Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tea & Walnuts

Two very warm and individual brown inks arrived yesterday from Brian Goulet’s Inkdrop. This time Brian has selected an assortment of samples which he very aptly calls, “Mudslinging,” and which includes five shades of ‘muddy’ brown ink, plus a bonus sepia ink new from Private Reserve. Of the six samples, the Lie de Thé from J Herbin grabbed my attention right off, because it’s an ink long on my wish list. The other color that struck me as bold and off the curve is the Noodler’s Walnut.

Hard to speculate on what is prompting the interest, but judging from all the variety out there now, brown ink has suddenly become the new thing in ink colors. Look back as recently as two years ago at what was then available in brown, and you’d have difficulty seeing more than three or four brands offering a brown ink. Seems now that every ink maker out there is stirring up pots of brown.

But in my opinion brown is a hard color to get right. I expect that mixing up a batch of something in the ‘brown’ family is pretty basic at this point, but getting it right, getting all the desired qualities working together in an original shade is perhaps where the challenge lies. And to my delight, there are a few of them who have gotten it bang on target.

J Herbin’s Lie de Thé is one of those, and Noodler’s Walnut is another—one milk chocolaty, the other dark and bold. No hesitation in describing the Walnut ink as dark and bold, but I have sat staring at the Herbin ‘related to tea’ ink for forty-five minutes and still can’t settle on an accurate comparison. It does not look especially like tea, even tea with milk; it doesn’t look like coffee, nor milk chocolate. Because of a faint yellowish cast, what I am most reminded of is a spoonful of water stirred into soil from China. What I can say about this color is that—for those partial to brown—it is a pretty shade, and one that is standard enough to be rated useful, and not merely a mood ink. You could sign your mortgage with this ink and illicit no more than “Mmm…pretty color” from your banker. In the same sense, the Noodler’s Walnut is dark enough to pass for brown-black under ‘civilian’ eyes. For my tastes these browns are a combination made in ink heaven.

Writing… I tested the Herbin Lie de Thé in a Lamy 2000 with what I believe is a medium nib. (The Lamy 2000 carries no identifying marks as to nib size.) Granted the Lamy is a most agreeable pen, but it is sensitive to an ink that lacks cooperation, and with Lie de Thé, ink and pen sort of hit it off and wove themselves into immediate partnership. Great flow of ink; the Lamy 2000 tends to be a wet pen. Shading is good, giving to the lines what most would call a good balance. Saturation is okay, but this is not a shade that invites deep saturation, though there is enough to produce the kind of written page most are comfortable with. I will give this mix from J Herbin a bunch of gold stars, and soon dial up Ink Nouveau for a bottle of Lie de Thé.

For the Noodler’s Walnut I chose a Sailor Professional Gear, medium nib. This pen is what I call picky about inks, and is often quick to stubbornness with certain inks. I have on occasion felt like it was flashing signals telling me to change the ink. But it took right to the Noodler Walnut, and I admit to being surprised at that. With notable exception, Noodler ink has been less than cooperative in many of my fountain pens. Not so with the Walnut, and this too is one I will buy, or beg from Santa. With this one you will get tremendous saturation that leaves the backside of your paper free of all but the faintest show through. Shading is hard to discern, though it is there when you look carefully. Darker inks tend to not advertise their shading.

I scribbled a lot with both these inks and never had a problem with slow drying time. Reasonable and not an issue, though left-handed writers may have some concern.

My conclusion? Click on Goulet Pens and get yourself a bottle or sample of these well-rounded mudslinger browns.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a little late on my blog reading, and I just stumbled on your post. Thanks for the shoutout! I completely agree with you that brown has recently become a very popular and desirable ink color, and there are new colors that I think we'll be seeing coming out (PR Sepia is one of those new colors).

    I can't quite put my finger on the color's popularity. I'm sure part of it is the autumn season, but I also think it's because it's a work-appropriate color that's something different than black or blue-black.

    Thanks for your thoughts on the colors. My wife and I put a lot of thought into the selection of the brown colors, and we wanted to expose everyone to some interesting and diverse browns. Glad you liked them!


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