J. Herbin Gris Nuage Review

“Gris nuage” – French for “cloudy grey”. A very fitting name for this ink color. For it really does remind me of grey clouds in the sky. So I thought when reviewing a French ink, the least I could do was write out my favorite French quote in a bold Gothic Blackletter variant. So here it is:

Gris Nuage Review_0001

What does it mean? “One for all, and all for one”!. I’m sure many of you recognize it by now. It is from a classic novel I read when I was a little boy, Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas. I once got my hands on an 1893 two-volume set, in an unassuming book store in Ashland, Oregon when I attended the Shakespeare festival in 2013. The owners were kind enough to let me read through both books for a song. What do I mean by that? Quite literally, I had to sing them a Beatles song, and then they let me read them. It was well worth it though, and the experience of turning the pages on those masterpieces was something I will cherish for a long time.

Now on to the review:

As you see in the picture, the ink honestly felt like water when writing. It had none of the properties I see in my other inks, and most noticeably, the color doesn’t immediately show when the nib goes along the paper. I noticed that on downstrokes, the pool of ink at the bottom of the letter spread upwards and sort of “filled in” the rest of the line. To get a good image of what I’m talking about imagine this. There is a line of water on a page. You touch it with the nib of an inked pen, and the color spreads upwards in varying shades. Just look at some popular calligraphy videos, and you will see this technique in action.

Gris Nuage Review_0002

One of the most annoying things about this ink is the shading. While it is a beautiful shade of grey, it doesn’t feel good for me when I write. Due to the unique shading tendency I mentioned above, while cool, it results in an uneven shade for every letter written. You can see in the scan above how volatile the shading is. On the cursive writing sample, only parts are darker than the rest, on the actual review, the shading varied every letter, which can be painful and confusing to the eyes.

Overall, one could technically use this on a daily basis. Only on Rhodia/equivalent paper, otherwise it’ll feather like crazy, regardless of nib size.One cool application I can think of would be a Gothic calligraphy video which uses the snake-like shading property of this ink as a unique effect on the letters. Otherwise, stick to another, dependable grey, of which there are many out there.

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One thought on “J. Herbin Gris Nuage Review

  1. if i were to get one, since i’m a fan of grey inks, i would mix it with some of j.herbin’s black ink to make this grey ink darker in shade and more legible for an everyday writing ink.

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