Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Subtle Green


Something about a green ink that immediately grabs my eye. Perhaps because it has in its different shades the power to spin or support a variety of moods and suggestions. The lighter mixes of green are difficult to use because too often they lack body or weight enough to make the written word easy to read, but there are a number of darker, richer shades that don’t make one squint in order to see what’s written. Most of the better known ink brands have at least one or two robust shades of green, and many of them are very close to being one-of-a-kind. I always felt that Montblanc did something very special with their Racing Green, now sadly discontinued. Private Reserve has a handsome green called Sherwood Forest, though I always found it a messy ink. German master, De Atramentis first thrilled me with the Edgar Allan Poe emerald green, and later the Frederick Chopin pine green. Conway Stewart makes a delicious blend called CS Green. Newest to the fold is the marvelous series from Iroshizuku, which includes the beautiful Shin-ryoku.

But this time I want to focus on a French ink, one in the J. Herbin family of colors — Vert Empire.

In an earlier post, writing about another J. Herbin ink, the very unusual Cacao du Brésil, I compared it to the Charles Dickens ink made by De Atramentis. Now, a couple of days later I find myself going again to the same comparison in talking about the Herbin color, Vert Empire. No, I do not mean to imply that the two are close or similar, but rather that both these inks have a like quality of understatement. There is nothing bold or eye-opening about Vert Empire or the Charles Dickens, but each has its own subdued strength.

Clicking to enlarge the sample above will probably make the words legible, but to make things easier I will reproduce my comments here.

VERT EMPIRE — Sample of the J. Herbin ink, Vert Empire using a Sailor 1911 fountain pen, medium nib. The paper here is not something I can be too specific about, as it’s a page from an old blank journal, something I bought at the Museum of Modern Art on a visit to New York several years ago. From the look of this page, the pen, ink and paper behave well together. Ink flow is good; no feathering; shading is good also, and there’s no bleed through. (smeared words) Let’s look at drying time and smearing with this sentence. Yeah, it’s a wet, slow to dry ink, more so than its Herbin brother ink, Cacao du Brésil.

I give this ink a high rating and suspect I might even grow to like it more in time.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America