Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tools of the Trade: Ink Review - Callifolio Yalumba

As much a writing enthusiast as I am, I had not heard much about Callifolio inks until recently. They're manufactured by L'artisan Pastellier, a French ink and calligraphy tool producer, and have had a good reputation amongst the lucky few who were able to try them over the last several years. They've been notoriously hard to source in the U.S, but not anymore.

Vanness Pens is carving a niche sourcing hard-to-get international inks and making them available to the American market. Callifolio is the latest to crawl ashore and pick up citizenship on their vast ink shelf. Vanness graciously provided me this ink in exchange for an honest review. Since I don't know how to do them any other way, I was happy to oblige.

The first thing I noticed about the ink was that it is in the exact same bottle as the Diamine 150th Anniversary inks. I opened up the bottle of Yalumba and saw instantly a similarity to Diamine Terracotta, a standout from the Diamine 150th Anniversary set. I wondered if maybe it was a rebottled Diamine ink, since Diamine has been known to allow retailers to relabel their inks. I checked them out side by side and saw that while they're part of a similar color family, they're definitely not the same ink. From what I've been able to glean about L'artisan Pastellier, they take pride in formulating their own inks, which they state are Ph neutral and ideal for fountain pens.

I would say right away that I would not fear putting this ink in an expensive pen. It is not highly saturated, and doesn't cling to plastic or metal. It knows what it is there to do, and does so with little fuss. I do like that in an ink (though sometimes the fussy ones are worth it).

I started out writing with my Sailor 1911s with H-MF nib. The Sailor has a very rigid, fine nib with a small sweet-spot that can seem to be scratchy at first if you're not accustomed to it. Even with my overwhelmingly positive relationship with this pen and the miles of paper we've covered together, I couldn't shake the scratchy feeling. The ink is very thin and doesn't give much cushion to ride on. I am not blaming the pen--I imagine any fine nib you use will have similar results. The ink itself appeared to be rather light and unsaturated, but I was pleased to see that it went down legibly even in such a fine nib.

I switched to my Lamy Al-Star with medium nib. This is an exceptionally smooth, cooperative German medium nib, which is significantly broader than the Japanese medium-fine I had been using on the Sailor. Right away, I experienced a much cushier ride. The broader nib also gave the ink a chance to show off its superpower: shading.

I really enjoy the color of this ink, which is somewhere between a brown and an amber, but part of the fun of a lighter color is the shading that can be developed to add character to your writing. This ink has character in spades, and I'm looking forward to trying it out in a flex nib. I have a feeling it will be stunning (though my unskilled flex lettering will leave much to be desired).

Check out my handwritten review of this cool boutique ink, and if you like what you see, you can find many more like it at Vanness Pens.

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