An Experiment: Fountain Pen Ink in a Waterbrush Pen

5 10 2020

As I wondered in my last post about the feasibility of putting water-based fountain pen ink in a waterbrush pen, this week it’s time I follow through on that half-conceived thought and put my own possessions on the line to see how this plays out.

The dog is an optional but encouraged step

Step one: gather the materials. You’ll need a waterbrush pen—I’ve decided to use a Caran d’Ache medium water brush because it was the first water brush I found among my scattered possessions. Step two: realize the water brush still has water in it, frantically eject and violently shake water out of the water brush to the best of your ability. Accept that there are still some stubborn fragmented water droplets in the water brush, and that you have no patience to wait for it to dry out further. Step three: summon up your very frighteningly be-needled ink syringe and ink of choice (for this experiment, I chose J. Herbin’s Gris Nuage, because in my time I’ve found J. Herbin inks to be well behaved, and the light grey ought to do well for sketching), and use the dangerously stabbity syringe to transport ink from the bottle to the belly of the water brush beast. While I could have used the plunger mechanism on my water brush to suck up ink, I didn’t want any backwash from the brush to end up in the ink bottle, so this seemed like the better way to go. Then push the little squeeze zone and wait for the ink to make its way to the brush.

You know what would have been better? A gif of the ink, timelapsed, saturating the brush tip. But you know what you’re getting? A still picture because I realized my great idea several hours too late.

First thoughts: this can hold a lot of ink. That will be handy. And this particular water brush, since it has a hard body is a lot more secure to transport around, while still having a little squeeze section to control the ink flow while working. But the ultimate question: Does it work?

You can see in the upper right corner where I was still getting the leftover bristle-water out of the system. Also, color correcting? Pfft, never heard of that fancy-fangled nonsense

The ultimate answer: apparently! So far, anyway. I’ll continue testing this bad boy and see if any unforeseen consequences pop up (anticipated scenarios: the pristine bristles get stained by the fountain pen ink; if I ever want to use this as a water brush again, what if I can’t get the ink washed all the way out so the water is always tainted???), but for now, especially for a cheap water brush, filling it with fountain pen ink seems like something you can do with minimal downsides. Time will tell if the water brush rises up to choke me in my sleep, or gets dried out ink clogged in it or something. But my shiny first impression is that, rather than try to clean ink out of an ancient ink-filled brush pen, filling up an empty water brush may be the better way to go.

Tag Team: Akashiya Bamboo Brush Pen & J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe Ink

14 09 2020

Once upon a time, I thought it would be a good idea to go back through my reviews and update them with how a product held up over, say, several years. A pen can be great right out of the gate but if it kicks the bucket after a few months, that’s an important thing to consider in terms of whether it’s worth it. Unfortunately for the greater cause of knowledge, I never felt particularly inspired to actually take up this quest.

The road to incomplete pen knowledge is paved with good intentions

And while I still don’t feel especially compelled to launch that project, this ramble of a review certainly falls in line with that intention. I first reviewed the Akashiya Bamboo Body brush pen over 8 years ago, when JetPens apparently sent it to me for free (wow, thanks y’all, that was mighty kind and luckily I’ve gotten much better at using this thing since then). I also forgot that it used to have white writing on the barrel, because that has long since worn off. The rubber finial is a little scuffed, and the barrel now has a couple small cracks toward where it screws together, but it’s not something I notice when using the pen.

More cracks than a hackneyed joke about a 2-plumber convention. But less cracks than the same joke if there were 4 plumbers.

But this isn’t just about the brush pen, which has somehow survived 8 years of probable abuse and neglect. This is about that rare combo that elevates the pen into something better: J. Herbin Diabolo Menthe fountain pen ink IN the brush pen.

There’s the magic

Back when I was first using this brush pen, I fell into a trap thinking that it needed to be inked up with black ink. There’s no good reason for why I fell into this trap. I certainly noticed that the ink cartridge the pen came with was the same as a Platinum Preppy cartridge, but it took a shameful amount of time before I put together the realization that I ought to be using other colors of fountain pen ink in this brush pen for maximum drawing satisfaction–I don’t see evidence of me using colored ink in this pen for drawing until around 2015, and even then the inks I used (Sailor Yama-dori, J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor) did not inspire a renaissance of brush pen sketching like the Diabolo Menthe has.

Nothing will inspire a renaissance of color correcting all my images so they look like they took place in the same dimension

I’ve mentioned before that the turquoise family of colors is magical, and this holds true for the Diabolo Menthe. It’s light enough to be a great sketching color that looks good with darker lineart over top (the lineart also being the only means by which to correct mistakes), while also being dark enough to make visual sense for the frequent times I just don’t feel like making the effort of going back over a sketch with another pen.

Of course, sometimes lineart is the only way to salvage these things, like the hand on this sketch. I tried

The other great benefit of this particular ink is how well behaved it’s been in two unlikely places: the sketchbook with the paper I didn’t like where the Pentel brush pen ink liked to fuzz and feather without any regard for my feelings, AND on the Mead typing paper where I simply assumed, due to the astonishingly light paper weight, that anything heavier than a pencil sigh would be a disaster.

Pentel brush pen up top, below the magic duo on Mead typing paper, left, and toothy Monologue paper, right

I’ve already filled this brush pen back up once, and foresee this becoming the sort of regular in rotation that I never let run dry.

Much to my amazement, JetPens still has the black body and natural body versions of this brush pen in stock. It’s still a very big pen, the cap neither posts nor has anything to keep it from rolling away into oblivion, and I’m sure there are more practical brush pens to use this ink with. But they just don’t look as cool, and that’s the majority of what matters. This is a cool pen that I still haven’t completely destroyed 8 years later, and this ink makes me actually want to use this pen. What more can you ask for?

You can ask for this drawing of my friend as a socially distanced boba tea mermaid. Yes, excellent choice, how did you know to ask for that?

Jacques Herbin 1798 Amethyste de l’Oural

31 08 2017

Another year, another deliciously sparkletastic J. Herbin anniversary ink. I like the J. Herbin strategy of releasing one ink at a time—there’s no agonizing decision-making to undertake, simply: here’s this year’s choice. Take it or leave it.


I’ll take it! As if there were ever any question…

This year’s release inaugurates a new J. Herbin ink category, the Jacques Herbin 1798 Ink Collection. Welcome improvements over the 1670 Anniversary ink series include: a wider bottle mouth that you can actually fit pens into, clear color-coded labels on the bottle and the box (as opposed to the 1670 series, whose boxes were labeled with mermaids and french hieroglyphics), and the decorative improvements of using a satiny cord around the bottle (silver grey to indicate the sparkle type??), and the J. Herbin ship logo on the bottom of the bottle (which will handily identify all my enemies when I inevitably have to smack them in the forehead with my ink bottle..?).


Like a jewel! A deadly jewel…

Whether anything has changed about the ink itself, I can’t say, but in my experience no improvements were needed. Though I have heard tell of others who have had pens get clogged, I have committed the most heinous and egregious of pen hygiene practices with the shimmery Herbin inks and experienced nary a consequence (but I do not recommend doing as I do; don’t hold me responsible if you screw up your pens). I’ve had Amethyste de l’Oural loaded in a Pelikan M205 with broad italic nib since July 5th, and the pen has started up without fail every time I take the cap off.


I had a caption here, which I’m sure was most clever and perfect, but the internet ate it and now it is lost forever, much to the detriment of society

Amethyste de l’Oural is a rich, vibrant purple, brightly saturated, leaning a hint of a bit more toward blue than red as far as purples go. Shading is good, but no sheen. I’ve piled this ink on the page to try and get it, but sheen is not there. Compare it to some of its sheeny 1670 brethren:


Note the unquestionable sheen on Rouge Hematite, Emerald of Chivor, and Caroube de Chypre

But shimmer and sparkle we’ve got in ready abundance. As with other shimmer inks, make sure you shake the bottle thoroughly (I shake until there’s no more shimmer particles on the bottom) before filling up your pen to get maximally even sparkle distribution. In a break from the 1670 inks, 1798 Amethyste de l’Oural features silver shimmer rather than gold. What I love about these sparkles in particular is that if you look closely you can see hints of other colors, pale pinks and blues among the silver.



This ink is another winner. It doesn’t have perhaps quite as much going on as Emerald of Chivor, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a beautiful ink in its own right. Load up your favorite broad, stub, italic, and other such vast juicy nibs with this ink and enjoy.


When ink looks like the cosmos, it’s a good thing

While you’re here, have another lovely review of this ink from the Desk of Lori

(Exaclair provided this ink at no charge for reviewing purposes — opinions entirely my own)

Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen – Black Pearl Body – M nib

4 02 2014

If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I'd say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

If I were to guess, and this is just a guess, I’d say this is J. Herbin Vert Pré. It is a very limey green (by which I mean lime-like, not archaic-derogatory-term-for-Brits-like)

Fun fact: up until I received this pen, I would have sworn I’d already reviewed its felt-tipped older brother, the Tradio Pulaman “fountain pen” marker. Somewhere I’ve got the pictures, and the writing sample; I just never did the actual review. I keep wanting to reference a review I haven’t even written yet, and for that, I apologize. I’d also like to thank JetPens for providing this sample (and this lovely green J. Herbin ink cartridge) for review.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type, besides the completely monopolized retractable.

Snap cap, the second most convenient fountain pen type (the first being the completely monopolized retractable)

I’ve got to break down this design three ways: the basic overall design, the black pearl coating, and the wonderful little window. Design: all thumbs up. Simple, attractive, modern work of pen designing art. Look at that cap. Look at the window.

So sleek! Such curves!

So sleek! Such curves!

This might be my favorite part. You can see the nib! There it is! Hi! Wave at the nib! I wish I could see all of my nibs even when capped—the nib is the quintessential fountain pen part!

See the seam on the cap? Don't lie; you totally do

See the seam on the cap? Don’t lie; you totally do

This black pearl finish is where I start to have mixed feelings. It feels smooth. It looks cool. But it makes the seams on the cap stand out more (they’re smooth, as smooth as with the matte black body on my Tradio Pulaman), and stand-out seams can cheapen the look, no matter how well they’re smoothed. Also: smooth surface picks up skin debris like you paid it to collect every discarded cell. We’re talking mad crazy. This is fingerprint/handprint city, in a way that the matte surface definitely isn’t. If you’re a stickler for cleanliness, this might drive you insane.

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Why not shiny black pearl grip? Why the discontinuity?

Black grip combined with the black pearl body? Not sure how I feel about that. Two toned nib? Good choice. The cap posts securely (though I’ve read of problems with similar models) and is almost necessary for so lightweight of a pen. It feels like it could just float out of my hand.

Says "IRIDIUM POINT Pentel" on the top, but that wasn't quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

Says “IRIDIUM POINT Pentel” on the top, but that wasn’t quite as attractive as this close up turned out to be

On exceptionally smooth Clairefontaine/Rhodia papers, a problem emerged: this nib has got undeniable butt cheeks, the result being times where the ink doesn’t want to get on the page, as capillary action is holding the ink up in the crack instead of bringing it down to the where the cheeks touch the page. It happened so bad on the S in “Smooth” on the writing sample that I had to go back and write over it again until ink happened or there would have been no S at all. I busted out my eye loupe to confirm, and sure enough:

Cheeks, people; two of them.

Cheeks, people; two of them.

The cheeks weren’t a problem while handwriting this review in cursive on Leuchtturm 1917 ruled medium notebook paper. It’s been a good tactile nib on this paper, no flow problems, but I know I won’t rest until I’ve smoothed out that butt.

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

Not only can you see less cheekiness, you can also see where I got too close with the camera and got ink on my lens

One micromesh buff stick and some lapping films later, and I’ve got the butt cheeks toned down. And now, I’ve got a very smooth tuned nib. Aw yeah.

The competition; the compatibility

The competition; the compatibility

At this price point, the Tradio is in direct competition with the Lamy Safari. The Tradio line can’t compete on color and nib options (there’s only medium nibs, and only a handful of colors, though I did find that the Tradio Pulaman body and cap are fully compatible with the fountain pen bits), but the Tradio has two big advantages going for it: no proprietary cartridges (takes the standard international cartridges) and rounded grip (as in, not faceted-sculpted-telling-you-how-to-live-your-life-and-grip-your-pen-type grip).

Carry it around, it won't weigh you down

Carry it around, it won’t weigh you down

The Tradio TRF100 is a decent, very lightweight plastic body beginner fountain pen. Some simple nib smoothing may be needed to achieve peak performance, but for me this pen will find a comfortable home as a knock-about work pen.

Pentel TRF100 Tradio Fountain Pen Black Pearl Body at JetPens

Mini Review: INK SAMPLE – J. Herbin Rouge Hematite (1670 Anniversary Ink)

21 11 2013


I was expecting more gold, less crusty ink pile

This color is supposed to be a pretty striking inky embodiment of red hematite (there’s a perfect picture over on the Fountain Pen Network review/thread by mhphoto; google results in several pictures that look like some kind of ground hamburger stone). I promise you I shook my ink sample before filling up my pen, but I never got any gold sheen; from what I’ve read around online this may be a function of this sample coming from newer, less golden-infused stock. The base color of the Rouge Hematite is beautiful and saturated (unlike most J. Herbin inks I’ve bought, which all tend to look a bit washed out), but all that pigment comes at a price.
This happens. All over. The underside of the nib is completely covered in a layer of pink ink crust. This will be a project cleaning this pen back up again. Until I can get my hands on a sample that exhibits the lovely sheen of gold I don’t think I’ll be springing for a bottle of this stuff. But samples are always fun to try.

J. Herbin 1670 Rouge Hematite Ink Sample at the Goulet Pen Company

Sheaffer VFM Matte Black Medium Point Fountain Pen

9 12 2011

This blog post will be typed with my keyboard hidden under my desk, where my cat can't get to it. In retaliation, this post will also be written with over 70% of my screen vision blocked by a furry feline presence.

I first heard about the Sheaffer VFM—Very Fancy Mango—from Goldspot Pens. Another $15 fountain pen? PREPOSTEROUS.

L. L. Bean: The very best boot for taking pictures of your fountain pens on

I held off on buying one at first, since the VFM came in a beautiful plum-colored body…but not for the fountain pen model. But I caved on my second-ever trip to the Art Brown International Pen Shop, and added this pen to a pile of Noodler’s Ink bottles.  It’s a very modern-office kind of pen. Thinner-than-your-average-fountain-pen profile, matte metal body, minimal branding beyond the “White Dot®” on the clip, and the name SHEAFFER printed three times around the trim.

This is the brand that offers an 18 karat solid gold fountain pen, WITH A DIAMOND ON IT, for about $20,000. How much attention are they even going to bother with on a dinky $15 pen?

I have been dissatisfied with the low-cost fountain pen options from some other brands; they may have great high-end products, but when the entry-level options are so shoddy, why would I want to risk throwing more money down that hole? I am delighted to say that Sheaffer is no such brand, and this, my friends, is an excellent pen.

They weren't BSing that whole "Sheaffer® White Dot® of quality" thing. Does this mean, if I extract these Dot®s and apply them to inferior fountain pens, they will be magically transmogrified into quality pens?

This thing is the real deal. This is what you get and give to the fountain pen curious individual. It takes standard international cartridges, it’s simple, it writes wonderfully.

It's not going to win a fountain pen nib beauty pageant, but then again, no one is, because those don't exist.

It only comes in a medium nib at the time of writing this, but I think it’s on par somewhere between a medium and a fine. At the very least, it’s not too thick for my blood. I’ve been favoring this pen for work lately, because when I need to write something, I need to write it fast; the cap pops right off, pen hits the page, and everything is 10-4 writing happy funtimes. I daresay this pen might currently be the front-runner for my favorite in the Approximately $15 Entry-Level Fountain Pen category.

No frills, no fuss, just fountain pen, pure and simple, and I can’t argue with that.

I couldn’t find a handy link on the Art Brown site for this particular pen, so instead, Goldspot takes the link:

Sheaffer VFM Pens (the fountain pens are the ones you want) at Goldspot Pens