The InkJournal Black is the newest iteration in the InkJournal series by our friend Tom Oddo, and he has sent one over for a review and to share with everyone here. In explaining it to me Tom said that he took lots of feedback from the fountain pen community regarding the first version of this in order to improve the new version. Its amazing how quickly something like this can be conceptualized and produced including a round a feedback from the first version.
The matte black and white cover of the InkJournal Black looks great, and also have a very smooth soft feeling to them. I think the huge nib on the front of the cover is pretty cool, and the rest of the design is pretty minimal which is nice on something like this.
Just a quick look at the spine of the InkJournal Black so you can see the whole picture. Just a simple touch of branding here, and nothing more. Overall, the InkJournal Black measures 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches with 80 pages of 80lb bright white paper.
The first page inside of the InkJournal Black has some nicely themed fountain pen decoration, I just dumped a few of my fountain pens on the left side there to hold it down so I could take the picture.
Right in the front of the InkJournal Black there is an index…well actually an INKdex, that Tom is a clever guy. Seriously though this is great because it clearly gives you the ability to use this notebook as a tool and reference so you can quickly find the ink and pen combination that you are looking for. The InkJournal Black does have 80 pages, which means that there ends up being space for 38 total ink write ups.
Tom put a generous amount of space for each ink evaluation, allowing two pages of space for some of the most important elements you would want to document as well as ample room for actual writing. Between the two pages, there are spaces dedicated to the following:
- Ink Brand
- Ink Color Name
- Pen used
- Pen nib size
- Standard “Quick brown fox” writing line, or any other standard you like to use. I have an obsessive habit of first signing and then printing my name the first time I use any fountain pen ink, or any new pen for that matter. I usually refrain from showing that here though.
- There are gradients for the ink flow, saturation, shading, water resistance, and dry time
- A ruled and gridded space for a swab and scribbles
- Area dedicated to comments or a drip test
- Unlined area for additional notes or sketches
- Four boxes for similar inks that you may want to compare to
- Space for an overall thumbs up/down type evaluation, you can be creative and use your own system here. I was considering an A-F grading system, have not completely settled on that for myself, so for this review I went a little less formal than that which you will see in the writing sample next.
Using one of my favorite blue inks, Noodler’s Bernanke Blue I went ahead and filled out a page for my evaluation of this ink, even though I did an actual review of it a while ago. I skipped doing any water testing on this ink because I know how it reacts (not good) and personally I hate the idea of dripping water on such a nice sheet of paper, but I might have to get over that at some point. I like the gradients for the ink characteristics because it forces you to think about it a little more, and documenting it makes it easier to understand how you might grade other inks in the future. This is kind of like keeping track of the beer or wine that you enjoy, the more granular you get in the details you capture about it, the more likely it is that you will be able to hone in on what makes you really like or dislike a certain ink. Ultimately this should result in you finding inks that you truly enjoy using as you document your learning experience.
I have to say that writing on the paper in the InkJournal Black is a truly awesome experience. The surface of the paper is super smooth and the nib just coasts along with no hiccups, unless you have a crappy nib on your hands. Keeping the paper a nice bright white is good too because it avoids any conflicts or influences that an ivory or eggshell type paper could cause. I didn’t get any feathering with any of the four or so inks that I tested in here, and any show through to the other side was fairly minimal. If I had one thing that I’d change about the paper though, it would be with how quickly the ink dries on the page. Knowing that the Bernanke Blue ink is intended to dry very quickly (results I achieved on multiple paper samples in my review) I was surprised to see it take about 10 seconds to dry here. I would recommend that when you do your first write up in here, maybe start with an ink that you know dries pretty quickly in your experiences with it. This will give you a good baseline, for example I know that a 10 second drying time in the InkJournal Black might mean a fairly quick dry time elsewhere. I did also test some other inks on different ends of the dry time spectrum like Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses and Pelikan Edelstein Aventurine and saw that they kind of agree with the 10 second benchmark for being a fast dry time on this paper. The Black Swan and Aventurine were pretty slow to dry, but I also tested Diamine Green Black and that hit the 10 second mark to dry too.
For now my goofy rating system takes Tom’s very well thought out and nicely designed layout and makes it look like a 6 year old girl got her hands on the thing. But for now the big smiley face is how I feel about my Bernanke Blue ink AND the InkJournal Black. I think its a really valuable tool and I enjoyed using it. As someone that reviews fountain pen ink and also uses it on an almost daily basis, this is something I’ll rely on, but it would also be cool to see if other bloggers and reviewers pick this up as a standard format for their testing. I know many of the characteristics and tests documented here are pretty standard, but having those tests done on the same paper by different folks would be a great way to standardize and help people know what to expect from a particular ink. Anyway, this is a job well done by Tom, and I’m excited for him to see this turn out so well but I’m also excited for the fountain pen community to get their hands on this and start using it. Head on over to InkJournal.com to pick this up for yourself so you can start documenting your ink experiences, and thanks again to Tom for sending over this free sample for the review.