Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In All It’s Richness

Red. A color associated perhaps more than any other with with an unusually wide rage of implications, suggestions, symbolisms and beliefs. Anger, lust, passion, fire, blood, pain and bravery. We also connect the color to socialist and revolutionary movements, to conservatism, guilt, sin. It has more personal associations than any other color. Red is a color common to literary symbolism in writing, from ancient to modern; think of the Bible, The Scarlet Letter, The Red Badge of Courage, Mao's Little Red Book and Holden Caulfield’s red hat in Catcher in the Rye.

In Japan, red is the color traditionally seen in heroic figures. A Japanese folk belief tells us that red is the color for expelling demons and illness. At one time it was believed that children with smallpox should be dressed in red, and that those caring for the sick should wear red.

Life, vitality, heat…the connotations are impressive in their diversity, if nothing else.

In the case of ink, do we see or imagine such a rich and layered resonance when we use a fountain pen filled with red ink? Answering for myself alone, it is indeed true that I apply certain suggestion and hints when writing in a red ink. However, I can’t be sure that any of my ink colored mood or hints carry as far as the reader.

I am not the biggest fan of Noodler inks, and have only two of their inks among an otherwise extensive collection. That said, I am nonetheless a big fan of Noodler’s American Eel Red Rattler. I can’t answer for its improving lubrication, which is what the Eel inks are said to do, because this is an area where my knowledge and experience is lacking. It is the color alone which draws me to Red Rattler. There is something about it that sets it off from all other red inks I have used. I like Private Reserve’s Dakota Red, but it doesn’t match Red Rattler; love the De Atramentis Dornfelder red, but put it behind Red Rattler. There are half a dozen red inks which come and go in my fountain pens, but none of them please me quite the same as the Noodler red.

No idea how they came up with the name, ‘Red Rattler’ and I sometimes wonder how it came about. I have what is probably an odd notion about the name and color. Rattlesnakes are common in the western states; many American Indian tribes also once made their home in that area. In my imagination, I see the Red Rattler color as a red that we often see in the blankets and rugs made by these American natives. In that sense, for me the color has a feeling of the Indians and their home in the American west.

I’m a little chagrined that the photo on the right is not quite true in its reflection of the Red Rattler. The paper appears gray, when it is really a very light cream. The red almost has a hint of orange, which is not present in the original sample. A better match to the color can be seen here.

I won’t go into a lot of review type detail here, but in basic qualities I have no complaint at all with this ink. It has a good saturation, slight shading, and it flows well in the Sailor Professional Gear pen I usually use for this ink. If you are already a Noodler fan and do not have this color, then I have to recommend it strongly. For those of you unfamiliar with both this color and other inks from Noodler, then here is a good one to start with.

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About Me

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