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What's New in Ink in 2019?

Ink bottles on a windowsillIt's Inktober, and things always feel pretty inky around this time of year, but this has felt like quite an inky year all round. A lot of new ink has arrived here at Cult Pens, including a couple of new brands, and there have been a lot of other interesting developments. It's becoming much more common for ink makers to create inks with sheen or shimmer, as well as just wonderful colours and shading.

And there have never been more notebooks to use your inks in, with more manufacturers paying attention to making sure the paper works well with liquid inks, not just ballpoints. So let's take a look at some of the more interesting things we've found over the last year...


New Brands

We've started stocking two completely new (to us) brands of ink - Blackstone inks from Australia, and KWZ inks from Poland.

Map of Australia, drawn using Blackstone InkBlackstone make a beautiful range of inks, inspired by the natural world of Australia, with colours inspired by Sydney Harbour, the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, and the Daintree Rainforest. They also make a selection of scented inks, with the smells of natural Australia, with the scents of native flowers, or the bush. Their Barrister inks are waterproof. Then there's the CMYK mixing inks - four inks in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK, made to mix your own custom colours.

KWZ Inks come from Poland, and along with a great quality and reliable range of standard colours, they have a very unusually wide choice of iron gall inks, made to be safer than traditional iron gall inks to use in fountain pens.

New Colours

Robert Oster Shimmy InksRobert Oster have brought us quite a few new colours through the year - including inks with sheen, and shimmering inks in their 'Shake n Shimmy' range. Sailor gave us their Shikiori collection, and we got their Storia range of pigmented inks that can be used (with a bit of extra care) in fountain pens.

Herbin are one of the world's oldest names in ink, and they brought us their new 1798 Kyanite du Nepal ink, a lovely turquoise-blue with silver shimmer. They also added some new colours to their range of cartridges, in their lovely little metal tins.

Pelikan gave us their new yearly colour for their Edelstein ink - Star Ruby.

Robert inkAnd Diamine. Where to even begin with Diamine? Along with the amazing Inkvent Calendar, they somehow managed to find time to do just a few other things too. They made Aurora Borealis, a beautiful blue-green. They made five inks to match favourite colours used on Gibson Les Paul guitars, may of them shading strongly to mimic the sunburst style. They created two different purples for purple in fan Scribble Monboddo.

Maureen inkAnd, probably most exciting to us, they made special exclusive sheening 'iridescink' inks just for us! And today is Robert and Maureen's birthday! We unveiled these inks at the start of Inktober last year, and they've had a very successful time, making lots of friends. And since they went so well, we decided to fill out the family a bit, recently adding another two sheening inks, which we decided to name Philip and Christine, after the dynamic duo who run Diamine, and actually create all these wonderful things.

Bottled Calligraphy and Drawing Inks

The ink-based fun isn't limited to just fountain pen users. If you use brushes or dip pens with your ink, we've brought in new drawing and calligraphy inks too, from Winsor & Newton, Stephens, and Magic Color. These can't be safely used in a fountain pen, but they can give much more solid opaque colour, and are beautiful to use for artwork or lettering.

Not Ink!

If this is about ink, why a section for not-ink? Well, you don't usually use ink on its own. It's not a good drink. There are limited artistic applications for just pouring the ink from the bottle onto the carpet, though we're pretty sure someone has tried, and we wouldn't rule out them winning the Turner Prize for it.

Shade, sheen and shimmer - comparison of the threeNo, generally, you also need some paper, and some way of applying the ink that was in the bottle or cartridge to that paper. While all fountain pens use fountain pen ink, some pens are more about the ink than the pen itself. So what non-ink things have arrived this year that are especially exciting for ink geeks?

Pens and Accessories

After moving on from Visconti, Dante del Vecchio worked with Pineider to continue his innovation in pen design. The pens themselves are very lovely, but inky people will be especially interested in the Pen Filler and the Snorkel Filler - two handy accessories to help with getting ink from bottle to pen. The Pen Filler lets you fill pens easily on the go, using a silicone section to grip around the pen, working with most filling mechanisms, including piston and vacuum filled pens. The Snorkel Filler attaches to most converters, to let the converter draw ink up from the bottom of a bottle, so you can get to your last drops of ink without wasting any.

An Opus 88 fountain penOpus 88 make pens, not ink, but we think they should get a mention here, just because these unusual designs are clearly pens for people who love ink. They're eyedropper fillers, so you need to fill them up with an eyedropper or syringe. It's a quick and easy way to fill a pen, and gives them huge ink capacities. And their transparent barrels let you see the ink sloshing around inside. TWSBI should get a special mention here, too - they haven't give us any new models this year, but they've continued to bring us new colours for existing models, and all their pens are clear so you can see the ink inside, making them favourite pens of many ink lovers.

A TWSBI Go fountain pen sitting in an ink bottle for fillingHerbin are mostly known for their ink, but do make some pens too. As you might expect, their pens are made to make the most of that ink. Along with a transparent fountain pen, they've brought us new ink rollers - rollerball pens that use standard fountain pen cartridges. Use your favourite inks when you want the simplicity of a rollerball! And as if that wasn't enough, they also brought us refillable fibre-tip and brush pens that use Platinum cartridges, and an empty marker pen with a choice of sizes of bullet and chisel tips, that you can fill with different inks or water - wonderful tools for ink or watercolour artists.

The underside of the nib of a Platinum Procyon fountain penAnd just a brief mention for the Platinum Procyon. At first look, it's a nice, but fairly conventional, fountain pen. But when you add a converter, it has a special trick - the inlet that draws in ink sits below the nib, where it can slurp up the ink from lower in a bottle, and if you tip the bottle, should be able to pick up even the last drop left - another neat way to avoid wasting ink.


Well, what else are you putting your ink on? No, don't tell us, if it's not paper, we probably don't want to know. But you need paper. And in the last year, we've got new notebooks from Leuchtturm1917, Legami and Semikolon brought us new Goalbooks and Meeting Books. And perhaps most exciting of all, Lamy unveiled their own range of notebooks. Nope, we didn't see that coming either! They're beautifully designed, as you'd expect, and the paper works really well with fountain pens, again, as you'd expect. You might also expect covers to match the most popular colours of Safari pens, and again, you'd be right. For something that came as such a nice surprise, they're exactly what you'd hope for!

Most of us use diaries or calendars in our phones or online (or usually both) these days, and they do have their advantages, with reminders popping up when you need them, and easy sharing with the people who need to know. But there's still something nice about using pen and paper, so a lot of people still use a paper diary or calendar alongside, or instead. It's more tactile, more visual, and it just feels good.

If that sounds appealing to you, we have quite a selection of diaries and planners now, and we've hugely increased our range of Filofax - probably the most flexible planning tools around. Depending on what sort of ink and nib size you use, the paper isn't perfect for liquid inks, but it's good enough for most people.

If you're looking to use paper more for organising, or just to start organising yourself better, we'd recommend Ryder Carroll's Bullet Journal book - it's full of ideas as well as being a nice clear guide to this simple but powerful way of getting yourself together.

The Perfect Time

So with all that new stuff, in addition to all the wonderful inks and inky tools that were already available, 2019 is the perfect year to really get stuck in with ink - use it for play, for art, or to get more productive!

27 September 2019


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