Monday, January 10, 2011

Steadfast is Right

Opening a package of five black, or near black inkdrop samples from this week, the initial feeling was disappointment. Four of the samples are black, a choice of ink that I use very little. But I do understand Brian and Rachel’s decision to showcase the black inks; a whole lot of people use black ink every day of the week, and next to blue it may be the bestselling ink. They call the samples this month ‘Steadfast Resolutions.’ The ‘steadfast’ is a well-chosen word because it describes something fixed or unchanging, something steady. Good description of black ink.

Disappointment with the samples evaporated when I got a closer look at the one sample that isn’t a pure, true black. That one is Noodler’s Lexington Gray.

As far as ink goes, gray is a difficult mix. Too often it turns out to be a shade difficult to read easily on the page. As much as I like Pilot’s Iroshizuku ink, their Fuyu-syogun and Kiri-same inks are ultimately unsatisfying. Why? Anything more than a card or memo, both are hard on the eyes. Des Atramentis solved that problem in their ‘Charles Dickens’ with a touch of green and the perfect measure of black. Noodler’s Lexington Gray reminds me of the De Atramentis ink.

Lexington Gray has what some would call an antique look, or a feeling of ink you might find in a dusty box of letters from the attic. Of course, it’s only opinion, but it’s this aged quality that makes me feel the Lexington Gray works best on paper less than pure white. Oh sure, it looks good on a snowy Clairefontaine paper, but to my eyes it looks even better on other backgrounds. Strong on cream, impressive on wheat or pale green…Noodler’s got this ink to work well across a wide spectrum of paper types.

Quick drying, this one should please left-handed writers. In my trial, the ink didn’t smear a bit after a count of one-one-thousand. How does it stand up against water? Think invincible. I held a sample under an open tap for thirty seconds and the Lexington Gray didn’t budge; with neither runs, drips or smears, the words remain wholly legible, even clean.

Shading is negligible, but more noticeable on white paper. Saturation excellent, which is one reason this gray works where others don’t. My testing was with a Pelikan Souverän 600, which is fond of Noodler inks. The flow is good, never a concern. Some might call it a wet ink, but this kind of generous flow is a quality I prefer.

Quick to order a bottle of this impressive mix from Noodler, I am already thinking one bottle wasn’t enough. Lexington Gray has been added to my regular rotation of favorites.

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