Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Heart of Blue

One definition tells us that blue is, ‘a color whose hue is that of the clear sky, or that of the color spectrum lying between green and violet.’ For most people blue evokes thoughts of water, sky and perhaps universe. Who hasn’t seen the well-known photograph of a blue earth viewed from space. Apart from sky and water, blue carries a wide range of associations. It is at times a calm, peaceful color, one aligned with infinity, eternity, faith, purity, chastity and peace. Illustrations often show the Virgin Mary and Christ wearing blue. The color has also been linked with melancholia, probably a connection that grew out of the blues sung by African slaves. Another more modern link is with pornography, or the ‘blue movies’—dim screenings of once secret films.

Surveys might suggest that a majority of people polled choose blue as their favorite color. That certainly has been the trend as far as fountain pen ink goes. Blue is the first color of ink offered by ink makers, and since the 20th century has long been a standard color in documents where black once dominated. Without checking sales charts, I would venture to say that the average person buying ink today will choose something close to the standard blue.

But for some of us looking for blue ink, there is an urge to look past the familiar stand by and go for something further along the spectrum. Distinctive fountain pen ink is enjoying a wave of popularity among many these days, especially for those of us with a passion for interesting inks.

From ten bottles of blue ink I have selected six for their special, unusual or particular qualities. Again, I make no mention of writing quality, but focus only on color. Similar to the earlier post on green ink (here), this swatch sample, too shows color, maker and tool used to produce the sample swatch. Starting at the top left and reading across and down…

1. Turquoise • Montblanc • Brush

2. Blue • Pelikan • Q-tip

3. Blue • Conway Stewart • Brush

4. Kon-peki • Pilot Iroshizuku • Q-tip

5. Blue Suede • Private Reserve • Folded paper

6. Hans Christian Andersen • De Atramentis • Pen

Sadly, the Montblanc turquoise is another ink the company has decided to discontinue. I will sorely miss it when my last bottle comes up empty. The Pelikan blue is a standard shade, and in my opinion inferior to none. The Conway Stewart blue is another standard, one with a good depth. As so many of the Iroshizuku inks are, the Kon-peki is a standout, and a particularly distinctive and beautiful blue. Blue Suede by Private Reserve is another color that shows some distinction. To me, it is nothing less than exquisite. Another in the famous names series, Hans Christian Andersen from De Atramentis is close to the Blue Suede, but darker and thereby a touch more traditional. I have one friend who uses this ink exclusively for business papers.

And last, from the imagination of one young student contemplating it all:



Blue are blueberries freshly picked

a sapphire stone

and an aquamarine shine

Blue is the color of ink in a pen

A long line that never ends

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