Mini-Iroshizukus are here!

The new mini Iroshizuku ink bottles have arrived!  They are 15 mL each, and just as classy looking as the larger size.  They come in individual bottles, plus some colors come in a 3-bottle gift set.  They are still pricey, as it’s practically $1 per mL, whereas the large version supplies 50 mL for about $30, but it’s still a nice solution for someone who doesn’t want to spend $30 or knows (s)he doesn’t need or want 50 mL of ink.

The cheapest price I have seen is $12.19 (with free shipping!) on Amazon, although it doesn’t seem that all colors are available.

They are also at for $14.00 + shipping (shipping price depends on your order).

Review: J. Herbin Vert Réséda Fountain Pen Ink

J. Herbin’s Vert Réséda has also been one of my favorite end of summer/beginning of fall inks.   The name translates as “reseda green” and the ink lives up to the quality I expect from J. Herbin.

The Bottle:  Like all J. Herbin bottles, the bottle is compact and has a much appreciated pen rest.  One newer feature is that the cap is shiny black plastic, whereas previous bottles had more of a matte plastic cap.

The Color:  This color is hard to describe, but it’s sort of a minty teal/turquoise.  It also matches one of my sealing waxes exactly, so that is a plus for someone like me who likes to color coordinate my writing accoutrements.

Consistency/Flow:  I found the flow to be moderate at first, but actually it got wetter the more I used it.  I started out testing the ink with an Esterbrook dip pen (nib 2442), and the flow was good.  Then I inked it in one of my vintage Vacumatics.  The flow started off just okay.  Now that I have refilled that pen several times with Vert Réséda, I have noticed that the flow has increased, the ink is wetter, and the color is slightly darker.  So this slightly darker color is what you see in the writing samples pictured, but note that you might experience the color to be a bit lighter and closer to the square on the top of the box.

Shading, Feathering, and Other Characteristics: I have not experienced any feathering with Vert Réséda.  At first, there was barely any shading at all.  I was slightly disappointed, but liked the color so much that I planned to continue using it even without shading.  However, again through refills and continued use, the shading has also increased along with the flow and wetness as described above.  As you can see the writing sample, it now has a fairly decent amount of shading.  This development is much to my delight, although I do not know if these results are typical for all users.

Writing sample close-up to see shading.

Writing sample close-up to see shading.

Overall:  I really like this ink and plan on keeping it in my regular rotation.

Writing samples written on Rhodia mini graph pad.

Writing samples written on Rhodia mini graph pad.

Purchasing and Pricing:  A 30mL bottle runs between $7-12 depending on the retailer and is available at most online retailers catering to fountain pen and ink users.  You can also purchase from one of the links below to help support La Plume Etoile.



Review: Pilot Iroshizuku Kosomosu Fountain Pen Ink

It has finally happened — I am the proud owner of two Pilot Iroshizuku inks.  (I’ll have the review of the other color shortly, but for now I’ll keep it as a surprise.)

With this brand, you can believe the hype.  I’ve had a field day with some bright colors this summer, and I want to get those reviews up before I switch to some glorious fall colors.

Today’s review is Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu, or as I like to call it, the cherry blossom ink.

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu with a vintage pink Esterbrook and a Rhodia Dot Pad

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu with a vintage pink Esterbrook and a Rhodia Dot Pad

The Bottle:  If you already own Iroshizuku ink or have read other reviews, you know the bottle is quite nice.  It’s made of handblown glass and the ink reservoir takes up about 75% of the bottle with a little triangle at the bottom of the reservoir.  The bottom quarter of the bottle is just thick clear glass, but the way that it is blown allows for some reflection from the ink in the reservoir.  The cap is just black plastic, and there is a little grey cord tied around the neck.  If there is a purpose to the cord other than decoration, I’m not aware of it.  As far as the box, it’s silver and does have a little flap inside to hold the bottle in more securely, but it is as visually appealing as the bottle.


Color:  This ink is Kosumoso, which means “cosmos flower.”  To me it suggests cherry blossoms.  It’s close to a bubblegum pink color with coral undertones, which differs from some pinks that have more purple undertones.  As one of “those” people that often likes to match inks to pens, Kosumosu is a great match for my pink Esterbrook.

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu's color is a close match to my pink Esterbrook

Pilot Iroshizuku Kosumosu’s color is a close match to my pink Esterbrook

Consistency/Flow:  I have only been using this ink in my vintage Esterbrook and am already on my fourth refill.  My Esterbrook has some flow issues and a scratchy nib that I need to refine, so I think it was a great pen for testing.  My first impression of Kosumoso didn’t make me say “Wow!  The flow of this ink is amazing!”  However, the flow has been very stable.  It’s not dry and is appropriately wet without being too wet.  It has actually alleviated some of the dryness and flow issues of the pen, although did not completely resolve them.

Shading, Feathering, and Other Characteristics:  Kosumoso does have some shading, but not as much as I was expecting from reviews of some of the other Iroshizuku colors.  It’s enough to be noticeable for those who look for shading, but would probably be lost on the non-fountain pen/ink person.  I have sometimes experienced minuscule feathering on cheap paper, but I think that is really due to the absorption qualities of the paper rather than the ink’s properties.  It behaves very well, especially on high quality paper.  The figure 8s in the writing sample photos look like they have a little feathering, but it is because the scratchy nib was catching on the paper a bit, it is not from the ink.  The writing sample was on a Rhodia Dot Pad.

Overall:  This ink immediately became part of my regular rotation, especially in the warmer months when bright colors are a necessity.  A great color match for my Estie makes it all the more fitting.

Purchasing and Pricing:  This ink is imported from Japan and not cheap.  It retails for about $27-28 on most online retailers.  You can sometimes find it for a few dollars less, but after adding the shipping it doesn’t make much difference.  I got mine from Amazon, which is direct from Pilot, considerably cheaper, and you can get free shipping if you spend more than $25.   You can click the photo/link below to buy your own bottle of Kosumoso from Amazon and help support La Plume Etoile.

Ink Review: J. Herbin’s Encres Acidulees Effet Scintillant (Pearlescent Inks)

Thanks to Karen at Exaclair, I recently had the opportunity to try some very fun and fancy inks.  J. Herbin’s Encres Acidulees Effet Scintillant  are Herbin’s group of Pearlescent Inks.  These inks are NOT for fountain pens, they are for dip nibs only.  There are several colors, all of which have a shiny/glittery/pearlescent sheen.  I discuss each ink in the group below.

The Colors (listed in the same order as the sample photo)

Pink:  A lovely bubblegum pink color.  When the ink is thinning on the nib, it can be sheer.  Frequent dipping to have a lot of ink on your quill/nib is best.

Peach (Peach):  A lighter, less pink color with more orange to it.  Same properties as the pink.

Blue:   A dark royal blue color.  It was really nice and quite a surprise as I expected a sky blue color since the rest in the group are more pastel.  As you can see, it doesn’t show up well on the darker paper.  I suspect it would do fabulously on a lighter paper.

Yellow:  Bright!  Despite it’s brightness, the hue is more of a softer yellow rather than obviously neon.

Green:  Also quite bright.   Maybe a prime creamy avocado?

Consistency/On Paper:  This ink takes a little trial and error to get it right.  I had to try a few nibs, but then found it worked well with some of the very small Brause nibs (again from Karen and distributed through Exaclair) because the smaller nibs held the ink and allowed it to flow onto the paper best.  The bigger nibs didn’t let the ink flow down well enough to complete a line.  Even with the small nibs, I had to dip often to keep enough ink on the nib so that the ink stayed thick and didn’t thin out like you can see in part of the writing sample.  I also had to take care in my pressure on the nib to avoid the ink transferring too quickly to the paper and creating blobs, as is a concern with wet ink.  However, I found working with care and patience avoided this problem.  This is definitely an ink to play with when you have some relaxing time to devote your attention without rushing.

Paper choice was also an issue.  I’ll save you some time — you can avoid reaching for the cheap paper.  This ink needs sturdy, thicker, high quality paper to support the thickness and composition of these inks.  The brown paper in the photo is a sample of G.Lalo (again, distributed by Exaclair  – this paper is great and a review is forthcoming).   The inks were very happy to be paired with G. Lalo paper and you shouldn’t have a problem if you use G. Lalo or a similar high quality paper.

An additional note is to take care in handling your writing even after the ink has dried.  As you can see in the photo, the pearlescence tends to smear a bit.

Overall:   There have been some other blogs in the pen and ink world that have given these inks poor reviews.  However, I really enjoyed testing these inks and plan to use them for special occasion items such as when writing someone a special card.  I already used the yellow color to make an artistic name card for someone special (on grey G. Lalo paper in case you are interested – it was a lively combination!).  I will be using these in the future.  If you are interested in them , I would recommend giving them a chance and playing with the right nib and paper combinations.  I have not tried other calligraphy inks that may be similar to these, so I cannot compare them to other brands.  I also just learned there are a few colors (like coral red!) that I did not get to try.  I must have that coral red!

Purchasing and Pricing: A pack of 5 assorted 10ml will run you around $20, depending on the retailer.

2013 Pen Resolutions!

First, I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.  Thank you for reading La Plume Etoile and sharing your comments and experiences with me.  I hope 2013 is a great year for you!

Now, onto today’s post topic:   I’ve been thinking about making changes to my pen maintenance routine for a while now, but didn’t necessarily think it was a post topic.  However, when I saw the Inkophile’s post about her 2013 pen resolutions, I decided to post my own as well.  (I didn’t think she would mind that I used her post as inspiration.)   Besides, announcing one’s resolutions makes one more accountable to follow through with them, right?

1.  Like the Inkophile, I resolve to be better about keeping my pens clean.  I went through a MAJOR overhaul of my pens recently and took weeks flushing and draining and soaking and draining them.  I followed that with more flushing and draining and soaking and draining.  I had groups of pens in about 10 plastic cups stuffed with tissues at one time all strewn on my counter.    Some cups even had more than one pen in them.  It thought this process would last forever, but eventually most pens were clean enough to refill or store.  Rather than go through that ordeal again, I will be more regular in cleaning them.

2.  Resolution #2 is to only fill the pens I am currently using.  I had a habit of keeping ALL pens in my rotation inked at all times.  I did this because all pens and inks were ready to use at my whim.  However, I found this to be less than ideal because ink dried inside the nib.  I couldn’t see it, but the extended flushing procedure told me it was there.  To avoid this in the future, I am going to only ink the pens I regularly use.  I will ink other pens as the mood strikes me, but will have to use that pen until all the ink is used before I fill another.  I will allow myself 2-3 “extra” inked pens outside of the few every day staples.

3.  Lately, I have been defaulting to some of the cheap plastic fountain pens on a regular basis.  So I will continue to make an effort to use the pretty pens more often.

What are your 2013 Pen/Ink/Paper Resolutions?

J. Herbin Ambre De Birmanie

Ambre De Birmanie means Amber in Burma according to Google Translator.  Is this what Amber looks like in Burma?  I have no idea.  However, I do know that this ink is awesome!

The Color: It reminds me of a goldenrod marker I had as a kid.  It’s a little darker and more orange than a gold color.  However, when I write with it I sort-of feel like I’m writing with liquid gold.

Consistency/On Paper: It’s very wet and has amazing shading.  So far, I have been using it exclusively with a 1.1mm italic nib because I’m obsessed with the shading!

Overall:  I love it!!!  The color is great and shows up well on paper.  The shading also gives it a very elegant character.  The only thing to watch out for is that because the ink is so wet, it will feather or look not as crisp on some cheaper papers.

Purchasing and Pricing: A 30mL bottle runs between $7-12 depending on the retailer and is available at most online retailers catering to fountain pen and ink users.

A Note on the Photos:  I started with some box and bottle photos.  On the doodle photos, the doodles inside the picture frame shape are on Rhodia graph paper (the good paper).  The frame and surrounding doodles are on cheaper notebook paper, for comparison.  Towards the end of the photos, I have included some close-up photos of Ambre on the cheaper paper so you can see some slight feathering.  However, even this cheaper paper handled the ink fairly well.

Toothpicks are our friends

Here was my issue:

I had a Platinum Preppy pen with an empty cartridge.  I didn’t want to turn the pen itself into an eyedropper because I like the clean, clear barrel.  I tried to rinse the empty cartridge, but the water got trapped inside due to the cartridge’s little floating ball designed to hold ink inside the cartridge.

Here was my solution:

I exchanged a few emails with Margana the Inkophile, and she suggested the genius idea of inserting a toothpick into the cartridge to prevent the ball from blocking the neck of the cartridge, thus allowing the ink to flow out.  I tried it, and I had an empty cartridge in about 15 seconds.  Brilliant!  I was able to refill the cartridge giving my Noodler’s “The Heart of Darkness” (and my Preppy) some attention in the rotation.  Yay!


When you can’t get ink of of a cartridge because of the little floating ball, insert a toothpick, and rest the cartridge (opening down) into a cup with some well crumpled tissues.  You’ll have an empty cartridge in a jiffy!  (Yes, I just said jiffy…)

J. Herbin Rouge Opera – New review with corrections

This post is both a review and a correction.  Back in this post, I said that Rouge Opera and Larmes de Cassis looked like almost the same color.  Well, the reason is that I think I somehow got a weird bottle of Rouge Opera!  The color is actually a lovely deep red and not like Larmes de Cassis.

The Color: It’s a lovely deep cranberry red.  It’s a great match for a vintage carmine Sheaffer Balance.

Consistency/On Paper: It’s of average wetness and consistency, not too wet or too dry.  The pen I’m using has a tiny amount of flex, so that allows for a little more wetness and some nice shading.  No feathering that I noticed.

Overall: A very pretty color and a reliable ink.  I was looking hard to find a match for a carmine-colored pen, and Rouge Opera fills that role more effectively than any of the other inks I was considering.  I’m very happy with it and it has earned a place in my regular rotation.

Purchasing and Pricing: A 30mL bottle runs between $7-12 depending on the retailer and is available at most online retailers catering to fountain pen and ink users.

The first photo below if from my previous review of the outlier Rouge Opera bottle.  The second photo is of the new and TRUE Rouge Opera, along with some box and bottle shots.  Click on the thumbnails for larger versions.