Just up front, I think one of the most fun parts about the whole dumb pen hobby is the ability to use a lot of weird, interesting inks. I change inks on an almost daily basis and my journal is filled with enough colors to make Lisa Frank say, “you need to calm your ass down”, but I wouldn’t really consider myself an “Ink Guy”.
To explain, there are a ton of reviewers and YouTubers out there who really get into the nitty-gritty of ink. They do chromatography tests. They do samples on dozens papers with dozens of nibs. They evaluate drying times, water resistance – even pH and chemical makeup – and any number of other factors.
It is, without question, legitimately interesting stuff – especially if you’re the kind of dork who would start a blog about writing utensils and other such paraphernalia largely for his own amusement (shoutout to the three readers who mistakenly stumbled across this site over the past 72 hours) – but I’m throwing it back to 2012 in saying ain’t nobody got time for that (and by nobody, I mean me, because obviously some folks do – and I appreciate them for it).
All of this is to say that when I’m reviewing an ink, for the most part, I’m looking at it in about as basic terms as one can. Like, I’m barely one step above asking “Ink… good?” in a caveman voice.
But for me at least, what’s ultimately most important are how the ink performs and how it looks on the page. In other words, I apply the good ol’ eyeball test and leave it at that.
Anyway. I recently purchased the “Joy” ink sample set from Goulet Pen Co., which came with eight holiday-themed inks – Diamine Golden Ivy, Diamine Gold Star, Diamine Holly, Diamine Noel, Diamine Red Lustre, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor, J. Herbin Rouge Hematite and Robert Oster Schwarz Rose.
I had originally intended to do a whole eight-day countdown, but, you know, life, so instead, here’s Part 1 of what might become a two-parter.
Diamine Red Lustre
I got my holiday ink shindig started with Diamine Red Lustre for no reason aside from it being the first ink I pulled out of the bag from Goulet.
Generally speaking, I use a Parker Jotter with a medium nib with shimmering inks because it’s 1) cheap and 2) a wet writer. So, if something ever were to go horribly wrong and I become the one guy out of a million whose feed were to actually get irreparably clogged with gold particulate or something, it wouldn’t bother me too much.
Anyway. I did a little white balancing on the photo above to bring out the sparkle and I think it also had the effect of washing the ink out a little more than I had originally noticed. In reality, it’s slightly darker than that image would indicate. Not quite a maroon, but it’s getting there.
In all, I like this one quite a bit because the shimmer isn’t just screaming “SPARKLES” at my eyeballs, and in fact, it took a little playing with the light to even get it to pop that much. Under the normal overhead lighting of my office, it has just a hint of shiny to it, but at most angles, it’s just a pleasant, fairly subdued dark red.
J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite
I figured I’d test the only other red in the sampler next – this of course being J. Herbin’s Rouge Hematite.
This one was an odd duck. Based on a swab I did in my trusty Col-o-Ring, I had expected this to be a red ink with a gold sheen. However, on smoother paper like the Tomoe River in my journal and the Write notepad I use for scribbling, that didn’t really come through as much. So, not sure if that has something to do with the paper (Col-o-Ring paper has a lot more texture and I imagine is slightly more absorbent. It feels sort of like the watercolor paper you’d get in a pad from your local big box hobby store, but nicer, if that makes any sense), but I was surprised at how differently it behaved on different papers.
Regardless, the general shade of this one is a bright, vibrant red that almost seems to veer toward coral at times. But overall I liked it.
Robert Oster Schwarz Rose
I thought this one was a strange one to include in a “holiday” sample pack after first looking at it in the vial, and I still do after having used it. That isn’t to say, however, that I don’t like it, because of all the inks in the pack, I think this is probably the one I like the most.
The dominant tone is a very dark shade of olive drab, but it shades from a forest green to nearly black. Mixed in are silver sparkles that gave my lines a very consistent shimmer throughout.
I guess this qualifies as a “holiday” ink because green and sparkles, but with fear of sounding like a Scrooge, I think I probably like this the best because it most closely resembles something I’d be compelled to use on a day-to-day basis. In fact, “Hey Siri – remind me to look for green-black fountain pen inks once my checking account recovers from Christmas shopping.”
Moving on down the list of green inks, Diamine Holly is another that I actually really liked, but is another that’s a bit strange to me.
When the ink goes down, it is what it says it is – a holly shade of green. But, as it dries, it darkens significantly and becomes almost purple in some areas, and it develops a glossy sheen. I found myself watching it dry on more than one occasion while using it because it’s sort of a neat transformation.
Once it’s dry, it has a very consistent sheen that doesn’t come through at all in the photos. It gives the ink a bit of character, but I can’t help but think that I’m reminded less of holly and more an oil spot on the garage floor just given how dark it dries.
Diamine Golden Ivy
Last but not least in this first wave of holiday inks is Diamine’s Golden Ivy, which is pretty much exactly what it says it is. It’s an ivy green with gold sparkles.
I’m a big fan of green and yellow as color combination in general for one reason or another (those Oakland A’s uniforms in Kelly green with yellow trim are just… chef’s kiss and I’m not even an Athletic’s fan), and so the gold here just speaks to me.
This is another that my camera, shitty lighting or combination of the two don’t really do it justice, but the gold particulate Diamine used in this one is just a really nice complement to the ink itself.
Where to Buy
I purchased these from the Goulet Pen Co., which puts together a number of seasonally-themed sets like this throughout the year. This package is called “Joy” and is still available as of the time of this writing for $13.28 over on their website here.
They also have a set called “Winter Solstice” and another called “Peace” – each of which also come with eight ink samples.
Disclaimer: I receive no compensation for providing links to retailers or companies, nor was this product received as a review sample.