Posted in Ink, Reviews, Stories

Majorelle Blue (Ink) by Any Other Name

In 1924, the French artist Jacques Majorelle constructed his largest artwork, the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, Morocco. He painted the garden walls, fountains, features, and villa in a very intense shade of blue, for which he trademarked the name Majorelle Blue.

Let me tell you a story about myself. I love food! I used to frequently travel domestically and globally when I was a young man and I always made sure my hotel was an easy walk to a variety of restaurants. Fast forward, I am completely into a show called “Somebody Feed Phil.” Phil Rosenthal was the writer, producer, and creator of a sitcom called “Everyone Loves Raymond.” What makes the Feed Phil show interesting is Phil simply loves food. He probably cannot boil water. The show follows Phil as he travels through a city enjoying the local cuisine. He genuinely loves the people making the food, the other patrons, and it is simply a joy watching him eat! I was watching an episode, Phil was in Marrakech and the color of the houses resonated with me. Thus began an ink quest.

I searched and searched for pen ink by the name “Moroccan Blue,” “Marrakech Blue,” or “Majorelle Blue” to no avail. I stumbled upon a blue ink so intense as to “hurt” the reader’s eyes.

I searched and searched for pen ink by the name “Moroccan Blue,” “Marrakech Blue,” or “Majorelle Blue” to no avail. Then I stumbled upon references on FPN (Fountain Pen Network) of a blue ink so intense as to glaze upon it “hurt” the reader’s eyes, while others exclaimed they needed sunglasses when writing with it, but more on this ink later.

Really, this hurts your eyes, doesn’t it? Majorelle Blue has it’s own hexadecimal code, #6050dc. Or if you want to mix it in RGB, just add 37.6% red, 31.4% green, and 86.3% blue, while in CMYK color scheme would be made of 56.4% cyan, 63.6% magenta, 0% yellow, and 13.7% black.

Many color-oriented websites recommend Ultramarine (a strikingly vibrant hue) as a very acceptable alternative to Majorelle Blue. This color is readily available from Montblanc, Octopus Fluids, Diplomat (Octopus Fluids), and L’Artisan Pastellier. But honestly, only Octopus Fluids seems worthy.

But, thanks to the FPN, I stumbled upon Noodler’s Baystate Blue ink…a ”screaming out loud, [ink that] really does hurt eyes and ears.”

According to Vanness Pens Shop, Baystate Blue is a “vibrant blue permanent ink” with a purplish tendency [my edit]. Vanness offers the following warning: “This ink is a different formulation than most inks, and will stain your pen. We do not suggest using this ink in any valuable pens. Do not mix with any other inks or an undesired reaction will result.” With acolytes like this, how could I refuse?

Noodle’s Baystate Blue

My order arrived and I quickly got to playing with it. This is not the best example as the paper is textured for watercolors, sketching, etc. but, as you can see it is an intense worthy BLUE!

The bottle came filled to the very tippy top. I immediately set to work with an Esterbrook #9 Drawlet square nib. The ink is not water-proof (contrary to the claim it is permanent), it flows freely (wet), and subject to shading. I did not notice any peculiarities when using the ink – remember the ominous claims made by the pen shop – this is pretty much a normal ink. I will attest it stained my porcelain sink, but with a little effort, I managed to remove the stains. If I ink up a pen, I will not allow the pen to dry out prior to cleaning.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

Fountain Pen Day 11 Haul

This year I was planning on just buying a new ink, which I did but then I stumbled across a special offer on a Sheaffer Prelude. The pen was being offered (FPD only) at the bargain price of $25. Amazon offers it at $65. I hummed and hawed for several hours. I wasn’t in the market for this pen, or any pen really, just some ink. It got the better of me.

Of course, when checking out, the seller was nice enough to remind me that for a couple dollars more I would qualify for FREE shipping. That’s right FREE shipping. There is a sucker born every day. The next thing I knew two inks, and a Kaweco short converter has joined the pen in my cart. But I got FREE shipping.

Sunshine Orange

Gorilla Deep Maroon Red

Werewolf Grey

The ITF technology used by Monteverde is an additive to improve ink flow – I’ll let you know how that works out. Additionally, all three inks are due based inks, they are not waterproof, and lack sheen.

I was in the market for the converted – the Benu Skull pen uses short ones and I needed a couple more dollars on the order for FREE shipping! Looking back at this ordeal, I came to realized that FREE shipping cost me nearly 4x what I would have paid for standard shipping. My wife, being the compassionate soul that she is, reminded me that I am a gullible loser. Yeah, but a happy one.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Ink, Reviews

A Little Wine with Your Ink?

One of my absolute favorite things about having fountain pens is the options when it comes to inks. Inks can be pigment or dye based, some are waterproof, some shimmer with glitter, and some are fragrant. There are so many options, so many colors, and shades, the nuances are incredible and some are made from wine. Today, I am highlighting a couple inks made from wine by de Artamentis of Germany. I don’t usually review or comment on inks, don’t be critical.

So Why Wine

Wine has been used in the manufacturing of ink since the Middle Ages. Wine, and sometimes vinegar beer, were used in place of water to mitigate the impurities introduced by water-borne contaminants. Sure, they wouldn’t bathe but they worried about their inks. Wine ink is not particularly popular in these times. A couple of the retailers I’ve spoken once sold wine inks but no more. Be warned, many ink names lead one to believe the ink is from wine when in fact the manufacturer is referring to the color and no wine was included in the recipe.

The Company Line

Wine has been added to ink. In accordance with traditional manufacturing processes. These inks consist of concentrated wine and some other ingredients which, for example, bind residual alcohol and the wine acid, and which improve the writing characteristics. Writing with pure, concentrated wine, no additional water is added to the ink. Furthermore, wine ink has unique writing behavior. It flows in an unmistakable, wonderful Red out of the nib. This Red is dependent on each wine. On paper, a chemical reaction occurs and oxidization occurs. Something very remarkable about these inks is the scent of wine, which caresses the nose. These inks fulfill the greatest demands regarding ink techniques and are suitable for all fountain pens. Writing with wine inks is an extraordinary experience and a symbol of the fine writing culture.

The Inks

  • Chianti –A deep crimson ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of blue-grey along the edges. 
  • Riesling –An ochre-colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow along the edges.
  • Brandy –A yellow-brown colored ink when written that blends easily with water fading out with a hint of yellow and green along the edges.

In addition to eliminating water contamination, wine introduces alcohol which has two important properties; dries quickly and prevents fungus from growing in the ink.

Reference Material

Chianti
Riesling
Brandy

All three inks were fragrant, the most aromatic is the Riesling. I didn’t notice the aroma so much while using the ink as I did when I opened the bottle. The color of the written words look nearly the same to me, thus I introduced a little water, illustrating the color differentiation. As the ink dried the color stabilized to the shade you see.

I was a little biased towards the Chianti before the sampling. All three inks flowed well. Each feathered substantially on cheap paper so I switched to a 120 gsm paper used with watercolor.

If wine ink tickles your interest, in the US, sample size bottles are available from Vanness Pen Shop; in Europe, order directly from de Atramentis. I am not compensated for these recommendations.

Reference Material

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Ink, Pens

Hot, Hazy, and Humid; Their Effect on Pens and Ink

I was born and raised in the mid-Atlantic region on the US east coast. The weather forecast from June to late September is always “Hot, Hazy, and Humid.” The heat and humidity are so bad even weeds beg for someone to put them out of their misery. The tar bubbles up from the asphalt, and the creosote leaks out of the telephone poles. It is gross, the world is sticky and gummed up. This being the dog days of summer, a thought occurred to me, how does heat and humidity impact fountain pens?

Welp, I wish I found a definitive answer, instead I found a series of diverse thought-provoking prose. My initial thoughts about the impact heat and humidity have on pens and ink were in error. My assumptions were based on the popularity of eyedropper-style fountain pens in tropical and subtropical countries, such as India. Turns out the popularity is related to the heat and humidity – they accelerate the decomposition of the ink sac – duh, my bad. Cartridge and converter pens don’t suffer from this issue, but they hold very little ink in comparison to an Airmail which holds a small ocean of ink.

Humidity

Humidity is moisture in the air. When the humidity is higher there is less room for additional moisture resulting in less evaporation directly impacting ink drying time.

Alternatively, paper is hygroscopic (water absorbing) and will absorb the moisture from the air. Humidity and changes in temperature can influence a paper’s weight, thickness, and rigidity. Ink viscosity increases at lower temperatures, which can restrict ink flow and density. While at high temperatures, ink viscosity decreases. Ink being primarily water contains humectants and variable viscosity associated with temperature might exacerbate things. Humectants are hygroscopic stuff that promotes the retention of moisture in water-based inks and paints.

Temperature

Temperature primarily impacts viscosity but may cause the air in the pen ink reservoir to expand or contract thus impacting the ink flow. It is true that capillary action is greater at higher temperatures, but should be negatively impacted by high humidity and the hygroscopic properties of the paper. I read comments on FPN and Reddit, and contributors mention their ink color seems more saturated in the dry summer heat. Is this the result of greater capillary action or dye inks with greater color saturation?

The bottom line is this, Heat and Humidity will make your pen write drier or wetter based on these conditions, and the hygroscopic properties of your paper. They are bad for ink sacs thus causing issues for vintage pen owners. I know, Duh! Oh yeah, Hazy, has no impact on the function of your pen or the ink but it will result in respiratory conditions so stay inside, and enjoy the AC (airco) on those ozone alert days.

COPYRIGHT © 2021-2023 DANNY WATTS and CHRONICLES OF A FOUTAIN PEN.
Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

The Airplanes go up, and down, and all around with me and my pen aboard

Atmospheric pressure is assumed to be a constant everywhere, but it isn’t. The constant flow of air around the planet brings with its fluctuations in the local air pressure. Normally not an issue for fountain pen users. Altitude also impacts air pressure and does spell troubles for fountain pen users. Why you ask, the sudden drop of pressure outside the pen can lead to a lot of ink being forced out of the pen by a trapped bubble of high-pressure air from a lower altitude.

Do not, become complacent in the belief that modern pressurized aircraft will eliminate the issue unless you are flying out of the lofty airports in these cities: Shennongjia, China; Toluca, Mexico; Arequipa, Peru; Bogota, Columbia, and Cuenca, Ecuador – all located 8,000 feet above sea level (roughly 2,500 meters), or about 75% of the pressure at sea level.

Have you ever opened a bottle of water in mid-flight seal it then looked at it once the plane lands?

Three Options

  • The single best way to avoid ink leakage on a plane is to travel with your fountain pens empty. No ink, no leak.
  • The second best way to avoid problems is to travel with the pen nib pointing up, as cabin pressure changes shouldn’t result in the pen leaking. But if the nib is pointing down or horizontally, it will most assuredly result in some ink leakage.
  • There are those who subscribe to the idea of traveling with an inked fountain pen and keeping it filled with as much ink as possible. The less air there is in the ink reservoir, the less room for an air bubble and the less likely it will leak.

Using the pen in Flight

Using a fountain pen in flight? Yes, once the plane is at cruising altitude it is safe to take the pen out and begin writing. A little care is prudent. Some caps seal extremely well, and pressure equalization within the pen won’t happen until the pen is uncapping. It is best to hold the pen, and nib up, when removing the cap. Also, have a cloth or tissue handy just in case there is a splatter from ink trapped in the feed.

Bottom Line

I do not subscribe to flying with a pen completely full of ink, as it is nearly impossible to achieve. But a little bit of planning will reap benefits and prevent embarrassment.

  • When traveling with fountain pens in a briefcase or backpack, empty them.
  • If a fountain pen is riding in a pocket, as full as possible is preferable, there will be no space to trap air in the reservoir. It is important to keep the nib pointing up to prevent issues.

If vintage fountain pens are your thing and they are accompanying you on the flight, Sheaffer Snorkels, and Parker “51”s, they are less likely to cause issues but they are still subject to leaking. Generally speaking, contemporary pens seem to travel more reliably.

In conclusion, keep fountain pens as full as possible, or completely dry when flying. Give them at least half a chance to not let you down.

Do you fly with fountain pens? What are your experiences?

Posted in Ink, Pens, Stories

The Color of Your Ink and You

Welcome to installment #3 of “What This Says About You.” Today we are going to look at the color of the ink you choose, its association with stuff, and what it says about you. In case you missed the first two installments I’m including them here:

Maybe you don’t give your selection of ink color a second thought, or maybe you select the color of your ink to match emotions, or maybe to match the pen, or maybe to suit the writing material.

In the broadest of terms, colors are grouped as either warm (red, orange, yellow) or cool (blue, green, violet). Warm colors evoke energy and excitement while cool colors are calming – guess that is why I prefer cool colors.

Personality Studies (so they claim)

Blue ink: people choosing blue ink, including the palest sky blue right to deepest dark midnight blues, are seen as having an outgoing personality, are friendly in nature with a warm and welcoming temperament. Are someone who conforms but still has a personality of their own.

Black ink: people choosing black ink are in charge of their life, the captain of their destiny, considered dominant and a force to be reckoned with. Possibly conservative and maybe a little uptight, rarely showing emotions, and thinking with their head rather than their heart.

Red ink: people choosing red ink are emotional, passionate, and love being the center of attention, everyone knows exactly how you feel. Emotions and their heart are worn on your sleeve! Someone who is creative and artsy and loves to experiment and try new things.

Typical usage of ink by color

Black is the ink choice of business. Projects professionalism, is often a requirement when signing legal documents and completing forms. Copiers and OCR equipment are better at picking up black ink.

Blue is the typical day-to-day ink. Blue ink is a pleasing and clear contrast to the black print on forms.

Red ink is used often used to correct or identify errors, and provide warnings! The use and impact of red ink is a blog post unto itself.

Green ink, back in the day was used for stocktaking and my preferred ink color.

Purple ink is often associated with poetic writing and literature. Historically, purple-colored ink was used to indicate power and sacred knowledge (royalty and religious orders).

The Skinny on Colors

  • GREY/WHITE: balance, neutral, clean, purity, innocence, perfection, timeless
  • PINK: romance, feminine, creative, sweet, cute, fun, sensual
  • RED: provocative, energy, urgency, excitement, passionate, powerful
  • ORANGE: youthful, creative, aggressive, action, fun, playful, lively, exuberant
  • YELLOW: optimistic, youthful, cheerful, happiness, friendliness
  • GREEN: plentiful, healthy, fresh, balance, relaxation, youth, growth, sustainable
  • BLUE: trust, honesty, security, intelligence, confidence, calm, stability, integrity
  • PURPLE: royalty, regal, soothing, imagination, wisdom, creative, calm, spiritual
  • BROWN: stability, simplicity, dependable, rugged, outdoor, natural, sustainable
  • BLACK: elegant, classic, powerful, luxury, dramatic, sophisticated, edgy, sleek

Just For Fun