Blackstone inks are an Australian ink brand that seems to have been looked over as the fountain pen world was taken by storm by Robert Oster inks, also from Australia. It is shame really because though they do not carry the same range of colours they appear to be good quality inks and are very affordable.
I came across these inks on one of many searches for new brands and it did take awhile before I purchased any as I was waiting for Blackstone pen flush to come back into stock so I could buy some at the same time. I ordered the inks from Justwrite, which is where the inks are made. The blackstone web site list four places in Australia that retail the inks and a number of locations in Europe and the USA. The inks retails for AUD$8 for 30ml which equates to 26.6c a ml (18.5c US and much the same in NZ money) – quite cheap and remaining so even with postage added.
There is good story on the Blackstone web site about how the inks came to be. They originated in 2014 after a fountainpen network discussion. The part I really like it is how the packaging came about – and this is important in our growing awareness of the problems with plastic and landfill. I hope Blackstone don’t mind but I have pinched the following directly from their web site.
Packaging was a major issue and cost, so we sought the views of FPN members and JustWrite customers who decided very narrowly in favour of Polypropylene bottles instead of the conventional glass bottles. These bottles are practically indestructible as Dave demonstrated by throwing one filled with ink onto a concrete floor. It bounced. He repeated the test with a glass bottle of ink. It did not bounce. They can also be frozen without adverse affects, they are reusable and 100% recyclable.
In 2015 the first of the colours of Australia were released, scented inks in 2017 and a number of new colours have been released this year. They are all very tempting. The ink I am going to review here is the blue gum scented ink.
Blue gum or Tasmanian blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) is the most common eucalyptus found throughout the world. The trees are said to have a minty pine scent with a touch of honey. The leaves are steam distilled to extract eucalyptus oil which has therapeutic, perfumery, flavouring, antimicrobial and pesticidal properties.
The tree looks quite green but up close you can see the leaves are a blue colour.
I think most people know Koala bears eat eucalyptus leaves. An adult koala eats between 200 to 500 grams of leaves each day and until I researched this I was also under the common misconception that koalas sleep a lot because they get drunk on the eucalyptus oil in gum leaves. That’s not true!
Koalas sleep or rest for up to 22 hours each day because their bodies need a lot of energy to digest the gum leaves and when they are sleeping they save energy. The leaves are very fibrous and low in nutrition, they take a lot of energy to digest.
The packaging is as described, a polypropylene bottle. I have already managed to get ink stains on my bottle.
On opening the bottle the colour looked very promising. Also you realise why this ink is called blue gum, it does smell like a bottle of eucalyptus trees. I initially thought the scent was not apparent when I wrote however as I carried on writing I started to get a subtle hint of eucalyptus emanating from the paper.
The drop onto absorbent paper held even more promise.
I can see at least 3 different blue shades here and it raised my expectations that this ink would be a fantastic shader when used, it looks gorgeous. The Justwrite web site swatch shows red tones coming through the blue – I certainly don’t see that here or on my Col-o-ring swatch.
On the col-o-ring it is a turquoise colour and as you can see very similar to Herbins Emerald di Chivor and Robert Osters Fire and Ice. I am loving all the sheen that has come out on the col-o-ring with the Herbin ink.
Surprisingly a swatch on Tomoe River was a bit meh – it’s a lovely turquoise nothing special.
So how does it write - its far more of a teal colour when writing than the swatches would suggest.
I first used an Opus 88 with a medium nib but when I came back to look at the original droplet test I did I decided to ink up my Conklin all American as it has a stub nib and I thought it would bring out some great characteristics of the ink and it did , the shading was much better with the broader nib.
First test was Rhodia paper. Very impressive dry time, I thought it would take longer with the Conklin pen due to the extra ink being laid down but as you can see below it still dried very quickly.
This was followed by Tomoe River.
I was enjoying this ink and didn’t really want to try cheap copy paper and discover it might let me down. However, most inks feather or bleed through on cheaper paper so I thought I had better check it out. There was slight feathering, some shading still apparent and no bleed through.
I freely admit I am a fan of this ink. I like the colour, I am disappointed I don’t see the red shown in the swatch on the Justwrite website but that’s not a deal breaker. The ink handles well:
However in all fairness these are not marketed as waterproof inks and I remain a fan of this brand and this colour. I am really looking forward to testing the other inks I bought.