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Diamine Sapphire Blue (blue): Ink Review

 

On Scrively's Ink Reviews - Background Information (click to expand)

Lefties, Ink, and Fountain Pens

Why is there a need for an explanation of the format of an ink-review, you might ask?! Well, because the ink reviews on Scrively are not like all the other ink reviews that you will find out there. This, again, is because Scrively is written by a lefty. Hence, I have walked that extra mile and made the effort to come up with a slightly twisted own format for ink reviewing that aims at catering my needs – and hopefully the needs of many more southpaws out there. It is my sincere hope that I will be able to serve the lefty-fountain pen community with ink-reviews that are meaningful – in the hope for ever more lefties to start daring to pick up a fountain pen and also experience the joy of writing with fountain pens, which really is a pleasure indeed. Of course, I do also hope that the reviews are enjoyable to the ‘right’-handed fellows out there, too 🙂 .

So what is special about the ink reviews here on Scrively?

Well, lefties sometimes (think they) have a fountain pen issue, because the writing from left to right causes the writing hand to slide over what has just been written (the “writing line”), thus smudging and smearing the fresh, wet ink all over the place. This writing style is called side-writing and is the way most lefties, unless they’ve retrained themselves, tend to write. This includes myself as well.

Now there are a lot many well-meant tips out there on the internet on how, as a lefty, you might succeed in retraining your writing style so as to be able to write as if you basically were right-handed. Underwriting, for instance, is one of those “strategies” which are considered to be very effective, because this technique will keep your writing-hand below the writing line. With that, you will most likely have next to zero restrictions when it comes to fountain pen writing, i.e. you will be able to use all the nibs (flex, broad…anything that puts a lot of ink on the paper and, in turn, will take an eternity to dry), inks (no need for caring about drying times), and paper (so called fountain pen-friendly paper which is quite “ink resistant” and causes the ink to dry slowly – that helps the ink to develop more…let’s just call it “character” here) that right handed people can use, too. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

No, it doesn’t. At least not to me. Why? Personally, I tried to practice underwriting for a little while. Not more than some days, though. So yeah, technically, I can absolutely see this working. No doubt. However, I just refuse to strain and twist my wrist and joints into the most uncomfortable of positions for weeks or months, just to become sort of something I am not – a wannabe righty. To me, a writing-tool has to accommodate my needs, not the other way around.

On top of that, all this effort and stress of retraining your writing habits, at least in my own experience, is absolutely not necessary. That is, if you just consider a few things, that really ain’t a big deal: you just combine the right nib-sizes, paper-choice and ink. That might sound complicated, but really isn’t at all. In short, with nibs you stick with EF to M. With paper, you just refrain from the super-duper fountain pen-paper, that will have that ink laying on it’s surface for ages to show all that shading. Taking that into consideration, you are all set to become a very happy fountain pen user.
Disclaimer: Provided you have an approach that is similar to mine, i.e. you are more of a functional writer with a great appreciation for the aesthetics of writing (paper, pen & ink) while not being overambitious with artistic writing or calligraphy or a longing for thick strokes, a lot of line variation (i.e. flex nibs), very wet nibs/inks or paper that brings the best details out of an ink. Then you might really have to become an underwriter. Personally, I am more than good with a regular line and seeing at least most of the nice characteristics of the ink I use.

Having that said as a rather long prelude, let’s now turn to the format that I came up with and that I do employ for all of my ink reviews.

The Lefty-Ink Review Format

As a lefty, I will do all ink reviews using EF- to M- nibs. These do not lay down too much ink on the paper. The ink will then, of course, dry much faster than with a broader nib, which is what the typical lefty might want in everyday pen usage. Hence, I am mostly interested in how the ink performs and what the ink looks like (ink characteristics) using any of those nib-sizes. This also means that I am not using any flex- or whatever-nibs in my reviews, since I do (for now) simply not care how an ink behaves or looks with those ones. Since I am, of course, nevertheless interested in what the color (and some shading) really looks like on paper, each ink review will contain an ink swab.

On top of that, I will place special emphasis on the wetness and the drying times of the ink which, again, is of special interest to lefties. Besides the drying time, I came up with something that – besides the “Regular Smear Test – I call the “Left-Page Smear Test”. First of all, I do write with all the inks that I test for about one week, using them as my everyday ink for this period of time. This is the amount of time where I can really see how the ink performs in various conditions and where I will also fill a couple of pages in my notebooks. The “Regular Smear Test” then just comments on the “smeariness” (is that a word even?) of the ink that one would experience when actually writing “regularly”. The “Left-Page Smear Test” responds to the fact that, as a lefty, when writing on the right page of a notebook, your writing hand will rest (for longer periods of time) on the left page of the notebook. The ink on that left page is already dry, but the extended resting of the palm on that dry ink will occasionally cause smudging. And this is what the “Left-Page Smear Test” is all about: Will the dry ink on the left page smudge?

When it comes to the “testing ground”, which is the paper on which I test, I will always test on two types of paper: Leuchtturm 1917 and regular standard photocopying paper. Why?
For the Leuchtturm 1917, this is one of my (and many other people’s) preferred notebook. First of all, Leuchtturm is for many reasons among the favorite notebook options for many Bullet Journalists, which I am one of. Second, the paper is quite fountain pen friendly and lefty friendly. This means that it is just ink resistant enough to show you some of the nicer ink characteristics such as shading, while it is also just absorbent enough to make it the perfect choice for lefties. On top of that, the paper is slightly off-white or ivory, as are many notebooks out there, so you will be able to see what the ink looks like on such a paper.
For the standard photocopying paper: this is still the standard paper that is present in very many offices around the world, and you might also wanna use a fountain pen at work, the place where you most probably spend minimum 8 hours per day. Not everybody will have the option to pick whichever paper he or she would like to use at work. I, for one, am a PhD-candidate, which means annotating articles and grading student course papers – no way around standard paper here. The situation might be similar for many out there. Standard photocopying paper is also highly absorbent, which makes it a good option for many lefties because the ink basically dries – or rather: gets absorbed – instantly. This is, of course, the tradeoff of that kind of paper in combination with fountain pen ink: most ink will look rather flat (i.e. no shading), because the ink just gets ‘soaked in’ straight away.
Having that said, I do not test ink on e.g. Tomoe River or Clairefontaine paper, because I and many lefties do not write on such kind of paper. For the interested reader, ink reviews on such paper are widely available in other corners of the web, where my ‘right’-handed fellows do an excellent job in reviewing ink.

So, in short, the ink reviews on Scrively follow the scheme below:

Review criteria

  • Testing time is always 1 week (or more)
  • Unit capacity (ml) and price (€)
  • Price per milliliter (€ / ml)
  • Color and saturation
  • Shading
  • Feathering
  • Bleed-through
  • Appeared wetness
  • Drying time
  • Smudging/Smear when dry: deliberately smearing with a finger across dry ink
  • Smudging-/Smear-Test
    • “Regular Smear Test“: Smeariness when writing “regularly”
    • “Left-Page Smear Test”: Tendency to smudge once being dry for an extended period of time – i.e. the fact that, as a lefty, when writing on the right page of a notebook, the writing hand will rest (for longer periods of time) on the left page of the notebook. The ink on that left page is already dry, but the extended resting of the palm on that dry ink will occasionally cause smudging. This test checks, if the ink smudges under those circumstances, or not.
  • Reviews will always encompass an ink-swab and a writing sample with anything from EF- to M-nibs

Testing ground

  • Standard Photocopying Paper, white paper, 80 gsm
  • Leuchtturm 1917-notebook, off-white/ivory paper, 80 gsm

Lefty-Rating

Any ink that, after testing, can be recommended for lefty-use under the circumstances outlined above will then, at the end of the review, get a stamp for being “Lefty Approved” 🙂 . 

Ink_Lefty_Approved_Stamp_30grad

 

 

 

 

 

For providing accuracy and consistency when it comes to the representation of the ink’s color, all scans of my ink reviews are produced with a Doxie Flip mobile scanner @600 dpi.

I sincerely hope that this section will be helpful to you and that you enjoy reading it!

 

Diamine Sapphire Blue: a solid and “official” blue ink

Diamine Sapphire Blue_swab

Ink name: Diamine “Sapphire Blue”
Unit capacity: 30 ml (plastic bottle)
Price: ca. 3,35 € (via the Diamine Webshop)
Price per ml: ca. 0,11 €

  Leuchtturm 1917 Standard copy paper
Color  lovely dark blue – very “official  great “official” blue
Saturation  very high  high
Shading  nice dark shading  not that much anymore
Feathering  none  no
Bleed-through  no  might happen on the 2nd pass
Wetness  rather low  rather low
Drying time  15 sec.  3-5 sec.
Smudging when dry  yes  no
Regular smear test  okay  okay
Left-page smear test  so and so  okay

Handwritten review on Leuchtturm 1917 paper
(scanned @600 dpi with Doxie Flip – click image to enlarge on Flickr)

Diamine Sapphire Blue on Leuchtturm

Handwritten review on standard photocopying paper
(scanned @600 dpi with Doxie Flip – click image to enlarge on Flickr)

Diamine Sapphire BlueThis ink was not an easy one for me to think through. But first things first.

The color of Diamine Sapphire Blue is lovely – and I suppose one can not go wrong with this ink. It is what I would consider a very “official blue”, i.e. it has neither hints of other colors nor is it too bright or too flat or shades too much or too little. It really is just there, and a little more. So I think this really is an ink that can be used at work, for official communication, and so on.

The ink looks extremely nice on Leuchtturm paper, which really makes the color pop. It shades lovely, but rather dark. So it is very noticeable, but subtle. I find that for a blue ink, Sapphire Blue still looks really nice on standard copy paper. However, it if course does flatten out a little there. Drying time is super fast on standard paper.

Pricewise, as with all the Diamine inks, Sapphire Blue is really affordable. So if you need another blue in your collection, you simply can’t go wrong with that one – especially considering the awesome price tag.

As for its ‘leftyness’, this ink really is a rather tricky one: the drying time is (probably) rather good, but the problem with this ink is that it does smudge once it dried. Hence, it might be that it is dry even a bit earlier than one thinks (e.g. under 15 sec. on Leuchtturm paper – like around the 8-10 sec. mark) and the occasional smearing really comes from the ink just still smudging  despite being dry. While this generally it not too much of a problem, it might become a problem with the “left page-smear test”: because when you rest your (maybe slightly sweaty palm) on the left page of your notebook, while you write on the right page of a notebook, the ink will most certainly smudge. It does not do that when you are careful (i.e. you rest your palm only shortly) or when your palm is not wet at all. So, while the ink might well be usable for lefties (under more careful circumstances), I would still feel uncomfortable with approving it 100% for lefties. And this is for one special reason: Diamine Florida Blue (which I have not reviewed yet, but I will at some point) is sooo much better here. It does not smudge at all! So, if you have not totally fallen for the Sapphire Blue, go for Florida Blue instead if you are a lefty. Truth to be told: I like the color and shading even better! For righties, Sapphire Blue is of course no problem. Also, it is okay for lefties on standard copy paper, where it dries (or rather: gets soaked in) very fast and is hard to smudge.

Lefty approved? Almost…but, nah. (Go for Diamine Florida Blue instead.)

 

I hope this was helpful – feel free to check out my other ink reviews as well.

2 Comments

  1. Jonjo Jonjo

    A truly great Blue ink.
    I find it vibrant and somewhat luscious to use
    with just a hint of purple.
    A toned down Bilberry

    • Scrively Scrively

      True! The color is really nice

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