Diamine Grape Review

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Purple is not a typical ink color I use due to it being a little out there. However, after a rather amazing experience with Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, I started to see how I could use purple as more of a color for personal stuff. I like to keep a bullet journal going, so I first started to use this ink as a specific color for tracking my tasks for the day. That was almost 2 months ago and I’m still using it to this day. In fact, the 30 mL bottle I had is almost finished and I’m contemplating getting more. I don’t know whether I want to make this a permanent member of the rotation given that Diamine and other brands all have offerings in a similar shade. Personally, by not making something permanent, I can go and get a variety of inks that I’ll be able to review and I might find some other ink that becomes a new favorite. I’m honestly a little stuck regarding this.

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However, you guys came here to learn about how this ink handles, so I’ll get back to the review. The ink is on the darker side of purple, which appeals to me a lot as I can see it being something that fits in with all the other inks I have. The shading is really nice but on the medium side due to how dark the ink already is. I found that you can’t see much difference between the second and third passes as it’s too dark to really tell. It can be exaggerated through the use of a folded pen, like I did in the first photo, but its limited. It’s pretty smooth flowing and the performance is up to Diamine standards, so it behaves well in every different pen I’ve tried it with.

One complaint I have with it is that it feels a little dry when in use. Don’t get me wrong, it flows smoothly, but the actual ink itself makes me feel more feedback when writing. I tried it out in the TWSBI ECO, Lamy 2000, Platinum Preppy and others, but the same feeling of dryness persisted. An example of an ink that doesn’t have this problem would be Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, it has a bit of a slick feeling to it, allowing a smoothed nib to glide across the page. With Grape, it lacks that same feeling, but at the price point that Diamine offers it at, it performs pretty well. If you’re looking for a dark purple with subtle shading at an affordable price, this is a great contender.

 

Diamine Red Dragon Review

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A review that I personally have been delaying for a while now. The main reason is that I just hadn’t been able to get a good chance to use it. The way I review inks is by inking up a daily use pen like my Pilot VP or my Lamy 2000. I use these pens specifically because I know how well they perform with my favorite inks like Diamine Asa Blue, Iroshizuku Shin-Kai and Kon-Peki. I have a solid grasp of how well they perform and by inking one of them up I can get the best grasp on how a particular ink performs. I use them for a week and a half minimum before I’m comfortable enough to voice my opinion on them. The biggest issue I had with this ink is the problem of incorporating it into my daily use.

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As anyone could probably tell by now, I love blue inks and all the shades they come in. One could even say I’m partial to the color blue. I’m not into red inks for the most part as I find no use for them when taking notes for my classes. My notes are done in different notebooks all with different shades of blue. The only other color I have used other than blue is black for the occasional diagram or note of importance. As one could imagine, suddenly transitioning from blue to red would be a little difficult. However, I chose to do so for my marketing class that I took for 6 weeks over summer. I started using Red Dragon halfway through the course and made sure to finish it by the time I was coming back home.

I can say with confidence that I am definitely happy with the experience. The ink shows consistent performance that one can expect out of a Diamine ink, but also be in such a tasteful color. The biggest gripe I have about colorful inks is that they always feel a bit too garish for my taste, I prefer subdued and subtle colors and that’s exactly what Red Dragon is. The shading is nice and visible at the points the nib is lifted off the paper. Its nice and smooth coming out of the nib, much like my favorite Asa Blue and to top it off, its available at the affordable prices that Diamine sets for their inks. I’m probably going to find some way to use this in my daily note taking for the upcoming Fall semester. If you’re looking for a very nice, subdued red ink that performs well, I cannot recommend Red Dragon enough. After I use up this 30mL bottle, I’m gonna go for the bigger 80mL, becuase that’s just how good this ink is.

Diamine Sherwood Green

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Sherwood Green has quickly become one of my favorite green inks and for good reason. Rich and saturated with a color tone resembling that of a dark forest. On thinner nibs, I noticed that there was a huge variety of shading. When I was testing it out in my Platinum Nice Pur fine, I noticed a chromatic effect when observing the tops of the line going from a light to progressively darker color at the bottom where the ink seemed to pool when the nib pulled off the paper. It has really helped me open up to the wide array of green inks I never thought I’d try. It allowed me to take a small step outside my comfort zone and traditional color palette of blacks and blues when it came to my inks. I can’t wait to try many more offerings from Diamine as well as the numerous other companies. If they’re anything like Sherwood Green, I know I’ll love them.

 

Diamine Asa Blue

Let’s kick off review week with a long pending ink review.

Originally not on my radar, as I was too obsessed with Noodler’s Liberty Elysium, Iroshizuku Kon-Peki and the many other blue inks out there. This one took a while to get my attention. I was initially introduced to it through a post by Ed Jelley (love his photography 🙂 ). The post was titled “5 Best Inks for Everyday Use”. Curious about his choices, I read through it, and the one that caught my eye was his photo of the shading of Diamine Asa Blue. It just called out to me through the screen, begging me to try it. Being the highly disciplined person I am with full control of my impulses, I immediately went and purchased a 30mL bottle and haven’t looked back since. I have gone through many a sample of blue inks, some I have loved, others not so much, but this… After I first used it, I felt like the search for my ideal blue ink was finally over.

While it may sound like hyperbole, I sincerely believe that I have finally found it. Diamine has been holding the hidden gem that I have been searching for all this time. If only a month ago, you had asked me what my favorite blue ink was, I would’ve unhesitatingly answered: “Iroshizuku Kon-Peki”, but now it would be “Diamine Asa Blue”. To me, Asa Blue is now the benchmark I will judge all the other blue inks I have yet to try. For me, Asa blue satisfies many requirements when it comes to color and performance, so I’ll be elucidating upon requirements shortly.

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From the moment the nib touched the paper, I knew that this would most likely replace Kon-Peki as my favorite blue. The color and shading resembled Kon-Peki so much, yet at the same time, just glancing at it, Asa Blue seems much less resplendent. Kon-Peki, especially on the bright white Rhodia and Maruman paper I use it on, just glows brightly. Asa Blue on the other hand, tends to be much more subtle, yet still nice and visible. I first used it in my history class, which I had on Fridays for 4 hours (glad that’s over). Typically, it was a lecture only class with the professor talking and the students noting down the most salient points. The long time period allowed for the most experimentation and writing down notes for hours together helped me see how well it performs during long writing sessions. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it handled being in constant use. Despite the shrinking amount, the smoothness wasn’t affected in any way, and it continued to perform admirably.

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The pen I first used Asa Blue in, was my Pilot VP Matte Black with the binderized M nib, which is still going strong. The Pilot VP is my everyday writing pen in school, it is the pen that has had the most use in my collection by far. Typically when testing inks, I like to load it up in the VP simply because the tuned nib ensures that it won’t be the nib’s fault if the ink doesn’t perform properly. After a 4 hour history lecture, when reviewing my notes before the quiz, I saw how wonderful each letter looked on the page. The color of the ink was exquisite, to say the least. It was then I knew that I had found my everyday blue ink.

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The shading is one of the major things that drew me towards this ink. I love blues that get darker with bigger nibs, it allows for more experimentation and manipulation when writing. Asa Blue shades very well as seen in the picture above, and past a certain point, I got the hint of a red sheen.

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Overall Asa Blue has been one of the best Diamine inks I have ever tried. The color and shading make for an excellent everyday blue that can walk the fine line between fun and whimsical, to serious and professional. It performed very well on the variety of papers I used to test it with little variation. After only a month, I polished off a 30mL bottle which in itself shows me how much I love this ink. All I can say is, if you love blue inks, you have to give this a try. Well, it’s time for me to go purchase some more and hope Diamine offers it in sizes larger than 80mL :P. Look forward to tomorrow’s review, and as always, write on, my friends.

TWSBI Vac Mini Review

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Here it is. Finally after using it everyday for the last week, I’m psyched to review the new TWSBI Vac Mini. This was my first foray into TWSBI’s mini series of pens. I’ve checked them out time and time again, yet just couldn’t get on board when I already had my 580Al. This purchase came from the me wanting a small, affordable fountain pen that could fit in my pocket as an EDC pen. I was making do all these days with my Pilot VP, but I decided that I needed a separate pen, as it was little too bulky. Enter the Vac Mini. Now in all honesty, I really haven’t kept up with TWSBI’s product announcements, and the Vac Mini came out of the blue for me. I saw the Goulet Pens newsletter advertising their fresh stock and decided to give it a whirl. Best decision I’ve made in 2016 as of now.

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Very minimal branding. The company name and the model name is in grey around the cap. The demonstrator body allows a view of the ink sloshing around in the barrel. Super fun but also super distracting in class :P. The ink capacity is very good compared to most of my other pens. Nearly 2 mL. The filling system was fun to use and works well. Initially, I was stuck with only 2/3 of the barrel full until I found Brian Goulet’s tutorial on how to get a nice fill with the Vac 700. Seeing as the filling system is the same, it worked out very well.

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As seen in the photo above, the tipping for the medium is very generous, resulting in a bold line that is slightly bigger than the standard Lamy medium. I personally love it, as I’m partial to slightly larger nib sizes. Straight out of the box it was buttery smooth with amazing consistency to boot. I feel that it’s the perfect balance when I have nearly 2 mL of ink to go through. It’s not too wet, but it’s not skimping either. I anticipate many weeks until a refill is needed.

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One thing that really bothers me, although it may be minor, is the dots of ink perpetually lining the slit. Now I get really OCD about that and no matter how I tried, it never truly went away. Minimizing it to what you see above is the most I could do.

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The collar used to secure the nib and feed is metal. This is the new standard, as the plastic collars of past models had a tendency to crack. It definitely feels secure when I twist it to change the nib.

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One of my favorite features on the Vac Mini. The threading on the back allows for a really secure post. It’s like recapping the pen on the back, ensuring that it won’t slip no matter what happens. In addition, the length after twisting the small amount of the cap, is perfect for someone with big hands, like me.

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Despite all the good things I have to say about this pen, it has one flaw that I just couldn’t deal with. When capped, if jostled with a little bit of force, ink tends to leak out of the pen and into the cap. I found out when I twisted off the cap and was greeted by an inky mess spilling onto my fingers and the page of my notebook. The grip was thoroughly covered in ink, resulting in a frustrating situation where I had to go to the bathroom to clean up. This happened a total of 3 times over the past week. If TWSBI could develop their version of Platinum’s slip seal and add it to this pen, it would be pretty much perfect in my book.

Overall, I would recommend the TWSBI Vac Mini to anyone who wants a portable, affordable and comfortable pen. I’m going to be using this as my EDC pen, so it’s home is going to be my pants pocket for hours on end. Don’t underestimate it’s size though, it’ll perform just as well as any of it’s bigger cousins. It’s a must add to any fountain pen collection.

UPDATE:

Hello everyone. After my review 3 days ago, I faced a problem I had yet to discover. For some reason, the flow is being disrupted occasionally. I was writing down notes in history class yesterday, about to start on my 3rd page when all of a sudden… POOF! No ink flow at whatsoever. Confused as to why, I attempted to resurrect the nib by light tapping it down on the paper. Those light taps escalated into slightly frustrated stronger ones. After about 3 minutes of trying, I gave up, retrieved my backup form the case and resumed my note taking. After a couple of hours I had to attend another class, in between, I had a lot of time to ascertain what exactly was happening. In my numerous attempts at resurrection, I managed to spray a decent amount of ink onto my fingers. I managed to get it working again after nearly an hour of trying. Needless to say this did not leave me happy. I don’t know whether it was a problem with the ink, feed, or the nib. All I know is, I was not happy for a long time afterwards. Is this a problem others are facing? Comment below if this has happened to you.