Monday, May 24, 2010

Blood, Dirt & Sunlight

Received the order from yesterday, the Exacompta journal and the J. Herbin Rouge Hematite. After opening the box I put ink and journal on the table to look at throughout the day. The Herbin ink is a magnificent presentation and the box is an example of smart and classy antique design, lovely to look at and admire. But the Exacompta journal has its charms as well and doesn’t hide in the ink’s shadow. The leatherette cover is a striking red orange described as mandarin. While the first day may have been for just looking, today was hands on.

They call it Rouge Hematite. The first part presents no problem, but the hematite part is a little deeper. Hematite is a mineral which can be red brown, and is important in iron. It gives the ink that rusty terracotta look, sort of like a mix of blood, red earth and sunshine, and reminds one of Cormac McCarthy’s landscape in Blood Meridian. Let me get right to it and say that the color of this new ink is a stroke of genius by the J. Herbin ink blenders. The Rouge Hematite is a knockout, and joins with pen and paper to produce near perfection.

For testing the ink I settled on a Sailor Naginata, with a 21k M nib. I rarely have any doubts about this pen and knew it would serve well with the new Herbin red. For paper, I naturally chose the Exacompta journal with its Clairefontaine paper. This was my very first experience with Clairefontaine, and I'm happy about finally trying this top quality paper. The Sailor, the Herbin and the Clairefontaine interact well together. I wanted to try the ink out over several continuous pages, so I opened the Faber-Castell journal and wrote two full pages, front and back. It was there that the Rouge Hematite showed its full potential. Beautiful shading. I didn’t really test the ink for drying time, but the impression was favorable. I’m certain this ink will become one of my regular inks, and I’d have been smart to order two bottles.

But then I’m glad I didn’t order two bottles because I would rather wait for the bottle make-over, due in June according to Quo Vadis. First of all, the sealing wax looks great, but it quickly loses its luster when it begins crumbling around the mouth of the bottle’s very small opening. And what was the thought behind choosing the cheap, easily damaged aluminum top? I was immediately reminded of the cap used by soft drink makers. As I said, the presentation is good, but once you get into the box, it’s all downhill until your pen touches the ink. Hopefully, you won’t get sealing wax in the ink, and hopefully your fountain pen is slim enough to fit down into the bottle.

Overall, my opinion echoes the wording on the box enclosure, ‘…it will bring majesty to your writing.’ Rouge Hematite is five-star ink, little doubt of that.

As for the Exacompta journal, I will wait a while before making too many comments, On the surface, I love the mandarin color, but wish the journal were a little larger. The Clairefontaine paper is good. But it wouldn’t be fair of me to say more at a time when I’ve only written one small page in the journal.

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