Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Oddly Named Beauty

Got a feeling that I’m moving backward on the autumn colors with today’s look at a GREEN ink. Anyone might have guessed that after pumpkin, orange crush and red would come brown, or something close, and I did actually consider writing about a brown ink. But I got blindsided by a green ink new to my eyes, and as chance would have it, I have sort of a thing for green inks.

I still think of Diamine as an ink new to my fountain pens. It is not marketed in Japan—or at least it wasn’t when I was last there several months ago—and my Diamine experiences before today were limited to Sapphire Blue, Syrah and Pumpkin. One quick look at Diamine Umber was enough to send a bottle to my Brian Goulet shopping cart. Like I said, I have a passion for green inks, and Diamine Umber is pretty much a green unto itself. I lined it up beside six or seven other related greens and none of them are a close match. I would say the closest match is Conway Stewart Green, but where the Diamine Umber employs a touch of gray to tweak the green, Conway Stewart shows a hint of blue.

‘Umber’ has to be called an odd choice for the name of a color that, simply put is not umber, and not even close. True umber is an earthy brown showing no trace of green. On the other hand, Diamine Umber ink is an earthy green showing no trace of brown. Go figure. But let me be clear on this point; forget about the name and feast your eyes on this remarkable mix of green. I don’t really care for the word, so rarely use it, but the Diamine Umber is gorgeous. I ordered a bottle from Goulet Pens on Saturday, and Brian got it to my mailbox on Monday morning. How’s that for service? —and including still the handwritten note of thanks for my order.

Filled one of my favorite pens with the new Umber, a Sailor 1911 Large, medium nib re-crafted by John Mottishaw of Classic Fountain Pens. Putting the pen to a sheet of Clairefontaine 90g paper I was impressed from the first line. The Sailor 1911 is a wet pen and handles the Diamine ink very well, with a beautiful shading. I wouldn’t describe it as a very saturated ink, and it certainly produced no show through on my sample. The result was not so good on the few lines I tried using cheap copy paper. The shading was still good, but the bleed through was nasty. I’m thinking that Diamine Umber is an ink to save for better grades of paper.

The review of this Umber by John Gill on Ink Nouveau offered an interesting waterproof test I wanted to try myself because the set up was one familiar to us all. You’re writing in your journal or otherwise in a coffee shop or café and a drop of water spatters your page… What happens? Grab a napkin and blot the already dry Diamine Umber and the result is a word, or words still legible, small mess, no problem.

In looking at definitions of the word ‘umber’ as it applies to this ink, I found one description that bordered on what I see in this earth tone green. Somewhere in the world lives an Umber Moth brownish gray in color, a coloring that resembles tree bark. Reading that I thought, forget the moth and imagine instead the moss or lichen that we sometimes see growing on tree bark. In that lichen I can see the beginnings of Diamine Umber.

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