Friday, October 29, 2010

Shoe Polish for Beavers

About the recent thread of autumn tinted inks in these pages, today is something like a U-turn, a looking back at the brown I jumped over last Tuesday. That particular brown is NOODLER’S BEAVER, and at this point, after an hour or two of playing with the ink on two different kinds of Clairefontaine paper, in a Sailor Professional Gear fountain pen with medium nib, and with Q-tip, I have to say in all honesty that I am only moderately impressed.

Like green, brown is another color I’ve chased after for a long time, always searching for the one that fits my preferences as closely as possible. In that search I’ve found three that fit the bill, three that I’m happy with, but those inks are not on parade here. The spotlight this time is on Noodler’s Beaver.

The color—Let me say right off that all the red in the Beaver works to push the shade toward what I call shoe polish brown. There will be some who like this particular reddish Shinola brown, and for them I would say go for the Beaver. But memory works against me, as I am reminded of the Saturday nights I had to polish my father’s shoes for church on Sunday. While it isn’t my kind of brown, the same is not true for everyone, and Noodler’s Beaver could be the one for you.

I lined Noodler’s up alongside two other browns and found all three to be close. Side by side, Noodler’s Beaver, Waterman Havana and Montblanc Sepia (Toffee Brown) almost look to be from the same ink pot, or the same shoe polish bottle. So close in fact, you might have difficulty in telling them apart. Feel like I would be stumped if you showed me unlabeled samples of the three tomorrow.

Brian Goulet has some good things to say about the Beaver, and I tend to agree with his remarks about the shading of the ink. Yes, it does shade well, and it also flows smoothly. With my Sailor pen at least, it lays down a line of well-balanced wetness, neither too wet nor too dry. In this sense, I found the drying time reasonable, but must caution left-handed writers that drying time could be a problem.

Everyone has this or that little something that draws them to a particular brown, or green or any color ink. Experience has taught that an ink displaying the finest of all qualities is rare. I have to think that getting it all right is a matter of delicate balance. Noodler’s Beaver has some excellent qualities, but the color, be it autumn or otherwise is not what I look for in a brown ink.

In my book the three top brown inks are: Maruzen’s Athena Sepia, Iroshizuku’s Tsukushi and Yama-guri. All the qualities we look for in ink are superior in these three. They are examples of that delicate balance personified by the harmony of color and performance.

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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