I have been trying to find a way to do ink reviews for this blog but have never gotten down to doing any — so when I was sponsored this J. Herbin Scented Ink set from Fook Hing Trading Co., I knew I had to design a nice ink review!
J. Herbin is a French brand specializing in calligraphy supplies, and I guess it is safe to say that it is one of the more popular European ink brands for fountain pen users. Offering a wide range of colours to choose from, I often find myself unable to decide which colours I really want! That’s made even worse when I went to Paris and spotted J. Herbin ink taps — now, that’s pure torture! 🙁 So when I was offered these inks for a review and giveaway, I gladly accepted and instantly went to buy a new notebook to use as an ink journal.
The J. Herbin Encres Parfumées (which means “Perfumed Inks” in French) come in 5 different colours. The most basic description for the colours would have been Red, Blue, Amber, Green, and Purple. That pretty much covers the main colours that fountain pen people use (with the exception of Black, of course). But going deeper into the names that these scented inks have been christened, we can know where the colours (and scents) have been inspired from.
A little background information: according to the J. Herbin website, these inks have been designed and matched with floral water (also knowns as hydrosols) of rose, lavender, orange, apple, and violets (note: the flowers, not the fruits). And of course, these fragrances all come from Grasse, a town in the south of France (Provence region), which I often call “the perfume haven”. Provence itself is a region that I am totally in love with: blue sky, Mediterranean climate… a place I aspire to live or retire in! Before I get too dreamy, let’s get back to the main topic: the inks!
I’ll explain first how I do my ink journaling. I fill a pen with the ink, and prepare a form on a page of the nice little notebook that I bought. I have a page per ink, so I include information such as the name of the ink, the pen used, ink properties like shading and drying time, a cotton swab test, a glass dip pen test… I also have a writing sample of a paragraph of words taken from places like novels or Wikipedia at random. This is to have an idea of how the colour looks like in writing. Finally, I have my water drop test where I have a written phrase, a coloured blotch of ink, and a cotton swab blotch of ink, and I drip water from about 5cm above the page onto the 3 samples, let them soak in for a few seconds, and absorb the excess water with tissue paper. Fountain pen inks are water-based and get washed off easily, and this test is to see how resistant each ink is with water.
As it is my first time using scented ink, I wasn’t sure if it may spoil my pens or not — being a little paranoid about such things sometimes — so I chose to fill my lower value Chinese pens with the inks.
The series of scented inks is called Les Subtiles (The Subtle) and can be purchased separately, or together like in this pack of 5. This special pack provides you 10mL “essences” or samples of the 5 different inks, thus named “Les Essences Subtiles“. We have Rose Red, Lavender Blue, Amber Orange, Apple Green, and Violet Purple. Have a look at how they look like, and my comments for each colour:
Rose red: it’s a strong red colour but with a hint of pink, that reminds me of the colour of a young rose. You may not be able to spot the pinkness in the scan I attached in this post because somehow I other, I could not get the hue right! Elegant and charming colour. Dries on this paper really quickly (about 4 seconds) so it’s ideal for me as a leftie as it won’t rub off onto my hands while I write quickly. The water drop test shows that it is not so resistant to water attack, as almost all of the ink has been taken off in the areas where the water touched.
Lavender Blue: This is a very muted blue and surprisingly hints almost at lavender purple when it dries in certain areas. Interesting ink. It takes the longest to dry among all 5 inks (about 17 seconds or so) but it seems to be dependent on the writing angle of my pen and how the ink is laid onto the paper. In any case, I’m pretty sure it dries the slowest. Water resistance is as poor as the red — most of the colour is gone with the drops of water.
One very interesting thing about this blue is that the colour comes out saturated and very blue, but when it dries and becomes stale, the colour gets more and more muted. It is exactly like actual lavenders, where the young flowers show vibrant and deep colours, while the older flowers turn more earthy and “faded”! While colour changing is not something I’d prefer in inks, I think it’s so incredible how very much like the actual flower it represents this ink can be, that it cheered me up immediately! 😀 Lavender Blue, you are very much forgiven. 🙂
Amber Orange: This colour is another earthy-looking colour, and a little more muted. It has medium drying time compared to the other inks (6 seconds or so). Actually, the orange flower has white petals, and this amber colour is not reminiscent of the orange fruit, so I wondered what it actually represents. I concluded later that the closest colour to this shade probably comes from the anther (pollen-producing part) of the orange flower, which is usually of a rather amber-gold colour. On the orange flower, this little speck of gold appears in the centre of the petals, giving the flower a nice little embellishment. On paper, the ink comes out amber indeed, almost like a gold without the bling. The water resistance test turned out pretty decently, as not much ink was taken away, and you could still read the words.
Apple Green: Now this is a really cheerful colour, the happiest of the lot. It is so bright and light that it could pass off as highlighter ink! This green dries really quickly (3 seconds) and ties with the Violet Purple in terms of drying time. Clearly, this ink colour represents the fruit and not the flower, as green apples are equally brightly coloured as this ink. It is very light in shade, and the water took off most of the ink, leaving almost no trace of the original words. So this ink has poor water resistance.
Finally, we come to the Violet Purple ink and once again, like the red, I couldn’t seem to capture the right hue and saturation of the ink colour! This is a very strong and bright colour like the red, and looks more cheerful and indigo-ish than the scan turned out. This ink has also a short drying time at about 3 seconds like the Apple Green. With the water drop test, I feel it’s a pretty decent ink as you can still see the words after water has been dripped onto it, indicating good water resistance.
To be perfectly honest with you, I am pretty sensitive to new smells and tend to adapt slower to them. When I opened these 5 bottles of perfumed inks, I was overwhelmed by the scents and didn’t like them at all, especially the violet and rose ones. They smelt like fragrant chemical and was this close to giving me a headache (yes, I get headaches easily if I’m offended by smells). I thought the room was going to smell of the fragrances for a long time. It’s probably because the inks have been capped for some times, and all the top notes of the fragrance escaped in a hurry when I opened the bottles. After a while, either I got used to the fragrance or the top notes are less saturated, I felt that the smells of the inks were less overwhelming!
After writing in my ink journal, I tried smelling the inks on the paper. You don’t actually get the same strong smell from the bottle, and the scent is more like an undertone rather than obvious.
Anyway, what do you think of the ink colours? My conclusion is that I really love them and will definitely continue using them. Hmm in that case, 10mL per ink wouldn’t be enough for me at all! Also, 2 favourite colours would have to be the Apple Green and the Rose Red, with the Violet Purple coming in a very close 3rd. I just love all these bright, happy colours! Also, the fast drying time coincides with my preferred colours, which is really important to me as a leftie.
Today’s post has been long (but informative, I hope!), and I’m sure you are excited about the giveaway. Fook Hing has generously sponsored 2 sets of this J. Herbin Scented Ink to 2 lucky readers of my blog! The usual rules apply: as long as you have a mailing address, and enter via the Rafflecopter widget below, you stand a chance to win. The contest ends on 13 December 2014, and 2 lucky winners will be picked to receive one set of the inks each!
In Singapore you can get these J. Herbin Scented Inks from Fook Hing Trading Co. They also have a nice range of J. Herbin inks — just pop by their store and you can pick and choose. 🙂
And for the rest of you, I don’t have a list of where you could get these inks, but I’m sure there are retailers from where you are (such as Georges & Co. in Paris, France)!