Krishna inks are handmade by Dr Sreekumar in Palakkad, Kerala state, India. Dr Sreekumar has been making ink since 2010 and he is also known for his pens and nib tuning. It does surprise me it has taken this long for an Indian pen / Ink manufacturer to make a name for themselves outside of India as there are a lot of pen / ink manufacturers there but product is not easy to obtain.
The ink can be ordered directly from Dr Sreekumar via the Krishna pens web site (krishnapens.in) there have however been a number of complaints online about poor communication / service. It should be kept in mind that the Doctor still works as a Doctor and only makes inks after hours – this is not a big multi-national production. Dr Sreekumar also likes to get feedback about the inks and due to this he has made changes to a number of his inks.
Krishna inks are available from Penclassics at $NZ9.99 or $NZ14.99 for 20ml, the price is determined by the ink colour / series. I could not find any retailer in Australia. I found out about these inks through squishyink who is now selling them but the postage costs from the USA are HUGE!! The Krishna Pen site listed all the international retailers, that is how I found out about Penclassics, having said that I have been back to the web site and can no longer find the list.
The Krishna web site claims that you get obtain information about the inks but apart from a picture of an ink bottle there is no information on the site specifically about this ink. Generic information tells me it is a neutral or near neutral ink, designed to be free-flowing, it’s not waterproof and it is part of the speciality series.
The packaging is very simple. Many other blog writers seem to put a lot of store into the quality of packaging elevating it to the same level as the product within – the ink. Krishna bottles are small and plastic, the packaging a simple cardboard box
The ink is called Winter and I do not imagine India ever having a Winter as we would think of it. In fact when I look up average temperatures for Kerala state it is consistently around 30degreesC, the lowest average temperatures also don’t alter much between what would be considered Summer and Winter months, so why Winter?
If you have read any of my other posts part of my enjoyment is not so much the ink but how it got its name. Some ink names are very clever, some are obvious but calling a purple ink from India Winter is not. I ended up googling, ‘why is purple so important in Kerala?’.
What I came up with was the blooming of the Neelakurunji flower. From July to December every 12 years the hills in the Western Ghats mountain range turn bluish purple due to the flowering of this plant.
The Western Ghats are also known as the Benevolent Mountains and are a UNESCO world heritage site that runs parallel to the Western coast of India. The area is one of the world's ten “hottest” biodiversity spots. Part of the range in Kerala called Munnar is approximately 150km from where Krishna inks are made. The pictures I have seen are so reminiscent of the ink I would like to think it is the flowering of this plant that inspired ‘Winter”.
According to the Krishna pen site there are three versions of Winter, with number three being the one in production now.
None of these shades matches the colour I received, they don't come anywhere near it.
I then swatched the ink and the two swatches on Tomoe River paper are very different in colour. As I am learning with this blog I am also discovering things about cameras and colour reproduction. Both swatches were photographed in natural light. On the left the colour looks deep purple with the camera held close to the swatch. On the right is the most accurate representation - the camera away from the swatch then the picture was blown up.
On absorbent paper the combination of colours that make this ink are very apparent. The colours are both bright and intense.
The colour display was a revelation. Initially I saw no blue in the ink when I used it but would describe it as a bluish purple – more magenta than a tyrian purple. The when I redid my writing for the water testing etc (shown below) I noticed there is sheen.
I used a Conklin All American with a stub nib for this as I thought the stub nib would bring out any shading – I had tried the ink in a Schaeffer 300 with a medium nib and had found it a very even colour with no sheen and minimal shading, cleaning the pen was a chore (see more later in this post). I still think it doesn’t have much shade but when I looked at the words ‘American” and 'quick drying' there was sheen.
I love purple inks but this doesn’t make the grade for me colourwise – I find it a bit bland. It does however work just as described i.e. free-flowing and no clogging. I find my Conklin pens run dry – I could adjust the nibs to sort this out but I like things to work perfectly from the minute I get them. This ink ran perfectly in the Conklin, no skipping, no hard starts just perfect flow every single time. What I am not looking forward to is cleaning the pen.
When I used it in my Schaeffer it was quite a process to clean. I flush my pen nib sections to a clear return then place them on absorbent paper to see if I can extract more ink. With this ink - oh yes! so I flushed again, and again and again. In the end I soaked the nib section and had to reflush and change the water 4 times in a 24 hour period. I could have used a proprietary pen flush but when it was taking so long to get this ink out I ended up wanting to see what the process would be, not everyone possesses pen flush so be aware it takes a bit of cleaning.
Cleaning the Conklin. Bulb syringe used to flush the pen until a clear return, it was then placed on absorbent paper - more ink extracted so I used my Goulet pen flush. Despite all of this I have still had to soak the nib section. There has now been 4 rounds of flushing and currently the nib section is on its fourth soak in fresh water. The problem is not the pen flush this ink is just not easy to clean. The Conklin converter also has some permanent staining that washing and using the pen flush will not remove.
My add-addendum on the 4th of July - 4 days of soaking and changing water - still getting purple out of the pen.