Ink Review – Diamine Pelham Blue

Oh no – it’s another blue ink!

One of the upsides to posting so sporadically is that it takes away some of the sense of needing to write about new products or little-known makers.   Pelham Blue is not a new ink and Diamine is definitely not a little-known maker.

Gratuitous pen shot

Gratuitous pen shot

Pelham Blue is one of the Gibson Guitar series of inks.  I believe these were originally a Germany-only exclusive, but they were subsequently made generally available and have become a routine fixture in Diamine’s product line-up.  That’s good news because it means that Pelham Blue is widely available and fits into Diamine’s regular pricing structure.

On to the ink itself.  I’ve struggled to categorise it within the pantheon of blue inks.  Pelham Blue is a bit of a chameleon, looking slightly different according to which pen and paper you use.  I’ve seen ‘blue-black’ inks that are lighter than Pelham Blue.  What I can say is that it’s definitely not out there with azure and sapphire blues and it’s definitely not turquoise.  Before writing this post I read some other reviews and was struck by the difference in appearance between my use of Pelham Blue and the review on the Pen Addict.  That said I had a look at some examples of Gibson guitars that were finished in Pelham Blue and the photos of these were hugely variable too,

Coloring swatches

Some Col-o-ring swatches

If you swatch Pelham Blue, you could convince yourself that there some green in there, but that doesn’t really come through in normal use – i.e. writing.  Cult Pens, who I bought the ink from describe it as a deep, rich blue.  I think that sums it up quite nicely.

Comparison ink swatches

It’s definitely a blue of some description

I don’t see it as my mission in life to categorise and catalogue inks.  The key things for me are: ‘Do I like the colour?’, and ‘Does it suit my pens and the way I write?’

The answer to both of these is a resounding ‘Yes’.

The key things for me are...

Do I like the colour? Yes!

I really like this colour.  Pelham Blue manages to achieve the balance of being dark enough for serious things like work, but lively enough to be pleasant to use rather than utilitarian.

I tend to use Japanese paper in most situations, and this brings out some wonderful shading.  I didn’t think there was any sheen to be had, even on Tomoe Rive paper.  Then I tried some ink splats and these duly showed up some red sheen, but only where a considerable amount of ink had pooled.

Ink splats - sheen

There’s some sheen there if you really look for it

In my experience you won’t see any sheen in regular use, even on papers that normally deliver on that front.  But that’s OK, it’s not promoted as an ink that sheens, and the shading is more than adequate compensation.

Pelham Blue in various pens

You have to love the consistency in nib widths

Pelham Blue works in pretty much any pen.  It’s free-flowing and what I would call a wet ink.  I like inks that are wet, so that probably endears it to me.  I’ve found it works well in  my Montblanc Heritage 1912 – to the extent that I can’t remember the last time I inked this pen with anything else.  As I was writing out this post, my Montblanc ran dry and I had absolutely no hesitation in just filling it up and carrying on.

One benefit of being a ‘regular’ Diamine ink is that Pelham Blue is relatively inexpensive.  I started with a 30ml bottle for £2.35 from Cult Pens, but got increasingly frustrated with trying to fill a piston filler from such a narrow bottle neck.  The only and obvious solution was trading up to an 80ml bottle instead (a massive £5.90).  I gave the 30ml to a friend and am quite prepared to believe that I will empty the 80ml bottle.  It may take me a while, but I can’t see me losing interest in this ink any time soon.

Depending on what you like, Diamine inks can be a bit hit and miss in terms of colour and properties but, as far as I’m concerned, they got it spot on with Pelham Blue.

Definitely not just another blue ink.

Sailor Shikiori Rikyucha Ink Review

Sailor Rikyucha ink doodle

In case you were in any doubt about which ink I’m talking about

Rikyucha (Green Tea Brown) is part of Sailor’s Shikiori (Four Seasons) range of inks.  Although it is a new ink to me, a bit of research suggests it was part of the Sailor line-up for a while, before disappearing to wherever discontinued inks go.  The translation of Rikyucha is a good one in terms of describing what is quite a complex ink.  It’s also a more palatable descriptor than some that might be applied to it.  Any resemblance between this ink and something that you might find lurking at the bottom of a pond is, of course, entirely coincidental…

Lookalikes

My interest in inks of this colour started with a couple of Diamine inks – Safari and Salamander.  While I’ve liked the colour of these inks, I’ve found them a little dry for my liking.  In a quest for something more to my liking I tried Robert Oster Bronze.  I love the colour of this ink, but again it’s a bit too dry for me.

Comparison swatches

Can you pick out the culprit from this lineup?

Close-up of ink swatches

The same swatches in closer detail

As you might expect from an ink made by Sailor, Rikyucha is a well-behaved, low maintenance ink.  That said, I suspect it’s the kind of colour that will polarise opinions.  I may well be biased, but it was appealing enough to make me buy a bottle.  As I’ve used it in anger I’ve grown increasingly fond of it.

As well as these basic properties, Rikyucha has one or two extra tricks up its sleeve.  The most on noticeable thing is that it looks dark green with a slight hint of blue while wet, but dries to a much browner shade.  I tried to capture this difference, but failed miserably so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Sailor Rikyucha writing sample

Some of my favourite literary villains and yet another chance to flaunt my awful handwriting

On top of the colour shift, there’s a cheeky bit of sheen thrown into the package.  Like a number of other Sailor inks I’ve used, it’s not the raison d’etre of this ink, but it’s a nice addition without dominating proceedings.  I used some ink splats to highlight this, but (on the right paper) broader, wetter nibs will also show this off.

Rikyucha ink splats and sheen

The obligatory ink splats to highlight the sheen

As befits an ink with these properties, its make up is a bit complicated and unexpected.  Some simple kitchen chromatography shows a range of colours.  I certainly wasn’t expecting the blue component…

Sailor Rikyucha chromatography

There’s more to Rikyucha than meets the eye

Economics

This is one of the first bottles of Sailor ink that I’ve bought in the new, smaller bottles that are replacing the old 50ml ones.  I like the design of the bottles and I’m generally a fan of smaller ink bottles.  I already have more ink than I’m likely to get through in my lifetime, so not having to add another 50ml to my list of guilty excess is to be welcomed.  What is not so welcome is the big shift in the unit cost of Sailor inks.  In the UK, a 50ml bottle of the old Sailor Jentle Four Seasons ink cost in the order of £16-20, which I thought was pretty good value for money for the quality of the ink.

The new 20ml bottles, however pretty they might be, weigh in at around £11 or £12, which shifts the cost from around 35p per ml to approximately 60p per ml.  Much as I love Sailor inks, this will certainly make me a little more selective about future purchases.

Sailor Shikiori Rikyucha box and bottle

Is it small or just very far away?

 

Conclusion

Overall I really like this ink.  I like the new packaging and bottles and I definitely like how Rikyucha behaves and how it looks on the page.  The colour shift as the ink dries and the sheen add to the interest, so if the colour of this ink appeals I’d recommend checking it out.  The only fly in the ointment is the pricing.  To be frank, the jump in price per ml seems excessive to me.  I get that smaller volumes will be relatively more expensive, but this is going a bit far.  That said, none of the other inks I’ve tried in this corner of the colour chart have worked nearly so well for me, so I’m prepared to live with the relatively high price.

Getting mixed up – into the Wild Blue Yonder

To begin at the beginning…

It started with something innocuous, as these things often do – a seemingly innocent purchase of a 30 ml bottle of Diamine ASA Blue.  At £2.35 it seemed rude not to.  But of course, that’s how they get you.  Added to the Mnemosyne 194 that I wanted, that almost got me to the £10 needed to qualify for free postage.  90p short, I needed something else…

…and that’s how I ended up with a bill for £45!

Enough about my lack of will power.  ASA Blue is great in its own right, carrying off  a passable impersonation of Pilot Iroshizuku Kon-peki at a fraction of the price.

TWSBI Precision and Diamine ASA Blue

Are you sitting comfortably?

While I was looking for write ups about this ink, I found an old thread on FPN where someone had mixed ASA Blue with Sapphire Blue in equal parts with interesting results.

So, I thought, how hard can it be and what’s the worst that can happen?  The answers are: ‘easy’ and ‘nothing untoward’.  No explosions, fires or gunky messes.  Instead, you get a really nice blue ink for your troubles.

Text from Under Milk Wood

Truly beginning at the beginning

Ink splats showing sheen

There’s sheen there if you look for it

What happens when you mix ASA Blue and Sapphire Blue

…something about a glass and a half?

Not an original idea and I can’t guarantee that I haven’t just made another ink from the Diamine range.  Either way, it was a bit of fun to try.  What I didn’t realise was that I was also demonstrating the pervasive and subliminal power of advertising.  It wasn’t until a couple of days after I’d done it that I realised why the image above looked kind of familiar.  Any resemblance to the logos and advertising imagery of a major UK chocolate manufacturer are entirely coincidental.  Honest.  No, really.

One thing that I do take issue with is the name.  The creator of this mix named it Asphire.  I see the logic and it gets a cheap laugh (or was that just me) but I can’t say I’m entirely impressed with the result.  I came up with was Wild Blue Yonder, but I’m open to suggestions.

Any thoughts?