Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Wash of Sea Water

Bluenose Bear—If nothing else the name is interesting. Seeing as how it’s attached to a particular color of ink, it becomes even more interesting considering that color and name are as far apart as bobby pins and pizza sauce. Ridiculous to think that somewhere a bear with a blue nose gave Nathan Tardif an idea for a new ink. Looking at a swatch of Noodler’s recently released Bluenose Bear ink, not many would imagine bears with blue noses. Putting aside bears for the moment, the bluenose part holds no mystery.

Bluenose was a Canadian fishing and racing schooner from Nova Scotia built in 1921. It was a celebrated racing ship and hard-working fishing vessel that became an icon for Nova Scotia as well as an important Canadian symbol in the 1930s. The name “bluenose” originated as a nickname for the people of Nova Scotia around the late eighteenth century. In 1929 Canada issued a commemorative stamp honoring the schooner. A picture of the schooner appears on the bottle of Noodler’s Bluenose Bear ink.

When it comes to bears, the closest match might be polar bears, but rather than the bear or its nose, the new ink from Noodler’s is a color imagined for the water that polar bears swim in, perhaps even the water that the Bluenose sailed in. Something cold about the shade, a wash of arctic sea water with a dash of milk. Somewhere in the mixing bowl is a blend of green and blue, a smidgen of black, a dollop of white. Some of that can be seen in the photo of the Bluenose schooner. Whatever the particulars are that brought Mr Tardif to this color, I for one am happy it came to pass.

Not all reviews of this ink have been good. Complaints of feathering and bleed through are the biggest problems, mostly on Rhodia paper. That said, neither feathering or bleed through have been a noticeable problem in my experience—on paper not made by Rhodia. Most of my Bluenose Bear pages have been in the ever present Japanese notebook, Noble Note Plain with unlined ivory pages. Using the ink for just about three weeks, the reaction is an every time Wow! The enthusiasm could be dampened with different paper and a fountain pen other than the Sailor Professional Gear with medium nib, but something about the Bluenose Bear spells optimism.

The handwritten sample here is in a Rhodia Webnotebook, the swatch on white Clairefontaine paper. The Bluenose ink shows no feathering at all on the Rhodia paper or the Clairefontaine, and bleed through is minimal.


  1. Nice ink color. Who knew after a friend's gift of a pen to me that writing with pen and ink is now an everyday practice and harkens back to youthful school days when that method was a standard one. Now I can write bad detective fiction: "It was a dark and inky night amd her eyes were like a smear of Bluenose Bear."

  2. I absolutely love love love the Bluenose Bear ink. That color is fabulous so maybe I need to go shopping for a dress that shade. Really nice post!


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