Perfect ink is the colour of your soul
Ink is a journey. An individual embarks on this sojourn due to sheer fascination and of course, for their love of writing. One learns to recognise the patterns, flow, fluidity, density and even the aromas that different brands have to offer. Be it a local bottle or a Lamy, once you know an ink’s smoothness and colour patterns that resonate in the best of the alphabetic curves, you have found the exhibitor colour of your soul.
My romance with ink flourished in Class IV — the standard Indian benchmark when a kid is allowed to hold the pen. Fountain pens were a messy affair that would often result in clothes and hands stained in Camel’s blue ink that has held its own in the market. At the end of the day, these stains would win smiles from my mother for she was glad I was learning to operate an instrument that would be crucial in the coming years.
I stuck to ink pens throughout my education as much as I could. Parker pens were a fascinating phenomenon — a status symbol for a small town boy. Of course, it was flashy. The first jet-black Parker that I owned was gifted and I have it even today, filled with brim with my favourite ink.
This ink, I discovered much later.
In 2014, I saw a designer working her notes with an exquisite Lamy. The red was radiant, but not flashy. It was expensive, yet simple. It was the smoothest pen I had ever touched. It was something that I wanted to own.
I still do not have a Lamy. I stick to my black Parker. But then, Lamy should be credited to having introduced me to the colour of my soul. It is predominantly red, washed with turquoise.
Yes that is right! Red has played a passionate role in my life. But later, I started an affair with turquoise and somehow, I had to bring them together. To achieve the perfect tone that dazzles me without fail, I wash the cartridge with turquoise — fill it in and then empty it untill the tube is heavily stained — and then, fill it with red Lamy, which has a pinkish trail.
What effect does it give? The cursive turns gleam violet and end in deep, gory reds. It gives writing a new edge.
While I am still in the contemporary and mainstream shell when it comes to experimentation, I know people with some serious fascination for ancient inks. By ancient, I mean those that have been in existence since 1700s. A friend of mine has a bottle of J Herbin’s emerald ink 1670 anniversary edition. It is worth Rs 5,000. No wonder it is a showcase item. But then, this rich Puneri (of belonging to Pune, India) aristocrat has at least three empty bottles of J Herbin (bottles are easily available with amazon actually). I rest my case.
I found a rarer breed of inks in my father’s cabinet. The Parker Penman Sapphire, which ceased production in 2000. The bottles are extinct and yet a few used or remaining liquids are found on ebay, well almost. Blogger Macchiatoman, who writes about inks, says that “Brad Dowdy has mentioned Noodler’s Baystate Blue, Private Reserve American Blue, and Diamine Majestic Blue as suitable substitutes, but I’ve found in my testing that there are much better alternatives to Parker Penman Sapphire than these.” A colour fanatic should visit the blog for his visual experiments.
These inks dabble with blues. However, when it comes to the reds (the colour of my soul — just reminding), there is a $100 worth Montblac Winterglow. The red does not feather. It is borderline bloody and smooth as velvet. I have had the pleasure to use this ink once and my hands shivered. I cannot wait for the day when I should be able to afford these bottles sans hesitation.
This experimentation is one hell of an “unsatisfactory” experience creates room for curiosity to test more and more inks. The only way to go about this is trying new ones, you will find the colour of your soul soon. I called Ink a journey, because every bottle is a destination, some of which you would want to visit again and again.
If I could, I would return to the Egyptian days when a caliphate had demanded creation of fountain pens. I would want to use their ink — whatever it was made of.
I believe my next destination is Caran d’Ache’s brown. For I have heard there is no brown like this one.