Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Ink Review: Noodler's #41 Brown

Chipmunk, Noodler's #41 Brown ink on Strathmore 300 series vellum bristol.

I use Noodler's bulletproof inks for my art. I work mainly in ink, watercolors, and colored pencils. For fountain pen inks, I use a glass dip pen.

Like other bulletproof inks, Noodler's #41 Brown ink isn't waterproof across all papers, but it is waterproof on some. Please see my page on bulletproof inks and art papers for more information. I particularly like the Stillman & Birn Epsilon & Zeta sketchbooks if I need to add watercolor washes, and Strathmore's 500 series mixed media if I want to add colored pencils alone.

Noodler's #41 Brown isn't dark enough for me to call it a sepia tone, but it's still a warm and dark red-brown. This ink isn't as free-flowing as other inks in Noodler's bulletproof line, such as Lexington Grey and 54th Massachusetts (my review). After a few dips it builds up quite a bit on my glass dip pen and prevents ink flow, to the point where I need to rinse it with water and often a pen cleaner solution while I'm drawing.

I've never tried Noodler's darker sepia ink, Manjiro Nakahama Whaleman's Sepia, but from reports on various fountain pen ink forums, I'm not inclined to try due to how it sounds like it clings and sticks as much as Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng (my review). The stickiness of #41 Brown is about as much as I'm willing to put up with on a regular basis.

I would (somewhat reluctantly) buy this ink again, due to its beautiful red-brown shade alone, and the fact that it doesn't stick too badly. But if another ink was available in just as pretty a red-brown shade, I would definitely trade #41 Brown out for it.

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Friday, August 17, 2018

Ink Review: Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng

Mandarin drake in Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng ink on Stillman & Birns Epsilon paper.

I use Noodler's bulletproof inks for my art. I work in ink, watercolors, and some other stuff.

I'll note that thus far other bulletproof inks have been waterproof on some specific art papers that I've tried, and much less so on others. The waterproof papers are Strathmore 500 series ready cut watercolor hot press paper, Stillman & Birns Beta and Zeta sketchbooks/papers, and the Pentalic Traveler sketchbook.

Some papers don't bind completely to the ink on the first go but will bind completely if washed over with water, such as Strathmore 500 and 400 series mixed media, the Pentalic Aquajournal, and the Stillman & Birns Alpha and Delta sketchbooks/papers.

That said, Kung Te-Cheng is different from most other bulletproof inks because it will be highly water-resistant to waterproof on more papers than its brethren. However, this perhaps comes at a cost: this ink clings. I use a glass dip pen because I switch inks often, but Kung Te-Cheng sticks to it.

Noodler's Kung Te-Cheng after vigorous water washing and wiping.
By comparison, most other bulletproof inks wash off my glass pen with a swish through water.

I think this ink might not be the best in a fountain pen. Perhaps other pigment-based fountain pen inks also cling to glass dip pens, but the fact that I have to use Speedball pen cleaner and a toothbrush to get this ink off the glass nib makes me concerned for fountain pen mechanisms.

I wouldn't buy this ink again. Despite its beautiful color and the admirable properties it shares with the rest of the Noodler Bulletproof line, the hassle afterwards for me (as a disabled artist) stops me from working with it much. I much prefer other Bulletproof inks.

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Thursday, August 16, 2018

Ink Review: Noodler's 54th Massachusetts

Cardinal; glass dip pen with 54th Massachusetts ink on Strathmore 400 series mixed media.

 I use this ink for art. I work in ink, watercolors, colored pencils, and other stuff.

One thing I notice about 54th Massachusetts, which is probably true of all bulletproof inks, is that its water resistance depends highly on the kind of paper you use. Even a flat yet decent paper can result in nearly zero water resistance, even after several days of drying. Yet for other papers, even a textured paper, the water resistance approaches or even actually is waterproof.

It would be useful if JetPens could provide some examples of Noodler's on various paper, so people can match up the right papers to the right inks.

Here's my notes thus far (assume 1 day of drying unless otherwise specified):
  • Strathmore 500 series ready cut hot press watercolor paper: waterproof
  • Stillman & Birn Zeta: almost waterproof (if you scrub a nylon brush quite a lot against a mark you can get the ink to bleed very very slightly, but no more than that)
  • Strathmore 500 series mixed media: water resistant, the ink will bleed lightly but noticeably 
  • Strathmore 400 series mixed media: NO water resistance at all, even after drying for 3 days
  • Pentalic Traveler sketch: waterproof
  • Pentalic AquaJournal: water resistant, the ink will bleed lightly but noticeably
An amusing thing is that if you wash over the ink on a paper with non-waterproof results, it doesn't reactivate on a second wash. I assume this is because the water gets the rest of the ink to bind to the paper. You essentially get an eternal (archival) ink wash. This is extremely valuable to know as an artist!

The color itself is a really nice blue-black on the above papers. I'll note that on Strathmore 500 series writing paper, designed for fountain pens, the ink fades out to a more blue-gray color. So what paper you're on will also affect the brilliance/depth of the color.

I would buy this ink again, and use Stillman & Birn Zeta paper for watercolors after inking, and use Strathmore 500 series paper with inking after any watercolors plus translucent colored pencils on top.

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