Hello dear reader,
I hope this letter reaches you well! My name is Kamille and I’m the person behind @cross.street.art!
My fountain pen fixation began when I joined Fountain Pen Network - Philippines almost five years ago when I was still living in the Philippines. When I relocated to the UK, I developed a serious fixation (a subtle word for addiction) with fountain pens and inks. Then I joined the Fountain Pens UK group, and it all went downhill from there.
I have shared my pens, writing samples, and ink swatches on both groups, and in the end, I have decided to start an Instagram account dedicated to it last year. I wanted a platform where I can share them in one place, and make it easier for me and other people to see and check inks and pens. Eventually, my colorful wormy squiggles caught EndlessPens eye, and here I am, reviewing inks for them! They have recently sent me the Cozy Comforts ink set by Robert Oster which was designed by Micah of @micahfinds and exclusive from EndlessPens. I can't wait to share my thoughts with you about the set!
But wait! If you haven’t seen my swatching video on EndlessPen’s YouTube a couple of weeks ago, please go and have a nosey! I have listed and showed my materials there however, I’ll be sharing with you the reason why I chose them here as well.
For the writing and swatching, I use a number 6 brush to ‘paint’ the ink on a swatch card (Bockingford) ala Mountain of Ink. I love how the ink comes out with a paintbrush and my swatch card swatches are heavily based on her ink swatch! I mainly use a Brause nib on a dip pen for writing the name of the ink and brand so I can get a little bit of line variation. Although dip nibs are not the best instrument to use fountain pens ink with, I find it easier to clean when doing multiple swatches in one sitting, which I tend to do. This of course requires lots of water and multiple trips to the sink!
For the papers, as I have mentioned, I use St Cuthbert’s Mill’s Bockingford traditional watercolor paper for the swatch cards. I chose this one by happenstance, a shop near me have this in stock and I ended up getting a few in different sizes and cutting them to size. It’s cheaper and bigger than the more commonly used Col-o-ring swatch cards as well. I get approximately 240 swatch cards if I cut them right for almost the same price as the Col-o-ring, which only has 100 in a pack.
For the papers I use for writing samples, I use three different fountain pen-friendly papers. The first and cheapest one of the three is the Muji loose-leaf graph paper. I heard about this brand and paper from the Philippines group and eventually got a few packs from their Birmingham store for £1.50 per 100 sheets. I’ve been made aware that there are two kinds of Muji paper, one is made in Japan and the other is made in Indonesia, of which the latter I currently have. Reports say that made in Japan ones are better however, made in Indonesia ones are really good on their own as well. I don’t think anybody could really go wrong with it. It handles fountain pen ink though on some very wet inks, it has a tendency to feather; it also makes the ink appear darker, which I think is best for light-colored inks that are uber pretty on swatches but come out almost unintelligible on writing because it comes up too light.
Second, on the list is Cosmo Air Light, it’s on the dearer side of the price range and a little bit hard to acquire here in the UK as only one shop currently stocks it. It is a strong contender for Tomoe and what I really like about this pen is that inks tend to come out more desaturated on this paper. I love how pale and powdery inks appear on CAL, it definitely puts fountain pen inks in a different perspective.
Last on the list is the much love, and a definite must-have for all fountain pen and ink enthusiasts, the Tomoe River Paper. Honestly, I find myself going back to this paper every time I stray. That crinkles every time one turns a page filled with inky words and doodles and art. It’s simply amazing. It’s an experience all on its own. At some point in a fountain pen and ink enthusiast’s journey, they will come across this paper and will just automatically compare it to hundreds of other fountain pen ink-friendly paper.
A fellow enthusiast once asked me, which paper would I say gives the truest representation of the color I was expecting it to be and it got me thinking. I told him, it’s difficult to say because inks behave and appear differently on different papers. In my experience, the swatches appear almost the same as when written with a pen.
Like inks on Muji always look darker than the other two, whereas, on Cosmo Air Light, they ALWAYS appear soft and powdery which I actually prefer on some ink.
On the other hand, Tomoe, as a staple and a standard for almost any fountain pen user, has that balance when showing ink properties. And one can’t just use Tomoe and go back to what they’ve been using before if they can afford it. I know I thought I was going to exclusively use CAL when I first used it but I still ended up going back to Tomoe. It’s just that good.
Consequently, I think it’s hard to put down an ink’s truest representation to just one because there are just so many variables to consider. Different sizes of nibs, writing speed, ink flow, and of course, paper to name a few.
But on to the inks we go and start off with Tea Time, from the Endless Exclusive Robert Oster Cozy Comforts Fountain Pen Ink! I love how it paired really well with a vintage Burnham pen I used for the writing samples. The matcha green tea color takes me back to the Philippines when I used to spend hours waiting for my mom to finish her weekly shop whilst I’m downing my matcha green tea flavored bubble tea! Tea Time also has very subtle shading, almost coming up as a dual chroma. It is most certainly not a boring green!
Next up is Coffee Date! Apart from this ink definitely looking like coffee, it also looks very much in between a builder’s brew or just tea here in the UK! A very proper name for such a really nice brown ink. The dark brown, almost black shading / haloing on my squiggle swatches sort of like represents the coffee grounds! I’m not much of a coffee drinker but the smell always brings me comfort and warmth! A very much welcome assault to one’s senses.
Old Book Smell
The third one is Old Book Smell! Ahhh, I simply love this shade of red. Again, it has that really dark red, almost black shading / haloing that really set this ink apart. I love how desaturated it looks like on Cosmo Air Light, but also how surprisingly lighter it came up on Tomoe, almost like a droplet of blood on a paper and then wiped once. I’m a nurse, I can’t help it. The black haloing is more pronounced on Muji paper where ink pools.. like blood. I’m sorry!
Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty
Okay, so the fourth ink in the collection is definitely a confusing-in-a-nice-way kind of ink! So if you go through my swatches of Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty on my Instagram, you’ll see almost two different inks! I was so amazed at how it behaved differently on different papers! Apart from Cosmo Air Light where it’s predominantly soft bluish-grey with hints of purple, SKWK showed up in shades of purplish, pinkish lavender it just boggled my mind! It is such a lovely ink with an equally lovely name! I understand Micah didn’t name this ink from The Big Bang Theory, but this ink and that show combined is just divine! I love that show so much it sort of hurts.
Anyway, on to the fifth one before I get carried away! Now Campfire Crackle is probably my favorite of this set! Before TMKR’s Mango, I have never even considered, let alone look at orange inks. But since Mango, I have been on the lookout for the next orange ink to fall in love with. Campfire Crackle definitely is a winner! I have never seen an ink with black shimmer before! Micah did a really good job in bringing this ink to life! And orange ink very similar to the flames of a campfire with a very fine orange-y silver, barely-there shimmer evocative of the subtle flickers of a bonfire. It gives off that sense of safety and warmth on a cold night camping out in the wilderness. I just love it!
Stargazing (aka Stargazer)
And finally! Last but not the least, Stargazing or Stargazer. A rich teal leaning towards a green base ink, at least on my swatches, with an abundance of both silver and blue shimmer (because one color is just not enough!). And don’t forget that subtle red sheen. Ugh, it’s just so pretty! Yet despite all that shimmer, it actually behaved really well on a custom pen I paired it with which uses a Bock with a medium nib!
And there you have it guys! I hope you enjoyed my little review and it help you choose a fountain pen ink for you! Please allow me to say that there is no right or wrong in whatever swatching material, method, or technique you use. My perception is, ‘It’s your inks, your pens, your papers. You do whatever you want with them as long as it makes you happy!’ After all, this is but a hobby to most of us. A sort of escape that brings us pleasure and happiness! I can only hope that every single drop of ink that makes it onto a paper may get you a sense of warmth and a feeling of utter delight!
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Written by @cross.street.art
Check out her swatches on Instagram!