon Black and more. But I decided it was time to give it try and ordered a bottle a couple months ago. If memory serves, Montblanc changed up their inks in 2010 but the Mystery Black ink remained similar to the Black it replaced. I never used the old black ink so I can’t compare them. Montblanc is a luxury brand so it’s thought of as an expensive ink, but at $19 for a 60 ml bottle it’s $0.32/ml, which puts it well under some of today’s other luxury inks and competitive with many others. It’s not a deep, dark pitch black and in fact some line variation can be detected at times, with wider or wetter nibs. The dry time is very acceptable with my preferred fine and extra fine nibs. The flow is very good and the ink seems well lubricated. I prefer dryer nibs and found this pen to be near my “wetness” tolerance in them, although not a gusher. I was especially taken by it’s performance in my Esterbrook #2668 Firm Medium nib. Despite my preference for thinner nibs I liked the ink in this pen. Drying time was longer than the TWSBI medium I tested with and I had a few accidental smudges since it was a wet writer. The line stayed true to the nib size despite being wet. The ink is dark enough to contribute to some show through on papers prone to such things (but not on the Rhodia or Doane paper I used). I didn’t encounter any bleed through or feathering, even on cheap non-FP paper. The ink didn’t wash completely away in the water test but it was close. I wouldn’t trust it if moister could be a problem.
The TWSBI Vac 700 with the usual nib selection (x-fine, fine, medium, broad, 1.1 mm) was used for testing. The ink didn’t remain in the pen very long so I didn’t expect problems cleaning it and there weren’t any. I started using my Sailor Pro Gear Imperial Black with a fine nib as a daily writer to test the ink. It was problem free and I didn’t encounter and skipping or false starts. The ink was in the pen just under a month and there wasn’t any problem cleaning it. After I inked my Esterbook J with the #2668 medium nib with Mystery Black I enjoyed it so much it became my daily writer when I wanted black ink. Again, no problems and it was easily cleaned after being inked about two weeks.
I like the performance of the ink. Unfortunately it’s not pitch black and I prefer grey inks over black. This puts the ink behind the eight ball. I won’t use it when I want a black ink since in those cases I want pitch black. And the color isn’t different enough to make me want to use it in daily writing. On the other hand, I was really taken by it in the Esterbrook medium nib so I’d like to say I may use Montblanc Mystery Black in some wider nibs from time to time and see if there are other nibs with which it gets along as well. But the reality is that Montblanc Mystery Black will probably be lost among the many other ink choices I have.
Diamine Syrah is a favorite color of many, at least based on the reviews I’ve seen. Personally, I like red wine or burgundy colored inks so this seems like a natural for me. Yet, other than a small sample about a year ago, it’s taken me awhile to try this ink. Diamine Syrah is a dark red ink that has some nice line variation and a little shading. It’s a darker red than my favorite Montblanc Bordeaux but I still like it. The ink is wet and flows easily from the nib. This contributes to the line variation as the amount of ink put on the paper varies by the speed and pressure of my writing. The ink also darkens as it dries. I used my Sheaffer Balance Aspen and Franklin-Christoph Model 02 as daily writers for a few days. The Aspen had the only problem – one morning I picked up the pen, wrote a few words and then the nib went dry. A little strange that the nib had ink but the feed was so dry after only one night. The pen had been stored nib up and a couple minutes with the nib down resolved the problem. The flow was good after that. I did get some feathering on cheap copy paper. Not bad, but noticeable. It’s a dark ink so there was some show through. Even on a Doane Paper Jotter which is my favorite pad for note taking because I can write on both sides. I could still write on both sides, but show through was noticeable. Despite the fairly heavy show through there wasn’t any bleed through. The ink isn’t completely washed away in the water test but I wouldn’t consider it water proof. It’s a saturated red ink so it takes a little longer to clean from my pens, but I haven’t encountered any staining. Although, the longest it’s been in a pen is three weeks.
My Franklin-Christoph Model 02 with a extra fine nib had the ink for about two weeks. The flow was consistent and there weren’t any problems. The pen is a eye drop filler so my biggest concern was staining since this is a fairly well saturated ink. Yes, it took some time to clean and a little more than plain water. I had to include a mild pen flush soak and time in the ultrasonic cleaner.along with a little scrubbing. The hardest parts to clean were the “ice” effects since the acrylic is rough at those spots. After about 45 minutes it looked like new. The Sheaffer Balance Aspen with a medium nib was also used for several days. The wider medium nib contributed to more line variation. As previously mentioned, this is the only pen that had any flow issues. Except for that one issue the performance was good. The Gate City Pen The Belmont with a fine but wet nib and the Franklin-Christoph Model 19 with a broad stub were also problem free. While The Belmont is a fine nib it’s one of my wetter nibs so there was a lot of variation in the amount of ink put down giving some line variation. As for the broad stub, that’s always a lot of ink which resulted in some shading. There are several nice burgundy and dark reds. The relatively fast dry time of Diamine Syrah on my most commonly used papers puts it above the others except Montblanc Bordeaux.
I’m back on the iron gall ink train after a brief detour. Midnight Blue is a “permanent” ink from Montblanc. The permanence comes from iron gall, although the enclosed pamphlet calls this “ferro-gallic content.” I’ve seen reference to a non-permanent/non-iron gall Montblanc Midnight Blue. My box was labeled “Permanent for documents” and the pamphlet, while general for MB inks, mentioned that Midnight Blue was “permanent, ferro-gallic.” So this bottle is definitely iron gall based. The ink is a fairly wet flowing ink and it’s also fairly slow drying. Slower than the other iron gall inks I’ve tested recently. I stop timing the dry time when it reaches 20 seconds and on Rhodia a broad nib barely met this deadline. A 1.1 mm stub took well over 20 seconds on both Doane Paper (large jotter) and Rhodia. On the positive side, drying time was very reasonable with my preferred thin nibs, especially on Doane Paper which is my preferred note taking paper. The ink is suitable for work and meeting notes. There wasn’t any bleed through on any of the papers that I used and feathering was non-existent. The line width was true to the nib size. The ink is waterproof in that it can still be read after drying for 24 hours and then being soaked. There was dye in the water and a little spreading of the ink. The ink does have some nice shading to it, especially when if first goes onto the paper. It gives this business-like ink a little character. I can’t quit place why I like this ink so much so I’m calling it “character.”. There’s just something about this ink I like. Its color varies just slightly depending on the paper or lighting. Sometimes it’s a little grey, sometimes a little more black. I guess I’d classify this as a blue-black ink. I equate it to my R & K Blau-Schwarz, both in color and character. The MB ink will be a capable replacement when the limited edition R & K ink is used up. Unlike the other iron gall inks this ink doesn’t darken a lot after it dries. That’s mainly because it starts as a dark blue.
The ink worked well in my TWSBI Vac 700 with extra fine, fine, medium, broad and 1.1 mm nibs, These nibs tend to be on the dry side, but not with this ink. The ink flushed out easily although it wasn’t in the pen very long. I used my Stipula Model T with the titanium nib as a daily writer with the ink for a few days. There was a little nib creep but other inks have a tendency to creep on this nib too. Not a lot, just enough so that the nib always had a little ink spreading from the slot between the tines. I also had a hard start after a day of ignoring the pen. No extraordinary measures were needed to get the ink flowing, just time with the nib pointed down.
It doesn’t have a lot of the iron gall characteristics of the other IG inks such as a significant color change or absolute waterproofness. That said, the Montblanc Midnight Blue is another nice Montblanc ink that keeps me a fan of the ink brand.
My recent infatuation with iron gall inks is taking a break but I kept looking for a waterproof, quick drying ink. Franklin-Christoph Black magic seemed like an ideal choice. I didn’t claim permanence but it did claim to be waterproof which was good enough for me. This was my first Franklin-Christoph bottled ink. On the positive side this is the fastest drying ink I’ve ever used. And it is waterproof. The color is a deep black so if that’s what you’re looking for then it’s also a positive. I was overjoyed until I turned the page. While I’m sure other inks can bleed-through as much, this ink exhibited the most bleed-through of any ink I’ve used. Even the ultra fine nib of my Micarta caused bleed-through on Rhodia paper. Yes it was minor but it only got worse from there, My Sailor fine, a Japanese fine, also caused minor bleed-through on Rhodia. My Retro 51 nib used for testing is a wet nib and bleed-through with that was bad as was ever other nib I used. The Doane Large Jotter only suffered from a couple dots of bleed-through with the wettest nibs. But show-through was bad enough to make it unusable for two-side writing. Your tastes may vary, but show-through with the ultra fine and fine nibs didn’t ruin writing on the other side since I just take notes for my own use. With the ultra fine and fine nibs the ink tended to collect ink at the nib when I paused but kept the pen in a writing position. The ink never dripped but it caused a wetter than normal first stroke and heavier bleed-through and show-through. Feathering was also noticeable on these wetter strokes. By contrast if I laid the pen down uncapped the ink would evaporate off the nib quicker than most other inks. When capped there wasn’t any evaporation problem. I stored the pen for about 5 days and it wrote right away when I picked it up. Feathering was also a bit of a problem. It was most apparent where the ink was wetter than normal. On the papers I typically use there wasn’t enough feathering to cause me to complain but your tolerance may be different. It’s like the ink is in a race to soak into as much paper as possible before that incredibly quick dry time kicks in. Which isn’t far from the truth. The fast drying is there because the ink soaks into the paper quickly, Despite the quick dry time this is a wet ink so there’s a lot of ink that needs to soak into the paper. The drying time for the ink is truly instant. I couldn’t smudge even the 1.5 mm stub. It is very waterproof, not even a trace of dye in the water. The ink was easy to flush from all my pens without any trace of staining after being in the pen about a week. I like that Franklin-Christoph puts the ink properties on their website. Here’s a screenshot of their Black Magic properties.
Bottom Line I like the fast drying and the water proof property of the ink. But the bleed-through and show-through ruin it for me. I considered using it for just taking notes with a Doane Jotter with an ultra fine nib. I don’t like to dedicate a pen to a notebook, it’s just too limiting. There are other choices. The ink does seem perfect for addressing envelopes and writing postcards so it will serve some purpose. Although I may need a blotter in the envelope to keep the ink from bleeding through the entire envelope. Additional Reading Reviewed at Gourmet Pens Reviewed at Inkdependance Gallery