INK SWAB: 191/365 – Noodler’s Dragon Catfish Orange


Noodler’s Dragon Catfish Orange is more of a peach-pink color in this swab. I have found that some of the highlighter inks fade a bit more easily than other inks – even with my samples always stored in a dark cabinet. Or maybe there has been a labeling problem – I’m really not sure what is going on here.

Here’s a link to Goulet Pens – I’d suggest checking out the reviews before buying this ink and even then I would never ever put this into a fountain pen. Never. Ever. I’ve seen first-hand the problem with Year of the Golden Pig – it arrived completely as expected and turned to goop pretty quickly. Scary stuff.

INK REVIEW: Toucan Crimson



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Last year, I participated in a group buy for Toucan inks. The brand is Australian and the inks are formulated so that they may be mixed with one another without concern. I posted about the entire experience here. While it was a good experience and everything went great with the group buy, I’ve not been thrilled with the inks. Here’s a link to my review of Toucan Violet.

My chief complaint is that the inks seem watery. Not just low saturation of color, but thin and . . . watery.

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Along with the above issue, there doesn’t seem to be much lubrication to the ink. I tested using a Lamy Safari (my pen of choice for new inks) and it felt like I had to push, pull, and drag the pen along to get things going.

And then there’s the color – crimson? No.

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Very little water resistance.

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 1.41.25 PMWhile poking around for other reviews, I discovered that Anderson Pens is selling Toucan inks by the pouch (how I bought them) and in sample sizes. (Their swabs look totally different than mine.)

I’ve tried a couple other inks from Toucan and will post about those in the next few months – I’m happy to say that the news isn’t all bad.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your experiences with the Toucan line.



I hope everyone had a happy Easter.  I was off to New York for a few days – had a great time. I wasn’t blogging during my time away, but I was definitely posting over on Instagram.

Today, we’re taking a look at Poppin Gel Pens. You may remember that just before Easter, I reviewed their Cahier Journal.

These gel pens are definitely pretty, pretty . . .

Average in size.

Some of the colors are pretty terrific . . .

Poppin, even.  (ha.)

But . . .

There are some issues . . .
– some of the pens have a terrible squeaky sound to them when they write – I’ve never heard this sound coming from a pen – crazy
– some of the pens just wouldn’t write – even after lots of scribbling
– the grip isn’t really a grip – it’s more of a steep drop off and it hurts to hold for any length of time

Bottom Line:

Even though some of the colors are wonderful (look at the purple! the orange! that green!), these gel pens from Poppin are not keepers. I could probably live with the squeak and even with the terrible grip – but the flow issues?  No. That’s a deal breaker.

The real shame is that this is the second Poppin product that caught my eye and then didn’t live up to expectations. It’s too bad because the items look great.

Third time’s the charm? Stay tuned!

INK REVIEW: Noodler’s Baystate Concord Grape

Noodler’s Baystate Concord Grape Ink Swab

Disclaimer: While I usually scan the sheets of paper for my ink reviews, these images are coming right out of my iPhone. That explains the inconsistencies in color and quality.

Second Disclaimer: I realize that this post flies in the face of what I said last week about putting up with some other things as long as the color and saturation are there. What can I say? I’m fickle.

If you’ve been in the fountain pen community for any length of time, you  have probably heard of Noodler’s Baystate Blue. Famous for it’s amazing color and it’s amazing ability to stain (or even ruin?) your most loved pens.

But Blue isn’t the only Baystate color from Noodler’s. There is Concord Grape and also Cranberry.

Today, we discuss Concord Grape.

No likeie.

The color is what I expected – very saturated, very purple. No complaints there.

But here’s the problem….

Baystate Concord Grape – Apica Paper Test
Noodler’s Baystate Concord Grape – Levenger Paper Test
Noodler’s Baystate Concord Grape – HP 32lb Paper Test

It’s the feathering. Click on the images to see the full-size or have a look at these screenshots from the original images.

If it was just one paper (especially the Levenger, which has been questionable with a number of inks), I could let it go. The color is so great that a problem here or there is ok with me, but this ink was a problem on almost every paper I used.

I was using a Pilot Metropolitan (medium nib). It’s a pen I’m very familiar with and have had no problems with in the past. After the ink sat in this pen for a day or so, the flow was terrible – I eventually had to open the pen and give the squeezie converter thing a little squeeze to get things flowing again.

With most of my ink reviews, I use the ink regularly for an entire week before posting. I was only a few days into the week before I realized that I wasn’t reaching for this ink at all. It was making a mess out of my work notebook (a Rhodia) with all of its ugly feathering.

Now, of course, your mileage may vary and I’m no expert in pens and inks (just love me some pretty colors and shiny things). If you’ve tried Baystate Concord Grape, I would love to hear about your experiences.

INK PREVIEW: Sailor Jentle Epinard

Oh man. I hate this ink. Lots of others love it – and I’ll admit that I have nothing against it other than the color.

Sailor Jentle Epinard is just not for me.

It even has some pretty nice shading.

If you can get past the color. Epinard.

But I can’t.

I used a TWSBI with a stub nib for this review. I’ve mentioned before and I’m saying again, I don’t think stubs are for me, but that has nothing to do with this ink. I just don’t like it.

In fact, I loaded up my pen, wrote a tiny bit with it and immediately rinsed it right out my pen. So glad I only had a sample and not the full bottle.

Love it, hate it?

INK REVIEW: De Atramentis Sandalwood

Love this ink. Except….
Let me show and tell you about all of the positives first.

I love the color. Green with a touch of blue.  Definitely pretty.

It writes well. A little shading in there.

It scores well with me. I shouldn’t have given it Fun Bonus Points, but I was caught up in the moment.
So what’s the problem?  It stinks. It’s noticeable, but ok at first. Tolerable. Even kind of fun.
But dude. After a week of using DeAtramentis Sandalwood as my green of choice, I was so over it. Gross. I don’t mind the scent of sandalwood – Mr. Pentulant would even say that I’m a bit of a hippy who embraces the, ahem, earthy scents. But not this. It was just too much. There was a hint of a petroleum smell in the background – totally ruined it for me. Going on the Hated It list. Bummer.

REVIEW: Sharpie Pen Stylo

Apparently, I’ve been on a Sharpie kick lately!
These pens (fineliners, really) are not related to the permanent markers that we all know (and love) from Sharpie.

The “comfort grip” is a bit gross. It feels tacky as if it would collect any little particle of dust or fuzz. Know what I mean?

Other than the feel of the grip, it’s ok – as long as you don’t mind a long dry time. 

I’m not a fan of this item. In fact, I’ve already “lost” these pens. Ick.


Three inks that will never ever ever (well, maybe) make it into any of my pens.
We’ll start with Organics Studio Mercury in the middle. Turns out that after sitting for awhile, this ink solidified – well, actually, it gellified (it’s a word).  You can actually see the clumps in the third swab of this really pretty color.
Organics Studio Cobalt is guilty by association. I know, I know. I could try it with a glass dip pen, perhaps. It is a really pretty color – especially when it’s laid down in three layers, yes?
Noodler’s Rochmaninoff. I bought a sample of this from Goulet Pens (love them!) and it’s clear this isn’t like other inks. I had to shake the vial to mix it all up and even then, it looked – suspicious – like something I wouldn’t want to put in a pen. But. When I swabbed it, no problem – perfectly smooth and kinda pretty (in a Pepto kind of way). And look at the glow – pretty, right? I think I’m going to get brave sometime and test this one. Maybe. 
Are there ink brands you just won’t use? Have you ever changed your mind and it worked out ok? Or (yikes) didn’t work out?

INK REVIEW: Stipula Sapphron

Holy cow. 
I hate Stipula Sapphron.

It shades like a son-of-a-gun. Sounds like I should love it, right? Or at least like it. But no, I hate it.

It’s not often that I say that. In fact, here are all of my posts with “hate” as a tag.  
In the sample vial, the ink looked like a pretty (though not saturated) orange. When I swabbed, I thought the ink looked a little on the yellow side, but was still pretty enough.  (See my first impressions on the handwritten review.)

Then I started writing with it. I was sure my pen must have been dirty. But at the same time, I knew it was a brand new pen and a brand new converter. No ink had ever touched either and both were cleaned prior to use. I twisted a bit of ink out onto another piece of paper – and it sat there looking like a bubble of yellowish mud!  When I smeared that mud around with a cotton swab – it looked like the Ink Swab in my review.
Ca-razy! I don’t get it.

You know what else I don’t get? I couldn’t find even one other review for this ink. Not on Fountain Pen Network, not on Goulet Pens, and even Google came up empty. It’s like I’m in the twilight zone over here.

Hard to believe I’m going pass by shading like this. But I am.

Pretty weird. That’s my first impression – and coincidentally – my bottom line for Stipula’s Sapphron. (By the way, I have no Stipula aversion – I own and love several of their fabulous pens. This ink is just weird.)

In fact, I wanted this to work badly enough that I tried it again another day. With another kind of paper.

Always looking on the bright side, however, Apache Sunset has been on my list of inks to review forever and I’m excited that it’s coming up sometime soon!  And that De Aramentis Gandhi? Isn’t that pretty? 
Time to ‘fess up! Do you have Sappron? Do you love it? Hate it?