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KWZ Ink “Honey” (brown): 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!

KWZ Ink “Honey”: an interesting golden-brown wide-spectrum shader

KWZ Ink Honey_ink Swab

Ink name: KWZ Ink “Honey”
Unit capacity: 60 ml (glas bottle)
Price: ca. 8 € (when directly purchased via the KWZ webshop, which is yet pretty much the only place where to get the ink from in Europe) – you gotta add about 4 € shipping for 1-2 bottle(s), or 5 € (3 bottles), or 8 € (4-5 bottles) [i.e. in Europe], so that we can probably say that a bottle will be around 10 € (find an overview of shipping rates in PLN here)
Price per ml: ca. 0,16 €

  Leuchtturm 1917 Standard copy paper
Color  warm golden-brown  antique golden-brown
Saturation  high  high
Shading  a lot of shading – love watching the ink shade while writing (very visible)  still very lovely on cheaper paper, though with less spectrum than on better paper
Feathering  nope  none
Bleed-through  nope  no
Wetness  pretty wet ink  pretty wet
Drying time  15-20 sec.  8 sec.
Smudging when dry  can happen  very unlikely
Regular smear test  so and so  okay
Left-page smear test  not good  okay

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

KWZ Ink Honey on Leuchtturm

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

KWZ Ink Honey on Standard paper

KWZ Ink is probably a lesser know brand compared to the Pilots and Pelikans of this world, since it is basically done by a very friendly couple in Poland, Konrad and Agnieszka. So no massive marketing, production and distribution power – but very well behaved and extremely affordable ink!

The KWZ Ink “Honey” very rapidly advanced to one of my favorite brownish inks right from scratch. I am not sure if the name “honey” does exactly hit the nail on the head, but anyway, the ink certainly is a really warm to antique golden-brown, maybe slightly sepia-ish. I really love the color, because it deviates from the more standard brown inks. It is certainly a more personal ink, like for notes, informal/private communication, and so on.

I love the pretty wide-range shading of the ink. Because the ink is pretty wet, you can almost see the ink floating and pooling as you go along with the writing. One thing that also is very noticeable is the smell of the ink. I don’t exactly know how to describe it, but to me personally it is certainly a pleasant smell on the warm-sweetish side. I do not have a full bottle of the ink (but will certainly buy one) but several smaller samples (will review other colors as I try them out) – and the smell seems to be a common characteristic of all the KWZ Inks as far as I can tell. At least when it comes to the regular inks. I do not have an iron gall sample here (KWZ Ink is also pretty popular for their iron gall inks).

Pricewise, the ink is very affordable. For such an interesting looking, well-behaved ink there really is nothing to complain. The price leans towards the Diamine price-niveau – less than half the price of Pilots Iroshizuku inks for example.

As for its ‘leftyness’, the ink is pretty wet – this gives it a very lubricant and smooth feel when writing it, but takes it’s toll on a slightly longer drying time on better paper. Cheaper paper absorbs it very rapidly – no problem here. On better paper, the ink seems to never really ‘stick’ or sink in, hence, it smears even after days, when you rub a finger across it.

I will still make sure to always have some “Honey” in my ink shelf from now on :-), simply because the color is so beautiful.

Lefty approved? Nah, not really!

EDIT:
As you can see in the handwritten review above, I had initially rated the ink as being “lefty-approved”, but had to revise my rating on May 11th 2016, as after some further writing with the ink it did not hold up to the quality criteria for leftyness when it comes to smudging.

 

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

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