Robert Oster: Direct Sun and Grun Schwarz

What’s more exciting than doing the first post of the year on inks?

In my short career as a pen addict (1 1/2 precisely), I realised that half, if not more, of the fun is pursuing your inky passions, especially if you’re broke (like me).

I first heard of Robert Oster inks from reddit, but since they are situated in Australia, not many people knew them. They seemed like Organic Studios, but with a more appealing (to me) range. Recently iZods (UK) became the an official retailer of their inks.

To be honest, the ink bottles they come in look pretty appealing, especially with that gold sticker. Looks like a vitamin bottle.

iZods pens don’t have the full range of these inks in stock, but a quick search shows about 43 inks. From the samples and reviews online, they have very nice shading and some unique colours, such as Grün Schwarz and Yellow Sunset.


Grün Schwarz

German for green-ish black. Quite a serious colour, could be suitable for work situation. Almost military. Pleasing red sheen that could be fun in a wet pen.

Doesn’t have the most exciting shading though.

photo-08-01-2017-12-54-38-1Average dry times with this ink, about 20 seconds. Looking at similar inks, Noodler’s Zhivago and Diamine Evergreen.



Direct Sun

Rad red. What can I say? I’m quite biased towards sheening red inks. A lively red, I spilled some onto my hand and ended up looking sunburnt…

A reflective sort of sheen, unlike the obvious yellowness of Pilot Mixable Red’s sheen. Nevertheless, rather delicious shading.


A different sort of sunny colour. Kaweco’s Sunrise Orange seems brown when compared to this. Colour surprisingly close to that of Diamine Pink Glitz. It’s quite orange!

The dry times are minimal, only 15 seconds. Some similar inks are Sheaffer Skrip Red, Herbin Rouge Hematite (under the sparkles).

Both these inks are available from iZods at £14.95 a 50ml bottle. Around that price range are Edelstein (50ml) inks and Platinum Mix Free (60ml). Oh, and also the rarer Sailor Jentle (5oml). I wouldn’t compare them to Herbin’s 1670 inks or KWZ’s Iron Gall since these have special characteristics.

For a pen ink this is a solid choice. It’d be really great if iZods could stock a wider range of these inks!


Have a Very Merry Christmas

It’s beginning to rain a lot more and getting darker in London. While still doing work, it already feels like time for supper. Going to Singapore gave me a mild jolt in my expectations, being so sunny and humid. It makes me wonder where I’d prefer to spend my Christmas…

Anyway, it’s time to wrap up the last of your gifts and finish off those cards. I got some really nice colours to share: Diamine Shimmertastic Enchanted Ocean and Cocoa Shimmer. Shiny things seem like it’ll be instinctively Christmas-sy!

On my first try (Taroko/Tomoe River) I preferred the dark blue of Enchanted Ocean. The iconic red sheen of blue inks is present, and goes great with the blue sparkles.

photo-10-12-2016-15-19-28The colour of the ink itself is a smoky dark blue with some shading.

I find that it suits italic/stub nibs better, since with a normal pointed nib you can’t really show off the sheen. It looks like a blue version of Emerald of Chivor. Really shiny too!

I rate this ink: Star King of the Night! Do note that I love blue inks, so I am rather biased.

Cocoa Shimmer did not impress me at first. Just a plain brown with some gold glitter, yeah? Much less cool since it also has no sheen.

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Luckily I gave it a go with my dip pen. It looks a lot nicer when concentrated, since I didn’t particularly like that shade of brown. Looks a lot like Diamine Ochre, which I got sick and tired of…

Both Ochre and Cocoa have a cooler shade of brown.

Neither of the inks in this review (heck, maybe even in the entire Shimmertastic range) are waterproof, so you can use it as watercolour (with sparkles!).


(Believe it or not, I have more hobbies than my money can afford right now…)

Do remember to shake up the bottle before use! I shook it like a maniac and made sure I could get maximum sparkles before I dipped my pen into it. You can see the glitter collecting at the bottom , and it all falls rather quickly even if you shake it up quite a lot.

Have a good Christmas and see you next year!

Kaweco Inks Review

It’s really refreshing to be doing ink reviews instead of paper ones. I’ve only started to get to know the community recently, and it’s a real privilege to try things I’ve never tried before. I feel like I have an actual job, sitting here drinking tea and typing up this review.

I have not heard much about Kaweco’s inks as their pens, especially the Sports and Liliput models. They are pretty expensive, selling for £12.50 a 30ml bottle, in contrast to Diamine’s £2.35 a 30ml bottle. The collection has ten inks in total, ranging from the usual suspects to really coloured inks with nice shading. I noticed they did not include the colour of yellow. With what they did with some of the inks, they could have made an excellent yellow…

Fabriano 80gsm dotted grid (my new favourite paper…)

These inks are not water-resistant, so I expect that they have really nice shading. And they do! Also, they contrast against the plain white background of the paper nicely. I added some water just to test it, and I thought it came out really nicely.

(sorry fot these shitty potato photos)(featuring bird poop/montblancs)

I had acquired an awesome Taroko notebook for my Midori Standard sized Camel, so I put it to good use in this review. Since they use Tomoe river paper (cream), it’s very good for sheening.


Pearl Black was just… black. Nothing to see there. It has a bit of sheen to it.

Smokey Grey seems quite diluted (I’m not very experienced with inks, especially gray ones), but I quite liked the shading.


(shitty calligraphy too)

Ruby Red is a pinkish magenta that has nice shading and a bit of sheen.

Palm Green has really nice sheening in a purplish shade. It’s a straight green, much like Diamine’s Sherwood Green. Both greens have the same coloured sheen and I can’t tell the two apart normally, so getting the latter could be better value. The difference is that Sherwood is a bit darker than Palm and also less sheen-y.



I’ve heard about Paradise Blue. It is turquoise, but it is very like my bottle of Noodler’s General of the Armies, in that the colour appears to be solid and translucent instead of liquid and clear… Ahhah! Like acrylic! It was dry on the dip pen I was using. No sheen was present in this ink. Compared to Pelikan Aquamarine, it is lighter in colour.

I thought that Caramel Brown was a really nice shade of brown. A down-to-earth shade, the colour of soil (instead of caramel… ahaha). There’s no sheening present. I compared it with Diamine’s Ochre, which is warmer in colour, but I like both of them (you can tell I like brown inks)(totally unbiased because I have tried very few inks).



I really liked these two colours too. Summer Purple is a bit more smokey in colour compared to Lamy’s Dark Lilac, but both have the same coloured sheen, which is gold.


And now to the Sheen God ink amongst these ten. Royal Blue sheens beautifully for me \_(;-;)_/… Ahem.It’s a nice darker true blue, with reddish sheen. My Pelikan Königsblau pales in comparison to this… Not König enough to compare with Kaweco’s Royal.



Sunrise Orange reminds me of roasted sweet potatoes. It looks especially nice with the darker shading where the ink pools. No sheen present, but no sheen needed to persuade me to like it either.


Last ink in the batch is Midnight Blue. It’s dusty and has some reddish sheen. It’s beautiful when paired with cream paper, and I imagine this colour is suitable for work or more seriouso stuff.


Question: Which ones do you like?

Answer: Everything, just not Paradise Blue.

I’d have to try more inks to make my decision, but I hope this review helps you make yours.


Ciao, james 🙂

Paper Testing #3: Tomoe River and Midori MD

Just a few days ago was National Day in Singapore, and Kinokuniya offered discounts for purchases. I took this chance to acquire a Midori Traveller Notebook, which came with a MD paper refill. I have always mistakenly thought that MD paper was Tomoe River paper, but it is different…

In this review I will test both these Japanese papers out. Vastly different papers, ayyy…

Tomoe River:

The cult favourite paper of this hobby is Tomoe River. Its fabled properties are many, from creating magical pools of healing water to mysteriously appearing in the toilet as a superior toilet paper substitute when one addict realised that the cubicle was empty of wipes. Well, myths are myths, and this paper is only human.

I kid. (You’re probably think “What did I just read”)

Anyway, this paper is surprising flimsy. Although everybody revers its properties, no one have mentioned to me that it is as thin as bible or dictionary paper.The infamous ghosting is quite visible too, but doesn’t stop me from writing on this holy paper.

It comes in two shades, white and cream. My sample is the light cream colour, which actually amakes my plain Quink Black, Konigsblau and and General of Armies look like Iroshizuku-tier ink. It is as smooth as jazz, textured unlike Clairefontaine but smooth like your spoon cutting into a pudding.

Dry times are a bit longer, lasting a few seconds longer than Clairefontaine if you are just writing, longer if it’s wetter or broader. What you get in exchange is Dat Sheen that everyone’s crazy about. Sexy paper is actually a thing to me now.

It also crinkles from large doses of liquid. Bleedthrough is possible, though fortunately ink will not completely go through.

Since it also came in the disc-bound book, I just wanted to advise people not to disc-bound this paper with other types of paper. It is too thin and bends easily, espacially around the holes punched, and I find that the thicker papers do better in this notebook.

Small amounts of loose sheets/samples are available from Cult Pens (if you are not convince of its awesomeness by this review), at the price of £4. If you want more, loose A4 sheets are the cheapest way to go, followed by the premium-looking writing pad.

Recently, Bureau Direct started stocking Taroko notebooks, which are essentially Traveller Notebook inserts using Tomoe River paper. A Taiwanese brand, I presume. Prices be £4 and £6 for passport and regular size respectively. Very good for on-the-go ink-testing or ink-admiring!

Even Quink sheened like a veteran sun-bather.

Midori MD paper:

This paper comes with the refills No. 003, which is basically blank white paper. The cover is made of brown/recycled paper, and the size is of the regular size of the MTN.

Unlike TR, the paper is thicker, but slightly thinner than Clairefontaine. I’m not sure of the gsm, but it has ghosting. Lightly textured, and no feathering or bleeding whatsoever. Sheening is present but not a lot, and dry times are the same as Clairefontaine. It reminds me of normal printer paper, but the quality of this is much higher.

The notebook has 64 pages and costs £4. I would say MD paper refills are what you should get if you plan on utilising fountain pens with MTN. Others have also said it can be used a seperate single notebook, if you just want the paper.

In other news, I’ve also gotten the Monthly Diary insert (017), cream-coloured paper and gray printing, bound in cream cover. I love using undated calendars since my schudule is neither conventional nor am I always busy. It takes fountain pens well.

Oh, and the camel leather cover smells great.

Paper Testing #2: Artoz 1001

Artoz is a Swiss brand specialising in paper products. They have a very colourful collections of papers, such as the 1001. Interestingly, they make cards with famous paintings on the covers (Kunstkarten), which all look attractive, especially since they use their laid paper to make it. What I am reviewing today is the laid and watermarked Artoz 1001 paper, in two (of the many) colours, blue and cream.

In real life, the blue is a cheerful medium-light blue, and the apricot is more of a pinkish-cream colour. One cool thing about this paper is that it has a different textures on the front and the back.



Feathering: Yes on blue, None on apricot

Bleedthrough: Some on blue, None on apricot


Ghosting: None on blue, Minimal on apricot


Smooth but ribbed on the front, textured on the back on both papers





Dry times:

15 seconds



I couldn’t get used to writing on this paper, it has a rather unusual texture. In case you were wondering why there is a pencil drawing at the bottom, it was because I wanted to test using pencils on it. It feels good, like receiving a letter from a rich person… As you have (not) noticed, I use Noodler’s GotA as the ultimate ink to test paper durability, because it is a permanent ink (and stained my clothes…). I thought that the white paper would feather with Noodler’s General of the Armies too, but surprisingly it did not, and I’m glad I lost the original draft of my Artoz paper review (written on the blue paper) so that I can give it another chance.


This is a premium paper with a pretty reasonable price for it. If you have nice handwriting (unlike me, LOL) and are going to write invitations, letters, greetings or whatever, it will be an elegant choice. The paper sells at £14 for a pack of 100 coloured/white 1001 paper (You can purchase them from Definitely not just your office printer paper. You can write your bucket list on this.


This review features Lamy, the minimalist, Konrad, the romantic prick, and Urban, the homeless. Shoutout to Scribbles ( for enabling me to become more obsessed with FP-friendly papers….

Pape testing by James: William Hannah

20160605_203620.jpgI first heard of William Hannah from members from the Fountain Pen UK Facebook group. A review stated that although the leather cover is quite expensive (£90), it felt solid and could be used for a long time. I like the idea of having a disc-bound notebook, and this would be very economical in the long run, especially if you use it as a planner, since you can switch out the paper easily. If you go on their website, you’ll see some (I find) very attractive pictures of the leather covers, and the colour combinations that you can order. But today, let’s just talk about the paper, since I don’t have the notebook to review…. yet.


The paper is 100gsm and comes in A5 size.

What makes William Hannah paper unique for me is the colour customisation of the printed lines or dots on the paper. It comes in the prints of lined, grid and dot grid, with plain as an option too. That paper I was provided for review purposes (from Scribble at was lime green and purple-coloured print. There are ten choices of colours, from a professional grey to a cheerful pink. Other inserts are the weekly planner, to-do list and week-to-page diary, which come only in grey print.


Bleedthrough: None

Feathering: None (this is no bird)

Ghosting: None

Feel: Textured (just like your skin)

Tooth rating (5 for toothy): 3/5

Thickness: Medium

Dry Times: 25secs (medium)

This paper took ink very well. Even with Noodlers General of the Armies it did not feather or bleed through. I did not see much sheen. However when I used a Sharpie on it it ghosted. Other than that, this paper is really good at taking (ab)use, even water.


(pardon my handwriting)



The filler papers (as in, not the planners) costs £5 for a 50 pack and £9 for a 100 pack. Well, since it is premium paper, it is more expensive, but I think it’s not too bad a deal since you can personalise it. There are other options out there at a cheaper price. A point to consider is that it is A5 sized, while Atoma, one of the more common disc-bound book brands, has only A5+ or A4. In my opinion, this paper seems very solid and nice. Another option is to get rings to bind them together with a cover you make on your own (what Scribble did for me I presume).

Thoughts: I would buy this paper. Now, if only I can buy the cover… 😉


PS. If I made any mistakes with the information, please inform me.

Fountain pen addiction chronology

The first time was headphones. Audiophilia along with beauty products. I surfed reddit all day long, following my materialistic fantasies, but it stopped during the summer. Then comes fountain pens. I was intrigued by the pens two of my classmates were using. Fountain pens seemed to me a gateway to better handwriting, and proof that I was not the same as everyone else. I bought a Parker Urban for my 18th birthday without knowing anything, no prior research or advices taken. Of course, I liked the sleek and modern silver-and-black design, and it showed that I had stepped up my game with writing utensils, which made me slightly smug. I showed it off to my classmate, who wasn’t very impressed (in hindsight, since he has a vintage Mont Blanc, I can see why), and felt unsatisfied. But I liked writing with my Urban. I usually reserved it for writing my diary, it gave a special meaning to the pen. But I hated posting it, since it’l become too heavy, and I also needed to be very careful with it since it costs much more than my usual crappy biros.

I started to research more, but at this time I was very busy, since it was spring going to summer (2015), lots of work to be done, beauty products to look at, headphones to admire (it was not until I got a pair of OK-ish Sony headphones that I lost interest in the hobby). Summer means strict home regime from the mother, so I lost interest in /r/AsianBeauty too. I think I slowly got interested in stationery, and I remember buying a König Blau Pelikan bottle at some point in August. Then I got a Parker 75 Perle with B nib (forgot to mention, the Urban I got was a M nib) from my dad, and it was my first time with a squeeze converter. It wrote very nicely, and except for one ding on the golden barrel (a very yellow gold), it was in perfect condition for a vintage pen. But it was too wet for crappy school paper. So of course, I decided this is the perfect excuse of an opportunity to get a new pen, since my birthday was also coming up.

Coming back to school was torture, since I didn’t bring any fountain pens with me. Using crappy biros depleted my motivation to write (or so I tell myself). I borrowed one of my classmate’s cartridge fountain pen. I have to use the most boring colour of all at school: black. Then I found a Stypen fountain pen… Then here I am.