I’ll preface this post with the admission that I’m a serial ink changer and I have more ink than five people could use in a lifetime. That makes it hard to pick “favorite” inks, since I rarely use the same one twice in a row, and in the nearly ten years I’ve been active in this hobby have probably only finished a couple of bottles, though I have several that are close to empty. It’s these latter inks that caught my attention as I was sorting through my ink cabinets this past weekend. Despite changing inks frequently, I evidently keep coming back to these particular colors and brands.
Waterman Serenity/Florida Blue. The king of “safe” fountain pen ink, which represents the gold standard for testing at pen shows due to how easily this ink flushes out of pens. I also love how this ink behaves in daily use, finding that it flows well and typically won’t feather or bleed on most papers. While some people find the blue color washed-out, particularly after it dries, I think it lends your writing a retro/vintage look. Also, if you’d like to add some vibrancy to standard Waterman Blue, just mix in a bit of Waterman Purple, which creates a lovely ultramarine color that’s been dubbed “Blurple” in pen circles.
Waterman Tender Purple/Violet. I’ve gone through 3/4 of a bottle of Waterman purple over the years. This particular ink is a bit more temperamental than others in Waterman’s lineup, mainly due to its potential to stain, but I’ve always loved the vibrant color. As noted above, this ink mixes well, and another fun experiment is to mix this ink with Sheaffer Skrip Red to form a nice burgundy.
Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo. The first expensive bottle of ink that I purchased, back when Iroshizuku was considered a “luxury” ink and cost much more than the $20 per 50ml currently charged at retail. I loved (and still love) everything about the Iroshizuku lineup, from the glass bottle that looks great on a desk to the range of colors based on Japan’s natural features. Tsuki-Yo (“Moonlight”) is a blue-black-teal color reminiscent of the night sky, and the exact shade of this ink changes depending on lighting and whether it’s wet or dry. This is one I always find myself coming back to!
Iroshizuku Yama-Budo. The only magenta ink I use regularly. I don’t know what it is about this one, as pink-purples aren’t in my usual wheelhouse of colors, but Yama-Budo is up there as one of my favorite inks of all time. I think it has to do with the ink being just “loud” enough to be interesting, while remaining somewhat work-appropriate. It behaves well in most pens and on most paper. I’m down to less than half a bottle!
Aurora Black/Aurora Blue. Until last year, when Aurora went wild and released a blue-black ink, they had a simple lineup of two colors, both of which flowed extremely well and which have remained staples in my pens. Aurora Blue is a rich blue ink that has undertones of purple/violet, and Aurora Black is one of the best “pure black” inks out there. If you crave simplicity in your ink choices, and want to stick with a two-color rotation, you won’t go wrong with Aurora.
I’ve also killed one or two bottles of special or limited edition inks, and am close to finishing a few more, but I won’t list those here because it’s not helpful to people when you can no longer buy the inks. Each of the seven listed above is a standard ink made by a pen manufacturer, which means that it’s not only generally safe to use in most pens, vintage or modern, but it’s also easily purchased at retail. You can buy any of the inks listed above from ink retailers and site sponsors Vanness Pens, Pen Chalet, Anderson Pens, Goldspot, and Appelboom.
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