Krishna inks are made in a place called Palakkad in Kerala, India and are the brainchild of a Dr Sreekumar. Their trademark features are some interesting names and some vivid colours. There is a reasonably large (and growing) line-up and they are becoming more widely available outside India.
Presentation-wise they come in 20ml glass bottles, which are perfectly functional but which won’t win any design awards. Packaging is similarly, how shall I put this, simple.
Given that many of the ones I’ve tried are a little (ahem) flamboyant and may not always be suitable for everyday use, the relatively small size makes them quite an attractive proposition. It also makes it easy to justify buying multiple inks, which is how I’ve ended up with 7 of them so far.
My overriding impression of Krishna inks so far is that they flow well and major on sheen. The latter feature is subject to some confirmation bias in that I mainly chose inks that looked like they would sheen. If you do like some sheen with your inks, you’ll find plenty to interest you in this range.
I’ve tried these inks over a number of weeks and in a variety of pens, but I’m just going to give a brief summary of each one. I may get round to writing up more detailed reviews at some point, but given how long it’s taken me to pull this together, hopefully there’s enough here to whet appetites.
I’ll kick things off with Moonview as it’s perhaps the easiest one to relate to other inks. It is a rich blue ink with a strong red/pink sheen. When I say strong sheen, what I mean is that Moonview is another sheen monster in the same vein as Diamine Skull and Roses or Organics Studio Nitrogen Royal Blue. It flows well and I’d say it’s better behaved than OS Nitrogen Royal Blue, but you might not feel the need to add it to your collection if you already have a number of inks of this nature.
I’m not normally a big fan of purple inks, but I’ve quite enjoyed dabbling with this one. On top of the purple base colour, there’s a hefty dose of green sheen to accompany it.
Aside from the fantastic name, which raises all sorts of questions about its meaning, Snake Boat has a sort of muddy purple as a base colour, but with a green sheen. Again, there’s a really strong component of sheen, but the resultant combination is intriguing. Of the two, I’d probably choose this one over Anokhi because it’s not such an obvious purple and the overall result appeals to me much more.
Sumukhi is a bright pink ink with some green sheen to further spice it up. I’ll come clean – I have no idea why I picked this ink. It’s definitely not a colour I would ever consider using for normal writing purposes. I have used it in ink doodles, though, and it’s proved to be quite good fun for that.
This is a seemingly random name for an ink, and based on the swatch it seems a bit of a misnomer. You can see the logic when the ink is wet as there is a grey look to it, but when dry the colour is more of a washed-out purple. I was drawn to this ink as it reminded me of Robert Oster Summer Storm, an ink that I love the colour of. My problem with Summer Storm is that I find it dry, verging on arid, and difficult to get on with. Pencil, on the other hand, has worked well with both fine and broad nibs, giving quite varied properties.
Silent Night Sky
Silent Night Sky is perhaps the most mundane of the Krishna inks that I’ve tried. So much so that I forgot to photograph it. To help conjure up a mental image, it’s quite a rich purple, but it’s also quite ‘safe’ compared to some of its stable-mates with only a little sheen. (That helped, didn’t it?). To be frank I haven’t felt anything resembling a strong urge to do much with this ink.
Perhaps saving the best until last, Jungle Volcano is ink making at its brilliantly bonkers best. I seem to recall it got its name as a result of a competition on Instagram, but it’s a name that suits. It has attracted quite a lot of attention and I have yet to read a review by anyone who didn’t like it. I love orange inks, but often find them a bit too ‘thin’ in practice. It may explain why I like darker, more complex inks like Monteverde Fireopal and Diamine Ancient Copper. Jungle Volcano is a similarly complex orange ink, further enhanced by some crazy green sheen. Using it is proper fun and brings a smile to your face. I can’t imagine a situation where it would be suitable for work purposes, but it’s an ink you may well find yourself looking for excuses to use.
All fun and games?
Well it is until someone loses an eye (see the book of the same name by Christopher Brookmyre for that one). While my overriding experience of using Krishna inks has been a positive one, it hasn’t entirely been plain sailing. It was probably too much to expect that such richly coloured and highly-sheening inks would be trouble-free and I have had a couple of issues. I inked a TWSBI Eco with Sumukhi and it was fine in use, but when I came to clean the pen I found the feed to be quite gunked up and some staining in the barrel. They good news is that the staining isn’t permanent, the bad news is that it took about 4 days of soaking and flushing with water to shift this. I inked another Eco with Snake Boat, and although it has been fascinating to look at the ink while it has sloshed about in the pen, I fully anticipate another pain in the proverbial to clean this out when the time comes.
Jungle Volcano was also a little problematic. I didn’t have any noticeable staining issues, but there was some nib creep (not uncommon with orange inks) and a bit of gunking up of the feed. Again it took a bit of soaking to shift this.
In the interests of balance, I’ve also cleaned Moonview and Anokhi out of other pens, and these were pretty well behaved and straightforward by comparison.
Availability and pricing
Krishna inks are reasonably widely available. In the UK, Izods seems to be the only supplier. Unfortunately, I found their website so frustrating to use that I went a bit further afield, namely Belgium (Sakura Fountain Pen Gallery and Germany (Fountainfeder). In both instances, the process was smooth and quick with excellent customer service (a hand-written note and some chocolate always helps). I paid around €8 a bottle, plus shipping, on both occasions. In the US, you can buy from Vanness at around $8 a bottle.
Of the 7 Krishna inks I’ve dabbled with, only Silent Night Sky hasn’t really hit the mark. I’ll probably struggle to get through Sumukhi, but that’s a matter of colour preference. The remainder will continue to get use. In terms of favourites, Jungle Volcano is great fun, Moonview is probably the most ‘practical’, while Snake Boat and Pencil are probably the most complex and interesting.