I don’t typically try to “match” inks to pens - there are only a handful of pens in my collection that have “one” ink that fits them so perfectly I won’t use anything else. The new TWSBI ECO Transparent Orange might just have become one of them, with the recent release of the much-awaited Pen Addict/Robert Oster collaboration “Fire on Fire.” Read on as I take a look at the ink, as well as TWSBI’s latest special edition from its Eco lineup!
First, the Pen
TWSBI has slowed down their releases of new products over the past couple years. Apart from the TWSBI Go and the very recently released TWSBI Aurora (which only appeared in limited quantities), most of their efforts have gone into releasing variations on their standard lineup, including the 580 AL series, the Diamond Mini AL series, the Vac 700R/Vac Mini, the Precision technical pens/pencil, and TWSBI’s entry-level piston filler, the TWSBI Eco. The Eco has been a success story for TWSBI in the years since it’s release, with limited edition colors flying off the shelves at retailers, and TWSBI even releasing an “ECO-T” with a triangular grip section. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the ECO has overtaken the standard 580 as the most popular TWSBI model, as the ECO offers users TWSBI’s excellent high-capacity piston filling mechanism at a much lower price point. Sure, you lose the ability to easily swap nibs using TWSBI’s screw-in nib units for the 580, but if you’re someone who prefers a single nib size for most of your writing (which I venture are most people), interchangeable nib units aren’t a selling point anyway. You can read my prior review of the TWSBI ECO, which I published shortly after the pen’s release and which still holds up three years later. The Eco has also retained a spot on my “Best Fountain Pens for Beginners” list.
I successfully restrained myself from purchasing any of the first Transparent or Color ECOs, or the ECO-T, mainly out of a desire to avoid accumulating more pens. (At this price point, it’s easy to fall into the “catch-’em-all” mindset.) I couldn’t pass up the orange, however, especially since I’ve experienced major seller’s regret after letting go of my Amber Diamond 540 and Orange 580AL. TWSBI makes a great orange pen, and I may end up having to pay “stupid tax” on the secondary market to get those other two back. If you’re looking to unload an Amber 540 or a 580 AL Orange via sale or trade, hit me up….
And on to the Ink…
Moving on to the ink that drove this pen purchase: Earlier this year Brad Dowdy at the Pen Addict released his first ink in collaboration with Australian ink maker Robert Oster, who has become known for his “Fire” series of inks that feature a red sheen. “Fire on Fire” is just that - a bright, pure orange ink that offers a hint of red sheen in especially broad or wet nibs. While I haven’t found the sheen particularly pronounced, this is still a great orange ink, and perhaps one of the best I’ve used in a long time.
In order to earn a regular spot in my rotation, an orange ink has to check a few boxes:
Visibility. The ink can’t be too yellow for me to use in a fine or extra-fine nib. I like to use orange inks for annotating documents, and if the ink appears too pale it’s illegible.
Dryness. Depending on the dye used to make the ink, certain oranges end up drier than others. This not only makes visibility issues worse, but also can make the ink scratchy and unpleasant to write with. In the past, I’ve passed on inks that I’ve found too dry, but going forward this may be less of an issue as Vanness Pens is now selling the “White Lightning” ink additive, a drop of which can significantly improve performance.
Minimal Precipitate, or “Nib Crud.” I know nib crud is supposed to be the harmless result of dye precipitating out of highly saturated inks, but it’s one of those things that annoys me and that I can’t be bothered to tolerate. The dye used in red and orange inks are particularly prone to nib crud, and I generally avoid those inks that have a reputation for “crusting up” on the nib.
Since receiving this bottle directly from Brad at this year’s Baltimore Pen Show, I’ve used Fire on Fire in three different pens and it has performed flawlessly in all of them. The ink flows well, with zero nib crud noticeable on any of the pens and one of them was an eyedropper that has held the ink for months. But my favorite thing is the color - Brad and Robert Oster nailed the tone on this orange ink, which is the closest to a “pure” orange that I’ve used. (Note: what constitutes a “pure” orange may differ from person to person. To me a “pure” orange leans towards the red end of the spectrum.) The “fire” comes out as hints of red around the edges of your writing in broader or wetter nibs, and the ink remains highly visible even in a finer nib. It’s a perfect “daily user” orange ink for me, and I can’t wait for Brad to start selling it in the massive 100ml Oster bottles! (If he can take a hint….)
Takeaways and Where to Buy
Since I’m an orange (and red) pen and ink fanatic, both of these items were “must have” purchases for me. The fact that you can get both the pen and the ink for less than $50 made them no-brainers.
The TWSBI ECO in Transparent Orange is generally available from most TWSBI retailers, and I purchased mine directly from TWSBI via their Amazon shop. While I’ve heard the Transparent ECOs described as “special editions,” TWSBI seems to have made a lot of them, with all of the previously released colors (blue, green, red) still available as of the time of publication of this review. I don’t think there’s any immediate danger of this one disappearing, but TWSBI is known for retiring popular pens without much notice, so keep that in mind.
Pen Addict/Robert Oster Fire-on-Fire Ink is available exclusively at the Pen Addict Shop, along with lots of other great Pen Addict branded goods.
Disclaimer: This post contains links to paid sponsors and affiliates. The Gentleman Stationer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to allow participating sites to earn from qualifying purchases made by visitors. I purchased the pen featured in this review with my own funds, for my own use, and the ink was provided to me free of charge by Brad at the Baltimore Pen Show for review purposes.