I love ink as much as I love pens. Most people are familiar with ink only in its gloppy, almost lumpy ball point form. There is nothing beautiful about it, plain, utilitarian, and decidedly unsexy. But real ink, the sort of ink that flows through a fountain pen? That is exciting stuff. It can be wet, or dry, well behaved or messy, water proof, fraud proof, or full of sheen. It can be plain and profession, or as glittering and breathtaking as Cirque de Soleil.
My taste usually runs to the flamboyant when it comes to inks. I do not own a bottle of plain black ink. I did, but it bored me, so I sold it to someone with a far more professional personality. Same goes for “plain” blues. If it can be mistaken for something that came out of a ballpoint, or can be used to sign a legal document, I’m just not interested.
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This year my inks of choice are Japanese, in particular Bung Box, but in general inks with sheen. When I started with fountain pens I thought ink that shaded was exotic. I still love an ink that is lighter at the top of a down stroke then the bottom, that shows variation in colors throughout a letter based on where the ink pools. But eventually you’ve got a lot of that and then someone shows you write samples of inks that around the edges of the letter, or sometimes across the whole damn thing there is a sheen of a whole different color. A blue ink that halos purple, or a dark blue with an overlay sheen of red and gold! The possibilities seem to be as endless as colors, I’ve got a green now that sheens gold and brown; a grey that sheens gold, a red with gold flakes, blue that is tinged with an entire (confused) peacock. Bung Box in particular seems to specialize in inks with strange color properties, they also specialize in frustration. Their most interesting inks are seasonal, only available for a few months out of the year.
So when I got a chance this summer to buy both the Halloween/Fall ink “Sweet Potato Purple” and the Christmas/Winter ink “Silent Night,” both purported to have sheen… Well you know the rest of the story. Silent Night is the closest thing I now own to a plain black ink. In fact I can’t quite decide if it is black that sheens blue and gold, or dark midnight blue that sheens purple and red. In different light both of those possibilities are… well, possible. Swabbed with a q-tip it seems to be a blue-grey ink. But in the pen it has a much more complicated character.
It is a very wet ink. In a big wide stub (M600 B stub) it writes like a paintbrush, it fairly pools on the paper. In a fine (Pilot Vanishing Point Raden) it is still so wet the line looks like a European M nib. So if you’ve got a dry, stubborn pen, here’s your ink (if you can get your hands on it). If you’ve got a pen that’s already a gusher you might want to avoid this one.
In the big wet stub shading is definitely present, though still subtle, and the sheen (when viewed at an angle or in strong side light) is obvious. But put it in a fine nib and it becomes a very dark blue black, so dark that you could easily use it at work without anyone realizing you were being fancy! Warning though, this ink is so wet I wouldn’t try it on cheap paper, you are likely to end up with a mess on your hands. On good fountain pen paper it behaves very well, with just a hint of feathering on fancy printer paper (Staples Sustainable Earth Sugarcane Paper), and perfection on Tomoe River (as expected.)
Now. How about some sheen shots, this is full mid day sun and it certainly makes Silent Night look pretty loud.
See what I mean about being a little unsure what color this ink really is? And that will keep it on my self and in my rotation. If you need something stately and and beautiful that only reveals its secrets to those who slow down and pay attention? Bung Box Silent Night might just be the ink you are looking for; if you can find it. It can be bought direct from Bung Box seasonally, or any time if you are willing to buy a case (12 bottles). I got mine from Vanness pens. I emailed them months ago with a list of Bung Box inks I was looking for and when they were in stock they sent me an invoice, easy, and their prices are very reasonable for this premium and hard to find ink. (Two bottles, shipped to my door in two days were $71.30.)