Diamine is an old (1864) and well-established Liverpool-based ink maker with a reputation for innovation and creating distinctive coloured inks. So, it was perhaps of little surprise, but certainly a brilliant gambit, that Diamnine released 25 inks to celebrate the 2019 Advent season in the form of an Inkvent calendar.
It certainly caught the mood and the imagination of the fountain pen community as reviewers revealed what was behind the window of the day in the advent calendar. It created a buzz of excitement and was something very different for pen and ink loving folk. The calendars sold out quickly and the relaunch and re-issue of the inks in 50 millilitre designer bottles seems to be equally successful with it now proving hard to get some of these inks.
The disruptions of distribution of supply brought by the lockdown may be a factor but one suspects that these inks may well become quite rare and sought after quite soon.
The innovative element of the calendar and the inks is really welcome and can be placed in a wider movement where ink has gained greater prominence and consideration. Certainly, in the fountain pen community the overwhelming majority of reviews and interest on social media have been focussed on pens, with sporadic and rather limited thought and focus on inks. Hopefully that is changing for the essence of the artifice of vintage social media (handwriting to you and me) is the artefact and effect of ink on paper.
None of the ten inks tested here showed significant water resistance, most were quite saturated and some were and are (a humble opinion ventured here) quite stunning and ‘must-haves’. (By the way there are another 15 of the Diamine Inkvent inks.)
The method used for testing was to take a cotton bud and do a swatch of the ink on a record card (of 120 gsm) and then write the hoary phrase of “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog” with a 1.0 mm dip pen on the card. Then three different types of paper were used to show the drying times at 5, 10, 15, 0 second intervals (approximately) with a wet and blot test to illustrate the different ink’s water resistance. A glass dip pen was used for 8 of these tests. The Purple Bow ink was in a Kaweco Supra with a fine Bock steel nib and the Midnight Hour was written with a John Garnham hand-made pen with a Bock titanium fine nib.
Diamine Inkvent Holly
This is a bright sheening green tending to the blue-green and yielding to almost reddish shading. Quite a wet ink and slow to dry ink with limited water resistance.
Diamine Inkvent Purple Bow
This is a pretty and standard purple ink tending to the darker side of violet. It is quite a saturated ink and its bluish-purple tone looks almost like a blue-black on paper. It dries quickly and has some if not a lot of water resistance.
Diamine Inkvent Jack Frost
At first this shimmer and sheen ink appears as a striking standard blue colour with hints of blue green sea-like tint redolent of the cerulean-blue standards that have now become very popular amongst fountain pen users. However, as you can see from the photographs a piece of serendipitous stupidity and spillage on Rob de la Porte’s paper revealed this ink’s stunning iridescent complexity and the pinkish magenta tones showing on all three sample paper types. (Note to self: occasionally spill ink on paper. It’s very revelatory.)
Diamine Inkvent Gingerbread
This is a sepia orange brown almost to the red-orange shade of the spectrum. It had a good flow but is not a very saturated colour on the record card but shows up well on the three sample papers. It definitely evokes gingerbread and shows a bit of shading, dries quite quickly and whilst it hasn’t great water resistance you can still read the lettering after a soak and wipe test.
Diamine Inkvent Mistletoe
This vivid standard or pure green would remind you of the colour of moss. It is a very definitive green that shades quite nicely without real sheen. It is a wet ink that takes time to dry and has limited water resistance.
Diamine Inkvent Festive Cheer
This is a brightish blue although tending to the cooler side of violet undertones and shading and some purplish sheening. Wet and slow to dry, it showed some resistance in a soak and wipe test.
Diamine Inkvent Polar Glow
This is a light blue sheening ink that writes wet and quite saturated. It is a lively and lovely turquoise blue shade and it certainly echoes its name.
Diamine Inkvent Winter Miracle
This is a shimmer and sheen ink of beautiful dark purple with lovely shading. It is a very wet ink, slow to dry and with good flow. Its mauve iridescent golden tint gives it a feel of spectacular indulgence and a dark blue decadence. Despite the fear that many seem to have about shimmer and sheen inks this rich blue violet was a delight to write letters with and definitely one for the collection.
Diamine Inkvent Midnight Hour
This is very definitely a blue born of the midnight hour with blue-violet undertones and copper sheen. It is a very sophisticated and dark blue saturated ink that is a pleasure to write letters with.
Diamine Inkvent Happy Holidays
This is a dark blue ink with a voluptuous shimmer and sheening towards a pinkish sparkle which is very distinct and clear on the Tomoe River 68 gsm paper. A rich indulgent ink and definitely for use in the Christmas season.
Ink on Paper
Three different paper types were used to explore the behaviour of the inks on paper.
Some final thoughts:
Diamine has done a lot to put ink centre stage in the fountain pen community. In the last decade there have been quite a few new and disruptive entrants to the ink market. These “indie” ink makers, often with a chemistry background and skills, have shaken up and intensified the taste for new and different inks. Yet even with this chemistry bias there has also been strong elements of poetry (the thinking, the colours, the names) and alchemical magic. Hopefully we will see a balance of more thorough and detailed delving into inks: how they work, a bit of the science: chemical and physical, and the interaction on paper.
In this wider context, Diamine’s re-launch/re-issue of their Inkvent inks is really welcome. Collectively they were a real romp through the creative spectrum and some inks will stick longer than others as tastes further evolve. Some of these inks are real stunners that many of us hope will be around for years to come.
Where to buy and how much:
As at the beginning of May 2020 and subject to the availability issues noted above, in the UK Diamine Inkvent inks can be bought via on-line retailers such as Pure Inks for £7.96 to £10.96 per bottle (depending on whether the ink is standard or a shimmer and sheen type) and similarly Writing Desk for £10.98 per bottle or Cultpens at £10.99. These prices do not include shipping costs.
Disclaimer: this review was written purely out of interest in inks and not at the behest of, or for, any commercial party or interest.
Monday, 4th May 2020